Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Dreaded Middle

It has been a long time since I posted on this blog, which means I have been working hard on my third Caitlyn Jamison mystery! My new website: also has a blog, plus a short blog called "Caitlyn's News," in which I keep readers informed about what she is up to as her new adventure progresses. So, counting my genealogy blog,, I now have three blogs, "Caitlyn's News" and a website to keep fresh, in addition to making progress on the third book. Whew!

Last week I hit the dreaded middle of my new book (working title: The Missing Waterman). Actually I was over halfway when I came to a screeching halt. I spent several days (and nights) wondering where I had gone awry. I liked the plot lines, and I liked the characters, so why couldn't I make the story go forward?

The answer came to me in the middle of the night: the story sequence was in the wrong order. The way I decided to fix that was to start over. Yes, with 0 word count. I started a new document in which I copied chapters from the original document, but placed them in a different order. I took pieces of chapters and put them where they worked better. I've left the fluff behind, and now have a work-in-progress that flows much better and the prose is tighter.

Utilizing the advice from the book, Make a Scene, I will go through those new chapters to make sure they fit the criteria. I then will put each chapter through WritingProAid, a software product that is an incredible editing tool. I want to make sure my base is solid before I go much further with the story. 

And that is the life of a writer. Always learning, always trying new ways to come up with an enjoyable story. May your writing give you much joy.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Scenes Provide the Framework

I am reading Make a Scene by Jordan Rosenfeld, a book I highly recommend for every writer. It is a whole new way for me to look at and evaluate the scenes in my book. I had just started the first chapter when I grabbed my writer’s journal to take notes on how I should reorganize my text. The book is that good.

Ms Rosenfeld begins by defining the functions of a scene as “…the essential DNA of story: They are the individual ‘cells’ of information that shape the essence of the story …” From that overall description, she delves deep into the core elements of writing scenes, and then describes the various scene types.

She outlines the most important questions for each scene:
“Where are my characters in the plot? Where did I leave them in the last scene and what are they doing now? *What is the most important piece of information that needs to be revealed in this scene? *What is my protagonist’s goal for this scene? *How will that goal be achieved or thwarted?”

My writer’s journal notes from the first few chapters of Make a Scene instructed me to flesh out the undesirable character, Vince Russell, mentioned in the first chapter. The book reminded me there are always two sides, and I should tell Mr. Russell’s side of the story. He, too, has hopes and needs. Vince now has his own chapter, when before, he had a paragraph buried in the first chapter.

I realized I had stereotyped some of my characters. That’s wrong, and I have now reworked those scenes to better reflect the people and their culture.

I had not described the setting enough, and I find that is an ongoing process. It is part of the process where I have to slow down, delve deep into my characters and where they are in order to describe the setting they are in. This is not easy for me, but I’m working on it. Yesterday I enjoyed creating the town of Ingram and I hope my readers will enjoy it as well.

Keeping in mind the advice Ms. Rosenfeld provides in her book, I am crafting each scene launch carefully and strategically, and asking myself, what is each character’s role? By following this recipe, I have already reworked the first couple of chapters, and am looking forward to reshaping and fleshing out the later chapters.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A Story Needs Passion

Sydney, my muse and advisor
An article by Deb Caletti in the latest Writers Digest caught my attention. In fact, I stopped reading and put the magazine down. The article gave me pause.

She said the first thing she asks her students before embarking on a writing project is to write down – What’s the point? As writers we learn about developing characters, plot, POV, pacing, dialogue, and the importance of editing, but the most important element is, in her words, “your own deep and personal connection to what’s on the page.” And that is when I realized that what I have developed so far in my third book is a story, but not a passion.

Ms. Caletti goes on to say, “The most important thing you can do, truly, is write the book that stirs your heart and disturbs your soul.”

I had to reevaluate what I was passionate about in my third mystery. The first two books had issues I was passionate about, and there were times when I couldn’t type fast enough. The passion and energy flowed out of me at such a fast rate my fingers couldn’t keep up. But not this time. And I thank Ms. Caletti for reminding me that feeling the story is of upmost importance.

I realized that what I am most passionate about is delving into each character, getting to know them, and to see how they react in various situations. I am also passionate about how Caitlyn deals with the cold case she becomes passionate about at a time of high stress in her job and family.

Is there more? The article prompted me to talk things over with my muse, Sydney. I asked her that all-important question—what am I passionate about? We came up with several more things, and I have to figure out how to work them into the story.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Website Development

I had put off developing a website thinking a blog would be good enough—until the November 11 CRRL Writer’s Conference. As I listened to the speakers, and participated on the panel on publishing and marketing, I realized it was time to develop a website presence.

We had purchased website software several years ago, so I had the tools at hand. And I’ve found that I enjoy creating websites and Keynote presentations. I worked on my pages, took a break, came back and added more information, took a break, and that was how my day went last Thursday as I put together the information I felt readers might enjoy.

I had a bit of a time getting the site published. That is not a seamless task and after many failed attempts, a live chat finally gave me the critical information I needed for success. But the site is up now, hosted by A2 Hosting, a reputable company – another goal.

In the process of getting the site hosted, I read a great article on Jane Friedman’s blog about what a website should cover. From that article I went back in and made adjustments to my site. Once published, I asked my daughter-in-law to review. She made some good suggestions, like putting my contact information next to where the books can be purchased if someone wants to purchase directly from me for a signed edition.

I will be posting tidbits about how the next Caitlyn Jamison mystery is progressing, and other writing and publishing things I have learned along the way.

Please visit my new website at:

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

NaNoWriMo Rebels

I recently learned about a group that calls itself NaNoWriMo Rebels. These are folks that don’t fit into the 50,000 words a month criteria. They are poets, bloggers, plotters, and … The Rebels suggest participants set their own goals, like I did this past week. They also suggest that if you meet your particular goal, then log in the 1,167 words for the day. Because you met your goal. However you decide to participate, make it a successful event. The real goal is to have participants form the habit of sitting in their seat and writing every day.

In my last blog I mentioned things were going well for me until about the 20,000 word mark. It was then I had to stop and rework the first chapters. I needed a strong base from which to continue the story, and I hadn’t accomplished that. I have worked the last few days in figuring out what exactly the story is about. I had too many things going on, and the flow was interrupted by switching characters and switching settings. I had to remove several chapters at the beginning because they didn’t feel right. I pasted them at the end, because I still want the characters, but they will come in later and I will be able to show rather than tell.

My day is made when I read a blog that says everything I feel and wish I had said better! Today is that day. One of the blogs I follow is TheKill Zone, and the entry from November 20 by Clare Langley-Hawthorne was why NaNoWriMo wasn’t working for her—for all the same reasons it isn’t working for me.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

NaNoWriMo – So How’s it Going?

I would answer that question with “good!” Though I would have to clarify –does it mean I am keeping up with the 1,167 words a day, or has the story progressed as I would like? Then the answer is no and yes.

The word count progressed well until about mid-month. It was at that time I realized this isn’t how I write. I can’t just throw words down to meet a daily number. I was getting lost in the story, and as the characters developed, they, too, didn’t like the way things were going.

At that point I decided my NaNoWriMo goal would be 25,000 (instead of 50,000). I was sure I could meet that. Over the last couple of days I rewrote Chapter One. Moved what was Chapter One to the end of the document with the hope I can salvage some of it later. I tweaked the next few chapters for better flow and moved chapters around. I now have a document that flows much better and I can move forward.

And, I wrote the last two chapters. That will help to keep me headed in the right direction.

Although I can’t write in the traditional NaNoWriMo style, I do appreciate their mission to get writers to write and/or work on their writing every day. That is a great habit to form.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers

Today I have the honor of being featured on the Anastasia Pollack’s blog, Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers. I was asked to write about my protagonist, Caitlyn Jamison’s craft, or in her case, Caitlyn’s career in graphic design.

Writing that guest blog was a great exercise. I hadn’t thought about how Caitlyn’s skills in graphic design would assist her in solving crimes. But in fact, they do.

When I started to create my characters, I decided that if I wanted my female sleuth to be out and about solving crimes, she couldn’t be tied to a desk, with a controlling boss looking over her shoulder. My protagonist needed a job that would allow her to move about while she earned a living. Being a self-employed (though struggling financially) graphic artist allowed her that freedom – have laptop will travel.

Being computer literate and with laptop close at hand, also helps her with investigations. She’s at ease with Internet research and with the ability to connect with others to get the information she needs.

Read the full blog here.