Thursday, June 30, 2011

Blog Tour Thoughts

cv9g9g 011I think blog tours are wonderful.

How else can you promote your book, meet writers, reach readers worldwide, and get better Google rankings? For free?

I do some guest posting during the year on different blogs, but a tour is different—it’s a concentrated effort and a lot of guest posts during a short period of time.

I’ve done a couple of blog tours and there are some things I think I do well and some things I’d have done differently.

Let’s start out with what I could have improved. :)

Time: The release, very close to a deadline I had for another series, sneaked up on me. I think I gave enough time to my hosts to fit me into their schedule…but barely. And it would have been nice, on my side, to have had a little more time to write my posts.

If I’d thought ahead, maybe I’d have come up with a cool logo for a blog tour visual. I’ve seen some that other writers have done and thought they were really cool.

Reach: I think I do really well to reach out to writers. I know where writers are, I’m familiar with their blogs, I’m comfortable. Would it be better in the future to vary my tour and include some stops on mystery blogs that readers hit? Probably! I did help facilitate getting my book to some book bloggers, so I tried…I’d give myself a C there.

Where I did better

I posted on a variety of blogs, some of which might have been new to my regular followers.

I posted on topics that I thought would be interesting to readers and would get good play on Twitter and Facebook.

I tried to think of topics that would work best for my hosts’ sites.

I tried to bring traffic over to my hosts’ sites and be conscientious about responding to comments.

Important to remember:

Be sure to send buy-links for your book to your host.

Be sure to send head shots and cover pics to your host (some will want one or the other, not both…and I always picked my cover over my image.)

Write a pithy bio that tells a little about who you are and what you write.

You may want to check in with your hosts the day before to tell them you’re looking forward to the post the following day (and possibly to remind them that it’s supposed to run.)

If you’re on Twitter or Facebook, post the link to your daily post and what the topic is that you’re writing on.

How long can you keep up? Don’t make your blog tour so long that you get exhausted with it.

Thank your hosts.

My thoughts on what blog tours accomplish:

I found new followers, even though I wasn’t really posting.

I got a good amount of cover recognition and some author branding.

I did sell some books and meet some great writers.

Thanks again to my tour hosts! Below is a list of all my tour stops, my topics and the links to the posts:

8 Ways to Keep Your Series From Going Stale--Confessions of a Mystery Novelist:

A Mystery Writer's View of the World (and 6 Tips for Friends of Mystery Writers)--Thoughts in Progress:

Staying Encouraged During Querying--Author karen walker...following the whispers:

How to blog--17 tips--Anne R. Allen's Blog:

Hamish Macbeth--a huge writing inspiration for me--K.B. Owen, mystery writer:

Tips for writing sequels--Confessions of a Watery Tart:

Juggling Plots, Characters, Publishers and Editors…Keeping it All Straight--Official Blog of p.m.terrell: Book promo--traditional and 21st century methods: Spunk on a Stick:

7 tips for writing away from home: A Million Blogging Monkeys:

What super powers would be useful for writers? Alex J. Cavanaugh:

7 tips for writing away from home: A Million Blogging Monkeys:

What super powers would be useful for writers? Alex J. Cavanaugh:

Tips for those tricky book middles--The Other Side of the Story:

The appeal of a small town setting--The Creative Penn:

Need to get to know your character? Spend a day with them--Penguin's blog:

How to find writer resources--Jami Gold--

How secondary characters can help our story--The Daring Novelist:

6 Tips for Moving Your Story Forward: Penguin's Blog:

Writing schedules, writing setbacks--The Stiletto Gang:

Generous Reviews (thank you!):

Confessions of a Watery Tart:

Thoughts in Progress:

The Book Resort:

Lesa's Book Critiques:

My Year on the Grill:

Joe Barone's Blog:

Anyone else have anything to add or thoughts/tips on blog tours?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What to Do When Your Writing Plan for the Day is Wrecked

Having some problems with Blogger today (surprise-surprise!) and am sorry about the lateness of this post.

I’m still doing a little visiting, y’all. :) Today I’m at the Stiletto Gang, talking a little about what I do when life gets in the way of my writing schedule. (Hint: it involves a Plan B!)

Hope you’ll come by and join me!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Why My Agent is Still Needed

top_of_the_rock_IMG_6159_I’ve read a couple of excellent posts recently on whether agents are about to become extinct…and possible options for them, career-wise. They make for very interesting reading. One is by Anne R. Allen and the other is a PBS story.

Many agents are lawyers, though (mine is.) I worry a little less about her. :)

But I can definitely see this being a problem down the road for agents. I’m not sure how far “down the road” is. It could be a problem five years from now…it could be a problem next year.

For me, though, I need an agent. Still. Even in the current climate. I can’t see that changing anytime in the near future. Here’s why:

I’m traditionally published.

I don’t understand many parts of my contract.

I hate keeping track of when I’m supposed to be paid. My agent hunts down checks and payments.

I hate keeping track of my foreign rights, e-rights, etc.

I don’t enjoy negotiating contracts (I did it once, before my agent, and it made me feel very uncomfortable.)

My publishers require me to have an agent.

My agent pushes me to think about a long-term career plan, goals, and methods of getting there.

My agent haggles over money for me, during contract negotiations.

My agent acts as a first-reader for me before my manuscript is sent to my editor.

I like getting a tax statement at the end of the tax year (which my agent provides for me.)

I like the fact that my agent makes relationships with editors and finds writing leads for me. She’s the reason I have the quilting mystery series. I can’t be in New York, I don’t have the opportunity to schmooze…wouldn’t know how to schmooze if I had the opportunity (I’d be sitting on the sidelines, watching everybody, creating characters in my head while eating spinach dip.)

I like the fact that my agent runs interference for me. When I am talking with or emailing my editors, I’m just dealing with the creative side of the industry. I’m the fun one to work with. My agent is the one who presses for things on the business end….I don’t have to be the bad guy. I don’t want to be the bad guy.

Would I do the above if I had to? Of course I would. But I’m already writing books and promoting them. Those two things are full-time jobs in themselves.

At some point, will this change? Well….I just can’t imagine that it won’t change in the twenty plus years that I hope to still be in this business. It would be silly for me to think it won't change, with all the industry changes that have happened in the last year. But for right now, this is an arrangement that works really, really well for me. My plan is to continue what I’m doing with my editors, agent, and publishers, and to explore the e-publishing side on my own, in my own time.

What do you think is the future for agents? In your current situation, do you need one, like I do? Or are you able to work independently of literary agents?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Keeping Our Writing Focused

camera0004Right before school wrapped up for the summer, I volunteered in my daughter’s 4th grade classroom. The children had all written stories and were sharing them with each other.

The writing that children in this age group (age 10) produce is really amazing. It’s lively, the voice is usually very natural, and there are sparks of vibrant creativity even in the tamest story.

One thing that most of the young writers hadn’t mastered, though, was narrative focus.

They’d go off on tangents that I would try to keep up with, expecting that the tangents were going to lead to an important point in the story…but, well, they didn’t.

It’s easy to say that lack of narrative focus is limited to child writers, but it’s something I frequently run into as a writer.

That’s because I’m making my plots up as I go along. And, as I go, I get these threads of ideas that I think might fit in somewhere—and I just dump them into the first draft and keep going.

I even put a note in the margin of the manuscript with Track Changes—Fix this later. I know I’m going off-subject, but there might be an idea there to explore…and I leave it in for the draft.

In editing, though, I have three choices for the tangent:

Cut it (too rambling, doesn’t move the plot forward, doesn’t add insight to a character). It could go into an extras file for another story or another book in the series.

Connect it to the rest of the scene or tie it into the theme, conflict, or other element of the story. Add transitions, if needed.

Move the tangent to another section of the manuscript where it makes more sense or ties into a different scene.

For me, the first draft is about sticking all that stuff in there, even though I know as I’m writing it that I’m going to have to figure out what to do with it later. I won’t stray too far, and I usually will put a marker to myself in the margin to highlight my ramblings.

I wrote a book from a full outline for an editor recently—and I didn’t go off my outline at all. Consequently, I found I needed to add a lot of words to make my target word count. I think my tangents do ultimately get put to good use in my books---and when I’m not making them, I have to brainstorm more in the second draft.

If you outline, does it prevent you from rambling? If you don’t work from an outline and take detours from your main point, is it easy for you to fix later?

Thanks so much to all my wonderful hosts for the Finger Lickin’ Dead blog tour! I really appreciate it! Download Finger Lickin’ Dead on Kindle: Mass market paperback:

Sunday, June 26, 2011



Below are writing links that I’ve posted to Twitter in the past week.

Hope you’ll enter this month’s WKB giveaway for a chance to win the "Butt-in-Chair" writer productivity eBook by Jennifer Blanchard. Two copies to give away! Enter the drawing

Finger Lickin’ Dead released on the 7th. Hope you’ll consider it if you enjoy mysteries, or know someone who does.Download it on Kindle: Mass market paperback:

SEO Basics for Bloggers & Beginners:

The importance of word count: @JRVogt

Examples of crime fiction where readers may emphasize with the criminals: @mkinberg

Creating a Dystopian Setting: @AngelaAckerman

Dear Mr. Keillor: Let the Writers Whine:

5 signs you must be querying:

5 signs you must be querying:

Overwhelmed by my tweets? Don't bookmark the links--search them:

9 Ways to Market Your Book With No Money:

Working from Home? How to Stay Sane:

Small Press vs. Self-Publishing:

Signs that your manuscript is really ready:

Should Writers Self Publish Short Stories? @ajackwriting

If you have an agent, then why are *you* querying a publisher?

45 Ways to Blog as a Novelist:

5 Truths About Publishing:

The Conflict of Choice:

Real Life Diagnostics: Opening With the Funny:

Save Your Readers From Boredom: 5 Fool-Proof Preventatives:

Book Marketing Methods That Don't Work:

Are You Making These 5 Common Blogging Mistakes?

Indies “vs” Trads: The elephant in the room:

Can you begin with dialogue?

Successful Blog Comment Strategies:

Tips for pitching your book:

Thoughts on Kindle tags (there are no shortcuts):

Worldbuilding, part 5: The "Pigs in Space" principle:

The Charles Darwin Guide to Writing and Selling an Effective eBook:

The importance of your contact page:

Story vs. craft:

10 Commandments for Writers:

Pull out those old stories: @ElspethWrites

7 public speaking tips for writers: @authorterryo

The making of a character:

Super powers for writers: @alexjcavanaugh

What Star Trek Can Teach Us About Great Writing:

4 Ways to Get Your Family to Support Your Writing Career:

Confidence Zappers and Confidence Boosters:

Why writers are actually team players:

Conveying information about your character through appearance and mannerisms: @keligwyn

An agent on why publishing is so slow:

Why 1 writer is keeping her day job:

The perfect pitch:

Old School Book Marketing Techniques for the Digital Age:

How to finish a series: @DeeScribe

Understanding Book Terminology:

Thanks to Dave at My Year on the Grill for a delicious review of my book (and my Peach Cobbler recipe) on his blog:

Why Headlines Really Matter:

How to Wake up to an Awesome Day:

Answering Questions About Your Writing Career (Cocktail Party Edition):

Why writing sex and violence is challenging:

The power-writing hour: @storiestorm

Writers should make room for their natural talents:

How to Promote Your Blog Without Feeling Like a Sleazeball:

9 Awesome Interviews with Creative Visionaries:

How Much of Your Personal Life Should You Reveal Online?

An Agent on Selling Yourself, and Selling Yourself Short:

It's not about the money? Really? An editor's thoughts:

Key Ingredient to a Solid Plot: @RoniLoren

How to Write Wrong, in 3 Easy Steps:

Book Beginnings--Waking Up to Go Somewhere:

Dialogue checklist:

How to speak publisher - C is for Contract:

How Cliched Is Your Writing? Take the Test:

Tips for those troublesome book middles: @JaniceHardy

Where to find drama in your writing:

Worldbuilding, part 6: Finding your secret weapon:

Where to find more words for your novel:

Easy tip for getting to know your characters--spend the day with them: @penguinusa

Making of an anthology--editorial rounds:

Summer Camp for Writers @Kathy_Crowley

Do you blog as you?

Freelance Life: Scam Avoidance 101:

Literary blurb translation guide:

Note-taking and Writing Apps for iPhone and iPad:

4 things you should never stop doing:

Do Publishers Release eBooks Too Quickly? @GalleyCat

Ideas for writers that sit too much:

Published! Does it matter how?

Adding your book covers to Blogger:

Does a writer living outside L.A. have a chance of creating heat in Hollywood?

Social Media's Raging Storm: Follower Gathering: @debralynnlazar

3 Reasons Why Marketers Get No Respect:

Signs You Might Need a Confidence Adjustment:

How much do comic book writers make?

How to Keep Your Blog Active While Traveling:

Can E-Books Save Barnes & Noble?

An agent on revisions:

What Makes a Character Unlikable? @JamiGold

The Appeal Of The Small Town Setting: @thecreativepenn

Tips for Memoir Writing:

Suspense: 10 Tips for Grabbing Your Reader:

An agent's conference pitch confessions:

Most Writing “Rules” Are Optional–These Rules of Professionalism Aren’t:

Building a Better Novel Premise: @4kidlit

Avoiding Viewpoint Mistakes:

Is your story worth saving? @JulieMusil

The modifier zone:

This Week’s Fail Whale–The Emotional Tweeter:

An Agent on Mass Pitching Your Project To Editors and Agents:

Feed your writer’s block:

Ebook Sales Down?

The 80/20 rule of Facebook marketing:

25 Things You Should Know About Writing A Novel (Or, "How The Lunatic Writes A Book"):

Drawing the Transitions: @RavenRequiem13

Strategies for Promoting Multiple Sites via Social Media:

5 tips for writing a better "about me" page:

Tips for getting your book reviewed:

Embrace an indie publisher (Guardian):

How Modern Readers Find Books: @camillelaguire

A librarian with ideas for solving the ebooks in libraries problem:

Tips for your business cards: @spunkonastick

Tips for working with an artist on your book cover:

Writer's Knowledge Base -- Now 9000+ articles on :

Fictional sleuths who use their disadvantages to their benefit: @mkinberg

7 Habits of Highly Successful Bloggers:

Why Agents Don't Find Many Authors At Conferences:

How to search and access online resources for writers: @jamigold

Non fiction books based on case studies:

Keep your agent in the loop:

Does Your Reader “See” What You “See?”

The ultimate guide to daily blogging challenges:

Contrived Coincidences: @RoniLoren

Why Disconnectors Are Critical In Keeping Your Readers Awake:

Twitter Profile Mistakes Writers Should Avoid: @galleycat

Listen to your gut:

How Much Time Should Writers Devote to Social Media?

4 Tips to Getting a Writing Mentor:

The 30 Harshest Author-on-Author Insults In History:

How short stories can help you grab an agent's attention:

Are Traditional Publishers Sitting on a Pot of Gold?

Give a Dry Blog New Life–The Power of Themes:

Maybe If I Had Those Boots: A List, Linda Carter, and Letting Go: @Christi_Craig

How to Find Your Stuff in Evernote:

5 reasons to switch to WordPress:

33 Twitter Feeds to Follow (Poets &Writers):

What Tolkien teaches us about conflict: @p2p_editor

Author Central on Amazon:

How stats and numbers can rule writers' lives:

POV confusion? Some links to help:

Using Narrative Patterns:

Errors when writing emotions: @JulietteWade

Authors Ask Agents: What Are The Publishers Doing for Us? @pubperspectives

Resolution—Tying up the Ends:

10 Sites to Help You Name Your Fictional Location:

6 tips for moving your story forward (even on the busy days): @penguinusa

Creativity Tweets of the Week — 6/24/11:

How one writer crafted a query: @BTMargins

Developing your unique writing voice:

An agent with some commonly confused words:

Best Articles This Week for Writers 6/24/11: @4KidLit

Amazon tagging--is the party over?

What Goes Into A Media Kit? @raquelbyrnes

5 Openings to Avoid:

Interesting link roundup on the Borders mess, thoughts on B&N's health, Amazon tablet, and more:

How to write a good party: @dirtywhitecandy

How to make readers care: @lisagailgreen

A screenwriter on outlines, treatments, and numbered pages:

3 act structure, simplified:

Secondary characters can bring out the best in a protagonist (or create conflict for them): @CamilleLaguire

What Does “Write What You Know” Mean to You?

Our manuscript--keeping the love alive: @labanan

Should Bookstores Charge for Author Events? @galleycat

An editor takes a look at the story structure of a popular TV series:

Names & titles make a difference (famous characters & books that originally had other names): @lauramarcella

30 Blog Topics For Writers:

What sales reps for publishers do:

Blocking out 'how we were raised' to make ourselves able to promote:

Trusting the reader:

Book Club Resources for Kids: @GalleyCat

7 Stupid Mistakes Most People Make When Trying to Follow Their Passion:

5 Promotion Tips for the Shy Writer: @RoniLoren

What Your Cover Should Not Do:

5 Things More Important Than Talent:

How to shine at a writing conference:

Better Queries Through Movie Trailers:

The screenwriters' trick for plotting:

The Games We (Don’t) Play: How Authors Stay Offline (PW):

How Do We Stay Content With Our Own Writing Journeys?

Possible tax deductions for US writers:

It's all been done before: @lisagailgreen

Creating an author website? A run-down of the top 13 web hosts:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Getting that Story Down On Paper

PenguinLife has been pretty busy lately, so keeping focused on deadlines (I’ve got a July 1 deadline rapidly approaching) has become a priority for me.

I’m back on Penguin’s blog today with 6 tips for moving your story forward (even on busy days.) And I’ve got a post that will run next week on what to do when our plans fall through. :)

Unfortunately, Penguin has their blog set so folks have to register to comment (I know….I’ve given them my possibly-unwelcome thoughts on that!) so I’ll definitely answer comments back here or on Facebook if you’d like to leave them.

Hope y’all have a great weekend!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Strong Secondary Characters

Daring NovelistWriter Camille LaGuire is running an interesting interview series on secondary characters for her blog, The Daring Novelist.

I love the idea, because supporting characters can really make a book, but they don’t get a whole lot of attention.

Today, I’m at The Daring Novelist, talking a little about Cherry, a Memphis Barbeque secondary character who can be a scene-stealer. Hope you’ll join me. :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Finding Resources for Writers

Jami GoldWhen I first started out in earnest as a writer, there was no real organized community of writers online.

Fast forward over ten years later, and the online writing community has exploded with tons of advice and resources for writers—but how to organize the information to make it usable?

Hope you’ll pop over to Jami Gold’s blog for my post on the WKB. :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Getting to Know Your Character and the Appeal of Small Town Settings

PenguinToday I’m on Penguin’s blog, talking a little bit about an easy way you can get acquainted with your characters—by spending a whole day with them while doing your regular routine. (Just be careful…sometimes it’s easy to get carried away!) Hope you’ll pop by and join me.

I'm also on Joanna Penn’s blog, The Creative Penn, talking a bit about the appeal of a small town setting (and why I choose it over and over again!) Thanks, y’all!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It’s easy to lose focus in the middle of a book. Usually that’s when I start running out of steam—and realizing I still have a long way to go to wrap up my story.

Since I’ve frequently encountered the saggy middle problem, I’ve developed different techniques to help me approach it. Hope you’ll join me today at Janice Hardy’s blog for some tips.

Monday, June 20, 2011

12 Super Powers and Super Tools for Writers

Alex J. Cavanaugh

Today I’m on sci-fi writer Alex J. Cavanaugh’s blog, talking about super powers we writers should have (in the perfect world.) Hope you’ll come by and join me!

Sunday, June 19, 2011



Below are writing links that I’ve posted to Twitter in the past week. Hope you’ll enter this month’s WKB giveaway for a chance to win the "Butt-in-Chair" writer productivity eBook by Jennifer Blanchard. Two copies to give away! Enter the drawing

Finger Lickin’ Dead released on the 7th. Hope you’ll consider it if you enjoy mysteries, or know someone who does.Download it on Kindle: Mass market paperback: Link And--Happy Father's Day, Daddy! (And to all the dads out there. :) )

The elusive rewards of e-book publishing:

Beware These Writing Pests:

Things one writer has learned after completing his 1st draft: @JustusRStone

Making thrillers out of classics: adapting Shakespeare's Macbeth:

Writing time-management for the harried home-writer:

All About Glosses, or Brief Definitions:

Why writing a sleuthing have a lot in common: @mkinberg

The Art of Keeping Your Blog Audience Coming Back for More:

My "Finger Lickin' Dead" release and a chance to win it:

Did You Know? Twitter Hashtags & How to Use Them: @JanetBoyer

Working Within a Critique Group:

Amateur-Hour Books: Do You Know the Warning Signs?

Publishing Traditionally Without an Agent - Part II:

5 Tips to Stay Encouraged During Querying:

5 Articles on Knowing When to Submit:

Yoga for Writers:

5 ways to screw up your author podcast:

It's a Start: The First Line:

Edit in an Instant? Ain’t Gonna Happen:

Write Your Query FIRST for a Better Book:

On Story Arcs:

Trading Excerpts with Other Authors in the Back Matter of Your Ebook:

Write your novel in 30 days--Day 3: Getting your ducks in a row: @Mommy_Authors

The 10 Most Powerful Women Authors (Forbes):

For writing quotes--from the interesting to the inspirational: @AdviceToWriters and

20 Reasons Why Creative People Work in Cafes: via @on_creativity

A writer & tweeter focuses on giveaways for readers & publicizes contests for promoting authors: @romancegiveaway @joanswan

A prolific book cover artist explains her process:

Are you misappropriating malapropisms?

Writing Male Characters:

Vampires: Origins, Evolution and Role in Fantasy Fiction:

The inculcation of some good writing habits:

10 Tips for Critiquing Other People’s Writing:

5 Weak Words that Make Your Writing Less Effective:

Drafting your first novel:

How to Be a Dream Interview Subject:

Beating Writer's Block Using Everyday Experiences:

17 tips for a successful writing blog: @annerallen

Real Life Diagnostics: Opening Thrill of a Thriller:

Fixing flat sentences:

Writers--appreciate your growth: @juliemusil

How To Write Novels and Short Stories - Not:

A helpful thesaurus for settings, emotions, symbolism, & weather--now with character traits: @AngelaAckerman

Write your novel in 30 days--Day 5:Turning Points: @Mommy_Authors

Researching story locations: @storiestorm

Now with over 8000 links to help #writers find resources:

Examples of series that have been continued after the author's demise: @mkinberg

The well-read author--tips for finding time to read: @penguinusa

4 Ways to Grow Your Blog with the Power of Experts:

The New Nook Simple Touch Reader: Awesome for Reading and Buying Books. Everything else? Meh.

Cover Page Design for the Dirt Poor and Graphically Challenged:

Tasks that take up a writer's work day:

9 ways to build a better blog and increase your traffic in the process: @Harrison314

Developing Your Creative Practice:

How to Win Readers and Make Them Stick:

My look at a master of mystery who inspired me to write: @kbowenwriter

Lee Goldberg's response to Joe Konrath's post on the Mystery Writers of America:

An Editor Looks at First Pages:

As usual, a nice links roundup from 2 historical writers:

Search my tweets--

Balancing the long view and the short view as a writer:

Traditional & Indie Publishing Advantages:

40+ Free Tools for Authors:

Improving Creativity: The Absorb Brainset:

Tips for attending writers' conferences:

Young Adult Literature: Is it too dark? WSJ Thinks So...

Maintaining your story's verb tense:

Are Teen Novels Dark and Depraved — or Saving Lives? (Publishers Weekly):

Stories are like sharks – to stay alive they must keep moving:

Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: Speed:

The Matrix Moment of Story Engineering:

Tips for interviewing:

Writers Beware:

Promotional Materials For Authors: Bookmarks:

Heroic fantasy:

Sex vs. Relationships in YA:

YA Fairy Tale Retellings:

Manage Email, Not Time:

For the writer addicted to office supply stores...a blog devoted to pens: via @designerdaze

10 of the best bows and arrows in literature (Guardian):

Why 'real poets' don't exist:

A Handbook of Rhetorical Devices:

Plotting the Mystery:

Why 1 writer won't include musical references in his books:

A character trait thesaurus entry for "thoughtful": @AngelaAckerman

The search engine for #writers:

The real road to social media success may surprise you:

The Secret to Selling: Writing a Fast-Paced Novel:

The courage *not* to publish:

Writing a sequel? Tips to keep from boring returning readers or confusing new ones: @HartJohnson

40 Questions for a Stronger Manuscript: @4kidlit

Scenes are about change:

Should you consider using chapter titles? @JulietteWade

“The Help” –Context and Concept:

5 Reasons to Consider Giving Away a Free Ebook:

One writer's road map for writing mysteries:

The Importance of Supporting Characters:

What Makes Good Sci Fi:

7 Ways to Build Up Your Writing Confidence:

6 Easy Ways To Reward Your Twitter Followers:

Just because the book is bad doesn’t mean someone will come to your house and arrest you:

The Emptiness of 'Literary Fiction' and the Stereotyping of Genre Literature:

A Tip for the First Time Novelist:

Why Staying Silent Can Cost You:

Sign up for the monthly WKB newsletter for the web's best links and interviews:

The Hunger Games - A Lesson In Plot:

Enjoy mysteries? Know someone who does? Check out my latest: Finger Lickin' Dead: Kindle: Print:

How to Revise a Manuscript or Story:

A Tortoise Writer Picks Up the Pace:

Into? In To? Onto? On To?

10 Ways to Improve Your Author Website:

Conquering show and tell:

Juggling Plots, Characters, Publishers and Editors…Keeping it All Straight:

3 ways readers will judge your work:

5 Excellent Tips for Platform Building:

How to Characterize Wrong, in 3 Easy Steps:

What Went Wrong with the Star Wars Prequels?

The Novel with Many Narrators is a Multiheaded Beast:

8 Reasons Why Unplugging Can Generate Better Ideas For Your Writing:

Working Through Pain: @ajackwriting

Blogging Solution For Those Who Hate To Blog:

More Sacred Cow-Tipping–Common Blogging Misconceptions:

Plot Busters – Three Tips from "Tangled":

5 Productivity Tools for the Busy Freelancer:

Querying dos and don'ts: @HartJohnson @raquelbyrnes

How should authors deal with reviews?

Focus your Worldbuilding Efforts:

Increasing Your Writing Productivity:

Love me! Read me! Buy me! Promoting Your Book:

The Dreaded Opening! - 5 Points about your Opening Scene:

Book Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation And Using Press Releases For Your Book: @thecreativepenn

Conflict—Beyond Arguments and Fist Fights:

Literary Agents: Top 10 Ways to Make or Break that Relationship AFTER you Sign:

Book promo--traditional and 21st century: @SpunkOnAStick

Are You Ready for The Call?

On the Edge of Your Seat – Creating Suspense:

Make Your Writer’s Bookshelf Work For You: @jhansenwrites

What men and women talk about when they talk about publishing: & via @Porter_Anderson @donlinn

Self-editing checklist--repetition:

Writing for Reluctant Readers:

Developing the Hook in a Query Letter:

Need help with pacing?

7 Solutions for Repetitive Sentence Structure:

Must writers be natural storytellers? @JulieMusil

Have You Posted Your Work Online?

Why Email Kills Productivity & What You Can Do About It:

Writing From a Woman's Point of View:

Write Creatively, Stress Free:

One writer is happy about advice she *didn't* take:

Need help with scene transitions?

How Writers Can Rock LinkedIn: @jhansenwrites

This Week’s Twitter Tip–Understand the Power of Names:

The Pubbed Writer’s 7 Deadly Sins:

7 tips for writing away from home: @AlanOrloff

4 steps to useful critiques:

Tips for Tackling the Rewrite:

10 Ways to Avoid Mid-Book Doldrums:

Building a book blurb:

3 things to do before you pay for professional copyediting:

Story structure--beginnings:

How X-Men Can Help You Craft a Better Antagonist:

What KIND of story is it?

Best Articles This Week for Writers 6/17/11: @4kidlit

eBook Self-Publishing: A Simple Guideline and Some Tips on Taking Those First Steps:

Creativity Tweets of the Week — 6/17/11: @on_creativity

A Case For Slow Writing:

Why Writers Need Lists:

The Writer’s Soul: Built One Crack At A Time:

On publishers who say they're "looking for new voices:"

Why Creative Blocks Aren’t Always Bad:

How Much Should an Editor Charge?

A writer's standing desk experiment:

10 Stages of Revision Emotions:

Word 2010, Track Changes, and Privacy Concerns:

Sexism in SF and F?

How to Manage Freelance Writing Projects:

Write What You Know? Maybe Not:

Dictate Your Story – An Unconventional Method of Completing A First Draft:

Why The 99-Cent Price Point May Not Be Working for You:

Formulating a fantastic first line:

Collaborative Writing:

Are appearances still a worthwhile way to promote your book?

What to do after finishing your 1st draft:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Word 2010, Track Changes, and Privacy Issues

MS Word 2010 Track Changes ProblemHope y’all will excuse this technical post…I’m thinking it might help some of you out there.

The program that editors like working with is Word. They like editing back and forth with the writer with Word’s Track Changes program.

I’ve gotten so that I enjoy using the program myself and use it for my own editing and revision, even before sending the manuscript to my publisher for revision.

In previous versions of Word (most recently 2003, 2007), if I wanted to remove my inane babblings to myself before sending my document to my first readers, agent, and editor, I’d open the document; save an old, marked-up version for my own use; open Track Changes; accept or remove all the changes; delete the comments; turn off Track Changes (if I was trying to be especially cautious); save the new version under a new name (“for review” was usually in the title name), and email it off.

Imagine my chagrin when I’ve recently done this in Word 2010 and found that my first reader and agent were opening up marked-up documents with my private notes, ideas, etc.

At first I thought it was just me making an error in one of the steps above. That’s because I’m very forgetful, but I can usually hold a thought in my head throughout a 2-minute process.

Since it’s happened a couple of times recently, I thought to try to do a little research on the problem. Because today I’m sending 75 pages of a document to a new editor for the new quilting mystery series for a cover conference and I really want to send out a clean copy that doesn’t show my personal scribbles about what I see as problem areas of the manuscript, etc.

On Google, a simple search showed that others were having the same issue with 2010—most notably a law office that was horrified it was sending marked-up documents to a different law firm when they thought they weren’t.

After some digging, I discovered that one thing you’ll want to do if you want to send a clean document out is to open your document, go to your “Developer” tab, click on “Macro Security,” click on “Privacy Options,” look at “Document-specific settings” and UN-check “Make hidden markup visible when opening or saving.” Because, y’all, if I’ve hidden something, I darned well want it to stay hidden!

To make absolutely sure your document doesn’t have any hidden metadata, you’re going to want to save a marked-up version of your old document for yourself (because once this document is scrubbed, it’s possible you can’t ever get those edits back), then do this (and this is right from Microsoft Word help):

  1. Open the Office document that you want to inspect for hidden data or personal information.
  2. Click the Microsoft Office ButtonButton image, click Save As, and then type a name in the File name box to save a copy of your original document. (In 2010, click "File")

Important It is a good idea to use the Document Inspector on a copy of your original document because it is not always possible to restore the data that the Document Inspector removes.

  1. In the copy of your original document, click the Microsoft Office ButtonButton image, (file in 2010) point to Prepare, ("Prepare for Sharing" in 2010) and then click Inspect Document.
  2. In the Document Inspector dialog box, select the check boxes to choose the types of hidden content that you want to be inspected. For more information about the individual Inspectors, see What information can the Document Inspector find and remove?
  3. Click Inspect.
  4. Review the results of the inspection in the Document Inspector dialog box.
  5. Click Remove All next to the inspection results for the types of hidden content that you want to remove from your document.


  • If you remove hidden content from your document, you might not be able to restore it by clicking Undo.
  • The inspectors for Comments and Annotations, Document Properties and Personal Information, and Headers and Footers cannot be used in an Excel workbook that has been saved as a shared workbook (Review tab, Shared Workbook command). This is because shared workbooks use personal information to enable different people to collaborate on the same workbook. To remove this information from a shared workbook, you can copy the workbook, and then unshare it. To unshare a workbook, on the Review tab, click Shared Workbook. On the Editing tab, clear the Allow changes by more than one user at the same time check box.
  • If you want to remove hidden data and personal information from documents you save in one of the OpenDocument Formats (.odt, .ods, .odp), you must run the Document Inspector every time you save the document in one of these formats.

I’m glad that my own musings and thoughts on my manuscript only made it into the hands of first readers and my agent. It’s just not cool to send a document off that way to an editor. And I’m a little irked at Microsoft that this privacy issue wasn’t more obvious.

And if there are any techies out there who find any errors in this post or have any additional comments to make on this issue, please bring them up in my comments so I can make addendums and corrections to the post.

Any of y’all irritated by privacy issues with Facebook or MS Word?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tips for Writing Away from Home

A Million Blogging Monkeys

This is the first week of summer vacation for my children…and I’m writing on the go more than ever as we go from swimming pools to skating rinks to bowling alleys!  Hope you’ll pop over and visit me at Alan Orloff’s A Million Blogging Monkeys today for some tips on writing away from home.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thoughts on Book Promo

spunk on a stickToday I’m visiting Spunk on a Stick, talking a little about book promo.  I’ve tried both traditional marketing and a more modern approach (with varying degrees of success.)  Hope you’ll come by and visit. :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Juggling Plots, Characters, Publishers and Editors…Keeping it All Straight

P.M. TerrellToday I’m over at P.M. Terrell’s blog, with my thoughts on juggling storylines, publishers, characters, and more.  Hope you’ll come by and join me!

And…I’m announcing the winner of my Finger Lickin’ Dead giveaway over at the Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen blog today.  Hope you’ll come by for some fried okra and the giveaway results. :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tips for Writing a Sequel

Hart Johnson--Confessions of a Watery Tart

Hi everybody!

Today, on the Finger Lickin’ Dead blog tour, I’m posting at my friend Hart Johnson’s Confessions of a Watery Tart with my thoughts on sequels—including backstory (if you need to), reintroducing recurring characters (so as not to bore your returning readers and not to confuse your new ones), and how to keep things interesting in general. Hope you’ll come by and say hi. :)

My random drawing will be tonight for the signed copy of Finger Lickin’ Dead. You can enter until midnight ET tonight….

Monday, June 13, 2011

An Inspiring Character

KB Owen

Was there a character or author who inspired you to write?

Although I knew I wanted to be a writer while I was still reading Nancy Drews, there was one character and author in particular who made me decide to go ahead and take the plunge.  I’m on K.B. Owen’s blog this morning, talking about my inspiration…and it’s a character you might not be familiar with.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

17 Tips for a Great Writing Blog

Anne R. Allen's BlogStarting a blog can feel overwhelming. The internet is brimming with writing blogs—how can you find readers when everyone has a blog? Or, if you already have a blog, you might wonder how to get more readers or broaden your platform.

For tips on starting or growing your blog, please visit me today at Anne R. Allen’s Blog.  :)

Lesa’s Book Critiques gave Finger Lickin’ Dead a nice review this morning.

Download the book on Kindle:
Mass market paperback:

Just a couple more days left in my giveaway for a signed copy of the book.

And congratulations to Mary Aalgaard for winning Jeannie Campbell’s giveaway on Thursday’s post. :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011



Below are writing links that I’ve posted to Twitter in the past week. I’m running the list a day early because tomorrow I’m visiting Anne Allen’s blog. :)

Enter this month’s WKB giveaway for a chance to win the "Butt-in-Chair" writer productivity eBook by Jennifer Blanchard. Two copies to give away! Enter the drawing

My Thursday guest, Jeannie Campbell, from The Character Therapist blog, is giving away a copy of “The Writer’s Guide for Creating Rich Back Stories”---comment through midnight ET tonight for a chance to win. Click here and scroll to the bottom of the post.

Finger Lickin’ Dead Giveaway: I’m giving away an autographed copy of Finger Lickin’ Deaddetails here. Several days left in my contest. :)

And here are this week’s links:

Best Articles This Week for Writers 6/10/11: @4kidlit

How Do You Choose Blog Topics? @JamiGold

The 10 Most Powerful Women Authors (Forbes):

Write your novel in 30 days--Day 3: Getting your ducks in a row: @Mommy_Authors

Trading Excerpts with Other Authors in the Back Matter of Your Ebook:

On Story Arcs:

Write Your Query FIRST for a Better Book:

Edit in an Instant? Ain’t Gonna Happen:

It's a Start: The First Line:

5 ways to screw up your author podcast:

Yoga for Writers:

5 Articles on Knowing When to Submit:

5 Tips to Stay Encouraged During Querying:

Publishing Traditionally Without an Agent - Part II:

Amateur-Hour Books: Do You Know the Warning Signs?

Working Within a Critique Group:

Did You Know? Twitter Hashtags & How to Use Them: @JanetBoyer

My "Finger Lickin' Dead" release and a chance to win it:

The Art of Keeping Your Blog Audience Coming Back for More:

Why writing a sleuthing have a lot in common: @mkinberg

All About Glosses, or Brief Definitions:

Writing time-management for the harried home-writer:

Making thrillers out of classics: adapting Shakespeare's Macbeth:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Black and Blue Burgers

Things one writer has learned after completing his 1st draft: @JustusRStone

Beware These Writing Pests:

The elusive rewards of e-book publishing:

8 Ways to Develop Better Relationships with Book Bloggers:

The Difference Between Traditional Publishing & Self-Publishing:

Write a novel in 30 days--day2--drafting scene cards: @Mommy_Authors

Ultimate Blogger’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization: #amwrting

Man Up: Writing Male POV:

Rhythm and Time: Give Your Writing a Beat of Its Own:

Actions vs Choices: Crafting Better Plots:

Mystery writers--create red herrings through scapegoating: @jeanniecampbell

Writing for Two Publishers:

6 tips for friends of mystery writers: @MasonCanyon

How idioms and metaphors bring your world to life: @JulietteWade

A publishing insider with a market update:

Free e-book on building readership: @JaneFriedman

Before You Hire an Editor: @MuseInks

An agent on the all-important beginning:

When Bad Things Happen To Productive People:

3 things 1 writer learned about writing at Disney World:

Your characters shouldn't be bored:

How to Promote Yourself and Your Book:

Direct Messages & The Power of Positive Tweeting:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: To Havarti and to Hold

The Rewards of Writing for the Reader: @keligwyn

5 Fluctuating Forms of Gender-Specific Language:

101 Twitter Tips:

Writers Need a Web Presence. Here’s What That Means:

Conflict: the fuel of a story:

Write a novel in 30 days--day 1--get to your novel's core: @Mommy_Authors

Should you have a pen name? @JamiGold

Checklist for Editors:

How Much Of Good Writing Is In The Timing? @storiestorm

Exercise Your “What-if” Muscle: @jhansenwrites

8 ways to keep your series from going stale: @mkinberg

Slush Pile Triage: @literaticat

Author-Agent Speed Dating Service:

The Persistent and Damaging Myth About Introverts and Marketing: @janefriedman

A crash course on point of view: @Paize_Fiddler

How to read a script:

Editing For Self-Publishers:

10 Signs You Met Your Deadline: @elspethwrites

5 examples of poorly-written sentences made better:

An explanation of show, don't tell:

Quick tips on finding an editor:

Ignoring the Light in YA Fiction:

Good day sunshine for writers:

Warning signs of an idiot plot:

6 Easy Ways to Get Your Guest Post Rejected:

How Honest Should We Be With Each Other?

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: An Easy, Finger Lickin’ Southern Side—Pimento Cheese

Can't vs. Won't:

How to Overcome Perfectionist Tendencies as a Writer:

Get the Best Bang for Your Blog:

How to Write a Scary Scene:

Creating a Cover: Finding Models: @camillelaguire

A bad book? No, it’s a good book you haven’t fixed yet: @DirtyWhiteCandy

Subplots--Where To Find Them and How To Use Them:

What's for supper at the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen? Cleo Coyle’s Bourbon-Berry "Coffeehouse"Rib BBQ :

Internalization 101:

Writer’s Conferences—Are They Relevant in the Internet Age? @annerallen

An Agent Says: "Please Don’t Serial Query."

What to look for in an agent: @JulieMusil

Promoting Your Book: The Dos and Don’ts of Being a Great Interviewee:

Writing. It’s Hard. @BTMargins

4 Ways to Make the Most of a Critique Group: @janefriedman

Make Your Bookshelf Work for You: @jhansenwrites

Why perfectionism is so totally overrated:

My book releases today! Kindle: Print: A review: . Thanks y'all.

How to Plot Wrong, in 3 Easy Steps: @victoriamixon

The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Marketing:

Walking in a Character’s Shoes: @keligwyn

On "Be" Verbs:

Thanks for this review of my new release, @HartJohnson!

6 Easy Networking Tips for Introverts/Writers at Conferences or Events:

How To Make Your Posts Facebook Friendly:

Abstracting the Antithesis:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: 2 Contests, 3 Releases, and 1 Drool-Worthy BBQ Party for Riley, Julie, and Wendy!

Syntax and Flow (Should we learn linguistics in school?)

How Independent Bookstores Can Use Google & Groupon:

Using Twitter to promote your blog:

How long should you wait to write a sequel?

Just because it's true doesn't make it good: @authorterryo

Why You Should Keep Hard Copies of Your Writings:

A Novel Approach To Marketing = Authenticity: @joanswan

Openings that annoy:

What the heck's historical about it, anyway?

7 ways to write more when you're already at maximum:

Should You Use RT or the Retweet Button on Twitter?

What If You Think You Might Be a Mediocre Fiction Writer?

Conflict = Tension = Emotion: Part 1-- Part 2--

Archetype vs. Stereotype:

3 multitasking tips for swamped writers:

Are you setting summer goals?

Querying a Collaboration:

Tips on Pitching your Manuscript:

25 Ways for Writers to Take Action:

Finding your voice:

5 Pairs of Compound Words, and How They’re Compounded:

Feedback that dramatically changed writers' stories:

Tools To Promote Your Author Blog: @galleycat

Publishing On The Kindle: Top Tips: @thecreativepenn

Should you sign an agency agreement?:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Blueberry Mango Muffins

Tackling the Synopsis:

How to rise above cliche: @LauraPauling

The 5 Secrets of Great Storytelling:

Should you only send queries to your A-list of agents first?

How 1 writer got her agent:

A deconstruction of "The Help," with a focus on plot structure:

Empathy and characterization:

How writing is like Interior Design:

What Writers Mean by "Flow":

You Have Your Elevator Pitches, Now What?

Sane and solo: 20 tips for people who work at home:

The Little Extras That Will Make an Editor Love Your Query:

The end of bookstores? (National Post):

The Opening Chapter:

What not to do as a writer: run:

A Short Course in Line Editing:

How to Make YA Fiction More Diverse (The Atlantic) :

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: And then there was the time she put sugar in her salt shaker ...

Friday, June 10, 2011

5 Tips for Staying Encouraged During Querying

Following the WhispersBeing a writer isn’t easy.

Publishing is a business that demands a thick skin—but writers are frequently artistic, thoughtful, and sensitive.

How do we stay encouraged during the tough querying process?

Hope you’ll visit me at Karen Walker’s Following the Whispers blog today for 5 tips for keeping positive.


It’s here! Finger Lickin’ Dead released Tuesday in a bookstore near you. Hope you’ll consider it if you enjoy mysteries, or know someone who does.

Download it on Kindle:

Mass market paperback:

Giveaway: I’m giving away an autographed copy of Finger Lickin’ Deaddetails here.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Red Herrings: Scapegoating Characters By Jeannie Campbell, LMFT

I'd like to welcome Jeannie Campbell, the character therapist, to Mystery Writing is Murder today. Jeannie's take on character motivation and the psychology of characters on her blog, The Character Therapist, is a great way to develop your characters and give them some depth.

And, I'm over at Mason Canyon's blog, Thoughts in Progress, today, with a post titled: A Mystery Writer's View of the World (and 6 Tips for Friends of Mystery Writers). Hope you'll join me!

Good mysteBlog8ry writers know all about red herrings. Red herrings are clues that are designed to mislead readers and make them suspect the wrong characters for whodunit. Of course, the placement of red herrings is deliberate because you want to keep the reader surprised as the story unfolds who the true culprit is.

In the world of counseling and psychology, families do this all the time. It’s called scapegoating. A common example is when a child gets pinned as the guilty party when in actuality, the dysfunction in the family stems from the mother or father’s relationship.

Families do this to draw attention away from the actual problem and on to someone else. “My absentee parenting and alcohol abuse is not the problem. Little Junior is. See how he constantly throw tantrums?”

Never mind the fact that he throws tantrums as a way to cope when Dad’s drunk and abusive. At least when he’s having a tantrum, Dad doesn’t hit Mom because they both turn their focus on him.

Writers end up scapegoating characters all the time, especially in mystery writing. We want our readers to focus attention elsewhere while we hide the truth from them. In counseling, this deflection is not good and actually interferes with the therapeutic process. In mystery writing, this distraction is a necessary evil pleasure that makes the mystery harder to solve.

When I’m counseling a family that is exhibiting a scapegoating tendency, it truly gives me a headache. All the anger and stress and frustration is directed at one person, an any attempt on my part to lighten the scapegoat’s load is met with denial.

I’d like to propose that mystery writers should be so good at scapegoating that any attempt on the author’s part to weave in clues pointing to some other killer or thief would be met with reader denial, as well.

If you’ve done the work to throw off the reader, make them truly buy into it. Make the case so ironclad that the reader says to himself, “Well, it has to be Colonel Mustard. I mean, he mentioned how attractive and costly that candlestick was earlier in the book. His fingerprints were even found on it next to the victim. He had to have done it.”

This is exactly what scapegoating families do. They will drag out one piece of evidence after another to prove their point that Little Junior is the problem (read: culprit). “He won’t listen. He doesn’t obey. He screams and kicks. He’s out of control.”

Once you’ve gotten the reader rattling off a list of evidence that points to Colonel Mustard and you have them summarily dismissing other clues you planted that show his innocence, you’ve done your scapegoating job well.

I hope that I’ll get a chance to connect with many of you over at my new website, The Character Therapist and my blog. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter and receive the Writer’s Guide to Character Motivation for free!

Also up for grabs to one lucky commenter of this post is the Writer’s Guide to Creating Rich Back Stories. Leave a comment and don’t forget to include your email address! Comment through Saturday, June 11th, midnight ET for your chance to win.