Who Are Your Heroines?

By Tracey S. Phillips Real and Historical Women In the quiet days of quarantine, I had many opportunities to meditate on my life choices and personal behavior. I used the time for reflection on changes I wanted to see in myself and the world around me. So I considered the woman I’d like to become. Am I kind? Thoughtful? Am I a good friend? My rumination brought to mind the women I admire most. Closest to my heart, my grandmother, Lucina Moxley was my teacher and mentor in music and in life. A patron of the arts and music, she…

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Margaret Mizushima asks Who are Your Furry Friends?

Margaret Mizushima and friends Margaret Mizushima is the author of the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. Check out her bio here. I’ve been married to a veterinarian for almost forty years, and I’ve become accustomed to sharing my life with animals, usually dogs and cats but sometimes fish and birds. I grew up on a cattle ranch, but my family typically only had one dog at a time during my childhood, not the pack that my husband seems to need. Currently we have four dogs, which is a handful, but we love them all. We live with Hannah and Bertie, both…

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Marilyn Levinson and The Cozy Mystery

Marilyn Levinson is the author of the Twin Lake series under her own name and The Haunted Library series as Allison Brook. The next Haunted Library novel, Checked Out for Murder, will be released on September 8. People often ask, "What is a cozy mystery?" Well, it's a mystery that evokes a sense of coziness in the reader, a much-needed feeling these days, in the Time of the Coronavirus. But what makes a mystery a cozy? The term is believed to have originated with Agatha Christie's mysteries. Picture Miss Marple gathering clues as she chats with various neighbors in St.…

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How Much Description is Enough?

From Tim Chapman. Read his bio here. Some of the tools writers use to tell stories are Character, Dialogue, Voice, Point of View, Tense, Scene, and Plot. Writers hope their stories are so engaging that readers will be unaware of these tools and unaware of how the writer wrestled with them. My Blackbird peers are well versed in using the seven tools, but I have a question for them and for the readers of our stories—When it comes to setting a scene, how much description is enough? Scene tells us Who, What, Where and When. It’s the same sort of…

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Why Do You Read Mysteries?

By Sharon Lynn "Give them pleasure. The same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare.” -Alfred Hitchcock I trace my fear of total darkness to growing up in Flagstaff, Arizona, anInternational Dark City. When the sun goes down, it is so dark you can see the Milky Way. Beautiful, but also scary when walking home at night. Catharsis The ancient Greeks knew that watching tragic drama released tension and stress in the audience. The cathartic reaction is where we experience intense emotions and then cast them off because nothing terrible actually happened to us. Modern Mystery and…

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Where Have You Visited (as an armchair traveler)?

By Christine DeSmet Armchair Travelers Readers and writers are armchair travelers. We love sitting down with a book that takes us to a new place or helps us revisit a favorite place. In this special time, readers are reading even more books instead of traveling by planes, trains or automobiles. What’s on the list of the places you’ve visited in the past months via the pages of a novel or memoir? North and South My recent “travels” have included North Carolina (Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens), Afghanistan (A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini), South Africa (Born a Crime by Trevor…

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DOWN THE RESEARCH RABBIT HOLE

AUTHORS BECOME EXPERTS ON THE MOST INTERESTING THINGS: By Valerie Biel We’ve all heard the jokes writers make about what trouble they’d be in if someone they know dies mysteriously and their computer search history was examined. I imagine that a group of writers focused on mystery, suspense, and thrillers like The Blackbirds would be particularly suspicious! But no matter the topic, writers are diligent researchers, often to the point of becoming an expert in areas that might surprise people. With that in mind, I asked my fellow Blackbirds what unexpected areas they’ve become experts in due to their writing…

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INSPIRATION: A Prize Fighter and Iron Ninja of the Great Depression, My Superstar Mother

By Joy Ann Ribar I am a member of a privileged class of individuals who can count on what I call the WOW factor.  I have a Wiser Older Woman (WOW) who raised and influenced me to be a fierce individual thinker.   EXTRAORDINARY ROLE MODEL My mother, Delilas Wheaton Christensen,  was born a few months before the stock market crash of 1929, which meant her core self was formed and framed during the Great Depression.  After her older sister died at the age of nine, she inherited the position of the oldest daughter in a brood of children. In the…

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