Category

Writing True

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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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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“I died the day I was born.”

“I’m the son of a serial killer.” Those were his first words to me. I stood in the foyer of a small library deep in the Hill Country of Texas. It was March 2013, and I was there to teach a class on Writing Sex & Murder: Reality vs. Fantasy. As I waited for the class to began, I watched the students enter. Most were the typical writing seminar crowd of retirees wearing their uniform of clean, com
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An Update on the People of “Secret Sex Lives”

I’m constantly asked about the people from Secret Sex Lives: A Year on the Fringes of American Sexuality. “Are you still in touch with them?” “What do they think about the book?” “What happened to …?” So I thought Valentine’s week might be a good time to answer some of those questions. Yes, I’m still in touch with many of them. So far, I haven’t heard any direct complaints about the book, though through the grapevine
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Oh, No. I’m Back.

Yet that "Darkness Visible" that William Styron so vividly described in his “memoir of madness” began to be all that I could see. I tried to focus on my blessings, but that only made me feel guilty and even more depressed. Then, one day, I wanted to drive my car into a concrete wall. This time, I didn’t need Lola to tell me I was depressed.
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“The Next Chapter”

I’m not exactly a social human being. I’d prefer a night, by myself, in front of my TV to a fabulous party, anytime. People don’t always believe me when I say that because they see me out in public, speaking in front of groups, smiling, laughing, joking, appearing comfortable, looking like I’m having a good time, which often I am. They just don’t know that I have to race to my car afterw
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DESPERATELY SEEKING NFL FANATICS

  Do you choose where you’re going to have lunch and dinner on Sundays on the sole basis of whether or not the restaurant has big screen TVs showing NFL games?         Or do you prefer to watch your NFL games at home, alone, so that no one can disturb your concentration? Do you have to watch the games with your computer in your lap so that you can watch the changing odds? Do you make su
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Male Virginity

This is a simple post: I’m looking for men who are willing to talk to me about losing their virginity … or, if they’re virgins, to talk to me about that. Let’s keep this private; email me at just_interviewing@yahoo.com. And, yes, your identity can remain anonymous.   
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Susan Jacoby

The “Coarse And Creepy” Internet Sex Culture?

If there’s one thing I learned in nearly eight years of interviewing Americans about their sex lives, it’s that as a nation we’re shockingly liberal in our sex practices and equally shockingly conservative in our freedom to talk about sex.
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Anthony Weiner and disgruntled school teacher

The Weiner Winner and Losers

...If women -- and I know it's not limited to sugar babies, and I also know it's not limited to women -- are willing to overlook reality in the pursuit of "power," that's sad. And it makes us all losers.
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The True Crime Toilet

“True crime is in the toilet.” That’s what I was told in 1997 when I signed my first true crime book contract. The speaker didn’t mean that true crime was swirling in the toilet bowl with … well … excrement. She meant it wasn’t selling, though certainly many people believe the genre is bathroom bowl worthy. Despite that toilet statement, my first true crime book hit the New York Times best-seller list. And since then
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Secret Sex Lives

Talking Sex — Writing, Teaching, & Dating

One thing I discovered through researching, writing, and publishing Secret Sex Lives: A Year on the Fringes of American Sexuality is that people look at me through colored lenses when I tell them I research and write about sex. I have yet to figure out if those lenses are rose-colored or black. I do know they looked black on the day a former student insisted that I go up to his hotel room to talk with him about his w
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Jill Di Donato's Beautiful Garbage

“Beautiful Garbage”: A Q&A With Jill Di Donato

I clicked play and was barely into the video when I was hooked … on both the book trailer, which is like a short film, and the novel.
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Feeling Lost?

Sometimes getting lost can be good for writers, such as when we get lost in our work. And in our stories. Then again, getting lost in one’s story can be good or bad depending on what kind of lost. There’s the good kind of lost where our creative minds are living in the world we’re writing about. That’s bliss. There’s the kind of lost when we lose our direction in our story. That’s hell. And then there’s the ki
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A Miley Cyrus T-shirt: “That’s So Gay”

I didn’t pay much attention to the four teenaged boys standing in front of me at Wendy’s until one of them started talking about someone who had been wearing a Miley Cyrus t-shirt and how he’d walked up to that person and said, “That’s so gay.” At that, I paid attention. At that, I presumed the person wearing the t-shirt was male. At that, I wanted to speak up and say something to the teenager, but I didn’t know what
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Creative Nonfiction

On Writing Narrative Nonfiction

It can be easier to write about mother-daughter dynamics in a novel than it is to write about one’s own mother-daughter dynamics in a memoir … or … in a book about sex. For that matter, I think it’s easier to write about sex and religion in a novel than it is in nonfiction. In a novel, one can always say that those thoughts, feelings, actions are those of the character, not the author – the character just took the au
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Erotic Romance Author Kate Douglas, Part II

Kate Douglas has been writing erotic romance for the Aphrodisia imprint of Kensington Publishing since 2006. So when Publishing Perspectives asked me to do a story on the erotica market and how it’s changed post-Fifty Shades of Grey, Kate was one of the first authors I contacted. My November 2012 email interview with her was so informative that I decided to post it here in its entirety, though divided in two parts. I
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Suzy Spencer discusses

Comfortable, Finally

I asked a friend the other day to pray that I’d find the “right” book to write next. “I want you to write a book with purpose,” she said. I flinched. Every book I’ve written has had purpose, I think. Certainly Wasted and Breaking Point did. Wasted, the story of the murder of Regina Hartwell, allowed me to go into high schools and talk about drug and alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and physical abuse. St
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The Clouds Are Low And Dark

The clouds are low and dark. The wind whips hard. An oil well blows in west Texas, kills two, and almost no one notices. The Boston Marathon is bombed, kills three, and the world notices. A former Texas judge and his wife are arrested for the murder of three, and the United States notices. The town of West, Texas blows up, and … My stomach knots. My heart pounds and hurts. It’s April in the United States. Are we numb
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The Taint Of True Crime

I wish I saw things the way other people do. I really do. The other day, I was driving down the highway when I noticed a firewood stand on the side of the road. For most passersby, they’d simply see a man standing by the road selling wood. That’s not what I saw. Not at all. I saw a young couple buying kindling to burn the body of a man they’d murdered. In truth, there was no one there. Not a single customer. So why d
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The Best & Worst Things About Writing Memoirs

“It’s a paradox, this act of writing,” she wrote. “I read once that Hemingway referred to writing as putting black on white. Simple. Just put the words on the page. He made it look easy with his taut masculine prose, all of the emotion coiled beneath the words. So why then did he train like an athlete before each book?"
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Kate Douglas

A Q&A with “Wolf Tales” Author Kate Douglas

Kate Douglas has been writing erotic romance for the Aphrodisia imprint of Kensington Publishing* since 2006. So when Publishing Perspectives asked me to do a story on the erotica market, Kate was one of the first authors I contacted. My email interview with her about the erotic romance market was so informative that I decided to post it here, just as I did with my interview with Anne Rice. So now I give you Part I o
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A “Wasted” Update & Book Club Questions

The other day I was looking at my blog stats and noticed that the post “Regina, Kim, Justin and ‘Wasted’, Again” is by far and away my most viewed post. In fact, I often sit astounded at the way Wasted, my very first true crime book, affects people, sticks with them, and causes readers and TV viewers to search for more information on Regina Hartwell, Kim LeBlanc, and Justin Thomas. Indeed, jus
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The Valentine of Gilda’s Club and Hope

  It’s a hot Tuesday, two days before Valentine’s Day, and I’m sitting in Gilda’s Club in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I’m so happy in this 1930s house full of deep reds and laughing images of Gilda Radner that I’m almost in tears. If you don’t know what Gilda’s Club is, it’s a cancer support community created in honor of actress, comedian, and original Saturday Night Live cast member Gilda Radner. Gilda died
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Anne Rice Talks Erotica, Part II

"I set out to write something otherworldly and elegant and deliciously fantastic where men and women could both play passive or dominant roles, and enjoy all the subtle and exquisite pleasures of the S&M motifs, and yet never get into anything dark or horrible." -- Anne Rice
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Anne Rice

Anne Rice Talks Erotica, Part I

"When I first published The Sleeping Beauty trilogy, feminism was not all that kind to S&M erotica. ... Now we've seen a generation of fully empowered and emancipated women, and they have no hesitation about declaring their love of S&M fantasy."
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I Don’t Want To Be This Way

Do you ever say to yourself, “I don’t want to be this way”? I said that a few minutes ago. And I’m saying it to myself now … again … and again … and again … as I cope with a bit of hurt and disappointment – hurt and disappointment that in the grand scheme of life is so irrelevant but feels like rejection from the one you love dearly. Here’s why: I recently received an interview request from one of my college alumni m
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Scrooge in a Snoopy Santa Suit

I’m a Scrooge. I hate the holidays. I don’t mean I hate just Christmas. I hate Thanksgiving and New Year’s too. I celebrate January 2 – the end of the holidays. I haven’t put up a Christmas tree in God knows how many years, though I force myself to toss a few white lights on the outside shrubs to be polite to the neighborhood and to hide my Scroogeness. This year, I didn’t even want to do that. Then one Saturday afte
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Wildly Monogamous

Why was Ian such an amazing source? Because in nearly eight years of researching and writing "Secret Sex Lives," Ian was my only interview who was happily married AND monogamous.
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You Grill Me … Part 2

I answered some of your Secret Sex Lives questions in “You Grill Me …” Now I answer more of your questions in “You Grill Me … Part 2.” Jennifer: How do you handle or deal with the negative criticism the book has received? How do you respond to those who attack your “sex freaks?” That attack you? How do you really want to respond? So far, I’m not aware of criticism the book has rece
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Texas Book Festival: A Guest Post

Many of you have asked me about the Secret Sex Lives session of the Texas Book Festival. As I stated in my original post about the Festival, it exceeded my expectations but I’m not comfortable talking about it because it feels like bragging. So I asked the session’s moderator, Jodi Egerton, to tell you about it. So here is Jodi’s account of our 45 minutes, standing at a podium in the Texas State Cap
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Secret Sex Lives & the Military

Over the past eight years, I have traded almost 17,000 emails with men and women throughout the United States who have secret sex lives like that of former CIA Director David Petraeus and his biographer Paula Broadwell and possibly Gen. John Allen and Jill Kelley, who received rebuking emails from Broadwell for her behavior as Kelley strolled MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, and FBI agent Frederick Humphries, who e
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You Grill Me …

When you decided to write something different and “fun” and decided to write about sex, what made you go to a place like Craigslist, AdultFriendFinder.com, Alt.com, etc. to do your investigation?
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Wish You’d Been There: Texas Book Festival

I wish you’d been with me at the Texas Book Festival. I had such a grand time. Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess and the author of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir, spoke at the Paramount Theater and had me stomping my feet with laughter. That’s not an exaggeration. If you ever have the chance to go hear Jenny, do it! I intended to race from Jenny’s session to hear Yael Kohen, author of We Killed: The
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“Katie” and Kinsey

I never thought this girl from Lufkin, Texas, would be sitting down with Katie Couric to talk about sex. And I certainly didn’t think that prior to that conversation I’d be talking to a professor from the Kinsey Institute, listening to her tell me that she’d read Secret Sex Lives: A Year on the Fringes of American Sexuality, loved it, and would be putting it on her recommended reading list for her students. But on Tu
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(Editing) Phone Sex at Schlotzsky’s

Warning: This post contains language that some readers will find offensive. As many of you know, I spend of a lot of my life in fast food restaurants. In fact, too much of my life. I like to write in them. Well, I like to write in some of them. The ones that I do like to write in perfectly balance lighting, temperature, table height, seat comfort, clientele, staff, and management. The ones that I don’t like? It
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Secret Sex Lives by Suzy Spencer

Pensive? Happy? Or Just “Secret Sex Lives”?

I stared at my computer screen, then out the sliding glass doors and through the dark winter leaves of the live oak trees. I’d spent the better part of the last ten years writing “true crime” books about real-life murder, sitting with the grieving friends and family of homicide victims, listening to their stories, memories, regrets, loves, and rages as they talked about the ones who had passed on too soon.  I proclai
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Let’s Talk, Openly

Today I got the following email from “Neil,” one of my sources in Secret Sex Lives: Hi Suzy, Geeze, we’re all waiting for a blog update. Busy, doing well? Neil   As I told Neil, yes, it’s busy. Last week I started a new blog post but didn’t get it finished because my time is split and scattered. While preparing for the October 2, 2012 publication of Secret Sex Lives, I’m trying to make sure that I finish t
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Fasten Your Seat Belts: It’s Still Crazy ‘Round Here!

Secret Sex Lives is racing toward its October 2, 2012, publication date and life seems to be getting crazier and crazier and bumpier and bumpier. In my head, I keep hearing the Bette Davis quote from All About Eve: “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” Okay, more accurately, I keep hearing the revised version of that quote, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.” B
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Crazy ‘Round Here

I’m speeding down the road. I’m about to hit something. What? Hell if I know. I can’t see it. All I know is that I’ve got to hit the brakes NOW. I try. I can’t. My foot is stuck under the floormat. I can’t edge my foot forward. I can’t slip it backwards. I can’t turn it left. I can’t turn it right. Then, I wake. That’s been one of my recurring dreams lately. Maybe I dreamed it this past weekend because I was at the T
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Stephanie Martin and “Wages of Sin”

For the past week or more, my blog has been receiving scores of page views from people searching Stephanie Martin, the killer stripper in my book Wages of Sin. For those interested parties, I want to let you know that you can find a photo album of pictures of Stephanie, as well as her co-killer Will Busenburg and their murder victim Christopher Hatton, on my Facebook author page. You can read updated information abou
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“Wasted”: There’s More to the Story

Since Investigation Discovery network aired its first episode of Deadly Sins and the story of Regina Hartwell, Kim LeBlanc and Justin Thomas, this blog has received well more than 10,000 page views from people searching for more information about the case. I’ve provided photographs from the case, given links to additional information, and pointed readers to an exclusive excerpt from my book about Regina, Kim, a
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“Secret Sex Lives” — The Beginning

I’m a little bit dumbfounded that I can get nostalgic about writing a book that hasn’t even been published, yet. But the other day I was glancing through some old files and came across a photograph of my previous office, the place where I began writing Secret Sex Lives: A Year on the Fringes of American Sexuality. As I stared at that old photo and was reminded of those first days of research, I got verkle
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Regina, Kim, Justin and “Wasted”, Again

Apparently Investigation Discovery network has aired again the Deadly Sins episode about Regina Hartwell, Kim LeBlanc, and Justin Thomas, a love triangle that resulted in murder and was the focus of my book Wasted, because my blog is being slammed with hits due to searches for Regina and Kim. After the first airing, I promised to provide you with additional photos, which I’ve failed to do because I’ve gon
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If I Could Accomplish One Thing in 2011 …

Today’s the day after Christmas. It’s a day I should be writing my year-end blog where I tell you what wonderful things happened in 2011 and how joyous and grateful I am. And for those of you who haven’t been keeping up with me through Twitter or Facebook (since I haven’t been very good at blogging this year), wonderful things have happened in 2011. In May, I finally finished the sex book. In July, my publisher
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The Sex Book & Mr. Cool

As you may have noticed, I’ve been more than lax in my blog posts since last spring.  At first I was too busy with the sex book to think about blogging.  Then, after I turned in the manuscript on May 1, I was just plain all “wrote out.”  The book took everything I had to give, emotionally and physically.  More than three months later, I’m still all “wrote out.”  I can barely tap out a word.  But I feel I owe you a fe
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Finishing. And Starting Again

"If you don't finish, nothing is worth a damn." -- Hemingway
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This Writer’s Life — Under Deadline

One cannot comprehend a writer’s life unless one is a writer, or at least lives with one.
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The Embarrassing Truth

In 2001, when I first started covering the story of Andrea Yates, the Houston mother who drowned her five children, I read every article on the case I could find.  I thought the most touching writing came from a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. I contacted her to tell her how beautiful and emotional her work was.  If I recall correctly, I told her she should be the one writing the Yates book, not me.  Her writing
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Strong Legs, Fragile Brain: A Guest Post by Diana Kern

Didn’t they know that I wanted to be happy, I wanted to think clearly, I wanted to work and be an adult like others my age? I wanted, I wanted, I wanted and I thought it would never come. I’m glad I was wrong.
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A Dark Cloud of Desperation: A Joint Post

I think about mental health and mental illness a lot.  Serious depression permeates my personal life; serious mental illness permeates my professional life: Andrea Yates, the psychotic mother in my book Breaking Point; Tracey Tarlton, the bipolar book store manager in my book The Fortune Hunter.  While researching The Fortune Hunter, specifically while sitting in the courtroom every day covering the trial of Celeste
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New Year’s Eve Reflection on My Beautiful 2010

The year 2011 is less than three hours away, at least in the Central time zone, and most people have already reflected on 2010 to say their goodbyes to a year of struggles, losses, and – I hope – at least a few victories.  To a small degree, I’ve done that, too.  Earlier today I glanced back at the year and listed my gratitudes on Facebook.  There were just three of them, in part because of the space limitations of F
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Guest Post: Allen Morris, A Friend … in Grief and in Laughter

Allen has had a hellacious year. He’s had a heart attack, is suffering continuing and serious health problems, and his father died recently. But even in his grief and recovery, he hears humor. Thank you, Allen, for sharing.
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Tip-Toeing Through the Tulips of Christmas Grief

Recently, I was reading my friend Ruth Pennebaker’s blog post titled “Is This How It’s Going to be From Now On?” The post is about the many losses she and her friends have suffered in 2010. By losses, she means deaths. I’m not one to use words like “loss” or “passed.” I say “died” or “kicked the bucket.” To me, “lost” and “passed” seem too namby-pamby dream-like for what’s really happening – a damn hard, mule kick in
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Mixed Emotions & Gratitude for “Wages of Sin”

I'm a bit stunned that typing that sentence, hitting that period at the end of it, rendered my fingers motionless. It wasn’t the end of the sentence that did it. Mixed emotions did, emotions I didn't realize I had until that moment.
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The Fortune Hunter

“With a Little Help from My Friends”

Today, Kingwood, Texas, friend and fan Courtney Little posted the above photo on her Facebook page with the words, “Suzy, today I’m lunching with Celeste. Haha! I’m a little scared …” Celeste is the killer in my true crime book The Fortune Hunter. So, yes, if Courtney truly were having lunch with Celeste, she should be scared. Celeste is frightening, but she’s also very entertainin
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Never Forget: Writing the Life I Live, Part 2*

Please note: Italicized portions of this post are quotes from my book Breaking Point, the story of Andrea Yates. * * * In the days following the June 20, 2001, murder of Andrea Yates’ five children, the City of Houston buzzed with shock, gossip, and confusion. But on September 11, 2001, it was eerily desolate, a quiet stillness I’ve never experienced in decades of traveling to the Bayou City. I think I wa
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Writing the Life I Live

When I wrote fiction, the life I lived became my writing. A hometown visit with my friend Paula Sue inspired my short story My Sweet Sheri Sue, which you’ll find here and was published in a slightly different form in the anthology Red Boots & Attitude: The Spirit of Texas Women Writers (Eakin Press, 2002). Another short story (that I now find embarrassing) was inspired by an obsession, and a regrettably lost shor
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Stuck at the WB with "Poets & Writers"

I’m stuck in Whataburger and I don’t want to be.  Rain from Tropical Storm Hermine is slashing out of the sky.  As much as I don’t want to be in the WB, even more of me doesn’t want to get soaked to the bone, as my grandmother would have said, running to my car. I don’t want to be at the WB because I think I may have just written the opening of my book-after-next (meaning the book to be written after I write my secon
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Sex, Beach, Tears & Rainbows

The day after I emailed my sex book to my editor in New York, I had so much I wanted to blog about.  Ideas and words kept popping into my head.  But I wouldn’t let myself write them because I felt I needed to take the day off.  The previous four months had been long, hard, and stressful – editing and rewriting my own work under a tight deadline, along with editing and coaching others, teaching, prepping for and going
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Swinging at the WB

I’m sitting in Whataburger trying to work on my sex book.  I’m editing a chapter in which I meet swingers – lifestylers, partner-swappers – through Craigslist.  But I’m having trouble concentrating because there’s a lifestyle group meeting in my neighborhood this weekend.  Part of me, a large part of me, wants to be at their party watching and reporting.  Since I can’t, since I need to write rather than report, I cam
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The Reporter and the Ginger Farmer

Who would have ever thought that researching and writing a book on sex in America would result in a life-changing business trip to China?  Certainly, I wouldn’t have, but it did.  Alas, I don’t have time to tell you about it right now because the trip put me severely behind in my sex book rewrite.  In fact, it’s nearly 10 o’clock at night and I haven’t met today’s minimum page coun
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Forgive Me, Friends — Hiatus

Dear Friends, I barely got this blog going (meaning posting regularly), when I got hit with sex book deadline, teaching, freelance work, and business travel.  Forgive me, but I’m going to take a blogging hiatus for the month of June.  I know my limits.  I know I’m not a great multi-tasker.  And I know the quality of my writing here has suffered due to my inability to multi-task.  In 2005, I swore to mysel
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Notes on Napkins

I love writing notes on napkins.  I think it makes me feel important because when I was a little kid in East Texas, only important people jotted notes on napkins – at least that’s what I thought.   When I moved to New York City, it seemed like people bragged about doing deals on a napkin.  And when I lived in Los Angeles, I felt like everyone exchanged phone numbers on napkins.  It helped me remember where I met them
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Going to Bed with My Work

For those of you who know I’m writing a book about sex, get your minds out of the gutter.  When I say I’m going to bed with my work, that’s not what I mean. For those of you who regularly read my blog, you’ll know exactly what I mean.  I’m climbing into bed with my research.  Well, that doesn’t sound right either. What I mean is that I’m so bogged down in my work that I’m finishing late at night and need to go to sle
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Mixed Emotions. Then What?

I saw something the other day that caused mixed emotions in me.  It was a hardback book, spread-eagle in the middle of the parkway, its pages flapping in the wind as cars drove over it.  Now the cars weren’t smashing it with their tires, thank God.  They were straddling it.  (Yes, I know, there are lots of sex puns there.  They’re not intended.) My mixed emotions came from the fact that I was so thrilled that someone
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The Shakes, Spilled Drinks & Broken Toes

I’ve got the shakes.  On top of that, I just knocked over a glass of water and a large cup of Diet Coke, both spilling onto my cream-colored carpet.  The carpet is only two years old.  I don’t want it stained, so I just spent 30 minutes or so standing on towels trying to soak up the mess.  It’s now 1:32 PM and I still haven’t started work.  I thought I was starting work when I knocked over the glasses.  Now I’m writi
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Written, Read, Rewritten, Reworked, Trying to Get Perfected

Maybe it’s because I’m “sensitive.”  That’s what my family always complained about me.  My favorite professor said my sensitivity is what makes me a good writer. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer and words are important to me, powerful to me.  Just a few moments ago, I heard a poem on the radio, Puttanesca by Michael Heffernan.  The words that caught my ears were simple —
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I Don’t Know Where to Start

I don’t know where to start.  That’s not a very good thing for a writer to say.  Even if we don’t know where to start, we usually write until we know where to begin. But finding where to begin takes time.  It takes lots of typing and retyping.  Rearranging.  Starting over.  And finding our way again.  I don’t have time to do that.  There’s a book to write.  There’s freelance work that’s due.   And I’m constantly dist
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The Big News

As many of you know, the making of the sex book has been a long and trying process.  I started the book in December 2004.  For the next year and a half, I researched, reported, wrote, rewrote, rewrote, and rewrote the book’s proposal.  The research continued through 2007.  During those years, I traveled from Texas to New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey to California, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico to Florida, Jama
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Dreaming of Strip Clubs

The other night I dreamed I was in a strip club.  It was a great dream.  I woke rested and happy for the first time in … I can’t remember when.  But the dream, oh, that I remember.  I was working in the club.  I don’t mean stripping.  I was reporting and researching.  From afternoon to well past dark, through shift changes of day strippers to night dancers, I was there … out front, watching and talking with bot
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Root Dirt

As I sat there staring at my fingernails, I thought about my sex book.
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Pill Bugs and Narcissists

I want to curl into pill bug formation and protect myself.  I’m sitting in a Schlotsky’s restaurant.  It used to be the best Schlotsky’s in the nation with upscale décor and classical music.  That was back when the founders of Schlotsky’s owned the place.  But then they expanded the company too quickly, got into financial trouble and sold the chain to Texas Burger.  Texas Burger sold it to … lord, I lost track.  All
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"Sex. Sex. Sex, right, sex."

Some people have to force themselves to not think about sex. I have to force myself to think about sex.
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The Bird and the Cat(tiness)

Sarah Bird lifted her right hand into the air as if she were holding a silver tray of hors d’oeurves, thrust her pelvis toward the audience, lowered her make-believe platter to hip level, and said, “May I offer you an ovary?”  The audience roared with laughter. I hate using clichés like roared with laughter, but whenever Sarah walks into a room, there’s a roar, usually a rushing roar of fawning, followed by laughter.
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It’s Enough to Give Me a Heart Attack

I wrote this in January, but I kept it to myself because I’m old school journalism who believes in keeping my politics out of my writing.  Plus, I’m not knowledgeable enough to write about this subject.  That’s why this piece is rather superficial.  But most of all, I’m too chicken to write about anything that involves political points of view for fear of ticking off and losing people I care about and who believe dif
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Rapping, Tapping, Raven

Hear that tapping?  It’s my fingers … as I wait … and wonder … when my editor is going to call.  This is what it’s like for writers … waiting.  Even published writers.  Wondering.  Maybe it’s not that way for writers like Nelson DeMille.  But for those of us in the middle, it’s tapping fingers … anxiously waiting … maddeningly waiting. My editor was supposed to call me on February 1.  She didn’t.  I let it slide.  Pr
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A Reader's Response to Working Through the Struggle

My blog generates frequent comments, though they’ve never shown up here.  Most often they’re posted on Facebook.  Sometimes, they arrive in my private email box.  A few days ago, I received what I felt was a powerful response to my Working Through the Struggle post.  That’s the one where I quoted award-winning novelist Joe O’Connell.  The response was so powerful that I asked its author if I could post the comment he
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My Road to Fort Hood

When an apparently disgruntled American purposely crashed his small plane into a seven-story office building in Austin, Texas, Fort Hood came to my mind. And that made me decide to finish this blog post about my tiny bit of work covering the Fort Hood massacre for ABC's Nightline.
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A Note from an Angel Named Angela

My friend Angela inspires as she talks about "cronehood."
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"Yea!" "Oooooooooh, noooooooo."

Flag football, cheering little crowds, and writing.
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Working Through the Struggle, Part 2, aka Why Suzy Likes John Pipkin

I love to talk to John because I can get him to blush so easily, especially when sex is mentioned. Since we were standing in a sex-oriented art exhibit and since I’m writing a book about sex, needless to say, John blushed often.
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Working Through the Struggle

I never intended for my blog to be solely about writing. As such, I’ve tried to make sure each post has a universal message so that writers and non-writers alike can glean something from it. But as I began this post, I knew it was for writers only … until today. I added a few notes at the end that made me realize this post has something of import to non-writers too, specifically to those who are fed-up with the me
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Struggling

Right now I’m struggling to write this because I’m sitting in Whataburger. Let me back up.
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Writer's Terror

Some people suffer writer’s block. I suffer writer’s terror. That’s when I’m so terrified of being judged or so terrified of repeating past mistakes, so terrified that I can’t live up to that talent that I know I have but fear I’ve lost, that I ...
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I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Pity

I don’t need no stinkin’ pity. I guess that’s a rather harsh reaction, but the other day ...
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New Year’s Eve Confession

I just watched my postman unload the neighborhood’s mail from the back of a silver, C-class Mercedes Benz. ... That postman used to deliver the mail in a beat-up, dark green station wagon.
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Christmas Eve

To say it’s blustery here in the ATX on this Christmas Eve is an understatement. The wind wails outside my office. The outhouse down the street is blown over on its side.
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On Writing Memoir

I first met Brooke Warner years ago at the Writers' League of Texas annual agents and editors conference. Brooke's a senior editor at Seal Press. Seal is known for its cutting edge women's books (read that as meaning lots of sex) ...
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Fort Hood Notebook

I’m so honored that ABC’s Nightline allowed me the privilege of being part of their team covering the November 5, 2009, tragedy at Fort Hood.  I’m equally honored and grateful that the Texas Observer allowed me to write about my experience covering the event.  As soon as possible, I will be posting here more of my Fort Hood experiences and thoughts.  But please, in the meantime, click on this link a
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A WASTED Ghost Story

My point, as I write this on Halloween Eve, is the ghost of Regina Hartwell. Because of Regina, I couldn’t let this book go. Regina wanted to be famous. And I felt like that as long as I pushed and promoted this book I was helping her reach her goal, even if it was after death.
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Almost

I’m walking up and down the sidelines of a flag football game, awaiting the big play. The morning had started out cool and pleasant, but now the sun is beaming and I’m getting hot. I look at my 10-year-old cousin. He’s on the sidelines, down on one knee, and sucking on one small slice of orange handed to him by his coach. I want my cousin to be holding a hamburger. He’s too skinny. He’s like a piece of salt wa
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