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

 

 

 

 

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?

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.

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!

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.

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.

July 17, 2012

Will Anybody Want to Read my Sequel?

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As I continue to struggle with creating any form of decent writing, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the projects I’m currently avoiding.  My biggest avoidance at the moment is the sequel to my first suspense novel.  This is a book that I’m very passionate about finishing.  My characters need me to let them tell the rest of their story.

And yet, as each day goes by, I do not write anything.

The other night I sat down to watch Bunheads, a new Amy Sherman-Palladino series on ABC Spark.  I was drawn to the show for several reasons.  Amy created The Gilmore Girls, one of my  all-time favorite shows.  Amy’s dialogue is snappy and her characters embrace uniqueness.  One of the leads in the series is Fanny, played by Kelly Bishop, formerly Emily Gilmore of Gilmore Girls fame.  The studio that I co-own teaches ballet and pointe and a variety of other dance classes.

I knew I’d love this show.

As of last night, I’ve now seen five episodes of Bunheads.  Much to my surprise, I’m not really loving it.  Although it contains the same type of quirky characters and quippy dialogue, it somehow plays like a poor second cousin to Palladino’s Gilmore Girls.  I’m hoping, with time, that it will find its way into my heart, but it’s going to take work.  I don’t know how much longer I’ll hang in.

That got me to thinking about my sequel.

My first suspense novel, “When Love Won’t Die”, has been very well received.  I’ve had lots of great reviews and just as many inquiries as to the status of the sequel.  Most of my followers can’t wait to get their hands on the next book.

But what if it’s a poor second cousin to the first book?

What if people don’t really like it?

I know what you’re probably thinking.  Bunheads and “When Love Won’t Die” are completely different.  Obviously one’s a TV show and one’s a book.  But they do have something in common.  They are both another product of their creator.  They are both going to be compared to other works by the same author.

So do I quit writing the sequel for fear it won’t be as good as the first book?  Will anybody want to read my sequel?

Yes, I really do believe they will.

Why?

Because I’m going to make sure that the writing is even better than the first book.  I’m using many of the same characters, but for those who have read “When Love Won’t Die”, they will see more complex, interweaving sub-plots and lots of character development.

Bunheads isn’t a sequel to the Gilmore Girls.  Unfortunately, many viewers will compare Kelly’s Fanny character to Emily Gilmore and the new young lead, Michelle, to Lorelei.  I know I have. But they shouldn’t.  This is a new series.  It’s not a sequel to anything.  Maybe I don’t really like it because it doesn’t revisit Stars Hollow and all the quirky characters I grew to love during the Gilmore’s seven year run.

So what has all of this taught me?

Once your stuff is out there, you develop a following.  Your readers will be inclined to compare your books to each other.  I don’t want to disappoint them.  Maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to work on my sequel. 

Or maybe, I just have to stop thinking so much and get my butt in the chair and write something…anything.  Finish the darn book! 

Amy Sherman-Palladino isn’t sitting around wondering whether or not she should create another series.  When The Wyoming Project didn’t make it into the 2010-2011 TV schedule, Palladino went on and created Bunheads.

Will anybody want to read my sequel?

I’ll never know if I don’t finish it. 

Do you have a project that you’re avoiding?  Join me and let’s finish them together.

To find out more about Amy Sherman-Palladino, read this article:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amy_Sherman-Palladino

To find out more about her new series, Bunheads,follow this link: http://abcfamily.go.com/shows/bunheads/

To purchase “When Love Won’t Die”, check out the following sites:
http://www.amazon.com/When-Love-Wont-Die-ebook/dp/B004AYD6YE

http://redrosepublishing.com/books/product_info.php?products_id=649
http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/When-Love-Wont-Die/book-p2VHGKHWAE6biZdRsFV_tA/page1.html

April 22, 2012

Don’t be a Loner: My cure for Writer’s Block

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There have been times when I’ve been working on one of my manuscripts and I just can’t seem to produce ten coherent words.  Yep – that dreaded writer’s block!

Writer’s block used to panic me.  What if I never get any more ideas?  What if my writing ability has dried up?  I’m sure you’ve all been there at some time or other.

For the most part, writing is a solitary activity, unless you happen to be collaborating with another writer on a project.  But let’s face it, most of a writer’s working time is spent alone.

All that alone time is great when your creative juices are flowing but it can become pretty debilitating when the words stop coming.  Yes, you can get up and move around.  You can check your email, make a snack, phone a friend or do a million other things to get you back on track.  None of these have ever worked for me.  All it does it take me further away from figuring out how to get back to writing.

But, if I talk to another writer, whether in an email from my online critique group, or in person with another local writer, it doesn’t take long before I’m excited to get back to one of my projects. 

Just the other day, I opened up the file for my second suspense novel and realized that I’ve hit a brick wall.  I haven’t been able to spend as much time working on it these past few months and the entire story has just stalled.  I really need to finish it and submit it to my publisher by summer. 

Then, yesterday, I had a great conversation with an author I know who is on her fifth revision of her first novel.  A ten minute conversation and I could hardly wait to get home and get writing.  Just ten minutes and my writer’s battery recharged.

This isn’t the first time that connecting with another writer has inspired me.  I cherish my online critique group.  Every time I feel sidetracked or wonder if I’ll ever write another intelligent word, I just need to interact with these writers for a bit and wham – writer’s block gone!

And it usually isn’t a conversation about me, my writing or even writer’s block that gets me going again.  It could be an email that one of the group just got picked up by an agent.  Perhaps it’s a fabulous chapter, written by someone in the group, that I have to critique.  It could even be the mention of a new contest or opportunity that might be of interest to someone in the group.

All I know is that the quickest way for me to get out of my own writer’s block is to connect with another writer.

How do you handle your periods of writer’s block?

April 3, 2012

Writing and Competitive Sports

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The other morning, reading through several popular writing ezines, I got somewhat caught up in  the guidelines for many upcoming writing contests, which got me to thinking about writing in a new way.

As writers, we are constantly competing for our chance to be published – our “win”, so to speak.  Winning a contest is somewhat like winning a sporting championship, isn’t it? 

Sports team coaches drill their players on skills and techniques that will ultimately make them stronger, better players and therefore, a more successful team.  Writers hone their skills and techniques in order to become better wordsmiths who can produce stronger, more saleable manuscripts.

For both, the ultimate prize is the win!

Writers have to compete with one another all the time for everything from pieces in magazines and newspapers to contracts with agents and publishers.  To me, winning an acceptance for publication is akin to winning a sports championship.  Exhilarating and satisfying.

To succeed, both the team sport player and the writer do several things:

1.      Make their activity a priority
2.      Constantly work on improving their skills and techniques
3.      Seek out opportunities for learning new things
4.      Enter competitions
5.      Look to mentors for coaching and critiquing
6.      Expect nothing less than their best

I was never very good at competitive sports.  I think I’m doing much better as a writer.

Do you treat your writing like a competitive sport? 

Are you doing everything you can to be the best you can be?

March 27, 2012

Every Writer Should Have a Web Presence

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It’s common knowledge that in this high tech computer age, every writer should have a web presence. 

Don’t know how?

There are some very easy (and free) ways to get page online:

1.      Start a writing blog  (I recommend WordPress) 

2.      Make a separate Facebook Page as your “writing” page or even a separate page for each of”
          your books if you have published books to your credit

3.      Get a twitter account.  Follow other writers and publishers.  Tweet regularly to develop a
          following.

4.      Have an actual writer’s page under your name.  (I am lucky enough to own a business that
          has a website so I just created a page titled JACQUELINE MCMAHON and have my writing
          credits etc. online there.  My business already pays for the site hosting so there’s no
          additional cost to me)
          http://www.slightlyoffbroadway.com/jacquelinemcmahon.htm

5.      Join other sites for writers like: 
          She writes  (www.shewrites.com)
          Jacketflap  (www.jacketflap.com)
          Redroom    (www.redroom.com)

6.      Buy your domain name and pay to have the site hosted.  (Check out this site of reviews
         before choosing a web host:  http://www.webhostingreviews.com/)

7.      Actively comment in writers’ chat rooms, on writers’ blogs and through social media.

8.      Add any book urls to the signature line in ALL emails that you send.

These are some of the more popular ways any writer can develop a web presence.  Now, what are you waiting for?  Get out there and get online.

March 1, 2012

Writer’s Digest article on Creating Suspense in Fiction

Writer’s Digest offers great advice on all aspects of being a writer and their website has lots of free information.  I just found this excellent article on Creating Suspense in Fiction and wanted to share it with all my readers.  I especially enjoyed the section about withholding information.  I enjoyed using that technique to some degree in my first suspense nove, “When Love Won’t Die”  http://www.amazon.com/When-Love-Wont-Die-ebook/dp/B004AYD6YE

Check out this excellent article:  http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/5-simple-steps-on-creating-suspense-in-fiction?et_mid=540060&rid=2995854

 

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