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Looking for your next book to read? Amazon and Barnes & Noble can recommend titles based on your purchase history. You probably already knew that, though.

But did you know there are a lot of offbeat, interesting sites out there specifically targeted to us readers? Below is a list of sites I like, in no particular order

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At Sleuthfest, I attended a class by Wallace Stroby, the author of ‘Kings of Midnight’ and ‘Shoot the Woman First,’ among others. Titled “Good Bad Guys and Bad Good Guys,” he made a great statement that “even Hitler loved his dogs.”

In Stroby’s books, his hero Crissa Stone (the cold but not stone-cold career criminal) must distinguish between the good bad guys and the bad bad guys. And actually Crissa falls somewhere in that range herself. His point was that…

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Last summer, I attended a dinner and the keynote speaker was a very popular author. He was entertaining and motivational and, when he finished, opened the floor to questions. One would-be-author in the audience raised her hand and asked him, “Where do you get your ideas?” He seemed almost offended by her question and told the young woman that you never ask an author that question.

That response puzzled me and has brewed in the back of my mind ever since. I can’t tell you how many times

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Sometimes I’m so in the zone and writing so fast and furious that my fingers can’t type fast enough. Then there’s yesterday…

I don’t think I could have written a grocery list.

It seems like the creative process in novels have a natural momentum, at least for me anyway. The first draft always writes itself. The words just flow, the story just goes naturally where it wants to go. There is no discipline, and absolutely zero concern for narrative shifts, or the overuse of adverbs and pet words, or…

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They said the disappearance of two high school students over 25 years ago was mystery that couldn’t be solved. No one ever said it shouldn’t be.

Available in paperback and kindle on Amazon.com.

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In the review, she describes the mystery as “fast paced, full of energy, action, adventure and excitement.” She also is including it on her Recommended Reading List (in her Romance category, oddly enough).

She summarizes the book as, “Tess is an escaped convict who meets up with a mentally disturbed man, destined to be her companion for a perfect getaway. Okay, so it’s not so perfect, after all, since he appears to be completely off his rocker.”

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Electively Paige reviewed The Designated Survivor. In the review, she writes:

“This short novella has enough action packed suspense to fill a full-length novel and I found it to be a very entertaining read.The Designated Survivor is certainly… different, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. I felt like I’d never read something quite like it and I was delighted to find it a very entertaining story. The twists and turns had me on edge and I easily read this book in one setting.

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Can you begin writing a story with the theme already in mind? Or, does the story’s theme just evolve somewhere within the undercurrent of the plot and character interactions?

I read an interesting article in Psychology Today magazine titled “Life Lessons: 5 Truths People Learn Too Late.” (October 2012) Several of these lessons inspired plot ideas for future stories, especially within the context of the article — learning the lesson too late. But the article also really got me thinking about themes in general.

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The sleuth in your story comes from a long line of memorable protagonists who identified and eliminated suspects, detected the minutest of clues and solved the unsolvable that came before. They have a balance of psychological depth and endearing personality quirks. Plots revolve around the believability of their deduction skills. So how does your sleuth compare?

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Are you struggling with planting all those subtle clues into your murder mystery, and looking for some tips on how misdirect your reader while still playing fair? Check out this informative article “Don’t Drop Clues, Place Them Carefully” by Stephen Rogers published on writing-world.com.

In it, he explains that “when planting clues, there are a number of tricks you can use.

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