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RPLA Showcase: Phyllis Smallman

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2017 Published Mystery

Phyllis Smallman

With a twisting plot and a touch of romantic sensuality, this story captures the essence of small town life where no sin can be hidden for long. The discovery of the ravished body of a teenage girl sets in motion a tragic series of events. Secrets and desires are revealed. The second book in the Singer Brown series, Beach Kill is set on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest.

Phyllis Smallman’s first novel, Margarita Nights, won the inaugural Unhanged Arthur award from the Crime Writers of Canada. Her writing has appeared in both Spinetingler Magazine and Omni Mystery Magazine. Her Sherri Travis mystery series was chosen by Good Morning America for a summer read in 2010. The Singer Brown series won the gold medal from Independent Publishers. Before turning to a life of crime, Smallman was a potter.

Click here to read an excerpt from Beach Kill.

Q: Where do you get your story ideas?

A:  Story ideas are everywhere. An overheard conversation, a news headline or a memory can all be jumping off points for a novel. For instance, in a fish-shack I once heard the tail end of a conversation. The man behind the counter said, “Ask the waitress at the Blue Lagoon.” So many unanswered questions arose from that tidbit. I still haven’t answered them, but one day it may be the basis of a short story. I think the phrase weave a story is very apt. That’s exactly what writers do. They take a thread of memory, a strand from of imagination, and something from history, and weave them into a whole piece.

Q: Anything in particular about your award-winning RPLA entry that you’d like to share?

A: I live on a small island, very much like the one I describe in the book. This is the second book in the Singer Brown series. The first one, Long Gone Man, won a good medal from the Independent Book Awards. There is also a novella, Saving Kali, explaining what happened to Singer before she came to Glenphiddie.

Q: Who do you credit with inspiring your writing?

A:  I loved Agatha Christie as a young adult. Her plots were intricate and her description was sparse but spot on. If it wasn’t needed to advance the story, it wasn’t there. That is such a good example for all of us. Backstory should be dripped in and not flooded in like a tsunami.

Q: Any tips for new writers?

A: Read, read, read, and then take as many writing courses as you can. If you are reading this, you are likely a member of RPLA so you know the benefits of writing groups. We all need feedback and we all need to test our ideas. In the end, this putting our work out to others saves us from going down blind alleys.

There one more thing I’d like to say. Don’t tell me you aren’t a writer because you haven’t been published. You write; therefore, you are a writer, and it’s a valuable and necessary thing to do. From the time humans sat around fires in caves, we’ve needed story tellers. It doesn’t matter how those stories are delivered, e-books, digital streaming or whispered in the dark, tall tales are necessary for humanity. So do your bit, write.

If you’re ready to read the book, Beach Kill

Visit her website: www.phyllissmallman.com

A message about supporting literacy in Florida:

If every member of FWA went to Smile.Amazon.com, chose Florida Writers Foundation, Inc. as their charity and, instead of logging into Amazon.com, logged into Smile.Amazon.com, FWF would receive 0.5% of the purchase funds. Every time.

We could significantly fund the literacy efforts of our organization. No money out of your pockets…just some invested time to set this up.

How easy for us to make a difference. To see all of our work, please read the pages of our website www.floridawritersfoundation.com. You’ll be proud.

Tom Swartz, President, FWF

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Follow Veronica H. Hart:

Veronica Hart is FWA’s Regional Director for Volusia, Flagler, and Putnam counties. She is an award-winning published author of historical fiction, science fiction, and cozies. She studied Russian language and literature and participated in creative writing courses at SUNY and UCLA. Later she completed The Institute of Children's Literature course. She has written nine plays, an award-winning musical, and to date, eight published or soon-to-be-published novels. www.veronicahhart.com

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