HOTXSINC Meeting: June 11, 2017: Hypnosis

Our mission is to promote
the ongoing advancement, recognition,
and professional development of women crime writers.
                                             ~ SINC Mission Statement

Program: Dr. Douglas Derrer on Hypnosis 

The Word on Our Members
Computer Keys for Four Hands: Teaming Up to Write
An Afternoon with Helen Ginger
Call for Submissions
Call to Action: Review!

Selected Sites
Nolo Contendere

Dr. Douglas Derrer on Hypnosis

At the June 11 HOTXSINC meeting, Dr. Douglas Derrer will speak about Hypnosis: its intriguing history, bizarre mythology, interesting clinical applications, and neuroscience findings.  This will include the traits needed for hypnotizability, stage vs. clinical hypnosis, as well as forensic hypnosis and its uses in memory enhancement for witnesses and victims. Dr. Derrer may also present an exercise on hypnotizability if time permits and the audience is interested.


Dr. Douglas Derrer & Sheba

Douglas Derrer, Ph. D., is a Yale-trained psychologist who served more than two decades in the United States Navy. Retired and living in Georgetown, Texas, he devotes himself to writing, nature, photography, and cycling. His writing interests are speculative fiction for children and adults. He explores several genres, including fantasy adventures, historical fiction, science fiction, steampunk, and social essays. Pirate Peril, The Sorcerer’s Invasion, and Worlds in Collision comprise his mid-grade/YA fantasy-adventure trilogy. King Tut and the Plagues of Egypt and The Mysterious Death of King Tut are a two-volume historical fiction novel about the fascinating 18th Dynasty boy king. All these books are available on Amazon. Two fan-fiction, steampunk Sherlock Holmes stories “Adventure of the Surrogate Queen” and “The Baleful Beanies” are available for free download from his website, A third Holmes story, “A Tunnel through Time” will be available soon. A long time member of the Speculative Fiction Writers Cooperative of Bainbridge Island, Washington, he has a short story, “Road Kill,” in their anthology Penumbra. He belongs to the San Gabriel Writers League of Texas and to Coroners, a writing critique group.


Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter meets monthly on the second Sunday of the month at 2:15 p.m. at Book People, 603 North Lamar, Austin, phone 512-472-5050.  Take the elevator to the third floor.

For information about the Heart of Texas Chapter, contact Joyce Arquette, Publicity (512) 266-6543, and check out our website at


You know what rumors are like–like a jar full of moths.
Once they escape, they’re all over the place. ~ Rhys Bowen


The Word on Our Members

June 7-13, Nancy G. West will be one of thirty-two authors offering books in Henery Press’ Rafflecopter. Nancy will post links on her website and on her Facebook page.
Subscribe to Nancy’s newsletter through the signup box, first page right column, on her website. Or message her on her Facebook page with your name/email address and she’ll sign you up.


Dave Ciambrone’s SUSPICIOUS THREADS, a new Virginia Davies Quilt Mystery came out May 23rd.


A review of Helen Currie Foster‘s GHOST DAGGER is featured in the May 2017 issue of Reviewer’s Bookwatch: “The fourth novel in author Helen Currie Foster’s simply outstanding  ‘Alice MacDonald Greer’ mystery series, Ghost Dagger continues to document Foster’s originality and complete mastery of the mystery/suspense genre. A deftly crafted and compelling read from cover to cover, Ghost Dagger is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections.”


Alexandra Burt was interviewed for Read to Write Stories. She was also interviewed on KOOP Radio’s Writing on the Air on May 14. To listen to the KOOP interview, click here.

Alexandra’s latest book, THE GOOD DAUGHTER, was reviewed by Michelle Newby in Lone Star Literary Life: “Well and intricately plotted,  moving quickly, Burt’s story spends as much time in the past as in the present. Subplots enrich and inform the main narrative, and well-placed clues (including the structure of the narratives themselves) tantalize.”


The Writers’ League of Texas announced winners and finalists in its 2017 Manuscript Contest. Three HOTXSINC members were named finalists:

  • Wendy Gee for TORCHES;
  • Sue Cleveland and Dixie Wyatt (writing as Meredith Lee) for SHROUDED.


ThirtyNineStars will sponsor a book launch for Meredith Lee’s debut mystery novel, SHROUDED, on September 9, 2017, at The Writing Barn in Austin, Texas. The event is set for 1:30 to 4:30 pm. The first installment in the Crispin Leads Mystery Series, SHROUDED is the story of a graduate student whose trip to Rome to study burial rituals at the Vatican is derailed when she is witness to a murder.  Award-winning author David Aretha calls SHROUDED “a masterfully written mystery novel, powered by well-developed characters and a sophisticated plot.”


If you chomp down too hard on my work, you’re going to break your teeth. ~ Patricia Cornwell


Computer Keys for Four Hands: Teaming Up to Write

By Dixie Lee Evatt and Sue Meredith Cleveland (aka Meredith Lee)

Dixie Wyatt & Sue Cleveland

How do you write as a team? It’s the question we are asked all the time. It’s a good one but not exactly an easy one to answer. Team, the notion of two horses hitched to a single sled, pulling in unison through the rough, uncharted paths of imagination, character, plot and dialogue, happens occasionally but it is the exception rather than the rule. What is more likely to occur is less like synchronized playing and more like a give and take. Less like a duet and more like badminton.

The birth of an idea is the starting point. One of us has a scathingly brilliant idea for a novel, a scene or a screenplay. It might come from a news article or something that happens to one of us. It might be born out of a snippet of conversation overheard in a restaurant or while waiting in line at the grocery store. It might be inspired while watching the dogs play in the yard or listening to children argue. It might come while researching one topic and then wandering down a rabbit trail, enticed by a wholly unrelated topic.

The partner listens to the idea, laughs, pulls it apart and then, if the idea is sustainable, plotting follows. One or the other of the partners will sketch out an outline and propose characters. From there the conversations begin in earnest. Talk. Talk. Talk. Research. More talk. More talk. Finally, one or the other has to put pen to paper. Or, more accurately, fingers to keyboard. This part is identical to that of every other writer. One set of hands. One keyboard. One computer screen. One draft. Then more talking and the handoff to the partner for critique and feedback. More talking. Each partner will take a hand at rewriting, adding chapters, polishing and handing the work back as the story grows and evolves. Back and forth from one set of hands to the other.

Like a tennis match, the “ball” can only be in one court at a time. Back and forth until that first draft is a reality. The story, the plot and the characters all live in the world you have created but they are rough. There are holes and it is time for more talk. This is where that “two horses in a trace” phase is handy. This is where we’ll sit together and talk through scenes and dialogue. If it is an action scene we will act it out to make sure it is practical. For instance, there is a scene in Shrouded where the female protagonist hides behind a door ready to whack someone on the head. We acted it out several times to make sure it worked. (Disclaimer: No authors were injured in the creation of this scene.)

The team of three writers (Brent Douglass, John T. Davis and James R. Dennis) who are the alter ego of Miles Arceneaux recently talked about their process at a meeting we attended and we were struck about how similar it is to ours. They wrote their first book, Thin Slide of Life, as a lark and it took years each writing a chapter in turn. Now, after four books, they more easily slip into the skin, and mind, of their phantom author and assume his voice.

Inevitably when more than one hand is writing there will be disagreements. This results in more talk. Make your case. Back off. Hold your ground. Propose solutions. A classic case is from Thin Slice of Life. Would the Texas Ranger take a swig of whisky before the gun battle? One author said, “Of course.” Another said, “No way.” Back and forth they went, until the third author broke the tie. Since we are just two and, therefore, don’t have a tiebreaker we have to find other ways to resolve these kinds of disagreements. So far, we always have because we always go back to what our early mentor, Bill Johnson, wrote in his book A Story is a Promise, “Perceiving that a story is a promise is a cornerstone of the foundation for understanding the art of story telling.” We agree with Johnson and try to honor the promise.

Is the process of writing easier with a partner? No, because writing is, by its very nature, hard and often tedious. No author can avoid the hours of outlining and revision. But if you find a trusted and admired co-conspirator to share the literary journey, to plod along next to, then, my friend, you will always have someone to cheer you on through the disappointments and the successes.


Crime fiction is the fiction of social history. Societies get the crimes they deserve. ~ Denise Mina


An Afternoon with Helen Ginger

Helen Ginger

Helen Ginger, author of DEADPOINT, will be featured at “An Afternoon with the Author” on Sunday, June 25, 2017, from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at Willow Terrace, 3801 Berkman Drive, 78723, in the Terrace Room. There will be an author presentation, book signing, and complimentary light bites. RSVP BY June 20 to or sign-up in Wildflower Terrace Book.

Helen was President of Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter in 1997. She has been a board member and executive director of the Writers League of Texas, and a volunteer chair for the Texas Book Festival.

“About DEADPOINT: A dead maintenance supervisor and an intrusive firebrand preacher have popped up at Hart of Atlantis Park and Aquarium in the Hill Country. Although divorced from Michael Lansing, the park’s security officer, Codie Hart resolves to work with him to protect her family’s business. When a skilled, ritualistic killer arrives to steal newly developed technology and seek revenge on an old enemy, Michael must decide how to protect Codie and the park without reliving his past.”




A pretty sight, a lady with a book. ~ Shirley Jackson



Call to Action: Review!

HOTXSINC’s mission is to promote the ongoing advancement, recognition, and professional development of women crime writers. We meet monthly, participate in the Texas Book Festival (and, once, the Jewish Book Fair), form critique groups, share works in progress, arrange programming. We organize to help writers.

But are we forgetting something? Sisters in Crime was founded because “books by woman mystery writers also weren’t being reviewed at a percentage equal to their participation in the field.”

The founding Sisters were no doubt referring to reviews written by professional reviewers for larger publications. But for lesser-known authors, especially those just starting their careers, reviews posted by general readers on online review sites are important, too. Many of our member authors fall into this category.

My research, in which I examined online records of four authors, and which took about 90 seconds, showed that Stephen King’s latest novel, released May 16, 2017, has garnered over 2,000 reader reviews.

Books by three newish authors I surveyed had, as much as a year following their release dates, attracted fewer than 100.

Low numbers have nothing to do with quality of writing. The books I checked are page-turners; I know because I’ve read them. But I knew about them because I had inside information. The thousands of potential readers out there don’t know those books exist. And if they see one that has only a few reviews, or maybe none at all, they tend to move on.

Publishers–at last the major ones–send books to reviewers. I imagine Stephen King’s publisher does. And Patricia Cornwell’s. And Mary Higgins Clark’s. Reviewers know their names and act accordingly. Newbie authors, even those with several books on the market, aren’t so fortunate. Their names don’t mean automatic publicity. They have to work harder, which means asking for reviews.

Many authors hate to ask readers to post reviews. It’s the introvert thing. They prefer not to toot their own horns.

Still, they need REVIEWS. They need them asap–especially in the first days after a book’s release. After that–they need more.

Here’s where individual Sisters, even introverts, can make a difference. 

When you read a Sister’s (or Brother’s) book and like it, post a review online. It doesn’t have to be long or sound like a book report. Did you like the book? Say so. What did you like? Who else might enjoy reading it? Rate the book as required, with stars, tomatoes, whatever.

Be sincere. Don’t say you like a book if you don’t.

If there’s something you think doesn’t work so wellIs pacing a little slow at the beginning? Did Dr. Watson marry and then show up living with Holmes again without explaining what happened to his wife? Is Inspector Morse driving you to distraction by eating all those pub lunches when you’ve just pledged to take off ten pounds by next Thursday?–you might mention it, but be gentle and fair and professional. Your review is meant for other readers; it’s not a critique directed at the author.

What if you didn’t like a book? Don’t review it. If you can’t give it at least three stars or tomatoes, don’t comment.

And never trash a book in a review. Trashing just makes the reviewer look bad. It can be devastating for an author. Nobody benefits. See Be sincere, above. Here the Golden Rule applies.*

If you have a personal relationship with the author, don’t mention it. Online review sites, we’ve heard, look askance at reviews–even honest, balanced, unbiased reviews–that are posted by family, friends, or anyone else whose opinion they think might have been influenced by the author. They can also look askance at the author. That’s not good.

Why are reviews important? Online review sites are read by thousands of potential readers. Reviews translate into sales. A book with a long string of reviews, especially soon after release date, catches the online bookseller’s attention. The bookseller might even smile upon the author by handing out perks. I have no idea what perks, but I’ve heard they exist, and that they can boost sales. Perks are very good.

Now. I have written over 700 words. I have used review and reviews 17 times; add reviewer to that, and I’ve probably set a record. I’ve preached to the choir and told you what you already know.

But in case you’ve forgotten–please REVIEW!

*The Golden Rule applies to the rest, too.


Successful people are not interesting. I feel for the losers.
That’s where my heart lies. ~ Karin Fossum


Call for Submissions

The Eyes of Texas
“The editor seeks private eye stories that represent the diversity of the Lone Star State. Stories may be set in West Texas, East Texas, the Mexican border, the Gulf Coast, the Panhandle, or anywhere in-between, and should represent the cultural, ethnic, gender, and political differences found throughout the state.” Details at


A lie that is half a truth is ever the hardest to fight. ~ Patricia Wentworth



6/11/2017 HOTXSINC Meeting
Dr. Douglas Derrer on Hypnosis

6/15/2017 Writers’ League of Texas
Third Thursday: “Practice Makes Pitch Perfect”

6/25/2017 Book signing and author presentation
“An Afternoon with the Author” featuring Helen Ginger, author of DEADPOINT
More information, above
@ Wildflower Terrace

6/27/2017 MysteryPeople
UNSUB Discussion and signing, hosted by Meg Gardiner
@MysteryPeople /BookPeople



I think myself I ought to be shot for writing such nonsense….
But it’s unquestionably good escapist literature and I think I should rather like it
if I were sitting in an air-raid shelter or recovering from flu. ~ Georgette Heyer


 Selected Sites

10 of the Best Sherlock Holmes Stories Everyone Should Read

I’ll Never Forget My First…

The Rap Sheet Intro

In Reference to Murder

Killer Characters

Proofreading Tips Part 1 of 2
Proofreading Tips Part 2 of 2

What Are the Rules?

Sub-Plots and Story

Google Maps: The Best Writing Tools That No One Knows About


Thanks to Karleen Koen for sharing the following sites:

53 Ways to Improve Your Short Stories

Q&A: Brian Yansky (on tension and conflict)

How to Spot Toxic Feedback: 7 Signs That the Writing Advice You’re Getting May Do More Harm Than Good


Thanks to The Passive Voice for sharing the following sites:

The Wartime Spies Who Used Knitting as an Espionage Tool

Women Booksellers Rule

Walmart Is Asking Employees to Deliver Packages on Their Way Home from Work

Murder on the Orient Express

John Grisham’s Do’s and Don’ts for Writing Popular Fiction

Amazon’s Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores Are Not Built For People Who Actually Read

When tweeters attack: why do readers send authors their bad reviews?

Exactly how I self-published my book, sold 180,000 copies, and nearly doubled my revenue

5 types of rest every creative should adopt


Nobody likes to be accused of a virtue. ~ Patricia Wentworth


Nolo Contendere

Members, please email links to your websites and/or blogs to kathywaller1 at gmail dot com so they can be listed in our blogroll. Email your news/announcements to the same address.

Kathy Waller, editor
kathywaller1 at gmail dot com


I wouldn’t mind being a fly on the wall in a few Victorian parlours. ~ Sarah Waters




Heroes, Villains, and Lawyers

Mark Pryor, Billy Kring, and Manning Wolfe spoke at the workshop Heroes, Villains, and Lawyers, presented by MysteryPeople and HOTXSINC Saturday, May 27. After individual presentations, they joined Scott Montgomery for a Q & A session with the audience.


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