About Kathleen Ryan

Kathleen A. Ryan is a retired 21-year veteran of the Suffolk County Police Department on Long Island, NY. She is a Macavity and Derringer Award finalist. She can be found on Twitter & Instagram as @katcop13. She volunteers with the Crime Stoppers Board in Suffolk County and the Adoption Center for Cats at Petsmart. She is a noir fan.

Writing Tips from E.L. Doctorow

image via www.popmatters.com

image via www.popmatters.com

The world recently lost a great literary master, E.L. Doctorow (Edgar Lawrence Doctorow ~ his parents named him after Edgar Allan Poe ~ lived from January 6, 1931, until his death at age 84 on July 21, 2015).

Here, Doctorow is giving an interview about his writing processWriting Clip Art

One of Doctorow’s most famous tips about writing: “I tell them it’s like driving a car at night: you never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

From one writer to another, Doctorow said, “Perseverance is all.”

Doctorow had many quotes about writing, including: “Good wriragtime-novel-e-l-doctorow-paperback-cover-artting is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader — not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”

I was fortunate to have met E.L. Doctorow at the Southampton Writers Conference in 2006. He autographed a copy of The Book of Daniel for my nephew, Daniel.

Do you have a favorite E.L. Doctorow quote? (Mine is: “Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”)

How about a favorite book? (Mine is Ragtime).


Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.

The Cultural DNA of “To Kill A Mockingbird”

In the L.A. Times, Michael Schaub writes how “46 times ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ echoed throuTKAMgh pop culture,” which includes movies, TV, celebrity offspring, music, shopping, and more. Look for the Etsy links for TKAM-related items for sale, including this bookmark. The literary masterpiece by Harper Lee was published in 1960 and won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961.

Tequila Mockingbird by Tim FederleAlso, check out Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist by @TimFederle.

In another article, Michael Schaub writes that after an expert examined the manuscript in a safe deposit box used by Harper Lee, he determined that no third novel will be forthcoming.To read further on this issue, visit an article by Laura Stevens and Jennifer Maloney in The Wall Street Journal.Go Set A Watchman

Lee’s second novel, Go Set A Watchman, is on Twitter @GSAWatchmanBook.

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.

Happy 218th Birthday, Mary Shelley

391px-RothwellMaryShelleyMary Shelley (née Wollenstonecraft Godwin), the author of the Gothic/Horror novel, Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus, was born August 30, 1797, in Somers Town, London, England — 218 years ago today. Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, a feminist and philosopher, died eleven days after giving birth.

Mary was raised by her father, William Godwin, a philosopher and author. During her younger years, she was tutored by a governess, and also attended a boarding school.

Mary bore an illegitimate child at age 17, with Percy Bysshe Shelley, a married 22-year-old man, but their prematurely-born child died. Mary married Shelley, an English Romantic poet, in late 1816, after his first wife, Harriet, committed suicide.

Mary Shelley’s most famous work was created in Geneva, Switzerland, during a rainy vacation in 1816, when the couple spent a summer with Lord Byron, John Williaa39da6923869bf6582fad67280b08b75m Polidori, and Claire Claremont. Lord Byron suggested they each write a horror story.

Frankenstein was published anonymously in London in 1818. Her name appeared on the second edition, published in France in 1823.  Mary and Percy’s second and third children died, but their last child, Percy Florence Shelley, survived to adulthood.

Percy Bysshe Shelley drowned when his sailing boat sank during a storm in 1822.

Mary would later publish more novels, short stories, biographies, and travel writings.

Mary died in London, England, on February 1, 1851, at age 53, from a brain tumor.


Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @katcop13

Eudora Welty and Ross MacDonald

Meanwhile there are lettersA book review by Susan Straight of Meanwhile There Are Letters:
The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald, edited by Suzanne Marrs and Tom Nolan (Arcade: 568 pp., $35), caught my attention in the Los Angeles Times and I just had to share it with my fellow Women of Mystery, our blog pals and readers.

Susan writes: “This remarkable book collects more than a decade’s worth of written and mailed correspondence between the two writers — he who was emphatically married (though his marriage is represented as dutiful and often painful by the time of their letters) and she who remained single and died in the same town in which she was born and had nursed her brother and parents when they became ill and died.”

Click on over to ‘Letters’ inscribes a grand love affair with words between Ross Macdonald and Eudora Welty to read more about it.


Follow me on Twitter @katcop13 and Instagram @katcop13

Cucumber Salad Recipe

cucumber-clip-art-350333Today I’m making my favorite cucumber salad recipe; I thought I’d share it with my fellow Women of Mystery and our friends who stop by and visit our blog.

This recipe comes from a family friend, Yvonne Ford, who gave it to me at my bridal shower in 1989. Although the shower was a surprise to me, I had asked the planners, my mom and sister, to ask the guests to include at least one of their favorite recipes.

I’ve been making it every summer since!

Two things: use a food processor if you have one, and refrigerate the salad overnight.

Here’s a photo, pre-refrigeration: IMG_6817

Cucumber Salad
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 medium cucumbers
1 red onion

Heat the first four ingredients until dissolved. Cool.

Thinly slice cucumbers and onion (a food processor is great for this) and alternate slices in a bowl or dish that can be covered.

Pour mixture over cukes and onion. Sprinkle with chives. Refrigerate overnight. Serves six.

Here’s some background of the history of the cucumber, and the first documented use of the phrase, “cool as a cucumber.”

Do you have a favorite summertime recipe? Feel free to share if you like! Let me know if you try this out, I’d love to hear your opinion.

How about listening to Ella Fitzgerald sing “Summertime” while making it?


Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.

Long-lost Dr. Seuss Book Releases Today

635598582886844008-WhatPetShouldIGet-COVERThe first book from the hands of Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) in 25 years, What Pet Should I Get?  is set for release today by Random House, with a first printing of one million copies.

The manuscript is thought to have been written in the late 1950s or early 1960s. It was discovered in 2013 by his widow, Audrey Geisel, and an assistant, Claudia Prescott. Ms. Prescott began working for Mr. Geisel in 1972 and helps Mrs. Geisel, age 93, run Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

The last original Dr. Seuss book, Oh, The Places You’ll Go! was released in 1990. Dr. Seuss died in 1991. His books have sold more than 650 million copies globally.

Horton_hatches_the_eggDo you have a favorite Dr. Seuss book? It’s a difficult choice, because there are so many favorites. Mine’s a toss-up between Horton Hatches the Egg and Oh,The Places You’ll Go!

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13

Flannery O’Connor U.S. Postage Stamp

Author Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964) will grace a U.S. “Forever” Postage Stamp, set to debut on June 5, 2015. The stamp will also feature peacock feathers, since O’Connor raised peacocks on her family’s farm in Georgia.

This will be the 30th stamp issued in the USPS’s Literary Arts series.

WatercolorJoyce Carol Oates, however, does not think the watercolor painting resembles O’Connor.

The publishing firm Farrar, Straus & Giroux is holding a sweepstakes open to U.S. residents to win a complete set of Flannery O’Connor’s newly reissued Wise Blood, Everything That Rises Must Converge, The Complete Stories, The Violent Bear It Away, and Mystery and Manners (with covers illustrated by June Glasson and designed by Charlotte Strick), by subscribing to their FSG Work in Progress email news. The deadline to enter is 11:59 PM ET on Monday, June 22, 2015. There will be five grand prize winners.


On Twitter, you can learn more about Andalusia Farm, the historic home of Flannery O’Connor in Milledgeville, Georgia; or “like” the farm’s page on Facebook.

Listen to a rare audio of Flannery O’Connor reading, “A Good Man Is Hard To Find,” ~ my favorite short story of all time.

Late-breaking news: Minnesota artist Chris Larson takes on Flannery O’Connor in opera, “Wise Blood,” by Gregory J. Scott in the StarTribune. If I lived in Minneapolis, I wouldn’t miss this production at the Soap Factory!

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Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.

Hint Fiction Contest


jpg_5936_Royalty_Free_Clip_Art_Happy_Pencil_Cartoon_Character_Holding_Golden_Trophy_CupThe West Hartford Libraries in Connecticut are holding a Hint Fiction contest.

According to their website: Hint Fiction Contest stories should be entertaining, thought-provoking, and evoke an emotional response. Stories both light and dark are appreciated – in 25 words. A positive, happier story just might stand out! 

Forty finalists will be selected by the staff of West Hartford Libraries. From the forty finalists, the Top Ten winners will be selected by three library-sponsored writing groups – West Hartford Fiction Writers, Connecticut Screenwriters, and the Faxon Poets.

PRIZES: Each of the top ten winners will receive a $25 CASH AWARD (provided by the library’s Thomas Kilfoil Bequest).

All 40 Finalists and Top 10 Winners will be notified via email on June 25, 2015jpg_letter4cash awards will follow by mail within three weeks. The return of any notification as undeliverable will result in disqualification and an alternate winner will be selected. No substitution or transfer of a prize is permitted.

Entries will be accepted until May 25, 2015. No more than three entries may be submitted per person – entries may be grouped together in one submission. All entries must be original, unpublished, and must not have been submitted elsewhere for any purpose. Participants must be at least fourteen years old on the date of submission.

Should you go for it, let us know ~ and good luck!


Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.

Crime Poetry at The Five-Two

April is National Poetry Month, and to help celebrate, the Women of Mystery (along with several blog pals) are participating in the “30 Days of the 5-2″ Blog Tour.

5-2 Tour Badge

Since 2011, “The 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly,” has been expertly edited by Gerald So (and an occasional guest editor), in which an original poem (in text and audio/video) is published each Monday. Submissions of poems (crime-related, or the poet’s reaction to what he or she sees as crime), 60 lines or fewer per poem (any form or style) are open year-round. The 5-2 seeks original, unpublished work only. Read the complete submission guidelines for further information.

One of my favorite poems on The Five-Two is hot off the presses. Just published on April 13, this poem by A.J. Huffman is right up my alley; in that, I mean, it is inspired by a true story. I tend to write stories that are based on reality (which, as we all know, is certainly stranger than fiction).


A PA moron, I mean man, was jailed
for stalking
a woman he thought was his ex wife.
He was mistaken
about the kids too. The woman’s real
husband gave a statement: he used to be
friends with the man who was
never married to his wife. The gifts
left on their porch for the woman
and imaginary children were taken
into evidence.


Follow Crime Poetry Weekly on Twitter @poemsoncrime.

If you are active on Twitter and would like to help promote The 5-2 Blog Tour this month, use the hashtag #30OfThe52.

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.

Maya Angelou Forever Stamp

Today, during National Poetry Month (celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture), the United States Postal Service issues the Maya Angelou Forever stamp.

On April 7, 2015, Postmaster General Megan Brennan will be joined by Oprah Winfrey, Ambassador Andrew Young and other notables at a first-day-of-issue stamp dedication ceremony in Washington, DC.

Also attending the ceremony will be Angelou’s grandson Colin Johnson; Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL); poet Sonia Sanchez; author and journalist Sophia Nelson; Howard University English professor Eleanor Traylor; poet and civil rights activist Nikki Giovanni; civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton; and Atlanta-based artist Ross Rossin, whose portrait of Angelou was used for the stamp. Melissa Harris-Perry will serve as master of ceremonies.

The USPS.com announcement:

Author, poet, actress, and champion of civil rights Dr. Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was one of the most dynamic voices in all of 20th-century American literature. The book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, an autobiographical account of her childhood, gained wide acclaim for its vivid depiction of African-American life in the South.

The stamp showcases artist Ross Rossin’s 2013 portrait of Dr. Angelou. The oil-on-canvas painting is part of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s collection. In the bottom left corner is the following phrase quoted by Dr. Angelou: “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” Above the quotation is her name in black type. The words “Forever” and “USA” are along the right side.


The stamp pane includes a short excerpt from Angelou’s book, “Letter to My Daughter.” It reads: “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” Art director Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, MD, designed the stamp.

Share the news via social media using #MayaForever.

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.