Sharing

I just read a great blog post about finding the balance between character and plot in stories.  I usually post writing things like this on my author Facebook page, but this one was so well done, I thought I’d share it here, too.

https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/how-to-tell-if-your-story-has-too-much-plot-not-enough-character/

Also, I’ve been posting snippets from the Muddy River books most Mondays and snippets from the Jazzi Zanders mysteries on Thursdays.  This week, I’m putting up a short story that I wrote to get us in the mood for Labor Day.  Part 1 went up earlier this week.  Part 2 went up today, and The End goes up on Friday.  So if you want to read the whole thing at one time, it will all be there tomorrow.

Happy Writing!

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Q&A

One of my favorite authors, Ilona Andrews, is doing a Q&A on her blog right now.  I caught the link on twitter.  This time, two writers sent in questions and I thought she gave great answers.  One of the writers asked whether it’s better to try to sell some short stories before you try to sell a novel.

I’ve had some experience with that.  I started out writing and selling short stories.  When I finally decided to submit a book, I’d had short stories in 10 Alfred Hitchcock mystery magazines, 2 Ellery Queen mystery magazines, 3 Barnes & Noble anthologies, and 2 WomenSleuth anthologies, among others.  It helped to get editors to look at my submission, since I looked like a serious writer, but it didn’t help sell my books.  Editors only take what they’re sure they can sell.  If you send them a book that they think readers will buy, you’re in.  If you send them books that they think are in a market they consider glutted or “dead,” (like cozy mysteries were then), you’re pretty much doomed.  But Ilona Andrews gives the best answer.  You can see for yourself: https://www.ilona-andrews.com/dreams-and-short-stories/

Which leads me to say, Do any of you have questions for me?  If you ever do, just ask.

 

Getting excited

I signed up for two conferences this year, both near the end of conference season.  I went to Magna cum Murder in Indy at the end of October last year and decided to go back for their 25th anniversary.  25 years!  And last year, when the hostess asked people to raise their hands who’d come from Day One, a LOT of people raised their hands.  Now that’s a dedicated crowd.  I’m not the type of person who makes instant friends, so I’m looking forward to seeing who’s there again this year and what they’ve done since I saw them last.

Magna cum Murder isn’t aimed for writers.  There were no panels on the state of the industry, poisons, or how to market.  The panels were geared for readers, but oh, were those readers prolific.  They knew their stuff.  I love talking shop with fellow writers, but I love talking to serious readers, too.  And this conference is packed with them.

The second event I’ve signed up for is “CozyClub Mini-Con Midwest.”  My publisher, Kensington, organized it.  It’s on Saturday, September 7–the weekend after Labor Day– from 11 a.m. to 1:00 at Pierogi Mountain (German Village) 739 S 3rd St. in Columbus, Ohio.  Okay, pierogis instantly caught my attention.  But then I read the list of authors who’ve signed up for author signings, and I’m going all fan girl.

I’m sure every author is wonderful, and one might be your favorite, so I’ll list them, but a few of my favorites are going to be there.  Here are the names:  Alex Erickson, Amanda Flower, Anna Lee Huber, C.M. Gleason, Cheryl Hollon, Christin Brecher, Debra H. Goldstein, Ginger Bolton, J.C. Kenney, J.R. Ripley, Julie Ann Lindsay, Lynn Cahoon, Olivia Matthews, Annelise Ryan, Rose Pressey, Sherry Harris, Carlene O’Connor, Kate Dyer-Seeley, Lena Gregory, Winnie Archer, and ME.  At least, that’s the line-up for now.  The book seller is The Book Loft in Columbus, Ohio.

If you read my recommendations on BookBub, you’ll know that I’m hooked on Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby series and Lynn Cahoon’s Tourist Trap series.  And J.C. Kenney has written two mysteries, and I liked them both.  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/judi-lynn?list=reviews&review_step=search

I’m dragging my poor husband with me to both conferences (lucky him:), and I have an old friend who lives in Columbus that I hope to meet up with and maybe go out for supper with once the mini-con is over.  And my daughter and grandson both live in Indy, so both conferences are a win/win for me.  Sometimes, I do well at conferences and sound halfway intelligent.  Sometimes, I get nervous and it’s dodgy.  But it’s nice to leave my writing cave once in a while and see what’s out there, to meet fellow writers in the flesh instead of just reading their blogs or twitter posts.

I have writers’ club this Wednesday, and it feels like sitting down with old friends, talking plots, dialogue, pacing, and word choice.  They keep me on my toes.  But it will be nice to meet some new people and see what they have to say.    Whether you’re locked in a little room by yourself, sitting in your gazebo or by your pool with your laptop, or meeting up with fellow writers, all the best.  And happy writing!

What is Success?

When I first started writing, and knew that I was new and had a lot to learn, I felt like a success if I could just finish a short story and have all the parts in the right place with no big  problems.  If the story came together well enough, I’d read The Gila Queen to see if it might fit anywhere.  (The Gila Queen’s a marketing newsletter that I subscribed to.  It’s still available online, but I haven’t looked at it for a long time.  If you’d like to:      https://hellnotes.com/gila-queens-guide-to-markets-166/   )

I really enjoyed The Gila Queen, because it listed small magazines that were looking for short stories and paid in copies, as well as established publications that paid cash for each word.  If I found something that looked like a good fit, I’d mail (yes, snail mail) my story off and hope for the best.  If the editor wanted it, I felt like a success.  Now, mind you, success might mean that I received two free copies of the mag with my work in it.  I didn’t care.  Someone wanted my work.  Sometimes, success meant that a respected editor took the time to write a thoughtful rejection about why my work didn’t fit their magazine.  To me, that meant my writing was good enough to warrant a bit of their time.  And I was grateful.

Another reason I liked Gila Queen was because editors looking for stories for anthologies would list what they were looking for or the theme for that edition.  And often, those themes gave me ideas to try.  And sometimes, those ideas came together in a story that the editor took.  Eventually, those small sells led to bigger sells to bigger magazines, and after that, I got brave enough to try to write a book.

My first stab at a novel only stretched to 20,000 words–what some might consider failure.  I considered it success, because I’d never written anything that long before, and I’d learned a lot from the experience.  My second “novel” came in at 40,000 words and a tiny press in Baltimore bought it to print as newspapers for passengers to buy at airports to read on their flights.  Success.  Of course, no one ever heard of Gourmet Killings, but the editor liked it and passengers bought it.  Good enough for me.

These days, I still measure success with a slide rule.  For my Jazzi series, I look at numbers–rankings and sells.  But for Muddy River, I’m letting the series build slowly, so if my numbers are tolerable and I hear a good review, hey–success.

Why am I going on about this?  It’s a fluke, really.  John Tesh just happened to be on the radio when I was listening to it to pass time.  And what waa he talking about?  Success.  His message?  People say, “I’ll be happy when I’m successful.”  But success is hardly ever exactly what they thought it would be.  Or it comes at a higher price or more work than they anticipated.  He believed that the cause and effect should be reversed, that “happiness brings success, not vice versa.”  Because we  measure it differently.  We count one success at a time and are happy when we reach the next one.

I’m not saying disappointment doesn’t flatten me sometimes.  We all get frustrated and mumble about quitting, giving up, it’s too hard.  I felt like I was beating my head against the author wall when I wrote romance after romance that couldn’t get any traction.  But when that happens, it’s time to stop and rethink, to try something else.  And sometimes, we have to realize that we’re aiming for an impossible goal.  A near miracle.  We’re setting our goals and dreams too high.

That’s what Ilona Andrews’ blog was about today.  Sometimes, we’re simply unrealistic. http://www.ilona-andrews.com/on-writers-self-validation-of/ We don’t reach the pinnacle of success, so we consider ourselves failures.  Instead of embracing what we’ve done right or well, we look at where we’ve fallen short.  I’m not saying to quit trying.  We should always do our best.  We have to give ourselves the best chance we can to reach our goals.  But when we don’t, it just means that that particular effort didn’t work.  So we have to try something else and try again.

Keep hitting those keys, and happy writing!

 

 

 

Cover Reveal: Eventide by Mae Clair #thriller #supernaturalsuspense

My blogger friend, Mae Clair, is doing a cover reveal of her book. The desolate, creepy setting fits her dark, supernatural tales. I loved the first two books in her series. You might want to check them out:

From the Pen of Mae Clair

Hi, friends! Thanks for joining me today as I roll out the cover of the final book in my Hode’s Hill Series of novels. A special thanks to Staci Triolo for designing the snazzy header image for me. Isn’t it great? I was so appreciative of Staci’s help, given I feel like I’ve been treading water lately. But then I know she is, too. Most writers recognize it as a regular state of mind.

Every once in a while, we get something sparkly to distract us. For me it’s my latest cover.

Book cover for Eventide, a Hode's Hill novel by Mae Clair shows an old abandoned house in a wash of blue tones

Release Date: December 31, 2019
Genre: Supernatural Thriller / Suspense /Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington Publishing • Lyrical Underground Imprint


As with the first two novels in the Hode’s Hill series, Eventide features a dual timeline with two mysteries—one set in the present, one in the 1800s—that intertwine at the end.

Blurb:
The darkness is coming . . .

The…

View original post 309 more words

No More Webpage

I’ve had a weebly webpage for years.  I used it to put up free chapters of books I wrote and never did anything with.  That sounds odd, I know, but I played around with different genres here and there, and sometimes, I liked them, and sometimes, one YA book or one caterer married to a cop mystery was enough.  I don’t regret writing them.  I enjoyed all of them.  I was never convinced offering free work online was a brilliant idea, (and I’m still not convinced it is), but I enjoyed sharing work I wouldn’t publish with readers.

I still love Verdanta–the island home I created for nymphs and sprites who invited a small group of mortals to stay with them one week a month to let the beauty of the island and the energy of their magic help “fix” them after Life hit them a little too hard.  I still love Chintz and Callum–the caterer and cop–because I wanted to try my hand at a Murder Club mystery, and it was FUN.  And I’ll always have a soft spot for the YA book, THE FAMILIARS, with Zoe–the witch–who could take off her shoes and stand barefoot in a park, then watch lush, green grass grow in all directions where the ground was once dead.

I used the webpage to write free short stories, too, so that I could cling to characters I’d grown too attached to but no longer wrote about in books.  I don’t know how many Babet and Prosper stories ended up there.  A lot.

But the sad truth is, to keep the stories moving so that readers didn’t forget the first chapters before I reached the last, I had to put up chapters or scenes at least two or three times a week.  And I am now officially out of books cast in drawers, and I don’t have time to write that many free short stories any more.  So this Tuesday, I hit the “you can never go back” button and deleted the entire webpage.  It was bittersweet.  All of those stories no longer available.  But they’d have just hovered in cyberspace and gone unnoticed anyway, if I didn’t keep up the page, so it was a good thing.

I still intend to add snippets and the occasional short story on a page I created on this blog, and I hope readers find them and enjoy them.  But deleting my webpage was a turning point for me.  It means I’m serious about staggering two series and still hitting deadlines.  And I’ve experimented enough, I’m ready to settle down to two kinds of mysteries I really enjoy writing.

Whatever you’re working on, I hope it’s going well.  And happy writing!

 

It’s Up!

I just wanted to share that my third paranormal mystery, Mixing It Up With Mortals, went live on Amazon today.  Yay!   https://amzn.to/2ymaQrW

Raven and Hester are asked to find out what happened to a new, start-up supernatural settlement.  All of the parents are dead, their bodies covered with puncture marks.  All of the children are missing.  Where are they?  With Murlyn, a warlock who practices black magic involved, the stakes are high.  They have to find the children.  And fast.

Cover for All the Missing Children