The Agony of Defeat

I want to continue my comparison of athletes to writers. Both athletes and writers enter competitions (the Olympics or other athletic contests for the athlete and writing contests or efforts to have a book published for the writer). Both enter with their best (best conditioning, best routine, or best manuscript). … Continue reading

Practice, Practice, Practice

I’ve been watching the Olympics, and I realized there are a lot of similarities between a successful athlete and a successful writer. Athletes who want to compete at the highest level practice. Most do this daily or almost daily. They don’t let illness stop them or family events. Because they … Continue reading

Can You Write About Real Places?

Recently I’ve been seeing emails where the topic is the following question: Can I Use Real Places? The answers (as they should be) have been “Yes,” “No,” and “It depends.” It depends on what real places (Disney is very protective of its Trademark and anything to do with its products … Continue reading

The Misadventures of Catie Bloom

Last week I had the pleasure of reading a delightful romance (The Misadventures of Catie Bloom) written by my niece, Brooke Stanton. For weeks I (and many others) have been receiving teasers announcing the coming release of this book. I remember even voting, sometime in the past, on which cover … Continue reading

How Many Plots Are There?

Back in May a new writer asked how to keep others from copying her plot. My answer was: “There are only so many plots, so everyone is copying. It’s how each individual presents the plot that makes one story different from another.” The discussion then moved into how many plots … Continue reading

He Said, She Asked

Said and asked are two words that become almost invisible in a story. They help identify who’s speaking—he said or she asked—but they don’t draw attention to themselves. (Unless used too often when not necessary.) Recently I took advantage of Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature. I was trying to decide if … Continue reading

Agents Advice on Query Letters

On June 22, 2016 the Authors’ Guild had an interview for their Industry and Advocacy News titled “Agents’ Roundtable: Three Agents Reveal What They’re Really Looking for from Authors.” The roundtable included David Forrer, from Inkwell Management; Eric Myers, from Dystel & Goderich Literary Management; and Regina Ryan from Regina … Continue reading

Query vs Synopsis

Both the query letter and the synopsis are tools used to convince an agent or editor to buy a story. A synopsis is often also used by marketing to sell the book to reps and distributors, and the art department wants one to help with a cover. Most writers will … Continue reading

10 Ways NOT To Get Published

Want to be published? Then don’t do the following: Send your manuscript to the wrong publisher. I have a friend who, early in her writing career, sent a sweet romance short story to Hussler magazine. Now, when she looks back on that, she says she bets the editorial staff had … Continue reading

How Much Does It Cost?

I was at the Portage District Library last Thursday talking with a group of writers and one woman asked how much it cost to publish an ebook. I had to give the unsatisfying answer of “It depends.” I decided that would be a good topic for a blog, especially since Friday … Continue reading

Categorizing Your Writing

Last Saturday I had a writer friend say she wasn’t sure what to call her story in a query letter. She was debating between science fiction or futuristic, but mostly she wanted something that would give an agent a good idea of what the story was about. Hers was a … Continue reading

Sifting Through The Comments

What do you do if you’ve entered a contest and the scores you receive range from high to low and the judges’ comments seem to contradict each other? Or if you belong to a critique group where some of the members tell you what you’ve written is fantastic while others … Continue reading

Building a Character: GMC

In 1994 Debra Dixon was the guest speaker at the Mid-Michigan RWA Chapter’s “Retreat From Harsh Reality.” That was the first time I heard her talk about GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. It was one of those light bulb moments. I’d been writing for over ten years by then, but … Continue reading

A Cure for the Dumps

Friday I’m heading for the Bay Pointe Inn on the banks of Michigan’s beautiful Gun Lake. My husband grew up in this area, so over the years we’ve often visited Gun Lake. We used to drive up for Sunday brunch at the original Bay Pointe Inn, before they tore it … Continue reading

Query Letters

Recently I was asked by two people (different times) to do a blog about query letters. I did write a short one last year during the April A to Z Challenge. http://marissoule.com/q-is-for-query/ If you’re wondering what you should or shouldn’t put in a query letter, please take a moment to … Continue reading

Your First Page

It doesn’t matter if what you’ve written is five pages long or five thousand pages, or if it’s fiction or non-fiction; the first page is your most important page. That first page must do a multitude of tasks. It introduces your topic or story, shows the reader your writing style, … Continue reading

Speakers at Venice Book Fair

Last weekend I participated in the Venice Book Fair (Venice, FL). It’s the town’s fifth book fair and it gets better every year. This one started Friday night with a 90-minute master class led by thriller author, David Hagberg, followed by a wine and cheese reception, then a presentation by Oceanview … Continue reading

Sleuthfest: Explosives and Investigation

The first session I attended while at Sleuthfest 2016 was to help me with some research. I’m thinking of doing another Mary Harrington book, and if I do, her counterpart, Jack Rossini, may need to investigate a bomb explosion. So at 8:30 am Friday morning, I was sitting in a too-cold … Continue reading

The Bad, The Good, and The Editors

Sometimes a disaster turns into a great adventure. (Of course that’s because I’m not the one, in this case, who will have to pay for the damage.) Last month, Mary Ann Aug, a fellow sister in Sisters in Crime, responded when I asked if anyone going to Sleuthfest would be … Continue reading

The Craft of Writing: Initial Decisions

Tomorrow I’m heading for Deerfield Beach, Florida to attend Sleuthfest 2016. This is the fourth (or maybe it’s the fifth) Sleuthfest I’ve attended. Each has been a wonderful experience, so I’m looking forward to this one. Next week I’ll try to sum up some of what I learn at the conference. … Continue reading