Monday, June 10, 2019

Riverside Writers Presentation - Do what's right for you

On Saturday, 8 June 2019 a Sister in Crime, Mary Behre, and I did a mini panel on writing to the members of the Riverside Writers group in Fredericksburg, VA. Mary writes The Tidewater Series, Humor, Suspense, and a Psychic Love-Connection. She has traditionally published four books and I have self-published two, working on two more. 

The panel worked well due to the fact of our age difference, publishing preference, and varied experiences with marketing. 

We took turns introducing ourselves and sharing how we got into writing. We then went into our personal writing process, publishing, and marketing.

The message I conveyed to the group was to do their homework when considering publishing options. Understand what the author is responsible for, what the royalties will be, and when they are paid. Mary and I stressed the fact that no matter how you decide to publish, the AUTHOR has to do their own marketing. If the author is not out there doing signings, presentations, active with social media, the books will not be sold; the author will not be paid. Someone asked where Mary had done signings and she listed several states. When that person asked if her publisher set those up, Mary laughed. Not - she had to do the work herself. 

I shared a recent experience with KDP. I realized that my first book, An Unexpected Death, only showed a Kindle version on Amazon. Months ago I had successfully brought my books over from CreateSpace to KDP. How did that happen? At 4:30 p.m. I sent an email off to KDP. At 6:30 I received a phone call, but when I saw it was a Seattle number, I thought it was a Robo call and I didn't answer. A message was left. A rep from KDP wanted more information on my issue. He said he would keep working and would send an email. At 8:30 p.m. I received an email telling me the issue was resolved. My trade paperback and Kindle weren't linked-an Amazon website problem. But the point is, I've had only great customer service experience with CreateSpace and now KDP. 

When I talked about formatting, and how I format as I go since I'm a visual person, Mary asked if I used Scrivener. She does; I don't. I'm happy with Word, and have heard reports that there is a learning curve with Scrivener, which was confirmed by someone in the audience. If one has the time and patience, then Scrivener is deemed to be a great product. 

I think we left the Riverside Writers group with a lot to think about and I hope we were helpful.  

* Do your homework before you make publishing decisions and do what's right for you.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Book Progress Update

We were in the Adirondacks in May for a fundraising hike with our daughter. About every three miles there was an Oasis with water, fruit, and a porta potty. At the second Oasis a woman approached me and said, "How is the next book coming?" The pressure is on :).
I’m embarrassed to see that I haven’t posted a book progress report on this blog since mid-December. So what have I been doing?

The answer is: Writing.

Over the last five months I’ve worked hard to finish the third Caitlyn Jamison mystery. Readers have not been shy about asking how I’m coming on the next book. What they don’t realize is that each book gets harder to write—developing new (interesting) plot line(s), new (interesting) characters, and the challenge of meeting reader expectations. Last week I finished a draft that I felt good enough to share with three beta readers.

Prior to that, I edited the manuscript on my computer screen, had the UPS store run a hard copy (233 8-1/2 x 11 pages), read it aloud, and made notes on items that had to be checked or resolved. I found several overused words: so, able, know, was, photo, think, skeletal. I'm sure there are more, and I will keep looking.
I started with the last chapter and put each through software for diagnostics. Prowritingaid caught issues that I hadn't, and I really appreciate the fact it now picks up missing end quotes.

What else?
In a previous post I mentioned a new character residing on my shoulder and wanted her story told. The character’s name evolved to “Alaina.” Alaina is retired special ops and lives in Savannah, Georgia. Her former partner draws her back into action and the story takes off. While CJ3 is with beta readers, I hope to make great progress on this new suspense story. It doesn’t have a title, so I’m calling it my Savannah story.

For more information check my website: I have a blog and Caitlyn’s News on the site.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019


First Memoir Book birth to marriage
In 2004 I belonged to a memoir writing group at the C.H.Booth Library in Newtown, CT. The group was comprised of about six women. Each had a different story to tell; each had their own particular style and voice. Without saying we understood what was shared stayed in that room. 

It is now fifteen years later and I've successfully convinced the Central Rappahannock Regional Library to start a memoir writing group. The library has a growing Inklings Writing Group, Fiction Critique Group, Poetry Writing Group and Science Fiction Writing Group. Each of those has between four and ten participants. When the Memoir Group did a soft launch to a limited audience, seventeen people immediately signed up. I missed the first session held in March, but attended the second one in April. Ten women attended and it was the most inspiring meeting. The librarian in charge did an amazing job of laying down the ground rules. Besides the "stays in the room" rule, she explained the critique as the "sandwich effect." First a positive comment, then suggestions/questions on how the piece could be improved or clarified, and finish with another positive comment, i.e. "Love your piece. Can't wait to hear more."

I've found that a level of trust has to be gained before I will share my work. With this group I jumped right in. I felt secure as did others as they shared some of their most emotional events. I left the session energized, so much so that I purchased a colorful 3-ring binder, section dividers, developed a draft table of contents of writing prompt ideas, chose a title and photo for the front of my binder. 

I pulled out my notes from November 2004 and will share them at the next session. Some of those memoir writing notes are: Writing journal for ideas, images, dreams. Make a timeline of your life, starting at birth to present day. Note major events. What are you passionate about? What event happened in your life that "changed everything." Think of themes-jobs, houses you lived in, sibling relationships. 

Consider the scenes that make up your life. This can be in the form of a table of contents as I have done, or an outline that you can drill down on as memories come flooding back. 

I'm capturing memories of fifty years ago, so my first draft was just that. It took time for more memories to come back that provided more detail for my piece. I revised my memoir piece several times and it will probably be revised even more as details come to mind. I next have to see if I've saved photos/postcards from our life in Chicago and our California trip.