Posted in Guest Post, mystery, Spotlight on October 24, 2015




Richard Lake, of the Atlanta Police Department, gets a cold case when a witness suddenly gets his memory back. Lake recruits Moriah Dru to look into the murder of Juliet Trapp, 16 when she died, and a student at Winters Farm Academy.

Juliet Trapp had told her mother she was going to Bike Week with Wild Blood, an outlaw motorcycle gang, over the Christmas break. The police were unable to solve Juliet’s murder after interviews with the bikers. The case roars into high gear when Juliet’s father, Sherman Trapp, is murdered in Chattanooga where Wild Blood is the predominant motorcycle club. Dru discovers that Trapp was trying to find the killer of his daughter, but got too close.


Guest Post

Fact from Fiction

When I was working at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a newspaper writer — as opposed to being an editorialist positing my opinions on the news — my colleagues swore I wrote fiction. I swear I did not. That’s how the story went.

I retired twelve years ago when I began my fiction-writing journey —in earnest. For a journey it truly is. As a mystery/thriller writer, I wish I had made up some of those stories I covered. The things some people do cannot be imagined by a rational mind.

Writing fact newspaper or magazine stories is a simple matter. Your editor gives you an assignment. He or she tells you how many column inches your hole is (the place in the paper where your story is going to be).

At this point let me say that it is your story. You are telling it. You are not getting inside heads and supposing what their actions mean.

You start by downloading all you can find about the principals in the news from Lexis-Nexis. Way back when I started in journalism old articles, biographical materials, side-bars were catalogued on microfilm, then hard copies were folded, stuffed into envelopes and stacked on shelves in a room called “the morgue”.

After you get the documents together, call up folks (regular Joes, cops, politicians, etc. ) for facts and good quotes (if you can get them) and through the investigation come up with a who, where, when, what, and why—why is the tricky part that can lead a reporter into supposition.

Now to write the fact story. You start with a lede (not lead as it’s pronounced) hopefully as a result of a good quote, and then you write the nut graf (those nitty and gritty W’s). In journalism schools they teach you to write all the important, good stuff at the top, and winnow down to a last paragraph that can be cut if the hole for your copy shrinks.

Now with fiction, this is not your story. The story belongs to the characters. This is where you show, and not tell. The narrator should be as unobtrusive as possible. Get inside the heads of your characters and show your readers what they think.

Otherwise, writing fiction is a lot like fact. But you’ve got to add a lot more W’s and a whole lot more words than the average 1,000-word news story—at least 70,000 more words. It is the expansion of all that you’ve dreamed up, remembered, researched and can be an awesome experience if you’re up to the task.

In fact writing you may not know the outcome, or who-dun-it, but there’s still a story to tell. In fiction, it’s a good idea to know how your story will end from the beginning. Fewer quagmires to get through. But it’s also a good idea to keep it loose, let your characters tell their own stories; their journeys. It’s not your journey after all.

After the first draft that makes sense, it’s time for revising, shifting, editing point-of-view, culling too many adjectives and adverbs, enhancing plot and dialogue and keeping characters compelling.  I can think of a lot more that goes into editing your own novel, but those are the biggies.

This journey is all yours. You won’t have an assignment editor, a copy editor or a managing editor to mess with your efforts—until you have a book editor who does the same.

Not much difference in the end.


About the Author

Gerrie and BogeyRetired journalist for The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, in 2009, Gerrie won The Malice Domestic/St. Martin’s Minotaur Best First Traditional Novel Competition for THE END GAME, released by St. Martin’s Minotaur in 2010. She grew up in Missouri, then headed further south to join the staff of the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. There, she researched and edited the columns of humorist Lewis Grizzard and co-wrote a news column with another reporter for three years.

Lewis became her mentor, and when he passed away, Gerrie joined the newspapers’ Southern Task Force. As a reporter, she traveled the Tobacco Roads of Georgia, Virginia and Alabama, and the narrow, historic streets of New Orleans. She wrote about Natchez, Mississippi’s unique history, Florida’s diverse population, and the Outer Banks struggle to keep the Cape Hatteras light house from toppling into the sea. She also served on the National News Desk and on the City Desk’s City Life section.

Gerrie’s life has been busy but she always knew when she retired, she’d write crime fiction. She covered crime for the newspaper. Real crime is sordid, with no romance or redeeming features. Justice often doesn’t prevail. Real people go back to miserable lives. “In writing fictional crime,” Gerrie says,”I can make the good guys winners and give the bad guys what they deserve.”

Series Books: The End Game, The Last Temptation, The Devil Laughed, Murmurs of Insanity, Running with Wild Blood, and coming in May 2016, American Nights

Website * Facebook * Blog * Twitter