Monday, April 30, 2018


Here's a question for all published authors: Do you enjoy reading your own books, maybe months or even years after they have been published?

I have heard some authors say that, after their books are published, they have no interest in ever reading them again. Not me. I enjoy re-reads of my own books. Maybe that's because I like spending time with my characters. (The continuing ones have become good friends.) Do other authors feel this way.

A favorite author of mine, Marilyn Meredith, once said, in answer to a question about whether or not she would continue writing both of her mystery series, "Yes, I want to find out what my characters are doing."  I have loved this answer and think of it as I read one of Marilyn's novels.  (We want to know too, Marilyn.)

Another reason I enjoy a re-read of my books is setting. I set my novels in specific Arkansas tourist destinations, and reading a novel set there is next best to an in-person visit to a favorite place.

Whatever the reason, here's something that proves what I've just said. During the past two years my husband and a former editor at the press who published my first five mystery novels in the "To Die For" series have worked together to re-issue my first two novels, print on demand. Both were originally offset print and, though one had gone into a second printing, both were out of stock, hence out of print. During the re-issue work I needed to make  updates in book text, and then read sample copies for accuracy. The first book re-issued, "Music to Die For," has a touching ending involving the redemption of one character. I cried at that ending on the two necessary re-reads. A re-read of the other book brought, instead, laughter, since that was appropriate for its finale. Did I not remember how those books ended? What do you think?

The second re-release, "A Valley to Die For," will be out in May. The final book sample just came. I picked it up after it slid out of its packing, approved the change in cover art, and--I couldn't help myself--opened to the first page and began to read! I just had to see, once more, how Carrie and Henry were handling their first adventure together, and how JoAnne's murder impacted both their lives.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Tweet-Twit-Twitter ... Aw, Whatever!

by Linda Thorne

Is it me? When I found a publisher in 2014, Black Opal Books, they sent me their standard to-do list. The salient points were: get an author website, join Facebook and Twitter. As soon as I finished my website, I joined Facebook for the first time and mucked around learning how to maneuver through it.

Twitter was a whole other animal. I’ve spent what I think is excessive time trying to use all the online instructions and posts to figure it out. I’ve followed my author friends, which I think is good, but I’ve also followed too many other people recommended to me by places I’m unfamiliar with.

Lately, all I do is tweet my public posts (like this one) on Twitter, but other than that, I don’t participate much. I find myself avoiding it.

I wanted to title this post: To Tweet or Not to Tweet – That is the Question, but if any of you googled anything with a couple of the words I just wrote, I’d look like a copycat. Those words are all over the internet. So, there are others out there feeling pros and cons.

If I felt strong enough about Twitter as a useful tool, I think I’d need to get a BA in chirping to “get it.” The tweets are so short. Who is the audience I should choose? Are there written instructions that don’t look like a master's thesis?

I find myself avoiding this very popular site I started using in 2014. Some authors swear by it, and some waiver. What about you?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Procrastination as a Fine Art

by Janis Patterson

I spend waaaay too much time online. First, there's email to check, just to make sure there's nothing that has to be attended to, as everyone knows email is the best way to contact me. Then there's my twice-daily check of my sales stats - lately that has been a masochistic exercise in depression, to say the least! Of course, there's research to be done, for I simply have to know the depth of a stylish hem flounce in 1816 or the exact caliber of a Broomhandle Mauser... All legitimate reasons, all time-consuming, and if I would just stop there I would be all right.

Unfortunately, minutes spent online are far too much like potato chips or jelly beans - far too easy to overindulge in. I promise myself just one quick look on Facebook or Twitter, just long enough to do a little promo and do a fast check to see what my friends are doing... then sometimes at least an hour later I'll notice the clock and scream Noooo! It can't have been thaaat long!

Even more unfortunately (from a time sense only, as I am very happy), I have a husband and a home and an extended family to look after. Clothes must be washed, the kitchen cleaned, meals cooked, dust bunnies rearranged, errands run... the minutiae of daily living. Unlike the internet, each of these makes a perfect excuse not to write. I won't struggle with this chapter right now, especially since (insert household chore of choice here) has to be done.

Back when I was single my late mother used to swear she could tell how my writing was going by looking at my kitchen. If it was a disaster area almost fit for condemnation she knew the new book was going well. When she came over to find me cleaning the gasket of my dishwasher with a cotton swab and alcohol for the third day in a row, she would suggest that I start checking the want ads for a real job.

Make no mistake - I am a professional writer. Writing is my job. When I don't write I don't get paid. (Sometimes even when I do write I don't get paid, but that's another rant for another blog.) And I do my best to treat my writing just like I would an office job - dedication, responsibility, reasonable hours, decent output, respect for my craft.

Unexpected exigencies aside, I try to ration the lunches with girlfriends (though some still cannot understand why since I work at home - and therefore obviously don't have a 'real' job - I can't just drop everything and go run and play at any time) and other social/political necessities. I spend very little time at the store, meaning primarily the grocery store, as I dislike shopping and am known for wearing clothes until they are old enough to vote. There is one exception to this - when my dear friend from Peru comes up once or twice a year for a visit we spend a great deal of time shopping, as for her it is almost a religious experience. So much so that some clerks remember us from one excursion to the next!

Sometimes looking at my life I wonder that I get anything done, let alone why I put myself through such hard work and dedication and mental gymnastics for such a (recently, at least) insultingly paltry return. (Something really must be done about falling book sales!) It took me a long time, but I finally figured it out...

I can't do anything else. There are times I hate writing, there are times I vow never to write anything but a grocery list again, there are times I really wish the characters in my head would just SHUT UP... but there are more times I glory in the act of creation, feel delight that something works out swimmingly when I had feared it would take days of effort to make the situation work, joy that my characters have morphed into real, believable - albeit incorporeal - people with minds of their own...

In other words, I love writing. I can't imagine ever spending my life doing anything else. No matter how creative I can be in avoiding doing it!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Oh, My, Not Sure I've Been Such a Good Influence!

My granddaughter, her hubby and two little girls share our home. Of course, I'm around the girls a lot. Aleena is 5 and Priscilla 3. They love to hang out in my office with me. Fortunately, I had five kids, wrote a book while baby sitting 3 greats (long ago) and I'm used to interruptions.

I make lots of lists, shopping lists, to-do lists, things I want to be sure and put in the book I'm writing. Then Aleena started making lists, her own to-do lists, and what she wanted to buy at the store.

Today was the biggest and the funniest. Granddaughter took the girls shopping to our community thrift store and Aleena came home with a kid's detective kit. She and her sister have going all around the house with examining things, taking down notes (Priscilla's job), and hanging up crime scene tape.

One place she hung the tape was our bathroom. The reason? It was a crime scene and there was the blood of a thousand cockroaches and scorpions. (Not really.)

They played like this for over an hour, entertaining me and their great-grandpa.

We have two living rooms divided by the dining area (no walls), and we watch a lot of police shows. Though the girls don't sit and watch them with us they pass through a lot--no doubt have picked up bits of information about crime scenes that way.

It will be fascinating to see if either one of the girls ends up being a writer, hope I hang around long enough to find out.


Thursday, April 5, 2018

How to Wash those Negative Thoughts Right out of your Hair!

Make Mine Mystery

April 5, 2018
Linda Lee Kane
Last month I had some negative thoughts about editing and I thought I would share how I try to overcome these thoughts. Notice I used the word...try.

Realize that you are the only thing stopping you from succeeding.
All ideas go through the creative process. Most people start off thinking their idea is terrific for their next book, then realize the difficulties and begin to question it and think it’s a bad idea. This then manifests into self-criticism and self-doubt.

Some powerful Ways I use to Remove Negative Thoughts:

         Cut it off right from the beginning: AS soon as you notice yourself beginning to think the thought, interrupt it with a not-so-polite, “Shut Up!” Don’t even entertain the thoughts, especially after you’ve cut it off. Then replace the feeling with a positive one. (look at my past blogs, I’ve mentioned a few).

         Observe it: One of the most significant lessons I’ve learned over the years is that we are not our thoughts. And, just because we have individual negative thoughts, doesn’t mean they’re correct. Instead, we’re just observers of those thoughts. Know that a negative thought only has power if you give power to it.

    Exaggerate into ridiculousness: This is really pretty fun. It involves noticing a negative thought when it arises and then keeping the thought going by creating the most ridiculous possible outcome. You’ll realize your worst case scenario is not that bad.

   Counter it with the exact opposite: The fourth and final approach is my favorite. You can’t think two thoughts at the same time, with that in mind, this tool involves noticing the contrary view and then immediately replacing it with a feeling you want. Think of it like changing channels on the TV when that annoying ad comes on again. And forgive yourself for doubting your own creative ability. Think of it like a bungee cord made up of dozens of tiny bands, one negative doesn’t mean the entire thing breaks. And most crucial KEEP WRITING!

Linda L. Kane MA in Education, PPS, School Psychologist, and Learning Disability Specialist, is the author of Death on the Vine, Chilled to the Bones and an upcoming re-release of the The Black Madonna. She lives with her husband, three dogs, one bird, and eight horses in California. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Some Tips for New Writers

I wrote on this subject on my own blog--but I'm going to get more specific here.

No matter how good you think your novel might be it needs to be looked at by an editor--not just a friend--but someone who know what good writing is.

I've read several self-published books by fairly new writers--some have been good, others not so much.

While reading the last of these, here are some things I noted.

First, point-of-view. It's fine to switch, but let us know it's happening, and please, stay in one character's head per scene.

What tense are you going to write in? Present or past? Decide and then stay there. (Yes, I know some writers use both, but they do it for a reason and know how to do it effectively.) Frankly, past tense is the easiest to handle.

Check carefully for repeated phrases and words. The book I'm reading now actually has the same phrase at the beginning and end of the same sentence.

Be careful of how you use an apostrophe--it is needed when you make a noun or pronoun possessive as in Bill's hair stood straight up, but you don't need it when you've made a word plural like all the birds are in the bush.

A pronoun should always refer back to the last person or thing mentioned.

In this particular book, there are numerous typos, page after page.

What's too bad is the plot, situation, and characters are good, but most readers will give up after a few pages. And do you think the person who attempts to read this will buy another by this author?

A good editor could have easily fixed all these problems. It actually makes me sad to have to write this, but hopefully it will help someone who is just starting out.