Some Difficult Truths about Becoming a Published Author (Part 3)

[From my first two posts on this topic: Even in this age of self-publishing, many writers still look for an agent or publisher. If you are one of those people, read on to hear some truths about the hunt. The first difficult truth is that you must spend a great deal of time doing research. The second truth is that you have to follow their directions for submitting your work. Neglecting either of these truths generally results in a rejection email or no email at all.]

Rule three is to be resolute and take rejection in stride… Continue reading

Some Difficult Truths about Becoming a Published Author (Part 2)

[From my first post on this topic: I often speak with people who tell me they have written a novel which is quietly gathering dust in their attics. For various reasons, they were not able to find a publisher. In this publishing age, people can self-publish quite easily and relatively cheaply. Still, some would-be novelists would like to find “a real publisher.” If you are one of those people, gentle reader, I have some difficult truths about how that happens. Read on at your own risk.

As someone who will have her first published mystery out in November from… Continue reading

Some Difficult Truths about Finding a Publisher: Part One

Rules of publishingI often speak with people who tell me they have written a novel which is quietly gathering dust in their attics. For various reasons, they were not able to find a publisher. In this publishing age, people can self-publish quite easily and relatively cheaply. Still, some would-be novelists would like to find “a real publisher.” If you are one of those people, gentle reader, I have four difficult truths about how that happens. Read on at your own risk.

As someone who will have her first published mystery… Continue reading

The Hook of a Book: It’s a Mystery

Do you recognize these famous first lines from novels?

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

“It was a pleasure to burn.”P and P

“All children, except one, grow up.”

“Call me Ishmael.”

If you guessed Pride and Prejudice, Fahrenheit 451, Peter Pan, and Moby-Dick, then you are the fish that these authors hooked.  The hardest part of starting a book is the first line.

In fact, Mystery Scene magazine devotes a page in each… Continue reading

The Importance of Editors and Beta Readers

As a reader years ago, I often thought that authors simply sat down and wrote their books from beginning to end. Sure, they did some editing, but otherwise it was a chronological process with an occasional bumpy, but mostly smooth, road. Now that I write books, I see how naïve I was.

ThreeMayKeepASecretFront My first novel, Three May Keep a Secret, comes out in November. Before I began looking for a publisher, I hired an excellent freelance editor to give the manuscript a once over. Not only was it the best… Continue reading

Shopping or Writing? A Fine Balance

When the idea of writing a novel first came to me, I tackled it the same way I approached my early years of teaching. I would check out or buy book after book of experts’ thoughts about writing and how to get started. Still sitting on the shelves in my office are books from that period of my life: On Writing by Stephen King, Write That Book Already (Barry and stephen-king-on-writingGoldmark), The First Five Pages (Lukeman), and numerous books by Orson Scott Card. Seriously, I probably read forty or fifty other… Continue reading

Some Seasons are Murder

The first of my Endurance mysteries comes out in November of this year. It’s called Three May Keep a Secret, and it is set in the tiny town of Endurance, Illinois. The novel begins in June, ends in July, and has a postscript in October. Two seasons in the Midwest, summer and fall, are utilized in this first novel. The second novel, which I’m currently writing, is totally different. It is set in Endurance, but now it is January and the Midwest inhabitants are shivering under snow, sleet, and windy conditions. These seasons definitely affect my characters, as well as… Continue reading

How I Use Social Media to Create an Author Platform

The topic of the day here on Mostly Mystery is social media. Frankly, I’m a relative newcomer to using social media with my books and I’ve been learning as I go along. This month my website will be totally redone and my blog will be added to my website. So I guess you could say at the moment I’m under construction. My current website is here and it updates my news about my mysteries, but it centers more on my memoir about teaching. When the site is reconstructed, the mysteries will take front and center… Continue reading

My Voice

the pastThis month our blog is taking a walk down memory lane and writing about anecdotes that influenced us as writers. Several of those memories come to mind, but one in particular stands out because it was the first time I ever thought about being a writer.

And it came from a teacher.

It’s no secret that I began publishing with a memoir rather than a novel. Now I’ve moved on to fiction, but anyone reading both books will probably say my “voice” sounds very much the same. Perhaps it… Continue reading

The Writer’s Lament: Where Did I Put That?

This month we’re exploring events from our pasts that have influenced us as writers. I have an anecdote or two, but I think I will save those for later in the month. Instead, I’d like to mention a quality that has affected me, not only as a teacher, but also as a writer.

Before writing novels, I taught high school English in a small town in Illinois. For many of those thirty-four years I was a single mother of three children. This meant that besides teaching English—including countless nights and early mornings of grading papers—I was also packing lunches… Continue reading