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


Our reason for creating WWK originated as an outlet for our love of reading and writing mystery fiction. We hope you love it, too, and will enjoy our holiday gifts to our readers with original short stories to celebrate the season. Starting on 11/16 stories by Warren Bull, Margaret S. Hamilton, Paula Gail Benson, Linda Rodriguez, KM Rockwood, Gloria Alden, and E. B. Davis will appear every Thursday into the New Year.


Our November Author Interviews: 11/8--Ellen Byron, and 11/15--Sujata Massey. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.


November Saturday Bloggers: 11/4 Margaret S. Hamilton and 11/11 Cheryl Hollon.


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

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.


In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," just published, will appear in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Minding Your Muse By Nancy Cole Silverman


Authors are frequently asked what advice they would give to a young person who wants to be a writer. For me, it’s simple. I quote Dorothy Parker.

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second-greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”

Dorothy Parker is a favorite of mine.  Going all the way back to high school, I memorized The Waltz, a two thousand word monologue about a girl’s thoughts and conversations while dancing the waltz with a man who was more of a klutz than a Fred Astaire. I ended up getting an A in the class and decided right then Dorothy Parker was my muse.

But like all muses, there are days when I feel like Dorothy and I are dueling it out. At times she can be both yin and yang.  Particularly when I’m toggling between projects like I am now; blogging while in the midst of promoting my next book, Room For Doubt, while finishing up the final edits for book five in the series to send off to my publisher. All while struggling to remember why I thought to start a short story as a possible spin-off for another series might have been a good idea.  Where was my muse? Why wasn’t she reigning me in?  Or cheering me on?

I felt lost.

At times like this, I can feel Dorothy sitting on my shoulder, taunting me. Reminding me that writers like James Patterson and Janet Evanovich produce a book every year and sell millions of copies, while my books remain like needles in a haystack. What was I doing? Wasting my time?

It’s then I holler back another of Parker’s famous quotes, “Don’t look at me in that tone of voice.”

Convinced I’ve pushed the negative Dorothy off my shoulder, I then remind myself I’m not alone. A fellow author friend of mine, who is neither rich nor famous but well acclaimed in the literary world, having won numerous awards, frequently jokes his royalty checks, “come rolling in in the tens of dollars.”

Okay, so it’s not for money nor the fame I write. It’s my muse, she won’t leave me alone.

Despite the yin and yang of our relationship, there are moments, like those in Parker’s Waltz, where she takes control of my imagination, reminding me of something I’ve seen or heard that begs to be written. Then, with my fingers to the keyboard, we’re dancing again, waltzing to music only she and I can hear in my head. 

Over the years I’ve learned a few things about working with my muse.

The first is to remember a muse needs to be entertained. It’s important to feed the imagination. Authors need to refuel their minds with the works of other artists.  Whether they be musicians, painters, sculptors or writers, it’s important to study their work. To understand their lives and their process. Creative people aren’t alone in their struggles. But writing, like any of the arts, requires sacrifice and daily practice. An artist can only be as good as he or she is willing to take the time to be. It doesn’t happen overnight. Sue Grafton’s alphabet mysteries weren’t an instant success, and Lee Child admits he was onto his eighth Jack Reacher book before he knew he had a following.

Second, put doubt aside. Sit down and write. Write every day. When Dorothy taunts me with self-doubt, I remind myself I’m only putting words on paper. Writing is all about editing, and I can’t edit blank pages. But I can edit poor work. The funny thing is, my muse is fickle. By the third and fourth draft, Dorothy’s critical tone has started to change, my copy has started to flesh itself out, and we’re back to having fun again.

And third, write what you want. Write that story that won’t leave you alone. Forget that your publisher or friends don’t think there’s a market for it. If you believe it, write it. Whether your project becomes the next best-seller or you’ve simply learned something from experience, you’ve written it. You’ve given it life. Nobody wanted to publish Tom Clancy’s first book, The Hunt for Red October. Initially every single publisher he showed it to turned him down, but Clancy persevered, and the book went on became a bestseller.  Steven King’s first book Carrie was a manuscript he’d thrown in the trash. It was his wife who rescued it and took it to a publisher, and well, the rest is history.

At the end of the day, Parker said, “I hate writing, I love having written.” I’m glad she did. Because, as Parker wrote in the last line of  The Waltz, as long as she’s my muse,“I’d simply adore to go on waltzing.”
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Nancy Cole Silverman credits the fact both she and Edgar Allen Poe share the same birthday, along with her twenty-five years in talk radio, for helping her to develop an ear for storytelling. After writing everything from commercial copy to news, Silverman retired from radio in 2001 to write fiction. Today, Silverman has written numerous short stories and novelettes some of which have been produced as audio books. Silverman's new series, the Carol Childs Mysteries (Henery Press) takes place inside a busy Los Angles Radio station. Silverman lives in Los Angeles with her husband, four adult children, and thoroughly pampered standard poodle.

Relatled links: Dorothy Parker, UTube.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZb4tDczEt4

9 comments:

Jim Jackson said...

Nancy -- It's always interesting to see how other writers view and deal with issues common to all of us. Best of luck with your new series.

~ Jim

Art Taylor said...

Nancy -- GREAT post here, not only for the points you make on process (and obstacles) but also with your fine way of making them. Love the Dorothy Parker quotes too!

Margaret Turkevich said...

Congrats on the new book. Paw waves from Jazz and Boo the black standards to Ali. I know she "helps" you with your writing as mine do.

KM Rockwood said...

What a fun commentary on your writing process!

Dorothy Parker is an old "friend" of mine, too.

Gloria Alden said...

Congratulations on your new book. I look forward to reading it.

Paul D. Marks said...

Fun post, Nancy. And I love the Dorothy Parker quotes.

Peggy Rothschild said...

Great post! An important reminder that it's not about the money. :)

Anne Louise Bannon said...

As somebody who owns an all-too-aptly named cat named Dorothy Parker, I feel your pain. Okay, her idea of inspiration is to sit on my keyboard. But I really enjoyed this post. You're absolutely right. You have to write the story that's inside you and not worry about whether it's trending or what publishers are looking for. Thanks for the great reminder!

Amy Reade said...

This was a fabulous post! I loved the Dorothy Parker quotes and the way you deal with the mini Dorothy on your shoulder. Great advice for those of us who have a love-hate relationship with our muses.