8/5 Lucy Burdette, The Key Lime Crime
8/12 Maggie Toussaint, All Done With It
8/19 Julie Mulhern, Killer Queen
8/26 Debra Goldstein, Three Treats Too Many
August Guest Bloggers
8/8 Leslie Wheeler
8/15 Jean Rabe
8/22 Kait Carson
8/29 WWK Authors--What We're Reading Now
Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!
Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!
Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.
KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.
Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!
Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."
Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.
Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.
Thursday, July 18, 2019
Some Thoughts On Writing a Novel
I spent the first six months of 2019 writing the fourth book of my Haunted Library mystery series. Then, to my surprise, it was finished—the murderer revealed, loose ends tied up at 80,000 plus words—just like the previous three books. Surprised because I'd simply sat down each day for a few hours in the late afternoon and wrote a few pages at a time.
I approached this book as both a plotter and a pantser—starting out as a plotter with a clear idea of the book's framework: two groups of characters with a murder in each camp linked to a murder that took place twenty years earlier in Clover Ridge, the setting of my series. Once I worked out how the murders were connected, I began writing as a pantser. Scene after scene came to mind and my story unfolded. I'm not saying I never got stuck, but it was never over anything major and never for long. I have line-edited two-thirds of the manuscript so far, and the only edits I've made involve changing words or phrases for clarity and smoother reading.
I began to wonder how this relative ease—and I say relative because I feel a pang of anxiety every time I sit down to write—came about. Writing a mystery, regardless of the subgenre, requires attention to one's characters' development and interactions, careful plotting, and good pacing to maintain the reader's attention without telescoping the identity of the murderer. A mystery writer must deal with many elements simultaneously, similar to the way a puppeteer has to control a marionette's many strings when performing.
I believe that becoming a good fiction writer is an ongoing process. We learn as we take courses, study technique, critique one another, and continue to write. Soon we no longer have to stop to consciously think: does this scene further the plot? Do I need to bring in the murderer more frequently? Am I remembering to show character development? Not revealing too much too soon? These are important issues that must be addressed. Eventually, they are dealt with on a subconscious level. As we continue to work on our novels and short stories we acquire the ability to know how and what to write.
Years ago, I read Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers: the Story of Success. Using Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and the Beatles as examples of masters in their fields, he surmises that learning, practicing and/or performing roughly ten thousand hours in their areas of expertise led to their high achievement in their chosen fields. I've no way of knowing if ten thousand hours of writing and learning about writing will make a good fiction writer, but I do know that becoming one requires hard work. Until what we've taken in becomes ingrained in our minds and our souls, to be made use of intuitively—like a seasoned tennis player knows subliminally where to send the next volley so his or her opponent can't return it. It's all part of a process that requires dedication and discipline—and constant writing.