December 7, 2011

Mystery We Write Winter 2011 Blog Tour Presents Pat Browning

Pat Browning was born and raised in Oklahoma. A longtime resident of California’s San Joaquin
Valley before moving back to Oklahoma in 2005, her professional writing credits go back to the 1960s, when she was a stringer for The Fresno Bee while working full time in aHanford law office.

Her globetrotting in the 1970s led her into the travel business, first as a travel agent, then as a correspondent for TravelAge West, a trade journal published in San Francisco. In the 1990s, she signed on fulltime as a newspaper reporter and columnist, first at The Selma Enterprise and
then at The Hanford Sentinel.

Her first mystery, FULL CIRCLE, was set in a fictional version of Hanford, and published
through iUniverse in 2001. It was revised and reissued as ABSINTHE 0F MALICE by Krill Press in 2008. An extensive excerpt can be read at Google Books

The second book in the series, METAPHOR FOR MURDER, is a work in progress. ABSINTHE takes place on a Labor Day weekend. METAPHOR picks up the story the week before Christmas. Log line: Small town reporter Penny Mackenzie tracks an offbeat Christmas story and finds herself in the middle of a murder and the mysterious desecration of an old Chinese cemetery.

Pat’s articles on the writing life have appeared in The SouthWest Sage, the monthly journal of SouthWest Writers, based in Albuquerque, New   Mexico. Her web site at is under construction.


ABSINTHE OF MALICE can be ordered through any bookstore or online from and Barnes & Noble.

Barnes and Noble, print and Nook

Amazon, print and Kindle


A Writer’s Book Shelf

There are many ways to write a book, and many writers who want to tell you how it’s done. I have a very short shelf of how-to books that I wouldn’t be without. Herewith, in no particular order:

HOW TO WRITE KILLER FICTION by Carolyn Wheat (Perseverance Press 2003). Among other things, she explains the difference between mystery and suspense, and takes you through the Four-Arc system for organizing your novel. Wheat is a no-nonsense teacher. In her Preface, she writes: “If anything in this book works for you, I’m glad. If it doesn’t, toss it away and write from
your gut, always keeping in mind the one immutable fact about fiction: You’re the one creating the reader’s experience.”

FICTION WRITING DEMYSTIFIED by Thomas B. Sawyer (Ashleywilde, Inc. 2003).
Sawyer was show runner and writer for the TV series “Murder She Wrote” so he knows how to move a story along. He writes from a screenwriter’s experience, but it easily translates to the novel. Chapter Six on writing dialogue cured me of using tiresome dialogue tags. Sawyer wrote his first thriller, THE SIXTEENTH MAN, without a single dialogue tag, letting action and internal monologue take the place of “he said” and other tags.  Sawyer calls it “high-energy writing.” Reading his novel is like being there, watching the whole thing take place. Try it. In fact, my cure for being stuck in a difficult scene or chapter is to draft the whole thing in dialogue. Works every time.

DEADLY DOSES: A Writer’s Guide to Poisons, by Serita Deborah Stevens with Anne Klarner (Writer’s Digest Books 1990). This detailed and highly readable book is responsible for the murder weapons used in my mystery ABSINTHE OF MALICE. As one character says: “Every pretty thing that grows will kill you or cure you, depending on how you use it.”

An updated version of this book is HOWDUNIT – THE BOOK OF POISONS by Serita Stevens and Anne Bannon (Writer’s Digest Books 2007). The new book is also on Kindle. It’s pricey, but I think I will have to buy it.

FORENSICS FOR DUMMIES by D.P. Lyle, M.D. (Wiley Publishing 2004). Chapter 15, “What’s The Deal With DNA?” caused me to re-write an entire chapter because I didn’t fully understand
DNA when I wrote FULL CIRCLE. When Krill Press republished FULL  CIRCLE as ABSINTHE OF MALICE, I had the perfect opportunity for revising.

Dr. Lyle’s Chapter 10 subsection “Dem Bones, Dem Bones: Working With Skeletons” gave me important information for my second book (still in progress) after a local physician gave me faulty advice. Fortunately I know a brush-off when I get one. I kept looking for answers until I found FORENSICS FOR DUMMIES. Dr. Lyle takes crime writers seriously. His subjects in “Working With Skeletons” include determining whether bones are human, determining age, estimating stature, determining sex (with good illustrations), determining race, and determining cause and manner of death.

A quick mention of two other books on my shelf:

EYE LANGUAGE: UNDERSTANDING THE ELOQUENT EYE by Evan Marshall (New Trend 1983). (An updated version was published in 2003 as THE EYES HAVE IT: REVEALING THEIR POWER, MESSAGES AND SECRETS.)

THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF HUMAN BONES by Simon Mays (Routledge 1998). A big manual with everything you ever wanted to know about bones, and great illustrations.

Beth, thank you for hosting me today. It was a pleasure to
be here.

You’re welcome, Pat.  Folks, be sure and leave a comment for Pat.  Might want to get into the habit of doing so, you never know when you’ll win a book!

Cheers and XOXO, Beth

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9 Responses | TrackBack URL | Comments Feed

  1. Great list, Pat. I too have Deadly Doses — goes with loving Agatha Christie.



  2. Pat, what a smart idea sending different photos of yourself for the tour, I never thought of that. I have Serita’s book on poison too, along with a bunch more.



  3. Hi Pat, I just last night finished reading Absinthe of Malice and loved it. Get to writing that sequel, girl.


  4. Oh, boy, I really need to get some of those books, Pat. Thanks for the list!


  5. I have Forensics for Dummies and love the easy style. It has kept me from making mistakes. I will have to check into the poison one. Great post. May have to steal the idea on my books. Thanks Pat!
    W.S. Gager on Writing


  6. Good list, Pat. I have several of them, including Absinthe of Malice and Carolyn Wheat’s indespensible book.


  7. Pat, excellent list of books for writers. You could also write an excellent How-To… if you wanted to. But please don’t. I have a short attention span with this type of book (except for the one by Stephen King and BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott. I’m dying to read your next mystery, and I know it’s in the oven.


  8. Pat,
    Thanks for your list!!!!!



  9. Pat, you have an impressive list of reference material in your how-to library, and it shows in your writing. Now you need to get that Penny sequel out to us.


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