The Crime in Writing True Crime

Around 11 AM on June 26, 2001, six days and one hour after Andrea Yates summoned Houston police to her suburban, middle-class house and confessed that she’d drowned her children, St. Martin’s Press contracted me to write a book about the case. Simultaneously, Judge Belinda Hill of the 230th District Court in Harris County, Texas, the presiding judge on the case, placed a gag order on all involved, including cops, inv
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Murder. Tragedy. Division. On My Mind.

I was preparing to leave my house for a Bastille Day party, when the news broke that tens of people had died and hundreds had been injured in a presumed terrorist attack in Nice, France–another damned attack. As I drove to the party, I constantly tuned my radio to CNN to MSNBC to NPR to the BBC and more, trying to learn the details. I was so obsessed with the news that when I walked into the party, I was shocke
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Laughing Through “Secret Sex Lives”

As many of you know, I wrote Secret Sex Lives: A Year on the Fringes of American Sexuality because I needed to laugh. I’m needing to laugh again because I’ve been spending too much time thinking about Andrea Yates. June 20, 2016, marks 15 years since Yates drowned her five children, because her mind was twisted with psychosis. It’s a case I wrote about in my book Breaking Point and have been spending perhaps too much
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Baylor Sexual Assault Survivors, Thank You

This has been a positive day. As some of you know, I’ve been depressed for months. Part of that depression has been the natural grieving process after my friend’s death. But my depression grew darker and scarier over the past five months, coinciding with the revelation of the sexual assault crimes and attempted cover ups at my alma mater, Baylor University. In fact, last March I started writing a post abo
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Action v. Words

As a writer, one might think it a bit strange that I headline a post “Action v. Words,” especially since I’m about to gripe about words. But it’s exactly because I am a writer that I know the importance of action versus words. Here’s a simple example: If I talk all the time about writing a book and never take the action to actually write the book, I fail as a writer. Here’s another
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Rape & Faith: “Please don’t ignore the victims.”

Forty years and almost two months after I was graduated from Baylor University, I stood outside the wrought iron gates of its president’s home. I’m talking about Ken Starr’s home. He’s the president of Baylor. The same Ken Starr who investigated President Bill Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal and on the Paula Jones sexual harassment charges. So I find it painfully ironic that it’s a series of rape scandals
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Breaking Point, Suzy Spencer, Andrea Yates

Yeah, I’ve Been MIA. Here’s Why.

When I last blogged in February 2015, I thought I was back to posting on a regular basis. But then … career and life happened. In some ways, saying career happened seems contradictory because in the world of book publishing we’re asked to blog. In fact, many literary agents tell us that the number of blog hits we get—as well as the number of Twitter followers and Facebook fans we have—influences publishers to buy or
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Secret Sex Lives in Chicago Tribune

“Fifty Shades of Grey”/”Secret Sex Lives”

With Fifty Shades of Grey grossing nearly $250 million in worldwide ticket sales in its first weekend, I guess it’s no surprise that there’s been renewed interest in Secret Sex Lives: A Year on the Fringes of American Sexuality. To say I’m pleased with that is an understatement. I got my first hint of that interest when a photo journalist for the Chicago Tribune sent me an email that had “Love
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Cross-Dressing In The Red State of Texas

“Maybe I can find me a maid’s dress in there,” Bill said. His girlfriend laughed. They were driving to Target for dog food, but Halloween was nearing. “You couldn’t handle it if I wore a dress, pantyhose, and shoes,” he persisted. “I’d just laugh at you,” she replied. Bill didn’t say a word. He remembers too clearly his parents arguing, his mother loading him up and moving out of their house and then back in—repeated
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