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If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at writing a mystery novel, 2021 just might be your year. With people spending much more time at home due to the winter cold and the ongoing (seemingly endless) COVID-19 pandemic, authors Cathi Stoler, Lori Robbins and D.M. Barr have gotten together to give aspiring writers some help with the hardest thing of all: the first page. The three are all members of the New York chapter of Sisters in Crime, a group for female mystery authors. They will be offering free hour-long Zoom seminars to anyone who could use some encouragement with penning that thriller or police procedural.
“The most important thing is to sit down and put something down on paper. Just do it. You have to try. You can’t think ‘I’d love to do that’ and then just think about it forever,” says Cathi Stoler, author of the Murder on the Rocks Mystery series (“Bar None,” “Last Call”) and winner of the 2015 Derringer Award for Best Short Story.
“Just try it. And after that, you have to figure out what the story is about, the characters and setting. If you have a strong idea, it might make it a bit easier. But a vague idea can come out on the page. I don’t plot out everything; I add things here and there. As long as you have some idea of what you want to write about — a police procedural or a murder mystery, etc. — it could be anything.”
The other two instructors are Robbins, the winner of the 2019 Silver Falchion Award for “Lesson Plan for Murder” and the author of the recently released “Murder in First Position,” and Barr, an award-winning author of stand-alone psychological thrillers, the most recent being “Saving Grace: A Psychological Thriller.”
“The main thing to remember about my work is that I am NOT one of my characters. For example, as a real estate broker, I’ve never played Bondage Bingo in one of my empty listings or offed anyone at my local diet clinic,” writes Barr on her Web site. “And I’ve never suspected my husband of plotting to murder me.”
If you are interested in signing up for one of the Zoom sessions, visit dmbarr.com/sirens-of-suspense.html.