If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our September Author Interviews--9/6 Kathleen Valenti, 9/13 David Burnsworth, 9/20 Jeri Westerson, 9/27 Frances Brody. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.
September Saturday Guest Bloggers: 9/2--Anne Bannon, 9/9 WWK Bloggers, 9/16 Margaret S. Hamilton, 9/23 Kait Carson, and on 9/30 Trixie Stiletto.
“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction. Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut. The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.” In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!
Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:
Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.
Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.
In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.
Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.
Sunday, April 2, 2017
Back to the beginning
by Julie Tollefson
I’ve been thinking a lot about the beginning of my work in progress the last few weeks. I like my characters. The situation I’ve put them in is fraught with suspense. The story is compelling.
At least, it’s all those things to me. But when I take a step back, I wonder: Does it move too fast? Are the characters really as three-dimensional as I imagine them to be? Is all the good stuff I see in my head really there on the page?
In an attempt to get perspective, I pulled three novels I love off my shelves and re-read the first twenty or thirty pages of each to see how the masters set the hook for readers like me.
Still Life, the first in Louise Penny’s Three Pines series, begins with a body, briefly introduces Inspector Gamache, then slips back in time and slows down without losing tension. Readers get to know Three Pines and its residents, victim included, in a gossipy way that reveals enough secrets and simmering feuds to keep readers captivated for 25 pages until Gamache appears again.
In just six pages of The Black Hour, Lori Rader-Day introduces a damaged protagonist (literally—she’s recovering after being shot before the story begins) and sketches a situation rife with drama. Questions draw the reader on: Who shot the main character? Why? How will she cope? What happens next? And, particularly interesting to me, do I even like this character?
Nancy Pickard’s The Virgin of Small Plains begins in the middle of action—a pickup truck’s almost slow-motion slide on icy roads and its driver’s equally slow-motion observation of her bathrobe-clad neighbor traipsing through a roadside graveyard in a blizzard. An odd situation, sure. But then, like Penny, Pickard takes the reader back in time to build a strong sense of place and relationships among characters.
Common to all three? In the beginning, the mystery isn’t so much about the dead body—that’s coming in each—but about the people through whose eyes we see the story unfold. In short, all three books have, as Donald Maass describes in Chapter 5 of his excellent Writing 21st Century Fiction, “standout characters.” (I’ve written about this book before, and I probably will again. I love it that much.)
“Look at those people in your own life about whom you care greatly,” Maass writes on page 76. “Often, they’re people who to the rest of the world appear ordinary.”
That’s it! The characters in all three novels appear ordinary, but their stories are not.
So, uh, how does that help me with my current manuscript?
First, I’m reminded that it’s not necessary to race straight into a murder investigation. The real story often happens on the fringes of the investigation, at a pace that allows the reader to breathe.
I’ll also take another look at my ordinary people—a detective content with his small-town beat, an ambitious college student—and find the extraordinary in them. Plot will keep the story moving, but characters will steal the show.
What qualities do you look for in the beginning of a novel? What keeps you reading?