Reader Friday: Work in Progress

Tell us about your WIP in three or four sentences (no time like the present to nail your elevator pitch). Please include genre.

How’s the writing going?

Are the words flowing from your fingerprints?

Or are you bleeding for every word?

For non-writers or if you’re in between projects: Tell us about the last book you read (in three or four sentences).

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About Sue Coletta

Sue Coletta is an award-winning crime writer and an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Feedspot and named her Murder Blog as “Best 100 Crime Blogs on the Net.” She also blogs at the Kill Zone, Story Empire, and Writers Helping Writers. Sue lives with her husband in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Her backlist includes psychological thrillers, the Mayhem Series (books 1-3) and Grafton County Series, and true crime/narrative nonfiction. Now, she exclusively writes eco-thrillers, Mayhem Series (books 4-8 and continuing). Sue's appeared on the Emmy award-winning true crime series, Storm of Suspicion, and three episodes of A Time to Kill on Investigation Discovery. Learn more about Sue and her books at

53 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Work in Progress

  1. I’m furiously striking the keyboard as I finish my next Mike Romeo thriller. Interestingly, the first part of it was sloggy, which is usually not the case. But now I’m enthusiastically heading for the end because I’m anxious to see how it turns out. (I know the ending, because I’m an outliner, but I can’t wait to see how I do it, stylistically.)

  2. Interesting question, Sue. I will answer at least part of it in my post next Saturday!

  3. Finished the first run-through on my romantic suspense, #10 in my Blackthorne, Inc. series. Will be cleaning it up soon. Still working on the book description/blurb.

  4. Women’s Fiction, The Road to Me. ‘Trouble with the Curve meets Peace, Love & Misunderstanding’
    The Universe conspires, forcing an uptight, workaholic perfumer on a Route 66 road trip with the hippie grandmother she bitterly resents. What she discovers there could not only heal the scars of her childhood, but open her to a brighter future.

  5. I’m in between books.

    Just finished Free Fire by C.J. Box, a terrific story about a small area in Yellowstone that isn’t under any legal jurisdiction. The premise is: if you kill someone in that no man’s land, the case can’t be tried, therefore you can get away with murder.

    I want to be C.J. Box when I grow up.

  6. Freaky Friday meets 9 to 5 at Christmas – a secretary/boss body switch. It’s a lot of fun and I’m having a blast with it.

    Also reworking a screenplay that placed well in a contest a while back. A far-flung family reunites for the last Thanksgiving at their family home. Inspired by the Dolly Parton song “Family” which I would love to be the theme song (Dolly are you listening?)

    Writing is going well, just wish I had more time to do it.

  7. I’m between projects right now. Currently reading Book #24 in the Gaslight Mysteries, “Murder on Wall Street” by Victoria Thompson. Early last year, while on the hunt for some historical mysteries to read as an example, I stumbled upon this author’s work. These books are set in early 1900’s NYC & the main protag is a midwife named Sarah Brandt.

    Clearly the author is engaging & able to snag readers because she has managed to get me to read 23 books that are far out my interest range: 1) I never read stuff set in or about NYC; 2) I’m not typically drawn to female protag stories, & 3) this time period is a little later in our history than I prefer to read.

    So here’s hoping #24 in the series will be good too!

    • I know today’s topic is not about book covers but I thought I should note a successful strategy that Ms. Thompson used that worked on this picky fiction reading customer: Each of the book covers avoided using “woman in fluffy dress” on the cover & instead has mysterious city-scapes on the covers that speak well to the stories you’ll get. That’s another reason she reeled me in.

  8. Good morning, Sue … Thanks for asking. I’m working on the fifth draft of the my first novel, which I intend to be the first book of a trilogy. It’s Young Adult – Contemporary – Speculative. Forgive my cheating here, but I’m sharing six sentences instead of four.

    Fourteen-year old STEM prodigy Cindy Unterberg grieves her younger sister’s recent death while she is bullied by classmates in her rural Minnesota school. After a humiliating beating, she accepts a mysterious social media invitation to attend the Underground, a school for gifted outcasts concealed in a coal mine by a fugitive geneticist. Cindy applies for a dream internship in his laboratory to learn to modify stem cells to save the lives of people like her sister.

    Except to win the internship, Cindy must outperform cutthroat Melissa in a competition that’s supposed to be friendly. Cindy must reckon with Melissa’s sabotage, threats, and seduction of her boyfriend, all of which lead the geneticist to think Cindy knows the true, criminal purpose of the laboratory. Now she risks serious bodily harm if she exposes Melissa’s actions and the loss of her dream internship and self-respect if she doesn’t.

    • Good morning, Louis. Wow! Sounds like an amazing story. Love how you used the fascinating field of stem cell research. I can only imagine how much time you spent researching the field. Happy writing!

  9. Mad River Magic #4 – “Heart Brain 180” – middle-grade YA fantasy, is out with the middle-grade beta readers. I’ll start on final edits in June. I’ve finished an outline for book #5 – “Skin in the Game,” but yesterday, after reading more about Kindle’s new platform – Vella – for serial fiction (our topic for tomorrow morning), I began outlining a book for Vella. I’m thinking about using my voice journals for the characters in the Mad River Magic series, and do a character oriented adventure (with lots of angst for those young female readers), one book for each voice journal, giving each character a whole book to tell their story.

    So stop back at TKZ tomorrow to discuss serial fiction and Vella.

    • Funny you should mention Vella, Steve. I have a friend who just asked me about them (I had no answers for him). He’s interested in the platform, too. Looking forward to your post!

  10. My elevator pitch for the science fiction adventure I’m shopping around is: Two agents of an interplanetary law enforcement agency must learn to work together to save Earth from an interstellar bandit.

    I’ll sometimes add: It doesn’t help that one of them doesn’t believe in life in “outer space”.

  11. Mine is a novel that will come out later this years. Here’s a quick synopsis.

    Once a great firefighter, Reid knows his courage is damaged along with most of his right leg. Desperate to keep working, and to find purpose, Reid travels to Azurbar where he doesn’t have to pass any physical or mental tests. The threat of violence mounts and harsh consequences lie in the path of terrorists whose intent is to disrupt Azurbar industry.

    Reid knows he will be forced to endure impossible odds, the mental trauma inside him spikes. Things quickly worsen when an Azurbaree national with an unhealthy obsession begins to threaten Reid’s safety. There isn’t much help for Reid since Dave, an alcoholic mentor, isn’t coping well with the extremism that’s on a steady rise.

    Everything is going really well but I’m working through a third draft of this WIP. I’m struggling with the quality of writing this time and working hard to get an enjoyable experience for the reader.

    I wouldn’t say that I’m bleeding for every word-thankfully the project is worth it.

    • Sounds great, Ben. If you need help in tightening the writing, type “write tight” into the search bar. Pages of posts will pop up. Happy writing!

      • That was great advice. Just read a few post by JSB and took out some stuff in the first chapter. Oh, man – what a difference. Wish you lived next door but I would be that pain in the ass you’d never be free from.

        Thank you Sue for saving my weekend.

  12. Flames from her past flicker at Kinton Brûlée’s feet, threatening to destroy the young Native American fire investigator’s career when it’s barely begun. Fueling her doubts are her struggle to raise a disabled baby, be a role model for her wayward niece, and keep her fierce traditional grandma placated. Finding out who staged an explosion and fire at a hemp grow when the arsonist wants her dead, and partnering with a fire chief with secrets of his own, she digs deep for tools and courage to destroy all her demons and breathe free once more.

    • Sounds rife with conflict, Carole. I know this might be a quick description, and God knows I’m not perfect, but I couldn’t help noticing all the sentences that start with a gerund. Just making you aware. Happy writing!

  13. ‘Mornin’ Sue. I’m in deep research mode for the new crime fiction series “City Of Danger”. Logline: A modern city in dystopian crisis surreptitiously enlists two private detectives from its utopian past to dispense street justice and restore social order.

  14. Horror novella.:-)

    Wang hates his job. He slaughters (a type of food not appropriate to say on TKZ) for a successful restaurant in Gansu Province, China. But when Wang finally quits, he is the one targeted for slaughter.

    I’m furiously editing and will be sending off to a beta TODAY!

  15. Loved reading all of your comments! Writers are such fun people to be around. And thanks for the opportunity to share, Sue…

    I have two novels at the finish line, toes over.

    Both women’s Christian fiction/suspense. Here’s the blurb for No Tomorrows, which was a First Page Critique here, seems like eons ago.

    What would you today do if you knew tomorrow was your day to die?

    Annie Lee, married and the mother of four children, becomes convinced-through a series of bizarre, frightening experiences during a 24 hour period-that tomorrow is her day. Ride on her shoulder as she navigates this terror-filled roller coaster day, and discover what she learns is the answer to this age-old question.

    Fans of James Rubart and Bill Myers will like this story.

    This one is with my editor now, and then will be sent to an agent who has requested to see it. The other will also be shopped this year.

    . . . Fingers drumming . . . 🙂

  16. An ambitious district attorney races against the clock to find a stalker intent on harming her and her daughter, only to be arrested when he turns up dead.

  17. Good morning, Sue. I’m currently in revision heck with my first mystery, a cozy set in the 1980s at a fictional library branch in the fictional Portland, Oregon neighborhood of Fir Grove. Para-librarian Meg Booker is left in charge when her boss goes on a trip around the world, and has to get to the bottom of a mystery involving stolen historical records and the sudden demise of the nastiest person in Fir Grove, while dealing with the sudden appearance of her mercurial big brother, and wondering about the mysterious and attractive new guy at work.

    I’ve made several passes through the book and have a pile of notes to implement–if there’s such a thing as revision block, I have had this past week. I know what I need to do, I just need to dive in and make those changes and fixes. Any advice will be very much appreciated 🙂

    Happy Friday!

    • The story sounds exciting, Dale. Sometimes the best thing we can do is work on something else, or spend time reading. A short respite allows to come back with clearer eyes. Good luck!

  18. Current one-liner for Book 3 in my SciFi/Time Travel Fiction series:

    Time-traveler Tom Cook confronts enemies in different worlds to save both his family and the future of the Neanderthals. **

    Just finished Act 1 and moving steadily toward the Midpoint. Shooting for a scene a day, but you know how it goes. As soon as I post this I’ll go downstairs to make a pancake, do the daily Spelling Bee game on NYT, and then dive into the next scene. That’s my process and I’m sticking to it!

    ** can never remember if you allow HTML tags here on TKZ so am trying a bit above. Would be cool if you allowed post editing for XX minutes.

  19. Kathryn and Cece are pulled into a university murder mystery in the third book of my cozy mystery series. When a chapel deacon is found dead after a fire the police rule the death was accidental, but a strange coded message found in the chapel prayer box may be a clue to something more sinister. The amateur sleuths navigate a maze of administrative bungling, professorial egos, and cryptographic expertise to find the truth.

    I’m at the 50K word mark on the first draft, but I’m sure I’ll throw a lot of those away. Still, it seems to be coming together.

  20. I’ll know I’ve reached serenity and enlightenment when I can push the call button for my elevator pitch and something, anything, arrives…

    If you can’t run, you can hide. Thirteen-year-old Flavia is warned that her servants are about to kill her in a note from herself—one she doesn’t remember writing. The note is addressed to Frank Barron, a boy she doesn’t know from the California side of the gateway and the most irritating person alive. He shows her the note and whisks her into hiding just in time, faster than her polio-weakened legs can carry her. Sliver Buckshot is a magical realism novel pretending to be YA.

  21. Title: On Dating 25 Girls
    in One Evening
    Genre: Contemporary Romance (circa 1970) with elements of Suspense/Thriller (We know from page 1 ‘Who done it,’ question is, “Will he get away with it?”)
    Sub-genre: Billionaire with a twist, a commoner male is pursued by an uber rich socialite female.

    Elevator pitch (4 sentences clipped from inside dust jacket flap):

    This coming of age story unfolds at the multi-intersection of the 1960-80 sexual revolution, the Vietnam War’s peak, the “bra burning” feminist second wave, and the sharp rise in the use of both recreational and hard drugs which fueled drug gangs’ power, leading to rife corruption of local political systems.

    Finishing schools for young females in the 1960s were still somewhat commonplace but disappearing rather quickly as worry of a college education making a female un-marriageable faded into history. Not completely unfounded, in 1900 75% of females with a college education hadn’t married by age 65, by 1950 it was still 35%, a great concern to parents who longed for grandchildren.

    Uber rich socialite females, seeking to escape the confinement of their finishing school, convince a commoner guy to play the role of “approved male escort” and they fabricate an upper class cover story for him.

    How’s the writing going? ANS: I’m a native business style writer which translates into a tersely written synopsis of a novel (neither a pantser nor outliner am I), from which 40 words becomes 2,400 when fleshed out into a fiction novel style with descriptions, tension creations, etc. When I have 1,500 to 2,000 words written, I know I will have a full length novel after I add the JSB magic to it.

    Are the words flowing from your fingerprints, or are you bleeding for every word? ANS: The words come like one might expect when trying to get a drink from a fire-hydrant. This transition into novel writing has been a journey of discovery. Originally when I had a little over 12k words on paper, I thought it would unpack into a novel of 90k to 120k words. Missed it by a country mile, got something dwarfing War & Peace. Didn’t want to waste all that work. The fix was to split it into a double trilogy. The current focus is on getting the first volume over the finish line. The ugh comes from a steady diet of revising and polishing, my least favorite task.

    • Sounds amazing, Lars!

      This line cracked me up: The words come like one might expect when trying to get a drink from a fire-hydrant. Haha. Great visual!

  22. Genre: Crime Thriller, Book One in the Cold Case Chronicles (written under my pen name).
    When a young girl goes missing in Cape Girardeau, FBI agent Cara Conroy cascades toward discovering what happened to her and her still-missing sister twenty-seven years ago. Seeking the truth threatens the lives of her children and puts her own sanity in jeopardy.

    Writing is coming along, slowly. But I’ve finally found my voice with this story and when I do write, the words flow effortlessly.

  23. I thought I left a comment yesterday, but I don’t see it. If by chance I missed it and have double posted, I apologize ahead of time.

    My current work is a dive into fantasy.


    Plighted: to solemnly pledge one’s faith or loyalty; an unfortunate, difficult, or precarious situation.

    For Ilona, a Numen trothed to Elgar, one of Immara’s elite guardsmen, it means all the above.

    • You did, Cecilia. And I responded. Weird. Must’ve gotten erased when TKZ went wacky yesterday.

      Love the pitch for Plighted!

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