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The Writing Life of Mystery Author Carole Lynn Jones, Host of Humor Contest

Carole Lynn Jones is the author of the Melody Shore Mysteries and several children’s books. Her book, This New Job's Murder, is coming out later this year. In it, you'll meet Melody Shore, a sassy, calamity-prone cemetery assistant trying her best to send the dearly departed off to a “peaceful rest” in the small town of Pleasantview. Unfortunately, no matter how hard she tries she can’t seem to keep herself out of the crosshairs of murder. Come along as she buries her past, digs for clues, and unearths small-town secrets.

Carole says her writing process is like scrambling eggs. You crack open the case, expose the characters and then create a story that is satisfying. A little salt, pepper, and hot sauce are always necessary. When she isn’t putting her imagination to work writing cozy mysteries or picture books, she spends her days and sometimes nights formatting legal documents for a large law firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Always a storyteller, when a friend invited her to a college writing workshop she discovered an outlet that turned a hobby to a passion. She enjoys biking the many bike trails of Western Pennsylvania and spending time at home allowing her cat Elvis to turn her lap into his favorite seat. Married to her high school sweetheart, she has two grown children and one spoiled cat. Find her online at, @CaroleJonesy (Twitter), @carole_lynn_jones (Instagram).

Motive, Means, and Opportunity

In my mind, there are three things the perpetrator of crime in every good mystery needs. They are motive, means, and opportunity.

This is also something writers need to see their ideas come to fruition and receive that glorious “We would love to see more of your work,” email.

Today, I thought I would give you a glimpse into the motive, means and opportunity that brought me to where I am today as a writer.

What is my motive to write?

It’s not money. Any writer can tell you this. Seeing my story come to life and taking my active imagination for a walk are my answers. Those, and I love to people watch. If you haven’t tried people watching yet for characterization and creative motivation, I highly recommend it. In an outdoor shopping venue in Maine, a woman walked by and said to her friend, “Doesn’t everyone mix their poodles?” I’m not sure what she was talking about, but it is certainly a humorous line.

Twelve years ago, a close friend invited me to a college writing class. I was hooked. Here’s my short list of lessons learned:

  1. Your story isn’t going to get out to the world if it is only in your head. Get your butt in the chair and write.

  2. Network with other writers. There is so much to learn.

  3. Join a critique group. Give feedback and expect to hear good and bad in return.

  4. A good query letter is important.

  5. You will receive a lot of rejection. Don’t give up.

  6. A good editor is a necessity.

What means do I use to write?

I do jot ideas down on paper, but the bulk of my time is spent pounding away on my laptop. Someone told me once to buy a small recorder to record ideas when I couldn’t be at the keyboard. I never did this, but probably should have. I can’t count the number of times I have nearly wiped out running from my downstairs shower to my upstairs computer to type out the idea that came to me in the shower. At one of the classes I attended, the instructor said, “If you are stuck on your story, try taking a shower.” I took her advice to heart and also to soap. While writing the Melody Shore Mysteries, I solved a lot of plot roadblocks in my shower and I’m squeaky clean too.

Talking about clean, I recently cleaned my office. I am still old-school in I jot down my ideas on any piece of paper I find, I print out research, and save handouts from classes in folders. Even with organization, I still have three stacks, each about four inches high. This doesn’t count my numerous writing process books, and my favorite books I keep within eyesight for inspiration.

You work at a job outside of writing, when do you have the opportunity to write?

This goes back to my shortlist above. Every published author will tell you if you are serious about getting a book published, you need to write, write and rewrite. I will be honest when I say I don’t write every day of the week, sometimes I do take a day or four off. But since finding out that I would be published with Flying Ketchup Press, I spend an average of an hour or more a day writing, and on either Saturday or Sunday, a good half a day. As we move closer to publication, my time has extended for the marketing aspect of publishing a book.

I created my website, a Facebook author page, and a fun page called “I’m Shore You’re Joking” named after my protagonist, Melody Shore filled with posts of jokes. When I can stay out of the rabbit holes of social media, I update these pages.

I have also created a newsletter which is a great way to grow your readership and keep people updated. The people who read my newsletter, follow my pages, and the members of my “I’m Shore You’re Joking” all give me a desire to be a better writer and to entertain through my writing.

I love to write humor and read humor. My favorite authors are Janet Evanovich and Laura Levine. I also have to admit that after four years in my Sisters in Crime chapter, I am still in the fangirl stage when I spend time in the company of Pittsburgh authors, Annette Dashofy, Rebecca Drake, Nancy Martin, and Liz Milliron, to name a few. I have learned so much from them.

This quote stares me down daily: “Never Give Up. No one knows what will happen next. L. Frank Baum

I hope my blog entertained you today and I hope you find your motive, means, and opportunity in your creative life.

Carole will be the judge for Flying Ketchup's humorous short fiction contest, Sugarcoat. Fiction or nonfiction, spread mirth with words and prove that laughter is the best medicine. We are accepting submissions through September.

Winners will be promoted on Flying Ketchup's social media and website. Top winners will be included in our 2022 published anthology collection.


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Flying Ketchup Press ® grassroots and artist-run, we are a trademarked small press in Kansas City using traditional and hybrid publishing formats established to develop new and diverse voices in poetry and short story. Our dream is to salvage lost treasure troves of written and illustrated work-- to create worlds of wonder and delight; to share stories.

Maybe yours.

Make friends with your inner editor. Just a dash.

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