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Showing posts from May, 2011

We're Always Learning

Ask yourself, have you ever gone one day without asking a question?  If you think about it, we’re always asking questions for the purpose of learning something, or to find out what others might think of our decisions or opinions.  Really, the main purpose of asking questions is to gain insight, and to grow.
That’s the key right there.  If we never asked questions, we wouldn’t grow.  Our knowledge would be stifled.  As children, we go through a stage where the question is always why.  As adults, isn’t it true that we ask the same question often enough.  Of course, the question doesn’t come out in a constant stream, but you get my point.  We grow every day, and some of this comes as a direct result of asking questions, and getting the answers.
How can we apply this to our writing?
Think character development.  As a plot advances, different twists and turns may have our characters out of their “comfort zone”.  Maybe they don’t understand why another character is acting a certain way.  Or if…

The 26 Stages of Death

So for those of you who may have missed my Forensic Friday post this past week, I found an interesting webpage that you might find interesting.

The 26 Stages of Death

Check it out.

When Your Characters Go Silent

So you have the perfect idea for a novel, you know where it's headed, you've brainstormed different curves to reach those results, and then ---- silence.  Your main character isn't co-operating.  For someone who had been "yapping" to have their story told now they've turned mute.  Have you ever had this happen?  I have before, and it's not a fun experience.

For me, it went on for days.  I kept re-thinking the story-line, and the characters tweaking different aspects.  It actually got to the point where I got upset with the main character, and said "why aren't you talking to me?"  Their response was "I'm not who you think I am."  (It's a good thing my audience is writers or I'd be considered a schizophrenic.)

But, maybe this silence hasn't come during the brainstorming phase, but in the middle of the book.  Either way, when a "roadblock" hits we can panic:  There goes the book.  What am I supposed to do now…

Guest Post

If you haven't checked out Elizabeth Marshall's gorgeous website, I urge you to do so.  I was honored to be invited to join as a member which allows me to post my thoughts.

Please be sure to check out my first post: "I'm Published".

Editing is Writing

Sometimes we are so caught up in the excitement of making that first draft that when it comes time to edit, that necessary aspect of writing pales by comparison.  It's not to say there are not multiple uh huh  moments when you bask in the glory of well-arranged words, a perfected piece of dialogue, a rearranged scene, but for some reason (at least for me), the editing-phase isn't a favorite one.  Of course, I pull myself through, pass the changes onto to trusted beta readers for feedback and critique.  But as an earlier post on this blog (The Lagging Middle) disclosed, there's certain points along the way, I have to dig inside to keep moving forward.

Maybe part of it is the simple truth that a writer, writes.  And we've all heard it said that we only improve by continuing to write.  Edits, well, don't make you feel like you're writing.  That is a delusion!

Just think about it.  Yes, you may slash out scenes, take out words, but how many new sequences do you int…

Ties That Bind is Available at Introductory Rate

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I'm pleased to announced the release of my first mystery in the Detective Madison Knight series, TIES THAT BIND.  You can buy it here. (Special savings for blog followers, and viewers, see below.)
Detective Madison Knight concluded the case of a strangled woman an isolated incident.  But when another woman’s body is found in a park killed by the same line of neckties, she realizes they’re dealing with something more serious.
Despite mounting pressure from the Sergeant and Chief to close the case even if it means putting an innocent man behind bars, and a partner who is more interested in saving his marriage than stopping a potential serial killer, Madison may have to go it alone if there's not going to be another victim.

What to read more? Smashwords also allows you to read sample pages for FREE! Better yet, buy the book!  Buy here.

Until May 31st, 2011, viewers, followers and subscribers of this blog get $2.00 off the retail price.  So instead of $5.99 USD, it's only $3.99 To ta…

Another Friend, Another Plug

Don't worry my blog hasn't transformed into an ad agency, but I'm just wanting to support those that I've become good friends with over the last year online.  Next plug will be my novel TIES THAT BIND which should be available shortly on Smashwords.com

This second plug of the day is in honor of my friend TODD BUSH, author of RICK FROST & THE ALASKAN ADVENTURE.

For Kindle-edition, click here .99 cents
For Nook, click here .99 cents
To order in paperback, click here $8.99

Check out this book by friend...

A good friend of mine, Kenneth Hoss, published his first book this week.  You may recognize his name from this blog before, as he did a guest post “A Look Behind the Badge”.
But, please be sure to support him.  His book, STORM RISING a police procedural mystery, came out on May 24th.  It’s available on Smashwords.com.
Here’s what it is about: When a murder investigation turns Detective Kelli Storm’s attention to a drug kingpin, the last thing she expected was to find a link to her father’s killer from twenty years earlier.
Detectives Kelli Storm and Bill Hayes are investigating multiple homicides in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood.
When a young woman is murdered, Kelli tracks the killer to a Gentleman’s Club in Manhattan. There she locates an unwilling witness. When the woman is assaulted and left dying, the investigation takes a new twist. The DEA steps in and takes over, forcing Kelli off the case.She decides to take a different approach. Working behind the scenes, she p…

The Power of Memories

Memories have the power to alter our mood, and change our perception.  They can be triggered by a smell, a statement, something you see, or feel.  These can be either positive or negative experiences from our past -heartbreak caused from a severed relationship, the loss of a loved one, a decision we made that set us on a bad path, a time we spent holding a baby, or playing with a puppy, our wedding. 
And the best part about memories is they can be brief even though they're monumental in meaning.  Some memories are vivid while others are hazy and conjure more feelings than images.  But, for you to "file" these moments away, it tells you that particular event impacted you.  These events had a part in shaping who you are today.  You've learned from them.  For example, if someone broke your heart, you're likely less trusting in your next relationship.  If you ate something you enjoyed, you’ll have it again.
So how can we use this in our writing?
Backstory.  Memories gi…

A Big Decision...

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For those of you who know me, and follow me on Twitter, you may be aware that I’ve been debating whether to pursue publishing traditionally, or take the plunge and self-publish.  With all the “buzz” on the internet, and after great consideration, I have decided to go ahead and self-publish.
I had asked myself, does this mean I’m giving up?  And, the answer is irrevocably no.  Self-publishing used to carry a type of stigma that somehow labelled the work as adhering to a lower standard, but things have changed.  Authors are taking pride in their work like never before, and just because of the increasing ease to self-publishing, they’re not allowing this to affect the quality.
In making my decision, I also considered the fact that just because a book is published traditionally it doesn’t mean that it will meet with success.  Many self-published books have received awards, honourable mentions, and have met with even more-than-modest sales.  In fact, there’s no real limitations on the succes…

The Lagging Middle

And no, I didn’t mean to say “sagging” middle, and I’m not referring to what some experience while writing the first draft.I’m talking about edits here, and the “lagging” middle where, even though you love the book you’re working on, it’s hard to get fired up and disciplined enough to hurry up and finish already.
Quick, someone please place a stick of lit dynamite under me!
If you know me, you know that edits are something I’ve always struggled with despite knowing they are a necessity.Even though, I have come to appreciate the final result, it’s still one of those areas of writing that requires true self-discipline.And I know it’s worth it when I read one I’ve stuck it out with.The MS is all polished like a shinning gem.
Then, there’s always the flipside to editing.How much is too much?How do you know when you’re finished?I believe my OCD nature, and perfectionism would allow me to rehash, rehash, rehash.Will it ever be good enough?
Anyone else out there feel the same way about edits - s…

What to Reveal / What to Withhold

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Last week we discussed Incorporating Backstory, and today I’m wanting to discuss something similar.  Now when I say what to reveal, or what to withhold, I’m obviously not talking in specifics.  Everyone’s story is different , nor is there any exact “formula”.   As noted last week, though, a good barometer is whether what you’re sharing carries pertinence to the story.  Is it needed?  Are you actually going to build from it?
But, here’s another question for you: have you hooked your reader to your character in the first chapter?
That might not be a question that’s easy to answer, or maybe right away you’re nodding your head like one of those ‘bobble-head’ dolls.  If you’re that confident that you made your main character come across, may I suggest another look at your manuscript.  You may have revealed just the necessary amount of information to attach and pull in a reader, but keep this in mind:  you know our characters better than anyone.
Maybe you wonder:  how is that a bad thing.  He…

Reconstruction of a Crime: Aided by Blood Patterns

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Blood has the ability to reveal much to investigators.  They can conclude angle, height, and even the type of struggle that occurred.  They can determine the source, what happened, and how many people were at the crime scene.  They can even determine how long the blood’s been there.
First off, let’s look at blood itself.  It is a complex substance consisting of both plasma (liquid) and cellular (solid) components.  It has the ability to spread over a surface and conform its shape to fit in a place, but it also possesses a measure of thickness and “surface tension” properties.  Surface tension is an “elastic-like property”.  It is the reason blood drops in a spherical shape. 
Blood can leave the body in several ways such as dripping, oozing, flowing, gushing or spurting, and each of these leave a distinctive pattern.  As blood flows from the body, it will pool and clot within three to fifteen minutes.  Of course depending on certain diseases and/or medications it can vary.
When blood beg…

Write What You Love

We've all heard the advice, write what you know.  There's been a lot of debate over this piece of advice.  Some see it as valid direction while others argue that there wouldn't be any books if we just wrote what we know.  For example, how many mystery novels are written by real-life detectives?  And, I guess that advice is null when it comes to fantasy genres, and historical fictional works.  No fairy from Neverland wrote a book, and no one from over a hundred years ago can write a book currently.But, this doesn't mean that we can get sloppy, in fact more work is involved, and this is why writing what we love supersedes all, in my opinion.  How else would we get motivated, and stay motivated to see a novel through to the end?
In fact isn't it love for what we’re writing what pushes us through to the conclusion even when we may find the interest in our book weaning, or through the rough middles?  Isn't it the love for what we're writing that forces us to get …

I was Found Worthy

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Another award *Dancing! :D*
I was honored to have received this award before, but this time it came from Karen DeLabar.  She is a talented and professional writer I met at the imaginary bar of #pubwrite.  She also introduced me to the meaning of shouting “GABRIEL”.  Thank you, Karen :)
Side plug:  If you’re not yet on Twitter, and/or haven’t taken part in socializing with other writers (especially #pubwrite), I urge you – what are you waiting for?  And I promise we’ll let you know what shouting “GABRIEL” means.
Now, like most rewards, this one also comes with stipulations *rolls up sleeves* and they are as follows:
1.  Thank and link to the person who nominated you. 2.  Share seven random facts about yourself. 3.  Pass the award along to 5 new-found blogging buddies. 4.  Contact the winners to notify them.
Seven random facts about me...huh...
1)  Apparently, I’m a biter...*bows head in embarrassment* but get your mind out of the gutter!  I just bit my little sister once when we were little.  T…

The Apology

Ever say you're sorry when you didn't mean it?  If you’re like most of us, I'm sure you have.  There are times we’re asked for an apology, and we don't even know what for.
The stereotype dictates Canadians as saying I'm sorry more than most, and I testify to the fact that I may be inclined to say it about minor things that don't even matter, even about things that are not my fault.  You didn’t hear what I said?  Oh, I'm sorry.  You didn’t get the email I sent you?  Oh, I’m sorry.  (You get it…we're sorry for everything, even when it’s not necessary! Lol)
But, in all seriousness sometimes as the human race we apologize to get out of an awkward situation.  Sometimes apologies make us negate our pride.  And just because we speak the words I'm sorry, it doesn't mean we're forgiven.  Then there are people who rarely apologize.
See, apologies are complicated, and not only for the person speaking the words, but the person receiving the apology.  We ar…

A Big Thank You!

The entire purpose of this post is to tell you, my blog followers and those who check it out - thank you!

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read what I have to say.  Thank you for your comments.  Thank you for the follows.  Thank you for your email subscriptions to my posts.  Your continued support, encouragement and inspiration are priceless to me.  I do hope that you continue to find my blog informative, encouraging, and inspiring as well.

I believe us writers are so much better when we unite together, and I wish all of you much success with your goals whether they be finishing your first novel, querying for an agent, or high sales for a book already available to the public.

Incorporating Backstory

"Bring the past only if you're going to build from it." - Doménico Cieri EstradaWhen I heard the above quote on a recent Criminal Minds episode the idea for this post struck me.  How else better to sum up not only the importance of backstory in a novel, but also its purpose?
In the writing community the term backstory can conjure up a negative connotation, and bring to mind endless paragraphs of “filler”.  But backstory isn’t a bad thing – when used correctly.  In fact, infusing a MS with sprinkles of backstory is essential to helping the reader draw closer to your characters.  Without any background, your characters wouldn’t be realistic.  It would as if you tore them from another dimension and dropped them into the world you created.  They would move as shadows on the page without any depth.  (See series on this blog “Developing Characters You Can Pinch”)
So why does backstory get a bad reputation?  When it isn’t done correctly, and weaved into your MS with the skill of …

Caught by a Bullet

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Most of us are familiar with the term striations, and their association with ballistics analysis.  But how much to you really know?  Do you know exactly what’s involved with matching a bullet to a weapon, or where investigators start?
First of all Ballistics, or “Ballistics Fingerprinting refers to a set of forensic techniques that rely on marks that firearms leave on bullets to match a bullet to the gun it was fired with” (as quoted from Wikipedia).
The first thing that is determined is the caliber and type of bullet. It’s weighed, and even if it’s deformed, this can eliminate some calibers. They will also look at the type of jacketing to help identify the type of weapon used.  Rifles typically fire a fully jacketed bullet, whereas a small-caliber handgun fires a simple lead bullet.
Spiral groves are machined into the barrel of a gun to cause the bullet to spin and ensure an accurate projection.  As these tools are used and worn, the impressions made in the barrels of the guns vary.  Th…

Strengthen Your Novel by Distancing Yourself

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We've heard the advice:  let your first draft sit so you can be objective when you come back to it. Trust me when I say that's wise advice.  Maybe we think we can prove it wrong - I know I did.

For example, we might think that we'll know what to leave in the manuscript from subtle clues to personality characteristics if we look at it right after finishing the first draft.  But, that's not the truth (at least in my experience).  What we end up missing are the important things such as redundancies, phrasing, scenes that we could lose but are attached to.

I more recently started major edits on my first thriller Assassination of a Dignitary, and found this to be true.  I've since crossed out supporting scenes that really didn't advance the story, and found areas that had me going what did I mean there?  These things never even stuck out to me the first time through which was a pass I made a couple weeks after writing it.

Another way to distance yourself from your nov…

Dealing with Death

We all face death.It’s an unfortunate fact of life.Along the way, we lose many people we love.Maybe it should make us cherish life more, be nicer to other people, but for some reason when we’re grieving, it has the opposite effect.We become moody, and distant from other people around us.It’s not intentional, but for some reason this is how it works.(For an expanded discussion on human emotions, you can see “Conflicting Emotions”)
Being faced with death can also make us appreciate what we have more.It sets us into a deeper line of thinking.We analyze purpose more than normal.We look at our life and see where we can make it more meaningful.Maybe we’ve held an ongoing grudge against someone?Being faced with the frailty of life may move us to make amends.
At memorials for the lost one, people are brought together that might otherwise never cross paths.The person who has died touched people we may not even know.But, it doesn’t matter because everyone is there for the purpose of remembering a…

It's All About Me(me)

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Okay, so does ask me what the second (me) stands for...Maybe like a song "meee....meee....meee"?  lol  
Dana (@raineerose on Twitter) from the Daily Dose, a great supporter, and blogger tagged me for this meme.  So now all of you get to know me better.... *bites nails* lol
If you could go back in time and relive one moment, what would it be?
Wow, for me that’s a tough question.  One moment?  I’d say my wedding, but then I wouldn’t be as in love with my husband as I am now.  I would, however, have been more fussy when it came to alternations on my wedding dress...

If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?
This really is a personal questionnaire...but that one thing would be going back to when I was a teenager and decided I didn’t want to live by my parents’s rules.  I moved out, and gave my baby sister a necklace (from a friend) to “remember” me by.  Sigh...there, I bared it all.  At the time, I didn’t realize how insensitive something like this was, I…

The First Two Sentences

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You've written an entire novel, possibly the length of over 100,000 words, yet those first two sentences can provide the most anguish.  They are what can hook a glancing reader, or make them close the book.  No pressure - right?
If you're like me, you're rarely satisfied with the first two sentences.  You revise, and re-work, and "rinse and repeat" so many times that it becomes an obsession.  You wake up in the night with the perfect wording, the ideal epiphany.  You force your eyes open, scribble it on a piece of paper, and in the morning (if it's legible) sometimes it results in a "huh".  And back to the revisions, and the search for perfect words.
So what hooks a reader?  Maybe it's best to start by asking ourselves.  When you pick up a novel what makes you take it to check-out or return it to the shelf?
Personally, I love something that shows conflict - whether it be imminent danger, or just simply a character's internal conflict. It has to…

Serial Killer Statistics

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The world seems to be sickly fascinated and captivated by the mystery of serial killers – what motivates them to kill, and why?  As fiction writers, we need to harness that but be very careful not to allow our work to relay a clichéd character.  That feat in itself can be a tough one, but it can be done.  And, as it has been said before, most stories have already been written, but it’s up to you to write it with a unique slant and superb story-telling.
But there’s more to writing about a serial killer than just coming up with a unique motivation.  You have to know how your investigator is going to look at the case.  You want to portray your lead, for example a FBI agent working through the investigative process, as thinking through the case the way one would in real life.  If not, you risk losing your reader, not only for that book, but possibly for future ones too.
So, where to begin?  First of all, what is a serial killer?  It’s been defined in the past as someone who has killed be…