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"DIGGIN' UP DIRT" by Heather Weidner

     Amy Reynolds set the box of canned goods on the kitchen counter. She caught her breath and stared through the doorway into their empty dining room. Hundreds of boxes still needed unpacking. She brushed away loose strands of her auburn hair that had escaped from her ponytail. A dog barked in the distance, and her small Jack Russell terrier, Darby, raced through the downstairs and stood with her paws on the windowsill to survey her new territory and see what she was missing.
Amy gently tapped on the window, sending Darby off to check the view from the living room. Something looked odd to Amy under the window. Leaning over, she ran her hand across the painted baseboard. One end jutted out too far from the wall. She sighed. Another thing in this house that would need to be fixed.
Amy pushed the baseboard back in place, and the wood shifted. She tugged at the corner, and it separated easily from the wall. Flipping it over in her hand, she noticed there were no nails or tacks. Darby must have knocked it loose when she jumped up to see out the window.
     Spotting something stuffed in the crack between the wall and the floor, Amy freed several envelopes rubber-banded together. She sat on the floor and thumbed through her find. The envelopes, postmarked in 2012 and 2013 from Richmond, showed a return address for Scott M. Zachman. The first contained a birthday card signed with, “Unending Love, Scott.” Behind it were two, one-page letters on yellow lined paper, both addressed to Roni. The tight cursive was hard to read, but the gist was that Scott loved her more than life and couldn’t wait to spend time with her. He counted the moments until they could be together. He said his love was more vast than the stars in the heavens and the raindrops in a summer shower. He promised to fulfill her wildest dreams and professed that only she could make him happy and whole. And he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. The letters were signed, “Love Always, Scott.”
Amy smiled at the sappy clichés in the notes. The last item in the stack was a creased white envelope. She felt something other than paper inside. She tipped the envelope, and a gold locket and a chain slid out on her palm. The back had “S+R 4EVER” inscribed in loopy script. Amy turned it over and opened the charm. Sand spilled into her hand. She brushed it back in the envelope and dropped the locket inside. What did the sand signify? Some exotic beach trip? She tossed the packet on the counter with the piece of wood. She’d have to remember to tell Kevin about them when he got home from work.
Amy returned to unpacking the stacks of boxes in the kitchen while Darby kept watch in the front room for joggers, squirrels, or anything that moved within a hundred feet of the front door.



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What’s Real in Your Fiction? by Heather Weidner

Recently, I was asked, "How much research do you actually do for fiction and how much of your work is true?” There’s quite a bit of research that goes into writing mysteries. I want to make sure that my stories are plausible and as accurate as possible. Readers notice when writers make mistakes. I mix quite a bit of “real” in my short stories and novels. All of my settings are actual places. I tend to put my works in Virginia cities and counties because I write what I know.  If a crime occurs, I make up that location's name. I wouldn't put a horrific or violent event at a real restaurant or store. But if you've been to the cities, you'll recognize landmarks, neighborhoods, and street names. I get ideas for crimes and capers from real cases, but I usually take liberties with the details. In my short story, "Washed up," in Virginia is for Mysteries, a beat up suitcase washes up on Chick's Beach, and it's filled with some mysterious contents. Back in …

IT'S ALL ABOUT OUR DOGS Interview with Heather

Tell us about the furry members of your family. I have a pair of Jack Russell Terriers from the same litter. The dynamic duo includes Disney, the brunette, and her brother Riley who looks a lot like Petey from the “Our Gang Comedies.” They are high energy, inquisitive little dogs. And they keep us on our toes.
How did your dog pick you to be his fur-ever mom? We had two older dogs who passed within three months of each other. Our house was so lonely without them. We went looking one day at puppies. My husband picked up Disney, and I picked up Riley. We couldn’t decide, so both of them joined our family. They are sister and brother from the same litter.
What is your dog’s favorite toy? These two are obsessed with sock monkey toys. We have about ten of them around the house. They are JRTs, so everything is a game to them.
Is the dog in your story in To Fetch a Thief based at all on your dog? It is. It’s based on my little female JRT. She’s a bundle of energy, a great companion, and she always …


<<This is the story of how four mystery writers met, and how the friendships  that developed led to collaboration on To Fetch a Thief.>>
     Writers seek out writers. It’s what we do. We join writing groups, not just to give us someone to hang out with on a Saturday afternoon, but because other writers get the angst of writing, the frustration when the words won’t come, the disappointment with each rejection. Perhaps most importantly, these communities give like-minded mystery writers a chance to discuss the various ways to kill people . . . in the literary sense!      One national community that supports our passion is Sisters in Crime ( and offers chapters that meet locally. Mystery by the Sea serves southeastern Virginia, and Central Virginia chapter serves the Richmond area. The two chapters collaborated on three short-mystery collections; Virginia is for Mysteries, Virginia is for Mysteries Volume 2, and 50 Shades of Cabernet.
     We hit the road, li…