featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of several award winning short stories including “Legal Magic” and “Malicious Mischief.”  Her debut mystery novel, Maze in Blue, was published in 2011.  "Maybe I Should Hug You" won a 2009 Alabama Writers Conclave Nonfiction Award.  A revised version was published online as "More Hugs, Less Fear" by MORE Magazine in April 2010.  For more information visit Debra’s website or drop her an email. 

Debra is offering a copy of Maze of Blue to one of our readers who posts a comment this week. -- AP  

Crafting My Writing

I’m so jealous of Anastasia.  Give that woman a scrap of anything and she can craft it into a masterpiece.  Cloris and her food skills irk me, too.   For crafts or cooking, I not only need to stick to a pattern or recipe, but I limit my efforts to things that come with colored pictures.  Only when I write am I like Anastasia or Cloris.

Whether writing a short story like “Legal Magic” or my debut mystery novel, Maze in Blue, my pattern or recipe calls for the same outcome:  give the reader a light fun time.  To do that, I always start with the same basic ingredients:  my slightly skewered sense of humor, a fact pattern and locations that readers can relate to, and characters that you either quickly identify with or want to murder.

In Maze in Blue, a murder mystery set on the University of Michigan’s campus in the 1970’s, headlines scream “University of Michigan co-ed murdered” and the intrigue begins.  The main character, Denney Silber, only wants to enjoy football games, concerts, and sorority life until her good friend, Helen, is killed in the office of the faculty member Denney most despises.  Her plans now awry, Denney feels compelled to solve Helen’s murder.  She quickly realizes that she can’t trust faculty members, friends, or even the cute guy in Poetry 331.

Although Maze incorporates University of Michigan locations, its faculty offices, sorority activities, and local watering hole universally translate to ones found on any college campus.  Interestingly, it seems that the characteristics of at least one of the students may have been those of you or your roommate.     

Craftwise, because Maze in Blue is a beach, airplane, or just before you turn off the light to go to bed read, I used short chapters and lots of dialogue to keep the pace moving.  Just as I grab a cozy mystery to forget the seriousness of my day job, I want readers to have that same relaxed experience.  The goal is for you to have “fun” with my fiction and to subconsciously think about its more serious themes.

Theme and emotion are more obvious when I write non-fiction.  For example, in “Maybe I Should Hug You,” I wrote about our feelings turning 50, becoming our mothers, and having to address issues we would rather avoid.  In non-fiction, I use elements to make you think or comfort you while my fiction lets you escape.     

I’d like to be like Anastasia or Cloris in more ways, but I’m glad a little of their skills show up in my writings.  Let me know what you think.

Thank you, Debra! And readers, if you do tell Debra what you think, you’ll be entered in the drawing for a copy of Maze of Blue. So let’s hear from you. -- AP


Dori Hillestad Butler said...

You hooked me with that description!

Pam said...

I can relate to being in college in the 1970's -- Blue Maze sounds like a book I would enjoy!

traveler said...

This book sounds fascinating and an enjoyable post today. many thanks.

petite said...

reading and learning about the book and background is interesting. Blue Maze sounds compelling.

Jane R said...

My husband and I were grad students at U of M in the 70's. This is definitely a book for me!

Debra H. Goldstein said...

Appreciate your comments as I love knowing when my craft hooks you or gives you something to relate to. It makes me a little less jealous of Anastasia and Cloris (not much, but a little). I hope one of you wins the copy of Maze in Blue being given away! BTW, because I had to re-craft my blog site, but without A or C I lost all the comments in the conversion, there are 3 copies being given away for leaving a comment by March 11 on any of the blogs at http://debrahgoldstein.wordpress.com/ ..be sure to check out "Maybe I Should Hug You" or the guest blog, "Those Voices in My Head." Lois and Anastasia, thanks again for having me as your guest!

Mollie Cox Bryan said...

"The goal is for you to have “fun” with my fiction and to subconsciously think about its more serious themes."
What a great description of what a good cozy is supposed to do. Bravo!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Debra, so much fun finding you here! I came as a result of a craft/mystery conversation on Twitter. The more I read about it, the more Blue Maze sounds like a real winner!

Camille Minichino said...

Debra, welcome to the world of academic mysteries!

Do not enter me in the drawing, since I've already ordered my copy plus one for a U of M friend!

Camille, aka Ada Madison

JoAnn said...

Wow Debra, what a wonderful voice your have--even in a blog post! I love the idea of a "fun" mystery--perhaps it's the idea of death being "fun" that fascinates me. The "winking at the grim reaper" thing. Anyway, I'll be looking up Blue Maze. Hope you have it on Kindle (my preferred method of reading--but then, that's a whole 'nother post...)

Debra H. Goldstein said...

Linda: Glad you found today's interview through the twitter discussion. Thanks also for retweeting!

Debra H. Goldstein said...

Millie and JoAnn - Much like Lois, I can't help writing anything, even my non-fiction, that my sense of humor doesn't sneak through. I'm glad you noticed:) To answer your question, Maze in Blue is available in an e-version for kindle, nook, ipad and as a traditional trade paperback. Looking forward to more academic capers.....the craft of murder is so "fun!"

Anonymous said...

Having worked in the office of the enemy (The Ohio State U ) I find this a must read. Sounds like good fun.

boots9k at wowway dot com

Word Crafter said...

This sounds like a really enjoyable read and growing up in Michigan I'm doubly interested to see how you handle this. I'm trying to be a mystery writer too = )
I'm glad you posted here today.

Sheila W. Boneham said...

I was in a Midwestern university and grad school in the 70s (Indiana U.) so aside from the story, the time and place grab me. I'm sold! Besides, my hubby is a U of M alum, so I'll no doubt be jabbering at him as I read Blue Maze.

On a slightly off-topic track, isn't it funny how books and talk of books can bring back long-lost memories? This discussion made me think of the murders in Ypsilanti, although my memory is very hazy - college girl - more than one? I guess I'm off to do some research completely unrelated to the book I should be writing! :-)