Resources for Mystery Writers

Through fog, you can see trees. On the side of the photo is the post title, Resources for Mystery Writers

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Probably one of the things I’m emailed the most about by other writers is how to find mystery writing resources.

Sometimes I feel that many mystery writers aren’t very visible online…at least to other writers. I think there are many more fantasy and romance writers who are active and interactive online. There are plenty of mystery writer blogs that are reader-facing blogs, but not very many that deal with crime writing.  I’m guessing that’s why I get the emails.

Now I’ll have a post to refer writers to.  :)

Blogs to Follow: 

I’ll start out with Margot Kinberg’s blog. Margot is a mystery writer and avid mystery reader with an encyclopedic memory. Both readers and writers follow her blog. If you’re interested in considering common themes in murder mysteries of all sorts (including international mysteries), I highly recommend her blog. It will help you read as a writer.

K.B. Owen has some nice resources for the historical mystery writer.

D.P. Lyle, M.D. really knows his stuff. He’s an award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction and has worked with writers on Law & Order, CSI: Miami, and Monk, among many others. He also maintains a list of forensic resources. 

 Fiona Quinn writes romantic suspense, but her blog covers all aspects of crime and crime investigation.

 Thriller writer Sue Coletta knows a lot of law enforcement professionals and posts informative interviews on her site. She has a list of forensic resources for writers.  dditionally, she hosts an informative Twitter chat every other Wednesday at 3 p.m. EST : #ACrimeChat (next one on the 14th, if you want to tune in live, but you can just look up the hashtag to see older chats.) As Sue puts it: “I couldn’t do my job if it weren’t for my police/coroner/firearm/profiler consultants/friends. Of which, I have many.” She taps into their knowledge every other week.

Lee Lofland is a veteran police investigator and writer with expert advice on a variety of topics. His blog is especially good for adding realism to a crime novel since he tells his experiences in sometimes gritty detail.

A group of mystery writers posts on The Kill Zone, including James Scott Bell.

In terms of the mystery writing community, I frequently recommend that new writers look into joining the Sisters in Crime group (and men are welcome) known as the Guppies (the Great Unpublished.  :) )

Courses (covering a variety of different areas): The courses I’d recommend (and which tend to be more bang for your buck) are the ones through the Romance Writers of America…regardless of your genre (I took several about 10 years ago and they really helped me out). Some upcoming online classes are listed here (search the page for ‘online workshops’: https://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=517  . Other RWA opportunities: http://rwasd.com/register/ and http://lowcountryrwa.com/workshops/2017-online-courses/ . Most of them are just $25 for non-members of the RWA.

I wrote a series on cozy mystery writing.

This is what I’ve got, but I have the feeling I’m missing some great blogs (maybe some of yours).  What resources have I missed?

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22 thoughts on “Resources for Mystery Writers

  1. Hi Elizabeth – I’m sure these resources will give writers lots of ideas … there are lots of ‘resources’ out there … other books, old cases, local newspapers etc … I must look at your series on cozy mystery writing sometime … cheers Hilary

  2. Thank you so much, Elizabeth, for the kind mention. That means a lot to me. And I couldn’t agree more about how terrific both Kathy Owen’s blog and Sue Coletta’s blog are. Such great research they do, and they make it all fascinating. Now, I must look into SIC more than I have…

    1. Aww, Margot, thanks for the kind words! By the way, I believe the SinC chapters in California are particularly active, so I’ll bet you’d get a lot out of the group!

  3. A nice list for those who write mystery. I’d found quite a few sites in my search for mystery reviewers and such. I think CrimeSpace was one of them.

  4. This is awesome, Elizabeth! As a cozy mystery writer I often feel a bit isolated. Cozy writers are different in that we don’t have the high paced action of other genres and we like a little more place setting. I know that’s starting to change, but one of the reasons I like Cozy is that they DON’T stress me out like other genres. LOL.

    Thanks, Elizabeth!

    1. Cozy writers and books are definitely different! I love cozy writing for the same reason you do. :) I don’t have to research very much (or my research may be quilt-related, etc, if there is any) and I can have well-developed characters with strong subplots. Not stressful at all, ha!

  5. There’s the Mystery Writer’s Forum at http://mwf.ravensbeak.com (FD: I’m the owner). It’s been around for 15+ years. Not as active as it used to be, but still some good info there.

    Also the Crime Scene Writers community on Yahoo Groups (https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/crimescenewriter/info). Cannot say enough good stuff about that group. Lee Lofland is on there, as is Doug Lyle. Dr. Judy Melinek is also on there, and all are super helpful about anything you ask. There’s at least one former FBI agent, several PIs, and a firefighter or two as well. It’s a well-moderated group, so no spam gets through.

    1. Of *course*–I should have mentioned the Mystery Writer’s Forum. I know I frequented there probably 10 years ago, myself. Great community and good information. Thanks for reminding me, Bob.

      And thanks so much for the mention of Crime Scene Writers…that sounds like a terrific site for research.

  6. Elizabeth, thanks so much for mentioning my blog! We do love 19thc U.S. history in particular at Casa Owen.

    Gotta look up your cozy mystery writing series, I may have missed a post or two! Do you talk about how you approach writing two series at once, by any chance? That has been on my mind lately as I brainstorm a new series while writing another one. I don’t know how you do it!

    1. I’m not sure if I did mention it during that series of posts, but my top tip for that (that I live by religiously) is to outline the next book in Series A directly after finishing writing a book in Series A…and before moving on to writing a book for Series B. That way, my head is still in the story world and it goes *so* much faster. It also helps to ensure that I don’t make any dumb mistakes (before using that method, I’d mix up the names of the towns or the characters. It was sort of like someone from the Partridge Family ending up on the Brady Bunch. A real mess!)

  7. Lee Lofland spoke at our local RWA chapter, and he was excellent. The hands-on Writers Police Academy that he holds every summer is supposed to be excellent.

  8. Elizabeth, thank you for the kind mention. I’m so touched you included my site among all these other fantastic resources. I follow them all! Oh, and I agree about Margot. She’s amazing.

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