Mystery Mondays: Jennifer Berg On Being An Organized Writer

Today on Mystery Mondays, we have Jennifer Berg, Author of The Hatbox Murders published by Barking Rain Press.

The Importance of Being Organized by Jennifer Berg

Writing can be a lot of fun, but my biggest tip for serious writing is to be organized. If you’re looking for a publisher, keep a log of all your leads, contacts, and submissions. When researching a book, keep extensive notes and have them organized in a way that works for you. Personally, I work from detailed plot outlines, and I take a few minutes each day (okay, most days) to log how many hours I spent on each project, and what sort of work I did (research, outlining, draft #1, 2, 3… editing, marketing, etc.).

Not only does this help me to realistically plan my workload, and keep my work-life balance in check, it’s also reassuring to watch the hours accumulate as I near each milestone. Writing is fun, but it really is a lot of work, too.

Who Is Jennifer Berg?

Jennifer Berg 2017_20Jennifer Berg grew up on a small peninsula on Puget Sound where she dug for clams, built her own rafts and camped in a tree house, a tool shed, and a teepee. She attended the University of Washington where she majored in History. When she’s not concocting new mysteries, Jennifer spends her time painting watercolors, gardening herbs and succulents, and knitting odd creations. She currently lives in San Diego with her husband and their Appenzeller Sennenhund.


The Hatbox Murders

Seattle, 1956

HatboxCoverInspector Michael Riggs doesn’t believe in “women’s intuition,” but when head stenographer Margaret Baker insists that her friend and co-worker, Ruby Pike, most certainly did not jump off a bridge to end her life, Riggs reluctantly agrees to re-examine the closed suicide case.

He quickly learns that Ruby’s mousy cousin hater her while her rich uncle adored herm showering Ruby with expensive gifts. Her shady boyfriend had good reason to be ride of Ruby, but he also has an alibi for the night of her death. Add to that a tight-lipped boss facing financial ruin, a jealous wife, and a bitter landlady whose heirloom jewelry was pilfered, and it doesn’t take long for Riggs to realize that Margaret’s feminine intuition might be right.

Unfortunately for Riggs, the only blues he can find are a gold watch with a cryptic inscription, a photo of a missing dress, and a pink hatbox. As the police chief starts to boil over, Riggs decides to call on Victoria Bell, an alluring Prussian librarian with a knack for solving crimes who has helped him with other cases. But this time, Victoria id determined to stay out of the limelight. She only agrees to help with the case if her assistance remains a secret.

But when the murderer strikes again, Victoria realizes that she’ll have to risk the spotlight if she’s going to help Riggs catch the murderer.

Thanks for reading…





13 thoughts on “Mystery Mondays: Jennifer Berg On Being An Organized Writer

  1. Loved your post, Jennifer! When I wrote romance, my characters balked at a detailed outline, but writing mysteries is different. Having a detailed outline of the murder/solution and a firm handle on the subplots gives the characters and me the freedom to show those personalities and to make small-but-high-impact adjustments to the story during the writing. It’s taken me a few books to find a workable process for me, and at its heart is organization with attention to detail. All the best with your series! –c. t. collier

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, C.T. Collier! I’ve never written romance, but I can’t imagine writing a mystery without an intricate outline. So much of it is about the story line itself, (as opposed how it’s told) so organization in everything. And I am a sucker for details– even if they never make it into the book.


  2. I’m always amazed at the way other authors work. Detailed outlines? Organized notes? I literally start each day with one goal: Write one chapter, leave it with a bit of a cliffhanger or surprise, so that the next day I’ll want to write the next chapter. I have no idea whodunit until about 3/4 of the way through. My notes are scribbles on a sheet of paper, which I write if an idea comes to me. When I’ve used the idea (or decided it’s a no-go), I scratch it out. When the paper is no longer legible, I throw it out. I don’t have any sort of character chart, i.e. who has what eye color/weight. All that stuff is in my head (and I just hope my head keeps it all straight). Good luck with your series Jennifer. I am looking forward to reading the first book.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Judy, thanks for commenting! I find your methods fascinating. I couldn’t use your method, not just because of family interruptions (I have a lot of those) but also because I tend to work on more than one story at a time. My plot outlines, character bios, and locations lay-outs start small, with a single page and a couple sketches. Then they grow and grown as I fill in more and more detail. By the time the document reaches 13K-18K words, it’s too much material to work with, and I have to switch to writing. How cool that people manage it different ways!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m usually working on two books and one story at a time, plus my editing work. What can I say? I get bored easily! But when I’m almost done a book (i.e. last 10 chapters), that’s my primary focus. I’ve tried outlining but it just doesn’t work for me. I envy people who do outline. It must make it easier.

        Liked by 1 person

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