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

April Interviews

4/1 Jennifer Chow, Mimi Lee Gets A Clue
4/8 John Gaspard
4/15 Art Taylor, The Boy Detective & The Summer of '74
4/22 Maggie Toussaint, Seas the Day
4/29 Grace Topping, Staging Wars

Saturday Guest Bloggers
4/4 Sasscer Hill
4/18 Jackie Green

WWK Bloggers:
4/11 Paula Gail Benson
4/25 Kait Carson


WWK is proud of our four Agatha nominees. Kaye George for Best Short Story--not her first time to be nominated, Connie Berry and Grace Topping for Best First Mystery Novel (wish they weren't having to compete against each other), and Annette Dashofy for Best Contemporary Novel--her fifth nomination!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Look for Kaye George and Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Kaye's story is "Life and Death on the Road" and Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Kaye George's first novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Revenge is Sweet, will be released on March 10th. Look for the interview here on March 11.

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, will be released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here on April 29th.

Don't miss Shari Randall's "The Queen of Christmas" available on at Amazon. Shari's holiday story for WWK was too long so she published it for our enjoyment. It's available for 99 cents or on Kindle Unlimited for free!

KM Rockwood's "The Society" and "To Die A Free Man; the Story of Joseph Bowers" are included in the BOULD Awards Anthology, which was released on November 19. KM won second place with a cash prize for "The Society." Congratulations, KM! Kaye George's "Meeting on the Funicular" is also in this anthology, which can be bought for 99 cents on Kindle until November 30.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Write Now!

Some writers are in the midst of National Novel Writing Month. Others can't get beyond the blank page. In today's Salad Bowl Saturday offering Denise Weeks, aka Shalanna Collins, provides her thoughts on how to face your fears and take the plunge.

~ Jim


Many people want to write.  By daring to write, they could work through their personal issues; they could tell about important moments in the past so their children will know them better; they could make up things and tell entertaining lies like every fictioneer.  Writing can help you make up your mind; after all, how do I know what I think until I write about it?

But often people are afraid--and understandably so.  They use a smokescreen of reasonable-sounding excuses and procrastinate so that they never fulfill their destinies as writers.  Do you want to write?  You might as well.  Everyone is publishing now.  Why not you?  You are unique.  As the song says, "there will never be another you."  You alone have the honor of documenting your life and times, at the very least.  What will be your legacy?

Yes, YOU have a RIGHT to your legacy!  You're just as important as those other people who are turning out books, poems, songs, and Kindle shorts.  You need to get it in gear, dear.

If you write professionally, aspire to write professionally, write as a fan, write for your circle of friends/readers, write for therapy, or whatever, these questions may help you progress. Don't feel that you have to use ALL of them--you can cherry-pick. Or don't use any of them. It's up to you, because this is meant to help you write (or not).

Complete one or both of the following sentences, using your current top reason for not writing more or finishing your novel:

I can't finish my current novel because ...
I can't write more because ...

Would it make more sense to replace "can't" in the above sentence(s) with "don't," "won't," or "I'm afraid to"? Sometimes at the root of a writing reluctance/difficulty is some underlying fear. Are you allowing fear to prevent you from attempting/achieving? Does this make it easier, because you "aren't really trying" and therefore will never discover that "you're not worthy" or "not good enough?"

You must identify and acknowledge fear (or internal stressors, or blocks, or whatever) before you can remove it. In fact, you must be READY to remove it before you can begin to deal with it.

What are your most time-consuming daily activities?  Are they things like "cleaning house," "driving/commuting/hauling family members around," "watching TV," "messing on the computer (but not producing original work)," and the like?  Are these what you would like to be remembered for?

Replace one of those daily activities with writing time.  Fifteen minutes daily will do for a start.  You don't have to write during this ENTIRE time, but you do have to sit in the chair and stare at the page, occasionally making marks that might be Roman alphabet letters or Egyptian hieroglyphics.  If you need writing prompts, search on the 'net.  Hundreds of sites provide daily or weekly prompts for writers.  Or if there's a novel you have always wanted to write . . . start.  The first sentence doesn't have to be perfect.  Writing is rewriting.  So let yourself do garbage.  You can always fix it later.

If you can't get going on a computer screen, use pen and paper.  Get the best gel pen or fountain pen you can afford, in a pretty color, and get a nice Moleskine notebook.  Or write with crayon on a Big Chief pad (but don't blame me if your crayon smears.)  Do the lines across the page keep your Muse from singing?  Turn the pad to "landscape" mode and write ACROSS it.  Use a sketchbook and write across the blank page in a spiral, if that helps.  Whatever works.  This is for YOU alone at first.  No one is grading you.  Just get words down for your fifteen minutes.

It'll get easier, I promise.

Are you more energetic in the early morning?  Are you a night owl like me?  This might influence the time you choose for your writing experiment.  Use your body clock to advantage.  Write with a little "book light" on a tiny spiral if you have to, in the dark, while watching the baby sleep.  Whatever you find that works for you is right.

If you are one of those people who does mission statements, write one on the flyleaf of your writing journal/spiral/sketchbook.  Talk about your writing time, how you deserve to accomplish things, what you want in your work area, the types of stories you hope to tell, or whatever you believe belongs in such a statement.  List five short-term goals for your writing career, i. e., immediate steps you can take towards creating the future you envision for yourself as a writer.

Do it YOUR way, as Sinatra sang.  "There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays, and every single one of them is right," says Kipling.

Use your time as ME time.  It is, after all, the only thing that is truly yours, and it is measured out in teaspoons.  "Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you," advises the master poet Carl Sandburg.

Please, follow your own heart.  If you want to write, it will be the best guide you ever have.

Denise Weeks’ mystery Nice Work, the first of the Jacquidon “Snoop Sisters” Carroll series, recently published by Oak Tree Press, won the Dark Oak Novel Contest. She also writes the Ariadne French Mysteries. Under her pseudonym Shalanna Collins she has written a number of YA fantasy/urban fantasy novels. Find her Amazon author pages at


Shalanna said...

We JUST went live with this blog, fellow NaNoWriMo participants! I'd like to encourage you to finish the writing month out and meet the word count goal. After all, if you have no draft, then there's nothing to edit later. Writing is rewriting. You may have phrased it perfectly the first time, and after the draft sits for a while, you'll be there!

A couple of notes I should've added: NICE WORK should be out for the Kindle in time for Thanksgiving buying. MURDER BY THE MARFA LIGHTS and LITTLE RITUALS are always ready for your Kindle download at under $3, the price of a large soft drink at Mickey D's. My fantasy series will re-launch with the fabulous Muse Harbor Press in March. What's not to like? (My agent insists I do some promotion!!)

Feel free to comment! What has gotten you writing? What are the benefits of writing for self-understanding? What are the interesting things you've uncovered about yourself by probing the Girls in the Basement? What's the dumbest plot you have ever come up with?

Share, share! We are listening.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I am not a NaNo Writer, but since I write two books a year, I didn't feel I needed to participate. But this is wonderful advice. I've always told those who ask me for my best advice put your fanny in the chair and write.

Terry Ambrose said...

I agree that if you want to write, the only way to do it is to sit down and get going. However, far too many people flood the market with substandard work. That puts me in the spot of saying that I agree people should write to preserve their legacy, but just because they write, doesn't mean they should publish.

Warren Bull said...

Good advice for writers whatever their goals are.

kthybren said...

excellent advice, Shalanna. i have a tendency to agonize over my writing. Or I did until I remember that writing is rewriting. and rewriting. and so on and so forth. the main thing is to get the words down on the page. You can go back and fix it later.
Kathy Brodland

Ilene Schneider said...

Good advice. I just wish I could follow it! Unfortunately, my most time-consuming task each day is the one that provides the health insurance, retirement funding, and a bit left over for a frappachino. I do try to combine the frappachino with writing, however.

Gloria Alden said...

Excellent, blog, Shalanna. I'm going to copy it to send to my sister, who quite working on her young adult books too many years ago with the excuse she was too busy grading papers and planning lessons. But now she's retired and doesn't want to talk about it. I'm afraid it's because someone read it once and was very critical about what she wrote and discouraged her. I'm hoping this blog will get her started again.

As for me I tend to use excuses, too, but I have finished four books, including a middle-grade mystery, numerous short stories, poetry, and I keep a daily journal. For me writing is one of the most fulfilling activities I can do.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Thank you for this post, Shalanna. I don't know how you were able to pack so much good advice into such a concise message. Thanks for your questions, insight, and encouragement. Best wishes to all NaNo participants and writers!

Cheryl said...

Great advice, Shalanna! I've discovered marketing takes up so much time it's hard to write, too. I get on FaceBook and...

E. B. Davis said...

I'm not a NaNo writer either. If I were, it would be JaNo or FeNo since the holidays distract me. January, February and March are better months. Whom picked November? Like any good habit, putting other things aside and making writing a priority is the first step. Thanks for reminding those who are trying to take the plunge.

Shalanna said...

(I do SO wish that Blogger handled comments the way LiveJournal does, as a thread where you can reply to individual messages.)

@Marilyn: Thanks for coming by! Marilyn is a fellow Oak Tree Press mystery author, although she's WAY ahead of me in number of books per series! I am doing NaNo because I like to be part of the Zeitgeist of creativity going on all month. The Muses must be either elated or exhausted--or both!

@Warren--Thanks for commenting! By the way, you are one of the people who won a copy of NICE WORK on my blog contest a couple of weeks ago. I lost your snail address! Please send it to me at shalanna AT tx DOT rr DOT com so I can get that mailed out. Been kind of distracted because Hubby lost his job and our entire family has put energy into fixing that situation and being insane all the while. *wry grin*


Shalanna said...

@Terry--you make a great point. Some people should be writing for their children and grandchildren so that those who come after can know what sort of life their grands and ancestors had. My grandmother lived a life that would be thought positively PRIMITIVE now--they churned their own butter, used horse-drawn vehicles until she was nearly grown, and so forth. Her memories of WWII should have been written down. I can't remember what all she told me--I was too young. *glum look*

But I do find that many people want to publish their books now, even if those books are not ready for prime time. It has glutted the market and made the reader into a slush reader. I hope that things do sort themselves out soon. Basically, the popular kids decided they wanted to publish books, and they took away what WE had. So it goes.

I do enjoy discovering new authors whose work is too whimsical or cross-genre or just plain "not mainstream" and would have NOT been available to me in years past. That has been a big positive for us as far as publishing's current quicksand.

There's gotta be a Happy Medium outside of Disney movies.

(THIS CHECK-WORD IS NOT TOO BAD. What's a melowe? A melon that has a cat face and meows?)

Shalanna said...

@KathyB--Thrilled that you could come by! You are so right about just getting it down. If you don't have a first draft, there is NOTHING to edit--and sometimes you can tweak a draft into pretty nice shape fairly quickly.

@Ilene--Thanks for commenting! Ilene is another newish Oak Tree Press author! Check out her new releases! I know time can be really short. Still, I know of people who used to take their lunch hours for partner-writing as they grabbed a quick sandwich. They are now the published authors Pamela Dean and Patricia C. Wrede! They counted that time as more useful for writing than eating. I'm afraid I often make excuses as to why I need to do something else other than write. But I used to work as a software developer/tester and COMPLETELY understand your dilemma!


Shalanna said...

@Gloria Alden: PLEASE encourage your sister to start writing again. YA is the hottest genre out there, and grown-ups read it as well. I always had a YA voice and was always discouraged from writing YA by my agents and crit group "back in the day." But YA has now come into its own, so she might have a great property lying fallow! Dang ol' people who say negative things. They generally don't MEAN to be destroyers, or they justify it by saying "it's cruel to be kind." Tell her to ignore them and follow her Muse. Don't let anyone else see it unless you really trust them. Or get something written by that person so you have something to hold over their head! LOL

I'm thrilled to hear about your successful work. I agree that writing is fulfilling! Our work will live on after us for a time, and we'll be able to speak to those we'll never meet in this life. Pretty cool deal.

@Paula Gail: I am so happy to hear that some of my words helped you. That's what I do it for!

Let's get that word count up. Even if it's only your grocery list, it's going to start the ink flowing.

TIP: If you have trouble staring at the blank page--get a sketchbook without lines. You can even write across the "landscape" way in order to censor the business mind (which wants to color inside the lines) and bring forth the inner child of the past, who will happily scribble in the "wrong" direction. You can discover much that way.


Shalanna said...

@Cheryl: Marketing is a major pain. I am just not a salesperson (my mother is, and my father-in-law was, but I am NOT--I would tell people about the product's flaws "to be fair" and ruin the sale.) As an INTP (actually an iN*tP* in Myers-Briggs talk), I am just the opposite of the outgoing sales type with constant OUTPUT ON. It is really tough now because authors must do most of their own promo. It gets really obnoxious out there, too. SIGH!

You almost have to use a timer and stay on FB for only fifteen minutes at a time. AND NO GAMES!! EVER!! LOL

@E. B. Davis: I know that JaNo would be more sensible. I don't know WHO settled on Turkey Day Month for this. January is cold, wet, and frozen--mostly boring after all your Christmas toys break. LOL! I'll bet people would write ENTIRE books over the snowy winter. We should try that. . . .

Holli Castillo said...

Not just great advice but very motivating. There are all kinds of excuses for not writing, even for writers who have publishers waiting for their latest manuscript.

I particularly like the idea of replacing 15 minutes of housework with writing, although I'd have to do 15 minutes of housework first in order to be able to replace it.


Shalanna said...

One final parting shot. The other day I was speaking to someone who had started writing her mystery novel AT LAST. She has a rudimentary outline and an interesting hook. I wanted to encourage her, but as we walked the aisles of one of the last remaining bookstores, she lamented.

"Look at all the mysteries lined up on the shelves, probably all of them more appealing to the mass market (whoever the heck that is) than mine? And think of the free Kindle books." She sighed. "Why should I think I have more to say, or even anything to add?"

I grasped her arm. "Because you do. No one can speak with your voice; no one can see with your eyes; no one thinks about things the same way you do. If you don't tell your stories, no one else will, because no one else can. Nobody can tell your story because nobody else is you. The closest someone else could come to
telling your story would be to tell _your_ story _their_ way. If that happened, it wouldn't be your story any more. If you do not speak, no one will speak for you; if you do not write, no one will write for you; if you do not tell your stories, no one else will, because _no one else can_. We need to hear YOUR voice.

"These are stories that only you can write. If you don't write them, they will be lost. Lost to you, lost to me, lost to others. Why would you deny me their
presence? Why would you withhold them from yourself? Because they won't sell? YOU DON'T KNOW THAT. And who cares, anyway? We don't write for money or fame. Good thing, too."

She actually chuckled. I went on.

"If you don't write them now, you never will. Can you live with that?

"Feel discouraged if you must, but KEEP GOING, because as long as you keep going, _you win_."

So there.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Shalanna said...

@Holli said, "I particularly like the idea of replacing 15 minutes of housework with writing, although I'd have to do 15 minutes of housework first in order to be able to replace it."

LOL! Same here! My house doesn't crawl away under the power of its own clutter and filth because it is too lazy. But that's the only reason.

However, HOUSEWORK doesn't last (and makes you ugly--that's what I've heard, anyhow.) YOUR LIFE'S WORK does. Your voice will go on. Your voice will go with your students--and by that I mean those who read your work and learn from it or profit in some emptional sense. Yay for us who work on something LASTING and not just a sink full of suds!

cambits said...

Pinning down how to express something is often hard for me, even with writing letters. Thank you for the pep blog

Shalanna said...

@cambits: You can improve at saying what's in your mind just by practicing . . . when I was in late elementary school and wanted to write but didn't have anything of general interest to others, one of my teachers gave me THE ART OF STYLING SENTENCES and some advice. She said that if you would try rephrasing a sentence several ways, you'd figure out how to put across the meaning you want without accidentally putting in other meanings or subtext. You can think about the connotations of a word as well as the denotation.

"I think you should only pick people you like."
"In my opinion, you should choose only the people you like."
"Select only the people you like; that's what I'd do."

And so on. There are so many ways to say something that it IS tough. But you'll eventually hit upon a way that seems right to you--and that means it IS right.

Have fun journaling, blogging, writing fiction, or recording your dreams. Whatever you are moved to do is probably what you are supposed to do.

Thanks for commenting!

Sally Carpenter said...

I'm following some of your advice, Denise. I write my first drafts in longhand, so I bought a colorful clipboard to hold the paper and a big blue gel pen that I only use for my fiction writing. When I pick up my pen and clipboard I think, "okay, now it's play time. Time for me to have fun with my great characters." When we approach writing as "I'm going to enjoy this" rather than "I must crank out X number of words," the task is not so daunting. Thanks for sharing!

Shalanna said...

@Sally: Great! Your inner child sees that fun ink and clipboard and can run amok (which, for once, is a GOOD thing). The "little professor" or controlling EDITOR persona should not get hold of us at the creation stage or we can't go into a flow state. I want people to enjoy their writing time.

Sally is another Oak Tree Press mystery author. Look for her books on Amazon!

Thanks for commenting, everyone.