A Novel is not a Soapbox

I’ve heard, and believe, that a novel of fiction can get a message across better than a non-fiction book. Why? For one thing, many people won’t/don’t pick up non-fiction books that deal with topics that make them uncomfortable. As an example, consider Kathryn Stockett’s book The Help. The theme of … Continue reading

Is That Really Necessary?

I’ve been reading and critiquing some unpublished chapters lately, and I’ve come across two common errors that many new writers make. Telling too much The first mistake is when the writer includes a lot of information that isn’t really necessary to the story. Sometimes this is backstory (I want to … Continue reading

More Suggestions Re: Editors

Last week, in my blog, I asked others to suggest ways writers might find freelance editors. Here are the suggestions I received: Susan Oleksiw said: I’d include the National Writers Union and its locals. Local chambers of commerce sometimes include editors among their members. In Boston, Grub Street is a … Continue reading

How Do You Find An Editor?

I recently had another writer ask me how to find a freelance editor. I decided that would be a good topic for this blog. Although most of my blog readers are published or already belong to writers’ groups, some of my readers are still new to the idea of getting … Continue reading

Story Structure

Remember, there are no absolute rules in writing. Note, I said ABSOLUTE. We do have grammar, punctuation, and spelling rules, but these are broken everyday by writers who want to show something about a character’s speech or writing. Formatting rules change due to technology or the desire to create a different … Continue reading

Painting with Words

I majored in art, so it’s natural for me to compare painting a picture to writing a book. The artist uses color, along with shapes and lines, to create a picture. Writers use words. When starting a new painting, I have an idea in mind. Some artists make detailed sketches. … Continue reading

Why Hire an Editor?

“I’m going to self-publish because  don’t want anyone changing what I’ve written!” I cringe when I hear a writer say that. Maybe the published book will be “clean” (no typos, misspellings, or poorly written sentences), but usually it will have sections that are either unclear, repetitious, or totally unnecessary. (I’ve … Continue reading

How Do I Find An Agent?

How do I find an agent? In the last month I’ve had two people ask me that question. I think they wanted a short, easy answer (the secret). They looked disappointed when I start talking about going on-line and finding which agents represented the type of book they’ve written; checking Writers … Continue reading

To Prologue or Not

During a writers’ meeting the topic of prologues came up. One writer wondered if he should use a prologue for his story. I immediately said “No, don’t do it.” Another writer questioned that, which made me stop and think about my response. I’m always telling others there are no “nevers” … Continue reading

Self-Publish, Hybrid, or Assisted Publishing.?

What is the difference between self-publishing your book, calling yourself a hybrid author, or using assisted publishing? What can one method offer that another can’t? Those were the questions discussed during a self-published author’s open house held in May at the Lincoln Township Public Library. I attended because a writer … Continue reading

Are You In Control?

I wouldn’t call myself a control freak, but I like to know what’s going to happen next: I plan ahead. keep lists, write appointments and events on a calendar that I check often, and I would rather “do it myself” than delegate jobs. Whenever I hear or read advice on … Continue reading

Should You Enter a Contest?

Not long ago I saw an ad on Facebook for a book contest. Two writer friends had “Liked” it, and the contest sounded great: free advertising for a period of time and a certificate/label you could use on your book if you won. Also, for this month, they’d reduced the … Continue reading

Charmaine Gordon Interview

Please welcome Charmaine Gordon, a writer of many talents. (Read more to learn what those talents are.) Charmaine has just released Charlie’s Family Secrets, an “Omnibus Edition” of three of her novels: Reconstructing Charlie, Sin of Omission, and The Catch. Reconstructing Charlie Charlie Costigan has a secret. Home life goes … Continue reading

Picking A Name For Your Character

During a talk I recently gave, one man asked how I came up with names for my characters. I told him the truth, that a lot of times I pick up a newspaper, find names, and mix first and last names up (so I don’t use someone’s real name). That works best … Continue reading

Never! Stop! Don’t!

We’ve all heard those words. Never … (you fill in the blank)! Stop…! Don’t…! They’re edicts we must follow. Right? Of course not. Never write sentence fragments Never start a sentence with and or but. Never end a sentence with a preposition. Beware of sentence fragments. Oh yes, the terrible … Continue reading

4 NYT Authors Talk about Publishing

This will be my last summary of the Sleuthfest 2017 panels I attended. This one was held Saturday evening. Oline H. Cogdill interviewed Reed Farrel Coleman, Jane Cleland, Jess Lourey, and S.J. Rozan.  I’m not going to give all of the questions and responses, just the highlights, and I apologize if … Continue reading

Different Paths to Publication

I’m continuing my summaries of sessions I attended during Sleuthfest 2017 with the Saturday afternoon session titled “Different Paths to Publication.” This panel included Lynnette Hallberg, Sharon Potts, John Keyse-Walker, and Dan Ames with Gregg Brickman moderating. Dan Ames started the conversation by comparing the three common ways of being … Continue reading

SF17 Keynote Speaker: David Baldacci

David Baldacci was the Saturday keynote luncheon speaker at Sleuthfest 2017. He began his talk by relaying a humorous story about why he won’t go up to anyone reading his book. He said he saw a man reading one of his books and offered to sign it for the man. … Continue reading

Shooting Solutions Session plus The Gritty Cozy Session

Saturday morning (February 25), I had a meeting so I didn’t get to “Shooting Solutions, Part 1,” presented by Sharon Plotkin, until it was more than halfway over; nevertheless, I still picked up some interesting information to add to my mysteries. For one thing, Sharon said, “Use gloves to pick … Continue reading

Autopsies and Cadaver Dogs

You know you’re at a mystery writers’ conference when the luncheon speaker entertains with pictures of dead bodies. (Gruesome pictures.) Dr. Vincent Di Maio, a Forensic Pathologist who has performed over nine thousand autopsies, “entertained” us with a few cases where the murderer hoped the police would classify the death … Continue reading