Archive for the the writing life Category

Feeling Grateful

I try to practice being grateful every day, but it’s important to put it into words sometimes. Today, these are some of the things I’m grateful for.

  • An extended family, most of whom live close by. They’re my best friends, (and I don’t have to travel on holidays).
  • A part-time job and 2 steady freelance clients. No immediate money worries.
  • The life circumstances that allow me write novels. Because telling stories makes me happier than anything else I do. Read more

NaNo Inspiration

I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month for the first time. To hit the goal, I need 1667 words a day for 30 days. Right! But I’m in it  for the motivation to write as much as I can every day for a month and finish the draft of my novel in progress. Today I rewrote a scene because it was wrong, losing some words in the process. Tomorrow I’ll interview a SWAT  leader, then rewrite the scene again. Both rewrites will be a setback to my NaNo word count, but they’ll bring me closer to my goal of a finished Read more

Writing a Character History

This morning I wrote a scene in which my character thinks about his dead parents, and I had to stop and figure out whether I had mentioned in previous books what happened to them. It was real “duh” moment. My solution—to prevent readers from e-mailing me about “character mistakes”—is to go back and write a character development history. Then keep it updated as I go along. Read more

A Limited Number of Words

Is there finite number of words that each writer can produce—within each week or month or lifetime? Some writers seem prolific no matter what, but for myself, I think I have periodic limits. Last year, I worked about the same number of non-novel (meaning, paid) hours as I have this year, and yet I still managed to write a novel and a half. This year, my novel word count has tapered off drastically, and I’m even blogging less too. Why? Read more

Finding Time to Be Yourself (and Stay Sane)

pam-ptv-sml1Today’s guest blog about work/life balance is from Pam Ripling—lighthouse aficionado and cross-genre author.

When I first saw the title of L.J.’s wonderful blog, “Write First, Clean Later,” I had to laugh. It’s a laudable mantra, not only for authors but for anyone who works out of their home. I’ve had a home business for 18 years, and I had to learn that work—be it writing a novel or balancing a Read more

Accepted Publishers List

mwa_logo4On my to-do list for about a year now is this entry: Join Mystery Writers of America. Part of the delay has been my reluctance to write a $95 check for the yearly dues—without knowing there is a definitive benefit (other than the fact that I really like the women who run the organization). The other issue is whether I qualify to be an active member. Read more

Email Newsletter Services

I did some research yesterday into the top five providers of email newsletter/contact services. They all offer design and list management tools, a sign-up function for your website, and usually a free trial. The pricing doesn’t vary much, but there are important differences in services. Three offer a pay-as-you-go option for people like me with small lists who plan to use the service infrequently, and only two offer RSS services. Here’s a brief guide: Read more

How to Write a Marketing Plan

A friend recently asked for advice in developing a marketing plan—to submit to a major retailer. Some smaller presses now also expect authors to submit a marketing plan. I’m no expert, but I have developed several marketing plans, and I’m creating a new one for the September release of Secrets to Die For. So I decided to share what I know.

Actually, I have two type of promotional plans: one to send to publishers Read more

Platform Pitfalls

The buzzword in promotion is platform. Agents and editors want their authors to have a brand, a tagline, an expertise that sets them apart from everybody else. For nonfiction writers, this concept is fairly straightforward. If I’m writing a book about training cats to line dance, then I must establish myself as an expert cat trainer—by blogging, giving talks to cat therapy groups, and writing articles for publications focused on all things feline. But how does a fiction author establish a platform/brand?

Read more

Scene of a Homicide

I was on my way to an interview yesterday with a homicide detective, and she called to cancel because she was at a homicide scene. Of course I responded, “Can I come down there? Please!”

So I ended up at a riverside park with the whole homicide team, asking questions and feeling giddy with excitement. I know, I know. A person was dead, and that’s a tragedy. But I couldn’t help it. It made me think about the show and character Castle, and how excited he gets when he’s called out to a homicide. How silly it seemed for him. Hah! I felt like a teenager at a party with the cool kids.

Of course, they didn’t let me anywhere near the body (dang!), but still, the afternoon was very educational. I learned about a cool gadget called “total station” that’s used to create computerized maps of the area. And I learned that a big guy in a black undertaker-like suit driving a mini van comes to pick up the body. I’m still checking it out, but I think he’s a contractor for the county who simply picks up dead bodies when called out and takes them to the autopsy room at the hospital. A mini van! It’s not how I visualized it.

Mostly what I realized is that you can strive for realism when you write these scenes, but you can’t replicate reality or you’ll bore your readers to death. Everything happens very slowly—unless the killer is still on the scene. Otherwise, there’s lots of standing around. When I showed up, the detectives were all eating pizza out of box flopped open on the hood of a cruiser. It seemed so odd, I almost laughed out loud. Nobody eats pizza at the homicide scenes I write, and no one ever will.

Other things I learned about the sergeant who invited me to the scene:

  • She supervises a team of eight male detectives and gets no flack about her gender.
  • She remembers the name of every homicide victim she and her team have investigated.
  • She’s still going to sit down with me for a formal interview next week, so I can ask about her career and write a profile about her for the paper.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The characters were compelling, the procedural work was dead-on, and the story was enthralling. Definitely recommended.”
~Michelle Gagnon, author of Boneyard
The author expertly intertwines multiple story lines, presents readers with fully realized characters that readers will feel they know, and keeps the action and suspense levels high. That’s a lot to expect from an author but L. J. Sellers delivers.” ~OverMyDeadBody
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