16 September 2013

Baker Street Irregular

I keep a framed photograph of Jeff Baker in my desk drawer and sometimes I get all weepy. A lifelong native of Wichita, Kansas, Jeff learned to read from the comics page sometime around preschool and graduated to comic books, Robert Arthur and Thorne Smith shortly thereafter. After a misspent youth getting a B.A. in Communications and performing comedy in local clubs, he settled into a life of day jobs driving delivery trucks and writing stories spare time that have found their way into such venues as Over My Dead Body and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. Happily ensconced with his significant other Darryl Thompson, he is a near-constant reader of sites like SleuthSayers. You can find Jeff on his Facebook page. Read him and keep.
— Velma

Jeff Baker
Jeff Baker
Sleuthing and Saying

by Jeff Baker

I’ll start with something both writers and readers know, a cliché: “Has it really been two years?” (Spoiler alert: it has!)

SleuthSayers began two years ago. From the start, it launched as a blog for both writers and readers. Being both, a neophyte writer and a long-long-time voracious reader, the daily dose proved advantageous and fun from the very beginning.

SleuthSayers (the name always makes me think of Dorothy L. Sayers) began life as a successor to the much-missed pro blog Criminal Brief” which featured a rotating set of seven mystery writing professionals including, at one time or another, blog founder James Lincoln Warren, Melodie Johnson Howe, Steven Steinbock, Angela Zeman and SleuthSayers regulars John Floyd, Leigh Lundin, Deborah Elliot-Upton, Janice Law, and Rob Lopresti. Each one posted one column a week on subjects as varied as procrastination, anthologies, movies, and of course the craft of writing itself.

SleuthSayers doubled the number of columnists and changed the gestation period for a column to two weeks, giving the busy writers a breather and giving the readers a wider variety of experience and opinion. Contributions have varied from R.T. Lawton’s 25 years in law enforcement, Dixon Hill’s knowledge of explosives, and Jan Grape’s encounters with a live-in “alien.” Blended in are the wonky realities of writing and reading in the digital age, plus the ongoing saga of bizarre news from Florida.

Acceptances, rejections, book signings, publications, awards, and stumbling blocks have all found themselves subjects for columns over the past two years. Everything from professional to personal triumphs and tragedies have been laid bare daily for the site’s rapt readers.

From the beginning, the blog has not just entertained but served as a writer's resource. Speaking as a beginning writer myself, the site has served as a source of encouragement and enlightenment in my own attempts to put a good story– not just any story but a good one– on paper. Sometimes nothing helps as much as the knowledge that I’m not alone doing this. The advice and knowledge of our shared passion for the written word has shown itself invaluable. Reactions range from “omigosh! I didn’t know that!” through “Hey, I tried that!” or “I gotta do that!” and “Geez, that sure didn’t work when I tried it!” but the bulk of the knowledge brings about “I gotta write this down.”

So much for the past, onward to the future. Further columns (and deadlines) await the lucky reader or writer who scrolls by accident or design to SleuthSayers. The future looks bright and not just because the screen is glowing! Here’s to another year, another two years and more to SleuthSayers!


  1. "I'm not alone in this.". Jeff, i think you put your finger on the main service blogs like ours (are there any like ours?) offer. Thanks!

  2. You're welcome! And thanks for all your kind and informative words!

  3. Jeff, we certainly appreciate the kind words. And it was a great pleasure, at Bouchercon last year, to finally meet you "for real."

    Thanks again.

  4. Jeff, you've been following us a long time and we much appreciate it. And I was truly pleased when I learned your story appeared in SHMM.

  5. Jeff, being a prior Wichitan, I'm glad to have you around.

    West High 58-59
    South High 59-60
    Campus High 60-61
    U of W September 61 until name change
    WSU ~Bachelor of BA, Dec 70 (in my defense, the Army got three years out of the middle.)

  6. Jeff, one of the major things I've learned in my years of trying to be a writer and be published is you have to persevere. Just keep writing and writing and writing. I enjoyed this article a lot and am thrilled you're getting short stories published.

  7. John and Leigh, thanks so much! Hope I get to meet all the rest of you someday! Jan, I agree completely! And R.T., you must have gone to South High that first year it opened! Me, I was Class of 78---yes, I spent most of my time in the library reading!

  8. I remember your name from Criminal Brief. I only recently discovered sham so haven't seen that story, but congratulations! I'll follow the link for the other.

  9. Jeff, you were my greatest supporter and favorite commenter on Criminal Brief. If only our engagement had lasted! (sniff!)

  10. Thanks Velma! And thanks to Anon, as well!


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