Book Review

I just finished a mystery/thriller by a New York Times bestselling author,nyt courtesy victorfarmington library.org someone whom I’ve read sporadically over the years, usually quite happily. This particular book is set in the 1980s but was published not long ago, so it’s not one of the author’s early works. Yet reading it was a slog when her technique and years of writing experience should have made it a slam-dunk.

We all know the phenomenon that happens when a book is truly good — time is suspended as we enter… Continue reading

There is lots going on in July!

bloody calendar finalIf you haven’t visited our Calendar page recently (under “When” on the menu bar), we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. We’ve loaded it with all kinds of great activities for writers, including conferences, contests, workshops and more.

This month is especially jam-packed, with “THRILLERFEST” in New York City, Camp NaNoWriMo, the RWA and Writers’ Digest annual conferences, plus a long list of exciting workshops. And for those planning ahead, subsequent months have plenty of craft and related opportunities, too.

Make it a point to check… Continue reading

On the Right Side of the Law

I’ve always liked stories about lawyers and the law,atticus “To Kill a Mockingbird,” starting me off in a big way in childhood. Being from the South, the book has always had a special resonance with me, and, really, who doesn’t love Atticus Finch — or Gregory Peck?

Now that I’m writing my own novels, I’ve learned to appreciate lawyerly books – and movies and TV —  even more, not just as pure entertainment but also as little instruction manuals on how to tell rich and satisfying tales, no matter the… Continue reading

Mind Mapping

Recently, I came across some software for “Mind Mapping,” a snazzy virtual visualization technique that is currently all the rage.  Although the concept of Mind Mapping dates back some 25 years, Mind Mapping software is much newer. So, always on the lookout for things that will help organize the gazillion bits and pieces of information I collect in the process of writing a novel, I set off to investigate this phenomenon. Little did I know what I was getting into.

First, I found the motherlode site, http://www.biggerplate.combiggerplate a… Continue reading

FLASH ! FREE Scrivener Webinar, Thursday, May 21, 2015

scrivener coach“How To Use Scrivener to Write, Organize, & Export  Your Book into Various Formats for Printing, Editing, & Publishing”

Thursday, May 21, at 3 p.m. Eastern Time

I’m a great proponent of Scrivener,scrivener logo the “writing” program that lets you organize, format and export your finished work. Scrivener, in beta form, came along at a time when I was tearing my hair out trying to  get control of my first novel. For me, as… Continue reading

Things I Have Learned about Writing That Run Contrary to Accepted Practice: Installment #1 — Contests

Go anywhere on the web and you’ll see this warning:

DO NOT 4Everybody’s BFF, “Preditors & Editors” http://pred-ed.com/predlogo100, says:

“We strongly advise writers to enter only those contests without a fee. P&E does not recommend any contests with entry fees.”

http://thewritelife.com/thewritelife3 also pans fee-based contests, saying:

“…often a fee can be a red flag for a scam” and “you may want to… Continue reading

The Fat Lady Sings (Again) – to Beat Sheets

CORRECTION: The wonderful Jami Gold has made a correction to this post. Although a number of “Beat Sheets” below are attributed to different authors, they were actually created by Jami herself. She’s drawn from the teachings of Larry Brooks, Michael Hauge, etc. to assemble them, hence their names. The Blake Snyder Beat Sheet was created by Elizabeth Davis. Confused yet?  Don’t worry. All will become clear as you read further.
Two other suggestions from Jami: first, she recommends this link for her Scrivener Beat Sheet: jamigold.com/2013/12/can-we-use-beat-sheets-with-scrivener . And second, she provides a “clearinghouse” link for all Beat Sheets

More on Self-Editing (Will It Ever End?)

Not every great writer writes a great book. That’s a given. Even Agatha Christie had a couple of truly awful mysteries. elephant (“Elephants Can Remember” stands out as boring, repetitive, definitely an un-Christie-like story.)

But still, it’s always a surprise to hit one of those disappointments, much more so when the disappointments are multiple. Three of the last four bestsellers I’ve read have fit into this category.

lawyer revised and flippedOne had so much technical information it got in the… Continue reading

Internet Resources, Take 2

Last month, I wrote about some of the more interesting places I’ve recently visited for research purposes. Well, I’ve been at it again, this time starting with “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself into Print” by Renni Browne and Dave King. This gem of a book was hiding in full sight among the1200 or so volumes currently eating my Kindle alive. (Note to Self: Serious Housecleaning Needed ASAP.)

self-editing book coverOnce I started the Browne/King book, I literally couldn’t put it down. The advice is so well… Continue reading

Time to Edit — Tips from the Web

Across one of my bookshelves, there’s a line of fat white notebooks, each one bearing a zippy, call-to-action name: “How to Write Compelling Dialogue. “Building Blocks of Great Fiction.” “How to Create a Page Turner.” ”The Secrets of Deep POV.” Many readers will recognize these titles as courses offered by some of the best in the wordsmithing business — Pat Kaye, Virginia Kantra, Steve Alcorn, and Mary Buckham, among others. When I decided to transition from jack-of-all-trades writer to mystery author, I sopped up every drop of information these folks could give me. Now, as I’m headed for… Continue reading