What Could Go Wrong?

During her session at Sleuthfest 2018, Sharon Plotkin, a Certified Crime Scene Investigator in Miami, Florida, talked about CSI failures and mistakes that can and have ruined cases. During her talk, she focused on two high-profile cases: OJ Simpson and JonBenét Ramsey. Her first point was readers are jurors, and … Continue reading

Forensic Research and Fiction

Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D, forensic psychologist, was one of the Guests of Honor at this year’s Sleuthfest. She gave the Friday luncheon talk followed by a session on “Integrating Forensic Research into Fiction.” Her luncheon talk was fascinating (About the BTK Killer, Dennis Rader) but a bit gory (But no one … Continue reading

Two Writers’ View of AWP’18

I’d never heard of AWP, so when two writers I know said they would be attending this year’s conference, I asked them to write about their experiences. Please welcome Amy Brown and Patricia Averbach. Making the most of the year’s biggest literary event: AWP ‘18 By guest contributors Amy Brown … Continue reading

What an Editor Actually Does

Neil Nyron, who recently retired from being the Executive Vice President, Associate Publisher and Editor in Chief of G.P. Putnam’s Sons, gave the welcoming talk Thursday afternoon at the Florida Mystery Writers’ of America 24th annual Sleuthfest in Boca Raton. He’s given 3 other similar talks over the previous three … Continue reading

Avoiding TSTL Characters

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about ways to develop your characters (Know Your Characters ). I’m still in the process of getting to know the characters in my new story, and I’ve taken a couple scenes from that story to be critiqued. In one instance I was questioned … Continue reading

Confession of an Inefficient Writer

I know I should either create an outline and then write the story, or start writing and simply let the story flow, writing from beginning to end without editing along the way. One way or the other would be efficient…but that’s not how I work, which results in a lot … Continue reading

Have You Used the Snowflake Method?

As I’ve mentioned, I’m both starting a new novel and presenting a workshop on outlining. For the workshop, I will be talking about the Snowflake Method developed. by Randy Ingermanson, so I decided to try it for my new story. It’s not easy… …but, if you’re a plotter, you may … Continue reading

Real or Fictitious?

I’ve reached a point with this new story where I need to decide if the setting will be an actual (real) location or one I make up. For my Crow books (The Crows, As the Crow Flies, and Eat Crow and Die), I used an imaginary town (Zenith) which was … Continue reading

Know Your Characters

I just spent an hour writing one paragraph, and I might end up deleting all of that. Why? Because I’m writing it from the point of view of a character I don’t really know. He’s in a bar—not an elegant one, but a hole-in-the-wall type—drinking to forget something. What? What … Continue reading

What is an Outline?

I’m more of a pantser than a plotter. I always try to plot out a story, but along the way things change—characters take over. When I started my writing career, I had to submit a synopsis and the first 3 chapters, so, I created a rough outline for myself and … Continue reading

How Do You Handle Conflicting Suggestions?

I belong to a fairly large critique group here in Florida, and I’m always amazed by how diverse the comments are about a piece of work. We usually critique two pieces during the meeting. We receive (via email downloads) the work a week before we meet, giving everyone a chance … Continue reading

Is it Important?

If you are writing a text book, or a travel brochure, or any type of non-fiction, it’s fine to go into detail about how something works or looks or the history of its origin, but if you are writing fiction, all that detail may hurt the story. Fiction is storytelling. … Continue reading

A Writer’s Life

Ah, to be a writer. If you write romances, it’s satin sheets and bonbons as you sit on your bed and type on your laptop (or dictate to your secretary). For others, it’s a private office, either in your mansion or New York apartment. Editors come to your home to … Continue reading

Creating a New Story

Writers are often asked where they get their ideas. Most of us say we get them from everywhere: newspapers, TV, real events, family dynamics, travel, and so on. Some story ideas seem to come full-blown. Others need to be pulled out of our imaginations. The same is true of characters. … Continue reading

Writing a Blurb

We’re told the most important selling tools for a book are the cover and the back blurb. With traditional publishers, the author usually doesn’t have control over either. Oh, we’re asked for suggestions, but the editor, or art department, or marketing department is usually the one who makes the final … Continue reading

Reading to Write

The other day my friend Joe Novara and I were sitting on my deck, looking out at the boats on the river, talking about what we were reading and why. Before Joe left, I asked him to write something about why he felt reading other authors’ books helped a writer. … Continue reading

Your Inner Editor

I’ve been blogging about the need for an editor and ways to find one. Most writers also have an inner editor. You know what I mean. It’s that little voice in our head that says… You can’t write That sucks No one will want this story Give up (This list … 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