Andrea Yates

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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