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How Fast Do I Write?

Short answer: Not very. If you want me to be one of those book-a-month writers, you will be very disappointed.

Long answer…

I started writing my first book in July of 2013.

Yes, that was a long time ago, thank you. It was supposed to be a 6-chapter short story, but it grew. There’s no outlining in this process because I thought writing a sentence or two for each chapter was outlining. Anyway, it took me until March 2015 to finish the first draft of 104K words. It’s shorter now, yes. So 104K in 20 months is 5.2K per month. And then it took me almost five years AFTER THAT to rewrite and edit and rewrite and edit (seven major times and hundreds of minor!) until I was ready to publish in Jan 2019.

5.5 years total for book 1.

I started writing book two September 24th, 2015.

I got partway through it, decided the not-outlining thing wasn’t working, and stalled for a long time while I learned more about story structure and reorganized a large chunk of the plot. In August 2017, I got back into it, finishing in summer of 2018. So that one took three years for the first draft, or roughly 2.6K per month not counting when I was just staring at it, or 3-4K per month only counting the months I actually wrote. Yes, that is still slower than book one for the draft. That’s because by then I knew how much I didn’t know. The editing went faster, though. I published in Sept 2019.

4 years total for book 2.

I started outlining book three in February 2018.

I wrote it from July 2018 to 25 Feb 2019. Eight months for the drafting! Pretty fast, huh? That’s over 11K per month. Definitely getting faster, although I didn’t write down when I started outlining it. And I wrote this one while I was editing book 2 and outlining book 4. It was a grueling schedule. I published in May 2020.

2.25 years total for book 3.

I started outlining book 4 in Dec 2018.

I wrote it from March 2019 to Jan 2020, which is ten months or an average of 9K per month. Still not bad, especially considering that I plotted the last few chapters right before I wrote them. Ahem. That one was published in January 2021.

Just over 2 years total for book 4.

After book 4, I rewrote the prequel story between Jan & Mar 2020, making it much longer and much, much better. It’s still a novella, so two months is totally reasonable. Roughly 9K per month. Then I edited and re-edited ten million times (hey, it felt like it), for a total of 10 months. For a novella. Nope, not fast at all. Republished Nov 2020.

I started book 5 in March 2020.

Yes, during the pandemic. That wasn’t the hard part. My parents moved in with my family in Sept 2019, but we still hadn’t found a new (bigger) house yet. THAT was the hard part. I finished drafting in mid-April 2021. The outlining wasn’t separate for this one, because it was a collection of short stories, so I alternated outlining and writing. 100K in 13 months is an average of 7.7K per month. It was published in September 2021.

1.5 years for book 5.

Time to finish the series.

I outlined AND drafted book 6 from May to late December 2021, plus an extra novella for a reader magnet that goes with it. About 110K in 8 months is almost 14K per month. They were published in May 2022.

1 year for book 6.

Yes, by this point, I was feeling pretty fast as an author. I was also feeling pretty overworked.

I started a new series in January 2022.

In it, I wrote almost two (shorter) books by the end of September. 95K in 9 months, or 10.5K per month. That series isn’t complete yet, nor am I ready to publish.

In April 2022, I started brainstorming ANOTHER new series.

It was more complicated, so it took me until the end of September to be ready to start writing book 1, though I did finish the 20K prequel during that time. My estimate was that I would finish book 1 by New Year’s, but I actually finished December 5th. 75K (before edits) in just over 2 months, or about 35K per month. Yes, you read that right. Three times as fast as ANY of my other books, and ten times faster than the slowest. Wow! It’s still in the editing process as of this post, so I can’t give you the total time.

I still have several books left to write in that series. Will they all go that fast? Probably not, but wouldn’t it be nice?

But it’s not always so smooth.

In fact, I caught Covid in December, stopped writing for almost two months, and have been struggling to get back up to my old speed, much less the new one. Sigh.

But I’ve done it before, so I believe I can do it again, eventually.

So to what do I attribute the increase in my speed?

For the past year, I’ve been studying Clifton Strengths and trying to figure out my own brain. I also discovered Strengths for Writers and the Writer-Better-Faster Academy, which applies the topic directly to writers. And slowly, I’ve been learning. I’ve also spent the past 10 years improving my writing skills, which helps dramatically. And I got an office with a door. Don’t underestimate the the benefit of not being interrupted! With all the changes, I think things are finally starting to click into place. I hope so.

Wish me luck!
Marty C. Lee

© 2023 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Robert Newman’s Mystery Series

Just for the fun of it, I’m doing an in-depth review of an old favorite today. Robert Newman wrote one of my favorite fantasy books, The Shattered Stone, but he also wrote a whole series of young adult mysteries that all start The Case of

Be warned, these are old books, from the 70’s and 80’s. Granted, that makes me feel old, too… But I just looked them up, and they are available in ebook now, which means you don’t have to hunt them down in old print copies the way I did. (Although the print copies have way nicer covers.)

The series is sort of a Sherlock Holmes off-shoot, in that Sherlock is in a few of the books, but mostly the books are about a young boy and his friends.

In the first book, Andrew’s guardian is kidnapped in London, leaving him all alone. He’s rescued by a girl nicknamed Screamer and her family. Screamer’s brother works for Sherlock as a Baker Street Irregular, and so Andrew starts working for him, too. After helping Sherlock solve some big crimes, Andrew also finds out what happened to his guardian.

Later in the series, a policeman does more of the detecting than Sherlock does, but Andrew and Screamer remain involved.

Why do I like it so much?

The writing is good. (And you shouldn’t take that for granted.)

The mysteries are exciting but still logical and possible to solve yourself, though you don’t have to. And you don’t have to know stuff that’s impossible to know *cough Agatha Christie cough*.

But especially, the characters are very well done. I love Andrew and Screamer and the other characters. And even though the kids do a lot of the mystery-solving, they do it by helping the adults who are actually in charge (unlike some unrealistic young detective stories). The adults, in another plus, are generally loving and intelligent instead of cruel idiots.

The kids in the story are FRIENDS, above all else, and you can tell it when you read the stories. They treasure their friendship and stick together, and that makes for a delightful read.

So, there you go. If you like mysteries with young detectives, try Robert Newman’s The Case of series. Leave a comment to tell me what you think.

Happy reading,
Marty C. Lee

© 2023 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Writing Update: Return of the Fae series

Yep, that’s the name of my newest series. For a while, my brain called it Space Fae, until I came up with the actual name.

This is the series I wrote about in November, that is contemporary fantasy with a dash of science fiction and a great big splash of mythology. My work-in-progress tagline is: What if Earth has legends of werewolves, fae, and other myths because we used to be their colony? What if they’re coming back?

I’m having a ton of fun with the premise, and I plan at last six books in the series, though it’s set up in a way that will let me write in it for as long as I want.

I started drafting book 1 late last September and actually finished in early December, way ahead of schedule. Fastest book ever for me! So I started on book 2 and got four chapters done before I got Covid. Phooey! For obvious reasons, that brought my writing to a screeching halt for a while.

Then I had post-Covid-brain for a couple of months, and I only managed to get two more chapters written. Not very helpful. Even worse, I discovered the plot was scarce in obstacles. Sure, the characters had hard things to do, but they were doing them with no difficulty. That’s great in real life, but not very exciting in a book. Covid-brain didn’t want to talk about re-plotting the book, so I took it to my critique group to ask for ideas.

But trouble intervened IRL…

Sadly, my real life has been enough of a mess that I have not yet had a chance to see if the new ideas will work or not, though I am pretty sure I’ll need to majorly rewrite the last two chapters. Sigh.

Then a couple of beta readers got through book 1 and weren’t excited about the ending. I tried this, I tried that, still didn’t work. So I started pondering (which put book 2 on the back burner). It took weeks to come up with a rewrite that might (no guarantee) work. And I still need to see what people think about it.

In the meantime, I decided the prequel wouldn’t work as a reader magnet because it’s epic fantasy instead of contemporary, so I wrote a new short story that I hope has more of the flavor of the series. And then I rewrote it, because that’s the way it goes.

So that’s where I am right now. Will the new ending for book 1 work? How can I replot 90% of book 2? Is the new short story any good? Inquiring minds want to know, and so do I.

Wish me luck!
Marty C. Lee

© 2023 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Favorite Books of 2022

Here are my new (not reread) four and five star reads for 2022.

Nonfiction

Surrounded by Idiots, by Thomas Erikson (personality/behavior)
Strengths Finder 2.0: A New and Upgraded Edition of the Online Test from Gallup’s Now, Discover Your Strengths, by Tom Rath
Expanding Your Strengths, by Curt Liesveld (personality/behavior)
The Resiliency Advantage: Master Change, Thrive Under Pressure, and Bounce Back from Setbacks, by Al Siebert (behavior)
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari (history)
Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, by Mary Roach (science)
Depression, Anxiety, and Other Things We Don’t Want to Talk About, by Ryan Casey Waller (mental health)
The Astronaut’s Wife: How Launching My Husband into Outer Space Changed the Way I Live on Earth, by Stacey Morgan (memoir)
The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World, by Dorie Clark (philosophy?)
Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, by Carol Tavris, Elliot Aronson (philosophy, behavior)
The Like Switch: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People Over, by Jack Schafer (behavior)
The Rabbit Effect: Live Longer, Happier, and Healthier with the Groundbreaking Science of Kindness, by Kelli Harding (health, behavior)
Unbearable Burden, by Krista M. Isaacson (memoir)

Writing Books

Understanding Conflict (And What It Really Means), by Janice Hardy
Understanding Show, Don’t Tell (And Really Getting It), by Janice Hardy
Writing Unforgettable Characters: How to Create Story People Who Jump Off the Page (Bell on Writing Book 12), by James Scott Bell 
Dialogue: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Effective Dialogue, by Gloria Kempton
The Heroine’s Journey, by Gail Carriger
Revising Your Novel, by Janice Hardy

Fiction

Earl on the Run, by Jane Ashford (Regency romance. Book 1 was okay, but not as good)
Lily of the Valley, by Sarah M. Eden (Georgian romance)
An Unfamiliar Duke, by Sian Ann Bessey (Georgian romance)
Spirits of Hastings: Terrifying Tales from Hastings, East Sussex, United Kingdom, by The Untruth Seekers (very mild horror)
Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster, by Jonathan Auxier (middle grade historical magical realism)
Dreams of Gold, by Traci Hunter Abramson (contemporary sports romance)
Chances Are, by Traci Hunter Abramson (contemporary romance)
Farilane, by Michael J. Sullivan (epic fantasy)
Bastille vs the Evil Librarians, by Brandon Sanderson
Mystery and More Mystery, by Robert Arthur (mystery short stories)
The Chronicles of Avonlea (historical)
The Spare Man, by Mary Robinette Kowal (sci fi mystery)

© 2023 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.


How Do I Choose Character Names?

Someone recently asked me how I choose character names, and I had to admit that it varies by series.

Unexpected Heroes

For Unexpected Heroes, my epic fantasy series, I started with baby name sites that had a “meaning” search. I’d type in a meaning that was significant to the culture, then I’d search for names I liked that fit the pertinent alphabet or could be altered to fit. (Yes, for that series, the letters mattered.)

After a while, I got tired of doing a search every time I needed a name, and I made a list of possible choices for easy selection, sorted by applicable culture. That made it quite a bit easier to hunt whenever a new character appeared.

To be fair, only two of four cultures cared about the meanings of their names. One cared very, very much, and one just had a pool of traditional names that they used. The third culture cared about as much as modern American culture, which is to say that some people did and some people didn’t, and choosing by sound was way more important. The fourth culture chose almost entirely by sound, stringing together lots of syllables just for the fun of it.

What can I say? They’re different…

Anyway, since *I* cared about the meanings and it helped me choose, I kept a list of the meanings. It’s on this website, if that sort of thing interests you.

Return of the Fae (in progress)

For my new series, which is contemporary fantasy with a sprinkle of science fiction and large dollop of mythology, I would have originally told you that I chose the human names by origin and random selection and the fae names by ancient-history origin. Which is true…

But when I was answering the question for the person who asked, I realized that quite a few of the names are also inside jokes. Ahem.

Some of them will be explained in the story. Though not immediately.

Some of them won’t. I’m cruel like that. I’ll just enjoy the jokes myself.

No, I won’t be listing the meanings of the names for this series on my website, because they aren’t culturally meaningful. I might list some of the origins, because that would be. But we shall see. The first book hasn’t even been published yet, so I’ve got time to ponder how much I want to tell you and how much I want to leave to amuse myself privately.

I know, I’m mean. Think of it this way—it gives you something else to think about after you finish the story. 😉

Relatively Haunted series (yet to come)

My pen name is working on an adult cozy paranormal mystery series, but I don’t expect publication for a while. But just for the sake of covering all my bases, here’s how I picked those names.

Mostly by random, honestly, with a bit of “origin matters.” Modern characters were almost entirely random. Sometimes I asked people for a name and used that one. Sometimes I used a random generator.

For historical names, I used a random generator set to the proper country, or occasionally did an internet search for names that fit multiple criteria, like country AND religion.

Other than that, I just made sure I hadn’t already used the name (I kept a list) and that it wouldn’t be too much like someone else in the same story. Easiest name choosing ever.

Best Tips

If you’re trying to choose names for your characters, here are some of my best tips.

  1. Decide what’s important to you. The sound of the word? The meaning? The origin? The number of syllables? Whatever matters, write it down.
  2. Try out a few baby name sites and find one that allows you to search by the factors you identified as important.
  3. If not much matters and you just need a name, try a random name generator. You can find ones for regular human names or for fantasy or whatever. Seriously, just search the internet.
  4. Write down all the options you like every time you do a search. It might save you from a search the next time you need a name.
  5. Try not to confuse your readers with names that sound too much the same. If you can make them not start with the same letter, that’s great. If you have too many characters to make that work, at least give them different vowels or different numbers of syllables or don’t rhyme them. You know, make them sound very different.

I think that’s it, folks. There you go, a naming primer. 🙂

Happy writing,
Marty C. Lee

© 2023 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Research Books in 2022 and earlier

Instead of a “category” of book reviews this month, I thought I’d give you a list of books I’ve read for writing research. This list doesn’t include business or actual writing subjects like plot & character, just side topics that I needed to know more about for my stories. I’ll try to remember to post a new list each year. Some of the research is for books not yet released (or written).

Please remember that 3 stars still means I was happy with the book. Also keep in mind that I was rating these on the “useful for research” scale, not on how well they were written.

Weapons

Warfare and Weapons, by Christopher Gravett (3 stars)
Weapons, by Jim Ollhoff (3 stars)
Weapons of Fantasy and Folklore, by John Hamilton (3 stars)
Archery, by Adam G. Klien (3 stars)
Archery, by the Boy Scouts of America (3 stars)
The Crooked Stick: A History of the Longbow, by Hugh D.H. Soar (2 stars)
Longbow, by Robert Hardy (2 stars)
Illustrated History of Arms and Armour, by Charles H. Ashdown (2 stars)
Weapons, by Deborah Murrell (2 stars)
Weapons of Ancient Times, by Matt Doeden (1 star)

Setting & Nature

Desert, by Amanda MacQuitty (3 stars)
Volcano and Earthquake, by Susanna van Rose and James Stevenson (3 stars)
Earthquake, by Jen Green (3 stars)
Escape from the Volcano, by Felicia Law (2 stars)
Surviving an Earthquake, by Heather Adamson (1 star)

Animals

Big Cats and Wild Dogs, by Jen Green et al. (3 stars)
Wolves, by Emma Child (3 stars)

Culture & Character

Hustlers, Harlots, and Heroes, by Krista D. Ball (3 stars)
Handbook to Ancient Greece, by Adkins & Adkins (3 stars)
Between Us: How Cultures Create Emotions, by Batja Mesquita (3 stars) (for a work-in-progress)
The Like Switch: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People Over, by Jack Schafer (4 stars) (for a WIP)

Science & Miscellaneous

Packing For Mars, by Mary Roach (4 stars) (for a WIP)
What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank, by Krista D. Ball (3 stars) (Fun story: her rant against stew made me realize I had a solution for that, which I did use in Seed of War. I found it amusing and satisfactory; how about you?)
Deerskins Into Buckskins, by Matt Richards (3 stars)
Bleed, Blister, Puke, & Purge, by J.M. Younker (3 stars)
The Body: A Guide for Occupants, by Bill Bryson (3 stars) (for a WIP)

I think that’s all for now. You can probably expect to see a lot more space and mythology books next year, if I can’t get enough information on line.

Happy reading,
Marty C. Lee

© 2022 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Writing Update: New Series

Well, to tell the truth, I’ve actually been working on TWO new series. One is adult paranormal cozy mystery (still clean, because I don’t write steamy), and it will eventually come out under a name variant. No worries; I’ll announce it. The second series wasn’t supposed to be started until after I finished the mystery trilogy, even though it’s under my usual name. I didn’t even know *what I was writing next for young adult, so it made sense to work on the other one first.

I did have a few ideas I was kicking around, but they were very different ideas, and nothing was producing plot or characters in my brain. So I kept thinking while I wrote the mysteries. I had plenty of time, right?

Then my daughter read me something off… Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere on the internet that she reads things. It was a “what if mythology is wrong” kind of thing, but I’m afraid don’t remember exactly what it said. I laughed, as one does, and quipped back about how it could be right if such-and-such.

Then I stared at her. I could write such-and-such. It would unite MOST of the ideas I’d been kicking around, which was even better than picking one or two of them. There was enough available material with lots of variety. I could have a TON of fun subverting expectations. I could mash together real-life science and history with very unreal other stuff and have a whole new (fake) history that would (incorrectly) explain so much.

So I decided to go ahead and write it.

The series is contemporary fantasy with a dash of science fiction and a great big splash of mythology, so it’s different from my first epic fantasy series but still feels close enough to be “mine.” (One of the reasons the mysteries are coming out under a pen name is because they are so different. The other is that they’re aimed at adults rather than teens.)

Anyway, that was back in early April. I did some quick concept ramblings and character picking, then I started doing research. Due to the very different sources that I’m mashing together, I had to do a lot of research. Plus, even when it probably doesn’t matter, I like being accurate. I’m nerdy like that.

Good news, though. The way I’m setting it up allows for a very long series, if I want to keep writing it and readers want to keep reading it. 😉

Then I had to do some character studies. Sure, I could just learn about my characters as I went along, like I did with my first series, but that’s a lot slower. It took me eight years to finish my first series, and four of those were just finishing the first book. I don’t want this one to take that long to get started, so I’m working more deliberately. Experience has to be good for something, after all.

Then I started plotting the major beats. That created the need for more research. Sigh.

Finally got through that (for now?), and started working on the more detailed outline. That turned up some major problems. I hate when that happens. So I worked on motivations for the past couple of weeks before returning to the outline.

As of now, I have all of book 1 outlined on my max outlining level, and one chapter for book 2, as well as over half of book 2 on the one-sentence-per-chapter level. (Book 2 volunteered…) I also got the entire prequel novella drafted, so progress is being made.

My tentative plan is to write the new series and submit it to my critique group, leaving the already-outlined mystery stories for when I’m blocked or need a break. Eventually, I’ll get them both finished.

Will it work?

I don’t know. I guess we’ll see. 🙂

Marty C. Lee

© 2022 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Fantasy Books Guest Post

I thought it would be fun to have some guest writers on my blog, so I asked a couple of other authors to write me some “favorite books” posts. This one, unsurprisingly, is fantasy. Liz McCraine writes romantic fantasy AND suspense novels.

***

My First Fantasy Love

By Liz McCraine

When Marty C. Lee asked me which fantasy books were my favorite, I wanted to reply, “Why, yours, of course!” But I suspect most people reading this post are already familiar with Lee’s phenomenal world building and character development, so I went in a different direction. Instead of telling you about my favorite fantasy books, I will tell you about the fantasy author who inspired me to write my Kingdom of Aggadorn series: Robin McKinley.

I was first introduced to McKinley’s work when I was in my early twenties. I was headed on a long bus ride, and because I had forgotten to visit the library beforehand, my roommate kindly handed me her copy of The Blue Sword. Initially, I was hesitant to read the book. You see, one of my deepest, darkest secrets is that I prefer reading suspense to fantasy. (I hear some gasps… stay with me.) This is because as a youth, I couldn’t find YA fantasy books that met my two requirements: romance and a satisfying ending. At least with suspense, you are guaranteed conflict resolution.

The YA fantasy genre has come a long way since I was a teenager, and now there are several exciting books on the market that, had they been published twenty—erm, I mean, “a few”—years ago, they would have met my criteria. But it’s too late, the damage is done. Had someone handed me a Robin McKinley book back when I was a starry-eyed youth craving magic and true love, I’d have different preferences.

McKinley entwines adventure, danger, romance, and magic into fascinating plots with strong main characters who are both smart and brave. Addittonally, McKinley demands engagement through emotion-evoking conflict and descriptive details that leave readers dreaming of her worlds. While The Blue Sword (Newbery Honor Award winner) and its sequel, The Hero and the Crown (Newbery Medal winner), are my favorites, all of McKinley’s YA books are fantastic. She even has a few fairytale rewrites that enchant readers with their unique twists (Beauty is popular).

After reading McKinley’s stories, I finally learned that YA fantasies could have both romance and a happy ending. With this in mind, I began spinning the threads of adventure, magic, and happy-ever-after’s into the type of stories I wish I had discovered years earlier. In short, Robin McKinley’s work changed my life, and it could change yours too, if you let it. I recommend finding one of her stories ASAP and discovering for yourself what you’ve been missing.

***

I didn’t ask her to say that about me… She asked if I like Robin McKinley, and I said, “Duh, what kind of bad taste do you think I have?” Like her, I’ve been a long-time fan of McKinley (probably longer, since I’m older and was lucky enough to find her in my youth).

I totally agree that McKinley’s work affected Liz’s books. Like her, Liz writes good characters with a bit of romance, a lot of adventure, and a happy ending. I always squeal when a new one comes out. (Her suspense is good, too.) If you want to check out her work, let me know how you like it.

Happy reading,
Marty C. Lee

Hardcovers Available!

Okay, yes, I realize this isn’t really a writing post. But it is about things I wrote…

In case you hadn’t heard, my books are now available in hardcover from Amazon. Case laminate, which means no dust jacket to get damaged.

Books 1-5 of the Unexpected Heroes series have actually been available in hardcover for a couple of months. Book 6 is newly out.

That means you can get the entire series in regular paperback, large print paperback, or hardcover! Or ebook, of course. Or you can ask your library to order it for you so you can read it for free. 🙂

Four kinds of formats. Yay!

Hey, they’re my books. I can be excited if I want to… It’s okay if you’re excited, too. 🙂

And if you’re looking for signed books, those are also available here.

If that’s not enough goodies, remember that my direct store also has sheet music AND ringtones for the songs from the series. In a few months, it will also have some bonus goodies. 😉

And for your entertainment, if you haven’t checked out my book trailers yet, you might see what you think. 🙂 The whole series is up there already.

Happy reading,
Marty C. Lee

© 2022 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Historical Mysteries Guest Post

I thought it would be fun to have some guest writers on my blog, so I asked a couple of other authors to write me some “favorite books” posts. I know I write fantasy, but I READ a lot of different things, and my first guest is a mystery writer.

Carol Malone writes historical mysteries, frequently with a sports tie-in and a romantic subplot. And here she is to tell us how she got started. 🙂

***

Why I love historical mysteries.

By Carol Malone

I found a copy of Agatha Christie’s “Black Coffee,” written in 1929, at a used bookstore. I was a mystery fan and a wannabe mystery writer and wanted to study the way a master mystery writer tells a story. So, for a buck, I delved into the fascinating world of the little Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, the curious man with the egg-shaped head and the passion— no, more like obsession—with order. Can you say Obsessive Compulsive?

He liked to mention that he used his “little grey cells” to solve mysteries so complex the reader just scratches his/her head and stares wide-eyed as the intrepid little man solves the crime with aplomb.

The story of “Black Coffee,” is a tale about a scientist in the 30s England who has discovered the formula for a massive weapon to kill hundreds of thousands of people. He contacted Detective Poirot with the suspicion that someone in his family wanted to steal his formula. He needed Poirot to hand-carry it to the English version of the Defense Department. But before Poirot arrived with his trusty detecting sidekick, Hastings, the scientist was dispatched.

Little clues were dropped, and the reader is led to believe he/she knows “who-done-it” while being entertained along the way.

The reader follows the little detective with surprise and delight as he charges through his lines of questioning, and the positioning of the suspects, making the reader believe they have solved the crime before Poirot does.

I will not give away anymore of the plot or the list of suspects, but will say this is a short novel, easy to read and understand, but one that will keep the reader on his/her toes until the very end. There were so many false leads and red herrings to keep anyone entertained and fulling involved in the story. Agatha Christie can make anyone fall in love with the genre and cement the reading of mysteries a part of their browsing obsession.

Solving the crime and understanding the intricacies of the mystery is why I love this genre. Even in differing eras of time, Mrs. Christie offers the ability to the reader to act as a silent partner in the world of detecting. She puts you into the character of Poirot to feed some need in a reader’s life.

Our lives are a mystery to be discovered with systematic thoroughness as we live each day not knowing when the next “surprise” will hit us, and we’ll be left figuring out the way to proceed. We all hope we’ll be the detective and not the murderer in our own little adaptation of “Black Coffee.”

Of course, there is the revelation of what makes some people resort to murder and the slap-in-the-face discovery of the sordidness of some human nature as the major stimulant. Christie offers the reader a puzzle of the mind and at the end, the reader can’t help but feel gratified when the plot twists engages and surprise us and eventually, the mystery of the puzzle is solved. I can’t help but feel like I’ve discovered something marvelous at the end of such a book, like I’ve solved a stimulating secret. It’s a heady experience.

All of these are the things that make up historical mysteries are why I adore them so much. I can only hope to do half as well with the mysteries that I produce. I do love me a good whodunit mystery.

***

And that, folks, is Carol Malone, lover of Agatha Christie and other good historical mysteries, and writer in the same genre. But Christie didn’t write much romance, sad to say, and Carol likes to include some in most of her books. Don’t worry—she won’t embarrass you. All her romance is safe-for-work.

If you want to read one of her historical stories, she has a free one available for joining her newsletter. No pressure, honestly.
https://mybookcave.com/direct/ae4a0751/
Or if you want one of her mysteries, they’re available where ebooks are sold.

Happy reading,
Marty C. Lee