Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Simple Change Or Is It?

by Linda Thorne





A friend of mine volunteered to help me with my work-in-progress, A Promotion to Die For. She saw problems and presented suggestions. I can't thank her enough for her advice and expertise.

During this mentoring session, she made an off-the-cuff comment about the inciting incident in my book. She said something like, "You say it happened 29 years ago when thirty sounds better."

This had already nagged at me, but I didn't think I could do anything about it. A Promotion to Die For is part of a series, so my character should age from her age in the prior book. If I changed the murder to 30 years earlier, then my character's age in backstory must change from 21 to 20.

A few possible issues came to mind: 
  • In backstory my lead character, Judy Kenagy, hung out at a bar called Brady's. She can't do that when she's under age? Everyone knows you must be 21, correct? 
  • Her detective friend investigates circumstances around the murder. He considers what a real-life serial killer was doing at the time. Now, I had to look at what this historic serial killer was doing a year earlier and see if that would work in this scene.
  • Characters like Judy's roommates were her age and so were the murder victims. Would I need to change all their ages? 
Here's what I've found so far:
  • I looked up drinking age regulations by state and discovered that 18 to 20-year-olds could drink beer and wine in bars in many states for a long period of time ranging from the late 1940s through early 1990s. Judy Kenagy, in backstory, only drank beer at Brady's Bar and this happened at a time and place where that was legal. I had written about another character in my WIP, an 18-year-old, who was given a stamp on his hand each time he came to the bar. The stamp alerted the waitresses not to serve him any alcohol. That proved incorrect since he legally could've purchased beer or wine. 
  • I looked online to see what the famous serial killer was doing the prior year and found out it was basically the same thing. Only minor changes were needed for the scene with the detective character.
  • As far as matching her age with that of her roommates and murder victims, this seems like a simple task.

I assume the adjustment from 29 years ago to 30 will create the need for other changes, but so far this move seems doable.

I've found that any change to a completed manuscript draft will call for some sort of overhaul. It's important that your changes are thorough and accurate. Readers are often put off when they find an obvious error in historical facts. I know I am.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

FEAR

by Janis Patterson

The world is full of fear - knives, nutcases, terrorists, falling trees, floods, fire... The list is endless, and aside from a few constants, different for every person. And we as writers heap even more on ourselves.

At least, this writer does. Even after nearly 40 years in the business I still quake with terror every time I release a book out into the wild... and, to a lesser extent, every blog post. It's an exposure not only of my skills, knowledge and ability, but a blurry look into the inner workings of my mind. In a mental sense, it's the equivalent of walking outside in my underwear.

While we're still working on the book, it's ours. Whatever foibles or errors it has, they are strictly between it and us. Once it leaves our hands, though, whether to beta readers, editors or to the great wide world, it ceases to be ours. We can no longer protect it - or ourselves.

Yesterday I sent in the manuscript for FIRST DATE, a suspenseful romantic adventure novella written for a new box set called DESPERATE MEASURES, organized by the incomparable Nicole Morgan and due for release at the end of January. Now after 40 some odd books you'd think this would be old hat - a good story, a genre I love and write often, a well-known setting, a hero to die for...

Wrong. I loaded the email and still my finger hovered over the 'send' button. The story was sound; the manuscript had been edited not only by me but by Laree Bryant, the gifted editor (and an author herself) I've used for every single book for years. It had been vetted by two of my trusted beta readers, and passed with flying colors. I had been over it several times until I felt positive every elusive typo had been tracked down and corrected. (That is a false security; the accursed Typo Gremlin is alive and well, and has doubtless insured that somewhere deep in the copy a single typo is lurking, ready to break out in its full obvious glory on release day. I always wait for it with a fatalistic sense of doom.)

But... but... As long as I didn't hit that button, the book was still mine - under my control and protection. I could look through it just one more time. I could have a third beta reader go over it. Maybe do one more run of spell-check...

Obsession can be ugly. I am a grown woman, and have done everything possible to make FIRST DATE (and every book I've ever done) as professional and polished as possible. Sometimes it takes all my strength and courage to push that 'send' button, but I do - and I did - admonishing myself that next time I won't be so silly, that I always do everything I can, so there's no need to be afraid or even worry. The manuscript is perfect.


Yeah, right.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Planning for Next Year, 2018

How many of you have actually started planning what you are going to be doing in 2018?

The truth of the matter is none of us really know what might happen in our lives to disrupt any of our plans--for tomorrow, next week, or next year. Despite that though, we all seem to look ahead.

This is what I've already done, I've registered for my favorite conference, Public Safety Writers Association. It happens in July. I love this conference because I've made so many friends who attend regularly, fellow mystery writers and folks in law enforcement and other public safety fields. And I always learn something about writing, and gather plenty of plot ideas from the speakers.

I received my first invitation to speak for a group--and that's not until May. I'm hoping to gather more speaking engagements too.

Some of the events I always attend, I'll need to wait and see what dates they come up with as too often they end up on the same weekend.

To be honest, I like to keep busy.

I'm in the process of writing a new Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery and it's going well. I haven't had as much time to work on it as I would have liked because I've been busy with the resurrection of some of my old books.

A good friend decided all my old books should be available on Amazon and she's taken on the task of re-editing them and getting them back up on Amazon. I'd taken back the rights of some of the books, others died when the publishers went belly-up.

Only one was a mystery, the first I ever wrote, The Astral Gift. She's revived two family historical sagas, Trail to Glory and Two Ways West,   my favorite book,  a romance with a touch of the supernatural, Lingering Spirit, a horror novel, Cup of Demons, a cookbook, Cooking for a Big Family, and she's working on another horror. It's been quite exciting to see these titles back on Amazon in trade paper and for Kindle. Her husband designed new covers for those that needed them.

This has been quite an adventure and some of my 2018 planning will revolve around these old books.

So what are you doing in the way of planning for 2018?

Marilyn


Isn't this new cover spectacular?





Sunday, November 5, 2017

Fighting through Rejection

Writing through Rejection
November 2017
 




Linda Lee Kane

I released my first book in June of 2014.  By the end of this year, I’ll have ten books on the shelves.  But along the way, there were rejections.  A lot of them.  Nine years’ worth, to be precise.  And that’s just before I was published (because, yes, I’ve had rejections since then, too).
How many rejections can you pile up in nine years?  I stopped keeping track, but it was certainly over one hundred.  They came on one manuscript after the next because, obviously, I didn’t quit. I also couldn’t keep shopping the same book (although my debut was a rewrite of an early manuscript – I’ll get back to that).
So how did I keep my enthusiasm for writing when agents and editors alike kept saying “no?”  It wasn’t easy.  There were definitely days (weeks, months) when I wondered why I was giving up so much of my free time to write books, going straight from a day job (in the beginning)  to my computer over and over again with nothing to show for it (or at least, no book deal).
Partly it’s because I’m stubborn, I’m determined, and this was my dream.  And I think that’s important, because after nine years (or even a few months where you’re dedicating time to a book instead of other things), there are going to be people who suggest you focus on other things.  And when they do, perhaps you should remind them that Agatha Christie had five years of constant rejections only to end up with more than $2 billion in sales, or that Louis L’Amour had 200 rejections before becoming his publisher’s best-selling author ever.


But that’s the big picture.  Sometimes the hardest part is putting your butt in the chair day after day, chasing after a goal that seems subject to the whims of editors, agents, and the market.  It’s feeling motivated to keep working on a new book when nothing you’ve done before seems to be working.  That’s when you need to remember why you’re doing it, and hopefully it’s because you love writing.