Marni invited me to write a guest post based on a bit of serendipity. My series amateur sleuth is named Seamus McCree.

I don’t plot my novels ahead of time. I know what the inciting incident will be, and then I let the characters take the stage—and we both find out what happens as I compose at the keyboard.

In the first five novels, readers discover Seamus has an estranged sister—but that’s all we know. Much to my surprise, she appeared on stage in the first draft of the sixth novel, False Bottom. She even came with a name: Fiona.

As you may know, Marni has two dogs: Seamus and Fiona. When I discovered that on Facebook, I let Marni know of the coincidence, and that led her to invite me to write this blog.

I love serendipity. It’s the basis for all the “small-world stories” we share about standing in line three thousand miles from home only to discover the person behind us went to the same high school we did. It’s why I don’t mind getting lost—provided I don’t have an appointment to make; then it drives me bonkers.

I never know what experience, or piece of knowledge, or acquaintance I’ll gain while bumbling about. The same thing with writing blogs: I never know where my research will take me.

Serendipity can be a driving force for many amateur sleuth stories. If the sleuth trips over a dead body, it is almost always serendipitous. Often while trying to go about their normal business or investigating one thing, they will uncover something that later becomes a lead. Their curiosity about the world, combined with their power to reason things out, allows them to succeed at pulling clues together into a coherent pattern and eventually solve the crime.

It turns out that the invention of the word serendipity was related to a story of detection. Merriam Webster produced a podcast that touches on this when they selected serendipity as their 2/13/14 word of the day. I also came across a blog I found very interesting that provides a longer version of the story.

How about you? Anything serendipitous happen recently?

James M. Jackson authors the Seamus McCree series consisting of five novels and one novella. Jim splits his time between the deep woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Georgia’s Lowcountry. He claims the moves between locations are weather-related, but others suggest they may have more to do with not overstaying his welcome. He is the past president of the 700+ member Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime.

You can find information about Jim and his books at You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and/or Amazon.

In Empty Promises (Seamus McCree #5) Seamus’s first solo bodyguard assignment goes from bad to worse. His client disappears. His granddog finds a buried human bone. Police find a fresh human body.
Seamus risks his own safety and freedom to turn amateur sleuth in hopes he can solve the crimes, fulfill his promise of protection, and win back the love of his life. Wit and grit are on his side, but the clock is ticking . . . and the hit man is on his way.

It’s available at your favorite physical or online bookstore. You can find more information about it including a link to download the first four chapters at