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


April Interviews













4/1 Jennifer Chow, Mimi Lee Gets A Clue
4/8 John Gaspard
4/15 Art Taylor, The Boy Detective & The Summer of '74
4/22 Maggie Toussaint, Seas the Day
4/29 Grace Topping, Staging Wars


Saturday Guest Bloggers
4/4 Sasscer Hill
4/18 Jackie Green


WWK Bloggers:
4/11 Paula Gail Benson
4/25 Kait Carson

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WWK is proud of our four Agatha nominees. Kaye George for Best Short Story--not her first time to be nominated, Connie Berry and Grace Topping for Best First Mystery Novel (wish they weren't having to compete against each other), and Annette Dashofy for Best Contemporary Novel--her fifth nomination!


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

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."


Kaye George's first novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Revenge is Sweet, will be released on March 10th. Look for the interview here on March 11.


Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, will be released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here on April 29th.


Don't miss Shari Randall's "The Queen of Christmas" available on at Amazon. Shari's holiday story for WWK was too long so she published it for our enjoyment. It's available for 99 cents or on Kindle Unlimited for free!


KM Rockwood's "The Society" and "To Die A Free Man; the Story of Joseph Bowers" are included in the BOULD Awards Anthology, which was released on November 19. KM won second place with a cash prize for "The Society." Congratulations, KM! Kaye George's "Meeting on the Funicular" is also in this anthology, which can be bought for 99 cents on Kindle until November 30.


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!

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Friday, January 31, 2020


What’s in a word? by Warren Bull








public domain image





The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—'tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning. ATTRIBUTION: MARK TWAIN 

As Adam Goodheart the author of “1861: The Civil War Awakening” wrote on April 1, 2011, wrote in the New York Times Magazine, the right word can make the difference between freedom and enslavement.

Although it seemed like a minor event at the time, On May 23, 1861, of the American Civil War, three young black men, Frank Baker, Shepard Mallory, and James Townsend who had been pressed into service by the Confederacy to build on artillery emplacement stole a boat and rowed across the James River to claim asylum in Fort Monroe, Va. They reached the place where, in 1619, when a Dutch ship landed with some 20 African captives for the fledgling Virginia Colony and slavery first arrived in the colonies.

President Abraham Lincoln had begun his inaugural address with the words “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”

At that time Kentucky, Missouri, and Maryland where slavery was legal had not yet chosen sides in the war. There was a real possibility of some or all might join the Confederacy.

Major General Benjamin Franklin Butler arrived at the fort only a day ahead of the fugitive slaves.  He had been a General for all of four weeks. Before that he had come from a background nearly as impoverished as Lincoln and, despite being even uglier than the sixteenth President he had become a very successful lawyer with a reputation for nitpicking, quibbling and knowing obscure common law. He had also been a popular politician. He interviewed the black men, but before he could report to Washington, D.C. Major A Confederate officer, John Baytop Cary, appeared and demanded the return of the escaped slaves.


Adam Goodheart describes what happened then:


Cary got down to business. “I am informed,” he said, “that three Negroes belonging to Colonel Mallory have escaped within your lines. I am Colonel Mallory’s agent and have charge of his property. What do you mean to do with those Negroes?”

“I intend to hold them,” Butler said.

“Do you mean, then, to set aside your constitutional obligation to return them?”

Even the dour Butler must have found it hard to suppress a smile. This was, of course, a question he had expected. And he had prepared what he thought was a fairly clever answer.

“I mean to take Virginia at her word,” he said. “I am under no constitutional obligations to a foreign country; which Virginia now claims to be.”


“But you say we cannot secede,” Cary retorted, “and so you cannot consistently detain the Negroes.”

“But you say you have seceded,” Butler said, “so you cannot consistently claim them. I shall hold these Negroes as contraband of war since they are engaged in the construction of your battery and are claimed as your property.”


Whatever else he may have been, Butler was an expert on the details of the law. He knew from his studies that he could have seized a shipment of shovels that could be used to construct a gun emplacement. If the Confederates declared these men were property, as they did, he could equally well seize the men using the shovels.

Butler finally wrote the report and sent it to Washington, D.C. by which time it was already out of date. One day 8 more fugitives arrived. 47 came the next day including an elderly man and a babe in arms. One soldier wrote home that fugitives arrived “hourly.”


The Lincoln Administration’s response was worthy of bureaucracy’s highest honor. It considered the issue with due deliberation and serious study. Then it took no action and made no official statement. “Contraband” quickly became the description of all formerly enslaved people who showed up seeking asylum with northern forces.

Somehow the ironic term proved acceptable. People who hated “emancipated’ accepted “confiscated.” The Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 accepted the twisted logic Butler concocted. It was a temporary war document that supposedly deprived the parts of the Confederacy still in rebellion of a war resource - slaves. What many people then did not notice was that at least 20,000 people were immediately freed from slavery.

Contrabands embraced the term. Long before the rest of the population figured it out, people knew that, once freed, they would never be enslaved again. 


Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Book That I Won’t Write by E. B. Davis



I think most writers have books inside them that they won’t or can’t write. The stories are from real life, those events survived but which evoke too much emotion to write. When a writer is immersed in a fictional world, it’s fiction—something created and mastered—not real life, one that at times cast him as victim, sidelined him to a subservient role, or smacked him with cruel irony. Those times when he knew whatever he said would be wrong; when he chose to turn the other cheek and was badly rewarded for his better nature; when he chose to tell the truth, but the lies of others were believed instead.  

If someone else wrote our real-life stories, they’d be epic books bound to become classics. The books would illustrate living in dysfunctional families and attempting to understand the abnormal psychology of people in our lives. Translating the real world into fiction seems so much harder than creating fiction that is believable and authentic. Why? Shouldn’t it be just the opposite? Replicating what we already know. Is it a case of fact being stranger than fiction?   

“Write what you know” is the advice given to beginning writers. I took that advice and tried to fictionalize episodes from my life. They were all failures. I was much better at creating new characters and situations than taking from real life. Perhaps I wasn’t up to the task, wasn’t writer enough to put them on the page. But I switched tactics. Instead of trying to recreate, I used my real life as research, like knowing how a building business operates, having run such a business for thirty years. I gleaned the exterior facts for my fiction, not the interior canvasses. It worked out much better, but I still think I should be able to use more than just the facts in my fiction. Aren’t the interior canvasses more important?   

Jeanette Walls is the obvious exception. In her memoir, The Glass Castle, she describes her dysfunctional family and her horrible upbringing. I don’t know how she separated herself as the writer and as a character in the book, but she never attempted to make her book fiction. Even so, how does a writer portray himself regardless of the genre? I think it’s hard to do it at all well. We can be objective about our fictional characters, but not so much when using real-life characters.   

I went to a family funeral recently. Some members of the family I hadn’t seen for over four years—on purpose. I had no need to associate with at least one of them who hadn’t treated me well. When I thought about this family member, whom I’ve known most of my life, I thought her life story and our interactions would make a damn fine book, but it’s one I can’t and won’t write. To write such a story, I’d have to relive and suffer through it all again. Not that it isn’t worth writing, but I’d gladly give the story away to another writer.

Is there such a thing as being too close to a story? Do emotions get in the way of good story telling? How much of your real life do you use in your fiction?

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

An Interview with Author Julia Buckley by E. B. Davis


Writer's apprentice Lena London is enjoying life in Blue Lake and being newly engaged, but is soon drawn into the terrifying disappearance of one of her closest friends....

Lena is starting to feel like having it all may actually be possible! She and suspense novelist Camilla Graham are busily plotting their next novel and she's got a brand-new diamond ring on her finger thanks to her fiancé, Sam West. The only blot on her Blue Lake life is a strange new corporation that has come to town called Plasti-Source. They seem to be intent on gobbling up prime real estate and changing the landscape of Lena's lovely adopted home.

When she and Sam get a call from their good friend (and Blue Lake detective) Doug saying that his girlfriend--and Lena's pal Belinda--isn't answering her phone and missed a date with him, they all head out to her home. The trio is shocked to discover that Belinda's purse and phone are at her house, along with a single red rose on her countertop--but Belinda herself is missing. Has she been abducted? Could the strange new corporation play a role in her disappearance? Lena is determined to find out and rescue her friend because she knows that the truth can be stranger and much more deadly than fiction...

I started reading A Writer’s Apprentice Mystery series from the first book because I liked the premise of a young aspiring novelist, Lena London, working and living with a successful older woman novelist, Camilla Graham. The house, filled with their pets, sat picturesque by a lake. But I soon learned that this series wasn’t quite as cozy as I thought. Both women have had to be tough. But Lena has formed friendships in the community. Those friends help her solve the mysteries that befall them. They cocoon each other through the stressful adventures.

This series is one of five that Julia Buckley writes. Death with a Dark Red Rose is the fifth book in this series and will be released by Berkley on February 25. Please welcome Julia Buckley to WWK.                                                                          
                                                                                                       E. B. Davis

Where is this series set? Is it Blue Lake or Blueville?
Blue Lake is the town in which Camilla and Lena live. Blueville is a nearby town.

How far is it from Stafford?
The towns that border Blue Lake (like Stafford), are just twenty or thirty minutes away, just as suburban towns are often very close to one another. Towns like Blueville are a bit of a longer drive, but still less than an hour’s time away from Lena’s house.

The story starts with a group text among main character Lena London’s friends about a new factory opening in Blue Lake called Plastic-Source. What do they fear about this factory?
Cliff’s initial concern about Plasti-source is merely that it is ugly, and will ruin the view over the field he runs past during his morning jog. Soon their fears about this new company begin to grow, for a variety of reasons.

Lena’s cat is named Lestrade. Why did she name him that?
In the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels, Lestrade is the police officer who is always bested by Holmes, but he is also the long-suffering recipient of Holmes’ scorn. Lena is a fan of the Holmes series, so she names her cat Lestrade to show her appreciation of Arthur Conan Doyle. As an aspiring mystery writer, she wants a mystery name that is more obscure than Holmes or Watson, but is still recognizable.

Camilla has two German Shepherds, Heathcliff and Rochester. How do the dogs treat Lestrade?
Heathcliff and Rochester (also given literary names) are initially shocked to see a cat in their house, but they befriend Lestrade on the same day that they meet him (way back in Book One, A Dark and Stormy Murder).

How did One-Shoe Road get its name?
According to Lena, who heard it from Camilla, the townspeople rather whimsically responded to a single shoe that is left on the roadside. No one claims it (and don’t we all see these lost shoes here and there? It’s never a PAIR of shoes!), and someone humorously puts out a sign that says “I’m lonely,” next to the shoe, at which point other shoes begin to appear.

Is Belinda’s brother Carl autistic?
If Carl has been diagnosed with anything, it is not revealed in the novel (on purpose, since we often don’t know the specific diagnoses of our colleagues or friends), although his mother mentions that he is on medication to counteract his sometimes dangerous impulsivity.  Carl does have similar behaviors to some of my friends or family who are on the autism spectrum, and like them, he is very often delightful to be with because he sees the world through a slightly different lens; on the other hand, he also sometimes lacks a social filter for what he says or does.

Although Carl works in an IT department, he has another talent. What is it and how did he develop it?
Carl has a very rare gift—he is an intuitive chef, and can make delicious meals with any food.

Adam, Camilla’s boyfriend, takes her on a trip so that Lena can set up a surprise seventieth birthday party for Camilla. What special present have Adam and Lena created?
Adam and Lena have the inspired idea to make large wall-hangings out of the art for every one of Camilla’s published novels. They intend to display them at her party, and then to hang them in her house on the bluff.

Camilla’s publisher wants her to write an advice book for writers. You’ve started chapters with snippets from this book and alternate to pieces from a mystery work-in-progress of Camilla’s and Lena’s. How do they relate to Death with a Dark Red Rose? Are they foreshadowing?
The text that is “quoted” from Camilla’s works in progress always contains some theme that is pertinent to the chapter. Camilla’s writing advice often reveals something about her life that might pertain to decisions she makes or challenges she faces. The words quoted from her novel generally pertain to the Gothic elements of the fiction that she (and I) both write. It is a nod to the genre, and a link between Camilla, Lena, and me. (And yes, some of them foreshadow what will happen in the chapter).

After Belinda and Lena check out a video game store that Carl and Luis like, they are followed by a dark car. Once home and at twilight, Lena imagines sinister forces following her. Do all mystery/suspense writers create their own tension?
I think that mystery writers might be more conscious of things that look sinister because everything they see is potentially fodder for a future book. In the early chapters, Lena thinks that a man looks ominous, but dismisses the idea, saying that she’s thinking like Camilla and trying to turn life into fiction. However, her instincts are good, as are Belinda’s when she notices the dark car. In this respect, it is actually a drawback to be a mystery writer, because Lena might tell herself she’s being too imaginative when in fact her instincts are warning her to beware.

What is Sam’s theory about the pendulum effect?
Sam suggests that there is some magical quality, either to life in general or Blue Lake in particular, in which events seem to swing back and forth between extremes of happiness and despair. He offers examples of recent traumas he has suffered, followed by levels of joy he had never previously achieved. At some points in the novel, this “pendulum effect” theory is used to comfort characters who are suffering or unhappy.

 What’s next for Lena, Camilla, and the gang?

I can’t give anything away.  J

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Life Imitates Art


Martha Reed is the author of the John and Sarah Jarad Nantucket Mystery series. This is her first post for WWK since joining our staff last year. Welcome, Martha.
E. B. Davis

I grew up in north central Ohio, where the lake effect winters are cruel and the snow gets waist deep. Being more of a lizard lazing on a hot rock type of personality, I spent six months a year buried in books to escape the bone-cracking climate. The grade school librarian became my best friend. I’m dating myself, but she put me to work sorting Dewey Decimal System cards for the catalog and manually revising the date on the return slip rubber time stamp. It was a heavy responsibility for a fifth grader, but I loved it.

On weekends, I created imaginary worlds. I distinctly remember sitting at my mother’s desk and writing a story about captaining a clipper ship. To this day I have no idea why or even how that particular idea generated. Growing up in Middle America, I certainly had no idea of ever living a coastal life.

Life moved on, and I made my choices. Occasionally, when I was forced to do so by random chance, I experienced a burst of creative possibility and imagined an alternate reality or choice, but it never occurred to me to actually use my imagination as a “life changing” tool. I went about imagining all of these life-changing possibilities for my characters, and I never considered using it on myself.

Decades passed, and then - suddenly - I neared retirement age. I’d taken care of the kids, and my parents, and funding my 401(k). What was my next personal plot point going to be?

I knew I wanted to live somewhere warmer; that was a given. I considered North Carolina. Charlotte was trendy and fun, but too small. Charleston, SC was charming, but too expensive. I crossed another state line and toured Savannah, but no. Still not right.

And then my writer’s life offered up an idea. On Day Two of Bouchercon 2018 in St. Petersburg, Florida, I stepped out of the gorgeous Vinoy hotel for a breath of fresh air, since the crime fiction authors were stacked three deep at the bar and the oxygen supply was running low. I stood in the park studying the marina, a salty breeze tickled my ears, and it clicked.

This. This is where I want to live.

My next thought was: ‘I’ll move here when I retire.’ And the little voice inside my head that I’ve been trained to listen to, said: Why wait? If this is what you really want, do it now.

I alternated between hope, wonder, and fear on the ride back to Pittsburgh. I want to do this. Do I dare? I gave the idea a solid week to burn off. You know the drill. Of course I want to move to St. Pete! I had a great time. It’s vacation head. I wasn’t sure I trusted the feeling. I wasn’t sure I trusted myself.

It didn’t burn off. So then, I thought: Okay. How do I do this? How do I uproot my whole life, because I’ve never ever imagined that my Book of Life would have a Florida chapter in it?

And my imagination stepped in. Instead of focusing on why it couldn’t happen, I started to imagine how it could. I needed a job; LinkedIn helped me find one. I needed a place to live; AirBnB offered weekly rental apartments until I got a permanent address. I needed a car. Crown Honda was delighted to lease me one.

For every objection that I raised, for every roadblock I built, my wily imagination found a way to prop the door open, if I was bold enough to step through. On January 7th, I celebrated my one-year anniversary of St. Pete Gulf Coast living. It’s been splendid.

Turnabout is fair play. My imagination is now challenging me to use this new attitude on my writing. Each morning when I sit down to my manuscript, I’m pushing my imagination into deeper and darker possibilities, pursuing my quest for the light, trying to make the story more fearlessly meaningful. I used to work at making things pretty. Now I want to make them true. I love what I see coming up in my editing draft, and I’m hoping my readers will love the new me, too.

What’s the short answer? Sometimes, the only person stopping you, is you.

Do you have a similar tale to tell?

Monday, January 27, 2020

An English Curmudgeon by Nancy L. Eady


As both a writer and voracious reader, I am a fan of the English language. I love its variety, flexibility and changeability. But every so often words and phrases creep into the language or morph into a form that drives me crazy, akin to Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe’s loathing the use of “contact” as a verb.

Phrases that have infiltrated American English that make me cringe when I hear (or even worse, use) them include “at risk,” “actually,” “reach out to” and “it is what it is.” 

“At risk” is a phrase promoted by the 24-hour news media crowd. “Your child is at risk for measles” sounds exponentially more urgent than “one out of 1000 children catch measles each year.”  (None of the children in the United States should catch measles; they should be vaccinated against them.)  If I am told I am at risk for heart disease, flu or just catching a cold, I am more concerned than if I am told that there is a chance that I could develop or catch the same thing.  What the people using that phrase don't mention is that I am also at risk for winning the lottery, flying to the moon and winning the Nobel Peace Prize - but I'm not holding my breath for any of those things to happen soon, either!  And, if you think about it, everyone who has been born as “at risk” of dying sometime.

“Actually” has become an overused meaningless filler word. Most of the time, I hear “actually” in sentences such as “I actually went to the store and bought groceries.”  Well, yes, I assumed you did “actually” go to the store; I didn't think you sent your evil twin instead. I suppose the argument could be made that “actually” is meant to indicate personal presence as opposed to “virtual” which would indicate that a person viewed or did something by computer, but most of the people who use the word interminably are not trying to be that precise. People use “actually” now much in the way we used to say “ummm...” when we didn't know what to say. Perhaps it’s time to stop “actually” doing things, and simply do them.

I started hearing “reach out” from salespeople in high-tech fields first. Legal research engines, website designers, cable providers and other such businesses’ sales representatives started “reaching out” to me to see if I was interested in any of the various products they were selling. Every time I see the phrase in an email, I have this image of a zombie apocalypse with millions of zombies stumbling towards me with their hands “reaching out.” And let’s not overlook the fact that the six words “I’m reaching out to you to…”  can be deleted from most emails without the content or intent of the email suffering in any form. For example, “I’m reaching out to you to see if you are satisfied with your data plan” means the same thing as “Are you satisfied with your data plan?” 

“It is what it is” is the English equivalent of “c’est la vie,” the spoken equivalent of a shrug. The phrase usually pops up after a minutes long discourse on an existing evil, serious problem, or irritating issue about which nothing can be done. It carries a defeatist message, doesn’t it?  If “it is what it is,” it (whatever “it” is) can’t be fixed. I like to solve problems, not let them defeat me.

I am grateful that “reaching out” and “at risk” manage to stay out of my spoken and written vocabulary. I have caught myself using “actually” and “it is what it is.” And even though I am an avid Nero Wolfe fan, I use “contact” as a verb as well as a noun. Even (or especially!) curmudgeons aren’t perfect.

What phrases or words (profanity doesn’t count; that’s a different issue) make you cringe when you hear or read them?  I’d love to know that I’m not the only English curmudgeon out there!


Sunday, January 26, 2020

Deadline Madness


As I write this, I’m approaching panic mode. My deadline for the next (10th) book is less than two weeks away, and I’m at least two weeks behind schedule. As I wrote the first draft, I was not-so-lovingly calling it “The Book That Won’t End.” Now on the second draft (which should have been completed two weeks ago), I’m calling it “The Book That Won’t Cooperate.” I fix a plot hole in one chapter and two more open up in another.

Then there’s a little matter of the previous next book (9th) coming out next month and the obligatory promotional efforts, all distracting me from the uncooperative one.

And then the Agatha nominations were announced. (Excuse me while I take a moment to happy dance.) Okay, I’m back. What a fabulous distraction! 

I’m as happy for my fellow Writers Who Kill—Grace, Connie, and Kaye—for their nominations as I am about my own. Have you seen the list? Check it out!

Back to the subject of deadline madness and panic mode. I keep asking myself why I chose to write this particular story. It’s too complex. Too many balls are in the air. Too many details to make the murder plot and coverup work. And as I attempt to corral those airborne balls and make sense of the details, I often stop and ask myself, “But why on earth would that character do that?” Sure, it makes the story work, but it makes the character appear stupid. And I don’t want any of my characters to appear stupid.

And that’s where I am with this book.

While I have the word document open on my computer, along with my Scrivener folder, which I use for plotting and keeping track of what happens in which chapter, I have to step away from the electronic files. I have a composition notebook filled with notes (such and such happened on page 92) so I can hopefully keep track of where I need to check for cohesion. I have a legal pad filled with notes about the timeline and lists of possible ways to solve the inconsistencies.

Without having the characters appear stupid.

I use my beloved Pilot G-2 pens in various colors to track different issues. Or scrawl across a page (in red) WHY WOULD HE DO THAT?

Thank goodness for the distractions (I need to go online and look for a dress for the Agatha Banquet and have to do it right now, because—you know—it’s only three months away!) Yes, I’m a little like the dog in the movie Up.

“Squirrel!”



But for now, I must get back to that uncooperative second draft.

Tell me, dear readers, how do you handle the stress of work deadlines?

Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Book That Changed My Life by Kait Carson



Like many writers, I’ve got a full-time day job. The demands of working and family have always competed with writing time and creativity. More often than not, the day job and family won. I might squeeze out a few words between dinner and bed, do a bit of plotting, but those days were rare. There simply were not enough hours in the day. Other people seemed to figure out how to find twenty-six hours in twenty-four, but I never found the time-stretching secret.

I’ve read and blogged about a lot of writing books over the years. Kissed a lot of frogs that promised a more efficient way to write, others that were going to help me write my novels in ten-minute increments. A few years ago, I discovered Rachel Aaron’s 2,000 to 10,000. At the time it was e-book only, but much to my delight, it’s now available in paper and it graces my bookshelf. This was the book that turned a diehard pantser into a semi-outliner.

Aaron’s book taught me to bullet-point outline each chapter. That meant this pantser now had a beginning, middle, and end instead of wandering in at the first line and seeing where it led. Productivity went up. I hated to leave chapters unfinished. That created another problem. Writing entire chapters is time consuming. Time I didn’t have.

In a moment of serendipity, I received an email from Rose’s Colored Glasses. The course is no longer available, but it promised to teach you how to write fifty books in a year. An exaggeration, of course, but I took it hoping to learn how to organize my time. The Roses were two sisters who each held full-time jobs and were bestselling Harlequins authors. They typically cranked out four or five books a year. All high quality. Their spreadsheets are tools I use today. Every now and again, the course pops up for free. If you see it, take it for the spreadsheets if nothing else.

I’ve taken and recommend Nick Stephenson’s courses. He, Joanna Penn, Bryan Cohen, and Mark Dawson often team up and cross pollinate writing courses. Nick’s Story Engine course was another gamechanger for me. The concept of outlining finally made sense. Doing it on Scrivener made it easy. In one day, I plotted, outlined, and color coded (that’s the Scrivener part) my chapters. I rough wrote the final blow-up scene and outlined my first chapters in bullet point. I was on my way.  Not so fast. I outlined Pirates on Parade in August of 2018. I typed The End on Sunday. Why didn’t all of these delicious systems work? Time. No time to write.

I mentioned Joanna Penn in the paragraph above. It was her book, Productivity for Authors, bought on a whim, that changed my life. There’s an old saying that showing up is eighty-percent of life. That was the problem with my writing schedule. I wasn’t showing up. Penn’s book suggests it’s not enough to say you will write. It’s not enough to mentally set aside a time to write. You need to actually schedule it. Make it an appointment with yourself, write it down, put it on your iCalendar, chisel it in stone. Know what? It works. I read the Penn book in mid-December. My desk calendar now shows three to six in the morning as writing time. I haven’t missed a day. I added twenty-thousand words to the manuscript, and I finished the first draft. That’s life-changing. If I ever get to Bath, I’m buying that woman a beer!

Writers, how did you discover a workable system for your writing? Readers, have you encountered a similar can’t fail-path for your obligations?

Friday, January 24, 2020

Words That Should be Abandoned by Warren Bull


Words That Should be Abandoned by Warren Bull






Image from Marten Newhall on Upsplash


I, like, don’t just mean, ya’ know, just those words that, like, get stuck into, um,
sentences for no earthly reason and have no communication value. Of course, we
would all be better off if those were wrapped in a blanket, placed in a basket, and
left on the steps of a church.

I would gladly drop off at the word Empower at the city dump. We are not jumper-cables for 
transferring power. You can act as though you are a worthy and important person. I can 
encourage you to do that. But you do not need me to act that way. You can do it on your own.

I would not throw away the following words. I would just put them on a high shelf
so you have to definitely want them and be willing to climb on a stool to get them
before putting them to use.

Very is very often very redundant. Much of the time, it could be left out of writing or
speech with very little loss of meaning. Very, very little loss.

Some is so vague that it is meaningless. How much does the doggie in the window
cost? Some amount of money. How much danger is involved in following that path
into the mysterious jungle? Some. How much do you learn from the addition of
some? Not much.

Not much, for that matter as well as a lot, also conveys no useful information. Put
them in the closet and lock it.

Available as in I reviewed all the available evidence. What? Why didn’t you review
the unavailable evidence? Why not? Was it not available? What is wrong with: I
reviewed all the evidence?

Appropriate, similar to available. Inappropriate, however, that one’s good to go.

Really is another over-used and under-useful word. Do you need it? Fair enough.
Add: Really? The implication becomes, I know you told me but I’m not sure I believe
you.

What words do you wish would vanish?