Social Media – why, what, how, who

Instead of discussing how I use social media I’m going to share an overview of a variety of social media platforms.  This post will cover Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  A later post will discuss Google+, Pinterest, and Tumblr.  I’ll discuss why to use social media, what the demographics and best uses of each is, how they can be used, and who is using them well.

First of all, and most important of all, is the why.  Why use social media?

Analyzing what the words mean provides the answer. Social is both a noun and an adjective – an… Continue reading

Maintaining Focus on Long-Term Goals

Writing a novel takes a long time. Although NaNoWriMo has proven to me – and many others – that 30 days is more than enough time to write 50,000 words, this is only the very beginning of the journey on the road to a finished novel.

For one thing, most novels are at least 70,000 words.

For another thing, this first rush of writing only produces the first draft. Sometimes the first draft is shitty, and sometimes it is very shitty – plot holes, meandering story lines, amorphous settings, flat characters, and stilted prose – the list can… Continue reading

Say what?

The first books to make me aware of how effective dialogue could be were Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels.  In some parts of the stories, the dialogue goes on for pages and you can forget who is talking if you aren’t paying full attention to the story.  But despite this, or perhaps because of it, the characters become real and the story seems to flow seamlessly.  I know that, as a reader, I prefer character-driven stories and I find that dialogue is one of the most effective ways to reveal character.

Every story I have written has started with… Continue reading

Setting the Scene

Elements of Setting

According to this article in Writers Digest the main elements of a fiction story are plot, character, and setting.  The setting is the where of a story, although it can also be the what, who, why, when, and how.

The WD article lists the fundamentals of setting as: locale, time of year, time of day, elapsed time, mood and atmosphere, climate, geography, man-made geography, era of historical importance, social/political/cultural environment, population, and ancestral influences.

Tips for Setting

Here are a couple of tips I have picked up during my research… Continue reading

My views on Points of View

Point of View

Point of View

There are many points of view that we, as writers, can use to craft our stories:  third person (close or omniscient), first person, and second person.  I think it may have to do with how we view ourselves, and the world around us.

We have our internal viewpoint, where we are inside ourselves looking out at the world.  This is our subjective point of view, where emotions and thoughts are internal – sometimes expressed and sometimes kept hidden.  This is the… Continue reading

Hobbies, Writing, and an Epiphany

The word hobby is synonymous with pastime, diversion, relaxation, sideline, interest, and fad.  According to the Online Etymology Dictionary (, the word hobby has its origins in the late 13th century from the word hobyn; which meant a small horse or pony.  The word hobbyhorse became synonymous with a small toy horse that was led around in circles.  In the mid 18th century, the shortened form of the word – hobby – became popular, meaning “an activity that doesn’t go anywhere”.

Which is all rather interesting, because isn’t that the point of pastimes, that they are simply ways… Continue reading

A Change in Direction

This year I decided not to enter the Debut Dagger contest, even though my calendar has been reminding me of the deadline for months.  The Debut Dagger is run by the Crime Writers Association, and is open to unpublished crime fiction writers from all over the world.  I’ve entered it twice – in 2006 and 2013.   I have had the January 31st deadline on my calendar since November and I was subscribed to the weekly competition emails.  Unlike previous years, the realization that the deadline was fast approaching didn’t herald a flurry of activity; there were just too many other… Continue reading

Bah, humbug

SA Wire ArtChristmas has not been the same since we moved to Virginia, going on four years now. My children and stepchildren are grown.  Most of them have settled in Wisconsin with their families, although some are in California, Michigan, and New Jersey.  I’d love to have them here for the holidays, but expecting all twenty+ of them to trek across the country to celebrate Christmas with us is impractical.

Being far from family is hard during the holidays, but we are starting new ‘empty nest’ traditions, and continuing some… Continue reading

To NaNo or not to NaNo?

NaNoWriMo CrestNovember is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo.  Thousands of writers of all ages, from all walks of life, writing in all genres, from just about every country in the world, decide that during the month of November they are going to write 50,000 words – which equates to roughly 1,670 words a day, every day, for 30 days straight.

This, my friends, causes severe perspiration.  There is absolutely no time to wait for inspiration.  You simply apply fingers to keys and pour the words… Continue reading

This Writer’s Owners

I believe that the affinity that cats and writers have for each other is because we are both introspective, sensitive to nuances, and can sometimes be loners. You have all heard about Ernest Hemingway and his famous cats, but did you know that T.S. Elliot had cats and wrote a poem called The Naming of Cats about them? You can listen to him read it here. According to MentalFloss, his book of light verse Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats was the inspiration for the musical Cats. Patricia Highsmith… Continue reading