Sunday, December 1, 2013

Blog is Moving to WordPress

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig
Hi everyone,
As promised, I’m moving the blog over to WordPress:
http://elizabethspanncraig.com/blog/  .  I’m hoping for improved commenting capability there, as well as other improved blogging functionality.
Thanks so much for following this blog—hope you’ll update your bookmarks for the new site, if you’re not automatically directed.  Thanks! (And thanks to Eldon Sarte with Blogheal for his assistance with the move.)
 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Keeping a Professional Distance From our Book


By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gaining distance from our books.  I really feel that’s vital to both editing them effectively, gaining a critical perspective of them, and learning from negative feedback.
One way to gain distance from our books is to write another book.  The authors I know who wrote one book (and were traditionally published), fell into this “only child syndrome” with their book…they helicopter-parented it and were genuinely hurt over poor reviews.  Hurt to the point where they were immobilized and couldn’t move forward with writing again.
Another way to cultivate this distance is to adopt the most businesslike attitude we can about our books. Because, if we’re sticking with publishing as a career…it is a business.  I think that’s where writers got off-track so many times in the past.  We didn’t understand our contracts, we didn’t understand the nature of the industry, we didn’t understand our responsibility to our book…which is to promote ourselves as a brand and work on the next story.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Twitterific


By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig
Twitterific links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 23,000 free articles on writing related topics. It's the search engine for writers.

Friend and fellow mystery writer Margot Kinberg has compiled a crime fiction anthology: In a Word--Murder.  The ebook retails for $2.99 and proceeds from its sales benefit Princess Alice Hospice, in memory of Maxine Clarke, a supporter of and good friend to the crime writing community.  One of my stories is in the collection, too...my first attempt at short fiction. :) 


I'm also included in a newly-launched resource for self-publishing authors:
Wordpreneur Peeps: 107 Successful Indie Publishers. Eldon Sarte from the Wordpreneur blog has collected advice from 107 self-published authors and compiled them in this attractively-priced  November release (currently at $.99).  His blog is also a helpful resource for independent authors.

Have a great week!

7 Tips to Help you Write More: http://dld.bz/cUmdu @RinelleGrey

Friday, November 22, 2013

Preparing for a Productive Writing Day


By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

I’ve always been a big believer in being prepared (yes, I was a Girl Scout all those years ago).  I don’t like hectic mornings, so everything is organized the night before to make sure the mornings go smoothly.  My kids know that in the evenings before bed, they have to have all their homework done,  essays printed out, homework collected in their backpacks downstairs,  and have a handle on what they want to wear the following day.  Lunches are made the night before.  The more time we invest at night, the better and more stress-free our mornings are.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Ability to Single-Task


By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

The past few days haven’t been terrific and the fault for this lies squarely with me.
So…I dropped my phone in water.  Apparently, this is not a good thing to do to smart phones.  Not only did I drop it in water, I didn’t even realize I’d dropped it into water.  There was no quick rescue, so the phone was submerged for quite a while.  Once I discovered it, I tried sticking it into a bag of quick-rice, but boy, that thing was dead.
I have also broken a plastic container that was full of leftovers (yes, this is hard to do! But somehow…), chipped a bowl, ran into a doorjamb, and burned two things I was cooking.  Even for me, this is a long list of issues.
The interesting thing is that after my phone was destroyed (it was actually the last in the series of unfortunate events), I immediately stopped having these calamities.  I’m not going to blame my phone 100%, but it apparently was a significant contributing factor.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Developing Characters—Getting Started


By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

My daughter has been horseback riding on the weekends for years now. I love that she loves it, I love the way she excels at it.  I love that it’s an outdoor activity in a digital, indoor age.  The barns are interesting places and the people who hang out in barns are very different from the people I’m ordinarily around, so that’s very stimulating.  And, of course, the horses are gorgeous.
But I really just didn’t get the whole horse thing.  My daughter would talk about the horses while we were at the barn and continue talking about them during the week.  There was lots of personification going on...in my mind, anyway.  “Dusty worries about the jumps when they’re in different locations than usual.  That’s why he kept trying to look at them as we were cantering around the ring. I had to really make sure he was looking straight ahead,” she’d say.  And I’d nod and ask more about Dusty’s proclivities and his outlook on the world, and think, “What a creative child I have!”  Because I’d look at Dusty, the largest horse in the barn, and all I got out of it was… “My Lord, what a massive animal that is.”  And hope she always stayed on the horse.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Twitterific


By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Twitterific links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 23,000 free articles on writing related topics. It's the search engine for writers.

Check out the new resource for writers.  It’s Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group website.  There you’ll find pages of links to resources—writing tips, publishers, agents, queries, self-publishing, marketing, contests, and publications for writers.

Friend and fellow mystery writer Margot Kinberg has put together a crime fiction anthology: In a Word--Murder.  The ebook retails for $2.99 and proceeds from its sales benefit Princess Alice Hospice, in memory of Maxine Clarke, a supporter of and good friend to the crime writing community.  One of my stories is in the collection, too...my first attempt at short fiction. :) 

Have a great week!

6 Tools That Stop Computer Distractions and Help You Stay on Task: http://dld.bz/cTK5m @Trekity
How we present ourselves plays into our brand: http://dld.bz/cTK55 @fictorians

Friday, November 15, 2013

Writing to a Theme


By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

A few years ago, I got an email from a middle school student.  What was the theme of my book?
At first I was just a little startled that students just wrote authors about this kind of thing.  It would never have occurred to me to do that…but then, I guess the internet wasn’t around at that point, either (at least, not to the general public).
And then I was startled when I realized that…hey, the book in question didn’t really have much of a theme.  Maybe that’s why the kid was having such a hard time. :)  I mean, you could go with a ‘good will triumph over evil’ type of thing.  It was basically general crime fiction. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Preparing for a Panel

By Elizabeth S. Craig @elizabethscraig

Tomorrow, November 14, I’m on a panel for the Get Read online conference—a conference that’s all about helping writers learn more about effective marketing.
My panel is “Publishing Your Way To Success.” The description:
The core thing that connects writers to readers is the stories you craft – be it fiction, nonfiction, memoir, poetry or any form of writing. In this session, we explore how releasing new work can grow and more deeply engage your audience.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thoughts On a 99 Cent Sale


    by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

    It’s been a very long time since I’ve sold anything at 99 cents.  I’d read some blog posts that advised against it.  I’d heard readers say that it was tough finding anything good at 99 cents.
    Then I started reading those same things…but it was now arguing against a $1.99 price point.  The best, most recent examination I’ve got on the subject is this post by writer Molly Greene: “Ebook Pricing: What’s The Perfect Number?”  
    The entire post is worth a read.  Here is an excerpt where Molly quotes Smashwords CEO and founder Mark Coker on various price points:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Twitterific


 by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Twitterific links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 23,000 free articles on writing related topics. It's the search engine for writers.

This week-- November 13-14:  Get Read – Marketing Strategies for Writers: Dan Blank’s We Grow Media is a  two-day online conference for authors looking for promotion strategies--and, ultimately, readers.  Speakers include Porter Anderson, Chuck Wendig, Dan Blank, Jane Friedman, Therese Walsh, and many others.  (I'm one of the scheduled speakers and am also am serving on the advisory board.)  More information about the conference and registration information can be found here.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Completing Your Novel Plot


Guest Post by Jack Smith
At some point in drafting a novel, you will probably see the need to add more actions or events to complete the plot.  You know the story isn’t complete.  You may need to rethink where your story is going.  Try this process:
  • Write a brief summary of each chapter.  This is time-consuming, but once you have concise summaries, you will be able to see your novel’s overall direction more easily.  Sure, you can read and reread your novel itself, but sometimes you can forget what happened first, second, etc. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thoughts on Social Reading and Other Intrusions


by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig
A couple of months ago, I read an interesting post on social reading: Is Social Reading the End of an Intimacy?  Porter Anderson discussed the topic on Jane Friedman’s blog for his Writing on the Ether weekly column there (excellent coverage of publishing industry topics there, if you haven’t checked it out). 
I’ve kept thinking about the post, since this social aspect keeps slipping into ebooks I’ve been reading.  I’ve gotten used to the underlined passages, for instance, although they startled me the first few ebooks I read.  The fact that I’ve gotten used to them is what makes me think about Porter’s post.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Success and Writing—What Keeps Us Going


by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig
In many ways, I’m the biggest lurker out there.  I do try to comment on friends’ blogs, but for the vast majority of the blogs I visit in a week (which is in the hundreds), I skim and share. 
Some of what I see and have seen over the years makes me sad.  I’ve seen writers talk about how beaten-down they’ve been from the rejection cycle, from reader reviews, from lack of family support or publisher support. I’ve seen a lot of self-doubt and a lot of people quitting. 
Interestingly, though, I’ve seen a lot of writers who blogged that they were quitting writing only to pop back on the scene months later.  They couldn’t stop.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Twitterific


by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

 
Twitterific links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 23,000 free articles on writing related topics. It's the search engine for writers.

November 13-14:  Get Read – Marketing Strategies for Writers: Dan Blank’s We Grow Media is a  two-day online conference for authors looking for promotion strategies--and, ultimately, readers.  Speakers include Porter Anderson, Chuck Wendig, Dan Blank, Jane Friedman, Therese Walsh, and many others.  (I'm one of the scheduled speakers and am also am serving on the advisory board.)  More information about the conference and registration information can be found here.

If you use the discount code elizabeth, you receive $20 off the conference price.
Check out the new resource for writers.  It’s Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group website.  There you’ll find pages of links to resources—writing tips, publishers, agents, queries, self-publishing, marketing, contests, and publications for writers.

20 questions to ask when creating your setting: http://dld.bz/cTcAm @daycathy @jtdutton

Friday, November 1, 2013

On Translation



 Translator Julie Rose has translated some of France’s most highly prized writers, both classical and contemporary and is best known for her critically acclaimed translation of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Misérables. Rose has always been an avid reader of crime fiction. She just translated The Greenland Breach by Bernard Besson, a cli-fi spy novel recently published in English by Le French Book.


How did you get started in translation?

For me it started when I moved to France in the 1980s, after graduating from Sydney University and scoring a doctoral scholarship from the French government. The scholarship wouldn’t have kept a gal in kirs royaux, should it have been required to, so I did what everyone else did: I taught English to French people in firms all over town and interpreted for visiting delegations of administrators and business people of all stripes.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Who Says You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover?

 by Rebecca Yount
As a child I had a love affair with book covers.
Wesley Dennis's artwork that graced Marguerite Henry's 
stories drew me in like a magnet attracts metal.

 So, too, Arthur Rackham's illustrated edition of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows.  It was Rackham's cover that initially attracted me to the book that would become one of the most beloved of my childhood.

  To this day, I cherish memories of the "olde fashioned" illustrations from my early edition of Mother Goose.  At times I merely flipped through the pages to revel in the pictures, rather than read the nonsensical verses.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Deepening the Mystery


by Paul Anthony Shortt, @PAShortt

While I’m not a mystery writer, I have enjoyed including mystery elements in Locked Within Silent Oath. Nathan Shepherd started off his journey investigating mysterious deaths and disappearances. His eidetic memory helps him piece together clues and figure out what his enemies are planning.
and

Many urban fantasy series include elements of detective fiction. It’s common for the protagonist to have a job, or some form of responsibility, that relates to crime investigation. For Nathan, what started out as a strange death led to the discovery of the supernatural world he was once a part of. One thing which I did, which is a little different to many urban fantasies, was use Nathan’s past-life memories to explore the setting and take that opportunity to make other characters draw him into this world, rather than push him away. It was the antagonists, Dorian and Morningway, who held the mystery, not the world itself.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Slow Release—Not the End of the World


By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

It used to be, and still mainly is, in traditional publishing, that you wanted a really strong book release.  My publishers like to see good pre-orders and a high sale volume for the first month of a book’s release.  They want books sold off bookstore shelves and few returns.
That’s mostly because, in the print tradition, if you didn’t have a strong start and your books hung out on bookstore shelves too long, the stores would quickly end up shipping those books back to the publisher to make room for other titles.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Twitterific


By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Twitterific links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 23,000 free articles on writing related topics. It's the search engine for writers.

November 13-14:  Get Read – Marketing Strategies for Writers: Dan Blank’s We Grow Media is a  two-day online conference for authors looking for promotion strategies--and, ultimately, readers.  Speakers include Porter Anderson, Chuck Wendig, Dan Blank, Jane Friedman, Therese Walsh, and many others.  (I'm one of the scheduled speakers and am also am serving on the advisory board.)  More information about the conference and registration information can be found here.

If you use the discount code elizabeth, you receive $20 off the conference price.

Check out the new resource for writers.  It’s Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group website.  There you’ll find pages of links to resources—writing tips, publishers, agents, queries, self-publishing, marketing, contests, and publications for writers.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Writing Our Region

By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

I know that my editors specifically wanted a Southern writer for the two series I’m writing for Penguin. They do get the South when they hire me on. 
That being said, portraying a specific region can be tricky.  I think dialect can be annoying to read, if you’re using it broadly.  Southerners are fond of dropping gs, for instance.  That would get old after a while.  In fact, if you phonetically wrote out Southern dialect, it would be incredibly difficult to read.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cover Conferences


By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Traditional publishing is a funny thing.  It’s a hurry up-and-wait type of business.  Sometimes (quite frequently, actually), everything moves at glacial speed.  But sometimes, things happen before you’re ready.  And you never really know what’s going on behind the scenes exactly to cause either one.
I heard from my editor on Friday that she’ll be attending—today, actually— the cover conference for the book that I’m currently writing.  This is a book that’s due in January that will publish October 2014.  For some reason, everything that’s happened with this book has happened earlier than I was ready for, and it’s made me a bit flustered.  This is the same book where the teaser chapter was due at the same time as the outline, but then the outline had requested revisions…you remember.

Monday, October 21, 2013

What's Important in a Story


By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

I was going through my blog reader recently and came across an interesting post from writer Jeff Cohen: “Stuff Not to Do” on the Hey, There’s a Dead Guy in the Living Room blog.  The whole article was good, but the part that particularly caught my eye was this:
Don't decide on the crime and then create a character to fit it. Character comes first. The crime is the bait; it's what Alfred Hitchcock called "the MacGuffin," something the people in your book are desperate about but the reader should find secondary. Your characters are first. Write characters the reader cares about one way or another, and you're halfway home. Killing someone with a guillotine in the middle of Indiana isn't the key to your book.”

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Twitterific


By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Twitterific links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 23,000 free articles on writing related topics. It's the search engine for writers.

November 13-14:  Get Read – Marketing Strategies for Writers: Dan Blank’s We Grow Media is a  two-day online conference for authors looking for promotion strategies--and, ultimately, readers.  Speakers include Porter Anderson, Chuck Wendig, Dan Blank, Jane Friedman, Therese Walsh, and many others.  (I'm one of the scheduled speakers and am also am serving on the advisory board.)  More information about the conference and registration information can be found here.

If you use the discount code elizabeth, you receive $20 off the conference price.

There's a new resource for writers—whether you’re writing your first book, trying to query agents or editors, or whether you’re working on promo.  It’s Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group website.  There you’ll find pages of links to resources—writing tips, publishers, agents, queries, self-publishing, marketing, contests, and publications for writers. Alex is a friend and frequent commenter here and very active in supporting writers. Thanks to Alex and his helpers for compiling the information for the site.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Protagonists Should Climb in the Front Seat


By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

When I speak to book clubs and other groups of readers, I’m frequently asked if my characters are like me.
And they’re really not—the books would be boring if the protagonists were like me.
But I’m not telling the whole truth when I dismiss the question.  Because in some ways, they are.
In particular, I have one protagonist who behaves very much like me during social gatherings.  Beatrice watches instead of participating.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Advantages to Having Your Self-Published Book in Print


By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

When I first self-published a couple of years ago, it really never occurred to me to put out print copies of the books.  I felt print was on its way out, and that it might be expensive to publish a printed copy. Plus, I wasn’t sure exactly how to go into print.
But soon after e-publishing the first of my books, I started receiving emails from readers asking about getting the Myrtle books in print.  Some of the readers sounded rather put-out with me.  “I know digital is The Thing right now,” said one, “but I will never buy an e-reader. Never. Even though I would like to read your books.”  That’s when I decided to reassess my decision.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Traditional Publishing: One Reason Not to Choose It


By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Back in March, I wrote a post weighing in on the self-publishing vs. traditional publishing choice.  At the time, I was stunned by a report from a Digital Book World survey .  Although I didn’t mention it in the post, I couldn’t believe that one of the main reasons surveyed writers said they were interested in pursuing traditional publishing (76%) was the “marketing support from a publisher.”
At the time, I didn’t really want to pooh-pooh that on the blog—I wasn’t trying to slam my publisher(s) by outing this myth.  So I ignored it, figuring those were just ill-informed writers who wouldn’t be reading my blog anyway.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Twitterific


by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Twitterific links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 23,000 free articles on writing related topics. It's the search engine for writers.

November 13-14:  Get Read – Marketing Strategies for Writers: Dan Blank’s We Grow Media is a  two-day online conference for authors looking for promotion strategies--and, ultimately, readers.  Speakers include Porter Anderson, Chuck Wendig, Dan Blank, Jane Friedman, Therese Walsh, and many others.  (I'm one of the scheduled speakers and am also am serving on the advisory board.)  More information about the conference and registration information can be found here.

If you use the discount code elizabeth, you receive $20 off the conference price.

There's a new resource for writers—whether you’re writing your first book, trying to query agents or editors, or whether you’re working on promo.  It’s Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group website.  There you’ll find pages of links to resources—writing tips, publishers, agents, queries, self-publishing, marketing, contests, and publications for writers. Alex is a friend and frequent commenter here and very active in supporting writers. Thanks to Alex and his helpers for compiling the information for the site.

How not to write a mystery: http://dld.bz/cRDgP

Friday, October 11, 2013

Updates on ACX and Goodreads, Thoughts on Freebies


By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

I thought I’d give an update on both the audiobook platform that I started doing this spring and the promo efforts that I’ve made for the past few months.  Maybe it can give some of you ideas for expanding your content’s reach or for marketing it.
ACX—Still steady income for the $0 I put into the process.  Readers are requesting that more books go to audio (several readers wrote that they’re losing their eyesight and can only “read” via audio). I hate admitting that I don’t have the audio rights for the traditionally published books and that I find it less-likely that my publisher will put them on audiobook.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

If Your Mystery Needs Complexity


by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig
I’m new to outlining and sometimes there’s an element that’s missing when I draft outlines—complexity.
I think that’s because I usually add more layers to my books after the first draft is finished.  Unfortunately, I won’t have finished the first draft when I submit an outline to my editor...I won't even have started the book... and it won’t occur to me to add the complexity into the outline before I send it (at least, it hasn’t before).  This means that I ordinarily get feedback on my outlines that state “could you please add some complexity to this mystery?”

Monday, October 7, 2013

Concrete Tips for Developing an Appealing Voice in Your Fiction



by Jodie Renner, editor, author, speaker

What exactly is “voice” in fiction?
An engaging story “voice” captures us from the first sentence and beckons us into the story world. Literary agents and acquiring editors always say they’re looking for fiction with a captivating, fresh, natural voice. Then when asked to define the term, they hesitate as they try to capture the elusive “je ne sais quoi” qualities of a voice that is unique and original, a voice that engages readers and compels them keep reading.
In a nutshell, the ideal “voice” is that natural, open, charismatic tone and style that pull us in and make us feel like we know the characters well — and want to get to know them better! A strong, compelling voice will bring your characters and story to life on the page. Voice is personality on paper.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Twitterific


 by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig


Twitterific links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 23,000 free articles on writing related topics. It's the search engine for writers.

November 13-14:  Get Read – Marketing Strategies for Writers: Dan Blank’s We Grow Media is a  two-day online conference for authors looking for promotion strategies--and, ultimately, readers.  Speakers include Porter Anderson, Chuck Wendig, Dan Blank, Jane Friedman, Therese Walsh, and many others.  (I'm one of the scheduled speakers and am also am serving on the advisory board.)  More information about the conference and registration information can be found here.

If you use the discount code elizabeth, you receive $20 off the conference price.

There's a new resource for writers—whether you’re writing your first book, trying to query agents or editors, or whether you’re working on promo.  It’s Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group website.  There you’ll find pages of links to resources—writing tips, publishers, agents, queries, self-publishing, marketing, contests, and publications for writers. Alex is a friend and frequent commenter here and very active in supporting writers. Thanks to Alex and his helpers for compiling the information for the site.

6 steps to creativity: http://dld.bz/cRwPQ @authorterryo

Friday, October 4, 2013

What if You Have No Time to Promote?


by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig


I recently had someone email me asking how he could most effectively promote if he had no time at all to promote.
I know there have got to be plenty of writers in the same fix.  If you’re new to publishing and you start researching how to market your book, you could end up very overwhelmed, fast.
The problem is that our books don’t sell themselves.  It’s fine not to do any promo, but we can’t expect to be making money if we don’t.
I asked the writer how much time he actually had.  If he really had as little as he said (which was basically no time), I figured he could at least:

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Novel Revision: Twenty-page Sessions


Guest Post by Jack Smith


You can handle novel revision in many different ways—probably too numerous to mention.  One method: You can rework pages one at a time, trying to get everything right before going on.  A second: You can take the novel section by section, attempting to get everything right.
Or how about this third method?   Once you have a fairly complete draft, just commit yourself to twenty-page sessions of revision. 
Unless you hit real snags, you can do this in about two to three hours.
Here’s the kinds of things to look for/work for:

Monday, September 30, 2013

Speaking to Book Clubs


By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig
Friday I spoke to a book club in my hometown of Anderson, South Carolina.  It was a great group and a very well-established one—it had been founded in 1920.  My grandmother had been among the early members. 

In the past five years or so, I’ve spoken to a variety of different kinds of book clubs.  Some have been very casual with a loosely-organized program.  Some have been dressy, organized events.  Some have been at retirement homes.  Sometimes there’s even supper involved.  I’ve found that it’s good to know what to expect before you arrive.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Twitterific


By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Twitterific links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 23,000 free articles on writing related topics. It's the search engine for writers.

Sign up for our free newsletter for bimonthly writing tips and interviews with top contributors to the WKB or like us on Facebook

November 13-14:  Get Read – Marketing Strategies for Writers: Dan Blank’s We Grow Media is a  two-day online conference for authors looking for promotion strategies--and, ultimately, readers.  Speakers include Porter Anderson, Chuck Wendig, Dan Blank, Jane Friedman, Therese Walsh, and many others.  (I'm one of the scheduled speakers and am also am serving on the advisory board.)  More information about the conference and registration information can be found here.

4 Ways to Improve Your Writing: http://dld.bz/cPz2m @ava_jae
How to handle personal attacks on social media: http://dld.bz/cQtW4 @ellynangelotti

Friday, September 27, 2013

Writers and Their Reading


By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Hi everyone.  Hope you all have a great weekend.  I've got a guest post today at the We Wanted to be Writers blog--they have an interesting feature called "Books by the Bed" and they asked me to contribute.
After reading some of the great entries from other writers, I wasn't really sure I even felt comfortable submitting a post! I had a feeling that when I explored my bedside table, it was going to be crammed-packed with Agatha Christies (yellowing paperbacks from the 80s that I still have) and a Kindle full of mysteries. As usual, everything was a blur when I tried to remember what I'd been reading in the last several months.  But when I took a look and reconstructed my purchases, borrows, library checkouts, and old favorites that I frequently peek at before sleeping, I realized that my reading is actually more varied than I give myself credit for. 

Pop over if you can and share what's on your bedside table (or what you've read in the past few months).

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mystery with Spiritual Edge


by Stephen McCutchan, @stevemccutchan

A Good Mystery
A good mystery helps restore order and makes sense out of something that is unexplainable in our society. People do not like to live in a society that doesn't respond to logic. How do you protect yourself if there is not a logical explanation for what is happening? When we experience brokenness in our society, we need someone to fix what is broken and fill the hole in our universe that threatens the logic of our lives. The mystery can be personal, a mysterious death, or enter the area of thrillers with a threat to our whole society. A good mystery helps us make sense and restore order again.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Interviews--My Checklist for Skype Interviews, Podcasts, or Radio


By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Although I don’t do a ton of interviews, I probably do a live or recorded interview every few months.  I especially like the recorded ones because I figure if I say something dumb, they can edit it all out and make me look as if I know what I’m talking about. :)
I’ve learned from my mistakes in the past with these things, too.  I think of my house as being a very quiet place, but apparently, judging from my interview experiences, there is actually plenty of noise pollution there.  The pets, for one.  My corgi will bark at the cats, at the doorbell, and sometimes when she wants to go outside.  The cats are male litter-mates and fight tooth and nail with each other.  Various appliances make buzzer-like alarms when they’re done running.  My UPS guy feels the need to hit the doorbell when he drops off a package (I do appreciate this, but it makes the aforementioned barking happen).

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Twitterific


By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Twitterific links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 23,000 free articles on writing related topics. It's the search engine for writers.

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Mike Fleming and writing coach James Scott Bell are offering an online, interactive, writing program to help make your next novel great. It's called "Knockout Novel" and you can learn more about it at Knockout Novel.com

My tips for handling writing and life: http://dld.bz/cQncA @DIYMFA
What’s Important in the Man Booker Debate? http://dld.bz/cQn3H /@Porter_Anderson @nicksidwell @meandmybigmouth

Friday, September 20, 2013

More Thoughts on Being a Hybrid Writer and My Self-Publishing Discoveries

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig



On Monday’s post, I received a comment from Colleen…she was interested in hearing more about balancing or approaching life as a hybrid writer—someone who is both traditionally published and self-published.
She mentioned (and she’s right) that many self-pubbed/indie authors aren’t at all interested in being traditionally published.  She was curious about how I handle both worlds.
And…it’s interesting sometimes.  But for me, a job is a job. I have traditionally published series with readers who want more books, so I’m providing them more books.  I recently signed a contract with Penguin for more mysteries in the Southern Quilting series.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Past Imperfect


Guest Post by James Mullen
I’ve started to sketch out the plot for my second book.  The book is a police procedural based in Boston, and although I visit the area frequently, I haven’t lived there in over 20 years. Computer research and phone interviews are invaluable, you can’t beat putting your eyes on places – even if it’s just a validation of what’s perfectly remembered.  To be honest though, I went with the idea of visiting not the actual places I image as crime scenes, because I know them so well, but want to re-acquaint myself with the more peripheral areas of those scenes that could serve as description. 
I plan to have the opening crime scene take place at a downtown subway stop, or as we like to say in Boston, a “T” stop.  I’ve found most subway stations very linear and shaped like, well, the letter “T”;  ascending or descending stairs that pour out to a waiting horizontal platform in front of the rails.  Pretty straight forward, pretty simple.  Since I was planning a murder, I needed a place with more complication, more corners.  I need malevolence.
I remember a stop I used back in the mid-70s when I commuted from the Back Bay to downtown Boston.  The station always struck me as up to no good, and on nights I worked late, felt like I was descending into a film noir movie set.  Mack the Knife or Philip Marlowe could pop out of the shadows and stick a shiv or a gat in my back without warning.  The place defined grimy and dark.  The layout was more like the letter “Y”, but with intricate and shadowy angles.  Perfect!

So I had my hopes up when I went to re-visit the street-level environment surrounding the stop two weeks ago. I almost didn’t enter the stop itself since I knew the details were firmly embedded in my memory – even 40 years later.
Boston, back then, covered both sides of the social contract with its ridership.  The city wanted efficient use of its system, so made the environment extremely unpleasant; searing heat in any season; zero air exchange; squealing breaks on subways at all times; crowd movements resembling schools of fish in a Dixie cup; most overhead light bulbs broken – illumination being supplied by any natural light able to crawl on its hands and knees down the stairs and make it to the platform area on the first level.  Yes, the city made good on its promise that no matter what slings and arrows were suffered during a given workday by its citizens, they would take place in an environment much more pleasant than the station.
But look what I walked into?  As you can see from the recent photo; white tiles on the wall!  A wall, recently cleaned!  Posters, and get this, a mural on the back wall behind the escalators.  Art appreciation!  And the lights!  More than adequate ceiling fluorescents throughout. People holding hands!  I fully expected to see folks alight from arriving subway cars singing show tunes and then lining up for a dance routine.  How could my memory do this to me?  Or is it the city’s fault?
The second day I took a boat trip to another crime scene, Spectacle Island, in Boston Harbor.  Although I have never set foot on the island, it is one of many in Boston Harbor located on a well-used flight path to and from Logan Airport that I’ve flown numerous times.  If you look out a plane’s window enough, you get to know the landmarks and the approach well. As a precaution, I also checked maps on the internet prior to my trip and could see that the island’s view of the Boston skyline would be blocked by several others in the harbor; that fact being germane to an intended plot point of my story.  I give you Spectacle Island:
 


Lesser men would suffer boredom from being right all the time.  Me, I just take it in stride.



James Mullen currently lives in North Carolina.  His first novel, Ketchum and Cobb, can be purchased on Amazon.   
Website:  Grumpy Gets Better (jimamullen.blogspot.com) – things literary and not so much.
Also on Facebook and Goodreads.