Tag: writing

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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The Mystery of Endings

Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Right? Not always. Have you ever had the bad luck of happily reading a book, reaching the climax, turning the page to find out what happens and seeing a message, something like, buy book two to find out what happens? I have. In both romances and mysteries. And I’ll tell you what happens for me: I never buy that author again. But those ransom kinds of endings are just the most egregious examples of bad endings.  More of them are like the one described in a comment posted today in a Facebook reader’s group. I don’t have permission to quote the comment so here’s the gist of it. The ending “stunk.” After a big buildup it seemed like they suddenly remembered they had a deadline, made something up and spit it out. I’ve read a number of books that ended like the one referenced in that Facebook comment. It seems as if the author was bored or tired and just stopped writing when he or she hit the climax and failed to provide a denouement, “the final part of a play, movie, or narrative in which the strands of the plot […]

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I Knew That: The Mystery of the Mind

I learned two things this week. Two things I knew but seem to have forgotten. Both are important to my work as a writer. I may have to get a tattoo as a permanent reminder. First: It’s the Characters, Stupid. Duh, of course I know this. I’m a reader and a writer so why was I surprised when that thought occurred to me after I finished reading the latest two books in a historical mystery series of around fifteen books that I’ve loved for years.  Thinking about the series, I suddenly clearly saw the skeleton of the books, the bones on which the author has hung the flesh of every story in the series. And, for the first time, I found the books repetitive and boring. I noticed the research dumps, such as detailed descriptions of historical places incidental to the story and the lists of every item of clothing every man or woman was wearing. I also noted the similar verbiage used from book to book to describe recurring characters. Was I seeing it because I read the books back-to-back? Or had the author gotten careless, and it was more obvious? I don’t know. Now I know how hard […]

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5 Reasons Why Book Reviews Matter

When readers see authors asking, sometimes begging for reviews of their books, they may wonder why are they doing this? Let me offer five reasons why. 1. Improves the Relationship Between Writers and Readers Writers and readers have an unspoken relationship based upon communication. The writer “gives” the story to the reader who “receives” it. This creates a circle of sorts. Without reviews, which can be formal or informal, depending on the form of the review and whether it is being done by a professional reader (reviewer) or a consumer of books, the writer is left in a vacuum, not knowing whether her book pleased her reader. 2. Improves the Book’s Visibility Reviews provide visibility for books and the people who write them. If readers don’t know about a book or an author, they lose the opportunity to discover both, and the writer doesn’t get to connect with the people for whom she has toiled. 3. Visibility Results in Increased Sales Sales are what support writers and reviews help create them. Like it or not, money does talk. When readers see a review that demonstrates people are so excited about a book that they stayed up all night finishing it, […]

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I raised four kids, spent years taking care of my mother, have survived illness and grief and various other disasters, so when I say that I consider myself not easily distracted, I mean it. Come hell or high water or Super Storm Sandy, I get up at 6:00 a.m. and work on my novel. But this past week a momentous event happened in my life, and for the first time I can remember, I simply could not get my mind to focus. This event was my little granddaughter’s baptism. Over the past week my daughter, son-in-law and little granddaughter arrived. My son and his girlfriend flew in from London. My other son arrived, but his wife got sick, and so I was worried about her. My sister-in-law flew in from Colorado and 40 plus other friends and relatives converged. Meanwhile my husband and I raced to make our house as clean as possible. We assembled food, cleaned dishes, cleaned dishes, cleaned dishes. And I sat on the floor and played with my granddaughter. My mind went right out the window. I figured that I would move my wake-up time to 5:00 a.m., and that way I’d be able to get […]

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Self-Publishing: Five Myths

There’s a lot of interest in self-publishing among authors—even those who have been traditionally published in the past. The problem is that there is so much false, outdated, or just plain wrong info out there that it’s hard to know what to think. I made the leap to self-publishing my mystery novels less than a year ago, but I spent two years researching and learning about how it works and what I could expect—and making some mistakes—that by now, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on the truth. I’m coming up on the publication of the third mystery novel in my Fin Fleming thriller series, and I’m very happy with my results. So in hoped that those of you who have been reluctant to test the waters might find this info useful, here goes. 1.    Self-publishing is expensive Self-publishing may require the author to make some investments, but the difference between what a traditionally published author and a self-published author must spend before publication is not that big. For example, many authors hoping to self-publish will hire a developmental editor, a copy editor, and/or a proofreader before they submit their manuscripts to querying. So do most serious […]

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Publishing roulette

I spent last weekend at the NY Pitch Conference, working with authors who were pitching their books to publishing agents and editors. Very exciting. Very nerve-wrecking, and very unpredictable! One editor will love a book, the next editor will hate the exact same book, and a third will look just bored. It’s like playing roulette. You just don’t know where you’re going to land. Some years ago I attended the same exact conference, but then I was one of the authors, not a workshop leader. I was hoping to sell my first novel, The Fiction Class. Bad news, better news, good news You can only imagine my trepidation when I approached the first editor. I’d never met a book editor before. This young woman was from one of the big publishing houses. I gave her my pitch. She peered at me and said, “No one will want to read that.” I had one of those moments when time seems to stop and the tips of your fingers go numb. However, I persevered. Met with two other editors who were more pleasant, though not interested, and then finally, on the last day of the conference, I met with the very last […]

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