Developing a Writing Plan That Works For You

First a confession: I was never a model student. My early report cards always included comments like “She could do so much better if she tried” and “Getting assignments in on time would help.” Even in college I struggled with a lack of discipline. I cut way too many classes, neglected to study, and left papers until the very last minute.

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Titles, the Torture Of

suffered so much over my first title. #amstillsuffering

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Sentient AI–a Mystery or Not?

A few days ago, a Google engineer had been put on leave for publicly saying the chatbot they’ve been developing is sentient. After months of testing it, which involved trying to see if it could turn murderous or hateful, he’d come to the conclusion that it was an independently “thinking” entity. With feelings. Although this is more a story about a very smart person who clearly needs to get out more and chat with real humans, it sent me down a rabbit hole of ethical, psychological and scientific questions.

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Write What You Know

That is the advice many give to new authors. What does that mean? As a character driven author, I understood it to mean you shouldn’t write characters outside your own experience. For example, you can’t have doctor as a main character unless you have medical experience, or a detective main character unless you’ve been a police officer.  For several reasons, I’ve always ignored that advice. First, I write what I like to read. Second, other than the very first book I wrote where I thought in advance about the characters, my characters and their stories come from my unconscious. Third, I write fiction.  But. On Memorial Day Sherry and I went out to breakfast at Pier 1, an outdoor restaurant on the Hudson River in Riverside Park, that we haven’t been to since the summer of 2019 because of Covid19. Sherry went to place our order and I found us a table. And, just a few feet away was the table where Darcy and Andrea, the characters from my first romance, had dinner. I looked up and I could see the small park at the top of the long steep path down from Sixty-eighth street. Andrea stopped there before she rolled […]

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My fellow Miss Demeanor, Connie Berry, posted recently on the topic of when it’s time to end a series. The timing was perfect for me to raise the opposite question. When is time to create a series?          Most often, writers know they are creating a series when they write the first book. They envision future plots that will involve the protagonist and her supporting cast. I knew when I wrote No Virgin Island that Sabrina and her bff Henry had lots of adventures in their future. I journaled as if I were Sabrina, to explore what might be going on in her mind and in her heart. I’m now beginning the fifth book in the series and finding no shortage of material. These people just can’t stop getting into trouble!          It was different when I wrote Oh Danny Girl more than a decade ago. I barely accepted I was a writer and often apologized that writing was my hobby. I didn’t dare to think a book I was writing might be published, let alone become a series. Oh Danny Girl is the story about a young lawyer who heads to court one morning for an uncontested divorce when […]

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I spent last weekend as a workshop leader at the NY Pitch conference, listening to various editors and agents talk about the importance of the logline. Loglines, also called elevator pitches, are one-or-two sentence descriptions of a novel that are meant to hook the reader. Here’s the logline for my story that was just in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine: Beleaguered middle-aged woman teams up with the ghost of Anne Boleyn to solve a murder. Her own. Almost every writer I’ve ever met has hated loglines, mainly because they force us to boil our 90,000 carefully written mystery novels into something you could spit out in an elevator. Where’s the nuance? However, they do sell books. So my question for my fellow Miss Demeanors was: Do you have a logline? Would you like to share it here? Or do you hate them and never want to hear about them again? Tracee de Hahn  That’s the perfect logline for your story (everyone rush out and read it now in Alfred Hitchcock Magazine)! I want to see more of Anne and her new friend, let’s hope there are more murders in their future. On to your question . . .  I had a […]

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Mystery Authors and Amazon Ads

an ad bot

Authors are sometimes intimidated by Amazon ads. Here’s a simple intro t a few key concepts.

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When It’s Time to End a Series

The first thing to say is my Kate Hamilton Mystery series is not ending. But I’ve been thinking about this question lately for two reasons. First because I’ve been developing a possible new historical mystery series, which has been fun. Second, because two wonderful series written by writer friends have recently and unexpectedly ended. Why, when the series were doing so well?

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Stumblin’ outta bed and staggerin’ to the kitchen . . .

In In Place of Fear, we meet Helen Crowther the day before she begins her new job – her first job. She’s steeling herself, deciding what to wear, and still trying to persuade her parents that she’s not making a big mistake, biting off more than she can chew.

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Writing Awards

This past weekend saw the presentation of ITW’s 2022 awards for books and stories published in 2021. I’ve read two of the winners and can wholeheartedly say they deserved every accolade.

So, in honor of award season, and if you’ve published or will publish anything in 2022, here’s a list of industry recognized awards you can submit your work to for next year. I mean, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

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