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

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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 Margaret competes in the Unpublished/Mainstream mystery/suspense category.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.

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Monday, February 11, 2019

Only Slightly Embarrassing Writing Tips and Tricks

by Shari Randall

We’ve all had moments when the writing won’t flow. The ideas won’t come. We’re stuck. It’s
not writer’s block exactly, but more a feeling of spinning wheels on a muddy road. With a bit of
traction, you can get back and get writing.

How to get that traction and jumpstart your writing? Here are a few tips and tricks.

Stay In Bed – This is my most self-serving and embarrassing tip. But there is nothing like
lying in bed, hovering in that relaxed and fertile state between sleep and waking, for gathering ideas. When I was on deadline with my third book, Drawn and Buttered, I kept my laptop next to my bed, typing late into the night and starting up again upon waking, with no interruptions except sleep.
If you use this tip, you get points if you have someone bring you breakfast in bed.

Take a Walk - Walking briskly is probably the healthiest way to spur a mind relaxed and focused
on plotting. Fresh air, exercise, and possibly catching the neighbors doing plot worthy things
always helps my writing.

Doodle - When I was in eighth grade, my English teacher was a nun named Sister Arlene. I don’t
remember everything she taught us, but I do remember one surprisingly effective trick. When
we were stuck, Sister Arlene had us write the word “Idea” on a piece of scrap paper, over and
over. Perhaps she was also trying to get us to improve our “chicken scratch” handwriting, but
neuroscience has backed up this approach. Here are two articles that explain how handwriting
sparks more and more complex connections within the brain than keyboarding. Here and Here

Busy Hands, Free Mind – Doing a task that doesn’t require a lot of thought – folding laundry,
sweeping, knitting – frees the mind to wander. Plus you could end up with a really nice
potholder.

Act It Out – I’ve discovered that stuck feeling happens for a reason – it’s my subconscious telling
me that I’ve gotten off track, that a plot point or bit of dialogue doesn’t work. So I’ll read the
dialogue out loud and mirror my characters’ actions. This helps me figure out what doesn’t
work and makes my kids laugh.

Light a Candle – Yes, prayer works, but I use a candle in a slightly different way. I have a pure
white unscented candle I call my focus candle. I light it and breathe, watching the flame
waver. I’m more ADD than a five year old on birthday cake and Coke but I’ve found this to be a
very effective way to quiet my mind and transition from a busy day to writing mode.

What do you do when you feel stuck? Share your tips and tricks in the comments - because I could sure use them!

19 comments:

Annette said...

These are all great ideas, most of which I've used. Nothing embarrassing at all!

One that I would add is a long soak in a warm bubble bath. Some of my best ideas happen in the tub, probably for the same reason as lying in bed. My brain goes to that sweet spot, drifting between consciousness and sleep, freeing my characters to speak their minds.

Jim Jackson said...

I've also found it helpful to hold conversations with my characters:

"So, Niki," I ask my main character, "what's keeping you from hauling off and smacking him one?" Or, "Niki, why are you acting like a petulant two-year old? What's really going on here?"

That kind of conversation can happen in my head or typing at a keyboard.

Annette mentioned bubble bath to which I'd add that a hot shower can also relax and allow ideas to pop!

Tina said...

Genuis ideas all. Taking notes, taking notes, taking notes....

Carla Damron said...

Shari, these are great. And if you ever want to busy your hands over at my house, there's a LOT of sweeping to do!!

Margaret Turkevich said...

Walk the dogs (also useful for practicing dialogue), go to the gym (I close my eyes so I don't have to see five tv screens full of Fox News), weed the garden. Write in circles until the problem becomes clear (usually defining character's motivation, which defines the plot).

Shari Randall said...

Oh, Annette, how have I never tried this (probably because I like to read in the tub) Stealing!

Hi Jim, I'd pay cash money to see you chatting with Nikki like that!

I knew you all would have great ideas - thanks! Steal away, Tina!

Shari Randall said...

Hi Carla - LOL! Watch out, I'd love to visit!

Shari Randall said...

Hi Margaret - these are great! How do you take notes while you're walking the dogs or on the treadmill? Record on your phone? That will be the next blog - capturing those ideas and writing them down before I forget.

Annette said...

Jim, I also chat with my characters when I'm stuck. (I think I blogged about that earlier this month.)

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Take a shower! Truly. it works. (it's just very hard to take notes...) Also (and this is easier)-- Ask yourself, what would really happen? Sometimes we get so caught up in the BOOK that we forget it's real life. Real life that we made up, of course, but still, people behave in certain ways, and have their own motivations, sometimes, in the flurry of "writing," we forget them..

LOVE your suggestions! Off to find a candle.

Grace Topping said...

Great tips, Shari. Thank you. Jim said to talk to your characters. I recently read one blogger (can't remember who) say he/she interviewed the villain. Most of it wouldn't work it's way into the book, but it gave the blogger a better understanding of the character.

Warren Bull said...

Great advice. I often work on something else and let the piece "simmer" for days. When I get back to it, I find I can continue.

KM Rockwood said...

I vote for the stay in bed option.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Annette, it's so reassuring to see that I am not alone!

Shari Randall said...

Hi Hank - oh yes so that's true! It's so easy to forget that it's supposed to be real life, with real people. I hope the candle works for you too!

Shari Randall said...

Oh, Grace, that's awesome. I do get so wrapped up with my main characters that I forget that the villain thinks he - or she - is the star of the book.

Shari Randall said...

HI Warren, I will give that a try. Thank you!

Shari Randall said...

Hi KM - I will ALWAYS vote for the stay in bed option ;)

Debra H. Goldstein said...

I take a nap, a long bath, or simply give up and go read a good book written by someone else.