Mystery Mondays: Call For Guest Authors

Promoting Reading – Promoting Authors

Mystery Mondays began in July 2015. Authors from many genres who write with a hint of mystery have told you about their books, answered your questions about writing and shared their thoughts with you. Every Monday, you’ve been introduced to another author and maybe discovered someone you’re not familiar with.

Are you interested in guest blogging?

I am now accepting guest blog requests for the remainder of 2017 starting on August 28th (although some spots are books throughout the fall). If you’re interested contact me here.

If you’d like to participate, here’s what you need to qualify:

  • you are a published author – traditional or Indie or any other way that I don’t know about,

OR

  • you are about to publish and have a launch date within a week or so of the blog post,

AND

  • you want to promote other authors and spread success,
  • you write novels with a hint of mystery,
  • you are willing to engage in the comments section when readers comment on your post.

All I ask from you is that you follow my blog, comment on author’s posts and help share via Twitter and Facebook.  If you’re interested send me a message via my contact page.

The Requirements:

You’ll have to send me your bio, back text of your novel, author photo and book cover.

I’d like you to write something about yourself, your novel, your research, a writing tip or a publishing tip. Please keep in mind I am a family friendly blog.

I do reserve the right to edit anything I think might be inappropriate for my audience, which I will discuss with you first. I think anything under 700 words is great, but it’s your book so up to you.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you and sharing your novel with the Internet world.

Opening Your Story

Do you read books on how to write?

The latest I read talked about opening a story and checking for four criteria.

Does your opening start with:

  • the protagonist,
  • conflict,
  • movement,
  • setting?

This is a lot for an opening, and I’ve been studying novels to check if authors do this.

The first point, the protagonist, doesn’t seems to happen consistently. There are books that start with the protagonist, the villain, a minor character, or a character that doesn’t appear in the rest of the novel at all. I like all of them. So I guess on this one, you have to decide for yourself if your protagonist is the best place to start. I do agree the protagonist should appear early in the story.

Conflict: This one seems more consistent. Sometimes the conflict is quiet or subtle. Sometimes it’s a full-out battle, but it’s there.

Movement: I find books with no movement boring. Even if the character is walking, it’s better than sitting still, or worse yet, if there’s no mention of what the character’s doing.

Setting: This might only be one word, one line, one paragraph or this could be more. To me the setting it important at the beginning. I like to know where the character is. Are they in a city, in the country, on a mountain or in outer space? This helps me figure out what kind of story I’m reading.

Do you follow any guidelines for opening your story?

Thanks for reading . . .

To Plot or Not To Plot

Do you plot your story before writing it or do you write and then plot?

I write first. Then I get serious and look at my plot after I have a first draft written.

There is lots of writing advice out there telling writers to have major events at 25%, 50% and 75%. These are major plot points where something happens to change the direction of the story or the character arc.

So I went through my novels to see if I’d done this and was surprised to find I was close. I ended up with plot points between 22% and 27%, 45% and 53% and again between 72% and 77%. I figure this is close enough. There must be something about reading many books that makes this structure appear naturally when writing.

I used the kindle to find look at the percentages. This was easier than counting words. Now in my scrivener, I add a per cent number at each chapter heading. One more way to see if my writing is on track.

So, how to you know if you’re plot is laid out properly? and does it matter?

Thanks for reading . . .

Writing Novels With A Spreadheet

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I love to write with a spreadsheet. I’m still amazed by how helpful  I find the tool and that I still find new ways to use it.

One of the columns in my spreadsheet lists objects. Originally I put this column in to make sure my scenes weren’t empty sets. I also list smell, sights, and sounds for this purpose.

Sometimes with the objects, I’ll use the object in a later scene. Like an innocent little baseball bat. The list reminds me to check what I’ve placed in an earlier scene and see if I can use it in an inventive and unusual way in a following scene. Like an innocent little baseball bat that’s not so innocent.

I knew all this. What I discovered this week is the object column can also help me find errors.

In one scene I have two characters eating lunch together. I list a fork. Later in the scene, I list a spoon as an object. But wait! I’m writing about the same character eating the same meal, so why has her utensil changed?

I went back in the scene and discovered I’d changed the utensil. Silly, but unnoticed when I read the scene without listing objects.

I love discovering new ways my spreadsheet can help.

Let me know if you use a spreadsheet and how it helps you write.

Thanks for reading . . .

Related articles:

Writing a Series: Spreadsheet

Keeping Track of Scenes

How to Use a Spreadsheet for Your Synopsis

Tips For Ordering Scenes In A Novel

Why Blog About Something You Want To Learn?

I had a friend in medical school who told me when she was learning a new medical procedure she was taught:

  1. Learn one
  2. Teach one
  3. Do one

I think this process can be applied to learning grammar and punctuation. When I’m unsure about a rule, the first thing I do is check my grammar books and read about it. This is the Learn One phase.

Next, I blog about it. If I can explain the rule, then I probably understand it. This is the Teach One phase. If you’re doing this, be careful to use your own words. Don’t cheat and look at the grammar book for help. You need to be able to explain the rule without any aids. Sometimes I don’t blog about the rule, but I do try to write the rule in my own words. Even if it’s on a scrap piece of paper, it helps me remember the rule.

Lastly, I write using the rule. This is the Do One phase. You can edit and proofread to ensure you’re using the rule properly too. I consider editing part of the Do One phase.

I figure if this is how medical students learn, it must work for other areas of knowledge too.

Do you have any tips for learning?

Thanks for reading . . .

Do you want to improve your grammar?

Here’s one method on how to become more confident with your grammar skills.

Scientific America Mind (October 2013) has an article called What Works, What Doesn’t that discusses techniques that work or don’t work for learning. The second item in the article discusses the importance of self testing. The article makes the point that before reading a chapter the student should take a test to see how much they know on the subject. The theory is we learn by our mistakes.

Each year I read a different book on grammar in an effort to keep my skills strong. As a writer, I consider grammar knowledge an important tool for creating a novel.

Thinking I should test the theory put forward by Scientific America Mind, I set out on the search for a grammar book laid out with an introductory test, study information and an end of chapter test.

I found Sharp Grammar: Build Better Grammar Skills by Kaplan  follows this process.

I’m now working my way though the book, surprising myself by what I know and don’t know. If I only learn one new thing, I think it’s worth the effort. I also believe that continual practice will keep me at the top of my game in the sport of grammar. Can you ever practice too much?

What do you do to keep improving  your grammar and punctuation skills?

Crime Writers Of Canada Mentorship Program

Two years have passes since I participated in the CWC mentorship program. I can’t stress enough what a valuable experience having Garry Ryan (writer for the Detective Lane Mysteries and at the time  President of the CWC) work with me on my manuscript.

Here are the rules  from the CWC newsletter.

If you’re an Associate Member with two or more years in good standing with the Crime Writers of Canada and you’re interested in partnering with one of our wonderful volunteers, please contact the CWC (Address in newsletter). They’ll send you all the information you need to get started, and when you agree to the guidelines, they’ll match you up with the mentor best able to help you out. 

If you’re not a member and are Canadian, why not join?  I think I’m a better writer because of it.

Thanks for reading . . .