A Good News Week

I’ve had a terrific couple of weeks as upcoming writer, and I have to make note of the positive things because there can be many setbacks in between. Here’s my feel-good news.

  • A  store clerk recognized my name and said, “You’re the author…” Then she started talking about Detective Jackson like he was a real person and went on to quote lines from SECRETS TO DIE FOR. My heart about burst. Read more

The POV Puzzle

Two recent reads and a surprising blog on POV have made me think about perspective in novels. I’m a POV purist. I write from one character at a time, with no peeks into the future. I prefer that style as a reader too. I bond with characters when I see the world only through their eyes.

Head hopping drives me crazy. So do phrases like Mike didn’t notice the man with gun. (Are you sure? Because I thought Mike was telling this story and he seems to know about him.) Read more

A Book a Week

I just joined a group on Goodreads called 50 Books a Year, and I’m excited about the challenge. I got going late for 2010, so my comparable goal is to read a book a week for the rest of the year. For most people, I’m sure that sounds easy.I used to read that much fiction all the time. My son’s first sentence was “Book down, Mom.”

Then I started writing novels and something had to give. Read more

A Beautiful Place to Die

detectives_around_world_smIn my last post for Detectives Around the World, I present Sergeant Detective Emmanuel Cooper of South Africa. I met him in the novel A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn, set in the 1950s right after the apartheid laws were enacted. I read this book for a discussion group called 4 Mystery Addicts, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Read more

Straight from the Shark’s Mouth

detectives_around_world_smKristin van Dijk, aka Baby Shark, is unlike any private investigator you’ve ever met. A young woman in a male-dominated, 1950s rural Texas setting, she’s a pool hustler and highly trained fighter/gunslinger. What she lacks in experience, she makes up for in nerve. Raped, beaten, and left for dead at the age of 17, Kristin remakes herself in a quest for vengeance. Tracking the men who attacked her, she Read more

Your Name Is Your Brand

urgent-noteMarketers say consumers need to see/hear your name or product seven times before they decide to buy. Thus we have branding. Getting the name out there, over and over again. Authors should pay attention to this. If you use variations of your name on different social networking sites just for fun, you’re not making the most of branding. True story about a friend of mine: Read more

Great Story Starts

Is the focus of the novel revealed early? This question is at the top of contract evaluations I do for a publisher. Most of the time, I check No. Writers often move slowly in the beginning. They set up backstory and craft detailed irrelevant scenes. Two chapters later, I still don’t know what the premise is. The best stories jump right in and reveal what the character wants and/or what the character is up against to get what he wants.

Revealing the focus can be indirect. Read more

Tip: No More Scare Quotes

Not sure if you should put quote marks around something? Is it dialogue or a direct quote? If not, forget the quote marks. They are most overused form of punctuation. Quote is short for quotation, so quote marks should be used only to set off a quotation in nonfiction. If you’re writing a novel and using quote marks for anything but dialogue—take them out.
Writers like to use quote marks around words they consider special. Old school editors call them scare quotes, a way of alerting readers Read more