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Showing posts from March, 2011

How Did You Make Out?

It's the last day of the month, and almost hard to believe.  Time goes too fast sometimes.  If only it could take pause so we can enjoy more time with loved ones, savor a lazy, rainy afternoon, read another good book, or just finish writing our own.

Maybe you're like me.  At the start of most months, you set out with a target word count, and other things you want to accomplish.  I think I forgot to do this for the month of March.  All I know is I wanted to write every day in my current WIP, and draft a good synopsis for my second mystery.  I think I held the ideal of getting some editing in too.

What did I accomplish?  Over 30,000 words in Eleven (bringing the WC to over 52k to date), and a mediocre synopsis (ooh, it needs polishing lol).  But I also managed to post 12 blog entries (including this one, less guest posts).

Since tomorrow is Forensic Friday around here, I'd like to lay out my goals for April now:

1) finish Eleven
2) finish that synopsis (that is so far beatin…

WMW Introduces Jennifer Schubert

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Jennifer Schubert writes thrillers, and  is agented by the estimable Jim McCarthy. She lives in Sarasota, Florida with her husband, kids, cats, and dog.
Landing an Agent While Being a Full-time Mom
One of the questions people ask most frequently about my writing is "When do you get time to write?" Answer: whenever I can fit it in. My kids are a bit older now, 6 and 8, but when they were young it was before they got up in the morning. While they napped. While they played. While Dora the Explorer led them on an adventure. Any quiet moment would find me scribbling notes into a notebook or pounding the keyboard. My sweet angels would be snoozing, dreaming, and I was murdering and betraying. One minute I'd be playing Candyland or nursing a baby, the next planning a kidnapping or an intricate extortion scheme. 
I think those moments of diving into a fantasy world kept me sane, kept me from dwelling on sleepless nights and endless struggles for a moment of peace. I could transport…

Too Many Decisions

Okay, so for the last couple of days, I've been torn between a few works of mine.  First off, I'm in the midst of writing my 7th novel, and it's coming along nicely, but I'm also trying to finish off a polished draft of a synopsis for my 2nd mystery.  And in the midst of this, I had sent a few chapters of another finished novel of mine to a beta reader.  These came back, and I'm all fired up ready to strengthen the book even further.  I had thought it was already, but her insightful questions have challenged me to ratchet it up even more.  I love it!  I love the challenge of it, and know I can meet it.  The problem here people?  I only have so many hours in a day.  I also have a full-time job that sucks 40 hrs out of every week (of course I'm thankful to be employed especially these days).   I know the pressure's coming from myself, the internal voice barking to get everything done now.  Maybe you've found yourself in the same place?  Maybe you are curr…

Conflicting Emotions

Have you ever wondered why we cry when we’re happy?  Or can laugh when we’re sad?  Scream when we’re hurt, scream when we’re mad, scream when we're excited?  All of these reactions are relatively the same, but the driving motivation is entirely different.  I don't have some psychological answer as to why a single emotion can warrant various reactions, but I do have the basic one - it's human.  And, as writers, we can use these human emotions to "flesh out" out our characters, to make them characters the reader can relate to.  (See SeriesCharacters You Can Pinchfor an in-depth discussion.)
What if your character is grieved over the loss of a loved one?  Envision yourself in their situation.  Have you had to endure the loss of someone dear to you?  I have.  And the emotions that whirl from this are a vast spectrum.  You can go from being extremely sad, to angry, to laughing at a funny memory.  And the cycle seems to continue throughout the grieving process.  Now, th…

The "Pitfalls" of "Panster-Style"

Most of us writers are familiar with the term "Panster-style".  Some of us belong in that category, the rest of us prefer to outline, whether in detail or in generalities.  And of course, there's nothing wrong with either.  There's both benefits and potential pitfalls to each.

Since I'm a claimed "panster", I'm going to say when I did take a shot at outlining, I found I deviated from the "course" anyway.  My outlining, though, was never in precise detail and I still allowed my characters to tow me along for the ride.  I do know that this process works great for some writers.  I also know that those of you who outline in detail, prefer it to make sure you tie up all the loose ends, or clues, that become entwined with your story.

So why do I prefer going about a new WIP (work in progress) without an outline?  I know the basic direction of my story before I begin, don't get me wrong.  I usually have a vision of the ending and how things p…

Conducting An Autopsy

First of all, it’s important to know that not everyone who dies has an autopsy.  Although for us mystery writers, it’s pretty much going to apply all the time.  Our books are full of murders, and suspicious deaths.
An autopsy is also known as a post-mortem examination.  It is usually carried out when a death is traumatic, unusual, or sudden and unexpected.  Common situations that warrant this investigation are as follows: violent deaths, deaths at the workplace, deaths that are suspicious, sudden or unexpected, deaths that occur while incarcerated or in police custody, deaths that are unattended by a physician that occur within 24 hrs of being admitted to a hospital or when admitted while unconscious and it’s never regained prior to death, deaths that occur during medical or surgical procedures, deaths that occur during an abortion whether medical, self or illegal, a found body whether known or unidentified, before a body can be cremated or buried at sea, at the request of the court.
Th…

WMW Introduces Ray Wong

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Ray Wong is the author of the award-winning novel, The Pacific Between (2006 IPPY Book Awards - Multicultural Adult Fiction). He's also been published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Cincinnati Enquirer, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Actors Ink, and Writers Post Journal.  As an actor, Ray's appeared on stage and in feature films and on TV shows such as Roommates, The Extra, and Sex and the City. Follow Ray on Twitter at _RaWo_, or read his blog at http://itheauthor.blogspot.com. You can contact him at www.raymondwong.com.
Defining Moments
Someone asked me the other day, "What was that defining moment when you knew you had to be a writer?"
That's an interesting question. I'm not sure if I actually had such a moment. My journey as a writer evolves over time, and it's still evolving. I've always written, and I always loved telling stories when I was much younger. I got my first piece published when I was 13. But I never thought of becoming a professional writer. …

"This is about me, dang it!"

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The Human Observation post this week is dealing with those people who turn everything you share with them into a barrage of their life experience.  You tell them that you had a great weekend.  Maybe you were about to share more details, and you made the fatal mistake of pausing for air.  Now all of a sudden the gate's open and they're off and runnin' - their mouth that is.  You then get to hear every minute detail of what they did, where they went, what they ate.  Now, don't get me wrong, there's something good about being a conversationalist but when you start ruling every conversation, you might want to take a step back.
And I'm sure you've all been in this position at some point.  You're going through a rough experience in life, maybe your pet isn't well.  You start telling this person about what's going on, and a story that is supposed to be about you turns into their issue.  "Oh yes, we had a dog named Charlie ten years ago.  He had hea…

How to Support Our Fellow Writers

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When I started this blog, it was with the purpose of reaching out to, and meeting writers like myself.  Since so much of our time is spent alone with our thoughts and the characters we create, when we emerge from those worlds, we need others who can relate to us.
Some of us are fortunate enough to have terrific support in the form of a spouse, significant other, or friends.  But the truth is, no matter how much they are there for us, a person who is not a writer cannot fully understand the struggles we go through.
They don't know what it is like to experience the highs and lows that come with writing.  They don't know the importance of a crisp first five to get an agent's attention, the importance of show don't tell.  They don't know the work that goes into creating the perfect query, or synopsis.  And in truth, being a writer can bring a lot of negativity.
We're always reminded of how perfect our character development and prose needs to be if we want to sell it. …

Let's Talk DNA

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We've all read the book, or watched the show, where a main piece of evidence linking a suspect with the crime is a single strand of hair.  But do you know the facts?
Did you know that hair contains no nuclear DNA, although it can contain small amounts of Mitochondrial DNA.  What does this mean?  First of all, let's get an understanding as to the difference.
Nuclear DNA is considered to be the "blueprint or thread of life" which is genetic coding used in the development and functioning of all living organisms.  It contains 15 different markers or locations along the DNA molecule to determine a full nDNA profile.  Nuclear DNA is found in living cells.  Now because hair is composed of dead cellular debris, unless the hair has been yanked from the head and contains a follicular bulb (skin tag as when it's pulled out), it cannot provide nuclear DNA.
However, Mitochondrial DNA is found within the cell cytoplasm, and are the energy producers of the cell and body.  MtDNA ha…

WMW Introduces Nancy Burke

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We're doing something a little different this week.  Not only is this an interview-style post, it's also "live".  This means that if you have any further questions, and leave them in a comment, Nancy will answer them for you here.


Nancy Burke has been an editor for twelve years now.  She works for a small academic publishing company.  She has agreed to answer questions about what an editor does, and what their exact role is in the publishing industry.


Ask the Editor

What is the role of the editor? My job as an editor is to prepare manuscript for publication. Anything you can imagine that falls into that very blanket statement can become part of what I do. I’ve gone so far as to take pictures of a location so we had a photo to include in a book. Mostly I split my time between project management and manuscript development – everything from serving as a sounding board for authors (and strict task mistress!) to overseeing the design of the book’s cover to making sure the boo…

The Finger-Pointer

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Oh, I do believe we all know this person.   As part of the Human Observation Project, let's give them a little attention.


"I didn't that!"  "It wasn't me!"  "If you want to know, speak to Chester."


Poor Chester, he gets the blame for everything.  Heck, you could exchange the name for Joe, Carey, Ester.  It doesn't really matter, because it's always anyone else's fault, even when it's their own. These type of people, "the finger pointer", warrant such little respect from those around them.


For some reason, they see themselves elevated from the common masses where humans are humans, and to "err is to be human".  They believe that saying applies to everyone but themselves, because surely they couldn't be in the wrong.


And what gets me is it doesn't take much for them to lift up their hand and direct attention elsewhere.  It can something as minor as where missing paperwork is.  You know, the person you ask …

Hollywood vs. Reality

Most of us have watched, or are regular fans of shows such as CSI,Criminal Minds, and Law & Order, to name a few.  We witness them solve crime over the course of an hour.  But can we trust everything we see and put it to work in our books?  
It's so vitally important that as writers we get our facts straight.  If we don't, we may lose our readers for good.  I'm reading a non-fiction book called The Criminal Mind by Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D.  She makes reference to a certain published writer who didn't bother to check their facts.  Not only was she turned off from reading what she started, she would never read another of their books.  And, as I'm sure you're filling in right now, this author's lack of fact-checking didn't make for good publicity in the longterm.  And even though, I found myself cringing in empathy for this writer, at the same time it drove home the importance of presenting the facts.
Below are some contrasts between Hollywood and real …