Do the research before you do the murder #amwriting – Written By Connie J. Jasperson

This is an excellent post with recommendations about writing crime. Thank you so much for your article, Connie.


I recently began reading a murder mystery where the author used a mushroom to kill the first victim. That’s where this book fell apart—the idea was good, but the facts and execution weren’t.

Using a mushroom stroganoff to poison him was a poor choice because fungi is an undependable weapon unless you are an expert. Also, individually, one mushroom may be more or less poisonous than another of the same kind, rather like people are. Judging how many one would need to kill a three-hundred-pound man takes more thought than I am capable of plotting out.

Also, it was stroganoff, which is basically beef and mushrooms in a sour cream sauce. This author danced over the fact that serving the food at this dinner party would have been a tactical nightmare. It would have been nearly impossible to ensure the intended victim got the poison mushrooms and no one else did, which is how this murder was written.

Agatha Christie knew that and regularly poisoned entire dinner parties, literarily speaking. Her murderers made everyone at the table sick but only the intended victim actually died.

This particular mystery was set in Scotland, and I don’t know how poisonous their mushrooms are, but I think that logic would hold true there as well as it does here in the Pacific Northwest.

If I hadn’t been on several nature walks with Ellen King Rice, a wildlife biologist and amateur mycologist who writes well-plotted mushroom thrillers, I would have accepted the slightly contrived fatal dinner as written and focused on the other failings of this novel.

This experience reinforced my belief that readers are often more knowledgeable than we authors are. E-readers can do the research just by highlighting the word and hitting search.

CONTINUE READING HERE

5 Questions to Turn a Character from Flat to Fabulous – Written By Janice Hardy

Thank you very much, Janice Hardy, for your recommendations on our characters. We really appreciate it!


 

on Fiction University:

Sometimes we just need a little help to create a memorable character.
.
Some writers develop incredibly detailed characters before they ever start a story.
I am not one of those writers.

I do the bare minimum necessary to create a character, then I throw them into my story and see what they do. By the time I’ve written the first draft, I know who they are and can revise accordingly.

Although I’ve written this way for decades, I’m not sure I’d recommend it. It’s an interesting tactic, but it has left me with a lot of revising I wouldn’t have needed if I’d done a bit more character work before I started writing.

Lately, I’ve wondered if I should change my process, or at the very least, add another layer of character creation at the start. Because I’ve always said that characters drive the plot, and I’m a plot-driven writer, so my process is missing a critical aspect when I think about it from that perspective.

Continue reading HERE

The Real Witches – Written By Nicholas Rossis

I found a phenomenal article written by Nicholas Rossis, where he writes about witches, in a very unique and still sensitive way, combining myth and history, as he usually does. Thank you for a fascinating post, Nicholas.


I kick off the new year with a matter close to anyone who’s ever flirted with fantasy writing: witches. I mean, what’s fantasy without witchcraft? Probably a rather boring Medieval existence, that’s what.

Of course, there’s a big difference between fantasy and reality. Witchcraft has been a topic for discussion since forever and witches have been surrounded by countless myths through the centuries.

This guest post by John Dickinson, a writer from SuperiorPapers, discusses the myth and reality of witches.

The Real Witches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Witches were traditionally pictured as ugly hags with warts on their faces, a pointy hat with a wide brim, stirring a huge cauldron with a green liquid or cackling through the sky. However, modern pop culture has portrayed them as a kind, nose-twitching suburban housewife; an awkward teenager learning to control her powers, and a trio of charmed sisters battling the forces of evil.

A similar confusion seems to surround their punishment. We believe that witches were burnt for their sin of practicing witchcraft. But this, along with other myths, was an unusual punishment that probably became popular because of Jean d’Arc.

Here are some more interesting facts about witches I hope you will find at least as interesting as I did!

CONTINUE READING HERE

SPOOKY PHISHING SCAM TARGETS TRADITIONALLY-PUBLISHED WRITERS – Written By Victoria Strauss

Apparently not even traditionally published authors are safe from crooks. Victoria Strauss on her ‘Writer’s Beware’ blog describes one particular case on her blog. Please read it and be careful. Thank you.


Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware®

The New York Times has published the story of a strange international phishing scam: unknown actors targeting traditionally-published writers, posing as their agents or editors to obtain copies of their unpublished manuscripts.
Earlier this month, the book industry website Publishers Marketplace announced that Little, Brown would be publishing “Re-Entry,” a novel by James Hannaham about a transgender woman paroled from a men’s prison. The book would be edited by Ben George.

Two days later, Mr. Hannaham got an email from Mr. George, asking him to send the latest draft of his manuscript. The email came to an address on Mr. Hannaham’s website that he rarely uses, so he opened up his usual account, attached the document, typed in Mr. George’s email address and a little note, and hit send.

“Then Ben called me,” Mr. Hannaham said, “to say, ‘That wasn’t me.’”

Mr. Hannaham was just one of countless targets in a mysterious international phishing scam that has been tricking writers, editors, agents and anyone in their orbit into sharing unpublished book manuscripts. It isn’t clear who the thief or thieves are, or even how they might profit from the scheme. High-profile authors like Margaret Atwood and Ian McEwan have been targeted, along with celebrities like Ethan Hawke. But short story collections and works by little-known debut writers have been attacked as well, even though they would have no obvious value on the black market.

CONTINUE READING HERE

Writers – Feed Your Brain

Lately, while reading, I noticed my thoughts often wandered away, even though the story is thrilling and I love the characters. I considered myself a bit tired and prepared a ‘brain-boost’ in form of a cup of coffee.

Picture courtesy of Google.com

Then I started thinking: I think I read somewhere, that the impact of caffeine on our organism is more illusional than physical. Finally, I started to do some research. After all, we writers are mostly working with our brains! And I consider that our ‘most important’ tool for our work – besides the fingers, computers, pen and paper, and a few other things, of course.

I’m not someone who likes to feed myself lab-produced over-the-counter vitamins and supplements. I try to eat balanced and healthy. But I tried to find out, what other nutrients my brain needs to keep focused. That’s what I found:


  1. Coffee

Coffee indeed has a positive impact on our brain. Caffeine and antioxidants help our brain in several ways:

Caffeine blocks adenosine, a chemical messenger that makes us sleepy and improves our mood. Also, it boosts our concentration, whether drank in the morning or several cups during the day.

I read about a suspicion that drinking coffee over the long term could reduce the risk of neurological diseases, for example, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.

 

2.  Blueberries

It seems science has proven blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and can reduce the effects of age-related conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Also, the study showed that a diet rich in blueberries significantly improved learning capacity and motor skills. Blueberries should be eaten daily.

Picture courtesy of Google.com

3. Broccoli

Broccoli contains strong plant compounds, including antioxidants, and is also high in vitamin K. That vitamin is essential for forming sphingolipids, which can be found in our brain cells.
It was proven that an extra vitamin K intake leads to better memory.

4. Wild salmon.

It seems deep-water fish, such as salmon, are rich in Omega3 essential fatty acids, which are essential for brain function. Other Omega3 rich fish are sardines and herring. It is recommended to include fish in your diet two to three times a week.

5. Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are great vitamin E sources. It’s recommended to eat them daily, at least an ounce of a mix of walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews peanuts, sunflower, and sesame seeds. If you’re on a sodium-restricted diet, buy them unsalted. – Also very helpful are pumpkin seeds who contain a high value of Magnesium, Zinc, Copper, and Iron.

 

6. Avodados

Apparently, avocados are almost as good as blueberries when it comes to improving the health of our brains. Of course, avocado is a fatty fruit, but it contains a particular fat that helps to improve a healthy blood flow. A healthy blood flow means, a healthy brain, and it can contribute to lower blood pressure.

Picture courtesy of Google.com

7. Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate has strong antioxidant properties and contains several natural stimulants, including caffeine, which improves focus and concentration. Also, chocolate stimulates the production of endorphins, which helps to lift our mood. Still, as good as it sounds, this one has to be enjoyed in moderation. Less is more when it comes to dark chocolate. It does come with a few side effects.

Picture courtesy of Google.com

 

How I Stay Organized While Writing a Story – Written By Sharon K Connell

Whether you’re a traditionally published or an Indie author/writer, whether you are the type who outlines your entire book or write by the seat of your pants, or even if you’re somewhere in between, a writer needs to be organized. That organization may look like utter chaos to others, or your writing space may lean toward the OCD type personality. It does matter, as long as it works for you and helps you accomplish your goals in writing.

Throughout the writing of my now seven books, my writing space has always leaned more toward the chaotic look to others. But I do know where everything on my desk is at the moment it’s needed. Well, maybe not every time, but it doesn’t take me long to find something.

From the beginning of my writing career, I’ve been an Indie Author, and I write by the seat of my pants. No outline beforehand is needed. When I first start to write a story, I start with a 5 subject spiral notebook or a 3-ring binder. Each section is labeled for quick access.

 

The first section is designated for my characters profile. Each character, starting with my main character and then as they show up in the story, has their own page, which is numbered. On that page, I write down everything I know about the character, starting with their appearance. As the story progresses, each time I give a specific attribute to or detail about the character, I list it on the page.

At the top of the page, under the character’s full name, is noted hair color and texture, eyes, height, physique, etc. Later I might add the kind of car they drive, where they work, and even how they drink their coffee. In this way, if it comes up again, the character doesn’t change their appearance or habits. A list of the characters and the page where their information is found is on the front divider for that section.

The next section has what I call a “Running Outline” of the story.

In other words, I mark the chapter and scene in the margin and give a brief explanation of what’s happening in that scene. The day and time, if changed from the previous scene, is also noted.

While I’m creating the running outline, I jot down all special events on a calendar. For instance, if my character is celebrating Thanksgiving dinner in 2020 with a friend out of town, and a fire breaks out which is pertinent to the story, I notate it on the calendar. If an important character shows up for dinner the next day, I notate it on the calendar. In this way, I can see at a glance how many days have elapsed from that event to the next without having to reread all my notes.

It helps to keep your timeline straight.

Major ideas are jotted down in the last section. That also becomes my catchall for all ideas, changes, things I need to check, etc.

The other two sections are used for research notes and misc. like things to check before sending the ms to the editor.

At the end of the spiral, I work backward on the pages to make notes for a book launch, book trailer, etc. Extra tabs come in handy here.

From the picture of my desk above, you can see that I have many notes hanging on my desk. These are information notes I refer to all the time while writing, so I don’t have to keep looking things up in my many resource books.

Being an Indie Author, I don’t have to keep to a strict schedule like writing so many words per day. But I do keep myself on a loose schedule. I know I want to have a new book published during the summer, and something smaller (novella, short story collection, etc.) at the end of the year. But I don’t stress over it. Since I’ve fallen into a pattern of doing the stories this way for the past two years, it now comes naturally.

I hope I’ve given you an idea of how to organize your writing system. Most of you seasoned writers probably already have your own organizational method, but maybe this will help one or two of the newbies on the block. J

Best wishes on your writing journey.

 

Here are the links to my books in order of publication.

A Very Present Help http://amzn.to/2yuF4eE 

Paths of Righteousness http://www.amazon.com/dp/1732923701 

There Abideth Hope http://www.amazon.com/dp/173292371X 

His Perfect Love http://amzn.to/2iCMALI 

Icicles to Moonbeams (Novella) https://amzn.to/2OfcHYi

Treasure in a Field www.amazon.com/dp/1732923736

Sharon’s Shorts~A Multi-Genre Collection of Short Stories https://www.amazon.com/dp/1732923744

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/sharonkconnell

 

Here’s a comment or two about my writing to tempt you. J

“The author writes with a uniquely vivid and dramatic touch that keeps the reader engrossed in the narrative throughout. Her characters are strongly drawn, distinctly memorable, and wholly realistic. Her plot-lines are, in this writer’s experience, top-drawer in their nail-biting intensity.” From Author, Alan O’Reilly

“Connell knows exactly how to prime the reader for a knockout climax. She litters her scenes with genius, loaded details to heighten the tension. She increases the stakes with every page. Behind the humor and romance, she builds the danger until any little sound — elevator doors that open in the story and the phone that rings next to you on the side table — sends your heartbeat into a cardio workout.

“The edge of your seat may be frayed, but when your doctor remarks that your heart is healthy and robust, you’ll thank the suspense-induced cardio workout Connell gave.”~Andra Loy, ACFW Scribes member

Please take time to visit me on my website: www.authorsharonkconnell.com I’d love to hear from you.

 

50 Writing Contests in December 2020 – No entry fees – Written by Erica Verrillo

Thanks so much Erica Verrillo about once again, informing us about the writing contest in December. We are very grateful for all your hard work.


on Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity:

This December there are more than four dozen writing contests calling for every genre and form, from poetry, to creative nonfiction, to completed novels. Prizes range from $45,000 to publication. None charge entry fees.

Some of these contests have age and geographical restrictions, so read the instructions carefully.

Get Full Details HERE

EVIL: Our Love-Hate Relationship With Mischief, Mayhem & Destruction – Written By Kristen Lamb…

Another great post by our favorite humorous educating blogger, Kristen Lamb. Thanks so much for all you teach us, Kristen!


Evil fascinates us, and has since the dawn of human consciousness. I continually emphasize that humans are story creatures, which is good news for writers, since we’re in the story business.

Though not all stories face off evil directly, all stories must include conflict to be considered a story. Conflict isn’t, per se, evil, but great storytellers paint with words and black is only the farthest extreme. Some stories might demand a LOT of black, but others will likely run along the spectrum of “evil.”

No, the department’s budget cuts that force your MC (Main Character) to lay off twenty hardworking people she cares about isn’t, per se, evil at work, but maybe it is. For your MC? It sure feels close to it in the moment. Especially when the cowards higher up force her to wield the ax hand out the pink slips…a week before Christmas.

Continue reading HERE

A Word Count Guide for 18 Book Genres, Including Novels and Non-Fiction – Written By Blake Atwood

Thank you, Blake Atwood, for your guide to work counts for our work. I wrote a similar post, but I admit, my article only contained Short Story, Novelette, Novella and Novel… yours is far more detailed. We appreciate your information.


on The Write Life:

“My memoir is 270,000 words long.”

I heard these words during a breakout session I led at a local writers conference.

An editor friend of mine, Shayla Eaton with Curiouser Editing, was sitting in on the breakout. We gave each other knowing glances, and because I didn’t want to break this poor memoirist’s literary heart, I nodded at Shayla to take the lead.

As nicely but as directly as she could, she explained to the memoirist that a 270,000-word memoir was excessive. Even if she self-publishes, the cost per copy would be high, and few readers would slog through such a tome — particularly for someone who’s not famous.

And no agents or publishers would even look past that number.

The prose could be as fleet-footed as Fitzgerald’s. The life story could be as compelling as Lincoln’s. The platform could be as broad as Oprah’s. But no agent would get to know that because they’d see “Memoir: 270,000 words” and hit delete before reading any further.

So, how long should a memoir be?

For that matter, how long should any book be? How long is a novel? What’s the ideal book word count?

If you’re writing your first novel or any book, you’re probably asking these questions.

The short answer is: long enough to tell the story but short enough to consistently hold the reader’s interest.

The long answer is, well, longer.

Continue reading HERE

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! #Audiblegate and the Audiobook Return Fiasco – Written By David Kudler

Thank you, David Kudler, for all the information about the Audiobook Return Fiasco. We really appreciate it!


on The Book Designer:

Perhaps you have seen grumbling on social media and across the internet about #Audiblegate and Audible’s return policy. In case you haven’t been following the controversy, let me tell you what it’s about – and why all independent publishers should care.

What’s happening is that Audible, the dominant retailer of audiobooks in the US, has been actively encouraging their customers to return their audiobooks in exchange for newaudiobooks. The reader/listener gets a new book at no cost. No questions asked, regardless of how much of the first book they listened to (even if they finished it), up to a year after they purchased it. Sounds great, right?

The problem is that when the first book gets returned, the royalties earned by the narrator, producer, and author of that book get pulled back as well. So the listener gets to enjoy our work — but we don’t get paid.

Continue reading HERE