Recommitment by Margaret Mendel

When I began writing this blog post for Bookbrowsing, I’d chosen what seemed a relevant topic: how to write while traveling, on vacation, or sneaking in a few lines while commuting to work. It seemed a doable endeavor and something I know quite a bit about. But then the phone rang. Shortly after that the handyman came to fix a broken light switch in our kitchen. Just as the handyman finished his job and closed the door behind him, there was a fender-bender on the street below our NYC apartment. Sirens sounded, traffic backed up and every motorist caught in the congestion was honking his or her car horn. Then during all this noisy commotion, my husband came home from shopping, struggling with an armload of groceries, “What do you want for dinner?” he asked.

Glaring at the keyboard, I tried to remember what I had initially thought I’d be writing. Not all of my days turn out like this. But lately, I wonder if there is a conspiracy against me getting to my writing. I mused that maybe I should write an article titled ‘Writing Interuptus’.

Most authors do not live a privileged life where the world caters to them, quieting their surroundings, periodically offering energy-boosting snacks, bringing a fresh cup of coffee when the first cup of the day has cooled. Most authors I know have tons of personal and familial responsibilities. If there are not children of varying ages to care for, there are elder parents who need to be concerned about. There is shopping, doctor appointments, dust bunnies to clear away from under the sofa, friends to keep in touch with, a work life to juggle, the list goes on and on.

Writing is a commitment. Family is a commitment. Friends are a commitment. And for the writer it’s not a matter of finding the time to write, it really comes down to managing life and getting the writing done.

When my children were young and I worked fulltime, the early mornings before everyone got up for the day, which meant 5:00AM, my writing life would be in full swing. During the weekend there would be a few hours here and there where writing was possible and I would sneak away coveting any time I could get to dig into a writing project.

These days my time is pretty much mine to do with what I want. The kids have grown and have lives of their own. We’ve downsized from a seven-room apartment to a three-room apartment with far less fussy upkeep. So why is it difficult now for me to find that peace and quiet to write?

As I look deeper into how I fiddle with time and life, it appears that the problem is ‘me’. I have forgotten how to set aside time to write. Somehow along the way, I’ve let the priorities shift. There was a time when I would behave like a lovesick fool aching to be reunited with my computer and the story in progress. Now after a few successes with publication, even though I still love to write, it feels like it’s more difficult to find those moments to sit at my computer. The stories continue to come to me. I’m presently in the middle of the second book in a series, but still I let distractions easily interrupt my writing.

What I’ve decided is that much like an older long-married couple that periodically recommit to each other, I need to recommit to my writing. I dearly love writing and I do not want the relationship I have with the written word to fade away until I’m merely dusting the pages of unfinished manuscripts. I want to write. So I’ve decided it’s time to clear my desk of unnecessary clutter, clean the computer screen and keyboard. I’ll comb my hair and wear something attractive, not just my sloppy old stretch pants and ratty t-shirt. Perhaps I’ll light some candles, pour a glass of wine, and while I’m at it, change up the blues and rock music I usually listen to while working. Maybe some Ella or Willie Nelson will deepen the relationship. But however I rekindle this long love affair with writing, it is me who has decided to recommit, it is me who will continue to stay and to work out any problems that will undoubtedly come up in the future.

Blurb for Pushing Water :

VIETNAM, 1939. Sarah, an expat, working as an Archivist for the French Colonial Government in Hanoi, is devastated when she finds a Vietnamese co-worker murdered.

 

Determined to find the killer, Sarah suspects a secret document discovered in a packet of poetry the co-worker borrowed from the archives prompted the murder.

 

Sarah’s life is further complicated by the arrival of an old friend, Julia, who brings with her memories Sarah would rather forget. Then Albee, Sarah’s part time lover comes on the scene. He claims to be an archaeologist working on a dig in China. Sarah suspects he is a communist revolutionary.

 

While Sarah deals with her problematic personal life, another Vietnamese friend is arrested and executed for revolutionary activities. Heartsick, Sarah decides to return to the States. The world is in a chaotic mess and before Sarah leaves Vietnam, within one devastating day nothing will ever be the same again.

Margaret Mendel lives and writes in New York City. She is an award-winning author with short stories and articles appearing online and in print publications. Her debut novel, “Fish Kicker” was published in 2014. Margaret’s latest novel “Pushing Water” was published in February 2017. She is a staff writer and photographer with the online magazine Kings River Life. Many of her photos have appeared in websites, online travel journals and have become book covers. Several of her photos have been exhibited in Soho Photography Gallery in New York City. Check out her photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/margaretmendel/ Read more about Margaret and her writing on her website: Pushingtime.com

PUSHING WATER is available here:   Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Scribd | Inktera | 24 Symbols https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/coming-soon/2017/pushing-water-detail

FISH KICKER is available here:   ~ Amazon ~ Barnes&Noble ~ Kobo ~ Apple iTunes ~ Omnilit ~ Bookstrand ~ Coffeetime Romance ~ Smashwords ~

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Writers’ Conferences: Just for Keynote Speakers? by Gayle Leeson

I once had an agent tell me, “Don’t waste your money going to a conference unless you’re a keynote speaker.” Based on that advice, I avoided conferences for years. These days, I concentrate on how I might benefit from the conference in question.

 

So, how do you know whether or not you’ll benefit from a conference? To be completely honest, it’s a crapshoot. But let me fill you in on some of my experiences.

 

The Ghosts of Conferences Past

 

My first conference was a small Romance Writers of America chapter event in Knoxville, Tennessee. I was as green as those eggs Dr. Seuss’s protagonist Sam refused to eat. At that conference, I learned how much I didn’t know. I also made friendships that have lasted throughout the years. I found my first publisher at that conference. The company published my first book and went out of business shortly thereafter (I’m certain the two events aren’t related, no matter what you might’ve heard), but I was able to go from being an “unpublished author” to a “published author,” and that’s kind of a big deal in publishing-speak, even if your publisher did hit the bricks while your book was still warm from the printer.

 

With a few published books under my belt, I set out to Malice in Arlington, Virginia. Although I was able to get on a panel and had a table where I was able to sign my very few books, I was mainly a star-struck newbie at this conference too. It was here that I learned that some of the most well-established authors are the sweetest. Harley Jane Kozak and Dorothy Cannell were delightful.

 

At Bouchercon, I had a cold and felt miserable most of the week. That said, I still met some great people and gathered a lot of valuable information.

 

The Suffolk Mystery Authors’ Festival was terrific. The festival coordinators do a wonderful job of hosting fun author-only events to cater to out-of-town authors and help build relationships among them, and they provide events that readers enjoy and keep coming back for year after year.

 

At the RT Book Lovers’ convention in Atlanta, I once again met people I adored, and I feel I made some fantastic connections. The sheer number of people at the event was overwhelming, but everyone was great—brought together by the love of books. At the Giant Book Fair that boasted thousands of readers, one woman sought me out to have me sign a copy of Wicked Stitch (written as Amanda Lee) that she’d won in an online contest. She made my day!

 

So…ARE Conferences Worth the Expenditures?

 

That depends. What is your purpose in attending a conference? If you’re going to learn, there are valuable online resources—many from conferences—that you can buy for much less than the cost of one night in a hotel. VW Tapes ( http://vwtapes.com/) has recordings of panel discussions from most of the big writers’ conferences: Thrillerfest, Bouchercon, American Screenwriters Association, Aloha Writers, Sleuthfest, etc. And, of course, WritersDigest.com and Feedspot (search for writing and save blogs of interest) are wellsprings of information too.

 

If you’re going to pitch, and if you can afford the expense, sitting down across from an agent or editor face to face is a valuable experience. You can deliver your carefully-crafted pitch and are right there to answer any follow-up questions the editor or agent might have. If you can’t afford the expense of a conference, but would still like to pitch your manuscript, you might give PitMad (http://www.brenda-drake.com/pitmad/) a try. Of course, your best bet would be to search out agents or editors who are seeking your type of manuscript and send them a polished proposal (one at a time, if simultaneous submissions are not accepted).

 

If you’re going to network, then you can’t go wrong. You’ll always meet likeminded people who want to sell you their books, maybe buy your books, and possibly be willing to share their advice and expertise.

 

Bottom Line

 

If you determine whether or not you’ll attend a conference based on the question, “Will I sell enough books to justify the cost of the conference?” then the answer—unless you’re Stephen King or J. K. Rowling—is no. However, if you can fit the conference into your budget and justify attending (remember, you can write it off on your taxes!), then by all means, go. I seriously doubt you’ll ever come away from a conference thinking, “Gee…I didn’t learn a thing.”

 

###

 

Gayle Leeson is a cozy mystery writer who also writes as Gayle Trent and Amanda Lee. Gayle’s latest book isHoney-Baked Homicide, the third book in the Down South Café Mystery series. Please visit Gayle online athttp://www.gayleleeson.com or http://www.gayletrent.com.

 

“Oh, my…You’ve been Asked to Give a Keynote Address!” By JoAnn Smith Ainsworth

Panic sets in when you’re asked to be the keynote speaker for a nearby, regional conference. You’ve never given one. You don’t know how to begin.

Be at ease.

The speech is not unlike writing a book. The beginning sets up the topic. The middle covers key points and breaks those points into sub-points. The ending summarizes and reinforces these key points. Sound familiar? Easy peasy, right?

Well, maybe there’s a little more to it.

For one thing, a keynote address is an “inspirational” speech. You need to inspire your audience to participate in conference meetings and workshops and to pursue their writing dreams. The speech sets the mood for the conference. Match your delivery style to the tenor of the event—is it celebratory, serious or in-between? Generate enthusiasm.

Know your audience. What will they be expecting to take away from the conference? You achieve an inspirational effect by supporting collective beliefs, values and sentiments.

 

Where to start? Let’s tackle that by looking at what goes into the beginning, middle and end.

 

Beginning:

The opening of your speech should leave no doubt as to what you’re going to say. Just like with any book, the first words must hook the audience. They should inspire your audience to want to listen to you.

Use this time to establish your credentials. Also, identify a common bond between you, your topic and your audience. This will establish rapport and good feeling.

Use the rest of your brief beginning to introduce the main points which will carry your middle. Show the conference topics for having timeliness and relevance to their lives. Use only material that relates to the rest of your speech in some way; e.g., don’t use jokes, anecdotes or illustrations that have nothing to do with the points you want to get across. They should directly relate to the points and sub-points you want your listeners to retain.

 

Middle:

Just like with a book, you must frame your keynote speech to your listeners’ interests—not yours. Use vivid word images to build a scenario your audience can see in their own minds.

People are interested in knowing about you. Anecdotes are very effective way to reveal who you are as a person and give your audience a chance to get closer to you. That reminds me, follow any abstract concepts with concrete examples, like quotations, personal experiences or statistics. These make abstract ideas more tangible.

To provide your audience with a logical approach to understanding your message, structure your content with a “pattern.” You could compare the past and present with some conjecture about the future. You could contrast before-and-after situations, introduce alternative viewpoints, or introduce a problem and offer a solution.

Just like in books, your audience needs a clear understanding of where you are going—i.e., transitions that move them from one point to the next and tie it all together. Confusion, doubt and uncertainty have no place in a keynote address. Use pauses to create suspense and orient your listeners to transitions in your subject points.

And here’s a friendly reminder. The middle is where you really need vocal variety to keep your listeners focused and attentive. Bring music into your voice. No monotone.

 

The ending: 

Hey, you’re on the home stretch—the last one-quarter of your speech. Time to summarize and to inspire.

Remember, the goal of your keynote address is to “mobilize” your listeners. You want them ready to participate in and to support the aims of the conference. Like with the ending of your book, summarize your key points and sub-points. Emphasize those points you want your listeners to take with them throughout the conference. Make them feel good about being at this particular conference.

End with a Call to Action. Inspire them to get the most out of the workshops and encourage them to strive to reach their goals as writers.

There, that wasn’t so hard, was it? It’s as easy as writing a book!

DESCRIPTION

During WWII, the US government recruits psychics to find Nazi spies on the East Coast.

 

Opening herself to ridicule by revealing she’s clairvoyant is the last thing U.S. WAVES Lieutenant Livvy Delacourt wants, but when Uncle Sam needs her skill to track Nazi spies, she jumps in with both feet.

 

Expect Trouble released as an audiobook in September 2017 from Audible, Hoopla, Overdrive, and other audiobook distributors and clubs.

 

It was Runner-up, 2016 Shelf Unbound Award, and Semifinalist, East Texas Writers Guild First Chapter Award.

 

 

 

AUTHOR BIO

JoAnn Smith Ainsworth experienced WWII food rationing, Victory Gardens, and blackout sirens as a child. She lived in Philadelphia during the ’50s and she attended the Berkeley Psychic Institute in the late ’70s. These experiences bring authenticity to her historical paranormal suspense series.

 

She is the author of six published novels. She earned a B.A. from UC-Berkeley, an M.A.T. from Fairleigh Dickenson University, and M.B.A. studies from Pepperdine University. Ainsworth lives in northern California.

To learn more about this award-winning author, visit www.joannsmithainsworth.com.

 

 

LINKS:

For more, visit:  http://www.joannsmithainsworth.com.

Twitter @JoAnnAinsworth

Facebook:  JoAnn Smith Ainsworth Fan Page (https://www.facebook.com/JoAnnSmithAinsworthAuthor?ref=hl) and Profile Page.

Goodreads Blog:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1366481.JoAnn_Smith_Ainsworth/blog?format=rss

 

Contact her at JoAnnSmithAinsworth@gmail.com.

Library Visits by Marilyn Meredith

Though I’ve always done a library visit or two each year, this year I’ve done several in many different places. I love doing them because I love libraries and the people who frequent them. Here are a few things I’ve learned about doing presentations in libraries.

 

You probably won’t sell a lot of books. People borrow books from the library. And donating your book to the library won’t necessarily mean that it will be put into circulation, it might just become a book for the Friends of the Library Book Sale.

 

Despite that, an appearance at a library is one of many ways to make yourself known.

 

People come to library talks for different reasons. Sometimes it’s just to be in a cool place on a very hot day or the other way around. I’ve had a couple of presentation where homeless people have been part of the audience. I treat them the same as anyone else—and ignore any that might be disruptive. (Yes, that has happened.)

 

With a small group, I ask them why they came, the best way to adjust your presentation to fit their expectations. Some may want to find out more about you than the books you write. Always save time for questions. Others might want to be writers and have questions about writing and publishing. Of course if you or the library has advertised a specific topic, that’s what you need to present.

 

I’ve done many specific topic presentations about writing, publishing, writing a mystery, but lately I’ve been talking about my books, the research I’ve done for them, and some of my adventures that came about because of being a writer. I also point out that it’s never too late to become a writer.

 

And some last minute tips:

 

Be friendly.

 

Take more books than you’ll need. Always better to have more books than not enough.

 

Be sure to have change for those people who do want to buy a book or two. I accept checks, but that’s up to you. And of course, you can also get one of those gadgets to accept credit cards.

 

If possible take someone with you to take care of the money transactions so you can concentrate on autographing the book(s).

 

Enjoy yourself.

 

Marilyn Meredith

 

Blurb for A Cold Death:

 

Deputy Tempe Crabtree and her husband answer the call for help with unruly guests visiting a closed summer camp during a huge snow storm and are trapped there along with the others. One is a murderer—and another is a ghost.

 

Anyone who orders any of my books from the publisher‘s website: http://mundania.com

can get 10% off by entering MP20 coupon code in the shopping cart. This is good all the time for all my books, E-books and print books.

 

On Kindle:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074XNP87Z/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1503149760&sr=1-1&keywords=a+cold+death+by+marilyn+meredith

 

Bio:

 

Marilyn Meredith’s published book count is nearing 40. She is one of the founding members of the San Joaquin chapter of Sister in Crime. She taught writing for Writers Digest Schools for 10 years, and was an instructor at the prestigious Maui Writers Retreat, and has taught at many writers’ conferences. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and serves on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra, a place with many similarities to Tempe Crabtree’s patrol area. Webpage:  http://fictionforyou.com Blog:  http://marilymeredith.blogspot.com/ and you can follow her on Facebook.

 

Contest: Once again I’m going to use the name of the person who comments on the most blogs on my tour for the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery—which may be the last in the series.

 

Tomorrow I’ll be here:

http://samwriteaway.blogspot.com

 

Some Tips for Writing Dialogue

Never Give Up on Finishing a Book by Helen Dunn Frame

For almost a decade in the seventies, a government organization headquartered in Dallas made headlines when an investigation found that some employees, mainly buyers, performed illegal activies on the job. I knew many of the more than one hundred indicted and the thirty-five who served time. At first, I followed the story due to my connection with the organization because my ex-husband worked in Personnel. Then I decided it might inspire a novel, a genre that I only had edited for others.

After high school where I was an editor of my school’s newspaper, over the years I had written everything imaginable including articles, columns, business letters, grants, and brochures, and also edited newsletters. As I began writing the book, I found it exceedingly difficult to deviate from all I had learned when I studied journalism at Syracuse University. Painstakingly, I came to realize that readers could not follow the slew of players; I began combining personalities and reducing the number of characters, feeling as if I were pulling teeth without anesthesia.

Since I based the protagonist on several employees, including one who served time, I needed to make him more likeable to enable readers to feel empathy for him. I achieved this with a backstory where readers learn about his childhood in a dysfunctional family and about his father who accused him of killing his brother. The accusation haunted him throughout his life because he was unable to recall the events surrounding the death.

At the time I started writing the book, I was working fulltime, sometimes holding down two jobs. I was also a single mom. I would work on the novel when I could, putting it aside as life got in the way. Probably after the tenth revision, I had an opportunity to have an agent read it. It was not ready for publication. I figured out that it still had too many characters and that I should not name the actual “non-appropriated fund organization under the Department of Defense.” As a result, I “formed” a new organization that would serve all branches of the military instead of just a limited few. Believing that “Revenge is mine,” said the writer, I exaggerated characters’ traits. Of course, I created noms de plume to protect the guilty and prevent legal repercussions

To make the story seem more real, I pulled information from albums I had assembled from my life’s experiences. A restaurant may have closed, but as I had eaten there, I could make it real for the reader.

Fast-forward over the years that I toyed with the story until I retired in Costa Rica. Once again, it lay dormant as I wrote other books and learned more about the genre. Finally, I felt the book was nearly complete and asked others to read it and suggest edits and changes. As a result, I wrote a new first chapter and eliminated the final chapter because the story was complete without it.

One other hurdle required attention. A long-time artist friend voluntarily designed a cover for me without asking for or even discussing a fee. After he gave it to me, he informed me that I could use it for 100 books and then I would owe him money. No way would I agree to this as I feared unnecessary legal problems, and eventually our friendship ended. I canned his design and hired a specialist who continues to provide covers for my books today.

After many tentative titles, it evolved to “Secrets Behind the Big Pencil, Inspired by an Actual Scandal. A “Big Pencil” is slang for a buyer that has control of millions of dollars for the purchase of merchandise. By now, I had published other books. It was not difficult to format this one on Create Space, keeping costs to a minimum. After about 45 years since the scandal became public, the fictionalized tale was in print and on Kindle and I sighed with relief that I had not given up on the story.

Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/helendunnframe.com

BIO: During Helen’s business career, she wore several hats including professional writer, editor, marketing/public relations specialist, Real Estate Director for franchisees, sales, and commercial real estate broker (licensed in Texas and specializing in restaurants and retail).

In Costa Rica, where she has spent most of her time since 2005, she wrote a nonfiction anecdotal book based on extensive research and her adventure with input from other expats.  Baby Boomers can use it to jump-start their due diligence in order to find their paradise for retirement or possibly for a vacation home or investment in Costa Rica. The third edition (2017) of Retiring in Costa Rica or Doctors, Dogs and Pura Vida,” “Secrets Behind the Big Pencil, Inspired by an Actual Scandal,” (2014) Greek Ghosts, (2003) and Wetumpka Widow (2016) are available in paperback and on Kindle on Amazon. A booklet called Retirement 101 (2017) is available on Kindle only.

Helen Dunn Frame, whom I had the benefit of having on my writing team at Inkwell Newswatch, and for whom I have consequently had the privilege of proofreading her work, is an enormously talented writer. She’s flexible, professional, and very thorough in every writing assignment; whether it was from other sources, her own books, or me. She is definitely a top-notch writer with the desire to perform beyond the call of a “normal” writer. Rowdy Rhodes

Walking the Plank by LaLa Corierre

History seems to enjoy walking the plank with our pirates, both real and imagined. We know the stories of Sir Francis Drake, Captain Kidd, and Blackbeard, along with our fictionalized Captain Jack Sparrow. We’ve figured out a way to glamorize and chastise them at the same time.

Today, there’s a new definition of piracy as it relates to authors, their copyrighted works, and the distribution of these works in digital form. For free.

I use alerts such as Talkwalker and Google to notify me if I receive press on the internet. Usually, it’s great fun. Sometimes, not so much. Every one of my books has been pirated. My books are being offered for free and I’m out royalties.

People ask me how this can be and how it works and the answer is there are several different scenarios. A common model is an internet entity that forms a book club. Members pay a nominal fee and then must submit digital books that they have presumably legally purchased. Those books go into the free library.

Like the parting of the Red Sea, let’s take a look at two sides of Piracy in Publishing.

There are now a great many piracy sites and my books are all over them. I fume. I cry. I want to correct a wrong. After all, a crime has been committed against me. I attended a seminar and the presenter is a copyright infringement lawyer. Yes. We could go that route. And the lawyer wins. She did offer up a few words for all of us to learn and use. Cease and desist. And by the way, the courts are most vested in prosecuting these entities. The problem is that they are just that. Entities. They hole up under umbrella host sites that claim no liability. If you are lucky enough to spend hours trying to connect with them and finally get a comment form, most times you can forget about the scales of justice. They often fix the CAPTCHA’s so that you can never give a right answer. Example: Are you human? Yes. Sorry. That answer is incorrect.  Well, last time I looked I was human!

Now, let’s look at the other side of the sea. The sea that not only sees no conflict in this piracy but might also embrace it.

Let’s say that my great uncle hasn’t left me two million dollars in his will, but he can get my book into the hands of 50,000 readers. The problem is it’s free. I get no royalties. That problem is juxtaposed to the fact that I’m an unknown. As the proverbial saying goes, you can’t get something from nothing.

Who knows? They likely might have never found my book, but they might enjoy that free read. They might even pass the word along.

 

Ahoy mates! Which sea will you be sailing? I’m confident in saying I will no longer waste my time trying to go after these pirates, but there is one thing I can do and that is to get the end user aware of the situation. That person may choose to wait for my own free days. Maybe.

Oh, free days coming up with this post. The first time TRACKS will be offered for FREE! By me!

Struggling to Juggle or Building a Better Reality by Molly MacRae

“This is a time-turner, Harry. McGonagall gave it to me first term. This is how I’ve been getting to my lessons all year.” Hermione Granger to Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

 

“You have a full-time job; how do find time to write?” Lots of people to me

 

“Sorrycan’ttalknowgottatypetypetypetypetypittytpyotype.” Me to my nearest and dearest

 

For the past six years I’ve been lucky enough to be writing full time. In those six years I’ve written five books in the Haunted Yarn Shop mystery series, two in the Highland Bookshop mystery series, and two in the Secrets of the Castleton Manor Library mystery series. And now I’m thrilled that I have a contract for two more Haunted Yarn Shop books. Writing full time is something I dreamed of and something I’m absolutely tickled to be doing. The only problem is that I already have a full time job.

 

What’s the problem with that? Not enough hours in the day. When I wrote the first five Haunted Yarn Shop books (a book every nine months), I solved that by adding waking hours to my day—getting up at 5:00 a.m. to get writing time in before work. I also wrote over my lunch hour and in the evenings and ignored housework. All of that worked out fine (especially the housework part).

 

Lately, though, I’ve been noticing that my characters spend more time with their families and friends than I do with mine. They have time to read for pleasure and do fun things like knit and hike and get enough sleep. And they solve murders (they might be over-achievers).

 

What changed? Working on two contracts at once, which meant a book every six months. It was still doable, but . . . I found out that I’m jealous of my characters.

 

Struggling to juggle is a common problem for writers, and we each have to solve it in our way. My first shot at, after nixing 4:00 a.m. wake-up calls, was to ask my husband to invent a time-turner. He’s an engineer who invents and builds the equipment graduate students need for their research. He invented a levitation device, for heaven’s sake. But apparently a time-turner is out because we’re stuck with a small thing called “reality.” So I decided I would build a better reality.

 

“Revision is the key to success” is one of my writing mantras. It works for plots, dialog, word choice—manuscripts from concept to “the end.” Why not apply it to the writing process itself or some part of it?

 

My usual process is roughly this: idea, outline, daily word quota, revise previous day’s quota, finished manuscript, tada! This is essentially bash it out now, tart it up later, except that later is the next day. Each day I tart the previous day’s bashing and then move forward through that day’s word quota. What could I change?

 

For Scones and Scoundrels, coming out in January, I tried this revision: bash out the entire manuscript and then tart it up. Many writers are successful with that method, and given more than six months to complete a manuscript, I’d be willing to try it again—maybe. But for me it ended in a horrible time crunch during the tarting part of the equation. Very few hours of sleep and still the day job to smile for. Yow. I shudder at the memory.

 

For Cat and Mouse Murder, coming also coming out next year (under the pen name Margaret Welch), I tried this revision: instead of a daily word quota, I set myself an hourly word quota. It’s a very simple tweak to a process that has worked for me for years and it made all the difference. The hourly word quota concentrated my focus. I gave me more hours in the day. It let me have lunch with friends and actually talk to my family.

 

For me, the real writing is in the revision. It’s in the differences, some of them small and oh so obvious, that make the difference. A better reality was there, too.

 

 

Bio:

The Boston Globe says Molly MacRae writes “murder with a dose of drollery.” Scones and Scoundrels, the book two in Molly’s new Highland Bookshop Mysteries, will be out in January. She’s also the author of the award-winning Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries from NAL/Penguin (and being continued by Pegasus Crime). Her short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine since 1990 and she is a winner of the Sherwood Anderson Award for Short Fiction. Molly lives in Champaign, Illinois. You can visit her at www.mollymacrae.com and www.killercharacters.com.

 

Buy links:

 

Indiebound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781681776200

 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Scones-Scoundrels-Highland-Bookshop-Mysteries/dp/1681776200/

 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/scones-and-scoundrels-molly-macrae/1126706951?ean=9781681776200