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

June Interviews

6/3 Gretchen Archer, Double Trouble
6/10 Kaye George, Deadly Sweet Tooth
6/17 Annette Dashofy, Til Death
6/24 Adam Meyer

Saturday Guest Bloggers

6/6 Mary Keliikoa
6/13 William Ade
6/20 Liz Milliron

WWK Bloggers:

6/27 Kait Carson
6/30 WWK Writers--What We're Reading Now


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!

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, and Annette Dashofy for Best Contemporary Novel--her fifth nomination! All are winners but without Agatha Teapots. Onto 20121!

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."

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

Kaye George's second novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Deadly Sweet Tooth, was released on June 2. Look for the interview here on June 10.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.

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!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mentally Becoming the Writer You Want to Be

Perhaps we’ve reached the point of the month where resolutions are chalked up as just another good try before going back to the status quo. But, if you are still in the “new year, new you” mode, you might want to consider these suggestions from Rob Parnell’s The Easy Way To Write Short Stories That Sell.
In his introduction, Parnell identifies the two basic requirements to write stories that sell: (1) deliver a clean professional product, and (2) write to the market specifications. (As he explains in his second chapter, “it’s not selling out, it’s cashing in!”) Once he consistently accomplished these two tasks, he found his stories selling and being published.

To prepare oneself to be a writer who meets these goals, Parnell says the writer must be mentally ready to undertake the obligation. He describes certain steps and exercises that can help a writer achieve the right mental state. The information about these steps and exercises is found in “Part One: Mindset” of his book. Following is a summary of his recommendations:
Rob Parnell
Visualize and Verbalize. Say to yourself that you are a good writer, whose work is deserving of publication, and that you will complete each story you start. Make this statement part of your being, of who you are as a writer.

Complete the work you begin. How do you develop the ability to finish a story? Start thinking of how the story ends. Write a dozen short paragraph stories that have a beginning, middle, and end. Maybe they just describe a process. Don’t stop until the explanation is complete. Then write, “The End.” Get used to reaching the place where you write, “The End.” Make that a part of you. After you have a dozen examples, no matter how short, the act of writing “The End” becomes part of your work product. You have learned to persevere to reach the conclusion.

Have a schedule or writing plan. Determine when you will write each day and dedicate time for that purpose. A writer writes regularly. That is how a writer produces a body of work. Initially, begin with a short time period and/or a limited number of words. One hour a day/200 words. You can always build on that basis. The act of writing gets the brain conditioned to the practice. Regular time spent writing a small amount is more productive than sporadic days of producing thousands of words. During the time not specifically planned for writing, be aware of writing influences, things you may want to write about. Make notes. Then, when your writing time comes, type up those notes and add to them.

Use writing time to write. When you sit down to write, be active. Don`t ponder and daydream. Aim to write a little more quickly than your thought process for a story. Put pen to paper or hands to keyboard and keep them moving, even if you think the product is inferior. Once you have something on paper, you can edit it. And, reading over what you have written, you often see merit you did not notice while writing.

Set goals based on your writing output. Figure out how long it takes you to write a story and begin to produce work on that timeframe. A short story each week or every two weeks or whatever the period it takes. Begin consistently achieving that accomplishment.

Accurately identify your purpose in writing. What attracts you to telling stories? Do you have a life experience or family history you want to share? Do you want to make people laugh and see the humor in living? Do you just like creating worlds and discovering the people who inhabit them? Be honest with yourself. Cogitate and determine the reason you put words together. Then, develop your own mission statement to ruminate upon and use to poke your subconscious into increased activity to meet your mission goal.

Make a list of concrete goal statements. Attainable pursuits you know you can accomplish with consistent work. Follow through to reach those goals. Success reinforces capability.

In summary: (1) Create the image within yourself. (2) Produce. (3) Schedule writing as part of your daily routine. (4) Don’t cheat yourself; use your scheduled time to write. (5) Evaluate your output and use that to make goals for production. (6) Write a mission statement. (7) List out goals to pursue.

This model looks like a business plan, which makes sense. To be serious about writing, you should pursue it as you would a business. Work to fulfill your own hopes and dreams, but also to be self sustaining. Make money, not just do something you love for fun.

Parnell’s recommendation that I puzzled over was the idea of writing your writer’s mission statement. I understand the concept of mission statements for groups. When more than one person is involved, a mission statement can clarify goals and provide focus. I also understand on a personal level that a mission statement can help you evaluate core beliefs.

Recently, while working with a designer to launch my website (BSP--http://paulagailbenson.com/), I had to think about how I wanted to introduce and present myself to the public. I’ve seen many writers try to encapsulate their work in a succinct description meant to draw in editors and readers. I know this is important with pitches, as Sarah Henning has told us in her Sunday, October, 27, 2013, blog message, The Art of Writing a Pitch. At the same time, I have qualms about how a sound bite or slogan can adequately express the essence of a person or a person’s work.

How do you write a mission statement in a way that is unique, definitive, and true to yourself? How can you be brief, sincere, and comprehensive?

I found a website, http://www.missionstatements.com, part of which is a pay service, that offers a step by step process for writing an effective mission statement. Have you written one? If so, how did you do it? What benefit has it provided?


carla said...

Approaching writing as a business can be hard for me. My crazed creative side wants to argue, but to be successful I have to balance both.

Jim Jackson said...

As readers know from my last post, I believe in the power of setting and achieving goals, but it is easier to say than to accomplish. Thanks for again putting goals in focus.

~ Jim

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Hey Paula!

And this is such an important post--setting achievable goals is so valuable...because once you let yourself succeed, the feeling is so irtresisitble that you want to do it again!

And as for mission statments--I always thought they were a waste of time..until my agent made me do it. Creating a personal mission statement is incredibly galvanizing.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Carla, Jim, and Hank, thanks so much for reading the message and commenting. Parnell's suggestions have really hit home with me. I've followed his exercise of writing shorts and finishing them with THE END to make a practice of completing stories and to give myself a sense of accomplishment.

Hank, thanks for your thoughts about a mission statement. I want to develop one for myself. It is quite challenging to put it together!

Anonymous said...

How organized everyone sounds! I do make a real effort to write every day, but it's difficult to set a regular schedule.

Articulating a mission statement sounds like a good idea. I know what I'm trying to do with my writing (most of the time) but I haven't sat down and put it on paper.

The business sense side of things is something I need to pay more attention to, too. At this point, my major goal asided from writing itself is to figure out all the computer mechanics and social media.

Gloria Alden said...

I really try to be organized, I really do, but it's hard for me. For instance in the middle of reading your blog I had to click on your website and head over there to read and check it out. Nice website, Paula. Even though I don't have a mission statement, I do write almost every day whether it's on fiction, a blog, a poem or in my journal, I write, write, write.

Kaye George said...

I like the idea of putting down three paragraphs before starting a short story. I think I do that in my head but it might be useful to put it down, too. Very nice post! Thanks.

Kara Cerise said...

Thanks for sharing Rob Parnell's advice, Paula. I've written mission statements and created strategic plans for past jobs, but I haven't written a personal mission statement. I think it would be an insightful (probably difficult) exercise.

Sarah Henning said...

Love this post! I don't have a mission statement, but maybe I need to work on one.

E. B. Davis said...

Motivation isn't a problem. Writing isn't a problem. Finding time is a problem. I have competing responsibilities. I've moved writing up in my priorities, but I can't devote all my time to it. I do the best I can. If I set goals or word counts, I'd fail, which hinders rather than helps.

Funny thing--on the short I just wrote, I put down three paragraphs before I started. I'm sure it was a coincidence. The three paragraphs were a condensed version of my second act. How weird is that?

E. B. Davis said...

Motivation isn't a problem. Writing isn't a problem. Finding time is a problem. I have competing responsibilities. I've moved writing up in my priorities, but I can't devote all my time to it. I do the best I can. If I set goals or word counts, I'd fail, which hinders rather than helps.

Funny thing--on the short I just wrote, I put down three paragraphs before I started. I'm sure it was a coincidence. The three paragraphs were a condensed version of my second act. How weird is that?

Shari Randall said...

Hi Paula,
I was just feeling a bit stuck in a writing project, and these ideas - especially about mindset and not cheating yourself - are so helpful.

Warren Bull said...

Organization and measurable goals. Sound good.

Paula Gail Benson said...

KM, Gloria, Kaye, Kara, Sarah, EB, Shari, and Warren, thank you all for such wonderful comments. Now, you have me thinking about organizational techniques I need to explore further.
Many thanks!