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

August Interview Schedule
8/7 Rhys Bowen Love and Death Among the Cheetahs
8/14 Heather Gilbert Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass
8/21 Lynn Chandler Willis Tell Me No Secrets
8/28 Cynthia Kuhn The Subject of Malice
8/31 Bernard Schaffer An Unsettled Grave

Saturday Guest Bloggers: 8/3 M. S. Spencer, 8/10 Zaida Alfaro

WWK Satuday Bloggers: 8/24 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

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!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology will be released on June 18th.

Congratulations to Margaret S. Hamilton for being a finalist in the Daphne Du Maurier contest. Margaret competes in the Unpublished/Mainstream mystery/suspense category.

Congratulations to Shari Randall for WINNING the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Her book, Curses, Boiled Again was published by St. Martin's last year. Read the interview about the book here. Yay, Shari!

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30.

James M. Jackson extends the Seamus McCree series with the May 25th publication of #6, False Bottom.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Writer's Holiday

Border for LRWA Summer Event
With summer, students can look forward to a break from classes and different opportunities to learn through library reading programs, camps, special activities, and vacations. For writers, summer is a time of conferences, book festivals, and research trips.

Of course, any time writers gather it provides not just an opportunity for exchanging information and networking, but for finding new creative outlets through interaction with your peers. It’s great to keep in contact by email, but face-to-face can give writers a boost through encouragement and shared experience. It’s like the difference between calling your relatives on the phone and seeing them at a family reunion. In person, the information exchanged is of a different quality.

Anna DeStefano
This weekend, my friend Susan F. Craft and I enjoyed attending the Lowcountry Romance Writers’ Summer Event, which took place on the Isle of Palms, near Charleston, SC. Twenty two writers convened to hear from Anna DeStefano, a romance writer born in Charleston who now lives in Atlanta. She met with us Friday evening for dinner and a brainstorming session, then presented a day long program Saturday evaluating how we write and offering suggestions and methodologies for structuring, drafting, and revising a novel. I really commend President Christina Sinisi (who writes as Lexie O’Neill) and the members who organized the event for a cost of $40, which included handouts, some supplies, refreshments, and a goody bag. For those of us traveling, a special rate was available at the hotel.

But, what if you don’t have the resources to travel to meetings or explore possible new settings for your work? Are you stuck at home, surfing the internet? And, if you are, can you have fun doing it?

Definitely. Many of the same organizations that offer events also provide online courses at reasonable costs. The Lowcountry Romance Writers has a monthly slate of online offerings. Every month has at least two featured courses. In July, the two four-week programs being offered are about improving punctuation and writing short stories for an anthology call. In August, the selections are Beginning WordPress and Writing from a Male POV. The cost for each is $20.

If you are a member of the Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime, you have access to the subsidized workshops coordinated by our own blogging partner E.B. Davis. She has arranged for well-known teachers like Ramona DeFelice Long and Kris Neri, who just completed a class on writing comedy. Cybercrimes was the subject of a recent well-received course and a short stories class is now being offered.

Thanks to Jim Jackson’s teaching a writing revision course in January, I learned about the online workshops sponsored by the RWA Kiss of Death Chapter’s College of Felony and Intrigue (COFFIN). Two tracks are featured. Murder One has experts in various forensic and other specialties as instructors while Killer Instincts focuses on writing craft. The cost is $15 for members and $30 for non-members. 

Hank Phillippi Ryan
Through the Murder One track, I’m currently taking a class with Hank Phillippi Ryan about how newsrooms and investigative reporters operate and how writers can use journalistic skills to improve fiction writing. Thanks to Hank’s wonderfully generous, interactive style, the information is terrific and student participation is high. In July, for Murder One, Chef Fran Gleason will provide an orientation to working in a kitchen and how you can commit murder there. For July’s Killer Instincts, Pam McCutchen has a course about writing convincing dialogue and other tips.

Writer’s Digest University has numerous online courses covering every possible writing topic at a variety of costs. If you’re interested in writing thrillers, take a look at WD’s thriller conference that takes place next weekend and features instructors like Hallie Ephron, D.P. Lyle, and James Scott Bell. In addition, it offers an opportunity to submit a query for agent evaluation.

Consider the opportunities that may be available in your community through libraries and bookstores. Authors on tour may be stopping by for signings. Check out the meeting schedules for your local RWA, MWA, or Sisters in Crime chapters. In South Carolina, our local chapters all feature monthly speakers. Most chapters allow interested persons to attend several meetings before asking that they become members.

Seek an experience that enhances your creativity. Go to a museum or ask to interview an expert at a law enforcement agency or university. Most people enjoy talking with interested persons about their specialties.

Taking a break from the routine tasks can bring you back to writing with renewed enthusiasm. So what do you have planned for a writer’s holiday?


James Montgomery Jackson said...

I have taken a number of online courses over the years. This spring I spent a week at the Donald Maass Breakout Novel Workshop. As with many things, the value of any course depends in large part on the instructor and in your current level of knowledge.

I have always been of the opinion that we must continue to invest in ourselves no matter what we vocation or avocation we participate in; and that the minimum time we should invest in ourselves is 10%.

~ Jim

Warren Bull said...

Great information. Most of it was new to me. Thanks!

Shari Randall said...

This is great, Paula! I think I know what class I want to take in July!

Paula Gail Benson said...

Jim, I hear that Donald Maass' classes are very inspiring. I like your 10% minimum time investment standard!

Thanks, Warren. Congratulations on your new short story publication.

Shari, I bet we'll be in it together!

Gloria Alden said...

I've taken several online classes through the Guppies, and benefited from them. And I went to Seascape two years in a row which was a good experience. I also have several shelves of books on writing, and have belonged to a writing group for years and their support and the friendships we've built has been very beneficial. However, my best ideas come to me when I'm alone or walking in the woods. I think reading well written books is a benefit, too. In classes at writing workshops when given a prompt, I can't concentrate and do a horrible job with people around me.

Susan F. Craft said...

Good post, Paula. Some of my best ideas come to me when I'm alone, but often when I'm around other writers, my "creative juices" tend to get riled up, especially if I've been in a slump. For example, at the Low Country Romance Writers workshop we attended this past weekend, I thought through several scenes and fleshed out my main characters. I was pleased at the amount of story that came to me as Anna DeStafano presented. When she’d ask, “What motivates your characters?” or “Why is your character acting the way he or she does?” or “What does your character need?”; I’d be writing in my notes, “What motivates Rose” or “Why is Rose acting the way she does?” or “What does Daniel need?” It was a great exercise for me.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Gloria, you make a good point that sometimes isolation is as important for a writer as a gathering.

Susan, I'm so glad you found inspiration from the conference. I can't wait to read the new novel you're "ruminating" over!

Grace Topping said...

Thank you, Paula, for the very helpful tips on available training. When I decided to write a mystery, I took an online class through my local community college on writing mysteries. The class made it so much easier knowing where I was going once I started my manuscript.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Grace, that is such a good way to begin. The local writing group I belong to was started after the founding members took a community college class together. Now, our newest member is enrolled to take the same class!

Kara Cerise said...

Thank you for the great information, Paula! I've learned so much from courses offered by the Guppies. This July I will be at Camp NaNoWriMo--a virtual writer's retreat. The Guppies have three "cabins" with seven or eight people in each cabin. I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November a few years ago, but this is my first camp. It should be fun and motivating.

KM Rockwood said...

Great list. Thanks for the information. We all certainly have room to grow and improve!

E. B. Davis said...

Sounds like you had a great time, Paula. I have mixed feelings about taking summer courses. There are many terrific courses sponsored from a lot of writers' groups, but then I also think everyone should take the summer and have adventure. Living is one of the best sources for stories and resting charges the mind. Thanks for all of your ideas, Paula.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Thanks, Kara. The NaNoWriMo program has offered so many opportunities and produced so much excellent information for writers.

KM, you're right. Growth and improvement encourages more writing.

I agree, E.B. As a young teacher, my mother spent her summers going to different colleges to attend summer school. Not only did she learn, but also she had new locations to explore. Adventure and rest are part of summer.

Diana Belchase said...

Thanks for a great post, Paula!