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

July Interviews

7/1 Lena Gregory, Scone Cold Killer
7/8 Jessica Baker, Murder on the Flying Scotsman
7/15 TG Wolff, Driving Reign
7/22 Leslie Budewitz, The Solace of Bay Leaves
7/29 Cynthia Kuhn, The Study of Secrets

Saturday Guest Bloggers

7/11 Mark Dressler
7/18 James McCrone

WWK Bloggers:

7/4 Valerie Burns
7/25 Kait Carson


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 for Kaye George and Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Kaye's story is "Life and Death on the Road" and 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.

Kaye George's second novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Deadly Sweet Tooth, was released on June 2. Look for the interview here on June 10.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


Tuesday, October 1, 2019

What If? By Carla Damron, weary novelist

I’ve written about my latest project, currently titled, Bird on Limb. I might have described it as an octopus, a monster, and a cause of constant headache. Or, I might have relayed utter exhilaration as the characters came to life and told me their tales, how the words exploded onto the page, how I LOVED being a writer.

It’s been that kind of roller coaster.

So, after draft three, I sent it to several trusted readers and workshopped it in my writing class. They pointed out a few problems, some of which weren’t too difficult to address. But larger issues also emerged, for example, “this work lacks focus.”

I’d have been mad if it wasn’t true. The problem was, as I’d gotten to know these characters and tried to braid their stories, I realized that they diverged more than they merged. And how would I classify this mess? Women’s fiction? Yes. Crime fiction? Yes.

But in too many ways, it fit neither category.

I realized I needed another rewrite, and before I did that, I had decisions to make. What exactly WAS Bird on Limb? If I opted to define it as crime fiction, I’d need to remove plot threads that didn’t relate to or enhance the mystery elements. If I opted to call it women’s fiction, then the crime fiction plots would only dilute the story. Something had to go.

This led to a key element in the writing process: MULLING.

And mulling led to a conclusion: I wanted this to be crime fiction. Not your traditional mystery, mind you, because it’s too weird to be that, but a mystery, nonetheless.

Okay, I had direction now. First edit: remove storylines not related to the crime fiction threads. Uh oh. One of my favorite characters, who had an entire story arc, didn’t connect with the mystery element.

She had to be go.

I could have cried.

Instead, I surgically removed her sections from the novel and stored them in a separate file. I hope to use her later. Honestly, I’d better, because that woman isn’t going away quietly.
Next step: tighten the mystery. In truth, there are two: a crime that happened in the late 1960s and a second one that occurs present day. “You’ll need to tie these two crimes together somehow,” my wise writing instructor said.

Crappola. This is a challenge. How do I connect them in a way that isn’t horrifically contrived?

Solution: a long talk with one of my readers/editors. We played the “what if” game. What if X is older than he is now? What if he knew Y? What if the person involved in the present-day crime was somehow a witness to the historical crime? What if? What IF?

This conversation got my creativity bubbling. I don’t know the answer yet, but I know it’s possible to link these two crimes and to do it in a believable way. It simply requires more mulling and plotting and rewriting and…

It’s doable though. Right? I can find the thread that ties the mysteries together, and still have my braided narratives. I can keep the readers engaged in both storylines and toss in a little social justice along the way. I can finish this octopus of a novel and find a publisher who wants to publish it.


I sure hope so. Because I’m doomed to remain a writer, no matter how hard it is. Maybe we’re all masochists, but we can reach out to the writing community to support, guide, and champion us, to play the “what if” when we need it.  

I’ve shared a bit about my crazed what-the-hell-am-I-doing writing process. What’s yours like? Do you have trusted writing allies who help you? 


Annette said...

It takes a village, Carla. I have my critique group, a trusted friend who "gets" me and my writing style, a beta reader, a fabulous freelance editor...and that's all in addition to my team at my publisher. Lots of eyes to catch stuff. Lots of help to fix the stuff that needs fixing.

Good luck with your octopus! I can't wait to hold that book in my hands and read it!

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Continued success with revisions on your new book! My husband is my proof-reader and now makes editorial suggestions (if it's 10 degrees, snow can't be "wet" but it can be crystalline).

And I have a treasured beta reader and freelance editor.

carla said...

Annette, it DOES take a village! And it's still an octopus. A smart, determined octopus. Margaret, that's wonderful that you have a husband who's a part of your process.

KM Rockwood said...

If it were me, I'd say it's time to let this one simmer on the back burner for a week or two and write a short story. Maybe using the removed character.

I have an online Guppy critique group, an in-person group, a couple of people who'll read the whole thing (I hesitate to actually call them beta readers because they don't go over it carefully; they give me general impressions) and a friend with a red pen who edits.

carla said...

KM Rockwood, these are your village people.

Grace Topping said...

I feel for you, Carla. Having to make changes can be so frustrating. My previous agent didn't like the motive for the murder in my manuscript. I had carefully woven in clues throughout the book, so changing the motive would have been a major rewrite. I balked at making the change. Then I let it sit for a long while and got the advice of some writers who also recommended that I make the change. Then I miraculously came up with a different motive that enabled me to retain most of the clues I had planted. Such a relief. So I know the challenge you face. Good luck.

Warren Bull said...

Uh oh. When my character talk I have to listen. You have to write her into something or she will not leave you alone.

Kait said...

I am so looking forward to this book, Carla. It sounds wonderful even if it does feel like an octopus now. And that discarded character - you will use her.