Writing Unchained

By Mike Befeler

mike_befelerThis is my first post on the RMFW blog, so let me introduce myself. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Mike Befeler. For those of you who do know me, I’m still Mike Befeler. In the past I’ve been know as the Geezer-lit Guy because I’m author of the Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery series, which includes Retirement Homes Are Murder, Living with Your Kids Is Murder, Senior Moments Are Murder, Cruising in Your Eighties Is Murder and Care Homes Are Murder. Like Clark Kent, I’ve now taken on a new persona. I have two published paranormal mysteries, The V V Agency and The Back Wing. The V V Agency introduces a new type of shape-shifter called a transvictus, and The Back Wing gets back to my roots (they’re blond)—it’s a paranormal geezer-lit mystery. Don’t believe the myth that vampires don’t age. They get older, lose their teeth and gum people on the neck.

I want to thank Pat Stoltey for inviting me to join this blog. I’ll be your entertainment for the first and third Mondays of the month. I enjoy hearing from readers, so please respond, bug me, send notes, etc. I’d particularly like to hear what subjects you haven’t seen addressed in blogs that you’d like commented on.

The topic I’d like to address today is experimenting with different genres. When I started writing, which was in 2001 when I was 56 years old, I had no clue what I was doing. Some may say that’s still the case, but what the heck. Along the way I’ve learned a thing or two, which is important, because if our ancestors hadn’t, we’d still be watching cave drawings instead of Downton Abbey. One lesson learned is that we can write whatever we chose. Nothing says we have to be pigeonholed as one type of writer or another.

My first published novel didn’t even start as a mystery. I began writing a relationship story about three men and three women in a retirement community. At the same time I was writing a collection of mystery short stories featuring older people, and the two concepts combined, and Retirement Homes Are Murder was born.

The best part of the writing process for me is being intrigued with a subject and then pursuing it. As a mystery writer I can investigate different ways to kill people (don’t worry, I’m not going to do anything more than kill off people I don’t like on the printed page or e–book page). I keep a manila folder full of writing ideas—things clipped from magazines and newspapers (yeah, I still read print newspapers) and notes I make when a person, event or location fascinates me.

The beauty is we can write about anything. We can invent new worlds, take actual events to their absurd conclusions and turn the ordinary into the extra-ordinary.

That’s what brought me to writing paranormal mysteries as well as geezer-lit mysteries. I’ve also become fascinated with historical characters. Two that have led me to written manuscripts are Athanasius Kircher, the last man to know everything, and Nikola Tesla, a brilliant eccentric. So I’ve tried my hand at historical novels and thrillers.

But wait, there’s more. I recently met a 94-year-old man who was an infantryman in World War II and fought in Operation North Wind. He was captured, put in a prisoner of war camp, and repatriated by the Russians. He recounts some of the most amazing stories about his experiences, so I’m writing his biography.

So don’t feel you have to be chained to whatever you have been writing. Let your imagination soar. Try something new.

What are your thoughts?


Learn more about Mike Befeler and his novels at his website.

Mike Befeler

5 thoughts on “Writing Unchained

  1. Thanks for agreeing to be a “reg” on here, Mike. I rather prefer reading authors who diversify their writing. It keeps the writing, in my opinion, from sounding formula and rote.

  2. Great to have you writing for the blog, Mike! I love how you say, “The beauty is we can write about anything. We can invent new worlds, take actual events to their absurd conclusions and turn the ordinary into the extra-ordinary.” It’s especially fun the create new worlds throughout the universe. I sometimes have to remember I’m writing a novel, not a manual for future space explorers.

    I try to mix it up between different genres just because I get bored, especially with characters in a series. I’d love to hear more from you on how you deal with the doldrums of a series and the same characters.

    WOW! What a wonderful opportunity you have to capture the story behind one of our national treasures. Sounds like he has an amazing story, and the fact that he remembers so much… What did I have for dinner last night?

  3. Thanks for being a regular part of the RMFW blog, Mike. One of these days I hope you write about the way you used “morning pages” to start writing while you still held down a full-time job. That story is a powerful lesson to those of us who whine about not having enough time.

    The concept of writing unchained is one I wholeheartedly embrace. Moving from series writing to standalones rekindled my enthusiasm for the process. You are such an inspiration.

  4. You’re so right, Mike! We can write anything we want. I’m such a diverse reader and all genres intrigue me. All of them. I wouldn’t want to write them all, but I do read them all. I write fantasy and speculative fiction, but my tastes for reading run more toward literary, or genre fiction with a literary bent. One of my favorite authors is Alice Hoffman and I’d love to write like her. Le sigh. But lyrical fantasy like what Rae Carson writes attracts me as well. If my agent had her way I’d be writing book club women’s fiction (I have one plotted but not started yet). 🙂 So many ideas and so little time.

  5. Great to have you blogging here, Mike. I enjoy your books, and admire your productive life of fresh challenges and adventures.

    I too, love to make up words, like the title of my novel, Vagilantes.

    As you mentioned, we do have unlimited freedom in writing. There is a risk to coloring outside the lines. Although we expand the space of common genre, we can be set aside in a separate box.

    I’m conflicted about my blog. It follows the tone of Vagilantes in reporting real child sexual abuse and expressing a raw response. If I were to meet another person who wrote such stuff, I wouldn’t like them much – too hateful. I need to climb into this small dark box each time I prepare a post.

    It’s not a solid comparison, but it’s good to see that you are writing outside the confines of retirement home lit. Thanks for being an example of someone who builds new boxes.

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