Do You Know What I Know?

Does the writer always have to explain terms or references that might be specific to a profession or area of the country? Is it necessary to translate every foreign word you use in a story? And, what about uncommon words? Should a writer use unfamiliar words or stick to the … Continue reading

The Teaser

For weeks, months, maybe years you’ve been working on your novel. It’s anywhere from 50 thousand words to a 150 thousand. And now? In just a few words you need to convince an agent, editor, or reader to buy (or at least read) your book, and you’re not going to … Continue reading

Writing a Non-Fiction Book Proposal

A few months ago I received an email from a relative who wanted information about a non-fiction book she wanted to write. She was asking me for help, but as I quizzed her about what she was writing and why, I discovered she already had the basic idea of what … Continue reading

Should I Say More or Less?

When I wrote The Crows, I thought it was a single title mystery. It wasn’t until after the The Crows was released and I was doing book talks that I was asked when the next P.J. Benson Mystery would be out. A second book? Hmm. As I wrote the second … Continue reading

Knowing the Why

I just spent 2 days working out (in my mind and on paper) why my secondary characters are doing (or have done) certain things. My P.J. Benson Mysteries are all told in first person, so I can’t have scenes where the reader sees or hears what secondary characters are doing … Continue reading

Publishing in 2019

The Authors Guild recently came out with the results of their 2018 author’s earnings survey The results were not encouraging In only five years, authors’ incomes from just their books fell 21%, down from a median of $3,900 in 2013 to $3,100 in 2017 The low incomes suggest a growing … Continue reading

How Do I Get My Book Published?

Last month I received an email from a young girl asking for information about how to get a book she’d written published. The following is, in part, what I sent back to her. Dear Writer: Since my weekly blog is primarily about writing and getting published, some of my earlier … Continue reading

Changing Tense

I’m finally working on the fourth (and final) P.J. Benson Mystery (My Crows series). I actually had close to 5,000 words written the end of summer, but life got in the way, and the opening just didn’t feel right to me. I wasn’t connecting with P.J. Here’s the original opening: … Continue reading

‘Tis the Season to Visit Grammar

Back on February 17, 2016 I wrote a blog on  The Craft of Writing Narrative/. At that time I mentioned some sources a writer might visit to review the rules of grammar. My favorite sources, then and now, are Shrunk & White’s Elements of Style and Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots & … Continue reading

Have You Lost Your Senses?

I don’t remember when I picked up this laminated card, but I have it taped to my monitor because it’s a good reminder. Often when critiquing the work of others, either I or others in the group begin asking the writer (being critiqued) questions such as these: What does your … Continue reading

Heading for WPA

  Tomorrow I leave for Green Bay, Wisconsin to attend this year’s Writers’ Police Academy. This is my third WPA, but my first in Wisconsin. (It used to be held in North Carolina.)  writerspoliceacademy My experiences in the past have been fantastic, and, looking at this year’s schedule, I’m sure I’ll … Continue reading

And I Thought It Would Be Easy

I thought converting the PDF file I had that Hale Books Ldt used to print the hardcover version of A KILLER PAST would be easy. Simply convert the PDF document to a Word document, go through it and change the English use of single quotes for dialogue to our American … Continue reading

Breaking the Rules

Last week I finished reading Lisa Gardner’s novel, Catch Me, and it started me thinking about some of the critique sessions I’ve sat in and blogs I’ve written that cover topics like point-of-view and how to format a manuscript. Why? Because in that book, Lisa uses both first person and … Continue reading

Getting My Rights Back

I finished writing and editing what I often call my “Old Lady” book in 2011. A KILLER PAST is the story of Mary Harrington, a 74-year- old widow who for 44 years has been living a quiet life in a small Michigan town. It’s only when two gang members try … Continue reading

Can you get published without spending a lot of money?

I recently received an email asking how a woman who had just finished writing a book could get it published without spending a lot of money. To answer a questions like this, I need more information. (1) Is this a novel, memoir, or non-fiction book? (2) Has she made sure … Continue reading

Do Something Different

I recently took a break from writing (and thinking about writing) to allow my other muse to play. For three days, from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., I participated in a watercolor painting workshop. Now, I majored in art and taught art, but that was eons ago and I’ve never … Continue reading

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