Purloined Prose or Synchronicity?

Purloined PlotsHow many times have you read a book, seen a movie, or watched a TV show that bore an uncanny resemblance to others you’ve encountered? I’m not talking about those endless remakes. Nor am I talking about déjà vu.

When a story line follows another so closely that you recognize the plot, does that mean that the author has stolen the plot from someone else? Probably not. Could it be synchronicity? Google defines synchronicity as the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible… Continue reading

Inspiration: Do You Draw From Real Life Events?

I’ve been following Britt’s blog posts about the missing Dutch students in Panama. It is one of those compelling stories that draws us in.  Our blog webmistress, Linda, has posed a question to us about whether or how much we use real life events in our novels.  An interesting question.  How much is too much?  Are some things so sensitive we shouldn’t think about including them.

For my part, I find kinds of bits and pieces of things find their way into my novel and short stories.  Some are inspired by things I see or by things people do. … Continue reading

Using Backstory

Backstory is one of those topics that we hear a lot about.  Too much backstory or an info dump can slow your story – or worse, the reader gets bored and stops reading altogether.   Not enough backstory and the reader isn’t grounded in the world and invested in your characters.  Lots of articles and advice on that.

We generally love our characters – and we want everyone else to love them too.    So the dilemma is what to do with all this great information we have that can’t make it into the novel.  And sometimes there’s a really interesting… Continue reading

Winter’s Last Gasp – Please say it’s so!!!

I knew we were going to have snow again.  I knew and yet, I hoped that the weather person was wrong.  I love an occasional snow.  They were rare for me growing up in Texas.  But this winter has really been more than I wanted.

Buddha in snow (800x600) (640x480)I started out taking a few pictures but that wasn’t enough.  After being snowed in several days – I live out a bit on a gravel drive that is way more than I would ever shovel – I decided that I… Continue reading

A Winter Idyl

Years ago I took a trip to the East Coast and stopped at the homes of some of my favorite authors. Thoreau’s Walden Pond, Emerson’s home in Concord, Longfellow’s home in Cambridge, and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s childhood home and his House of Seven Gables in Salem. One of my favorites among the homes of these literary giants was the farm Whittier birthplacehomestead of John Greenlief Whittier at Haverhill, Massachusetts. A lone caretaker took us through the house and we saw the same fireplace where the family gathered in Whittier’s nostalgic poem, “Snowbound.”… Continue reading

To NaNo or not to NaNo?

NaNoWriMo CrestNovember is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo.  Thousands of writers of all ages, from all walks of life, writing in all genres, from just about every country in the world, decide that during the month of November they are going to write 50,000 words – which equates to roughly 1,670 words a day, every day, for 30 days straight.

This, my friends, causes severe perspiration.  There is absolutely no time to wait for inspiration.  You simply apply fingers to keys and pour the words… Continue reading

Straight Roads, Curves, and Detours

I’m a new author on Mostly Mystery and I thank all of my fellow writers for giving me this great opportunity.

My journey as a writer has been a series of detours rather than a straight path. Currently, a small press is interested in the first of my series of amateur sleuth mysteries called Three May Keep a Secret. My main character, Grace Kimball, is a retired teacher living in the small town of Endurance, Illinois, who finds herself in the middle of a murder. Well, make that several murders.

But did I take a clear, straight path… Continue reading

My Favorite Writing Workshop/Retreat

              Wisdom House labyrinth   Every year in April, I travel to Litchfield, Connecticut for a  writing workshop/retreat.  It’s held at Wisdom House which has great food, a wonderful labyrinth, and plenty of paths to walk.   I find it comfortable and affordable.  Generally, the participants are all women.   The group is usually less than 20 and I find that I enjoy a group between 10-15 more than the larger group.  That allows for more time to read our work and talk about craft issues. 

                Why do I… Continue reading

Location, Location, Location

                We all know setting is important to a story or novel.  It can add atmosphere or sometimes even function closer to a character.  I’m working on a short story that relates back to a specific time period and place.  Except that my story is now in present day.  My research started with the internet – doing what most likely other writers do as well – searching for answers as to the history of the place, landmarks, etc.  In this instance, I looked at… Continue reading

Schedule, Schmedule

Schedules work well – until they don’t anymore.

The problem is that schedules, like good habits, take a long time to become second nature and are very easily broken.  The fallout from a broken schedule can be numbing.

A schedule that is working well is wonderful.  It provides structure and focus.  The issues arise when life interferes and throws the schedule out-of-whack.   An interrupted schedule can lead to self-reproach.  Self-reproach can lead to inactivity.  Inactivity leads to more self-reproach.  This cycle of inactivity and self-reproach is a slippery slope, one that is hard to recover from.

This… Continue reading