Write About What You Know

Helen Dunn Frame, formerly a commercial real estate broker in the Dallas/Fort-Worth Metroplex specializing in retail and restaurants, developed professional writing skills. In addition, living in England, Germany, and Costa Rica, and her love of travel (in 50 countries where she gained an appreciation of the value of diverse cultures) have provided background for books, blogs, and articles.

Helen wove many threads of her experiences into the fabric of Greek Ghosts followed by the second in the mystery series, Wetumpka Widow. Living in Dallas during a major scandal resulted in Secrets Behind the Big Pencil. In a third edition this year, Helen advises Baby Boomers in her book about Retiring in Costa Rica or Doctors, Dogs and Pura Vida. It features a new chapter, Retirement 101, which is also a booklet available on Kindle. Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/helendunnframe.com

As a graduate of Syracuse University (Journalism School), and New York University (Master’s Degree in Sociology/Anthropology), major newspapers and magazines as well as trade publications in the United States, Costa Rica, England, and Germany have published her writing. She has edited newsletters, published a newspaper, edited other author’s books, created business proposals for clients, and spoken to groups.

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Helen Dunn Frame, whom I had the benefit of having on my writing team at Inkwell Newswatch, and for whom I have consequently had the privilege of proofreading her work, is an enormously talented writer. She’s flexible, professional, and very thorough in every writing assignment; whether it was from other sources, her own books, or me. She’s definitely a top notch writer with the desire to perform beyond the call of a “normal” writer. Rowdy Rhodes

Years ago when I decided to write my first book after a lifetime of writing articles, columns, and editing newsletters, it occurred to me that it might be better to write fiction rather than base a novel on an actual event. I felt I would want to adhere to the truth of what happened too closely as I had written non-fiction since Journalism School. Instead, it became an opportunity to incorporate fantasy as well as actual experiences from my adventures in fifty countries plus the United States of America that would make the descriptions more real. Alliterating the titles would add a bit of whimsy to my brand.

Once I had decided on fiction, in which country would I set the initial scenes? During 1999 before the currency became Euros, an elderly Greek friend convinced me to visit Leros, an island in Greece where she spent summers every year. Having been to Greece four times before, I realized a character could relive some of my adventures there and elsewhere. For example, she could experience a mystical feeling I felt while sitting on the ruins of Helena’s Temple in Olympia. I still get chills when I recall it.

Leros gave me a different perspective about Greece. My Greek friend introduced me to Bungalows Boulafendis, a real hotel in Alinda where I stayed that I have permission to name. She also helped me to get on the small aircraft the morning I arrived in Athens in the wee hours after an airline representative refused to book me on that flight. Yet we flew with empty seats. When the plane changed course to land on a very short runway adjacent to an inlet, and next to a tiny terminal, I began to wonder about my destination. It certainly did not resemble the picture postcards of Greece I knew.

During the week I spent on the island, despite high winds that grounded planes and docked boats, I would walk many kilometers. On one of my several forays into Aghia Marina from Alinda, I noticed a house high up on the edge of a cliff that overlooked a small cove where the waves lashed up against the stonewall built along the curving roadway. Don’t most novels, at least gothics with a female in trouble, have a house in it?

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The next morning I bundled up because it was still cool in the early hours in May, carried a tray with a continental breakfast on it out onto my balcony, and started putting my fantasies about the house on a yellow-paper pad using shorthand and cursive. No gizmos then like now.

After I returned home, I took my photo album about my trip to my Greek friend’s home. She looked at the picture of the house and expressed surprise that I had photographed it. “Do you know that this house was built by Egyptian Greeks?”

“No. No one on Leros knew I had noticed the house.”

“It’s now owned by foreigners.”

“Really?”

“Yes. Germans. The man owns an international house painting company. That house is larger than it appears and, it has a basement.”

From my imagination as I wrote on the balcony, I had given the house these characteristics except the foreigner’s business was an international travel agency. I called the first mystery in the series Greek Ghosts to reflect a number of the characters in the book.

A year later when my son died unexpectedly, I asked myself, “What does a mother do when she outlives her son and her same elderly Greek friend senses his widow may have a played a role in his death?” Whether true or not if you are a writer, you write a novel.

The same sleuths from Greek Ghosts began to come alive once more in the second mystery. At the time, I was working two jobs, grieving, and dealing with other situations. During a vacation in Montgomery, my friends took me to Wetumpka, a nearby town I had discovered online. Seeing the rapids clinched my belief that it was the place to start the book which I called Wetumpka Widow, Murder for Wealth.

Beyond researching Wetumpka and incorporating perceived circumstances surrounding my son’s death, I investigated the murder of my daughter-in-law’s first husband. Information garnered from newspaper clippings inspired one of the other husbands in the book. The third spouse was developed from a ficticious Greek family that opened a branch of its business in San Diego. Animal lovers beware, as part of the logical development of the plot the widow brought home a large black Labrador named Sam. She poisons him when testing a poison-laced tuna salad to be sure it will kill her current husband.

In 2005 I moved to Costa Rica on my own. After settling into my new adventure, writing books and articles and editing others’ creations became my modus operandi. As Wetumpka Widow’s complicated story continued to evolve from several viewpoints it provided the added benefit of keeping my brain active. The final result was an epic story fired by greed, manipulation, murder, romance, and sex.

As I begin the third book in the series that will take place in England, I will remind myself: Write about what you know or from the inspirations the Greek muse on your shoulder whispers.

    

Knowing the cover is the first point of sale, the designer
created a new cover for Greek Ghosts similar to that of
Wetumpka Widow, thus identifying it as a series.

Other Books Written by Helen Dunn Frame: 

         

Retiring in Costa Rica or Doctors, Dogs and Pura Vida (Third Edition).

Find Retirement 101, the first chapter in the current version, on Kindle.

Secrets Behind the Big Pencil, Inspired by an Actual Scandal.

 

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4 thoughts on “Write About What You Know

  1. I really enjoyed reading this interview, and I Ms. Dunn sounds like someone I woul enjoy meeting, too. I am enthralled that she has traveled so widely, and I think I might be interested in trying her books.

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