Writing Inspiration

I had no idea how important other writers would be to me when I began my journey as a mystery writer. At one point, I almost gave up writing my first mystery, Murder at the P&Z. But then I went to a meeting of Sisters-in-Crime, the Tri-State, New York City Chapter. By the time I left, no doubt dwelled in my mind about the book, I couldn’t wait to finish it.

What made the difference? The energy in the room from all the other writers who were in all stages of making their dreams come true, including those who had published series of books to those budding authors. Then we went out to dinner and the supportive conversation continued.

I was with kindred spirits. And so too, being a contributing writer for Women of Mystery.Net. It also fed my author’s spirit and gave me a means of communicating with other writers, and a platform to introduce my new books to readers.

Now I’m working on my third book in the Carol Rossi Mystery Series, the first two published by Mainly Murder Press. Although writing is an isolating venture, we don’t do this alone. We have our beta readers, our writing groups, our blogs, our editors, our publishers, our wonderful libraries who also serve as a platform for our new releases.

At a time when we give thanks for our blessings, I’d like to give mine to all the above.

 

 

Joeseph Finder’s Tips for Writers

I recently had the pleasure of attending a lecture at The Center for Fiction given
by Joseph Finder, The New York Times Best Selling Author. He shared his story
—a fascinating one—of how he went from working for the CIA to writing thrillers.

51e-V7ZwpwL._AA160_He also shared his10 Tips for Writers from which he believes every writer can benefit. Here’s a summary:

1. Rejection can be useful. It can prompt you to do more work and get it to the right      editor.
2.   Be stubborn but be smart about it and be persistent.
3.  Learn to value criticism. It can give you good feedback.
4.  The best fiction is about character, not plot. The plot should arise from the character.
5.   Avoid backstory dump. It takes people out of the story.
6.   Every scene should do some work Ask yourself why is it there.
7.   Reveal. Surprise. Cut out the slow parts.
8.   Never underestimate your readers. Surprise them rather than fool them.
9.   Just write the book. Don’t get hung up in the prose or the words.

10. Get lucky. Hopefully get in front of the right people at the right time.

I’ve read several of Joe’s books and have enjoyed them all very much. His last thriller, THE FIXER, a stand alone, certainly proves he takes his own advice.

How about you? What, if any, rules do you apply to your writing? We’d love to know.

Advice to Writers

Are you familiar with the site AdvicetoWriters.com? If not, I highly recommend it. The Daily Quote of the Day is always a gem. The information on the site, “Writerly Wisdom of the Ages,” is collected by Jon Winokur. Advice to Writers also features interviews with writers.

jpg_writing400You can subscribe to email to receive a Quote of the Day, and follow Advice to Writers on Twitter @AdviceToWriters.

Another of my ‘go-to’ sites for writerly advice and inspiration is the interviews from The Paris Review. The archived interviews with authors date back to the 1950s. From Truman Capote to Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway to Henry Miller, and James M. Cain to W.H. Auden, The Paris Review interviews provide hours of fascinating reading.

Do you have a favorite site for writing advice and/or writer interviews?

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13

When Do You Beta?

Beta image by Arturo D. Castillo on Flickr. Creative Commons license, unaltered.Not long ago, I sent off my Gothic to some beta readers. After I did, I read a couple of comments on writerly loops about the fact that they use beta readers as a final check on their books and I suddenly panicked. Not because I think they’re right (I don’t think there’s a “right” way to write a book — you get feedback when it works for you) but because I thought these poor people who’d said they would beta were going to expect a book that was basically finished.

Spoiler alert: it’s not.

Perhaps I ought to call my readers Alpha readers. The things I want from betas are not that useful after the book is in its final form. I want them to tell me where they’re bored, where they want more of something. I want them to say “this scene needs to be longer,” or “that scene should go away entirely.” If they find a character unbelievable, or they figure out the villain too soon, or they recognize a MacGuffin, those things will have a huge effect on the revisions I do to the book.

For me, beta-ing takes place at the same time as developmental editing, not at the same time as copy editing.

How about you? Do you beta? If so, when?

Literary Gifts for the Holidays

If you stepped into any retail stores on November 1, you probably noticed the holiday jpg_pumpkin_vector_image_031citems already available for sale, and holiday decorations adorning said stores as well. We barely blew the candles out in our jack-o-lanterns, or sorted through the Halloween candy, while the stores were busy changing over from Halloween to Christmas and other December holidays. They’re not even waiting ’til after Thanksgiving!

Shopping Choices catalogs 1Also, my letter carrier has been delivering catalogs every day. Most offer free shipping if you place an order of a certain amount by a certain date.

Every year I promise myself I will start preparing for the holidays early, and then be able to enjoy the year-end parties and gatherings instead of shopping and wrapping.

Here’s my chance!

I’ve been perusing some literary gift sites and thought I’d share them with my fellow Women of Mystery and our dear readers.

The Literary Gift CMugompany offers literary gifts, and then specifically, gifts for writers.

Etsy, of course, has unique literary gifts.

Notonthehighstreet.com has 142 items listed on their site when searching “literary gifts.”

Redbubble.com has over 1,700 items listed as Literary Gifts and Merchandise.

Ebookfriendly.com posts, “50 best literary gifts for a modern-day book lover.”

Do you plan on ordering holiday gifts online, shopping in stores, or both? Cafepress.com has pages of literary gifts!jpg_FHH0208

Do you plan on ordering holiday gifts online, shopping in stores, or both? Happy shopping!

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Follow me on Twitter @katcop13

 

 

Edgar Allan Poe Festival – 2015

Courtesy: Riverhead BID

This weekend marks the second annual Edgar Allan Poe Festival in Riverhead, New York. A parade on Main Street kicks off the festivities tonight at 7 p.m.

The Festival is sponsored by The Town of Riverhead and The Riverhead BID. The festival has been created by St. George Living History Productions.

On Halloween, Trick or Treat on Main Street begins at 11 am and continues until 3 pm. There will be musicals, story times, tours, family games, and readings. Members of the New York chapter of Mystery Writers of America will be available at the Dark Horse Restaurant starting at 11 am for book sales and signings.

On Sunday, beginning at 12 noon, members of the Long Island Sisters in Crime will be available for book sales and signing, also at the Dark Horse Restaurant.

jpg_3204-Happy-Halloween-Ghost-Flying-In-Night-And-Text-Boo

At the Vail Leavitt Music Hall at 12:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday, a one-act play depicting a fictitious meeting between three classic writers of the macabre: Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley, in “The Ghost Writers.”

Poe-inspired menus will be available all weekend at the Blue Duck Bakery, the Dark Horse Restaurant, Uncle Joe’s Restaurant, Sonoma Grill, Joe’s Garage, and more.

Readings will be done all weekend long. I’m proud to be reading some of Poe’s poetry; “Spirits of the Dead,” at 12:30 pm at the Sonoma Grill, and “Alone” at Joe’s Garage at 2 pm, both on Sunday, November 1st.

According to northforker.com, here’s a list of “5 ‘don’t miss’ events” at the festival.

For a complete listing of events, click here.

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.

Stay At Home Writer

A month and a half ago, I left my full-time job. Woo hoo, I thought, now I’ll have more than enough time fojpg_BPA0225r full-time writing and I’ll finish my new novel in a New York minute. Well, not so fast.

Even though the whole day is mine, stretching out before me like the road to Oz, there seem to be so many other things that muscle in on my writing time.

There are errands and food shopping—a person has to eat, right?

Or catching up with friends who were always worried I’d be too busy for a conversation.
And of course, the triple threat: Email, Facebook and Twitter. They reach out to me the moment I sit down at the computer. I could justify all this attention paid to social media as beneficial input rather than procrastination. Sort of.

There seem to be hundreds of obstacles that get in the way of writing my work in progress, including writing about not writing it.

I guess I’m still getting used to finding a routine. When I was working, I got everything in, including writing time. Maybe it was because I knew I had to make it fit; that my opportunities weren’t as numerous as the day is long
.

So how about you? What’s your writing routine and how do you make it work?

Writing Organically

Stephen King does it, he writes organically, and another writer a little lower on the popularity scale, myself, and of course many others.

The First Writer and Editor: 'Take out that part?! Are you nuts? How is the stampede scene at the end of the cave going to make sense without it?!'

The First Writer and Editor: ‘Take out that part?! Are you nuts? How is the stampede scene at the end of the cave going to make sense without it?!’

A recent conversation with my sister revealed that people don’t know what the heck you’re talking about when you say you write organically. I told my sister that “nothing much was happening in my story,” and she delivered a long silence followed by “well?”

The most common reaction to my stories, although I’ve addressed organized crime and human trafficking, is that they are a “fun read.” That was kind of mysterious to me given the heavy subject matter. Then I realized that my books are like many others, they are adventures.

That’s always what I wanted them to be.

Of course, I place myself in my characters’ emotional lives and the physical movements and thought process begins and that’s what keeps the plot moving along. My research on the subject matter usually provides information for the reactions of my characters in a given situation.

If the plot gets stuck, for some reason or another, I just keep plowing along meaning my protagonist continues to do what she’s doing until another element pops up, or some event occurs to change the course of her actions. Which means I focus on another character and that character makes a surprising move and my protagonist reacts.

I also begin with a vision or two. Then I write to the vision, they usually reveal themselves in the course of the research on the chosen subject. I write to make the visions believable when the reader finally reaches them. But, I have no idea how the heck I’m going to get there, that depends on the research, the motives and the personalities of the characters.

Many wonderful writers, other than Stephen KIng, do a complete and detailed outline before they start. One new writer asked me how I began if I had no outline. I usually pick a subject I’m interested in, and what I think is a good move for my protagonist that has to do with research into the publishing business as well. Then my protagonist is fashioned by my own experience, sticking to that principle that you write about what you know. Endless details are the blood of your story, generally you don’t know them if you write about a subject you know little about even given the research.

I was an investigative reporter and so is Carol Rossi, my protagonist. A character, a subject and we’re off to the races.

I can see trying, however, to branch into subjects you know little about.

Do you do outlines?

Do you stick to what you know?

 

 

 

Banned Books Week

BBW-logoBanned Books Week runs September 27-October 3, 2015 this year.

Banned Books Week is the national book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read.

Follow @BannedBooksWeek on Twitter, or “like” the Facebook page. The Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association is also on Twitter @OIF.

Over at www.fiercereads.com, enter the sweepstakes to win a selection of banned YA books.

Consider participating in the Virtual Read-Out, or check out these additional free events during the week.                                                  The Call of the Wild

Click here for a list of Banned Books That Shaped America, such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain (1884), The Call of the Wild, by Jack London (1903), and The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger (1951).

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Follow me on Twitter @katcop13

 

Happy 218th Birthday, Mary Shelley

391px-RothwellMaryShelleyMary Shelley (née Wollenstonecraft Godwin), the author of the Gothic/Horror novel, Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus, was born August 30, 1797, in Somers Town, London, England — 218 years ago today. Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, a feminist and philosopher, died eleven days after giving birth.

Mary was raised by her father, William Godwin, a philosopher and author. During her younger years, she was tutored by a governess, and also attended a boarding school.

Mary bore an illegitimate child at age 17, with Percy Bysshe Shelley, a married 22-year-old man, but their prematurely-born child died. Mary married Shelley, an English Romantic poet, in late 1816, after his first wife, Harriet, committed suicide.

Mary Shelley’s most famous work was created in Geneva, Switzerland, during a rainy vacation in 1816, when the couple spent a summer with Lord Byron, John Williaa39da6923869bf6582fad67280b08b75m Polidori, and Claire Claremont. Lord Byron suggested they each write a horror story.

Frankenstein was published anonymously in London in 1818. Her name appeared on the second edition, published in France in 1823.  Mary and Percy’s second and third children died, but their last child, Percy Florence Shelley, survived to adulthood.

Percy Bysshe Shelley drowned when his sailing boat sank during a storm in 1822.

Mary would later publish more novels, short stories, biographies, and travel writings.

Mary died in London, England, on February 1, 1851, at age 53, from a brain tumor.

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