Sunday, July 31, 2011



I’m back! I missed everybody! Hope everyone has had a good last week and a half. :) I’ll start back with a double-edition of Twitterific—below are all my tweets from the last two weeks. Hope you’ll enter this month’s WKB giveaway for a chance to win Donald Maass’ excellent Writing the Breakout Novel, from our friends at Writer’s Digest. Enter the drawing by signing up for the WKB newsletter.

Finger Lickin’ Dead released June 7th. Hope you’ll consider it if you enjoy mysteries, or know someone who does.Download it on Kindle: Mass market paperback: ($6.99)


Ten Tools for Author Success: #3, Build Your Platforms:

10 Reasons Writers Might Drink: @elspethwrites

“The Help” – A Happy Ending? (A story deconstruction):

Voice tips from the pros: @AngelaAckerman

Foyles Bookstore, 105-Yrs-Young, Seeks Partner for Long Walks, Fun, Int’l Expansion:

We Retreat To Advance:

Finding balance while juggling life:

To Hyphenate or Not To Hyphenate? @authorterryo

Business Writing: What Is It Exactly?

Letting Go to Help Our Book-Babies Grow: @WriteAngleBlog

How 1 writer makes a living writing online:

For writing quotes and inspiration: Advice to Writers: @AdviceToWriters

Introduction to BSP:

From Scratch or Script: Writing vs. Acting: @BTMargins

How to Use Speech Recognition Software – 5 Tips for Writers:

Are comfortable, middle-class people no longer a legitimate subject for serious fiction? (Guardian):

5 writing lessons 1 writer learned from dating:

Why are our superlatives so boring? (Chicago Tribune):

Finding the Threads (or: How to Eat an Elephant): @CherylRWrites

Chat with 5 New York Published Authors Gone Indie: @HowToWriteShop

Online Marketing for the Middle Grade Audience:

What makes a villain? Hero in villain's clothing:

Brave New E World:

One illustrator's process:

The Life List Club: @jhansenwrites

Stories Are How We Make Sense of Life:

3 Tips from "Guys and Dolls": @LauraPauling

10 great sites for writers: @AJackWriting

When to name your characters: @elspethwrites

The secret bookshop:

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

Finding A Character's Perfect Match:

Finding Confidence In Yourself:

Lessons on a Set:

How to turn your iPad into a writing machine:

An explanation of earning back your advance: @aswinn

Book publicity isn't a sprint--it's a marathon: @spunkonastick

How To Avoid Barriers That Weaken Your Headlines: @

"Onlooker" characters: @mkinberg

Tips for writing unsympathetic characters that readers will like:

The 4 Steps of a Writer’s Journey:

Search my tweets--

Want to start a book club? 7 questions to get you started:

5 Ways NOT to Use Twitter for Freelancers:

How to keep your creativity alive during your summer vacation:

Ebook Buyer’s Guide: Know When to Buy an eReader and When to Wait:

Building Coherent Scene Transitions:

Do You Write 750 Words Per Day? @marianschembari

Deus Ex Machina: Latin for “Don’t Do This in Your Story” : @KMWeiland

Why every novelist is holding out for a hero (Guardian):

An agent answers questions on writing picture books:

4 qualities of a good title:

Joe Konrath on the potential Borders liquidation:

Emotional and Psychological Dynamics:

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

Squeezing Writing In Around Life:

Make Life Simple: Consolidate Your Sites:

5 Lessons 1 Writer Learned from a Best-Selling Author: @tglong

Top 15 Books On Writing:

Promo Tool for Writers--Google Keyword Tool:

Advice for aspiring writers:

The Death of Print, Part Whatever:

Unofficial partnerships in crime fiction: @mkinberg

5 Telltale Signs of an Amateur Writer: @tglong

An agent with a rebuttal on a recent Slate article bashing YA: @LitAgentMarini

Fiction as Metaphor:

Don’t Drive Your Blog Distracted:

A nice roundup of writing help on a variety of topics:

Writers' conferences are more than just giant writing classes: @tonyeldridge

33 Must-Read Tips & Tutorials for Bloggers:

Replacing “Show, Don’t Tell” With Observe and Report + Examples:

15 Excellent Tips for Writing a Book (The Atlantic):

When readers trust an author: @JulieMusil

Will My Social Media Presence Help My Book Proposal?

Google+ in 15 Minutes a Day:

Now with over 9000 links to help #writers find resources:

Casting About for Ideas: Writing Short Stories:

Productive Arguing:

Libraries and ebooks:

Tuning out the Greek chorus:

The Comparison Trap:

4 internet research tools for writers:

How Self-Publishing Changes the Bond Between Readers and Writers:

5 Steps to Building a Platform When You Hate Selling Yourself:

Examples of long-buried secrets in crime fiction: @mkinberg

3 Ways to Have More Energy to Follow Your Dreams:

Are You Good Enough to Write Professionally?

The Creative Personality: Ambition and Envy:

6 Online Dating Tactics to Improve Your Facebook Fan Page:

7 Simple Ways to Ease Your Writing Stress:

Villains as Mirrors:

4 Tips for Researching Nonfiction for Kids: @SmackDabBlog

Revisiting your writing goals for the year:

Creating a Visual Character Map: @TheCreativePenn

Not Starting with the Action: @NovelRocket

Self-Publishing, Yes and No: @JFbookman

Examples on subtext:

Making the Case for Fee-based Reviews of Self-published Books: @pubperspectives

Inspiration from authors' quotations: @Quotes4Writers

How to K.O. Your Writing Doubts:

On Finding The Right Writer’s Group For You:

Simplify the entire internet:

Identifying Your Writing Strengths, step 1:

How to promote your books on Goodreads: @HowToWriteShop

Barking-Dog Days of the Writing Life: @JodyHedlund

Writing humor in fiction:

2 tips for making life easier: @KatieGanshert

Surfing the fantasy network online:

Basics of writing--creating minor characters:

Writing a novel on the iPad: @AnneLyle

What’s Your Blogging Style? @JamiGold

Who's Got the Time to Write? @YAHighway

Do Telemarketing Tactics Build Readership? @jillkemerer

Writing the 2nd Book in a Trilogy: @LTWFblog

Writing the 2nd Book in a Trilogy: @LTWFblog

Synopsis Writing Tips: @AlanOrloff @CricketMcRae

Metaphor is the process, not the product: @TheresaStevens

8 Ways to Defeat Writers Block @joanswan

An agent with tips for pitching your novel: @rachellegardner

What killed Borders? Hint: It wasn't the Internet (Slate):

Tips for Writing the Back-Cover Blurb: @WriteAngleBlog

45 rookie writing mistakes to avoid: @p2p_editor

Abuse Your Muse:

Books-A-Million Makes Bid for Up To 35 Borders Stores: @GalleyCat

Tips for writing literary love stories: @EDFsChronicles

6 Killer Writing Tips from a Great-Grandmother of a Copy Editor:

Literary or Mainstream? The Two Boxes of Fiction: @EDFsChronicles

How to write a press release:

Indie, Big 6, or Small Press Publishing: Why Not Try All Three? @AnneRAllen

A writer's thoughts on the perils of pitching:

The Business of Character Engagement: @jhansenwrites

How 1 newbie writer sold 3 novels in 3 different genres: @jennybent

7 things 1 writer has learned so far:

Creative types are full of themselves, study confirms (MSNBC):

How the Art of Screenwriting Can Make You a Better Web Writer:

The #1 Thing to remember when crafting narrative flow: @RavenRequiem13

Why 1 Writer Wouldn't Recommend an MFA to Most Aspiring Writers: @iggiandgabi

An agent answers random questions:

Author Intrusion: 12 Pitfalls To Avoid: @RoniLoren

Testing the Idea–Is It Strong Enough to Make a Novel?

Incorporating setting in natural ways:

Creativity Tweets of the Week — 7/22/11: @on_creativity

Looking at Typos from a Different Angle:

An Agent Says: Don't Throw In The Towel: E-pub/Self-Pub is Not The Easy Fix:

Thoughts on story endings: @JulietteWade

Why good novels get rejected:

Blog Traffic Secret: Woo the Groupies:

10 Tips for Blogging Awesomeness: @KristenLambTX

A writer blogs that social media doesn't sell books--and a comment discussion ensues: @murdershewrites

What Is a Blogger’s Role in Responding to Comments? @JodyHedlund

For the over-cautious writer--9 Reasons Why Failure Is Not Fatal: @the99percent

Using the Emotional State of Your Characters to Craft Better Scenes: @Janice_Hardy

The Myth of the Lone Ranger Author @RachelleGardner

Selecting the Proper Hook:

Nice site of writing prompts for teachers & writers looking for inspiration: @WritePrompts

5 Common Myths People Have About Finding Their Passion: @ollinmorales

You Are Not Your Book?

Domain Names, Traffic, and a New Kind of Pun: @GeoffreyCubbage

A writer says KidLit Con holds special merit:

Flipping the Switch from “Introvert” to “Extrovert”: @RLLaFevers

5 Creative Flaws That Will Expose Your Lack of Storytelling Experience:

An agent with some querying red flags:

Digesting the Revision Letter, a pep talk: @LTWFblog

Sign up for the free monthly WKB newsletter for my top tweets & a chance to win Don Maass' book:

It Was Just a Dream: Why Dream Endings Are an Anathema to Flash Fiction: @EDFsChronicles

Critique feedback--to whom should you listen?

Nice list of flash fiction markets and links to articles on flash fiction:

5 Reasons Your Online Marketing Doesn’t Work: @JaneFriedman

10 steps to a clean submission:

You Say Potato, Your Character Says Potahto: @RLLaFevers

Character and Plot—One and The Same Thing?

3 Fiction Writing Lessons from a Mock Wedding: @writeitsideways

Best Articles This Week for Writers 7/24/11: @4kidlit

Writing Romance When Your Marriage fails:

Uncovering YA Covers: How Dark Are They?

A look at theme in Harry Potter:

Mind Your Promises: @EDFsChronicles

When you need to break up with your agent: @LAGilman

1 writer hates similes:

How To Drive Yourself Crazy, Writer Style: @dawnmetcalf

Looking Into the Future of Bookstores: 4 Angles: @JaneFriedman

How to Have a Writers’ Hangout in Google+:

Top 7 Reasons Blogs Fail and What to Do About It:

Finding time for writing:

How to write a novel--characters:

10 Things You Can Do Right Now to Grow Your Email List:

Class distinctions in publishing? @raelynbarclay

Borders Dies of Self-Inflicted Wounds, But How Many Publishers (And Writers) Will Follow? @ChandlerWrites

A look at character development, using the Harry Potter series as an example:

Awoke? Awaked? Forsooth, I Have Woken Up! @Grammar_Diva

The Power of a Conversation About Your WIP: @joanswan

The Ins and Outs of a Sexy Book Cover:

Why Many MFA Programs are Imperfect: @iggiandgabi

10 Common but Totally Unrealistic Romance Storylines:

Links between physical and social in worldbuilding: @JulietteWade

Start on Page 30: Kicking off your novel:

The Pros of Prologues:

The Writer As Observer: @BTMargins

Just because you can self-pub, doesn't mean you should: @greyhausagency

The Worst Reasons to Become a Novelist:

9 Immediate Tips To Stay Focused on Your Goals:

Sign up for the free monthly WKB newsletter for my top tweets & a chance to win Don Maass' book:

Ideas for increasing book sales:

Using trademarked names in your book:

Supporting the crazy writer:

You’re only as good as your collaborators: @michellerafter

Priorities in this Brave New World: @DeanWesleySmith

The (Low) Cost of Reading: @BTMargins

From Concept to Copy: @annerooney

My tweets are archived and searchable here:

Writing A Series:

How to Style Numbers:

Personal vs. Platform: Where Is the Line?

How To Leave 'Em Wanting More! The Wonderful World of Potter: @lisagailgreen

Identifying Your Writing Strengths, step 2: @msforster

Time Management - Calendars:

Deciding When to Show and When to Tell: @4KidLit

How To Establish A Ritual Of Writing:

How Querying Is Just Like Dating:


2 Rules for Online Self Promotion:

Writing a Quality Medical Scene:

Neil Gaiman's 8 Good Writing Practices:

Mind mapping for authors:

Thoughts on Creating Magic Systems:

4 Great Things I Learned from the MFA: @iggiandgabi

Why Borders Failed While Barnes & Noble Survived (NPR):

6 Ways to Build Your Brand Using LinkedIn:

Can your character change?

When your agent says no to your new project:

Melodrama isn't a 4 letter word:

Sign up for the free monthly WKB newsletter for my top tweets & a chance to win Don Maass' book:

7 Reasons Why Joining a Book Club Will Help Your Writing:

4 Ways To Deepen Romance Relationships in Any Type of Story:

Improving description: @FantasyFaction

Why Nathan Bransford’s self promotion fell flat – and why you should take note: @LauraPauling

Goals--Are You Making Them Too Obvious? @JaniceHardy

An Author’s Guide to Book Birthers, Book Shepherds and other Consultants:

Paying attention to your dreams:

Resources For Young Writers: @TheCreativePenn

How a Novel in Verse Amps Up Emotional Insight:

How To Make Your Own Book Trailer: @BubbleCow

What to Do When Your Blog Growth Plateaus:

An Agent Says--If You Want To Be A Better Writer, Take The Time To Learn:

Build Diversity Into Your Online Presence: @janefriedman

Choosing POV for our manuscript:

7 Types of Euphemism:

Crafting your elevator pitch:

5 Steps to Create a New Habit:

A publisher addresses a variety of topics:

Fantasy subgenres:

A writer says that book clubs keeps books alive:

Lawrence Block explains why he loves John Locke and Russell Blake: @LawrenceBlock

Self publishers should mind their manners:

Writing fight scenes:

Character Development Through Hobbies: @CherylRWrites

An agent reminds us that conflict is key:

4 Free Tools to Help You Socially Monitor Your Brand:

How Do We Maintain Believability in Our Work?

7 Steps Towards Better Villainy: How To Make ‘em So Bad, They Are Good: @BTMargins

8 Steps to Better Characters:

9 steps for planning your novel: @LindaKSienkwicz

Getting Short Story Credits is Getting Easier (Sort Of):

Prologue Tips:

How to write critiques that don't kill: @jammer0501

Tips for parents of young writers: @mollybackes

So, You Want to Sell More Books at Amazon… [Part 2: Tags]:

10 Edgy Stereotypes Which Will Not Actually Make Your Characters Edgier: @YAHighway

Make the Most of Product Reviews on Your Facebook Page:

Janice Hardy gives a real-life diagnostic on a ms that may need more action:

A Substantive Editor Is a Writer’s Coach:

Why 1 writer turned down 2 contracts:

Revision tips--the scenic route:

My tweets are archived and searchable:

Presenting a Writing Workshop: Lessons Learned: @keligwyn

Balancing your backstory: @Mommy_Authors

Reigniting the flame after a writing conf:

Meg Cabot Thinks Vampire Novels Need New Blood (WSJ):

Microsoft Word tips and tricks: @jhansenwrites

Should Authors Use Twitter Auto-Unfollow? @sarahketley

Freelancers--When to Ask Editors About Pay Rates for Your Articles:

Top 5 ways to hook your reader: @Kerrie_Flanagan

10 Rules For Manuscript Evaluations:

How to Hire a Copyeditor:

Writing Exercises to Remove Writers Block: @JoanSwan

Why there’s still a place in the world for literary readings (Ntl. Post):

6 tips for your book's market analysis:

Fantasy, imagination, and the hero:

Managing a State Writers' Organization: @HopeClark

Can’t Decide on Your Blog’s Focus? Tips for Baffled Bloggers:

Being a Working Writer:

How to Become a Twitter Search Ninja:

E-Booking the Backlist: Who and How:

6 Reasons Every Serious Blogger Should Blog for the Big Dogs:

It's Over: Getting Readers to the Ending, and Making Them Glad They Came:

Fun sites for writing tools:

10 Simple Website Changes that Will Increase Your Freelance Sales:

5 tips for writing every day:

Pick Yourself Up, Dust Yourself Off, Start All Over Again:

Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: You Can’t Make Money Writing Fiction: @DeanWesleySmith

Great Character Descriptions from Science Fiction and Fantasy Books:

Creating the most engaging environment--working the "container" of your story:

How to Be a Good Guest Post Host:

9 Reasons Not to Stop Yourself from Starting:

How Books Work: The Hunger Games (Part 2) :

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Short Break

blog10_thumb52Hi everyone! This is the time of year when I take a short blogcation in order to catch up with family, host guests, etc. I’m also spending some time revising that book that I wrote five years ago. I also have some pass pages to proof and a new book to start (May deadline, but may as well get cracking!)

I'm going to leave you with links to some of my most popular posts on the blog, courtesy of Google Analytics. :) I'll be back in a week and a half.

Writing Worksheets and Other Tools Tips for Restless Writers

Choosing Our Story

Making a Transition

Answering a Few Questions about the Search Engine

Promote Yourself, Not Your Book

See you soon!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Story Within a Story by Cricket McRae

Thanks for hosting me here at Mystery Writing is Murder, Elizabeth!

My recently released Home Crafting Mystery, Wined and Died, is the fifth in the series. All of my contemporary cozies feature colonial home crafts as the backdrop to the murder mystery, and in this one, it's mead making.

Once I decide on the home craft, the rest of the story comes out of that. Then the subplots emerge as a matter of course. In Wined and Died, Sophie Mae Ambrose and her husband are caring for their housemate's precocious twelve-year-old daughter, Erin Bly. Her subplot does more than flavor the rest of the story. It starts the whole thing, cycles throughout, and ends the book as well.

See, Erin is writing a novel.

I'm not sure how that happened, but when it cropped up in Chapter One, I went with it. It fit with her character, offered opportunities for both conflict and humor, allowed her to be involved in the amateur investigation more than usual, drove Sophie Mae batty, and in the end her jottings afforded a piece of critical information at the right time.

Throughout Wined and Died she follows everyone, writing down what they say and making notes, all the while trying to decide what she's going to write her book about. Sophie Mae gives her plenty of terrible writing advice because Sophie Mae hasn't a clue about how to write a novel.

At the end of the story, I felt Erin needed to share what she had decided to write about, and that meant coming up with a short synopsis that could reasonably be connected to what the reader had just experienced in Wined and Died.

What fun! I sat down, tuned into my inner twelve-year-old, and drew a right-brain-inspired chart full of free associations from events and random details in the book. A YA fantasy plot gradually emerged. It showed how Erin might have creatively interpreted the various scribblings in her notebook, though to literal-minded Sophie Mae the youngster's story has nothing to do with any of their recent adventures.

Mise en abyme is the French term for self-reflexive embeddings in artwork. It refers to the idea of two mirrors facing each other and can be visual, written, or--as in Hamlet--the famous play within a play. I didn't really think about how I was using this age-old device, only that it functioned well. And I sure wasn't thinking about actually writing a YA novel. But now that thought is fluttering at the back of my mind as the result of working out that mystery subplot.

Writers get ideas from everywhere, it seems. Have you ever gotten a different story idea from a story you're writing? Wined and Died_1In honor of the recent release of Wined and Died, you can enter to win a FREE Author Website ($900 value!) from the creative folks at Bizango Websites for Writers until July 29, 2011. For more details and information on how to enter, please visit my blog at For more information about me or the Home Crafting Mystery Series, check out

A former resident of the Pacific Northwest where her novels are set, Cricket McRae has always dabbled in the kind of practical home crafts that were once necessary to everyday life. The magical chemistry of making soap, the satisfaction of canning garden produce, and the sensuout side of fiber arts like spinning an knitting are just a few of the reasons these activities have fascinated her since childhood. As a girl she was as much a fan of Nancy Drew as of Laura Ingalls Wilder, so it's no surprise that her contemporary cozy series features a soap maker with a nose for investigation. For more information about Cricket or the Home Crafting Mystery Series, check out


Thanks so much for your post today, Cricket! You've got me looking forward to trying a story-within-a-story, myself! Looks tricky...but fun. :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


coffeebythewindow1945I’ve been thinking a lot about productivity lately.

This is probably because it’s summertime and my schedule is pretty much non-existent.

I’m getting work done every day, but it’s not at the same times of day as when the kids were in school. And it’s frequently really early.

I read this interesting article called Creative Kryptonite and the Death of Productivity.

Jonathan Fields talks about what happens when we get distracted by social media during our day. There were 2 things in particular that he focused on. One was that we receive “intermittent reinforcement” whenever we get an email, Twitter, or Facebook alert—an actual Dopamine squirt that gets us hooked.

The second thing he mentioned in his post was the Zeigarnik Effect. As Jonathan put it:

Every time we begin a conversation by text, email, twitter, Facebook or Google+, it’s like we’re opening a new loop. One that, until completed, compels us to want to finish the conversation. To keep checking and responding until the loop has been closed.

Problem is, in a hyperconnected world…the loops never close.

Of course, we all enjoy what we’re doing. I know I do. If I had it my way, large portions of my day would be spent catching up with everyone on their blogs, reading tweets, and looking at friends’ status updates.

But….I sure wouldn’t get anything done!

My solution to this is usually pretty extreme:

Close all my computer windows except for Word.

Put my phone across the room where I can hear it if it rings, but can’t check emails, Twitter, etc. on it.

Leave the house with my laptop and go to a place that doesn’t have wi-fi (increasingly more difficult to find.)

Write in a notebook (a real notebook) until I meet my goal.

And then I give myself a reward. :) I have to perform for treats.

How you y’all get things done with all the temptations of social media?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Finding Balance While Juggling Life—by Karen Walker

Please join me in welcoming my friend Karen Walker to the blog.

I love visiting Karen’s blog, Following the Whispers, because it’s a quiet oasis in my busy day. She helps me to think about life in a new light—and I appreciate her perspective. I’ve read her memoir and found it truly inspirational. Thanks for coming by today, Karen!

IMG_3993I became a mom in 1973. We’d been through the Civil Rights Movement, the Womens’ movement, the Viet Nam War. And the Mommy Wars--which, unfortunately, still exist--although it doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue as it was back then.

When I gave birth, I was 24 years old chronologically, but not in maturity. I didn’t have a sense of self, so trying to juggle my own needs with that of a baby and a husband and friends, etc. wasn’t even in my consciousness. I was pretty much on auto-pilot, trying to keep my head above water.

Today, it is common for women to either work outside the home, or, as writers do, work at home, while raising our children, caring for our husbands, and maintaining a household.

The key to juggling all of the above is balance. They tell you when you are on an airplane to put your own oxygen on first, before helping anyone else. There is a reason for this. If you become unconscious, you are of no use to anyone. We must put our own well-being first. I wish I’d known this years ago--it would have saved me years of misery.

When we have kids, this can be most challenging, because we all know, if a child needs something, we drop everything to deal with it. So it becomes a matter of priorities. And the ages of our children and what they can manage on their own versus what needs our immediate attention.

The way I find balance is to only have a few key things I want to accomplish each day. That way, I don’t overwhelm myself and can feel successful, rather than a failure because I didn’t do what I wanted to do. I make priorities of those few things. On some days, only one or two things get done. The next day, the priorities shift so I can focus on what didn’t get done the day before.

Another key to finding and keeping balance is learning to say no. Even to our husbands. And yes, even to our children. Because saying no to someone else is saying yes to ourselves. This is not selfish, as we may have been taught. It is crucial to inner peace and well-being.

To summarize, get clear about what is important to you. Make the time to do it. Say no to non-crisis distractions. And learn to balance your priorities so that you feel successful.

Elizabeth, you seem to juggle your life beautifully. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to blog here about such an important issue.


Karen clip_image004Karen Walker is a writer who has published essays in newspapers and magazines, as well as an anthology series. After a 30+ year career in marketing and public relations, she went back to college to complete a Bachelor's degree and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2005 from the University of New Mexico's University Studies program with a major emphasis in Creative Writing. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her husband, Gary, and their dog, Buddy. When she’s not writing, you can find her doing international folk dancing, singing at retirement communities with her trio, Sugartime, hiking, reading, or hanging out with friends.

You can find Following the Whispers: at:



Sunday, July 17, 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 Donald Maass’ excellent Writing the Breakout Novel, from our friends at Writer’s Digest. Enter the drawing by signing up for the WKB newsletter.

Finger Lickin’ Dead released June 7th. Hope you’ll consider it if you enjoy mysteries, or know someone who does.Download it on Kindle: Mass market paperback: ($6.99) Tomorrow I'm looking forward to hosting Karen Walker on Mystery Writing is Murder. Hope you'll come by!

Making Time to Write Despite the Never Ending To Do List:

Digital lit: How new ways to read mean new ways to write (Globe and Mail):

The Kings Speech - Why is this such a Great Bad Movie? @StoryMeBad

Why So Few Men Join Book Groups:

How some famous crime fiction sleuths got into the business: @mkinberg

The Writer as Detective (NY Times):

An overlooked form of marketing--volunteerism: @MariaZannini

Best practices for the professional writer: @JourneytoFree

Writing for the reluctant teen reader:

Writing urban fantasy vs. steampunk:

Stop Procrastinating By Thinking of Your Future Self:

10 Ways to Keep a Long-Term Character From Being Hated:

Roving body parts: @authorterryo

Why gratitude is vital for writers:

7 Tips for Writing a Film Review:

Why 1 writer/artist loves Google+ & her tips for newbies: @inkyelbows

6 tips for helping writers suspend reader disbelief: @damesofdialogue

A nice how-to on creating an ebook:

Censoring Books for Kids: @jemifraser

Nice link roundup by 2 historical writers: @2nerdyhistgirls

Fluffing up a flat character:

Fast and Easy Guide to Writing Characters of the Opposite Gender: @KMWeiland

Why Your Creativity Is Stuck On Shuffle And You’re Not Hearing A Single Song:

Magical Rooms in Fiction: @AwfullyBigBlog

Everything You Wanted to Know About Digital Publishing But Were Afraid to Ask: @DearAuthor

Sex and the Novel: @Sarafurlong

How Much Should an Author’s Ebook Royalty Be? Some number crunching: @kellymcclymer

Metafiction: The Forgotten Transformer: @yaHighway

9 Tips For The Perfect Pitch:

Lessons from the Movies--Planting and Returning Images to Create a Satisfying Ending:

Tips for getting in the writing zone: @SarahKetley

Improving Creativity: The Connect Brainset: @lkblackburne

6 great heroes of epic fantasy: Part 1: and 2:

Things not to do as a writer--the rush to publish: @LisaKilian

The truth is out there: sci-fi doesn't have to be stupid (Brisbane Times): @brisbanetimes

Writers and Doubt:

The real Secret Garden (Telegraph):

The writer takes a walk:

The Best Way to Embrace a Negative Review:

Write what you know...or not:

When writing is hard, write in a herd: @BWBODRasch

Tips for crime writers for avoiding "Cabot Cove Syndrome": @authorterryo

5 Steps to Writing a Killer First Chapter – How to Wow Readers:

3 protagonists walk into a bar:

Tips for writing action well: @Juliemusil @lisagailgreen

Using tarot cards to develop your story: @joanswan

The Importance of Knowing & Writing For Our Target Readers: @JodyHedlund

Identifying the specific reason behind procrastination and making steps to work through it:

Personalized publishing advice--where to get it?

One writer's 10 favorite writing lessons: @jhansenwrites

Handling Content Edits: @KatieGanshert

Hands-on plotting:

A former D&D gamer offers us 10 types of character quirks: @CherylRWrites

An agent on what to do when you get an offer:

How to Write a Non-Fiction Query Letter:

5 Tips for Making a YouTube Promo Video:

Writing Historical Fiction: Daring to Own an Icon: @BTMargins

Getting started with Google+:

Basics of writing--keeping it fresh:

When artificial intelligences start using contractions:

Don't lie in query letters:

How writing is like ironing linen:

Stop talking about writing and write:

3 Ways to Sell Yourself as an Online Writer:

Legacy Publishing vs Self-Publishing: Can You Do Both? @AJackWriting

Union & Guild Resources for Writers: @galleycat

Why You Can't Buy Creativity:

How *not* to support local bookstores and coffeehouses: @NinaBadzin

How flexible are you? @JodyHedlund

10 Ways to Reach Your Word Count Goals: @elspethwrites

How to break your book into chapters: @PublishingGuru

A primer on your publishing options: @HartJohnson

Agents as Publishers: @LauraPauling

3 types of mushy book middles: @FantasyFaction

Dialogue and The Telephone:

Self-editing checklist--externals:

YA vs. Romance Sex Scenes: @yaHighway

3 mistakes 1 writer observed a newbie make at a recent convention:

Why you should become more flexible as a writer:

How to Throw A Book Party That Rocks: @BTMargins

Editing-Meet the Novel-Killer:

Taking the “Spookiness” Out of Ghostwriting:

Writing A Linked Series - An Agent on Why some work and some don't:

6 tips for growing characters: @WriteAngleBlog

A Guide to Colloquial Contractions:

Why Small Ebook Presses are Thriving And How You Could Join Them: @thecreativepenn

Performing plot CPR: @JulieMusil

Do authors have to be attractive in this business? And mine their personal history for promo? @nicolamorgan

How writing and driving are similar: @LesaHolstine @ThomasKaufman,

5 simple math skills every writer should know: @

Cross-marketing your books--locating alternative markets:

12 Ways to Turn Your Old, Dusty Blog Archive into Cold, Hard Cash:

Article Revision Using the Pointings System:

How authors can benefit from using YouTube:

WordPress Plugins that Make Your Blog Comments Social:

Book writing is agony, with little reward. Why is it still pursued? NY Times: RT @JaneFriedman

Agents are no longer relevant to authors? An agent says no:

Tyranny of “The Numbers”:

Dear Young Writer: Advice to Your Younger Self:

The Death of the Publishing IT Department? @pubperspectives

Google+ Hangouts for Writing Groups: @galleycat

4 Elements of a Great Book Signing: @PimpMyNovel

The 7 Stages of Writing a Sequel:

How To Sell Songs Inside Your eBook: @GalleyCat

7 Sound Techniques for Effective Writing:

Twitter tools for authors--Twellow and Grader:

Why your reader is your co-writer and 6 tips for letting readers fill in the blanks: @KMWeiland

A deep editing analysis that demonstrates the power of cadence and specificity in writing: @jhansenwrites

16 Ways Fiction is Usually Different than Reality:

2 PIs explain white collar crime to crime writers and give tips for writing it:

How to work theme into your novels: @DirtyWhiteCandy

Making Critical Character Traits Part of Your Plot:

What Readers WON’T Miss about Corporate Book Publishers When They’re Gone: @AnneRAllen

Tips for writing your 1st scenes:

The dreaded flashback:

How to speak publisher - C is for Cover:

Managing Your Time as a Writer:

The art of rocking out your identity crisis so you can go on to rule the world:

How much description? @JulietteWade

Tips for providing value on Twitter:

World Building-Part 2: Social and Cultural Aspects:

5 must-do publicity tips:

The Surprising Key to Becoming an Authority:

7 Reasons Creative People Don’t Talk about Money:

Tips for bringing scenes to life: @4kidlit

Have white-board, will plot: @yaHighway

The Lies Screenwriters Tell (Themselves):

10 public speaking tips: @katiewardwriter

Who has authority online? @JaneFriedman with answers:

Is your book's middle saggy? Losing motivation halfway through? Don't give up! Some tips: @jhansenwrites

The 7 Deadly Sins of Writing:

Self-Publishing is Like Playing Baseball:

5 Reasons Why Your Writing Matters (Even if No-One Will Take You Seriously):

A Google+ cheat sheet:

12 Easy Steps to The Making of a Book Trailer:

Fixing Problem Pacing:

Genre Interruptus:

Why copywriting is the secret to building a popular blog:

How to Delete Half Your Facebook "Friends":

10 Greatest Unintentionally Hilarious Lines from SF&F:

10 Fantasy and Science Fiction Copycats that Actually Improved on the Original:

Getting ISBNs in Canada: @JustusRStone

Keeping Your Promises To Readers: @ajackwriting

An Agent Answers a Writer's Question on Collaborative Writing:

How to Cure Writer’s Block and Stay Productive:

A Writer’s Must-Read List: @on_creativity

Tips for formatting your manuscript:

On rejections:

That book was edited?

Keeping the Vision in Revision: @BTMargins

Creating Cover Art: Down & Dirty Tips:

Making Marketing More About Them & Less About Us: @JodyHedlund

Manipulating Your Reader for Better Plots:

An e-publisher says not to query them if you won't blog or tweet:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why We Practice Our Writing

cohdra100_1413I mentioned last week that I was preparing two books to e-publish. I wrote one of the books three years ago. The other is a book I wrote five years ago.

The book that I wrote three years ago was definitely easier for me to edit. I did remove some ‘telling’ references and created a deeper POV for the story.

The book that I wrote five years ago? It’s taking me forever to edit it.

The problem with the book I wrote five years ago isn’t a mechanical problem or grammatical problem.

It’s definitely that it’s just not a very mature book. I’ll read along a little bit and think, “Why would this character do that?” or “Why did I spell out that this character was getting into their car and driving across town? Why not just start the scene across town?”

There’s something on every page that I’m deleting, adding, or completely rewording. The only thing that seems really solid is my voice. I’m thankful that’s intact or else I’d have to write the book over from scratch.

I’m lucky that I’ve got a few weeks where I’m not really under any pressing deadlines (except to read my pass pages for the next Memphis book…coming out in November.) So I think I’ll just spend some time updating this book and hopefully raising the writing bar to at least my current level of ability.

Sometimes I wonder if showing up every day to write is doing anything for me. Am I actually getting better?

But then, looking back over stuff I’ve written 3-5 years ago, there’s no question of the improvement. Every day you open up that laptop or notebook… matter what your goal is—a weekly goal, a monthly goal, whatever…you’re improving your craft.

Have you got any old manuscripts? Can you see a difference in your writing from long ago?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fixing Book Middles and Staying Motivated to Finish Our Book

Writers in the StormToday I’m at the Writers in the Storm blog (a great resource for writers, if you haven’t visited), talking a little about book middles.

Middles can be tough—not only is it where our plots might start getting a little saggy, they’re also where we might lose motivation to finish our book…and when Shiny New Idea syndrome is most likely to strike.

Hope you’ll join me there!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Black Heart of White-Collar Crime by Colleen Collins & Shaun Kaufman

In 1939 sociologist Edwin Sutherland coined the term “white collar crime.” He wrote, "White collar crime is crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation." It was a radical redefinition in criminal law as Sutherland was making distinctions not on the basis of an act or intent, but according to the status of the accused. Unlike Edwin Sutherland's definition, the U.S. Department of Justice’s formal definition of white-collar crime disregards class or economic status. However, government prosecutors are far more likely to indict the "upper-class" businessman who works for a major corporation than the middle-class grandmother who buys counterfeit medications from Canada. The general components of white-collar crime: • It is a non-violent, illegal act that principally involves deception, deceit, concealment, manipulation, breach of trust, subterfuge or illegal circumvention. • It is typically committed by a business person or public official • Its evidence usually involves a “paper trail” that investigators use to prosecute the case. There are numerous types of white-collar crime, including antitrust violations, bankruptcy fraud, cell phone fraud, credit card fraud, counterfeiting, credit card fraud, environment schemes, healthcare fraud and insider trading. PIs Who Specialize in White-Collar Crime As with any crime, there are investigative procedures, then there’s the creativity, experience, tenacity and intellect of the investigator. That last one – intellect – is key for an investigator who specializes in white-collar crimes. A homicide detective we know claims that all homicides are easy. He claims that unless they’re strategized by organized crime (for example), they’re typically cases whose clues are easily followed. Alternatively, criminals who practice white-collar crime are smart. They are usually highly educated, savvy and familiar with how to manipulate the inner workings of business. A PI who investigates a white-collar crime case has to match wits with these criminals to uncover the crime. Plus, the practice of private investigations is just as much an art as it is a science, so a successful investigator always thinks outside of the box while also applying concepts and procedures. Next, let’s analyze one of our white-collar crime cases by looking at our investigation goals, tasks, unforeseen glitches and end result. Case Example: The Case of the Disappearing Money Investigation Goal An attorney who specializes in probate, elder law, and estate planning/administration asked our investigations agency to investigate what had happened to the money that disappeared from a family's trust fund. The family already suspected a specific member. Investigation Tasks Our investigations on the suspected family member included the following tasks: • Researching public records for significant purchases for land, cars and other high-price-tag items. • Researching purchases made by the suspect’s daughter and son-in-law. Our investigation revealed that the son-in-law had come unexpectedly into large amounts of money that he had used to fund large purchases, one being a new home. • Checking records in the assessor’s and clerk of recorder’s offices. We learned the suspected family member had acquired an interest in a pricey downtown condo. • Surveilling the suspected family member. Although she claimed to be unemployed, we discovered she suddenly had sufficient amounts of money to attend a university full time. • Investigating suspected family’s member’s claim that she occasionally babysat for another family member to earn some money. Our investigations, including surveillance, showed she never conducted any babysitting, and that the children in question were enrolled in a daycare that the suspected family member had no ties to. Unforeseen Glitches The object of our investigations learned from another family member that private investigators were watching. Therefore, the suspect became cautious, and spent a lot of time looking around the corner whenever they left the house. Too bad that they left so much evidence in public records regarding their acquisitions using family money. End Result The lawyer applied for a court order forfeiting the ill-gotten property back to the deceased person’s estate. In other words, the pricey downtown condo was taken over by the family members who had been ripped off. Writing a Sleuth Who Specializes in White-Collar Crime? If so, think about these character attributes: • Does she have a background in business or accounting? Is he a former nurse or health care professional? In other words, does your sleuth have training or expertise ancillary to the white-collar crime? • How identity theft often dovetails with other white-collar crimes. For example, criminals conducting health care fraud often also need to know how to obtain, or buy, personal information such as people’s SSNs. Therefore, it’s beneficial for a sleuth to have contacts/informants in the identify-theft community. • Does your fictional sleuth have inside contacts in hospitals, insurance companies, doctors’ offices who can provide intelligence? Thank you to Elizabeth Craig for hosting us today as guests at “Writing Is Murder”! We’re giving away a gift Kindle version of How to Write a Dick to one of today’s readers who posts a comment/question (name will be randomly picked before midnight today – please be sure to leave your email address for notification). If you don’t have a Kindle, there are free downloadable Kindle apps for PCs and Macs (we use the downloadable app at home, and it’s great). Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman are co-owners of Highlands Investigations in Denver, Colorado. Their ebook How to Write a Dick: A Guide to Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths, is available on Kindle and Nook. Colleen Collins is a co-owner of Highlands Investigations in Denver, Colorado. Her articles on private investigations have appeared on various Internet sites as well as in PI Magazine, Romance Writers Report, Pursuit Magazine, and other publications. She is an active member of the Private Eye Writers of America and the Mystery Writers of America. She has written 20 novels for both Harlequin and Dorchester, several of which have placed in the finals for national competitions, including the prestigious Holt Medallion and RITA awards.

Shaun Kaufman, co-owner of Highlands Investigations, has worked in and around the criminal justice field for more than 30 years, as a former trial attorney and a current legal investigator. He has published articles in PI magazine, the Denver Law Review, as well as authored numerous briefs for the Colorado Court of Appeals, Colorado Supreme Court and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. As a trial attorney, Shaun hired and managed private investigators, training them on such issues as ethics, death penalty litigation, homicide and gang evidence, and search and seizure techniques.


“Forget Google and Bing. When you need to research PI work, go to the experts, Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman: they live it, they teach it, they write it. How to Write a Dick is the best work of its kind I’ve ever come across because it covers the whole spectrum in an entertaining style that will appeal to layman and lawmen alike. This will be the industry standard for years to come.” - Reed Farrel Coleman, three-time Shamus Award winner for Best PI Novel of the Year and author of Hurt Machine

"If you want authenticity in creating a fictional private investigator for your stories, then this is a must-have reference book. Its authors, Colleen and Shaun, are living, breathing PIs with years of actual experience in the PI game."

- R.T. Lawton, 25 years on the street as a federal special agent and author of 4 series in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine