Unexpected Learning Opportunities

Literary opportunities can pop up when you least expect them. This past weekend provided one for me. Town HouseIt was Marblehead’s annual Fourth of July extravaganza—fireworks and a special five-day event called Festival of Arts. From July 1st through the 5th, our town celebrated all forms of art including drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpting, photography, crafts, films, and writing.

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I availed myself of the opportunity to view the hundreds of exhibits… Continue reading

There is lots going on in July!

bloody calendar finalIf you haven’t visited our Calendar page recently (under “When” on the menu bar), we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. We’ve loaded it with all kinds of great activities for writers, including conferences, contests, workshops and more.

This month is especially jam-packed, with “THRILLERFEST” in New York City, Camp NaNoWriMo, the RWA and Writers’ Digest annual conferences, plus a long list of exciting workshops. And for those planning ahead, subsequent months have plenty of craft and related opportunities, too.

Make it a point to check… 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

FLASH ! FREE Scrivener Webinar, Thursday, May 21, 2015

scrivener coach“How To Use Scrivener to Write, Organize, & Export  Your Book into Various Formats for Printing, Editing, & Publishing”

Thursday, May 21, at 3 p.m. Eastern Time

I’m a great proponent of Scrivener,scrivener logo the “writing” program that lets you organize, format and export your finished work. Scrivener, in beta form, came along at a time when I was tearing my hair out trying to  get control of my first novel. For me, as… Continue reading

Things I Have Learned about Writing That Run Contrary to Accepted Practice: Installment #1 — Contests

Go anywhere on the web and you’ll see this warning:

DO NOT 4Everybody’s BFF, “Preditors & Editors” http://pred-ed.com/predlogo100, says:

“We strongly advise writers to enter only those contests without a fee. P&E does not recommend any contests with entry fees.”

http://thewritelife.com/thewritelife3 also pans fee-based contests, saying:

“…often a fee can be a red flag for a scam” and “you may want to… 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

After “The End”

My masterpiece is finished. I’ve gone over and over it, and received many critiques. Am I ready to publish? Not quite. It’s now time to send it to a real editor, and the state of my budget is very much on my mind. I know editing is a vital aspect of creating a successful book, but it isn’t cheap. Even though I’ve pored over the words until I’m cross-eyed, and writing peers have given me wonderful suggestions, an editor will look at the manuscript with fresh, professional eyes that can spot not only punctuation and grammar mistakes but also plot holes, pacing problems, and other potentially fatal flaws in my… Continue reading

Winning With Flash Fiction

ChinaFlash Fiction or Micro Fiction are terms used to describe a story that is very short, usually under 300 words, although some flash fiction can run up to 1000 words. According to Wikipedia, flash fiction in China is often called Smokelong due to the fact that the reader should be able to finish the story before he finishes smoking a cigarette.

As a writer, I’ve found that working with flash fiction has helped me with my longer work. Because of its brevity, I’m learning to write tight, telling a coherent and… 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

Contests – Love ‘Em or Won’t Touch ‘Em?

I‘ve seen lots of advice on contests. Some people won’t enter them.  Some think they’re great.  Others are in-between.  That’s where I fall too.  I think contests can be helpful but I also carefully consider what I think I get in return.   For that, I have a few guidelines.contest enter

To pay or not to pay.   Contests can be free or require a payment.  My rule of thumb is never to spend money on a contest unless I receive some sort of value back.  I’ve only entered a couple with payments… Continue reading