Monday, April 26, 2010

Short Story Contest

Here is an excellent opportunity for any unpublished authors of fiction to get a short story in a major crime-fiction magazine!

LOVE IS MURDER 2011 is sponsoring a contest—the winner will have his or her story published in CRIMESPREE MAGAZINE! The issue will be the one available concurrently with the Love is Murder Conference in February 4, 5, 6, 2011.

Only those authors who have never published fiction in any medium are eligible.
The story must be in the crime, suspense, thriller, or horror genres.
Maximum word count—5000 words. No minimum.
Manuscript must be double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font, page numbered, with cover sheet that includes your name and contact information (especially e-mail).
Put the TITLE at the top of page 1 or in the header (after the cover sheet) but do not put the author’s name or contact info on any page except the cover page. The judges will not know who wrote the stories.
Three copies of the manuscript must be mailed to—
Susan Gibberman
Love is Murder Short Story Submissions
Schaumburg Township District Library
130 S. Roselle Road
Schaumburg, IL 60193
Deadline for entry—submissions must be postmarked no later than July 16, 2010.

The winner will be determined/announced in November 2010.

Good luck!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Love Is Murder


I am so excited to report that Love Is Murder is returning to the Chicagoland area next year. Considered by many to be the Midwest's premier mystery con for fans and writers alike, LIM will take place February 4-6, 2011, at the Intercontinental Chicago O'Hare Hotel. This 12th edition of LIM looks to be the best yet with SIX featured guest authors plus a special Local Guest of Honor. There's lots to be said about this upcoming LIM, so much so that instead of trying to pack it all in here, I'm simply going to copy some of what Ophelia Julien wrote in the first issue of "The Official LOVE IS MURDER Newsletter".

"Greetings, all you Love is Murder-ites! Long time, no see! You've all waited so patiently (well, maybe not some of you, but we like your enthusiasm!), we're very happy to tell you that plans for the Love is Murder 2011 are in full swing. If you haven't seen the new website, it is now up and running. Please, please, please, stop in at and check out our impressive list of headliners, all six of them! Pore over our list of events and activities and plan on joining us! And then register! Right away!

"Our stellar list of authors includes Rhys Bowen, Joseph Finder, Caroline Haines, Joan Johnston, Jon Land, and F. Paul Wilson, as well as local guest of honor, Michael Allen Dymmoch. There will be two Master Classes, and Pitch-a-Palooza is back by popular demand, so get those manuscripts polished and ready.

"We are also having our first-ever short story writing contest! If you have never published in any medium, this could be your ticket to breaking into print. All rules and details are at the web site under "Events." If you're serious about entering, don't delay. Entries must be postmarked by July 16, 2010 to give our judges a chance to read them and pick a winner. The winning entry will be announced at the conference, and will also be published in the February, 2011 issue of CrimeSpree Magazine so start writing!"

I will be writing more about Love Is Murder in the days ahead, but if you'd like to receive the monthly LOVE IS MURDER Newsletter, please email "subscribe" to, OR sign up for the newsletter on the left hand side of the Love Is Murder website opening page.

Hope to see you at Love Is Murder!


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Creating Credible Characters

When interviewed by Mary Buckham and Dianna Love for, author Jane Porter had this to say about the craft of writing: “Great fiction requires great characters. Avoid stereotypes!”

That’s exactly what I tried to do when I created Dr. Ben Benjamin for the short story “Hickory, Dickory, Doc”. Given the plot and the setting, my veterinarian needed to be both an ‘insider’ and an ‘outsider’– someone who was part of the Maryland horse country crowd, but didn’t wholly belong to it — in order to be a realistic protagonist for this particular story. I also needed his status to be obvious from the start.

To accomplish this, I began my tale by introducing Ben in company with Lawrence Wainsworth III. The very name ‘Lawrence Wainsworth III’ conjures up images of landed gentry and old money. Toss in the fact that he owns a blue ribbon-winning horse named King Tut and you can pretty much figure good old Lawrence isn’t worriedabout where his next meal is coming from.

Ben is totally unlike Wainsworth when it comes to social status and monetary worth. Rather than describe the difference through a lot of background narrative, I chose to let Ben explain his position in the community in two brief but telling sentences. His comments are in response to Wainsworth’s description of an argument that occurred during a chic party at the local country club.

“Who was I to doubt Larry’s story? He’d been a ringside witness to the main event, while I, Dr. Ben Benjamin, youthful veterinarian to some of the most pampered horses in the state of Maryland, hadn’t even been invited to the Hunt Club Ball.”

Ben’s social standing is now clearly delineated for the reader; he may walk and talk with the rich and powerful, but the young vet is still considered by them to be a servant, albeit an educated one. Ben’s financial condition is likewise revealed in his own words when Wainsworth asks a favor of him.

“I hesitated only a second. Lawrence Wainsworth III was a good guy. He was also a very wealthy man. Visions of unpaid student loans danced in my head as I screwed on a smile and replied, ‘Sure, Larry.’ ”

Creating credible characters is always a challenge. Often, the best way to answer that challenge is by letting the characters speak for themselves.


"Hickory, Dickory, Doc" is available as an ebook download at the ridiculously low price of $2.00 at

Try it! You'll like it! :)