In a family like that, you won’t need enemies.
In the waning days of the Catskills hotel era, Stanley and Rachel Roth, the owners of the Cuttman Hotel, were practically dynasty—third generation proprietors of a sprawling resort with a grand reputation. The glamorous and gregarious matriarch, Rachel. The cunning and successful businessman, Stan. Four beautiful children. A perfect family deserving of respect and loyalty. Or so it seemed.
Fast forward forty years. The Roths have lost their clout. When skeletal remains are found on the side of the road, the disappearance of Trudy Solomon, a coffee shop waitress at the Cuttman in 1978, is reopened. Each member of the Roth family holds a clue to the case, but getting them to admit what they know will force Detective Susan Ford to face a family she’d hoped never to see again.
Best and Worst Writing Advice I’ve Ever Gotten
by Marcy McCreary
When I sat down to write this post, I racked my brain trying to recall if I’ve ever been given “bad” writing advice, namely some pearl of wisdom someone imparted to me that turned out to stymie my writing instead of benefitting the process. The answer was a resounding “no!” Most advice given to me has been tremendously helpful, whether it’s about the creative process, plot structuring, or how to leverage conflict and tension to keep the reader engaged. And even advice that is probably well-intentioned and works for many authors (i.e. how to outline using post-it notes or building your character’s entire backstory from birth) is probably great for those who outline and pre-plot, but as a “pantser,” my brain is not wired that way. I start with an inciting incident and pretty much know how it ends. The fun is in how I get there, letting my main character lead the way.
The best writing advice I ever received was from my husband, Lew McCreary, who writes literary fiction (Minus Man, Viking; Mount’s Mistake, Atlantic Monthly Press). His advice: “no stick figures . . . every secondary and tertiary character should have enough depth so that readers can imagine them as protagonists in their own story.” Because I write complex mysteries with lots of characters—some merely cameo appearances—this advice is crucial. Many of my characters make singular appearances as a witness or neighbor or a waitress, and I want each and every one of them to be memorable.
Marcy McCreary worked for several years as a marketing and sales executive at various magazine publishing companies and content marketing agencies before turning to fiction writing. She is the author of The Disappearance of Trudy Solomon (CamCat Books). With two daughters and two step-daughters living in four different cities (Brooklyn, Nashville, Madison, Seattle), she spends a lot of time on airplanes crisscrossing the country. She lives in the beautiful coastal towns of Hull, MA and Nantucket, MA with her husband and black lab.
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