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

UnBlock Us!

I’ve done some thinking recently about writer’s block, the self-inflicted wound that almost all wordsmiths endure at least once in our careers. So much has been written about the subject that it almost seems presumptuous to add anything more. Indeed a Writer’s Block cottage industry has sprung up, complete with books, audio tapes, even counselors who specialize in the phenomenon. Nonetheless, I’ll throw in a few more paragraphs in the hopes that they might be of help to anyone battling the wretched affliction. For, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that there can never be too… 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

Last Lines

In a previous blog post, I wrote about great first lines. This time, I thought I’d write about last lines.

Mickey Spillane once said, “Your first chapter sells your book. Your last chapter sells your next book.”

Have you ever read a book that kept you hooked, but then came to an ending that was either so outlandish, or so unfulfilling, that it pretty much ruined the book for you? If you have, you know how important endings are.

Even well-known, longtime authors can anger their readers with an ending. Dana Stabenow has enraged loyal readers… Continue reading

How Scrivener Saved My Life

Most people in the writing world know of Scrivener by now as a stellar program that facilitates the writing process. There are so many sources of information on Scrivener that I couldn’t begin to compete with them.  Here are several of the better ones I’ve run across.

First, if you don’t have Scrivener and want to try it, go to the following link and download the 30 day trial. Read the excellent manual and tutorial, and visit the users forum. The people who staff the forum are fantastic. How many programs can you say that for?

http://www.literatureandlatte.com/trial.php