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The Kill Zone is the home of 11 top suspense writers and publishing professionals. We cover the publishing biz, marketing how-to’s, and the craft of writing. Each day, we’ll open the doorway into the world of the working writer.
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Kay DiBianca is a former software developer and IT manager who retired to a life of mystery. Her first cozy mystery novel, The Watch on the Fencepost, won an Illumination Award and an Eric Hoffer Award. That was followed by the second book in the series, Dead Man’s Watch, which was a Silver Falchion Award Finalist. Kay is fascinated by puzzles, and she delights in throwing her main characters, Kathryn and Cece, into complicated webs of intrigue and watching them wriggle their way out.
An avid runner, Kay can often be found at a nearby track, on the treadmill, or at a large park near her home. She’s completed four marathons, fifteen or so half-marathons, and a whole bunch of 5Ks. She and her husband, Frank, an accomplished hammer thrower, compete in track and field events in the Senior Games. Kay is an instrument-rated pilot and a serious student of the Torah. She also plays the piano (a little, and very poorly.)
Kay is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, and the Collierville Christian Writers Group. She and Frank live, run, and write in Memphis, Tennessee. You can connect with Kay through her website at https://kaydibianca.com
Sue Coletta is a Member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is the bestselling author of the Grafton County Series (Tirgearr Publishing) and Mayhem Series (Tirgearr Publishing), which won the 2016 Best Mystery/Thriller/Heist Award and 2017 Readers’ Choice Award in Mystery/Thriller. Sue wrote two novellas in the Kindle Worlds, where she hit #1 in Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense. Sue also writes true crime for Globe Pequot (Rowman & Littlefield): PRETTY EVIL, NEW ENGLAND is anticipated to hit stores in Fall 2020. Sue’s short stories and flash fiction have appeared in Out of the Gutter Flash Fiction Offensive magazine and numerous anthologies, and her forensic articles have appeared in InSinC Quarterly.
In 2017, 2018, & 2019 her Murder Blog won Feedspot’s Top 100 Crime Blog Award (Murder Blog sits at #5). She’s also the communications manager for Forensic Science and the Serial Killer Project, both groups founded by cold case expert, Detective Sergeant (Ret.) Joe Giacalone. As a way to help fellow crime writers, Sue created a team of crime experts (detectives, coroners, police captains, etc.) and founded #ACrimeChat on Twitter.
Sue lives in northern New Hampshire with her husband/best friend. When she’s not writing, you might catch her feeding circus peanuts to her beloved pet crows, who live free. Connect with Sue Twitter @SueColetta1, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Goodreads, BookBub, Amazon, Website/Murder Blog, and catch her new video series, Serial Killer Corner on YouTube.
PJ Parrish is the sister team of Kris Montee and Kelly Nichols. Their Louis Kincaid series and stand alone thrillers have been New York Times and USAToday bestsellers and been published in twelve countries. They have won two Shamus Awards, two Anthony awards, the International Thriller Writers Award, and have been nominated for the Edgar, bestowed by Mystery Writers of America. Kris lives in Fort Lauderdale, FL with her husband Daniel and dogs, Bailey and Phoebe. Kelly lives in Elk Rapids, MI with her dog Pearl and is the mother of three great children. Website and Facebook
John Gilstrap is the ITW Thriller Award-winning author of 16 thrillers, including nine books in the critically-acclaimed Jonathan Grave series. His professional writing career began in 1996 with the publication of the worldwide bestseller, Nathan’s Run. After three more standalone thrillers, John entered the world of nonfiction with his book, Six Minutes to Freedom, written with Kurt Muse. Four of his books have been purchased or optioned for the big screen, including SixMin, which, according to IMDB, is scheduled for a 2017 release. In addition to his novel-writing career, John has also penned four screenplays for Hollywood studios, adapting the works of authors including Nelson DeMIlle, Thomas Harris and Norman Maclean. Before becoming a writer, John spent 15 years as a firefighter and EMT, and 35 years as a safety engineer with expertise in explosives, firearms and hazardous materials. johngilstrap.com
Although she had no aspirations of becoming a writer until well after receiving her AARP card, Terry Odell is now the author of over thirty novels, novellas, and short stories. She writes both mysteries and romantic suspense, but calls them all “Mysteries With Relationships.” Her books include the Mapleton Mystery series, the Blackthorne, Inc. Covert Ops series, the Pine Hills Police series, and the Triple-D Ranch series. Terry’s books have won awards including the Silver Falchion, the International Digital Awards, and the HOLT Medallion. A Los Angeles native, she graduated from UCLA and taught in the LA County school system. She moved to Florida where she spent thirty years in the heat and humidity, and is now enjoying life with her husband and rescue dog in the cooler and dryer climate of the Colorado Rockies, where she can watch the wildlife from her windows. Find her at her website, https://terryodell.com Twitter: @authorterryo Facebook: AuthorTerryOdell
Garry Rodgers is a retired homicide detective with a second career as a forensic coroner. Now he’s a crime writer and host of a popular blog at www.DyingWords.net as well as being a regular contributor to the HuffPost.
First Page Critiques (Thursday)
Fire and Ashes is the second novel in Elaine Viets’ Angela Richman, Death Investigator forensic series. Elaine has written 32 novels in four series. The bestselling Dead-End Job mysteries feature South Florida private detectives Helen Hawthorne and her husband, Phil Sagemont. Elaine’s also written the cozy Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper mystery series and the dark Francesca Vierling mysteries. The Angela Richman, Death Investigator series returns the prolific author to her hard-boiled roots. Brain Storm draws on her personal experiences as a stroke survivor, as well as her studies in the Medicolegal Death Investigators Training Course at Saint Louis University’s School of Medicine. Elaine has served on the national boards of the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She’s a frequent contributor to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine as well as anthologies edited by Charlaine Harris and Lawrence Block. Viets has won the Anthony, Agatha, and Lefty Awards.
The Fort Lauderdale writer won the Anthony, Agatha, and Lefty Awards. She is director at large and national secretary of the Mystery Writers of America. Connect with her at http://www.elaineviets.com on Facebook at ElaineVietsMysteryWriter, and @evmysterywriter on Twitter.
From the time Debbie Burke first saw Montana’s 564 foot high Hungry Horse Dam, she wanted to fling someone off it…fictionally, that is. She finally found the opportunity in her thriller Instrument of the Devil, which became an Amazon bestseller in women’s adventure after winning the Zebulon Award and the Kindle Scout competition. Book two in the series, Stalking Midas, will be published in 2018.
Thirty years ago, Debbie and her husband moved from San Diego to Montana where one can’t swing a typewriter without hitting an author. There, she immersed herself in the local literary scene, studying with the late great James Crumley. She helped found the Authors of the Flathead and has worked on the well-respected Flathead River Writers Conference for decades. Her articles have appeared in national and international print publications, as well as online. She has been a freelance editor, magazine columnist, writing contest judge, and mentor to young writers.
Past careers include retail sales, banking, and running a major construction company and rental equipment business with her husband. Debbie is thrilled to now live the dream of full-time writing. Visit her at www.debbieburkewriter.com
Steve Hooley is a physician/writer and author of the Mad River Magic, middle-grade/YA fantasy series. He has four short stories published in the Storming the Short Story Anthology series (Woodlands, Texas writers’ group), and three stories in Jodie Renner’s anthology, Childhood Regained, Stories of Hope for Asian Child Workers. In 2016, Steve’s flash fiction story, “The Voice,” took first place in the San Francisco Bay Area’s Elevator Fiction contest.
Steve lives with his wife in rural Western Ohio, where he writes, tends the enchanted forest that is the setting for the Mad River Magic series, and relaxes with woodworking.
Reavis Z. Wortham
Two time Spur Award winning author Reavis Z. Wortham pens the Texas Red River historical mystery series, and the high-octane Sonny Hawke contemporary western thrillers. The Red River books are set in rural Northeast Texas in the 1960s. Kirkus Reviews listed his first novel in a Starred Review, The Rock Hole, as one of the “Top 12 Mysteries of 2011.”
His Sonny Hawke series from Kensington Publishing features Texas Ranger Sonny Hawke and debuted in 2018 with Hawke’s Prey. Hawke’s War, the second in this series won the Spur Award from the Western Writers Association of America as the Best Mass Market Paperback of 2019. He also garnered a second Spur for Hawke’s Target in 2020.
His Tucker Snow series, featuring contemporary Brand Inspector Tucker Snow premiers in 2022.
A frequent speaker at literary events across the country. Reavis also teaches seminars on mystery and thriller writing techniques at a wide variety of venues, from local libraries to writing conventions, to the Pat Conroy Literary Center in Beaufort, SC. He frequently speaks to smaller groups, encouraging future authors, and offers dozens of tips for them to avoid the writing pitfalls and hazards he has survived. His most popular talk is entitled, My Road to Publication, and Other Great Disasters.
He has been a newspaper columnist and magazine writer since 1988, penning over 2,000 columns and articles, and has been the Humor Editor for Texas Fish and Game Magazine for the past 25 years. He and his wife, Shana, live in Northeast Texas. All his works are available at your favorite online bookstore or outlet, in all formats. Check out his website at www.reaviszwortham.com.
Dale Ivan Smith
Dale Ivan Smith got in trouble in the fifth grade for sneaking off to the school library during math class. So, naturally, after graduating from Portland State University with a degree in history, he went to work for Oregon’s largest public library system. With his love of libraries, he figured it would be a great way to earn a living while “making it” as a fiction writer. It turned out to be much more than that, giving him the opportunity to work with a multitude of library patrons over several decades, as well teaching computer classes and giving weekly storytimes. He continued to write, making his first story sale in 2010 to an online flash fiction magazine. He published Empowered: Agent, the first novel in his Empowered paranormal thriller series in 2017. His stories have appeared in the anthologies Street Spells, High Moon, and Underground, as well as at Every Day Fiction and Perihelion Science Fiction.
He’d been thinking about writing a library mystery for years, but it wasn’t until the spring of 2020, after publishing the final novel in The Empowered, that he decided to make the leap to mysteries. He is now writing The Meg Booker Librarian Mystery series, and wondering why he had waited so long.
Dale lives in western Oregon with his best friend and wife, LeAnn. His website is daleivansmith.com. He can be found on Twitter as @daleivan and on Facebook at
James Scott Bell is an International Thriller Writers Award winner, and author of the #1 bestseller for writers, Plot & Structure. His thrillers include Romeo’s Rules, Romeo’s Way, Romeo’s Hammer, Don’t Leave Me, and the Ty Buchanan legals thriller series that begins with Try Dying. He served as the fiction columnist for Writer’s Digest magazine and has written popular craft books including: Write Your Novel From the Middle, The Art of War for Writers and Super Structure. Jim has taught writing at Pepperdine University and at numerous writers conferences in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and London. He attended the University of California, Santa Barbara where he studied writing with Raymond Carver, and graduated with honors from the University of Southern California Law Center. He lives and writes in Los Angeles.
You can be the first to know about his new releases by going HERE.
Founder and Administrator
Kathryn Lilley is a crime writer, former journalist, and author of IMBA-bestselling mystery series, The Fat City Mysteries. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two neurotic cats. http://www.kathrynlilley.com/
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