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

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

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

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

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

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

Read What You Write

For the  last week I’ve been reading cozy mysteries. For anyone who doesn’t know what a cozy is, think of Agatha Christie’s books or the TV series, “Murder She Wrote.” The books usually involve a small town or community, an off-stage murder, some quirky characters, and an animal—a dog, cat, … Continue reading

Voice: His/Hers

Years ago I had an editor ask me to change my point-of-view (pov) character from a female to a male. I’d written some books where I’d used both povs, but I wasn’t sure I could pull off a story written completely in the male pov. What I discovered was I … Continue reading