It's a Mystery

It's a Mystery

Writers share thoughts on writing.


Local Chesapeake Crime writers, from left, Mary Ann Corrigan, C. Ellett Logan, and Barb Goffman


Chesapeake Crimes III is part of an award-winning mystery series. All of the stories from the books are set in the Chesapeake region and come from members of the group Sisters in Crime.

The Chesapeake Crimes III is the latest installment of the award-winning Chesapeake Crimes short stories mystery series. All of the stories are set in the Chesapeake region and all of the authors resided or currently reside in the region. Three of the authors are from Reston and Herndon. Barb Goffman of Herndon wrote “Compulsive Bubba,” C. Ellett Logan of Herndon wrote “Backseat” and Mary Ann Corrigan of Reston wrote “Chimera.”

Goffman’s first short story was nominated for an Agatha award. She moved to Herndon two years ago, but has worked in Reston as an attorney at Sally Mae, for the past four years. She says her favorite short story she has written is “the one in this book, ‘Compulsive Bubba;’ it’s about a woman who has been in an abusive marriage for 30 years and when her husband starts an affair, she won't have it. I get to show a character who evolves and doesn't take crap anymore. It’s funny, I got to do all the things that I love in this story."

Logan, whose story, “Backseat” is her first short story, got into mystery writing because “I joined a writers group and the lady who masters it, Donna Andrews, was a mystery writer, so I was influenced by her.” Logan who started writing again after her last child graduated college five years ago, lived in Reston for two and a half years before moving to Herndon last September.

Corrigan used to be a writing and literature professor at Georgetown University and Northern Virginia Community College. She has lived in Reston since the 1970s and thinks that people are drawn to mysteries “because they like the puzzle element and trying to figure it out along with whatever character from the book. In mysteries, justice is served by the end, so you have a feeling of satisfaction. Life isn't always so tidy as it is in mystery novels.” This is the first story Corrigan has written since she was about 14.

All three of the women are members of Sisters in Crime Chesapeake Chapter, a group for mystery writers. While Corrigan knows how her writings are going to end, Goffman and Logan do not. Both Goffman and Corrigan get some of their ideas, specifically the ideas they used in these two stories, from watching the news. All three of the authors suggest that aspiring writers need to read — a lot.

Goffman says the most important thing is: "ass in seat. The worst problem people have is they think about it but don't do it. People get overwhelmed by the thought of writing when they really just need to do it."

Corrigan suggests “once you start writing, get a group of people who will read and critique what you have written.” While Logan said, “You just have to write and allow yourself to write badly.”