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The Good Old Summertime

When the Sheriff of Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri, dies in a wagon accident, Julia Nye is determined to investigate. From her nominal position as a typist in the City of St. Louis Police Department, she is sure of only a few issues surrounding the Sheriff’s death: that lawmen don’t break laws, even those they dislike; that prohibition is a passionate issue but not one worth killing for; and that the investigation itself is certainly not a deadly undertaking. She recruits two male reporter friends and the trio finds out, each person in a different way, that those sureties may not hold.



St. Louie Slow Drag

In the steamy August of 1910, St. Louis is rocked by murders and arsons in aneighborhood home to Negroes, brothels and ragtime. (The slow drag is a ragtime style.) The tensions threaten the friendships among a trio of quasi-amateur sleuths: Julia Nye, suffragist and typist at police headquarters, and reporters William McConnell and Carl Schroeder. After the trio pulls together to thwart the racists who try to burn the neighborhood, disappointed religious fanatics decide to finish the job, with Julia’s murder to be the spark for riot and destruction.



Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl

In 1910, Chicago is trying to rid itself of the white slave trade, and the deaths of two factory girls in St. Louis brothels signal that the vice has shifted to St. Louis in the person of a slick factory owner.  Our three sleuthsrespond: suffragist Julia Nye usually types for the St. Louis police, but now agrees to go undercover in the factory; reporters William McConnell and Carl Schroeder head to Chicago to uncover the man’s background. What William and Carl discover convince them to get Julia out of the factory at the same time that Julia overhears her new boss plan to end the men’s investigations by making sure they don’t return to St. Louis.  The threats all around send Julia down the same path as the women she’s trying to avenge.

Judged Best Self-Published Novel by the James River Writers (Virginia) in 2016


Heading into another round of writing in the Fall of 2017.

Supporting writers at the Russell County, Virginia, Library in Lebanon.


NaNoWriMo is an acronym and stands for National Novel Writing Month—which happens to be November. It would be fine to have such a thing in the abstract, but there is actually an organization out there that carries the idea a step further: writing 50,000 words of a novel in the 30 days of November.


What you do is go to and sign up. You simply declare the name of the novel you’re going to write. During the month, you get emails of encouragement (and requests to help support the organization through donations.) At the end of the month, you upload your 50,000 words and are declared a winner. Do you get anything for winning? No, of course not. For one thing, the site doesn’t know if you repeated one word 50,000 times or actually wrote something resembling a novel. Your reward is the novel itself. It’s probably a rough draft—and maybe only half of a 100,000 word novel, but you got something concrete done.


The nanowrimo organization has expanded to a July experience, Camp NaNoWriMo, in which you can set your own goal in terms of words. During Camp NaNoWriMo, you join a “cabin” of writers who encourage each other. In addition, some libraries get in the act by sponsoring workdays and encouragement sessions during November.


Does it work? It does for me. Bread and Roses and Train Song (the fourth and fifth novels in the Julia Nye Mystery Series) were written—or at least 50K of them were—during November of 2014 and 2016, respectively. Both of those books are in the mid 70,000s in word count, so you can see that I got a good start during November. There’s even a name for someone who participates, a Wrimo. Crazy how these things take off.  


This only works for me because I know what I’m intending to write in November. October requires me to have as much of a plan as I’m likely to ever have. Sometimes that doesn’t work. In Bread and Roses, I was on my third suspect before I knew for sure whodunit. And that was a week or so into November. Still, having a deadline helped me get something down, something to work with in December and January and thereafter.


This year, I’m hoping to write the first book in the new World War One espionage series. November 1 is nearing, and I’m frantically trying to get a list of scenes put together.


Meanwhile, I will be mentoring anyone in Southwest Virginia who might be interested and who can make it to the Russell County Public Library in Lebanon. We will meet Tuesday evenings at 6 p.m., offer each other words of encouragement, and enjoy the library-quiet to write for an hour or so. Contact Kelly McBride at the library if you have questions. That’s


Whether you seek support or go it alone, this is a good time of year to settle down and write that novel you’ve been thinking about. Good luck!

What in the world is NaNoWriMo? 

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