Novel Writing: Making It Personal

Have you ever wondered whether or not the books you read have names, places, or happenings that are actually personal to the author? It’s like thinking about songs that you loved and wondering how they came to be written and what they mean to the composer.

ThreeMayKeepASecretFrontWhile only my first mystery novel, Three May Keep a Secret, is actually published, I have two more coming down the runway. The second, Marry in Haste, will be out June 22, 2016, and the third is done except for the last chapter… Continue reading

Ten Rules I Remember About Naming Characters

character-names-268x300As a former teacher, I’m well aware of the old joke about the pregnant teacher who can’t think of a good name for the upcoming baby because each name she thinks of has some darker association with a former student. “I can’t name him ‘Ben’ because of that teenager I had in class named Ben who was always whispering obscene things under his breath to the girls who sat around him.” This problem doesn’t matter when naming characters rather than children.

When I’m writing mysteries, I keep a notebook full… Continue reading

Mysteries: Why I Love Them

I’d like to add to the often quoted phrase that “we are what we eat.” I also think “we are what we read and sometimes write.”

9781450250986_COVER.inddIn 2005, when the idea of writing a book first appeared in my head, I decided to start with a memoir. Looking back, that made sense. Start with what you know, right? My book, The Education of a Teacher (Including Dirty Books and Pointed Looks), is a piece of my heart. I’d spent thirty-four years teaching high school English in a small town… Continue reading

Malice Domestic 27 Conference

Malice Domestic 27

As a fairly new mystery writer, I didn’t know about the various conferences held all over malice domesticthe country for authors of mysteries, thrillers, suspense, noir, or various other mystery genres. This spring I went to my first conference, Malice Domestic, which is a fan/author conference, usually taking place in Bethesda, Maryland, at the Hyatt Regency. Held May 1-3, it drew 600 writers and fans from all parts of the country and from abroad. I had a marvelous time and met many of my fellow writers and… Continue reading

Springtime in Endurance

As I sit in my office looking out at the rain and wind in our Illinois spring, I am reminded that the little town in my mysteries, Endurance, is based on the spot where I live. Right now the ornamental trees and shrubs are in full bloom, and the gingko tree in my 009 (320x249)front yard is just starting to grow its interesting triangular-shaped leaves. Mother Nature is definitely changing courses and revving up the green colors to move into summer. Nature is something we can’t hurry.

In recent weeks… Continue reading

Malice Domestic, Here I Come!

malice domesticIn early May, I will be going to my first book conference in Bethesda, Maryland. It’s a conference for authors called Malice Domestic, but it is also highly geared toward mystery fans. Malice Domestic 27 is held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, and it will feature special events and panels of authors speaking on all kinds of writing subjects. In the words of the Malice website, this is what the conference is about:

“Established in 1989, Malice Domestic® is an annual “fun fan” convention in metropolitan Washington, D.C., saluting… Continue reading

Making Up History

I’m busily writing a series of cozy mysteries called The Endurance Mysteries. The first book, Three May Keep a Secret [2014], introduced Grace Kimball, her friends and their small Midwest town of Endurance. In the second book, which will be out next year, one of Grace’s friends buys a Victorian home that is falling apart. This friend wants to restore it to its 1880’s splendor. Because of this plot decision, I had to create a history for this house. Grace researches its history for newspaper articles in the Endurance Register. I had a lot of fun creating a background for… Continue reading

Consider This When Choosing Book Talk Topics

Book talks are part of marketing, and some authors love them while others hate them. I’m in the first group. It’s tough to come up with topics for talks, especially when you are speaking to both people who have read your book and those who have not. My two rules of thumb for speech topics are to fit my talk to my audience and also consider my purpose.

Three May Keep a Secret, my first Endurance Mystery, came out near the end of 2014. Before its launch, I did a number of book talks locally. I spoke about how… Continue reading

Where Have I Been?

CalendarThe past writing month has been full speed ahead marketing my first book, a cozy mystery called Three May Keep a Secret. During the week before Christmas, I did seven book signings, two of them with talks; two radio interviews; and two newspaper interviews. This is what happens when your first novel comes out two weeks before Christmas. It’s a great time to sell books, but it results in total exhaustion…a good exhaustion. My first novel is already in its third printing even though it has only been released to… Continue reading

Some Difficult Truths about Becoming a Published Author (Part 4)

four[From my first three posts on this topic: Many writers look for an agent or publisher once they have finished writing their novels. If you are one of these people, first, you must take the time to research and find out the agents’ or publishers’ requirements for submitting material. Second, you must follow their submission directions to the letter. Third, you must be resolute and take rejection in stride. Remember that old saying about living to fight another day?]

The final truth in this series is that you must expect… Continue reading