Marilyn Jax hosts a free mystery writers workshop

Marilyn Jax hosts one of her free mystery writers workshops Oct. 19 at the Barnes and Noble Galleria in Edina.

Author hosts free writing workshops for writers of all skill levels

Marilyn Jax, an award-winning mystery author and Minnetonka resident, has been writing for years. She has published five books in the Caswell and Lombard series, the first one being, “The Find.” Jax’s books fit in the genre of mystery books, a genre she enjoyed reading before writing.

“I was kind of an avid mystery reader growing up, all my life,” Jax said.

A thing that Jax stresses in her writing workshops is that writers should write what they know. She applies this to her writing. Before retiring, she was an enforcement investigator for the state.

“During that time I wrote a lot of reports, for my office and for the courts,” Jax said. “So, I was used to doing a lot of writing because I had that job for 20 years. I take my experience as an investigator, I use that experience when I write.”

As her career wound down, she had started writing her first book. When she retired, she was able to dedicate more time to her writing.

“I’d always wanted to try my hand at writing mysteries,” Jax said. “So, towards the end of my career, I started my first book. I didn’t have much time to work on it because I was so busy with my life.”

Her career served as an inspiration, but something that drew her to the genre of mystery novels is being able to write an outcome. Seeing justice served is something readers also enjoy.

“In real life, there’s not always a happy ending, things are not always tied up neatly with a bow,” Jax said. “When you write a mystery, you can have that, not truly a happy ending, but you can see justice prevail. Most mystery readers also want to see justice in the end.”

An important aspect of her writing is that her novels take place in places that she has been. Her books take place in Montana, Miami, the Caribbean, London, the Greek island of Crete, Italy, Switzerland and France.

“I try to always write about places that I have visited, or where I have lived,” Jax said. “I think it lends instant credibility to your work if you’ve actually experienced things firsthand. When you can experience the culture firsthand, the smells in the air and the taste of the food and the conversation of the people nearby, it just makes your writing come to life.”

A hurdle that she ran into when she started writing was an unwillingness by established authors to provide advice. Now that she is established, sharing advice is something she has worked into her approach, giving back and helping new authors. That approach led to her creating her mystery writer workshops.

“When I first started writing, I would contact established authors, to ask them questions,” Jax said. “I contacted a few established authors and found they were very reluctant to share anything with me. I remember saying to myself, ‘if I ever become an established author, I am going to be there for new authors.”

Jax teaches these free mystery writing workshops on an annual basis around the metro area. She starts all her classes with a message that writing is a process.

“When I start my class, I always make them repeat three times, ‘writing is hard work,’” Jax said. “People tend to think that you sit down and write out a book and it gets published and it’s in the front window of Barnes and Noble, but that is not reality. Writing is a lot of rewriting, editing, rewriting, the editing process, and it takes time to get down to your core story.”

Marilyn Jax speaking at a mystery writing workshop

Marilyn Jax speaks at a mystery writing workshop at the Barnes and Noble Galleria in Edina.

Another aspect of her workshops is encouraging writers to find their voice.

“I really encourage new writers to find their own voice, and the more they write, the more their own voice comes out,” Jax said. “Everyone has a unique style of writing, that’s different from every other author.”

When the workshop is over, she finds attendees to come away with motivation and excitement about writing.

“Attendees have learned a lot and they leave, I think really excited about writing,” Jax said. “That’s my goal, I want them to be excited about writing.”

Currently, Jax is working on the sixth book in the Caswell and Lombard series, titled, “I Heard Everything.” She hopes the book will be available in 2020. The latest installment in that series is, “The Ploy.” She says the series does not have to be read in order, because each book centers around a new mystery, but she finds people tend to read them in order.

Caswell and Lombard series

Marilyn Jax has released five books in Caswell and Lombard series. The series follows two detectives who travel around the world to solve mysteries. She is currently working on the six book in the series.

To learn more about Jax and her writing, visit

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