Category: Uncategorized

Extra-special near pathological attention… to first and last lines….

Tracee: I’m given a bit of time this week to the importance first lines and pages in a manuscript.  Do you work on these with special attention? Well, not special, but extra-special near pathological attention?  Robin: If by “extra-special near pathological level” you mean “agonize day and night then second-guess myself to this very day,” yes. The first page is the most rewritten part of any manuscript for me. Runner up is the rest of the first chapter. I may revise the entire book 4 – 5 times, but I typically revise the first chapter 5 – 10 times. I literally pace like a caged animal while mulling over, writing, and rewriting the first sentence. Once I hit on a “grabber,” I’ll stick with it til I can picture it on my tombstone then I make sure the rest of the chapter measures up. Susan: I’m definitely in the pathological-attention- to-first- paragraph camp. However, the flip side of that is that once I’m happy with my first paragraph, I’m generally happy with the book. Or as happy as anyone ever is with anything. I can then move forward and enjoy myself. Although occasionally I’ll be reading someone else’s book and want to […]

Read More

Valentines/Galentines. What’s in a name?

February 14th already? What happened to January? From all of the Miss Demeanors….. we hope your year is going well, filled with lots of reading and/or writing. We’d love to hear what books have made you feel extra good so far this year. Or what books you keep on hand for that pick me up? Anyway you look at today…. have a happy one.

Read More

First pages.

If the first line sets the tone, the first page(s) lay the groundwork for the entire tapestry of a book. What does the reader expect: genre, point of view, place (time and geography). How about mood?  If the compelling first line did its work the reader is interested. Now you have to round out the experience. Did the first sentence make them uncomfortable? Or pose a question. I’m again reminded of Celeste Ng’s “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” The opening to Everything I Never Told You. The first pages need to immerse the reader in the story, and most likely in a significant, if not main character. What kind of protagonist is at the heart of the tale?  What about the first pages of a “next in series?” The first pages must bring fans back to a familiar world while introducing it to new readers for the first time.  This brings the complication of repeating information in a new way. Reassuring fans that they will enjoy this installation as much as they did the last.  For ongoing discussion and examination of this topic look to the weekly First Two Pages blog hosted by Art Taylor athttp://www.arttaylorwriter.com/blog

Read More

Lots of counting in writing

Here’s how I see my current WIP by the numbers: Daily word counts to keep the manuscript on schedule, or give the illusion of progress. Overall word count, with plusses and minuses every day.  Number of times I’ve read the manuscript.  Number of weeks (months) set aside before the final edit. Number of working titles.  Number of revisions I’ll admit to.  Number of words (by specific example) to be checked and possibly purged. Number of time the specifics of the murder have been changed. My numbers look like this: 1,000+/-; 78,000; a gazillion; hmmm, 3; 22; 13, 3 and counting. What are your writing numbers?

Read More

How Do You Even Brand?

My brand of “cyber” was easy to identify and build on (once I listened). What about you – how did you define your brand? What tidbit of advice would you give to someone just starting out? Tracee: I hear a voice echoing in my head, Paula perhaps! saying focus on writing the best book you can. I’d say that’s what I’d like to develop as my brand…. but that is in process. More literally, I’d say that my brand will be (is?)  books that are tightly tied to place. I’m not sure I’ve done a good job developing a brand, but I am sure that this is a theme I won’t sway from. Going back to the advice to those starting out – do all the things you have to (website, twitter, etc) but most importantly write the best book you can. That’s a brand you’ll never regret. Cate: I don’t have a brand. If someone figures it out, let me know. Maybe domestic suspense writer…  Tracee: I thought about this question a bit more and think that brand and promotion are separate things. Cate’s book brand is definitely excellent domestic suspense but that doesn’t mean that’s ALL that she […]

Read More

Left Coast Party

Attending Left Coast Crime this year? Join me, along with several of the short story authors appearing in Sisters in Crime NorCal’s brand-new anthology of crime and mystery fiction, FAULT LINES, for a Happy Hour toast to our readers! We’ll be at the Grain Tasting Bar in the main lobby of the Hyatt Regency Vancouver on Thursday March 28 at 5pm. What’s Left Coast Crime? It’s the annual gathering of authors, readers, critics, librarians, publishers, and other fans of mysteries held during the first quarter of the year in Western North America. Hope to see you there!

Read More

The Power of Yes

Finding your audience doesn’t have to wait for your first novel to come out. Publicists have told me the promotion lifecycle starts months ahead. I started earlier. Years earlier. The first big conference I attended was the California Crime Writers Conference in 2013. On the registration form, they asked for volunteers. I clicked “Yes” without hesitation. I didn’t have a clue what I’d be asked to do. I also didn’t have an agent at the time. What I did have was the first 50 pages of the first draft of my first cyber crime thriller. I also had many years’ worth of experience attending industry events and meetups for my day job and knew the content at conferences is only part of the draw. Networking is equally (perhaps more) important. I really didn’t care what would be asked of me as a volunteer at CCWC, I just cared that I would get to interact with published authors and agents. That was where I first learned that the crime fiction community is filled with incredibly supportive, kind, and funny people. Over the next few years, I joined Mystery Writers of America and Sisters In Crime, and attended more conferences and local […]

Read More

Embracing My Brand

When I decided to get serious about writing, I did all the things – attended workshops online and in real life, joined a writing group, started following authors, editors, and agents on social media. The most crucial step took me the longest, embracing my brand. I wrote stuff. I fought crime in a novel environment (no pun intended). The two parts of my life were distinct. At least in my mind. Then I started talking to agents. The novel I wrote in 2012 was okay. It wasn’t great. It had zero to do with my day job. During those first couple of years of what I consider to be my apprenticeship, every single publishing pro kind enough to speak with me asked the same question: why aren’t you writing about cyber crime? The first couple of times I heard the question, I didn’t think much about it. By the fourth time, I had to ask myself, why wasn’t I? After a short bout of soul-searching, there were 2 answers: I wrote as an escape from my daily grind. I was afraid. While both answers were true, one was much truer than the other. The first one really didn’t apply once […]

Read More

How to Deal with Change

So, after spending a week thrashing around with the new Miss Demeanor site, I think I’ve conquered it, although I notice one of my posts has a red dot that means, “Needs Improvement.” Even the computer is a critic. So I survived, but as I embarked on this week-long journey, I asked my fellow Miss Demeanors how they dealt with change. This is what they said: Paula: The book business has changed more in the past 15 years than it has since Gutenberg. And the sands are still shifting beneath our feet. This is true of publishing in particular and retail in general. That said, it’s never been easy to be an artist. Our best defense remains flexibility, creativity, and adaptability.  Sounds like yoga! Paula: Ha! Alison: This is me grinning. Just got off the mat from my home practice. Yep. Every day is different.  Robin: The only constant is change, right? I actually crave change, sometimes. It’s a big part of what led me in the direction of computers. It’s a fast-changing landscape so I’m always learning and rarely bored. It’s probably also why I love living by an ocean. The beach is the “same” beach but no two waves […]

Read More

Awards Season

This is Awards season in the mystery world and several writers close to the Miss Demeanors have been nominated for fabulous awards. First of all, our own Miss Demeanor, D.A. Bartley, has been nominated for a 2018 Reading the West Book Award for her debut novel, Blessed be the Wicked. Then, agent to the Miss Demeanors, Paula Munier, has been nominated for the THE SIMON & SCHUSTER MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD for her debut novel, A Borrowing of Bones. Then, two dear friends of the Miss Demeanors have been nominated for Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel: Bruce Robert Coffin for Beyond the Truth, and Hank Phillippi Ryan for Trust Me. Congratulations all! Proud to know you.

Read More

Recent Posts

First pages.
  • February 13, 2019
First lines.
  • February 12, 2019
Lots of counting in writing
  • February 11, 2019
How Do You Even Brand?
  • February 8, 2019
Left Coast Party
  • February 7, 2019
The Power of Yes
  • February 5, 2019
Embracing My Brand
  • February 4, 2019
How to Deal with Change
  • February 1, 2019

Search By Tags