What do you know?

Thanks for stopping by the blog today! I’ve got Susan Muller here talking about writing what you know and research.

Here’s Susan!

First, I’d like to thank Cindy for inviting me to join you today.


I’ve read several books on the craft of writing, and they all start with the same advice. Write what you know. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to know much. Oh, I know plenty of things, they just aren’t that interesting.


At one time, I could recite an extraordinary number of nursery rhymes. I can make a fair flower arrangement and whip up a mouthwatering dressing for Thanksgiving dinner. I can even fold a fitted sheet. Not exactly fodder for breathtaking suspense.


For the last thirty years, I’ve worked as a volunteer at a local hospital. There are plenty of stories there, I just wouldn’t tell them.


That leaves research. When I first started writing, I took classes and read books on self editing and making your prose shine. Later, I moved into learning about police procedures, forensics, and the use of weapons and violence. I hope no one ever checks my computer to see what I’ve been reading about.


Now I have a problem. Many of the ways things are portrayed in movies or on TV aren’t correct. Should I tell the story the way the reader expects or the way most police operate?


Near the beginning of my novel, The Secrets on Forest Bend, Detective Adam Campbell is talking to a man who discovered a dead body. At the time, the man is considered a witness, not a suspect, and Adam is questioning him, not interrogating him.


The man begins to spill all kinds of incriminating information. Any detective worth his salt would let the man keep talking. I entered this story in several contests. Without fail, every judge deducted points because Adam didn’t read the man his Miranda rights immediately. When I changed the story and had Adam read the man his rights, I won two contests and was offered a contract.


In this excerpt from The Secrets on Forest Bend, Adam is questioning Eddy. You tell me, should I have left the reading of his rights until later or put them in where I did? Leave your email address for a chance to win a free download of The Secrets on Forest Bend.


     Eddie spotted him and called out, “Thank goodness it’s you. You know I wouldn’t hurt nobody. Sure, I told the other officers I didn’t recognize the guy, but that’s ‘cuz he didn’t have no face. I’ve known Manny for years. In fact, I was driving around looking for him. He disappeared from his room a couple of days ago and I was worried about him.”

      “You were innocently driving past and spotted your good friend’s body beside the road.” The absurdity of the statement made Adam smile.

     “Yeah, I didn’t see nothing. I didn’t even know it was Manny till they told me. I guess that shows I was right about it being dangerous to live here. I heard a gunshot, drove around the corner, and saw him there. I was only checking for a pulse when the officers drove up and found me leaning over him. I woulda called 911 myself, but I don’t have no cell phone.”

     If Eddie was in a talkative mood, Adam wanted all his bases covered.  He grabbed a card from his pocket and read Eddie his Miranda rights before continuing. “What about the gun? Have you seen it before?”

     “Manny showed up with it a few months back. I mighta touched it, just to move it out of the way.”

     “Okay, but I understand you had one pocket full of Ecstasy and the other bulging with cash, and both were covered in blood.”

      “I musta cut myself shaving.” Eddie squirmed and sat in the patrol car. “I did take the X, but only to keep it outta the way of kids till I could turn it in to the proper authorities.”

     “You haven’t shaved in a week.” Adam sank into the front seat as Eddie’s aroma hit him. Or taken a bath. “And you could have given the X to the first officers on the scene.”

     Eddie shrugged. “Hey, they pointed a gun at me. I got a little nervous. Is this what I get for trying to be a good citizen?”

     “Eddie, if your story holds up, and I honestly hope it does, I’ll buy you a medal myself.”

Me again!

Great excerpt, Susan! Don’t forget to leave a comment and include your email address if you want to be in the draw to win a copy.

If you can’t wait to find out if you won a copy you can buy her book at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

Until next time…


17 thoughts on “What do you know?

  1. Jaye Garland

    I’m no authority on police procedures. Real life, TV and movies, or anything in between, but your example reads just fine to me. In fact, I never stumbled on that part when I read your book…or in any of the other police procedures in the story. Your book is awesome and I was hooked from the first page. But, I know what you mean about getting it right for the reader. I write Historicals and get the same reactions on the details. Doesn’t matter if it’s factual or fictionalized for emphasis, someone is bound to say it shoulda-been-written-the-other-way. LOL!

  2. Sc0rch

    Seems that $ talks and I guess you have to put it where the one who’s willing to write the check dictates.

    Personally, I’d think that if an officer interrupted a felon to read him his rights in the middle of a confession, the criminal would stop and think twice about confessing. I know I would!

  3. Callie Hutton

    Hi Susan,

    My daughter is a Law Enforcement major in college. I let her read your excerpt without saying anything to her and she shouted, “why the hell is he reading him his rights?” Hehe. As you said, can’t please everyone. I must put your book on my tbr list. Don’t know how I missed it.

  4. Cynthia Gail

    Great excerpt. You did a great job of inserting the technicality without stopping the reader at all. Can’t wait to read your book. Vacation time is coming and I’m ready for some relaxation in a quiet corner.

  5. Stacey Purcell

    😀 Love this excerpt!
    My first thought is that a real cop would never read him his rights. He’s not under arrest so there is absolutely no reason for him to do that! Sometimes judges only work with what they know and won’t go look it up. A friend had a judge ding her because she said there were no constables here. Well, in fact we have a thriving constable system!
    I say, you are the author, you write the story.

  6. Shauna

    Great post and great book! I think you did the right thing putting in the bit if that’s what it took to get the right people happy. But, I agree with everyone else. There was no real reason for him to have read him his rights….I thought that was only when you’re under arrest? But whatever works, right? Like I said, great book, and that’s what matters in the end! 😉

  7. Susan Muller

    Thanks for your comments everyone. I didn’t change the passage to win contests, but if several judges thought it was wrong, then readers might expect to see the Miranda warning given to Eddie. They only know what they see on TV.

  8. Jan Nash

    Hi Susan, your post made me smile. Thanks for sharing. And by the way…I’d love to taste some of the mouthwatering Thanksgiving dressing!

  9. Raven Raye

    Awesome, Susan. I, too, know lots about nothing. I loved your book! Sorry I haven’t gotten around to writing a review yet. I’ve gotten caught up in life. Grr. Anyway, great post!


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