Join me in writing a mystery

Who knew that writing a new mystery could be so time-consuming? Looking at my blog, I see that I haven’t been posting a lot for the past couple of months.

But it’s not like I haven’t been busy writing. I spent most of my available time in November feverishly working on my National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) project—unofficially, because I didn’t register with the organization.

The book is called Wildfire, the first book in a new mystery series. I chose that title because it’s set in Sonoma, California, which as you know has been ravaged by wildfires all autumn.

And I’m proud and happy to report that I did 50,010 words in 30 days. It’s not quite done, yet. I wrote what I am certain will be the first four chapters, the climax and the closing, plus most of the main storyline. There are some transitional chapters yet to be done, a red herring and a plot twist to go, and it’ll be done.

Then there are the steps of re-writing at least twice, beta-reading, incorporating those suggestions, editing, proofreading, formatting and publishing. I aim to have it out by March 22.

Wait—a mystery? What about the historical fantasy?

I know that I promised I would be working on The Triumph of the Sky, book 2 in the Dark Age Trilogy and the follow-up to my first published novel, The Bones of the Earth. And I am! I have written the first two parts of seven. As soon as I have finished writing Wildfires and have sent it to beta readers, I will get right back to Triumph.

But as you faithful blog readers know, in October I attended a writer’s retreat hosted by Toby Neal, the bestselling author of the Lei Crime and Paradise Crime series, and the very generous lady who invited me to be one of the first to join the Lei Crime Kindle World. My wife and I arrived in Sonoma on the day wildfires broke out, and our drive from San Francisco to Russian River was detoured more than once. We arrived late, amid a heavy smell of smoke.

Toby Neal, Roxanne and me
Toby Neal, my wife Roxanne, and me at the Russian River writers’ retreat in October.

The conference was great: inspiring, educational, affirming. And I got to meet, face-to-face, some other writers I have considered colleagues for a long time because we all write for the Lei Crime Kindle World.

I say inspiring for two reasons: my lovely wife, Roxanne, suggested I write a book about the wildfires, and Toby encouraged me to write my own mystery series, using the kinds of characters and elements that worked so well in the Kindle World books.

Writers Retreat in Russian River, California. Left to right: my lovely wife, Roxanne, me, Shawn McGuire, Toby Neal, Corinne O'Flynne, Amy Allen, Janet Oakley, Ron Logan and Erin Finigan.
Writers Retreat in Russian River, California. Left to right: my lovely wife, Roxanne, me, Shawn McGuire, Toby Neal, Corinne O’Flynne, Amy Allen, Janet Oakley, Ron Logan and Erin Finigan.

The start of a brand new mystery series

This new series is about a smart, tough yet vulnerable investigator, similar in character to FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm of the Lei Crime world.

But for this brand-new series, I didn’t want to write about a cop. I want my new investigator to be able to travel to different places, to follow her own instincts. I wanted someone who could work beyond the strict rules of a police force—this allows more interesting story lines.

I also wanted someone who wasn’t going to be shaped by police culture—allowing me to create a more interesting character.

At the same time, I wanted to avoid the “Murder, She Wrote” conundrum: someone who’s not a law enforcement professional who’s always in the middle of a crime scene. I mean, didn’t anyone ever wonder why someone got murdered wherever Jessica Fletcher went?

Introducing Tara Rezeck

Tara is a young single mom who has just graduated from law school. Following a lifelong dream, she moves to California, leaving baby Roxanne with her parents until she finds a suitable home and a job.

My photo of Sonoma County at sunset on October 12. The haze in the sky is smoke from the wildfires.
My photo of Sonoma County at sunset on October 12. The haze in the sky is smoke from the wildfires.

But for millennials, it’s not easy to find that first job in their field. She temporarily takes a job in a kitchen at a high-end restaurant in a winery in Sonoma—just as the wildfires break out.

In subsequent books, I plan to have Tara working as an investigator for a lawyer. That will give her the legal standing, as well as storytelling plausibility to be snooping into crimes.

Want to join the team?

No author writes a book on their own. If you’d like to be a beta-reader of Wildfires, point out any errors or problems in the manuscript so I can fix them before publishing, and post a candid review on Amazon and Goodreads on launch day, let me know with an email to

I’d love to have your input!

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See you soon!

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