If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

September Interviews

9/2 Dianne Freeman, A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder

9/9 Ellen Byron, Murder in the Bayou Boneyard

9/16 Marilyn Levinson, writing as Allison Brook, Checked Out for Murder

9/23 Rhys Bowen, The Last Mrs. Summers

9/30 Sherry Harris, From Beer To Eternity

September Guest Bloggers

9/19 Judy Alter

WWK Weekend Bloggers

9/5 V. M. Burns

9/12 Jennifer J. Chow

9/26 Kait Carson


For The Love Of Lobster Tales by Shari Randall is now available to download free for a limited time. Go to Black Cat Mysteries at: https://bcmystery.com/ to get your free copy! Thanks for the freebie, Shari.

Keenan Powell recently signed with agent Amy Collins of Talcott Notch. Congratulations, Keenan!

KM Rockwood's "Secrets To The Grave" will appear in the new SinC Chesapeake Chapter's new anthology Invitation To Murder, which will be released by Wildside Press on 10/6.

Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!


Sunday, October 14, 2012

How to Shake Things Up

My partner, Jan, maintains she has inherited her mother’s sense of direction: very strong, just not very reliable. If faced with a 50/50 decision of the right direction at a “T” intersection, one approach that would yield a better than 50% result would be to ask Jan which way to go...and then turn the other way. I have a line about us driving together: When I drive and Jan navigates, we have one driver and half a navigator. If she drives and I navigate, we have one navigator and one and a half drivers! (I like to use the passenger brake pedal sooner than she uses the driver’s pedal.)

We’ve known about our collective driving deficiencies almost as long as we’ve known each other. However, until just a few years ago, we steadfastly maintained our patterns. If we took Jan’s car somewhere, she drove and I navigated. If we took my car we reversed responsibilities. Because I have the larger car, whenever we take road trips, we take my car.

Jan’s navigation has provided us the opportunity to see parts of the country we otherwise would not have known existed. This has real advantages when we are on a road trip in which exploration is a major objective. However, when it’s nearing dinner time and we still need to find a place for that night’s rest, exploring dirt roads heading in the wrong direction is less satisfying.

We can, and do, laugh at our joint driving deficiencies. Now if we need to get to place A by time B, regardless of which car we are using, Jan drives and I navigate. Mostly—sometimes we revert to “norm.”

I suspect many of us have developed similar ruts in our writing routines. We follow a process because it made sense at one point. Yet if we examine it, we would find it is not as efficient as we would prefer. For example, have you recently reflected on the time of day you write? How about where in your home you write? What distractions do you allow (or encourage!) to interrupt your writing time—phone, email, social networks, research?

Sometimes when we are in a rut we should have the Jan part of us navigate. We might discover new territories that bring insight or renewed vigor to our writing. Sometimes the fun of the unexpected (or, if you will, a lack of discipline) diminishes our ability to get actual words on a page, self-edit our work, do promotion or query agents and editors.

It has been said that the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

How do you recognize you are in a rut? What do you do to get out of it?

~ Jim


Gloria Alden said...

Mostly I have a pretty good sense of direction, however, if I've been off in my own world thinking of other things, sometimes I find myself going in a direction I didn't plan. I most often have this problem once I've gotten some place and then want to reverse my direction especially if it's a place I've never been to before. It's even worse at night.

I love it when my sisters and I decide to get off the interstate and just wander on back roads in the general direction we want to go. Those roads are so much more interesting than the interstates and we see more interesting things at a slower pace. I love going through small towns, too,

Alyx Morgan said...

I haven't quite taken to getting out of a rut with my writing, Jim, but I have ways of getting out of ruts with driving. I like to take different routes when going from point A to point B. Some of them take a little longer, but I'd rather take more time than be such a creature of habit.

And I have a horrible sense of direction with regards to N, S, E, W. I tend to think whatever way I'm facing is North, even if I'm driving from Michigan to Florida. The only place I didn't have this issue was when I lived in Chicago. After a couple of years, I could tell which way I was going because I knew where Lake Michigan was.

Warren Bull said...

When I lived in California the mountains were to the East. In Kansas City there are no mountains visible in any direction. When I get stuck on a project, I put it away and let it simmer for a few weeks. When I return to it, it is easier to keep writing.

Jim Jackson said...


Jan and I are fans of what William Least Heat Moon calls "Blue Highways." On long trips we take Interstates only when we need to get from A to B in a hurry.

In Nebraska one time that saved me a ticket. I was zipping down a secondary road when a state policeman pulled me over. With Michigan plates and license he knew I was a foreigner and asked where we were headed. I told him our driving plans and he approved of seeing his state from something other than the freeway -- and he added as a caution that our plan also meant we couldn't go freeway speeds!

~ Jim

Jim Jackson said...


I grew up in suburban Rochester, NY so between Lake Ontario and the Genesee River I was in good shape for NSEW. In NJ I had the Hudson River as a geographical helpmate. In Boston it was the Atlantic Ocean.

Cincinnati is on the Ohio River, but sometimes that was no help because the river loops and bends and at any point could be N S E or W of where you are. When we moved to Kentucky, just across the river, it was even worse because now we were on the "wrong" side of the river so everything was reversed.

~ Jim

Jim Jackson said...


I agree on taking time-outs from projects. I'll do that even if I'm not stuck sometimes just to make sure I've come up with the best way of presenting my idea.

Of course I didn't grow up in a world of tweets where you don't know what you're thinking until after you tweeted it. :)

~ Jim

Kara Cerise said...

I recently moved my desk so I have a better view out the window. It was a good change since I can write for longer periods of time.

But, honestly, now that my latest houseguest has left, I'm very happy to return to a "writing rut".