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

 

 

 

 

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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/

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?

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

May 20, 2014

Writing contests – 2014

Writing contests can be a terrific way to get your manuscript seen by those in the publishing biz. Often, prizes include publication.

If you do choose a contest with an entry fee, make sure that the prizes warrant the fee charged.

Here’s a short list to get you inspired:

http://client.writersrelief.com/writers-classifieds/writing-contests.aspx

http://www.freelancewriting.com/creative-writing-contests.php

http://www.placesforwriters.com/?cat=41

http://www.writermag.com/writing-resources/contests/

Remember to read all contest info. carefully before sending your manuscript.

Now what are you waiting for?

October 1, 2013

Free Newsletters for Writers

Just thought I’d post a few links to newsletters (ezines) that I’ve found useful over the years…

Writer’s Weekly – http://www.writersweekly.com/

Writer’s Digest – http://www.writersdigest.com/subscribe/free-weekly-newsletter

Funds for Writers – http://www.fundsforwriters.com/newsletters/

Worldwide Freelance – http://www.worldwidefreelance.com/newsletter/

Writing World – http://www.writing-world.com/newsletter/index.shtml

Wow – http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/

Enjoy!

July 3, 2013

What Distracts You from Writing?

My little Distraction

My little Distraction

Meet Molly, my little distraction!

If Molly had her way, I’d be on call for her amusement 24/7.  Feed me…play with me…walk me…cuddle me!

So how do I resist this little dollie when I have some serious writing work to get done?

I bought a cute little doggie bed that I keep right beside my computer desk and chair, nestled into a little nook at the side of the desk.  Molly curls up and snuggles in her cozy space while I get my work done.  I’m close enough to rub her belly or give her a scratch and she seems to like our new *together* time.

What distracts you from your writing?

June 11, 2013

Sequel nearing completion

Just plotted out the last five chapters of my sequel
The finish line is in sight
Never give up

May 10, 2013

Writing a novel is like running a marathon.

Writing a novel can seem like a daunting task, especially to the first-time newbie.  A novel is long (according to Wikipedia, it’s 40,000 words or more)  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_count#In_fiction

A novel needs a plot that can sustain all those chapters and keep the reader interested until the very end.

http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/Plot.html

http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/plot-outline.html

A novel requires characters that people will care about enough to keep reading.

http://thewritepractice.com/resources/characterization/

http://voices.yahoo.com/unique-tips-creating-memorable-characters-your-315059.html?cat=3

But most of all, you have to sit on your butt and write…and write…and write.  And here’s where I think it’s similar to training for a marathon.

At first, it’s very likely you won’t be able to just sit and write and everything will fall neatly into place.  You’ll need to develop stamina to keep you there for the long run.  Just as an athlete has to work up to the distance of a marathon (http://running.about.com/od/marathontrainingfaqs/f/What-Is-The-Distance-Of-A-Marathon.htm)
a novel will consist of a large number of chapters.  To me, writing each one is somewhat similar to running each mile (or kilometre) of a marathon.  It may sound and look daunting when you think about it as a whole, but tackling it one unit at a time will get you to your ultimate finish line.

Runners train for marathons.

How can a writer train?

* choose your genre
* start with an idea for a story
* build on that idea
* develop your main character(s) and secondary characters
* Start writing the rough draft
* Don’t worry about editing until you reached the end of the story you wish to tell

But whatever you do, keep going!  Push through when it gets hard.  Seek support from fellow writers.  Read blogs and articles to motivate you on days when you want to quit.

Like any big goal, getting started is the hard part.  Break it up into small, attainable goals and you’ll have that novel written before you know it!

February 26, 2013

Composing is writing too

I have been feeling uptight about not working on my second suspense novel lately. We all go through those phases where our projects get shelved due to other things taking up our time.

Recently I even had to skip my turn at subbing to my critique group (and I hate missing my turn).

Today, as I sat at my keyboard working on lyrics to the final original song for my murder/mystery, I realized that I was still writing. I was just writing words to a song instead of words in a chapter. Creating is creating – writing is writing

What are you writing today?

January 21, 2013

Genre Writing Blogs – Suspense

It’s great to share what others have to say and I’d like to do just that.

Here’s my call out to all those bloggers who write suspense/mystery/thriller novels, plays and/or short stories.

I’d love to feature a different blog each week with a short Q & A with the blogger.

Anyone interested?

Comment on this post, send me your blog url and let’s see what great information we can share with our followers and with each other.

December 31, 2012

Top Ten Distractions that keep me from Writing

I love the internet!  I love all the information that is so easily accessible.  I love that it no longer matters where a writer is located in order to find a publisher or agent.  And I especially love making new connections and discovering new writers/new books.  Yes, I love social media, too.

But it seems that there are more and more distractions that can steal my precious writing time.  Here’s my list of the top ten things that distract me from writing:

  1. Facebook (not the writing-related pages but the updates…the games…you know what I mean)
  2. Email (why do I feel the urge to check it so often?)
  3. Surfing (one Google search leads to another and soon an hour has gone by)
  4. Phone calls (working at home definitely means screening calls)
  5. Having a full-time job (obviously making a living has to take priority over writing)
  6. TV (do I really need to watch most of the dumb stuff on the tube?)
  7. Researching (from markets to freelance jobs to info. for my next book, this can really eat up a lot of time)
  8. Cooking/cleaning/laundry (if only I could afford a maid LOL)
  9. Reading (but I do feel that this distraction is necessary for all writers)
  10. Too many projects at once (I get a lot more done if I focus on one thing at a time)

What’s your biggest distraction that keeps you from writing?

September 18, 2012

Teaching Drama inspired me to get back to writing

As the owner of a performing arts studio, my schedule becomes almost overwhelming from late August through mid September.  It’s both exhilarating and exhausting.

I’ve now entered the phase where all of my classes have begun and I’m re-connecting with former students as well as meeting new ones.  It’s an exciting time at my studio.

Saturday was the first day of classes and as it happens, all of our drama programs are on Saturday.

First up was the 6-10 year old group.  As we all played a fun drama game to learn each other’s names, I saw snippets of creativity begin to emerge.  Even the shy children were eager to say and do something that would make everyone remember them.  The collective energy in the drama room produced an encouraging atmosphere where the students felt themselves trying things outside of their comfort zones and enjoying it.

The second group consisted of the 11-17 year old crowd.  This diverse group ranged from kids with plenty of creative experience to others with absolutely none.  Interestingly enough, as we worked on a variety of group and individual activities, this group definitely had a noticeable split between the “up for anything” creative types and the “shy and guarded” individuals, however, by the end of the class, the split had weakened considerably.

Finally, the last class, a large group of students ages 9-18 entered the studio.  Many of these kids have taken programs with us before, however there was also a handful of newcomers.  One might think that such a mix of ages would result in chaos, but the opposite took place.  Different levels of creativity took shape as we integrated ages and abilities, familiar and unfamiliar.  The creative energy became infectious during the ninety minute session.

You’re probably all wondering what any of this has to do with writing.

Writing alone is great when your creativity flows and the words just spew out of you and on to the page.  But as we all know, there are also times when the complete opposite happens.

Creativity grows when surrounded by creativity.

Join a writing group.

Talk to other writers.

Talk to potential readers.

Read books that aren’t in your comfort zone and see how you feel when you’re done.

Participate in a critique group.

I always feel more inspired and creative after I’ve done any one of these things.  It just took me a day of teaching drama to remember how great it is to interact.

August 19, 2012

It’s all part of the creative process

This summer has been strange to say the least.  Warm sunny days where the sun’s up around six a.m. and doesn’t go to bed until after 10:00 p.m. makes for the perfect writing environment for me.  I can grab my iPad or a notebook and head to one of the nearby parks or lakes, sit sipping a mochaccino on an outdoor coffee shop patio or hunker down under a shade tree in my backyard.

At least that’s the way my writing life has gone until this summer.

I can’t say that it hasn’t been bugging me that I can’t seem to find my stride with my current WIP, my second adult suspense novel.  I’ve started re-reading the 31 chapters I’d previously written, hoping to find myself jumping back into the rhythm of it all.  But that just hasn’t been the case.

Am I worried that I’ll never finish my second book?

No, not at all.  But I sure don’t like waiting for this dry spell to end.

Oddly enough, my creativity did get a jump start in another area of writing.  Next week, my studio is offering a drama camp for kids 8-14 years old.  I started flipping through all our scripts and through my computer files and suddenly camp up with an idea – a campy spy play.  I got to work.

My fingers flew over the keys as the ideas formed.  It’s a quirky, silly, fast-paced romp through a day in the life of a secret agency of spies, made up of a bunch of ordinary kids.  Only thing is, nobody is allowed to know who anybody else is so they all wear white masks and go by a number rather than their name.

It felt good to exercise my creative chops again, even if it wasn’t on my WIP.

Maybe a week of creativity with this drama camp will be just what my muse needs to make an appearance.  Let’s hope so.

Don’t get discouraged when the words don’t come.  It’s all part of the creative process.

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