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!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cogitating Consistency

A friend and former co-worker used to say to me, “Cogitate on that in your copious spare time.” I always liked that phrase and that concept, and I find myself using it now with others.

What does it mean?

“Cogitate” is a synonym for ponder, reflect, ruminate, and deliberate. Most definitions describe to cogitate as to think deeply about something that is a problem or to plan out a scheme.

“Copious” means abundance, which makes it an odd way to describe spare time. Most people don’t have sufficient, much less plentiful unallotted hours. My friend and I always laugh at that part of the phrase.

After doing a previous blog about persistence, there is something I’ve been thinking about in my fleeting spare moments.


A blank sheet of paper is comforting if you have been there often enough. By returning, you develop a practice of writing, maybe even something of a ritual. Giving yourself a place to write and permission to write anything is empowering. Establishing a pattern of going to that place gives you a means to start and continue your work.

My practice is to write by hand in a 5” by 7” notebook. Why that size? It’s easy to carry, so if I have a copious spare minute, my tools are available. I like the notebooks that have 100 perforated pages; pockets in the front where you can put business cards or notes; and a wide enough wire binding to slip a pen into it. I get those ball point pens with caps that do not extend beyond the notebook, so that they stay in place beneath the wire along the side of the notebook.

I put the date on the top line in the outside corner of each page. I number each tenth page as a marker, and I also number each individual entry on a page.

What’s an entry? It might be the title for a future blog or short story; a completely independent idea; a description of something I’ve just seen or heard in a restaurant; or an indication of paragraph breaks if I’ve been working out the plot or dialogue for a short story or novel (I don’t indent on a page unless I’m making an outline).

The idea of numbering each entry has two purposes.

First, it helps me to locate what I’ve written. In the top margins of each page, I often have a word or initials that indicate what matter is contained on the page. For example, the initials of a story title so I can flip through the pages to easily to find and type up everything on that subject.

Second, because I number entries consecutively throughout the notebook, it gives me a sense of accomplishment. I began my last notebook in September and finished in February with 266 entries.

When I look at descriptions of events occurring at the time I was working on short story ideas, I remember what was happening in the world while I was “cogitating” on a certain passage. Also, I persuade myself that my entry pattern will help scholars who later study my work and writing habits. [Please, let’s all pause now and have a good laugh! Even so, it is something that Carolyn See advocates in her book Making a Literary Life. Not only should you picture yourself as a writer, but imagine what being a successful writer will bring into your life. I’m just trying to accommodate that image!]

To mark time and see how quickly I’m able to fill the notebooks, I select notebook colors that reflect the seasons. The notebook I started in September was rose, the one I’m writing in now is deep purple, and one I have for later in the year is green. I also have a bright orange one waiting in the wings!

How often do I write? I wish I could say every day, but that doesn’t happen, particularly during busy times at my work. Listing the date at the top of each page helps remind me how long it’s been since I last wrote and spurs me on creatively.

What keeps me going are the surprises along the way. I’ll think I know where I’m heading, then something intrudes, and I’m off on a different, unexpected path. That surge of joy and discovery propelling me forward is a great motivator to continue. It’s not so much me writing as it is my story directing me. The most wonderful part is that I’m no longer alone in the process. I’m not the only one seeking the way. My story is beside me, also making the effort.

So, why is writing consistently in a notebook beneficial to writers? It gives them a safe place that feels like home, where they can experiment, comment, and, if they are very lucky, race to keep up with a story developing beneath their fingertips.

Do you have methods that help you to write consistently? What are they and how do they benefit you?


Warren Bull said...

Carolyn See's book is excellent. I write notes to myself but I think your method sounds better than mine. I'll try it.

Gloria Alden said...

Paula, I write in a daily journal. I buy inexpensive ones for a dollar or two wherever I find them. Mine are
6" x 8" and I fill one up every three months or so. I used to keep one as a teenager, but stopped when I graduated and started working and dating my future husband. I didn't start keeping a journal again until 1990 or 199l. I have stacks of them and sometimes go back to refresh my memory on something. I also keep a smaller one near my chair and another one in my purse to jot down things I've read or heard somewhere. Maybe just a line that will work in a poem.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I constantly write notes to myself. Each morning, however, I start on the computer at 6 a.m. and begin my writing regimen. I do believe in consistency as well. But cogitating consistency sounds like an excellent plan!

Paula Gail Benson said...

Warren, I agree about Carolyn See's book. It has provided me with a great deal of inspiration. I hope my notebook practice may be of help to you.

Gloria, your methods sound like that you always have writing tools ready when inspiration strikes.

Jacqueline, you make a good point. Notebooks may give you a place to work when you are away from your computer, but typing time is what usually leads to results.

Thanks so much for your comments.

Kara Cerise said...

I keep a tiny pad of paper in my purse for jotting down notes. Recently, I have started using my cell phone to record ideas, too. Your method of writing down dated entries in notebooks sounds like a good method, Paula. I will try it.

Anne R. Tan said...

I've been journaling since I'm 12 years old. It's something I do on a daily basis on an expensive leather journal. It's an excellent source for recalling emotional incidents in my life when I need inspiration in my stories.

But I jot my writing notes on my phone since I always have it with me. I tried using a Moleskin notebook, but I hate carrying more things around in my purse.

B.K. Stevens said...

I keep notebooks, too, filled with story ideas, bits of dialogue, character descriptions, and so forth. The problem is that I now have a drawer full of these notebooks, and when I'm thinking of using something I jotted down (perhaps years ago), I can never remember which notebook it's in. But searching through the notebooks is enjoyable, too, and sometimes I come across something else I can use.

Su said...

Paula, I have so many notebooks started and not finished because I could never find anything and thought it best to start a new one. Ha! I'm definitely going to try your method. Thanks for sharing it.
PS...I like the smaller notebooks, too.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Kara and Anne, I still have a flip phone, but I keep telling myself that when I upgrade, I'm looking for a model to use as a writing tool. Do you have recommendations?

Bonnie, I agree. Sometimes just going back over notebooks is a good way to discover (or rediscover) and work on an idea.

Su, I'm having to convince myself now to continue with the purple one instead of moving to a pink for spring! Good to hear from you!

Thanks so much for all the comments.

Kara Cerise said...

Paula, I use Notes on my hand-me-down iPhone. (Sarah Henning suggested I try it.) I haven't used many types of cell phones but I suspect all phones have some type of recording feature. Best of luck choosing a phone.

Georgia Ruth said...

Paula, a couple years ago I started the routine of writing every day, first thing at the top of the page is the date and then the weather. And then warm up. I have a notebook for each month because some of my story ideas are worked out in these journals and I can remember what part of the year I worked on it. Each year the notebooks are a different color. 2014 is blue. I also carry a small notebook in the car console and one in my purse. Never know when I'm going to cogitate.

E. B. Davis said...

I wish I were consistent, but I'm not. I'm cyclical. I write in spurts. Time is a big issue for me. When I find the answer, I'll be glad. But for now, when I do write, usually I'm very productive.

Polly Iyer said...

Paula, having met you, I'm not surprise you're organized. In fact, you're all so organized I'm embarrassed to say that I write on scraps when I get an idea. Then I can't find them. Unfortunately, I get a lot of ideas after I shut out the light at night. After a few times of forgetting my brilliant storylines, I now keep a pad by my bedside. I can't outline either. I'm hopeless.

Jim Jackson said...

I am the epitome of inconsistency. I move forward in mammoth bites of activity, spin on a microdot and focus in another direction. Eventually I complete everything, but not in a traditional manner.

Such has been my style for 60+ years. (Jimmy needs to stay in his seat and concentrate on the task at hand.) Jimmy will stay in his seat—if the task at hand is the one he wants to do.

Blessed by the differences among us for they make us human.

~ Jim

Anonymous said...

I applaud the notion of art as a way of life. Not in the romantic sense, but as who you are and what you do. I also advocate deadlines to force output.