Sunday, September 29, 2013


In the writing field I am most familiar with--mystery and suspense--author after author has been telling us on the Internet, and in conversations at conferences, that their book sales are down. Oh, we do sell books, but income is measured in dribbles, and one author recently asked, "Are we destined to be starving writers?" I suspect this drop in activity is being experienced by authors outside the mystery field as well.

It's time to admit that, in part at least, we have created our own problems. We have found the enemy, and it is us.

As long as I have been writing for publication, selling writers have been telling fledgling writers how to be successfully published. In workshops, seminars, and conference panels and talks, authors have smiled happily and painted rosy pictures of our profession, sharing pages and pages of how-to advice. (Yes we did--and still do--this.) Oh, we have warned about rejections, but that was just a temporary blip on the road to fame, if not fortune.Writing was circled with a halo of creativity, romance, and excitement. It would become fulfilling if only Ms. and Mr. fledgling stuck with it, kept writing and practicing the craft, and continued submitting.

We have been too good at this kind of selling. Much as we love sharing and talking about our work, we have been busy creating our competition. At one point I read that 83% of all Americans now want to write a book. Too many of them are actually doing it. We once trusted that the bad writing would be weeded out by agents and publishers, so the increasing number of writers probably didn't worry us. Of course there were what we have called vanity presses, but most everyone knew who they were, and their output was small compared to "legitimate" publishers. In addition, their output had a reputation for being poorly written and edited, and it often was.

As the number of writers expanded, small publishers who were selective and did edit their output also began expanding, and the selection offered in bookstores expanded as well.

And then, along came Amazon.

Today, anyone who writes a book can be published, and the output can range from gold to garbage. Of course there is much that's good about this ability to publish, but I bet you can picture major negative consequences as well. Bookstores of all types are losing business to on-line outlets that offer cheap, fast service. Hand-held readers are easy to carry anywhere, loaded with dozens, if not hundreds, of books. Unless they know your name, potential readers have few ways to find your work  Many valued bookstores that used to display shelves full of printed books so browsers could could find authors unfamiliar to them are closing. It has become increasingly necessary for us to promote our own work, and the Internet that is killing us is also the avenue whereby we accomplish this. But working the Internet can be confusing, and is certainly a time suck How do we know what sites, lists, and social media outlets are best for us? Quite often no one really does know, and the ways to get our names and our work out there are changing frequently, with new avenues popping up almost daily while others fade away.

What's now required of us?

Each author must find a more-or-less comfortable way through this current torrent of expansion and changes. Do we care enough to do it? Most would answer "You bet!"

We can still say honestly that the writing life is exciting. And, assuming we love the creation of sentences that sing to us, even if to us only, we will continue as authors.

Radine Trees Nehring

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Shoplifting and Mystery Writers and Readers

by Kaye George

I’m deep in the throes of a first draft right now. Well, maybe not deep, not as far into the project as I will be later. I’m beginning a new book, which is intense. I’m thinking up a new crime, a new weapon, new victim, new killer, new suspects, and I think there isn’t any room left in my brain for anything else.

Here’s what happened the other day. I went to the drug store to pick up a prescription. On the way to the back of the store and the pharmacy counter, I grabbed a bag of Lindt dark truffles because, well, I like them…and I wanted to reward myself for what I’ve done so far with the project.

Our new insurance is so good that there was no charge. Yay! So I picked up the little white bag of drugs with the paper stapled to it and left the store. With the chocolates. Without paying. I shoplifted, although inadvertently.

As I drove away, after throwing my stuff onto the passenger seat, I wondered why I didn’t have a drug store bag for the chocolates. That caused a curse word. I turned around and took the candy back to the front counter where I told the clerk I had walked out without paying, by mistake.

He seemed shocked. In fact, he told me I was to be commended because most people wouldn’t do that. I admit that I was shocked he said that. Surely, I thought, that’s not true.

When I got home, I posted the experience on Facebook and got a variety of comments. Many of them, from mystery writers and readers, noted that they’d done the same thing--left without paying, then returned to make it right.

That got me wondering. Are mystery fans more moral than the general population? Do we want justice in our own lives because our chosen genre deals with bad actors getting caught and paying for their sins? We deal with wrongs being righted, but only through the extreme efforts and travail of our heroic (or not) characters. In most mystery sub-genres, the bad guys get caught and justice prevails. Is that why mystery writers are honest and upstanding?

I think that most people would go back and pay. Maybe I’m wrong, but, if so, I’m going to persist in my delusion.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Mysteries of Exposition

As a plot evolves, the writer needs to decide how to spoon in backstory (exposition), which involves breaking from the main storyline to give the reader information relative to the plot. But too much exposition can be deadly. Backstory, either in dialogue or narrative, should be kept to a minimum and not continue for more than a page unless the plot contains an historical subplot.

Well-handled exposition provides perspective, dimension, and needed context to connect previous events with the present. A micro history, if you will. But exposition should be handled carefully. Comic strips and soap operas use the technique frequently, but novel characters should rarely use exposition to reveal past events, especially if they’re not relevant to the plot. Mystery novels should be written in a straight line with the story’s conclusion in mind, as though running a marathon with blinders. Forget those spectators on the sidelines. Always look toward the finish line.

An example of unnecessary exposition:

“Remember that key you gave me?”
“Which key is that?”
“Tied with a yellow ribbon.”
“No, I don't recall . . .”
“You said it was the key to your heart.”
“Was I drinking champagne?”
“You dropped the key in my slipper.’
“Come now, Carla, what’s the point?”
“Nothing, David. Nothing at all.”

If the above dialogue is a lead-in to a romantic scene that's central to the plot, it’s okay, or if Carla is planning to kill her lover. Otherwise, it should be deleted. An agent once called a similar conversation nonessential and advised me to revise it because it added little to the plot. Dialogue that doesn’t contribute significantly to the plot should be eliminated, no matter how much you like it.

When the first draft is finished and polishing begins, eliminate conversations that don’t characterize, provide limited exposition, or carry the plot forward. Any asides, cute expressions, and nonessential chit-chat need to go, no matter how cleverly written. Save them for the next novel and build a plot around them. Editors consider nonessential dialogue “padding,” and if the work is accepted in spite of padded prose, the copy editor will delete it for you. It’s better to do that yourself.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Rocking the second job

When I worked for the state in a social service agency, employees were offered overtime to perform audits on a local mental hospital. I wanted to put in the hours as overtime was rare. My husband (at the time) veto’d the idea.  Later, a friend took on a part time job with HP working Sat/Sun ten hour shifts after her forty hours at her normal job.  My husband declared she’d be divorced in a year.

Well that couple didn't divorce, we did. And when I was preparing to be a one income single mom, I took on a second job waitressing.  Saturday and Sunday found me delivering eggs, pancakes, and muffins to customers.  I loved the people. My feet hated me. (The Burger Bar - Bristol, Virginia- Totally, not where I waitressed.)

I've had a lot of ‘second jobs’ since that stint waitressing.  I cobbled together several jobs including grant writer, administrative assistant, and organizational consultant along with my day job of trying to run a long term care consulting business.  Apparently the idea was too cutting edge and I went back into a real job with benefits. 

One of the hold outs from that time was my mystery shopping.  I loved visiting shops, restaurants, and rental complexes pretending to be a potential customer.  I learned a lot about customer service by seeing it from the business’s point of view.

Then I started writing.  And that became my second job. A very low paying job at the time, especially when you figure in the hours authors put into their creations.  But I’m on my own schedule, mostly.  Yes, I have deadlines for my publishers, but after years of managing a desk career, keeping balls in the air is second nature.  I love seeing my books complete and up for sale.

Once it’s done though, I have to let go of the process and deal with the product.  And start the next book.  Right now I have three series I need to complete, one has a firm deadline with a traditional publisher. It gets priority.  One’s almost complete.  And the other, is just a vision of what it could be.  In addition, I have two finished stories that I’m considering self-publishing,  a partial teaser out to another publisher that I will finish (someday) and a pile of ideas, waiting for me to have the time to play.

I could work every free minute of the day.  And last year, I did. Which created burnout and stress between the new husband and myself.  So this year, I’m taking it one day at a time. Giving the work the time and attention it deserves, but then also leaving time and energy for recharging and relationships. (Like last month's trip to a NASCAR race in Bristol Tennessee.)

But it is a job.  And like all jobs, you have to go home sometime, just to get your bearings. 

So what second jobs have you held? 


Monday, September 23, 2013

One or Both?

Having recently released the Blessing or Curse Collection, I find myself in between books. I'm promoting my current release, yet know I have Always Young to finish and complete the Always Young Trilogy, which began with Forever Young: Blessing or Curse.
Though I strayed somewhat from the thriller genre for the second of the series and made Blessing or Curse more a relationship/romance collection, the third will definitely be a one story thriller.

In the meantime, I'm tempted to start A Perfect Angel, which would be the sequel to my romantic comedy, Her Handyman, since one of the secondary characters is begging for attention. I don't blame her, since she did get a rotten deal, which needs to be rectified.

Should I work on both books now, or one at a time?

Maybe I'll try the thriller when I feel in a dark mood, and the romantic comedy when I want something light.

What about you? Have you ever worked on two books at once? Is it a good or bad idea?

Morgan Mandel
Amazon Author Page:
Twitter: @MorganMandel
Morgan's Book Links Blog:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Writing As A Business

by Janis Patterson
Is there anyone out there who doesn’t know writing is a business and should be treated as such?
Unfortunately, our business has always attracted groupies and wannabes, which is both good and bad. Some do develop into good writers. Some don’t – ever, no matter how hard they try and study. Some just want to be known as having written a book, basking in the automatic profit and adulation which is inevitably due to any published writer. (You may snigger or cry here, or both.) Some just want to claim a published writer – preferably a famous one – as a dear friend – whether they actually are or not.
Along with groupies, there are others who populate our lives and must be considered – family, friends, co-workers, our children’s (or grandchildren’s) teachers and schoolmates, libraries, lecture groups – add your own categories in here. They are legion.
Unless they are a writer, though, most people don’t realize that this is a business, and not an easy one. People who wouldn’t dream of calling you to chat or expect you to go lunch/shopping/to a movie during the day if you were Assistant Supervisor of Fralumpkins at Blurpkinner Enterprises will happily interrupt your writing. After all, you’re just writing, and that’s easy, isn’t it? And everyone knows that if you work at home you aren’t really working, are you? You’re your own boss, so you can do what you want. Then they get offended when you say you can’t, interpreting it as you don’t want to be with them. The situation is even worse for those dedicated writers (of whom I stand in awe) who juggle a day job and children, squeezing their writing into those precious slivers of time between immutable obligations.
Writing is work, something that must be pursued and applied and sacrificed for. Writing well is all that and more, just harder. And it’s not just writing – there is publicity that must be done, street teams organized, interviews done, guest blogs… all kinds of things that must be done to get your name and your book, once it is finished and published, in front and hopefully in the hands of the buying public. If you’re self-publishing, the work load is doubled. You must deal with (and pay for!) editors and cover artists and, unless you are computerly gifted, conversion into the various electronic formats – to say nothing of the brave new world of paperback self-publication.
Plus, in the middle of all this you need to be writing the next book. One of the facts of success in the publishing world is having books for the reader to read. Perhaps literary authors can linger for years between books as their fans wait and salivate for their next offering, but popular fiction writers are expected to produce much and often or their career withers on the vine. Sigh.
So – lunch? A movie? Shopping? Forget it. You’ve got to work, whether or not the people who populate your life understand.
Unfortunately, this disregard for the hard work of writing is not a new thing. Charles Dickens once wrote :
“‘It is only half an hour’–’It is only an afternoon’–’It is only an evening,’ people say to me over and over again; but they don’t know that it is impossible to command one’s self sometimes to any stipulated and set disposal of five minutes–or that the mere consciousness of an engagement will sometime worry a whole day… Who ever is devoted to an art must be content to deliver himself wholly up to it, and to find his recompense in it. I am grieved if you suspect me of not wanting to see you, but I can’t help it; I must go in my way whether or no.”
As usual, he said it much better than I ever could. Way to go, Mr. Dickens!

Now – back to work.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Going on a Road Trip

This is going to be quite an experience. I'm going to Wordstock in Portland OR with my publisher. She's driving, I'm riding along. It will be one long trip--probably too long for this old author. I don't want her going alone.

What's Wordstock? Kind of like the L.A. Times Book Festival except inside. A two day affair all about books. Oak Tree Press is going to have a booth and showcase many of the books put out by its authors, including two of mine. Not sure which two at the moment, as I know covers attract readers--and buyers of books. I will take my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. but not sure which other one.

In the meantime, I'm going to be at the beginning of my blog tour for my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Spirit Shapes. Which means I'll be trying to find Wi Fi along the way so I can promote the blog I'm on each day and respond to those who comment. I also have to keep track of each person and how many times they comment because I'm running a contest that will be won by the person who comments on the most blogs.
(And to make things more interesting, Spirit Shapes is put out by a different publisher, so I won't be promoting it at Wordstock.)

Several of Oak Tree Press's authors are going to be in attendance, so I won't have to hang around our booth all the time, we won't have enough chairs for that anyway. Maybe I can sneak off and do some writing on the book I should be working on right now.

In terms of helping my writing career, this trip probably won't. I'll have to think of it was a mini vacation, though it won't feel like one.

Will report on it when I return.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Do You Read Like I Read?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always read several books simultaneously.  Novels, mostly. The highest number was seven, but that included Middlemarch, which I read very slowly, over a period of months. These days I read no more than three books at a time, probably because my reading speed has slowed down. A pity, since I’ve hundreds of books on my Kindle and piled up on my desk and in my bookcases waiting their turn.

Why do I do this? One reason is I have to stop reading when something awful, usually graphic, happens to a character I care about. The following day I’m able to read on.  In the meanwhile, I’ve reached for another book.

I also read more than one book at a time because I like variety. I write mysteries because I love to read them. I read ghost mysteries, cozies, historical mysteries, and mysteries with a canine sleuth. I read mysteries that are considerably grittier than the traditional mysteries I write. I also enjoy reading women’s fiction, literary fiction, and the occasional fantasy. I never confuse the various plot lines or characters of the books I’m reading,--probably because I’ve been doing this for so long.

I used to love to read the classics, but these days I prefer the style and language of more current novels. My level of concentration isn’t what it used to be. In fact, more often than not, I fall asleep when I’m reading late at night. Does that ever happen to you?

Do you read more than one book at a time? Have your tastes changed over the years? Leave a comment and let me know.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The World Is Not Breathless in Anticipation Of My Next Murder Mystery 


Mar Preston

I imagine those of you who are writers have also received this memo.

Everyone is writing murder mysteries these days. There are mysteries that open an aperture into the world of dogs, of Boston gamblers, Icelandic housewives, Venetian art thieves, and even Polynesian fishermen. I haven’t read that particular series yet, but you know it is in publication.

These days I read mostly non-blockbuster best sellers. The market will support and reward tried and true talents like James Patterson and Clive Custer. They will do very well without my purchases. If I want to read the latest Sue Grafton, and I always do; I confess, Sue, I’ll get it from the library.

I look for up and coming writers like myself who have a few books out. A backlist of a couple of books is usually some assurance that the writer has taken the trouble to master the rules of grammar and spelling and has a grasp of story structure.  Perhaps the author has passed the novel through a critique group who are a little more honest than to react with ooohs and aaaahs of pleasure at every sentence.

I was astonished when I did my taxes at how much money I spent on books last year. There is some dreadful writing, polishing, and editing out there. Many disappointments.

I look back on it and remember a few choices that really thrilled me with the discovery of a delicious new talent. I’d like to share some of those and hope you’ll guide me to some new authors that thrilled you. Reviews aren’t much of an assurance, are they?

Here’s a few: One-Eyed Jack by Christopher Lynch, Death on a High Floor by Charles Rosenberg, Hitman’s Guide to Housekeeping by Hallgrimur Helgason, and Big Lake by Nick Russell.

Here’s my contribution to the pile of new authors:

Who did you discover last year?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Top 8 Ways of Drawing Traffic!

by Kaye George

I think a LOT of people have blogs. In fact, this site ( has gathered the following facts as of April 2013.

Tumblr, 101.7 million
Wordpress, 63 million
Livejournal, 62.6 million
Weebly, 12 million
Blogster, 582,754

Wow. Just wow. This makes me feel good that anyone at all ever visits this blog, or my solo one.

What makes a person visit a blog? Probably not an announcement of a new book, or even books on sale, unless that person is a big fan. In that case, they probably already know what you have coming out from your newsletter or online posts.

Probably not pictures of kittens or puppies on Facebook. Those get a lot of likes and some shares, but don’t make people think, Gosh, I’ll bet I should visit her blog.

This place lists some ways to get people interested in visiting your blog:

I’ll admit, I don’t understand #6. But I’m trying #3 today, as a scientific experiment. Here goes!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How to make your contest entry sing!

Be very, very quiet….  There’s a contest entry sneaking around here, and as the mighty hunter, Elmer Fudd would say – "Darn, you rascally rabbit…."

Okay, I really don’t see myself as Elmer Fudd, but there is something to be said for hunting down a good story in the midst of the contest entries.

I was contest coordinator for the Gateway to the Best contest.  That year, I judged for every contest who asked for help.  Favors to call in later, which I capitalized on, believe me.

Another reason I support contests is because my Council Series, was bought off a contest entry. (Return of the Fae is book two in that series.)

So want to know what I look for as a judge?  Remember, this is just me, so your mileage may vary.

First, I read the score sheet.  Do I give points (or take away) for a great hook? A great first page?  Conflict, characterization, plot?  First and foremost, I follow the score sheet.

That should be obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of entries I give low points because they didn't review the sheet before they sent the entry.  I want to give everyone full points on one section, writing or mechanics.  If this isn't your first rodeo, (ahem, entry) you should have that piece polished to a Mr. Clean shine.

So, read your score sheets. One contest  asked if the section ended on a hook. Easy fix, even if you aren't planning on submitting the full with the storm tearing apart the farmhouse and Little Nell being swept away on her moped on page 30, for the sake of your judge, give me the hook!

Number one rule of contests – follow the score sheet.  That’s what the judge is tied to judge on, even if they think your story is the best.

Number two?  Give me a great story.  I've read so many entries that I so hope will be published soon, because I’m still wondering what happened to Little Nell. 

And isn't that what we all want from our readers?  To leave them wanting more?

Tell me your contest stories.  And if you haven’t judged a contest lately, what are you waiting for? 


Monday, September 9, 2013

A Confession

I have a confession to make.
Maybe you want to sit down for this one.
Okay, here goes...

I'm a multi-genre author. I write and read more than one genre. You may be gasping by now, since you no doubt realize that writing in more than one genre is said to dilute a brand.

That may be true, but I can't help it. I'm fascinated not only by romance, but also mysteries and thrillers, even science fiction.

I've been known to combine them to make things more confusing, such as in the first of the Always Young Trilogy, Forever Young: Blessing or Curse, a combination thriller/science fiction, with a touch of romance.

No, the characters don't explore other planets, but they do take a pill to turn their ages back, and we do know that no such pill exists. If so, somebody is closely guarding that secret.

In Blessing or Curse, my short story collection sequel to Forever Young: Blessing or Curse, I switched to mainly romance/science fiction, telling the story about five people taking that turn-back-the-age pill. I also made the short stories available not only in the collection, but also separately, as you can see from the covers below. So, I even switched formats. Wow, even more daring than combining genres!

If we go back to my other novels, you'll find Two Wrongs, my debut mystery with romantic elements, followed by Girl of My Dreams, a romantic comedy, followed by Killer Career, a romantic suspense, then followed by Her Handyman, another romantic comedy.

What will I write next? Well, I'm leaning toward a sequel to Her Handyman, since one of the characters advised me she'd love to have her own story told.

Then, there's Always Young, the last of the Always Young trilogy to do, which I must complete, since it was promised, and I won't go back on a promise. I'm leaning toward making that one a thriller, as in the first of the trilogy, but will most likely include romance somewhere along the way, and of course, science fiction.

I almost forgot to mention I may write a book about my dog, Rascal. Not sure yet if it will be for adults or children. After all, I did give her a Facebook page. Why not? Other dogs have one and I didn't want her to be left out.

To learn more about my available novels, I invite you to check out my website at and my Amazon Author Page: 

Twitter: @MorganMandel

What about you? Do you stick to one genre?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

That "Wanna Get There" Zone
By Randy Rawls

   Do you have a point in your writing when you just "wanna get there?"  Okay, allow me to explain. I'm referring to that point in the story where you've finished one action section and are ready for the next action section. But, before you can get there, you have to transition between the two.
   That's where I am in my current WIP.  It's book 3 in the Beth Bowman series. Beth has been hired as a bodyguard for a crooked politician. A significant event happens which changes the scope of the story. Now we're ready for Beth to move forward into the next "exciting" portion of the story. But between the two lies that dreaded "transition."  Might be one chapter, two, or even more. No matter how many, it has to be faced. Can't jump straight from the frying pan into the fire—have to climb up the side of the pan first. That's my "wanna get there" zone.
   While my brain knows how it should be handled and how to present it, my fingers want to ignore it and get on with the "good" stuff. Yet, I know I can't do that—I must present the whole story. Leave the giant leaps to the comic books and the movies.
   Does this happen to you? Do you reach a point in the story where you wish the next few chapters would write themselves and leave you alone? Do you have more important (and interesting) things to write?  If so, you know what I mean about my "wanna get there" zone.
   And, if it does happen to you, I'd love to know how you handle it?

   We're into September. That means only two more months until BEST DEFENSE is released onto the world in November. BEST DEFENSE is book 2 in the Beth Bowman series and involves the kidnapping of a five-year-old girl. Is there a nastier offense in our society? Perhaps, but don't tell me what it is. And, of course, Beth thinks the same way I do. J

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


by Janis Patterson
Today is my posting day. Every first and third Wednesday. Ooops! Usually I have my blogs written and scheduled ahead of time, but today…

What are we to do when life revolts and takes over? These days writers are expected to do so much more than just write. Currently my WIP is gathering dust as I fight a horrendous allergy attack, deal with self-publishing and publicizing my newest release, THE FAIR AMAZON, a traditional Regency romance written as Janis Susan May, publicizing several other recent releases, trying to work out a publicity system that The Husband (my assistant-in-training) can take over without too much pain, and on top of everything else deal with real life. The Husband’s car is in the shop, so I have had to add chauffeur to my lists of duties, and though he is very supportive and easygoing, he does expect to be fed every night. And I won’t even go into the hospital visits and helping out visits to various friends and relatives who are in even worse straits than I.

So how do we as writers deal with it?

My forte is to forget things. Again – ooops.

A very wise person once said, As you get older, your metabolism slows down, but don’t worry – time speeds up to compensate.

I wish it wouldn’t compensate so much. It’s distressing to see your life fly by at such a supersonic rate.

Anyway, this is a long, convoluted and probably terribly misspelt and ungrammatical apology for a mistake I will probably make again, though hopefully far in the future. I will be better. (I do wish there were one of those cute little typographical symbols for crossed fingers!)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Starving Writers--Is That What We're Destined to Be?

Horrifying thought, isn't it?

Of course there are those few authors at the top who are actually making money with their writing--but I'm not one of them.

Fortunately, my husband has a good retirement and I make money other ways (with writing but not my books) and we are not starving. If we had to count on the income from my books, we'd be in big trouble.

Once in awhile I get a good enough royalty check for us to have a nice dinner out, but for the most part I laugh at the money that comes in.

Yes, I've tried the freebie and paid a little for advertising--not the one that costs so much and I'm glad I didn't because I didn't sell enough books after to pay myself back.

Right now I've been advertising some Christian horror that I wrote a long time ago and were published as paperbooks and e-books, but never on Kindle (publisher's didn't like Amazon) and the publisher recently went out of business and returned rights--so I've now got them on Kindle.

I wrote about Cup of Demons on my own blog and got a comment from someone who said he/she was interested but didn't have enough money to buy the book and would wait for it to be a paperbook and buy it used. It's only $2.99.

It's probably never going to be a paper book again--and even if it were, if this person bought it used, how does that help me?

To bring this around to mysteries, Deadly Feast, is another from this same publisher. I updated it and changed the title and it is now on Amazon for Kindle priced at .99 cents. It's also on all the other ereaders for the same price. .99.

Frankly, I think the big problem is there are far too many people writing these days--and I can understand why if they really have the urge to get that story out there. Unfortunately, some of these stories weren't ready for prime time yet. It's just gotten to easy to be published.

For people like everyone who writes for this blog, we had a long learning process which included rejection, reading books about how to write (and just reading books), going to writing conferences, learning more and more about writing.

I'm not sure what the answer is, or even if there is one. I know for most of us, we will keep on writing because we have to--and we'll keep on promoting too because we have to do that to or no one will even know about our books. For me, I suppose I'll have to be content with the satisfaction that comes from the writing process. 

Here's the cover of Cup of Demons just in case you might be interested.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this?


Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day and Writers

When I was a Spanish teacher many years ago, Labor Day meant my summer vacation was over and I’d be returning to work. I’d be getting up early the next day —Tuesday morning – to attend a school-wide meeting, and then I’d get my room in order. The kids would be coming in on Wednesday. New students and new classes. No matter how many years I taught, I had butterflies in my stomach that first day of school.

I’m long retired from teaching and subbing, but I’ve never retired from writing. We writers continue to write well past retirement age. When we finally stop, it’s usually for health-related reasons and not because we've hit a certain birthday.

We writers keep odd hours. Some of us write well into the night. I find I’m most productive in the late afternoon. We write on weekends when others are playing golf or tennis. We write on vacations if we have deadlines or need to get edits in to our publishers.

Do writers retire? I know someone who did but began a new book a few years later. I expect to keep on writing indefinitely, until my sentences no longer make sense.

As for Labor Day being a holiday from work, I expect I’ll be writing at least an hour or so today.

What about you?

Are you writing this Labor Day?
How many more years do you plan to write?
Would you continue to write if your last project turned into a best seller?
Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

My Nasty Little Spider Solitaire Addiction by Mar Preston

Am I the only writer out there who is addicted to Spider Solitaire? I can sit at my desk with my current mystery open in one screen, and all too easily switch screens, and allow myself only one game. Then two. And so it goes.

When I’m feeling generous to myself I call my obsession with Spider Solitaire a kind of thinking, plotting, planning, letting my mind run on idle while I think up the next brilliant twist in my new Santa Monica mystery.  But I know different.

It’s seeking rest from my own mind in a funk of non-thought.

It’s not as if I feel the world is breathless with anticipation for my next mystery.

I’ve already twitched back and forth from my Facebook Pages to Twitter to email just to see what’s going on. Like there’s ever anything going on with Twitter.

In an effort to limit my Spider Solitaire addiction, I placed a five minute timer on my desk, the old fashioned kind where sand runs through from one compartment to another.

Anything to delay the agony of composition. Perhaps you’re familiar with that great yawning space on the page below your last good sentence?

I’m working on a first draft of two mysteries; one set in Santa Monica, one set in the tranquil village where I live. I’m working on two at once because the theory was that when one got hard I could turn to the other.

Guess what?  They’re both hard.

In the end it all comes down to self-discipline, rooting myself in my chair, opening the file and reading over the last horrible bit of stilted writing that lays there inert on the page.

I know that if I dig through it long enough, something catches fire. I find myself correcting a comma. Then I rearrange a sentence, and maybe the next paragraph isn’t that bad. Oh! Something twitched in my brain. Ah, an idea. And sometimes off I go. If I can just drag my fingers back from Spider Solitaire.

I’ve written four mysteries now. I can do this again. It’s not hopeless.