Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Making Connections

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to participate in the Culpeper Library’s Local Author Extravaganza. As with many library-sponsored events, patron participation was minimal. A bit disappointing for the twenty-five local authors who made the effort to come out with all their book sale paraphernalia. The library director has sent a thank you email and asks for suggestions on how to draw more people to the event in the future. How could the event be designed differently to garner more interest? I have a few ideas that I will share with her, but if you, my reader, have any ideas, please share!

In my mind the day was successful. I had a great time chatting with patrons and other local authors. Many came by my table, and took my business card. I fully understand that. I am not an impulse buyer. I would take information on the author, and then when I got home, check that person out, and if we connected, then I would purchase their book.

Connection is the key, isn’t it. And that is what I have to work on for future events. One of the authors passed out a two-page information sheet on his books that also included his background information. I had not had a chance to visit his table, but by reading his info sheet, I connected with him on two levels. First, he attended Syracuse University, just an hour away from the Ithaca area where I grew up and lived most of my life, and then I found out that he has written a book about a little boy who lived on Caroline Street in Fredericksburg.

I am on the task force to create a visible likeness of the Fielding Lewis Store (1750-1820). Fielding Lewis was the brother-in-law of George Washington, and both George and his mother Mary shopped at the Lewis Store. One of the features of our makeover of the store space is to sell some of the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc. publications, and I want to have items for children as well.

Reading over Skip Townsley’s information sheet, I see he wrote a book, The Messenger on Caroline Street, “...a heartwarming story of a little black boy who is hidden away in an alley in a small Virginia town by a mother desperate to save her son from her own life of slavery.”

Taking a page out of Mr. Townsley’s book … I need to develop some sort of flyer, rack card, or similar to introduce myself and my books to readers. In other words, I need to give readers a reason to purchase my book, either in trade format or Kindle.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Culpeper, Virginia Library Author Extravaganza Event

Today I am headed to Culpeper, Virginia, about an hour southwest of Fredericksburg to attend their library’s “Local Author Extravaganza.” There are twenty-six authors registered, and I look forward to meeting other local authors.

I didn’t realize I had been put on a panel until Wednesday afternoon when I received an email listing the panel members and questions. That was a nice surprise, because I have already met two of the panel members, Suzi Weinert and Melinda Crocker.

Below is a sneak peek at the panel questions and my advice to aspiring writers:

"How do you develop characters?" "How do you make your stories feel like they are set in a specific city (or a specific time)?"
I develop bios of each character; I get to know them, their personalities, likes, dislikes, physical features. And don’t be surprised when you do that and start writing that the characters take over and change the story. It happened to me in both my books!

Setting is character – describe the place, think about the senses, what does it look like (colors), smell like (pine forest, ocean, etc.), sound like?

How do you keep your plots unpredictable without sacrificing believability?
Careful plotting, planning/planting subtle red herrings, and my beta readers catch inconsistencies and help keep my stories believable.

Why do you choose to work in this genre? Do you consider yourself a genre writer, or do you want to try other modes
I love puzzles, and always loved reading mysteries. So, yes, I am a genre writer.

What is the question you would most/least like to be asked by the audience, and what is your answer
Question: What is your advice to aspiring writers?
Answer: Decide your ultimate writing goal. Then figure out how to get there. Do your homework – publishing has changed. You have to provide a near perfect manuscript (do you have the skill level for grammar, punctuation, editing, proof reading, or will you have to hire these out?), you have to do your own marketing, what will your royalties be? Bottom line: Research carefully all aspects and decide which option is best for you.

Who is your favorite mystery writer?
I am going to say a lesser-known author, Kate Charles. I love her characters and the way she describes the setting – small English cathedral towns.

I love Elizabeth George’s earlier books, though I feel her more recent books are novels rather than mysteries.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival a Great Success

Not a good photo - too much shade in the early morning.   

Early Saturday morning September 23, 2017 over 125 book vendors gathered at Riverside Park along the Rappahannock River for the second annual Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival. Authors from all over the state participated, which provided a wide variety of genres from which readers could choose. A food truck pulled in to feed the hungry masses, and panel discussions on various genres were held throughout the day.

The book festival was held in conjunction with the city’s annual sidewalk sales, just one block away. These events pulled people into the city and the amount of energy created was amazing. I loved watching the trolley tour pass by, each one full of visitors to the city.

Within the first three hours of the festival, the organizers announced they had already doubled last year’s total attendance. Needless to say they were very happy.

I learned a lot about outside exhibiting and will do a better job next year. Instead of borrowing a 10 x 10 canopy tent, which was a pain to put up, I will purchase a 6 x 6 that will be much easier to handle and assemble. I will get there really early to get a parking spot near the event, and bring only a few books to the table, leaving the rest in the car if needed. I did plan ahead and brought my lunch in an insulated bag, so I didn’t have to leave my table to stand in line at the food truck. Other vendors near me wished they had done the same thing.

It was fun to meet other authors, and talk to readers as they stopped by my table. Even those who were not interested in mystery books, stopped and commented, “I love your cover.” I agree. I do, too.

Until next year.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Are you a Plotter or Pantser?

I’m both. I dutifully outlined my first book, An Unexpected Death, because that was what I thought I should do. But when the characters were developed and decided to take over and change the plot lines, my outline became obsolete, and I became a Pantser.

What’s the difference? A Plotter is someone who outlines the entire book, which provides them with a road map of how the story will flow. A Pantser is someone who hovers their fingers over the keyboard (or has pen and paper at hand), and just starts writing, letting the words, characters and plot lines develop.

For my second book, Fatal Dose, just released, I decided to be a Pantser. When I had a couple of plot ideas and character bios written, I sat down and typed.

It didn’t work. I spent too much time going places with the book that resulted in dead ends. I had to backtrack, cut out a lot of text, and start in another direction. It was very frustrating and cost me a lot of time.

In starting the third Caitlyn Jamison mystery, I am back to being a plotter. The outline is in three acts, with scenes within each act. Each character action is delineated by a bullet point. I am able to move the characters through time and actions in order to get a good flow for the story. As I drill down into the scenes, I’m able to move things around if they no longer fit. If I need more information about something I put that issue in bold font within brackets. At the end of the document I made notes about the plot lines and characters. One issue I need to work on is to give Caitlyn’s mother a stronger personality. She was never fully developed in the first two books.

Every writer has to try different ways to be organized. I’m glad I tried both and sometimes it is a combination of ways that fits. Whichever way you decide to write, enjoy the process.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fatal Dose Featured in Huffington Post

Samantha McGraw who blogs as the Teacottage Mysteries as well as for the Huffington Post has featured my books in her posts today. She will also post on Facebook and Instagram. The blog post is labeled “Tea with M.E. Maki.”

Samantha was easy to work with, provided a list of questions, and was very flexible with my publishing schedule. She is looking to feature authors and their blog posts, even recipes. Check her blog out, and consider sharing a blog with her.

While marketing Fatal Dose, I am developing an outline for my next book with the working title, The Missing Waterman.

Through this process, I have learned that what I love about writing is developing the different characters, describing the setting, and then bringing it all to life.

Fatal Dose and An Unexpected Death can be found on Amazon under author M.E. Maki. And Amazon reviews are always welcome. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Fatal Dose: A Caitlyn Jamison Mystery - Now available

Graphic artist Caitlyn Jamison is back in scenic Riverview, New York, working on a winery photo shoot—and hoping to reconnect with Sheriff Ethan Ewing. But the sheriff has a serious situation on his hands: an undercover agent posing as a professor disappears on the same morning a college student is found dead. When Caitlyn learns the missing man is her friend’s uncle, and against Ethan’s wishes, she insists on helping with the investigation.

Meanwhile, Caitlyn’s Aunt Myra hears about a different kind of mystery from her friend, retired teacher Verna Adams. Verna is searching for her long-lost brother, who once lived on the abandoned road where the student’s body was discovered. As Riverview’s town historian uncovers the unsettling truth about Verna’s brother, Caitlyn and Ethan defy the town’s officials and keep their investigation going—with dangerous consequences.

Fatal Dose is the second book in the Caitlyn Jamison Mystery Series. The stories are set in the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York, and the book covers are by local photographers. The first book, An Unexpected Death, has a cover featuring vineyards on Seneca Lake by photographer Richard Welch. The cover of Fatal Dose is of Grove Cemetery, Trumansburg, New York by Ithaca photographer Joseph Scaglione, III.

Both Caitlyn Jamison mysteries have interesting subplots, and current social issues are worked into the plot lines of both books.

Fatal Dose can be ordered through Amazon.com.

Good Books are Fueled by Passion

This weekend I attended a University of Mary Washington Great Lives lecture at our branch library. The author, Marc Tyler Nobleman, was a powerful speaker, an accomplished researcher, and with an insatiable curiosity. The passion that fuels him is superheroes. Specifically, Superman and Batman.

In his book, Bill, the Boy Wonder, Mr. Nobleman debunks the story that Bob Kane alone created Batman. In fact, it was Bill Finger who was the creative and writing force behind Batman and the spinoffs. Mr. Nobleman writes:

When Batman was first written, one name was attached to his creation: Bob Kane. Bob's name appeared in every Batman comic, without any other creator noted. However, this is not true. Bill Finger, a Depression-era, New York resident, had a lot to do with it, too. In fact, according to Marc Tyler Nobleman's breakthrough biography Bill the Boy Wonder:The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, Bill was responsible for the majority of the Batman persona we see today.

Through dogged persistence, Mr. Nobleman found Mr. Finger’s one descendant, and together they successfully appealed to DC Comics to add Bill Finger’s name in all future publications, movies, and videos.

Marc Tyler Nobleman started his presentation by saying, “Good Books are fueled by passion,” and I agree!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Fatal Dose is almost there

The last few months have been a blur as I put the finishing touches on the second Caitlyn Jamison Mystery series, Fatal Dose.

As an author, whether you are published or self-published, it is your responsibility to put out the best product possible. To accomplish that I paid close attention to what each of my seven beta readers said. I took their comments seriously, and made adjustments to the story in order to address their concerns.

When I was sure the manuscript was as clean as I could get it, I loaded it and the cover into CreateSpace, and ordered three proof copies. I read one, my husband read one, and a colleague who is a grammarian, read the third. We each found things to address, which proves that editing is never done.

Having said that, there comes a time when the author has to decide the book is done. We have to let it go.

I reloaded the corrected manuscript and the tweaked cover into Createspace at eight o’clock Tuesday morning. The book was approved by five o’clock Tuesday afternoon and I ordered one more proof copy. I am a firm believer in “Murphy’s Law.” As soon as this last proof copy arrives, I will not read it again, but instead will check the cover, and make sure no formatting issues have popped up.

Fingers crossed that my second book will be available by mid-next week. Whew!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Reader Etiquette

I am getting close to publishing my second Caitlyn Jamison mystery, Fatal Dose, and with that comes an increased level of stress. What if, after all the beta readers, after all my editing, there remains an elusive typo, an extra word, a missing word, or different spellings of the same word, or … you fill in the blank.

I suspect every writer goes through this anxiety period, and maybe it never ends for some. At some point you (or your publisher) has to decide the story is told. Editing and rewriting is done. It is time to close the document and let it go. And that is when high anxiety hits.

I have been thinking about this process lately, and decided to air my feelings about reader etiquette.  I still laugh over a comment I received after publication of An Unexpected Death. The person said she hoped I would have a good editor for my next book because she found a misplaced apostrophe! How do you answer a naïve comment like this? As an author, you don’t. You just smile and nod. (And try not to burst out laughing.)

This week I started reading Lisa Unger’s The Red Hunter, published April 2017 by Simon & Schuster, and by a fourth of the way through the book I noticed two editing errors. I will not be emailing or commenting on the author’s Facebook page telling her about these errors. Instead, I will do what I always do, understand that no one is perfect, and what I really want from any book I pick up is a good story.

And that brings me to reader etiquette. When you read my books, I’m sure you will find an editing error or two of some kind. What I wish is that you overlook those and just enjoy the story.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Various Editing Processes

I never thought about it, but it makes sense there are different editing processes for each phase of story development.

A Developmental Editor works with the author on developing the story. They will check the structure and content of your book. You may or may not need this service, depending on your skill level. For a detailed article on how to work with a developmental editor, check Jane Friedman’s website.

A Line Editor looks at the author’s creative content, writing style and language, making sure the use of language is clear and readable. A line editor will point out overused/unneeded words and sentences, where dialogue needs to be tightened, and confusing scenes, just to name a few.

A Copy Editor gets down to the nitty-gritty of finding spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. The copy editor will look for consistency in your use of words and statements. You can’t have someone with blue eyes in the beginning of the story and brown eyes at the end – unless, of course, contact lenses are part of the story!

Thanks to the New YorkBook Editors website for pointing out the differences between line editing and copy editing.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Editing – You gotta love it!

I’ve been through my manuscript a number of times. I utilized Prowritingaid software diagnostics, and then addressed the comments/issues my three experienced first readers sent. Before I send the manuscript out to my “second” readers, I need to make sure all the changes I made are correct and the story works.

I’ve learned every time I touch a document, there is the possibility of a typo, leaving a word out, or leaving in an extra word. With that in mind I had a copy run so I could read it from a different point of view – if that makes sense.

In other words, I’ve put aside my “writer” hat and put on my “reader” hat. When writing I tend to be tense, trying too hard to figure out the right way to say something and thinking about consistent formatting. This time I am sitting back, more relaxed, and in that process, with red pen in hand, I am finding all sorts of different ways to phrase what I want to say. I am also deleting sentences that don’t pull their weight, and adding some that will.

Having said that, I learned with the first book that editing can go on forever. There has to be a time when the author says, it’s done, and that is a hard decision to make.

In the meantime, I will continue to color my manuscript red.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Book Covers

There has been a fair amount of discussion recently on the Self Published Authors Yahoo! Group with regard to book covers. Where do you find cover art? Where do you find a graphic artist who can turn a photo into a nice looking cover? Someone who can lead you through the process of just the right back cover synopsis, author bio, and photo. How much should one expect to pay for a cover?

The responses were all over the lot, though there was a consensus that using stock photos was not the way to go. I, along with a number of other self-published authors find a reputable photographer in the location in which the book is set. One response was from a woman whose book is set out west and she found a wonderful photograph in Wyoming. Or you can hire a talented and reasonably priced graphic artist to get just the right images for you, like Susan Brier of WriteDesign.com.

My first two books are set in the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York. I was fortunate to find two wonderful, understanding, and supportive photographers that sold me high definition photos for a very reasonable cost.

Remember, you can’t just take photos off the Internet. If you find one that might work for your book, you then have to track down the owner, write to them asking permission, and if granted, get that permission in writing. As I scanned the Internet for photos, before I went any further, I would click on it to see who had ownership. If it wasn’t clear, or some big organization, I kept searching.

And so the option I shared with the Yahoo! Group subscribers was the services of a friend of mine. Susan Brier (Writedesign.com) who enjoys working with authors on developing just the right cover for their book. She might have mentioned to me she also does some editing, but don’t quote me on that. If you need help developing your cover art, give Susan a call or email. She’ll be happy to help.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Let’s Talk Marketing

I have to share one of the craziest (and funniest) comments I’ve ever heard. On my way into the first Central Rappahannock Regional Library’s Inklings meetings held at the England Run Library, I was right behind an older, overweight gentleman, who was slowly making his way into the library. As he walked, he said with disgust, “When I’m published I’m not going to sit in the library and sell my books. My publisher will do all the marketing.” My immediate thought was, how arrogant.

I thought the comment a bit premature, but later found it very funny, because during the months I hung in with this dysfunctional group (down to 3 before I left), this man produced not one written piece. A writer wannabe.

Real writers, those who actually produce, know that publishers don’t market. If you are fortunate enough to persevere long enough to be accepted by an agent, that agent then “markets” your book to publishers. If you are lucky enough to be accepted by a publisher, then in a year or so, your book may hit the bookstores. In the meantime, you are hard at work marketing your book.

As a new writer it is up to you to get noticed, to build readership. And that means sitting in the lobbies of libraries, talking to people, and selling your book. You have to have a social media presence like Facebook and Twitter, arrange signings with as many bookstores as you can. Give interesting author presentations, go to writing conferences, set up an author page on Goodreads and Amazon, and find bloggers who will interview you. You could hire a marketing firm, but make sure you research them thoroughly first or it will be throwing your money away. These are just a few ideas – there are many more. After all this work/time getting the word out, who has time to write?

Whether you are self-published or mainstream published, once published, switch your writing hat for your marketing one. And therein is the rub. For many of us, marketing is difficult. I, for one, have a hard time putting myself out there. I hide my candle well, as they say.

So I am determined, once Fatal Dose is published, that I will spend time working on my marketing skills. I write because it is my personal challenge. My next big challenge will be to figure out how to market my books without breaking the bank. “They say” it’s easier when you have at least two books to sell – maybe it means you are a serious writer – I don’t have that answer, but I do feel that whether sitting in the library lobby or at a book fair, I will be considered a more professional writer than I am with just one book.

Comments on marketing ideas will be appreciated. Keep writing!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Should you hire a professional editor?

The answer to this question is: It depends.

At the presentation I attended on Saturday, thriller writer Rick Pullen talked at some length about the editing process, developmental editors, copy editors, and line editors. He shared his trials (and money spent) in finding just the right person for his particular work. He also has his daughters, wife, and ex-girlfriend reading and advising on his manuscript.

It was almost like my Sisters-in-Crime were listening in on that presentation, because this week the SinC Self-Published Authors Yahoo! Group was abuzz with questions/opinions/answers on whether or not one should hire a professional editor, and how much should one pay for those services. The consensus so far was anything from $300 to $1,500, but then, again, we get that word “depends.”  And some made the point – you get what you pay for.

It also depends on which kind of editor you want. They each have a different job and should be done in the appropriate order. Before hiring an editor, do your homework. Know exactly what services each editor performs and decide what kind of editing you need.

To decide whether you need to hire professional help, ask these questions: How good are you at typing, spelling, grammar, style, punctuation, formatting, pacing? How good are your editing skills? Can you find those typos, like “sigh,” when you meant “sign?” Can your eyes pick up extra words or missing words – you know, every author has them. It happens when you are cutting, pasting, moving text around. Can you pick out repeated sentence starts and sentences that are too long? If the answer is yes to most of the above, then you probably don’t need to hire an editor. But you still need experienced proofreaders. There is no way any writer can pick up on all those issues.

Besides having experienced proofreaders, I am also utilizing the Prowritingaid.com website to run my chapters through. That software points out where I might have issues. I say, “might have,” because you, the writer, have the final say. It’s software, after all, not human interaction. I found that some issues the software pointed out where not issues at all. But for the most part, it has helped me tremendously in pointing out overused words, long sentences, grammar and style. It allowed me to send a much cleaner manuscript to my First Readers.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Write Every Day

If you want to be a successful writer, “write every day” was the advice given several times during author Rick Pullen’s presentation yesterday at the England Run Library. After being rejected by agents 39 times, his first book, Naked Ambition, was published by Kindle Scout and sales hit the roof. His trade paperback print version has also sold well. He is serious about writing and works hard to learn the craft. His background as a investigative reporter helps him to come up with excellent story lines, but he admitted, writing nonfiction is very different than writing fiction. Rick is dedicated to producing the best writing he can.

He gave his audience insights into writing, publishing, the real story behind Kindle Scout (hint: reader nominations have little to do with an author securing a contract), how Amazon is setting up brick and mortar stores to capture even more customers (doesn’t make sense to me, but apparently it does to Amazon), and the amount of money needed to be spent in order to get your book noticed.

I went away energized by his presentation, but later felt a little down. I am not in a position to spend thousands of dollars attending writing conferences, hiring several different kinds of editors, and marketing firms, nor do I want to wait a (large) number of years with the hope of finding an agent and getting published.

I had to remind myself why I am writing, what my personal goals are. I write to challenge myself to finish a story that readers will find fun and interesting. I am not writing to be famous or to make money. I don’t want a career – been there; done that.

I encourage every writer to think about what motivates them. Be realistic about publishing goals. Rick was very clear about the skills and time needed to finish a well-crafted book, and to get published – unless you are Lee Child!  (Rick will be publishing his interview with Lee Child in the near future.)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Fatal Dose is with First Readers!

Bookmarks made by Suzette Young
There are milestones when writing a book, and getting the manuscript finished enough to share is one of those.

A week ago I mailed a bound copy of the manuscript to each of my three first readers. I should have felt a huge relief, but instead, I was in high anxiety. All that work, a year and a half of trying to piece together a readable, enjoyable story – was now out of my hands. What would my first readers think about what I have written?

It is part of the writing process that is nerve wracking, but I thank God every day for my caring and talented friends who offered to take on the job. It is not one to be taken lightly.

A first reader has to take off their “friend” hat and put on their hard core professional one. This is a job. They have to dissect the story. Are the characters developed enough? Is the setting developed to the point where the reader is drawn into the location? Is the plot interesting? Do the story lines come together at the end? Are the questions answered? Does the protagonist change/grow by the end? Does the theme weave through the book?

And then there is formatting, point of view, typos, repeated information, and on and on.

When all this is done, first readers put on their “friend” hat again, and present their findings to the author in a way that doesn’t hurt or discourage, but instead encourages the author to make the story stronger, better, utilizing their suggestions.

I am blessed with first readers that are experts at doing all of the above, and I’m energized by their comments.

Keep writing and enjoy the journey.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

ProWritingAid Editing Tool

Through the Sisters-in-Crime self-published authors' Yahoo! Group, I learned about an editing tool, Prowritingaid.com. I am cautious by nature and definitely do not have money to waste, so I checked this site out several times before I decided it might be the right editing tool for me.

The site provides layers of editing. There is no download of software, which I like. Instead, you upload your project onto their site. From there you can run a summary report which tells you things like overused words, how many long sentences, readability level, spelling issues, grammar issues, number of “sticky” sentences, number of same sentence starts, clichés, pacing, and more. When it reports overused words, or adverbs, it tells you the words and by how many you should reduce.

The software prefers smaller amounts of text, as opposed to an entire 81,000 word book, so I uploaded one chapter at a time, ran a summary report, and with split screen, adjusted my manuscript on the spot. I then put the chapters through the various diagnostics, i.e. grammar, style and sticky. I didn’t need to do readability or pacing, as I was in their “green” zone for those. And just to make you feel good, on the areas where they find issues, they’ll tell you how much better you are than the rest of the users! Like, you are 67% better than …

The website allows you to do a free test on a 500 word document. I tried it out on the first couple of chapters of my book, and was amazed at the helpful hints the site provided. I decided to purchase a license from them and for $40 I have use of this site for a year.

I highly recommend this site for all writers - for those who write for newspapers, newsletters, periodicals, magazines, as well as full-length books. I had no idea how many times I used the word “knew.” He knew, she knew, they knew. Prowritingaid.com picked-up on this usage for almost every chapter. I then went through with the Find feature in Word and found those little buggers!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Editing: Chapter Check and Word Count

I’m almost ready to send the manuscript to first readers, but before I do, I did a Chapter Check. During the writing process it is normal to add chapters, move chapters around, and even delete chapters that don’t pull their weight. Doing that means chapter numbers might not be correct. That is why a Chapter Check is imperative.

The Chapter Check also included writing a short synopsis of each chapter. When that was done, I scrolled through the synopsis and identified each day in red to make sure I was consistent with the timing of events.

And I’m glad I did! It didn’t take long before I ran into the first glitch. After reviewing Chapter Four, the next numbered chapter was eight! As I went through I had to adjust the chapter numbers. 

But that’s not all. I decided to do a chapter word count. That, too, was a good exercise. I found a couple of chapters that had well over 2,000 words. Those chapters I divided up to be consistent with the other chapters.  Of course we don’t want chapters to all have a similar word count, so this process helped me to monitor that.

Editing takes many steps, and I’m learning new ones every day!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Editing Tricks

Sisters in Crime recently started a Yahoo! Group for self-published authors. Topic headers allow members to search on any issue. Recently there’s been a number of suggestions on editing – how to, whether to hire an editor, etc. Some suggestions are: Change font, use one color pen (red), read from bottom to top; read back to front; don’t proof on computer screen; print on colored paper; read aloud (must); and draft up reading group questions.

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks utilizing the Find feature in Word. I searched for glue words, which are unnecessary words that slow the reader down. My glue words are: Since, although, had, some, and want. During this process I also found extraneous words, sentences and even paragraphs to be deleted. By the end I had deleted almost 4,000 words!

The next step in the editing process is looking for long sentences. You know, the ones often connected by “and.” Those can be double checked by utilizing Find for the word “and.”

The last step in my editing process before I send the manuscript to my beta readers is to check chapter numbers. During writing I have added/subtracted and moved chapters around. I need to make sure the numbers are consecutive.

The devil is in the details!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Fatal Dose – The Next Caitlyn Jamison Mystery

I announced during the Island Branch Library presentation in February the title of my second Caitlyn Jamison mystery is Fatal Dose. I had a different working title, but as the story progressed and the characters did their usual thing and changed the story, Fatal Dose was more appropriate.

There is a lot going on in this book and my challenge is to see if I can manage several plot lines, one of which has a genealogy twist. It’s fun to watch how the new secondary characters took over the story line, vying for prime time against the main characters. I remain humbled by the fact that I am only the author; the characters are in control.

Having said that, I think they have done a good job with the story. I applaud my new characters, Steven Sullivan and Verna Adams, who took the story into areas I hoped to avoid. Pushed beyond my comfort level, my writing has grown.

Thank you, Steven and Verna!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

My Writing Space

My writing space with room to spare

It’s important to have your own writing space. It should be a comfortable space where the muse can stir your creative juices. Although I share my home office with hubby, he’s a quiet office mate as he works on researching and writing his genealogy monographs.

When we returned from Florida, I realized I needed a redo of my writing space. The first step was to clear everything off my desk and clean the wood with mineral oil. Because I wanted more space in order to accommodate reference materials, notebooks and other materials, I decluttered and then repositioned my computer and printer. I moved my printer to the front of the file cabinet and placed the reference books behind where they are still close at hand, but not taking up valuable desk real estate. I now have the workspace I need.

The books I have within easy reach are a Merriam-Webster dictionary, The Chicago Manual of Style, Evidence Explained (Elizabeth Shown Mills), Writing with Quiet Hands (Paula Munier), and You Can Write a Mystery (Gillian Roberts). Of course I have a full bookshelf behind me that has a number of writing aids and research materials like The Wine Bible, used while writing An Unexpected Death. I tend to use the Internet as my thesaurus, though I also have a copy on my bookshelf.

I’m consistent when looking up definitions, antonyms and synonyms. I stay with one source, and that is the Merriam-Webster. It doesn’t matter which reliable source is used, I just think it is important to stick with one.

And so with lots of natural light, soft music and a sign that says, “Create” I have my perfect writing space. I would love to hear how other writers have created their writing space.