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

Here are our September WWK interviews:

September 5: Marilyn Levinson/Allison Brooke, Read and Gone

September 12: Libby Klein, Midnight Snacks Are Murder

September 19: Annette Dashofy, Cry Wolf

September 26: Judy Penz Sheluk

Our September Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 9/1--Peter Hayes, 9/8--Wendy Tyson, 9/29--Catherine Bruns. Margaret S. Hamilton blogs on 9/15, and Kait Carson blogs on 9/22.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

KM Rockwood's new short story, "Map to Oblivion," has been included the anthology Shhhh...Murder! edited by Andrew MacRae and published by Darkhouse Books. It was released on Sept. 12.

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."

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.


Sunday, April 1, 2018

A 280-Character Theme-Based Writing Exercise

by Julie Tollefson

A few days ago, I searched my work in progress for any line that mentioned "rain." Nothing. My previous WIP? Nope. How about a recent short story? Uh-uh. Apparently, it does not rain in my fictional worlds.

Why so obsessed? I was looking for a line to fit the week’s theme for #1lineWed, a writing game on Twitter sponsored by the Kiss of Death Chapter of Romance Writers of America (Twitter handle: @RWAKissofDeath).

Writers of all genres are invited to play along, sharing a passage from their work that relates to the theme word. The catch is the snippet of work must fit within the 280-character limit of a tweet, with enough room left to add the official hashtag (#1lineWed) that helps others find your contribution to the game.

Some weeks are easier than others, I’ve found. On March 14, when the theme was “wind,” I had enough characters left in my entry to add a couple of other popular writing hashtags—#amwriting and #amwritingmystery:
She laughed, a music so light and bubbly the wind might carry it away. #1linewed #amwriting #amwritingmystery
The same for February 28 and its theme, “heavy”:
The owl called again, this time closer, more urgent. The beat of its heavy wings disrupted the air over her garden. #1linewed #amwriting
And February 21, “light”:
Early morning light, weak and tentative, filtered through branches still barren of leaves, though the swollen buds at their tips hinted at the coming spring. #1linewed
Other weeks take more thought and a bit of creative license to find a sentence or two that works with the theme word. For the March 7 theme, “earth,” I couldn’t find a single reference to earth that worked as an outtake for the game. But I stretched and found this passage:
Its architecture mimicked the limestone-capped bluffs of the region and created the impression that forces of nature—not man—had carved the castle on the hill, as it was known, from the land itself. #1lineWed #amwriting #amwritingmystery
Beyond the fun and challenge of playing the game, #1lineWed can turn into an exercise in revision. Though my search for “rain” turned up empty, the opening scene of a recent short story described a distant storm. The problem? No way would I be able to fit the 630-character passage into a tweet.

So I rewrote it a bit, lost some of the details that are important to the story but not for the tweet, simplified, deleted extraneous words, and came up with 277 characters that have the same flavor as the original passage but fit in the limited space of Twitter:
Far to the south, lightning writhed between & around black, anvil-topped clouds that towered over the High Plains. The storm promised a wild ride for anyone in its path. Here, though, she inhaled deeply, the scents of sagebrush & cattle, of heat & dust. Of childhood. #1lineWed
Though I’d revised and tightened the original passage a dozen times, I still found ways to streamline it for the #1lineWed exercise, and that’s valuable practice any day of the week.

If you’re a writer, how do you hone your skills?

If you’re a reader, do you follow Twitter games like #lineWed? Have you discovered new authors because they talk about their work online?

Find Julie on Twitter (@jtollefson) and Instagram (julie.tollefson).


Jim Jackson said...

It’s amazing to me how creative we can become when forced by necessity to shorten a manuscript. There’s a line attributed to a number of people who have apologized for writing such a long letter because they didn’t have the time to write a short one.

Margaret Turkevich said...

I'm in, Julie, if I can figure twitter out.

Shari Randall said...

I wish I could Twitter better! There is such good, creative, fun stuff out there, but it's hard to find with all the other not so good stuff.

Warren Bull said...

Cool exercise.

Julie Tollefson said...

I do love that quote, Jim. As a former copy editor, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on seeing how to streamline other people's writing - but I have a definite blindspot when it comes to my own words. Exercises like this are good reminders for me.

Julie Tollefson said...

It's a lot of fun, Margaret. I hope you give it a try!

Julie Tollefson said...

Shari - I admit that I ignore a lot of Twitter games, but this one seems low stress.

KM Rockwood said...

An interesting exercise! I was just reading The Jolly Corner by Henry James, and it reminds me of why I prefer more streamlined writing!