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

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

The Fat Lady Sings (Again) – to Beat Sheets

CORRECTION: The wonderful Jami Gold has made a correction to this post. Although a number of “Beat Sheets” below are attributed to different authors, they were actually created by Jami herself. She’s drawn from the teachings of Larry Brooks, Michael Hauge, etc. to assemble them, hence their names. The Blake Snyder Beat Sheet was created by Elizabeth Davis. Confused yet?  Don’t worry. All will become clear as you read further.
Two other suggestions from Jami: first, she recommends this link for her Scrivener Beat Sheet: jamigold.com/2013/12/can-we-use-beat-sheets-with-scrivener . And second, she provides a “clearinghouse” link for all Beat Sheets

More on Self-Editing (Will It Ever End?)

Not every great writer writes a great book. That’s a given. Even Agatha Christie had a couple of truly awful mysteries. elephant (“Elephants Can Remember” stands out as boring, repetitive, definitely an un-Christie-like story.)

But still, it’s always a surprise to hit one of those disappointments, much more so when the disappointments are multiple. Three of the last four bestsellers I’ve read have fit into this category.

lawyer revised and flippedOne had so much technical information it got in the… Continue reading

Time to Edit — Tips from the Web

Across one of my bookshelves, there’s a line of fat white notebooks, each one bearing a zippy, call-to-action name: “How to Write Compelling Dialogue. “Building Blocks of Great Fiction.” “How to Create a Page Turner.” ”The Secrets of Deep POV.” Many readers will recognize these titles as courses offered by some of the best in the wordsmithing business — Pat Kaye, Virginia Kantra, Steve Alcorn, and Mary Buckham, among others. When I decided to transition from jack-of-all-trades writer to mystery author, I sopped up every drop of information these folks could give me. Now, as I’m headed for… Continue reading

Trouble Writing? Read.

Me & Jasper

Me & Jasper

My love of reading has taken me to wonderful places with so many different characters. If you ask me what kind of books I like, I can’t come up with just one type. Reading has always been cathartic to me, and I can get hooked on any piece of good writing.

As a child, I loved Nancy Drew. Those books ignited my love for mysteries. Then, writers like Pearl S. Buck, Robert Michener and Irving Stone caught my imagination and I… 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

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

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