On Writing: The Flawed Protagonist

Numerous times I’ve seen readers roll their eyes and say, “Oh, no, not another recovering alcoholic detective.” I get that.

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The Physical Act of Writing

Writing can be exorbitantly taxing on the body. From magnetic keyboards to stretching, there are ways to alleviate the aches and pains that accompany regular hours spent at a desk. Read on to find out how.

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Creating Characters: No Right Way

Creating living, breathing characters that readers can love or hate and identify with is a huge part of every author’s mission. How they accomplish that, though, varies from author to author. Some develop detailed character sheets that describe parents, siblings, eye color, height, weight, favorite food and color, hobbies, most traumatic incident, relationships, and just about anything you can think of about a person. Others interview their characters or write journal entries for them. Those who are pantsers allow the character to emerge on the page as the story unfolds.  What About Using Real People? A recent article in The New York Times detailed the life and death of the son and stepson of three famous authors who all apparently used him as a character or based characters on him and his life. Whoa. In the very first fiction I wrote, I filled in detailed character worksheets to describe the main characters but not for the several characters I based on real people. For those characters I consciously changed their looks, their backgrounds and any traits that could identify them and drew on my impression of who they were: how they saw themselves in the world, how they treated others, […]

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4 Things Book Clubs would like writers to know

Writers spend a lot of time talking to other writers. We have to. They’re the only people who understand the insanity of the imaginary world we inhabit. But occasionally it’s important to trundle out of our office and interact with readers, which is to say, people who don’t actually care which point of view you use or who published your book. Friends, I’m talking about book clubs. For more than fifteen years, I’ve belonged to a book club with ten or so other women. (There was a man, but he moved.) None of the other members are writers. They are teachers and gardeners and business people and dog-trainers. Most importantly, they enjoy reading, and from listening to them talk, I’ve picked up some information that has been invaluable to me as a writer. Here are four things I believe book club members would like writers to know. 1. Inspire us. Book club readers talk about inspiration a lot, which is not surprising. After all, there’s a reason I’ve read Jane Eyre five times. But book club readers seek inspiration even in books that might not be considered inspirational. One of our best conversations was about Emily Henry’s book People We […]

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A Few of My Favorite Mystery Book Series

There are so many terrific mystery series, but there’s always room for more in a well rounded mystery reader’s to be read pile. Here are some favorites.

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Connecting Authors & Readers (It’s Not Easy)

One of the first things impressed upon new authors is the importance of connecting with readers. Traditionally, we do that by establishing a social media presence, participating in conferences, appearing at book club events, holding book signings, starting a blog, and most importantly, compiling a list of emails for a newsletter. This all takes time, of course, and it isn’t easy or automatic. If no one knows your book exists, they won’t read it. If they don’t read it, they can’t love it and recommend it to others.
Fortunately, there are new ways of getting your book and your name out there. A new website called Shepherd.com exists to do just that.

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Making Stuff Up: Inspiration

Writer Struck By Inspiration

On occasion, someone tells me how wonderful it is that I’m a writer and they couldn’t ever come up with a story.
“Of course you can,” I say, “you make stuff up all the time. You just don’t realize it!”

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Writers, don’t fear the outline

Outline example

There is more than one way to write a book, or better stated, to conceive a book. However, outlining is often given a harsh shake of the head. Not creative enough. Constraining.

Recently I asked a number of writers why they felt this way. More to the point, I asked them what they meant by outlining.

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On Persistence

Last week at the Golden Crown Literary Society’s annual conference my book, The Disappearance of Lindy James, won a Goldie for the Best General Fiction. Being a finalist, then winning for Disappearance was a surprise. This is my first award and it’s displayed on the bookcase in my line of vision whenever I raise my eyes from my computer. And, as I thought about what to write for my blog post, I stared at it and the word persistence popped into my mind.  Persistence? It’s Not a Mystery  We’ve all heard stories about writers and other artists who achieved despite the many obstacles they had to overcome. And, we’re probably all familiar with the following quotes or similar ones about the importance of persistence:   “Nothing in the world will take the place of persistence. Talent will not. The world is full of unsuccessful people with talent.” Calvin Coolidge “The secret to genius is not genetics but daily practice married with relentless perseverance.” Robin Sharma “With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance all things are attainable.” Thomas Fowell Buxton “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” Albert Einstein When I started writing I understood these quotes and others like them to mean learn […]

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THE WOMAN UNDERWATER by Penny Goetjen To be released 7.26.22 MICHELE: I had the privilege of reading an ARC of Penny’s book and asked her to share with our readers what they can expect from her latest book. You will not be disappointed! AND there’s a giveaway. Here’s a peek at what’s coming next week!  GIVEAWAY Comment below to win a signed copy of THE WOMAN UNDERWATER. THE HOOK In the seven years since Victoria’s husband disappeared, no witnesses have stepped forward and no credible evidence has been collected—not even his car. He simply vanished from behind the stone walls of a private boarding school where he taught—the same school their son now attends. But someone has to know what happened. And that someone may be closer to Victoria than she realizes.  CHARACTERS YOU WILL WANT TO MEET Victoria—The protagonist. Victoria is stronger than she realizes yet battered down by 7 years of searching for her husband and holding out hope he is still alive. Everyone around her has abandoned that hope and tries to convince her to do the same. She vows to stay the course and be strong for her sons. But at what cost? Emerson—Recently divorced and […]

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