My name is Clarice, but most people, call me ReCe. I'm a happily married USAF spouse, mother to 3 girls, and an older sister to many....Here is my blog and here are some of my candy filled thoughts, lol

Saturday, November 3, 2012

MYSTERY WRITING AT ITS BEST - Guest Post by Abigail Keam

 Death By Bourbon writer, Abigail Keam, is currently on a virtual blog tour for her latest book: Death By Bourbon, and I couldn't be happier that she stopped by here! 

Official Death by Bourbon Synopsis:

Life takes a dramatic turn for Josiah when she witnesses a death at an engagement party for guess who . . . Matt.  Matt?  Yes Matt.

Charming socialite Addison DeWitt falls into a fit after taking a sip of bourbon.  That would be upsetting enough but Josiah is sure it is murder. However, no one will believe her except for Lady Elsmere and Meriah Caldwell, the famous mystery writer.  The three of them conspire to bring the murderer to justice.  It turns out that the suspect is always three steps ahead of them.

To make matters worse, Josiah's daughter, Asa, decides to move to London, Franklin leaves town and Jake starts singing a different turn.  Josiah doubts her ability to meet the future alone.  Maybe it's time to sell the Butterfly and move to Florida with the rest of the old folks.



I don’t propose to tell you how to write a best-selling mystery or get an agent or even get a publishing contract.  I can only tell you what bores me when reading a mystery and what I think is indulgence on the part of the writer.  My thoughts are subjective.  Keep that in mind.  Let’s begin with shooting the sheriff.

Always Shoot The Sheriff In the First Chapter

Last week I was on a panel with two other mystery writers.  They were knowledgeable about the art of writing and of writers past and present, but . . . (yes there is a but coming).  But when they read excerpts from their current novels, it was all I could do not to yawn.  One writer read four pages only to inform his readers “it was a dark and stormy night.”  Four pages to tell me that it was raining!

The other writer also spent an entire first chapter to tell his readers what his nemesis was thinking.  An entire chapter!  A paragraph maybe.  A chapter – no.

The first chapter should set up location, ambiance and first action of the story.  In other words – shoot the sheriff!

Don’t dazzle the reader with your wordmanship.  (Okay – I made that word up.) Dazzle your reader by pulling them into the story. 

Less Is More      

Another irritating thing is when writers use 350 pages to tell their story when they could have told it in 225 pages.  Extra fat in your mystery will not make your story better. 

Look at The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.  My current copy of this book is 216 pages.  It is considered the greatest mystery detective story written in the English language.  There is no fat in this great tale.  Every word, every line simply drives the story to its conclusion.  Man, oh man, what a glorious ride it is for the reader! 

James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity is only 115 pages.  It’s been in print since 1936.

Am I making my point?

I’ve given you a few clues about writing a better mystery story.   Maybe you think I’m a bit over the top.  Perhaps I am, but then I sold three times as many books as my esteemed colleagues and I only read three small paragraphs.  Less is more.
Abigail Keam is the author of “Death By A HoneyBee” and “Death By Drowning”.  Both books were listed as Finalists on the USA BOOK NEWS “Best Book List 2011”.  “Death By Bourbon” is her new book.

Abigail Keam’s Social Media Contacts:
Twitter: @AbigailKeam

“Abigail Keam writes with vision and understanding. Her tale is fresh and original...after all...what could beekeeping and murder have in common? Readers will have no trouble being drawn into this charming mystery. Keam leaves the reader yearning for more. DEATH BY DROWNING is an excellent second effort by Ms. Keam. Characters and action are well wrought, and the plot sizzles.”Midwest Book Review,
Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer, July 8th 2011

“Ms. Keam's writing is more like lyrical prose, leaving the readers wanting to know more of Josiah's life and clamoring for the next book.  This can be read as a stand-alone book, but I highly recommend reading the first book - DEATH BY A HONEYBEE.”

Death by Bourbon eBook Link:

Tour Wide Giveaway!

A tour wide giveaway is being offered, which features a grand prize of a set of all four of Abigail’s books, signed, plus 3 8oz honeys from Abigail’s very own been hives!  2 signed copies of Death By Bourbon have been made available for a pair of runner-up prizes. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from First Rule Publicity from the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


  1. Great advice. Great prizes too! Thanks.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Please enter to win and share with your friends!

  2. Thank you so much for hosting Abigail! :) She knows her stuff when it comes to mystery writing!

    1. I loved hosting Abigail! She seems to know her stuff alright! Thanks for stopping by and be sure to share this contest with your buddies!

  3. Great post! I read it too :)

    1. I loved having Abigail on my blog! Please share this contest with your friends and good luck!

  4. Great interview! I love the advice about shooting the sheriff in the first chapter, very wide words.

    1. That's how a lot of tv shows are doing it these days too! CSI Miami is famous for shooting somebody before the famed scream comes out....!