Thursday, April 20, 2017

Self Help Books Work If You Use Them

By Linda Thorne

These are all the writing self-help books I've read (and re-read) except for the last one that I'm still working on. I've studied them, considered their suggestions (some didn't work for me but might prove perfect for another author), and I've learned from all of them.
The very first was basic, which is what I needed. I was living in the little town of Hanford, California in 2005 and decided I'd write a book and maybe others. I did what I thought would be the first step and drove down to the single bookstore in the Hanford Mall and looked for books on how to write a book. There was only one: You Can Write A Novel by James V. Smith, Jr. The cover at the time was blue with gold print. To the left is how the current cover looks on Amazon. This was perfect for a beginner. It went into the basics - actually had me making index cards with character traits, scene cards. It had templates you could use to "log" your plot. The book went over what I know as basics now, things like discussions on what cliches are and how not to use them and why. I really thought writing a book would be easy. Yeah, right, but then that's another story. 

Then came this one by Sol Stein. Great. Loved it. Helpful. Again, I was going to write a book and it would be easy. Again, in hindsight - yeah, right!
Here are others I finished reading and dove back into many, many times. 

Here are my more current favorites that I will use over and over again.

Hooked (below) is the most recent self-help book I've read. It's an invaluable resource and I will read it again and again. The Weekend Novelist Re-Writes the Novel is one I started, but stopped halfway through. It is very good and very needed for my work in progress, A Promotion to Die For, but I don't need to finish it now. A Promotion to Die For is not yet complete enough for me to "re-write" it for publication. When every chapter is complete, I'll finish reading The Weekend Novelist Re-Writes the Novel and use it as a resource to polish my finished project before submitting it to my publisher. 

If you're an author, what self-help books do you use? Do they help you? Do you absorb all the information or, like me, do you have to re-read and review over and over?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Deadlines and Other Oddities

by Janis Patterson

Did you ever wonder about the etymology of the word ‘deadline’? It sounds so vaguely threatening. “You reach this line (time?) or you’re dead.” Did the kings of old give their serfs a deadline for bringing in their tributes and lop off their heads if they missed it? Come to think of it, I have known a couple of old-time editors who would have just loved the power to do that – in fact, getting one’s head (or job) lopped off on occasion would have been considered preferable to their reactions.

I wonder that those of us in the wordsmith world have not been able to find a more pleasant, less belligerent term for the time a manuscript/whatever should be turned in. Final day? Term line? End time?

Not that it makes much difference these days anyway. I grew up in advertising, back when deadline really meant deadline. Even being a few hours over the limit was enough to get you raked over the coals. When I moved over into journalism, missing a deadline could get you fired. Now it seems that a deadline is more of a suggestion than a distinct cut-off date, which is something I don’t understand. If you’re given a contract and a date your project is due, hadn’t you better uphold it?

Now there are a few reasons for missing a real deadline without notification to your publisher – death, ending up in a full body cast at your local hospital, things of that order – not that you feel you need a small vacay and will need an additional two months, or that you had another contract come up that offered more money, or any other reason, legitimate or not. If someone realizes they can’t make a deadline, they should notify their publisher immediately. I don’t see why people don’t get that.

On the other hand, there’s a lot about the other side of publishing I don’t get. Why have advances fallen, the quality of editing and proofing gone into freefall and all the responsibility for publicity fallen on the shoulders of the writers? (Unless you’re in the Roberts-King-Koontz stratosphere and, of course, generally excepting a listing in the catalogues.) Why are advances to celebrities and politicians astronomical (in the millions) when it’s pretty much accepted that their books not only won’t earn out, but will be seen on remainder tables and cut-rate bookstores for the next decade or two? This, when working mid-list writers, the ones who write the books people actually like to read and who are the mainstay of the publishing industry, find it hard if not impossible to support themselves on their writing.

I don’t understand. Too much focus on money, not enough on books, or the quality of books. Seems contra-indicative.

Like I said, I don’t understand, but I’ve got a deadline blowing dragon breath on the back of my neck and I’ve got to go work. If anybody figures it out, let me know.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tour Schedule for UNRESOLVED

As promised here's the Blog Tour Schedule for Unresolved.

April 23  About Unresolved and the Rocky Bluff P.D. series

April 24  Favorite Character in the Series
April 25  The Inspiration for Unresolved

April 26  My Writing Process

April 27  My Exciting Life as an Author

April 28 Rubbing Elbows with Super Star Authors

April 29 Authors Who Have Influenced Me

April 30  Challenges in Writing a Series

May 1 Interview

May 2 Balancing Writing Two Series

May 3 Choosing Characters’ Names and the Rules I’ve Broken
May 4  Why a Blog Tour?

May 5 Putting a Blog Host in your Mystery

May 6  Keeping Characters Interesting in a Long Series

May 7 Besides Blog Tours, What Else?

May 8  Background the Rocky Bluff P.D. Series and Me

May 9 Research
May 10  The Value of a Critique Group

May 11  An Excerpt
May 12  My Compulsion to Write
 May14 Why Do I  Torture Myself?

May 15 Setting as Character

May 16  Problems the Rocky Bluff P.D. Series has Faced

May 19  I’ve Had Lots of Help Along the Way

I do hope some of you follow me along on this journey.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

To buy:

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

It's Official, UNRESOLVED will Soon be a Reality!

Despite a big setback, something I've written about elsewhere, the 13th book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. Mystery series will soon be a reality.

The text block has been gone over carefully and the cover artist sent me two covers, and I chose the one I like best.

I've been working on a blog tour which will begin this month, will write more about that on my next blog post here. Every time I decide to do one, once I get started I wonder why. It is so much work, but I love writing the posts.

Though I had no idea whether or not I'd have a new book at this time of year, I always plan ahead as far as in-person events are concerned. I alway have plenty of books to promote.

I'll be speaking at the Library in Hanford at 3 p.m. and will probably talk about my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree book as well as the new RBPD mystery. On April 22nd starting at 10, our church is having a boutique--and of course I'll be there.

Right now, May is open, but I'll be heading over to the Paso Robles Library on June 24th to participate on a panel  from 11 to 1 about Writing a Best Seller.

The biggie in July is the Public Safety Writers Association's annual conference from July 13 through 16. I'll be one of the instructors at the pre-conference workshop and participating on a panel or two.

In the evening of August 8, I'll be speaking to the San Luis Obispo Night Writers  on How to Write a Mystery. That's a fun presentation where everyone helps plot a mystery.

That's all I have so far, but who knows what will pop up in the future.

#13 in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, Unresolved Blurb:

Rocky Bluff P.D. is underpaid and understaffed and when two dead bodies turn up, the department is stretched to the limit. The mayor is the first body discovered, the second an older woman whose death is caused in a bizarre manner. Because no one liked the mayor, including his estranged wife and the members of the city council, the suspects are many, but each one has an alibi.

Copies may be purchased from Book and Table by emailing with a 10% discount and free shipping, as well as all the usual places.

And that's what's going on in my writing life now.

Marilyn who is also known as F. M. Meredith

Me and Cora Ramos doing a joint presentation at the San Joaquin chapter of Sister in Crime. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Demons of Marketing

Make Mine Mystery
April 2, 2017

Book Marketing
I just finished reading a blog by Jamie Gray regarding  her struggles in marketing. My heart went 'thump thump' because like many authors I hate to market..if I did I would have been a sales person, right?  So I put on my big girl pants on, and ordered a book she recommended from amazon.
Two days later I received the book and like Jamie I was determined to erase my demons, read the book, and report back to you in May some of my findings. Hopefully Jamie will do the same and I can relay some of the information she found out. So here it is, for better or worse ‘Rachel Thompson (better known as the genius behind @BadRedheadMedia) and her 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge, with a determined hip wiggle, I took a deep breath and made the decision that April Shall Be the Month of Marketing.

Let’s be honest, it’s 30 freaking days. Even I can manage this, right? Therefore, as I beginning reading all the wonderful things I need to know in the month of April on marketing, consider this post my “writing it down” commitment to seeing it through.  Maybe I’ll get lucky and find my own path to sales land nirvana. One that won’t land me in a pit of frustrated, hair-pulling, despondency and perhaps set me upright on the correct marketing path.
 Linda L. Kane MA in Education, PPS, School Psychologist, and Learning Disability Specialist, is the author of The Black Madonna, Witch Number is Which, Icelandia, Katterina Ballerina, Cowboy Jack and Buddy Save Santa, and Chilled to the Bones, Upcoming 2017 release date, Clyde: Lost and Now Found, and Death on the Vines. A Daisy Murphy Murder Mystery. 

·         Blog:


Monday, March 20, 2017

Writing About Winter When it's Like Summer

Okay, it's March.

While the East Coast is having blizzards, here in California we've had days in the 80's. That's good except my work in progress is set during a monstrous snow storm. The solution would be to make a trip eastward though not possible.

My thought has been that since this particular book will come out in summer, people might like to read about snow and cold. I can remember reading Dr. Zhivago during summer and shivering. Same when I saw the movie.

I will be calling a lot on my imagination as I write this book--it's one of those where everyone including the guilty party is confined to one place because of the unusual weather.

The characters are clearly defined in my mind. Someone has already died, but I have to admit I'm really not sure "who done it." Yes as it plays out, my heroine, Deputy Tempe Crabtree will manage to discover the reasons why each of the people might have wanted the victim dead. Since she's the detective, I'm relying on her to solve the crime. Don't laugh, that's the way my mysteries seem to evolve.

While I was shopping, one of the women I was chit-chatting with (don't you all chit-chat with strangers?) reminded me that we often have a spurt of summer then go back to a few days of winter. I'm not sure we do--what I think usually happens is we have two or three days of spring then bam, summer is here. Our summers last a long, long time. Fortunately this year we've had a lot of rain and snow up in the higher elevations.

But I digress. I was writing about the difficulty of writing about snow when it's hot here where I live. There isn't much more to say, except I need to hurry up and get with it. Mundania (the publisher of my Tempe Crabtree books) likes to publish my new one in August.

So, folks, you know what I'll be doing every chance I get. And I don't know about the rest of you authors, but when I'm in the middle of writing a book, I think about it at night before I go to sleep.
Sometimes it helps.

I'll let you know how it goes.


This is how we see the snow from my house.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Kaye George a.k.a. Janet Cantrell Talks about Writing for Writers

I'm excited to have Kaye George who also writes as Janet Cantrell take my scheduled spot this month. Her post hits home for me since my day job demands continue to drain away my writing time. I think I need to take heed to what she says.  Linda Thorne    
by Kaye George/Janet Cantrell

If you’re a writer, that’s probably one of the most enjoyable things you do—write. Right? It keeps you sane, out of trouble, and gives you enormous satisfaction. I believe all creative endeavors serve this purpose, or can. I think composers, painters, choreographers, and maybe even rap musicians feel this deep sense of satisfaction when they’ve created something, something new that can stand on its own two feet, so to speak, and communicate with others.
But what happens when you can’t write? When you can’t create?
First of all, what can cause this?
--Stress, for sure. Anxiety. Stress and anxiety can be due to lots of external factors, family situations, health, financial crises, fear for yourself or your future.
--The day job can overflow and take up the corners you use for writing, the corners of your house, your desk, and your brain.
--Fear of failure. Maybe you’re trucking along on a series and get to book 4 or book 8 and find you’ve hit a wall. These characters have said everything, done everything, gone everywhere. How can your next book be as good as the last ones? Will the readers like it like they did the others?
--Obligations to family or friends. If you’ve promised to help someone move, to take care of a child or spouse for an extended length of time, or take in a pet, you may find you have no time left in the short 24-hour days we’re restricted to.
So, here you are. A writer who isn’t writing. That’s not good. What’s the cure?
I hate to say it, but only know of one. Writing.
You just have to find the time to do it. You just have to make yourself do it. You just have to edit out all those instances of the word “just.”
Go over the last thing you wrote. You’ll find something you want to change. If you get into the last scene you created, maybe you’ll fall into the next scene. And the next, and the next.
Set a timer and write until you hear the ding. You don’t have to write sterling prose. You don’t even

have to write real words. (But you’ll get tired of writing “jabber wocky” and “yada yada yada” pretty soon and, out of desperation, find some real words.)
A writer writes.
Have you had any of these experiences? Do you have any other solutions?

Kaye George, national-bestselling and multiple-award-winning author, writes four series: Imogene Duckworthy; Cressa Carraway Musical Mysteries; People of the Wind (Neanderthal), and as JanetCantrell, the Fat Cat series. You can find her short stories in anthologies and magazines and her collection, A Patchwork of Stories. The anthology of eclipse stories she put together, DAY OF THE DARK, will be out July 21st. She reviews for Suspense Magazine and lives in Knoxville, TN.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Beware the Wages of Work

by Janis Patterson
This is going to be a short post, because both The Husband and I are feeling real puny. He threw his back out (out? practically into the next county!) shoveling dirt while playing with the dinosaurs at the Arlington Archosaur Site (run under the aegis of the Perot Museum) and is hurting terribly. I caught some… something that makes my head feel stuffed with wet rags, my throat scoured with sandpaper and a persistent low grade fever that will not go away.

So what does this have to do with writing? Him – nothing. Me – potentially a lot. I’ve been ferociously struggling against deadlines for over a year while juggling the daily trials of existence – cooking, laundry, birthdays, getting the car worked on, all the things that we all do all day every day. It’s called life.

On the other hand, I’m a bear when it comes to deadlines. I’ve only missed one in my entire life, and that was because of a catastrophic car accident a couple of decades ago. Having been raised in advertising, I was taught early that deadlines are sacrosanct.

No one ever bothered to impress on me that I should not take on so many of these immutable deadlines so close together.

Okay, so I’ll spare the suspense. I made my latest deadline – and promptly keeled over into a coughing, sneezing, fever-ridden mess. It’s not like I didn’t have adequate warnings – The Husband (who has his own weirdnesses) kept telling me, “Slow down, honey – you always get sick when you get overtired…”

I didn’t listen. But I made my deadline!

If there is a cautionary note to my sad little tale, it’s that we have to take care of ourselves. No deadline is worth your health. So – first of all, don’t take on so many projects that you can’t complete them in a reasonable time with reasonable effort. Secondly, live your life! Enjoy your family. If I may be trite, smell the roses. There are other things than the computer – I know it’s hard to step away when all those voices are clamoring in your head, but if your head is stuff with drippy wet rags they’re going to drown anyway.