Dramaquill's All Things Writing

January 2, 2016

The Cozy Mystery Genre

Last fall I had an idea for a quirky character, followed by some snippets of a plot.  Soon, I had an entire town sketched into my notebook and descriptions of a half dozen characters who lived there.  Thus began my foray into the cozy mystery genre with a book I’m thinking of calling, “Quick – pass the Chips”.

Also called Cozies, the Cozy Mystery is an offshoot of crime fiction and is usually a more lighthearted read.  With less emphasis on sex and violence, the plots contain elements of humor and the detective, or sleuth is often a woman.  (Remember the TV show, Murder She Wrote?  Think Jessica Fletcher, amateur sleuth and mystery writer, played by Angela Landsbury.  She’s an excellent example of the type of character one would find in a cozy mystery).

Recently, I received some books from author, Mary McHugh, about a group of 50-something tap dancing ladies who end up solving murders in the locales where they are performing.  We had connected years ago because, as a tap dancing adult, I was intrigued by her idea to have this group of dancing ladies as her sleuths.  Needless to say, I’m enjoying the books. (I will be interviewing Mary later this month for my blog so stay tuned).  The titles are:  “Chorus Lines, Caviar, and Corpses”, “Cancans Croissants, and Caskets” and “Flanco, Flan, and Fatalities.”  The books are available at amazon.com.

For more information on the cozy mystery genre, check out these links:
http://www.cozy-mystery.com/definition-of-a-cozy-mystery.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cozy_mystery
http://www.cozy-mystery.com/
http://www.marymchugh.org/books.html

 

 

 

 

September 16, 2015

Top Five WORST Places to Write

Filed under: writer's block,Writing — dramaquill @ 3:09 PM
Tags: ,

It’s been a long time since I wrote my previous post.  Life got in the way.  What can I say!

Every writer has a favorite spot or two that they feel best helps them tap into their creative muse.  I love writing outdoors in a beautiful, quiet spot by a lake or inside a cozy room with soft lighting and a fireplace.  Sadly, it isn’t often that I am able to enjoy either scenario.  Most of my writing is done at my desk in my home office or at my place of business when I have a break from appointments.  And that’s okay.  I get a lot of work done in both of these places.

Not every spot, however, is conducive to feeding my creativity and churning out those much needed plays, books and articles.  These are what I would consider MY top five worst places to write:

  1.    In the house (when other people are home)
  2.    Starbucks   (always buzzing like a busy ant hill)
  3.    Mall food court  (but great for people watching for potential characters
  4.    Waiting rooms (either way too much distraction or way too quiet)
  5.    Church (Shouldn’t I be listening to the sermon?)

Please comment with your WORST writing places.

And just to set the record straight on this one – SUMMER is the worst time of year to write!

July 27, 2015

My Top Five BEST places to write

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 4:57 PM
Tags: , ,

Some people can write absolutely anywhere…

In the doctor’s waiting room
In line at the supermarket
At the kitchen counter while cooking dinner
At a noisy coffeeshop

You get the idea.

I’d like to say I was one of them, but I’m not.  I need comfortable, inspirational places that channel my creative energy.  I need room to spread out.  And most of all, I need my writing space to be free of distractions.

My Top Five BEST places to write:

5.   The front porch of my house (big windows – lots of light

4.   In my car at Mission Marsh (great scenery with minimal distractions)

3.   Outside on my deck (when weather conditions are just right – not too hot – not too windy)

2.   My home office/desk (when no one else is home)

1.   My bedroom (the twinkle lights that surround the ceiling have to be on)

Where are your BEST places to write?

May 31, 2015

Writing to get published

What kind of writer are you?

Does everything you write have to get published for you to feel like you’re a writer?

Do you ever just write because you have a brain overflowing with ideas?

I think (and this is just my opinion) that if you write solely for the purpose of getting those words published, you may be in for a disappointing time.  I’ve written some fine sentences – maybe even some fine paragraphs that will likely never make it to an editor’s desk.  Sometimes, you just have to be willing to write it and let it go.

But that doesn’t make you less of a writer, now does it?

I truly believe the best writers are those who write consistently…all the time.  They won’t see every single word they’ve ever put to paper come to life in the form of a book, short story, article or essay.  But they will have known the satisfaction of getting those words down and creating a body of work that is meaningful.

Lots of great writing never gets published.  How saf, though, if because of that, it was never written.

What kind of writer are you?

May 7, 2015

Do you need to work on your time management?

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 2:40 PM
Tags: , , ,

The complaint is always the same:  I don’t have time to write.

Inspirational religious speaker, Joyce Meyer, has a great saying that she uses when she hears people say they don’t have time to study their bibles.  To paraphrase Joyce, basically she tells her listeners that they each have twenty-four hours every day – just the same as everybody else.

When you look at it that way, and you see what others are accomplishing, then technically you DO have the time to write.  But what if you really don’t seem to be able to find the time?

Perhaps a few simple time management skills will help.

  • 1. Set a specific time to write.  Could be first thing in the morning…in your car in the parking lot at work at lunch…before you go to bed…while you are waiting at an appointment…while dinner is cooking.  Schedule it in like everything else in your day.
  • 2. Set a time frame for your writing.  Even if you can only carve out fifteen minutes, five times per week, that would be seventy-five minutes of writing time each and every week.
  • 3. Decide on a writing goal for each session.  Even just a couple of paragraphs is better than no writing at all.
  • 4. Pick the easiest method for the location.  I use a variety including the notebook in my purse, my iPhone’s notes app, my laptop at home, my iPad upstairs.  I have even been known to scribble down some dialogue or plot ideas on the back of a program during intermission at a concert or on a paper bag from a fast food chain.
  • 5. Don’t let the internet or phone calls interrupt you for those fifteen minutes.  If you have to, disconnect from the internet and let your voice mail answer your calls.

Ask yourself this question the next time you start bemoaning your lack of time – How badly do I want it?

If the idea of not writing causes you more stress than the notion that you don’t have time, then you WILL find a way.  If not, perhaps you should leave the writing to those who cannot live without getting those words onto paper.

March 11, 2015

Writing Prompts: Writer’s Block Beware

Writing prompts are great when you need a kick start to get you writing again.  Don’t concern yourself with whether or not you’ll craft a new full manuscript – just have fun!

Here are a few to get your creative juices flowing”

1.      She burst into the room, surprising…

2.      The last number was about to be drawn.  Robert held his lottery ticket as tightly as he held his breath.

3.      Laughter erupted from behind the office door.

4.      A pair of eyes blinked from behind the crack in the rickety old wooden fence.

5.      A trumpet blared.  Thunderous applause filled the auditorium.  The curtain opened and…

Here are some articles and sites with a wide variety of prompts.  What are you waiting for?  Writer’s Block beware!

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/7-creative-writing-prompts-to-spark-your-writing

http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/writing-prompts-101/

http://awesomewritingprompts.tumblr.com/

http://heartofwisdom.com/blog/instant-online-writing-prompts/

February 10, 2015

Who is your favorite suspense novelist?

Part of learning to write well is reading good books by successful authors in your genre.

Here’s a list of some of the top writers who create suspense to keep you flipping pages well into the night.  Who’s your favorite?

Mary Higgins Clark     http://www.maryhigginsclark.com/

Nora Roberts  http://www.noraroberts.com/

Dean R Koontz  http://www.deankoontz.com/

Stephen King  http://stephenking.com/

James Patterson  http://www.jamespatterson.com/

January 22, 2015

Writers Digest online website

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 2:43 PM

If you are looking for information on pretty much anything to do with writing and the publishing biz, check out http://www.writersdigest.com.

They have articles, editors’ blogs, information about upcoming events and competitions, a community forum and lots of other resources.  You can also sign up to receive the free ezine, which I highly recommend.

download

December 31, 2014

Resolutions or Goals?

According to several online sources, it seems that approximately 40-45% of folks make new year’s resolutions.  Sadly, it’s also reported that approximately 60% fail at keeping them.

As a writer, do you make resolutions?

Several years back, the moderator of my online critique group challenged the members to submit their writing and writing related goals for the coming year.  As a member of the group, at first I struggled a little.  What was the difference between a goal and a resolution?

What I discovered was that my goals were quite specific and focused:

  • Revise the last five chapters of my novel and submit it to my critique group next month.
  • Draft a query letter and send it to (insert name of publisher here) the week my critique group goes over my chapters.
  • By the end of January, finish the second act of the play that my drama group will be performing in the spring.
  • Pick three agents from my list of potential agencies to query.

Everything was quite specific.

Had I made a list of resolutions I fear they would have been very similar to those made by many who fail to see them through:

  • Write more everyday
  • Read more books
  • Start or keep a journal
  • Pick your platform
  • Join a writing group

These are all very respectable but since they aren’t as specific (no deadlines or set amounts) that it’s much easier for them to fail.

So this year, are you going to make a list of resolutions or are you going to set some writing goals?

December 10, 2014

My suspense novel, “When Love Won’t Die” is published

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 2:49 PM

It’s an exciting day for me today!

After all the disappointment of my former publisher going out of business, I could not have been happier to find a new publisher for my suspense novel, “When Love Won’t Die”.  Splice Publishing is a new start up and I’m excited to say that my book is now available in print as well as e-book formats for Kindle, Nook and Kobo.

It’s been a long journey, on an often winding road, but I’m thankful that with each twist and turn I’ve learned something about writing, publishing, marketing, and all the other aspects of becoming a published author.

My book is available for purchase at any of the following online retailers:

http://splicepublishing.com/our-books/

http://www.amazon.com/When-Love-Wont-Jacqueline-McMahon/dp/1987854012/ref=tmm_pap_title_0My book in PRINT 2.JPG My book in PRINT 1.JPG

http://www.amazon.com/When-Love-Wont-Jacqueline-McMahon-ebook/dp/B00Q79XRA8/

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/when-love-wont-die-jacqueline-mcmahon/1026475808?ean=2940046428902

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/books/when-love-won-t-die-1/qJm_BS6lI0qMUtt7_7Ux0A?MixID=qJm_BS6lI0qMUtt7_7Ux0A&PageNumber=1

December 8, 2014

I didn’t finish Nanowrimo – am I a failure?

First of all, congratulations to all those writers who conquered and won the Nanowrimo 50,000 word challenge.  I salute you!

I chose a WIP (“Summer at Birch Beach”) this year.  I had about two thirds of it written in a very rough draft.  I thought I would use Nano to not only finish the rough draft but also begin working on an amazing revision.  After the month was up, I would have a new manuscript to shop around.  Needless to say, after about a week, and 8859 words, my Nano writing got detailed.

Since I didn’t finish Nano, am I a failure?  If you didn’t finish, are you?

Let’s look at what I did accomplish during November:

  • Secured a contract with a new publisher for my suspense novel, “When Love Won’t Die”
  • Finished the second act of a full length melodrama play for my acting class
  • Wrote lyrics, music and accompaniment for two original songs for the melodrama
  • Started final revisions on my sequel, “Amorous Obsession”
  • Wrote a synopsis for the back of the print version of my book
  • Wrote a query letter for my sequel

I may not have managed the 50,000 word goal on “Summer at Birch Beach” but I wrote every day.  The melodrama script had to be finished by December 1st so the students could begin learning their lines, blocking scenes and singing new songs.  I had to do a small revision for my new publisher so that I could get my book up before Christmas.  And now that my suspense novel is available again, that inspired me to work on the sequel.

So…I did NOT win Nanowrimo.

But I did win the writing battle.

If you didn’t complete the 50,000 word journey of Nanowrimo this year, you aren’t a failure.  Just signing up and giving it a try deserves a high five.  You did write.  You do have a word count.  Now…keep going!  It will pay off.

To purchase “When Love Won’t Die” in ebook Kindle format OR in print, go to:

http://www.amazon.com/When-Love-Wont-Jacqueline-McMahon/dp/1987854012/ref=asap_B0056TVHO8_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418047723&sr=1-1

October 28, 2014

Pros and Cons of Nanowrimo

For those unfamiliar with the term Nanowrimo, it stands for the National Novel Writing Month.  It’s an online challenge for writers who’d want to jump start their next project (or this year, complete a work in progress).

The goal of Nanowrimo is to write 50,000 words during the Month of November.  That averages out to approximately 1660 words per day for 30 days.

I’ve participated in Nanowrimo a couple of times but have yet to cross the finish line with a total of 50,000 words.  So does that mean I failed the challenge?

PROS:

1.    You write something everyday

2.    It develops a habit of writing daily.

3.    At the end of it all, you have a large chunk of writing done.

4.    You meet people online and in your area who are also doing the challenge.

5.    You gain new contacts

6.    There are lots of motivational articles to get you through the month.

CONS

1.    You have to make the time to participate

2.    When you’re finished you may just end up with 50,000 words of horrible writing

3.    For those who like to edit as they go, that’s a no-no with Nano.  This will drive some writers crazy.

As I see it, the Pros outweigh the Cons so why not give Nanowrimo a try?

For more information (and to register and participate for free):   http://nanowrimo.org/

Happy Nanowrimo!

October 11, 2014

The Collapse of my digital publisher – what should I do?

During the summer, my digital publisher of my suspense novel, When Love Won’t Die, disappeared. The website disappeared. Messages to the CEO (both phone and email) unanswered. My book vanished from Amazon, B&N, RRP and all the other sites where it was being sold.

Still no correspondence from the publisher and no formal announcement as to the status of the company.

My contract states that if the website goes down for anything other than technical reasons and if the publisher appears to no longer be in business, then all rights revert back to the author…me.

So what to do next?

What do my loyal readers think I should do?

1. Query agents
2. Re-sub my book to other publishers
3. Self-publish my original book and query agents and/or
publishers for my sequel and other suspense novel?
4. Hold off until I hear something from my publisher

I’d love to hear what you think as I continue to ponder my next steps.

August 11, 2014

Writing conferences: Online or in Person?

I’ve attended conferences both online and in person in the past five years.

Online has the 24 hour convenience of being able to read, write and participate any time of day or night.  You can wear anything because nobody can see you.  If you get interrupted, you can come back and pick up right where you left off.  You can meet new people, including editors, authors, publishers and even agents.

Going to a conference in person allows you the excitement of seeing people in person and interacting with them during lectures, workshops and even meals and coffee breaks.  You can make eye contact and banter back and forth.  And yes, you can meet new people, including editors, authors, publishers and even agents.

Online conferences don’t cost as much and in fact, many are even free.

Going in person means packing, traveling, staying in a hotel and making a commitment to a block of time set aside for the conference.

To me, both have their pros and cons.

I like the convenience of the online conference but the interaction in person cannot be replicated in the online venue.

Whichever you choose, writing conference do teach, excite and inspire us to be better.

Which do you prefer:  Online or in Person

July 3, 2014

Top Five Questions to ask yourself about your current WIP

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 1:55 PM
Tags: , , , ,

1. Is this my very best version or do I need to do more revising?

2. Am I passionate enough about this WIP to keep going until it’s
finished?

3. What do I want to accomplish by writing this?

4. Is this something I think others will want to read?

5. Am I setting aside time everyday to work on it?

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