The First Two Pages of The Color of Fear

Judy Alter

I wrote my first novella, The Color of Fear, for two reasons: it had been over a year before I brought Kelly O’Connell to her followers. I’d been out of the market (and I sometimes think the world) because of a complicated and painfully disintegrated hip, and I made a major downsizing move. Both worked out well, and I knew it was time to get on with my writing. Second, I had an invitation to contribute a novella to a digital anthology. The first Kelly O’Connell title, Skeleton in a Dead Space, was included in the anthology, Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries, which will be followed this fall by Sleuthing Women II: Ten Mystery Novellas. The Color of Fear is the seventh title in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries series.

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6 thoughts on “The First Two Pages of The Color of Fear

  1. B.K. Stevens

    Thanks for contributing a post, Judy! I was fascinated by your account of your decision to use a different narrator in THE COLOR OF FEAR, and I think your experiment worked well!

  2. Loretta Wheeler

    I enjoyed the post and love it when a series adds diversity by offering a different character narrative 🙂 I feel it draws the reader into each character’s story even more. I’ve also found, when I choose to do this, readers seem to identify more with each one…. I love that Keisha adds so “much” character 🙂 She’s sounds like a delight 🙂

  3. Judy Alter

    Thanks, BK, for hosting me, and Loretta for your comment and insight. Keisha is one of my favorite characters, but I’m always on the watch to keep her from becoming a stereotype. For me, it’s a thin line between colorful and stereotype. Interesting to me is that I find myself writing more about characters with sixth sense–Keisha was the first, but now others in another series have it too.

  4. John Gordon

    I’ve always found Judy’s observations helpful, so it was a joy to read about her “elevation” of Keisha to narrator-status. Obviously wondering if this might be a consideration for my Penny Summers series down the road. Thinking out loud — perhaps Penny’s spirit alter ego (who was at the Annapolis dock when the slave ship with Kunta Kinte arrived from Africa in 1767) could be the narrator of (working title:) “The Tuesday Book Club Murders” .

  5. Linda Thorne

    How neat and what an accomplishment to change the narrator voice to that of a different character and succeed at it. I’ve seen this book a number of other places, so you are doing some good promotion. The title is outstanding, especially up against the book cover with those tiny red shoes. After reading the titles of your other books in this series, they sound great and carry a similar tone. This looks outstanding.

  6. C. T. Collier


    Just resurfacing after a crazy holiday week– loved your post about the first two pages of The Color of Fear. You beautifully laid out all the questions and challenges you had to consider in opening the novella. I’m so impressed with the result: your opening! It’s important for me to remember I’m not going to get it right the first time and that reworking and revising and retooling and getting feedback along the way are essential to a book’s hook. Just this week I stopped beating myself up for having to completely rework the opening chapters of my latest mystery and recognized that’s my process. As long as it results in an effective hook, crafting the opening pages can be as messy and iterative as it needs to be. Thanks so much for sharing your thinking and your great opening paragraphs! –kate, writing as c. t. collier

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