Mystery Mondays: Heather Weidner on The Writing Life

Today on Mystery Mondays, we welcome author Heather Weidner to share her advice on becoming a writer and what she learned along the way. I connected with Heather because of the Pens, Paws, and Claws Website and Blog. If you like writing, and you like cats or dogs, this is the blog for you!

Over to Heather…

Key Things about the Writing Life

by Heather Weidner.

secret lives private eyes cover - webWhen I dreamed of being a writer, I had visions of working at my desk (at a house that overlooked the beach), doing TV interviews, and cashing royalty checks. I never realized how many marketing and other tasks are needed to sell books.

My debut novel launched in 2016, and the second in the Delanie Fitzgerald Mystery series is slated for mid-November 2017. For the first book, I planned a launch celebration and did interviews, author spotlights, and guest blog posts for 35 sites. I did a Facebook hop, a Goodreads give-away, radio interviews, and podcast interviews. I do about 50 book signings and presentations each year. And I am also a full-time IT manager, so writing and marketing get shuffled in with all the other demands of everyday life.

Here are some key things I’ve learned over the years about what it really means to be a writer.

  1. Publishing is a business. The goal is to sell books.
  2. Make sure that you’re writing your next book.
  3. Always be professional. Be on time and strive to meet all deadlines.
  4. Keep one master calendar for all your events and deadlines. Mine helps me stay organized with all the other parts of my life.
  5. Writing is a lot of work. The first few “sloppy” drafts need a lot of work.
  6. Build relationships through your social media platform. They make a difference.
  7. Set a blogging and social media schedule that works for you. These sites need care and feeding, but they shouldn’t be a 24×7 job.
  8. Everyone has an opinion. Comments and reviews can sting, but learn what you can from them and then move on.
  9. Try to write something every day.
  • Keep a notebook or electronic notes of names and story ideas. You never know when you’ll encounter something that’ll work in your next book or story.
  • Look at your social media posts. Make sure that they’re not all “buy my book.” Make sure that you share others’ celebrations on your social media sites.
  • It’s key for writers to network, market, and build their platforms. Just make sure you leave enough time for writing.
  • Collect email addresses at your events for your newsletter’s mailing list. Get a clipboard and make sure you take it with you to all events.
  • Writing is often lonely. Find a group of kindred souls. Look for other authors or groups who will assist and support you. (I am so fortunate to have my Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Sisters in Crime National, Guppies, and James River Writer friends.)
  • Find beta readers or a critique group to help you revise and edit your work.
  • Remind yourself that you do not have to do everything. There are lots of opportunities, but you can burn out if you’re constantly on the go. Take care of yourself.
  • Learn from your mistakes. Make note of how you’d do it differently next time.
  • I try a lot of events and marketing ideas. If it doesn’t work for me, I see what I can learn from it and move on.
  • Order bookmarks and postcards. Make sure you always have them with you.
  • Take pictures at your events or on your adventures to share on your website or social media platforms.
  • Review your website from time to time to ensure your content and photos are current.
  • Review your social media biographies or descriptions to ensure that they are current.
  • Make sure to back up your computer files. It’s devastating when you lose your work.
  • Keep your author headshot current. (People will comment if your picture is ten years old and no longer looks like you.)
  • Most of my correspondence is done via email. I keep lots of folders to ensure I can find the email when I need it. I also add new contacts to my address book immediately, so I don’t lose them.
  • Keep all your receipts and be diligent about tracking your mileage. You’ll be glad when it’s tax time.
  • When you schedule an event, ask about where you’ll be seated and what will be provided (especially if it is an outdoor event).
  • Keep a box of books in the trunk of your car. I’ve encountered times when the bookseller couldn’t get books in time for an event. Also, at several events, the bookseller sold out, so it was nice that I had some extras to provide on consignment.
  • Don’t give up. The writing life is a challenge, and it’s difficult sometimes, but it is worth it. I get excited every time that box of books arrives.
  • Take time to celebrate your wins and successes.

Who Is Heather Weidner?

Heather WeidnerHeather Weidner’s short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series and 50 Shades of Cabernet. She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, Lethal Ladies Write, and James River Writers. The Tulip Shirt Murders is the second novel in her Delanie Fitzgerald series. Secret Lives and Private Eyes debuted in 2016.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan College and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. She blogs regularly with the Lethal Ladies and Pens, Paws, and Claws.

The Tulip Shirt Murders

TheTulipShirtMurdersFinalPrivate investigator Delanie Fitzgerald, and her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds, are back for more sleuthing in The Tulip Shirt Murders. When a local music producer hires the duo to find out who is bootlegging his artists’ CDs, Delanie uncovers more than just copyright thieves. And if chasing bootleggers isn’t bad enough, local strip club owner and resident sleaze, Chaz Smith, pops back into Delanie’s life with more requests. The police have their man in a gruesome murder, but the loud-mouthed strip club owner thinks there is more to the open and shut case. Delanie and Duncan link a series of killings with no common threads. And they must put the rest of the missing pieces together before someone else is murdered.


The Tulip Shirt Murders is a fast-paced mystery that appeals to readers who like a strong female sleuth with a knack for getting herself in and out of humorous situations such as larping and trading elbow jabs with roller derby queens.


Contact Information

Website and Blog:





Amazon Authors:






Helping Authors Create Stories That Work

You know I love to write, but I also love to edit. I’m thrilled to announce Fictionary’s Story Editing Course. Try it, and maybe you’ll love to edit too!


At Fictionary, We believe to become a successful author, your novel needs to tell a great story.

Think about some of the best novels you’ve read. What do you remember?

Like me, you probably recall a compelling character like Jason Bourne, the intriguing plot told in Gone Girl, or the fantastic settings depicted in The Game of ThronesYou remember the story.

Combining Fictionary (a self-editing tool for fiction writers) with an online course seems like a great way to give authors the knowledge and process needed to complete their own story edit.

If you’ve finished that first draft and aren’t sure what to do next, we’ve got a solution.

Announcing the Fictionary Story Editing Course

This course will guide you through your manuscript with a scene-by-scene approach to editing. Fictionary focuses on the story, not the words.

To receive the first two lessons, all you have to do is sign up for a free trial of Fictionary. No credit card required. No obligations.

The full 14-lesson course is included with a Fictionary subscription.

Lesson Plan

  • Lesson 1: How To Use Fictionary To Make Your Story Work
  • Lesson 2: Characters And Novel Structure
  • Lesson 3: How To Improve Your Plot
  • Lesson 4: How To Improve Your Settings
  • Lesson 5: How To Use Word Count To Evaluate Your Scenes
  • Lesson 6: Connect Your Readers To Your Characters
  • Lesson 7: Make The Most Of Your POV Characters
  • Lesson 8: Story Arc And Engaging Your Readers
  • Lesson 9: Finding Plot Holes
  • Lesson 10: Draw Your Readers Into and Out of Each Scene
  • Lesson 11: Maximize Your Use of Tension And Conflict
  • Lesson 12: Check For An Empty Stage
  • Lesson 13: Keep Your Timeline Clear
  • Lesson 14: Bringing It All Together

Lesson 1: How To Use Fictionary To Make Your Story Work

Fictionary can identify and help you fix problems within your manuscript by focusing on the structure of your story, not on the words. In lesson one, we’ll tackle these critical structural areas:

  1. Pacing
  2. Character names and appearances
  3. Point of view characters and goals
  4. Story arc
  5. Plot holes (scenes without a clear purpose)
  6. Flow from scene to scene
  7. Absence of tension or conflict
  8. Empty stage syndrome
  9. Confusing timelines or missing objects

Where Can You Get More Information?

Check out for a full description of what Fictionary is and how it can help you.

Download our free Story Editing eBook.

Learn how story editing is all about evaluating the major components of your story. We call these components the Key Elements Of Fiction.  Our eBook shows you how to use the key elements of fiction to evaluate your story and become your own big-picture editor.


Turn Your First Draft Into A Great Story

Smorgasborg Blog Magazine – Sally’s Book Reviews – Look the Other Way by Kristina Stanley.

A little surprise for me this morning. Sally Cronin reviews Look the Other Way! Thank you.
Buy link:

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

My review today is for  Look the Other Way by Kristina Stanley which was released in August this year.

About Look the Other Way

Submerged beneath the depths is a sea of secrets

A year after her Uncle Bobby mysteriously disappears in the turquoise waters surrounding the Bahamas, Shannon Payne joins her grieving aunt to trace Bobby’s last voyage. Shannon hopes the serenity of the sea might help her recover from a devastating breakup with her fiancé.

Sailing the 38-foot catamaran, A Dog’s Cat, is Captain Jake Hunter, a disillusioned cop who has sworn off women. While Shannon tries to resist her growing attraction to the rugged captain, she uncovers dark truths about her uncle’s death that might send them all to the depths.

My review of Look the Other Way.

A romantic thriller with some great twists and turns.

I am not a sailor but have enjoyed time on…

View original post 538 more words

Farley’s Friday: Boot Failure

Farley here,

Can someone send me a design for new boots?

Yesterday, we went snowshoeing. As usual, Kristina tucked my paws into little booties before we left the house.

But look what happened.

MAtt and Farley SnowshoeingSnowballs everywhere. My paws are protected, but my legs and head aren’t.

You might wonder why I have so much snow on my face when I walk on my feet.

Well, I love to rub my nose in the snow.

So really I need new boots and a nose protector.

Woof Woof.

Mystery Mondays: Madeline McEwen with Guidance, Advice, and Jokes

This week on Mystery Mondays, it’s my pleasure to host author Madeline McEwen. I “met” Madeline when she joined the Imajin Books team this year.

Her novelette, Tied Up With Strings, will be published by Imajin Qwickies on the 11th December 2017. So keep an eye out for it!

Over to Madeline…

 Guidance, Advice, and Jokes

By Madeline McEwen

Thanks for the invitation, Kristina. I gave some thought about what to offer your readers: guidance, advice, jokes?

 Guidance first–how about that infernal problem—procrastination. Have no fear, I have several solutions whether you suffer from writer’s block or information overload. Both prevent productivity. If you find your time frittered away on social media and frivolous distractions then I am here to help.

Don’t get me wrong, social media is a Godsend to the isolated hermits of this world—the sparks keeping us connected, grounded, and alert to change. However, just like other addictions, moderation if our watchword. Instead, get your Internet fix—your reward–after completing specific, measurable goals. Make yourself a numbered and prioritized list, such as: one hour of writing / editing or 500 words / three loads of laundry / replace the air filter / de-mat the dog.

If you find you’re still dithering, use a paper template to make a 3-D cube, throw the di, and then do it.

Advice: buff your humor muscles as frequently as possible.

Joke: I love “knock knock” jokes, but Debra Purdy Kong got there first.


Knock 1



Knock 2


Here are a couple of mine:-


Who Is Madeline McEwen:

Madeline photoMadeline McEwen is an ex-pat from the UK, bi-focaled and technically challenged. She and her Significant Other manage their four offspring, one major and three minors, two autistic, two neurotypical, plus a time-share with Alzheimer’s. In her free time, she walks with two dogs and chases two cats with her nose in a book and her fingers on the keyboard.

Her novelette, Tied Up With Strings, will be published by Imajin Qwickies on the 11th December 2017, the first in the new series–The Serebral Seniors–celebrating the witty sparks of a ripening generation.

You can find me here:-!/MadMcEwen


Farley’s Friday: The Dreaded Bath

Farley here,

Snow. I love to play in snow.

But snow loves to stick to my fur.

Farley covered in snow

When I get home, my choices are a warm bath or twenty minutes of Kristina grooming me to get the snow out of my fur.

I really, really, really don’t like a bath, so I choose grooming.

The best part…If I shiver a little and pretend I’m cold, Kristina will wrap me in a towel and give me a hug.

Who would ever choose a bath over that?

Woof Woof.

Free Video Training For First-Time Authors

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 6.56.18 AMIf you have your first book coming out or trying to get published, check out this free video training series on building author platform by my friend Donna!

She helps you discover how to connect with your ideal-readers, understand the rookie mistakes to avoid wasting time, money, and missed opportunities PLUS learn how to present with confidence with public speaking!