(Revamping the blog. Please excuse the odd headings. Working on it!)

Writing History & Mysteries

When I'm not delving into historical research, I'm planning a character's demise.

The blog of Cindy Amrhein

Historian - Author - Abstractor

Silver Lake, NY at Sunset

Photo by Zach Amrhein

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Paying it Forward

I was recently tagged by Chip Etier, a writer of some awesome political thrillers, to participate in a Paying it Forward blog hop. Thanks Chip for thinking of me and my other tagged fellow writers, Teresa Cypher and Jess Schira. Chip blogs often for Venture Galleries, a site that connects readers, writers and books. What author could resit the opportunity? So thanks to them too.

We have to answer four questions. About what you wonder? Well writing of course. For people who are used to using our words in a thousand different descriptive ways, I think we sometimes have trouble talking about ourselves. It's a great exercise in looking at ourselves and why we do what we do despite the never ending challenge of it. So here we go ......

1. What am I working on? 

I'm doing three different things at once, all in different stages of production. I think a lot of writers do that. The first full length piece I ever wrote was a book with my friend Ellen Bachorski called Bread & Butter the Murders of Polly Frisch. That was back in 2000, when self-publishing was nothing like it is today. We've sold the 1st edition right along. Recently we brought Polly into the new world of self-publishing. It is a fascinating story about a woman in the 1850s who poisoned her husband and two of her children with arsenic, and the five trials it took to convict her. It was a challenge to teach myself how to make ebooks.

 The second thing is a book on Indian land title in New York State. This at the moment is with an editor of a commercial publisher. I wrote for 2 1/2 years for a Native American newspaper called the Akwesasne Phoenix Sundays. My column was on history and land rights issues. I expanded upon it and put it in book form.

The third, a mystery. I love murder mysteries so I thought I'd try it. I write historical true crime often so I thought, how much fun it would be to do my own murder? I find it a breath of fresh air from doing non-fiction. This one is called The Milk Carton Murders, set in a rural area like my own. It is in the editing phase. I'm also writing a NA adventure with elements of history in it now that Polly is out of the creation phase.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

My work is probably different because the subjects are. All do stem from history in one form or another even the non-fiction.  I have no problem hoping from Native American history, which in my case involves a lot of research in the clerks office looking at deeds; then picking up true crime from a hundred years ago, or setting that down to play in the fiction world of my characters in The Milk Carton Murders.

3. Why do I write what I write?

Being a historian, I can't help it. We do a quarterly at the county historian's office where I work. I love researching and writing about true crimes more than any other topic. It's not the crime itself but the mindset of the killer that fascinates me. I try to incorporate that in my mysteries as well. As for the Native American land issues? Having researched deeds, treaties, etc for so long it disturbs me that the Nations were so cheated out of their land in half ass deals they had no way of fairly defending themselves over. I have discovered new information and ways to look at it through my research and I look forward to sharing that.

4. How does my writing process work?

Even in fiction, a lot of research first. I like things to be accurate and believable---historians like facts. In non-fiction, after I have collected enough information where I feel I have enough I start writing. I'm a pantster, so for fiction, no outline. For true crime, or other history, I then usually put all the events in chronological order, right down to the hour and minute sometimes, especially with crimes. With a real crime there is usually pieces I'm missing that I need to look for to fill in the holes, so then I go through again and fill in the blanks during re-write. Lots of edits and beta readers too of course. Sometimes, especially with non-fiction, it's hard to say, "It's done." New records are uncovered all the time. At some point you have to write -The End-.

And now to pick three other writers. :)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Milk Carton Murders 34

Since Polly Frish is finally off committing murder in the digital world, I thought I would relax with some fiction. Time to get back to....

SETUP: The three girls whose twenty plus-year-old remains washed up in coffins at Wiscoy Creek have been identified as Lisa Appleton, Rachel McKenzie and Samantha Briggs. Samantha was a foster child at Dave's house when he was a kid, and it was the last place Dave seen her alive. His dad Hal is one of the suspects. Dave and Investigator Pepper Black are at the police station going through boxes Dave pulled from their attic. One is a box of old foster family files (that Dave's dad believes will help clear him) and a couple boxes of old photographs from the right time period and before. Dave's dad, Hal, also worked in the print shop at the dairy.


Pepper picked one up and studied it for a moment. “Shit, all three of the girls are in this one. Where was this taken?”
“It was one of the foster family picnics," said Dave. "James Donley’s grandfather, Patrick Donley, was very supportive of the Friends of Foster Families group—donated a lot of money to it in fact—that’s why he jumped on board when the missing children’s milk carton program started. His son Albert was pissed about it—thought it was a waste of space that should have been used for advertising.”

“So how often did these picnics take place?”

“Every year, right at the dairy; all the kids were taken on a tour."

The link to the other Weekend Writing Warriors is here. You're bound to find something to pique your interest.

The Sunday Snippet writer's on Facebook are here. Between the two there is something for everyone. Thank you for any comments you leave me. Much appreciated!

When three small coffins are unearthed near the Wiscoy Creek during a routine dredging operation, it’s the last thing DAVE ROBERTSON, of the Lamont Weekly Times, expected. Pinned to the skeleton’s clothing are pictures from milk cartons of missing girls.

Dave is stunned to find that one of the girls is Sally―a foster child his parents had cared for through the Friends of Foster Families (FFF) program. Cold case files reveal the girls disappeared over 20 years ago. Knowing his house was the last place he saw Sally alive, he can’t help but suspect his dad.

How can he write the biggest story of his career if his father turns out to be the killer? If the voice in his head would shut up and let him remember, he might figure it out before he loses his mind and his dad is charged with murder.

Full blurb and snippet recap here.

  If you're curious what Polly Frisch is doing, you can find her on Amazon in paperback and for Kindle, Smashwords, and for Nook

 You can download a free excerpt (about 3 chapters) on NoiseTrade Books in mobi , ePub or PDF formats.  NoiseTrade has been for music since 2008 and just stepped into the literary side. Lots of things to read for free in exchange for an email addy and zip code. A great way for authors to inform their readers of what the're up too, or if they're in their area for a signing.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Gift

No Weekend Writing Warriors or Snippet Sunday Post for me today. My newest grand baby was born yesterday. We is busy, busy, busy! If I have a chance I will hop around to your blogs to see what your all up to now in your story lines.

Little sister, big sister, and mommy (my daughter).


Tuesday, May 06, 2014

IWSG Post - the tweaking of ebooks

Well it's the first Wednesday of May and I hate to say I'm almost at the same point as the first Wednesday in April. I did manage to get my book on Kindle but getting the ePub perfect for Nook has been a challenge. I've tried it 53 times to be exact. Why so many you wonder? Because I have block quotes, pictures, a table of figures after where I want my table of contents and because I am being picky. I want the book to start where I want it to start and my table of contents where I want it in my book too. I want it to look professional. So I am in Sigil tweaking XHTML code (which is slightly different than HTML). By June I hope to be able to say it is done. I'm almost there.

The whole ebook creation process has been a learning curve. It made me think of the days back in college doing crazy DOS commands to get Mickey Mouse to print out in ones and zero on a dot matrix printer. I've been a geek ever since. But I'm not giving up. My file shall validate in Nookland!


Bread and Butter The Murders of Polly Frisch is now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.
The list to the other IWSG bloggers is here.
If your user name in comments doesn't lead to your IWSG blog, leave the URL so I can find you!
Here's how to do a clickable link to your blog in comments:
< a href="http://historysleuth.blogspot.com/">History Sleuth's Writings</a >
Just replace my stuff with yours and take the space out between the < a and a >
(Had to put a space in or you would see a link instead of code. :)
Keep it in a note on your desktop so you can copy & keep hitting paste at every blog instead of retyping.


Available in paperback and eBook formats

Available in paperback and eBook formats

Now Available At:

Barnes & Noble
The History Press

Carried by over 40 college/university libraries across the county, according to daily updates by worldcat.org, including Columbia University, Oklahoma State, Texas A & M, and Yale University Law Library.

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Bread & Butter the Murders of Polly Frisch

Bread & Butter the Murders of Polly Frisch
Available on Amazon

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Cindy's bookshelf: read

Waiting for Harvey
4 of 5 stars
Alone, in a cabin in the woods, with a ghost. Who could ask for more in a ghost story? Harvey starts right out with a hint of foreboding in a conversation between brothers John and Erik. Already my curiosity is roused as to what happened...
tagged: books-i-read-to-me
James Potter and the Curse of the Gate Keeper
3 of 5 stars
I randomly downloaded this on my iPad when I hit the wrong button being a bumble fingers, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I've never read fanfic before. It was pretty good. But like many other people, it still can't compare to J. K. Row...
5 of 5 stars
I beta read a few chapters of a different book by this author (one that isn't out yet) so when this one was out I had to read it as it was the same character in the one a betaed a bit of--the character of Track. I have a fondness for thi...
tagged: books-i-read-to-me