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

Here are the upcoming WWK interviews for the month of July!

July 4th Christopher Huang, A Gentleman's Murder

July 11th V. M. Burns, The Plot Is Murder

July 18th Edith Maxwell (Maddie Day), Death Over Easy

July 25th Shari Randall, Against The Claw

Our July Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 7/7--Mary Feliz, 7/14--Annie Hogsett, 7/21--Margaret S. Hamilton, 7/28--Kait Carson.

Our special bloggers for the fifth Monday and Tuesday of July--Kaye George and Paula Gail Benson.

Please welcome two new members to WWK--Annette Dashofy, who will blog on alternative Sundays with Jim Jackson, and Nancy Eady, who will blog on every fourth Monday. Thanks for blogging with us Annette and Nancy!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in July 31, 2018.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

New Book Mania by Gin Mackey

I confess to a fascination with the way writers write books, with the vast differences in approach. I’ve self-published two books, one silly (Suddenly Spying) and one serious (Disappear Our Dead). I’m afraid another is on the way, and there’s no stopping it. Getting ready to write a new book is like a sneeze that’s coming. You know it’s on its way, and you know you better let it, or your head could explode. But unlike a sneeze, in the case of a book, it’s gonna take a lot longer than a nanosecond.

When I feel a new book coming on, a thousand ideas swirl in my head. Another thousand live on the pages of my new book file. I start filling a new book box with columns from newspapers and articles from magazines and various items I think might relate—no matter how loosely—to the idea I have in mind.  

When I go for walks, I stop in random places to write down thoughts. I get acute anxiety when I find I don’t have a pen. When I hurry into a convenience store to buy one, I break into a sweat when they tell me the pens have been moved and they don’t remember quite where. When they finally find them, and I hold one in my hot little hand, I thank them loudly and voluminously. When they stare, I explain I am a writer. They nod sympathetically.

While riding in the car, I don’t turn on the radio; there’s so much noise in my head I wouldn’t be able to hear it anyhow. During this phase I often can be heard mumbling to myself, and people have told me I look cross. But that scowl’s not anger, it’s the confusion that comes with constantly crossing between this world and the fictional one that’s forming.

My office becomes a sea of stickies with cryptic notes, sometimes so cryptic I can’t even figure out what they mean anymore. I found one on my forehead the other day when I looked in the mirror (yes, I’m kidding!). I am in a miasma of information. Nothing makes sense, yet I have to move forward through a hot, smoky blur. I will have to make choices that slam the door on ideas I loved so that others may thrive. Some characters will have to go. I will grieve their loss (no, I’m not kidding!).

I start to write scenelets, scene ideas with a splotch of dialogue in there. I recognize along the way that there are scenes I must write. MUST. I am so over-the-top excited about the scenes I must write that I vow to make every scene in this book a scene I MUST write. (I will later break this vow.)

In a way I don’t completely understand, information is being sorted, connections made, acts forming. The time is coming when the words and stars will align (I hope).

On a three-foot by four-foot poster board, I label the left section the setup, the middle section complications, and the right section the resolution. I don’t recall who developed this technique, but I find it very effective. Here’s what happens:

I start putting stickies containing scene phrases on the board, placing them where I think they should go to create the story, but to be honest, it feels pretty random at times. The beauty of it is, I begin to see how the story might come together and begin to see what my characters need to do to get from this sticky to that one. I add stickies and move stickies and the story emerges, the fog lifting and morphing to shimmery sparkles on the midcoast, Maine sea.

Eventually (and I mean that with a capital E), a book is born, like Disappear Our Dead. The picture of the poster board included here shows the final version of stickies for that book.

Psst! Now I’m gonna tell you a secret. Lean in a little closer. That’s right. I’ve heard tell of an author who makes an outline, and writes straight from that, pretty as you please. Just writes a list of the scenes and then writes the scenes, right in order! Of course I’ve heard of Bigfoot, and Nessie of Loch Ness fame too, and I don’t believe in them. But…you never know. Maybe I gave up on the guy with the roly-poly belly and the sleigh too soon, and maybe there is a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow.

For me, the messy process changes from book to book, and there are always some unexpected twists. For Suddenly Spying, I didn’t know how much time I would spend laughing as I wrote. For Disappear Our Dead—a book about loss and grief and learning to live again—I didn’t know how many tears I would shed. While I wrestled with the plot, Disappear Our Dead was teaching me one of the most important lessons I needed to learn as a writer: Leave my heart on the page. And I did.

Has your process changed depending on the book you’re writing? Have any of your books taught you something you hadn’t expected to learn?

Gin Mackey is the author of Disappear Our Dead, featuring home funeral guide and amateur sleuth Abby Tiernan, and Suddenly Spying, a madcap caper. She lives in Owls Head, Maine. Visit Gin at www.ginmackey.com


Gloria Alden said...

Gin, as someone who self-publishes her books, too. I hear you on all those ideas buzzing through the brain waiting to be put down on paper. I feel my characters are people I actually know. I just finished my eighth book last month (waiting for the cover to get done) and am
more than half way through the next book. So often I feel the characters are the ones writing the book. I come up with a few ideas, start the chapter and the characters start the dialog on their own and often surprise me with what they're saying.

Warren Bull said...

Everyone has a different process. Thanks for sharing yours.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Gin, thank you for stopping by WWK. I tried Scrivener, but trying to learn a writing program while you are writing isn't a good plan. I'll get back to it someday, but right now I'm a stickies girl, too.

Gin Mackey said...

So nice to see you all here!

Gloria, we are kindred spirits. My characters feel so real, I wouldn't be surprised if one of them dropped in for coffee some day. And when they start talking, I love it. Like you, I just get out of the way and write down what they say. Congratulations on your eighth book. What an accomplishment!

Warren, you're so right. Maybe as many processes as there are writers.

Shari, I'm with you. Stickies rule!

Margaret Turkevich said...

I've developed my own "process" which includes lots of stickie notes, but am always interested in learning about others.

Gin Mackey said...

I totally agree, Margaret. Seems there's always something new to learn from other writers. A constant making our own process better. I think that's one of the things that makes writing so endlessly fascinating. Each book is a new adventure. No chance of getting bored, that's for sure!

Grace Topping said...

Thank you, Gin, for your blog. It's inspired me to get working on my next manuscript. I just wish that I had as many stories circulating in my head as you do. I'm definitely a plotter and need to sit down with a list of pivotal points in a mystery and work from there. Perhaps it's because I spent a career as a technical writer and need that structure.

Gin Mackey said...

So glad this helped you start thinking about your next manuscript, Grace. In a way, I envy people like you who can sit down with plot points and write from there. I imagine you save lots of time that way. My approach, with all those colliding ideas, is very messy and I'm sure I spend time running down rat holes that end up being dead ends. Funny, I'd give up a few of my ideas for a little of your structure! But it seems something we don't get to choose, whether we are at heart pantsers or plotters. Having said that, I also came from years in the corporate world, and I think it did take a while after that for my ideas to start to come out and play, full force. The good news is that one way or the other, we all seem to get to that wonderful moment of writing THE END. Best of luck with your new manuscript!

KM Rockwood said...

Thanks for sharing your messy but effective method of getting your plots and characters in order. I have so many ideas swirling in my mind at times I can't really sort them out.

My characters feel very real to me, too. They are usually composites of people I've known, and I often meet with people or write to them to re-enforce the fictional characters and answer questions I'm not sure about. And sometimes it sends my plots in different directions.

Gin Mackey said...

I hear you about the hordes of ideas, KM, and the changes in plot direction. Sometimes a plot change can feel to me like it's coming out of left field, but then I'm surprised to realize it makes perfect sense given who the characters are. I do think our subconscious minds are hard at work on our books 24/7, that we're unaware of how much is going on inside us to make our work strong and cohesive. Magic, in a good way!