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

Publishing Choices

This weekend I attended a workshop on “Paths to Publication” that focused on Traditional, Indie, and Self Publishing. The day-long workshop, put on by New England Sisters in Crime, featured panels on each of the publishing options, hybrid authors who use more than one type of publishing, and an author-editor connection between Hank Phillippi Ryan and her editor, Francesca Coltrera. The panel authors included Sheila Connolly, Jessie Crockett, Ray Daniel, Kate George, Rosemary Harris, Marian Lanouette, Edith Maxwell, P.M. Steffen, and Kevin Symmons. Moderators were Sharon Daynard, Michele Dorsey, Julie Hennrikus, Arlene Kay, and Liz Mugavero.

The following is… Continue reading

Queen for a Day

When I was little, there was a program on TV called “Queen for a Day.”  It was a reality soap of the highest order — a competition between four women to see who could tell the biggest sob story.

The contestants and host.

The contestants and host.

The winner was seated on a “throne,” crowned, and robed in ermine.

The winner!

The winner!

She received prizes, including whatever she’d specified was her biggest need —… Continue reading

Another Year’s Growth

2014 calendarOrdinarily, the onset of a new year brings on a sense of melancholy. I feel as though I’m losing something that I can never get back. You know, like the song lyrics, “Should auld acquaintance be forgot?” This year I decided to look back on 2013 with a more positive eye and focus on all that I’ve accomplished as a writer.

I was surprised at what I discovered. The most important result of my evaluation turned out to be growth, growth in confidence and growth in skill. In the… Continue reading

After the First Draft, then the Editing

The end of the first draft is so exciting. Such a relief to come to a conclusion. The inevitable question once we’ve taken a breath is: What to do next?

We all know the answer:  Time to edit. Editor pic

Patricia Gussin, founder of Oceanview Publishing, offers a Five Step Program. It seems a bit overwhelming but I think we all do some or all of the same revisions – just maybe not using the same process. Each step involves a complete read of your story… Continue reading

Crime Bake – Writing Conference Revitalization

Crime Bake Luau

Crime Bake Luau

Last weekend I attended my fourth Crime Bake, New England’s mystery-writing conference. Each year I wonder if the fare will be a repeat of the previous year, and each year I am pleasantly surprised. The selection of workshops at Crime Bake usually reflects the rapid changes in the writing industry, and the list of successful authors sharing their knowledge varies with each conference.

The guest of honor this year was Meg Gardiner, whose thrillers, beginning with her Edgar-winning novel, China Lake, have… Continue reading

Opening lines: What they teach us

bonepedlarFor writers, one of the most difficult parts of the book is the beginning. Not only where in the story to begin, but also how. Those first lines are especially important in captivating a reader, especially in this age of free e-reader samples.

So here I offer some first lines that have captivated me; others appeared in Mystery Scene magazine. I’ll explain what’s so good about them:

This one made me buy the book:

“In the crypt of the abbey church at Hallowdene, the monks were boiling… Continue reading

Acquiring editors’ pet peeves

Are you unwittingly turning off an acquiring editor by committing one of her pet peeves?

Two acquiring editors spoke recently about what works – and what doesn’t – at a panel at the Left Coast Crime convention in Colorado Springs.

Denise “Deni” Dietz, a senior editor for Five Star publications, says any manuscript sent to her should follow the submission guidelines, and authors should be professional in their dealings with her.  She isn’t looking for perfection in a manuscript, but she is looking for someone with a “good voice” and for solid “characterization, plot, and pacing.”… Continue reading

Self-Editing, Part 2

In my last post, I spoke about showing versus telling.

You can do that through dialogue, as well. Good dialogue serves to show, versus tell.

On the other hand, if too many of your characters’ emotions are being described through narrative, or through tags appended at the end of the dialogue, then you probably need to rewrite your dialogue.

Words such as she grimaced, she laughed, he bellowed, he growled—in place of he/she said—are the mark of an amateur. Just as unnecessary and clumsy in dialogue tags are the –ly adverbs: angrily, grimly, harshly, etc. Again, your… Continue reading

“How I Write” by Janet Evanovich with Ina Yalof

“How I Write” by Janet Evanovich with Ina Yalof  2006

I listened to this book as an audio book so any comments that I have can only be referring to that format.  I drive on average of 3000 miles a month so if you have any questions regarding what audio book to listen to I can recommend many ranging from children’s to adult — scatological humor to college level history courses and anywhere in between.  This sort of falls in between!