Dramaquill's All Things Writing

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://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




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:


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?


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.


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

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?

June 25, 2014

Should you work on more than one manuscript at a time?

My business closes every summer for six weeks. As much as I love what I do, this holiday time allows me the luxury of working on myown personal writing projects, rather than the writing I do for work during the school year.

Currently, I have a finished draft of my second suspense novel. It has gone through a round of critiques and I am ready to do one more revision before it’s ready to sub out to publishers and agents.

I have about half of a third suspense novel that I started last summer.

I also have three quarters of my YA novel completed and a game plan for how the book will end.

I recently completed the first chapter of a new novel, with a quirky character, that I think has great potential.

So which one do I choose to work on?

It would seem that I should focus all my energy on revising the completed suspense novel so that I can start subbing it out. And for the most part, I believe that is exactly what I am going to do for the next six weeks.

But what about those days when my head just isn’t in the right zone for suspense? Or when I’ve hit an obstacle and aren’t quite sure how I want to handle it yet?

For me, it’s very healthy to turn to something else. My creativity may still be flowing, just not in the direction of my first project. I love having the option of opening up a completely different world and writing new words.

Revisions are necessary in order to ensure that you have the best manuscript possible but revising can be tough. When my head isn’t cooperating in revision mode, I switch to writing mode.

I know what you’re thinking. A lot of folks who jump from one manuscript to another end up with a computer full of unfinished projects. I do agree that this can certainly be a possibility.

We all work differently. For me, having the option of switching to something else is sometimes exactly the jump start I need to get back to the original project.

I’ve worked like this all my life. I’ve finished three full length plays, several one acts, an adult suspense novel, numerous articles and maintained this blog. So for me, working on multiple projects at the same time keeps my creativity flowing.

Do you work on more than one manuscript at the same time?

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:





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

Now what are you waiting for?

May 12, 2014

Summer Writing Retreats and Workshops

Spring has finally arrived and with it comes the anticipation of those wonderful long sunny days of summer.  Writing outside is one of my favorite summer activities.  I’m inspired by the fresh smell of the wind, the sun on my face and the extra hours of daylight.

Thinking about taking a writing vacation this summer?  Somewhere where you can do nothing but write?

Here are a few great resources:







Where will you be writing this summer?


March 15, 2014

2014’s 100 best websites for writers

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 3:43 PM

I’ve felt much like a hermit this winter. It’s been the coldest and snowiest winter in decades. For most folks it’s been a problematic winter. For writers, it’s been a gift. What better excuse for staying home and writing than the weather.

I finished my second suspense novel, Amorous Obsession, thanks to this awful winter. I’m currently deciding which book manuscript to pick up and finish next.

I’ve also had more time to surf writing sites, read articles, read e-zines and even do some research.

I found this gem that I’d like to share with everyone:

Check it out! I’m going to do that right now.

February 10, 2014

What the Olympics can teach you about Writing

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 3:34 PM

Like so many folks, I’ve been watching the Olympic Winter Games and enjoying learning about the different athletes and their different sporting events.

As I sat in front of the TV, (not doing any writing) I thought about what so many of the athletes said in their interviews – how difficult getting to the Olympic games had been for them. And yet, there they were, despite all sorts of obstacles.

It got me thinking about writing and the many difficulties writers face:
*writers block*
*submission guidelines*
*finding an agent*
*marketing and promotion*
*finding time to write*

The athletes train everyday.
Writers need to write everyday.

The athletes are all part of a team. (even those in solo events have a team of coaches and supporters encouraging them)
A writer’s team consists of critique partners, editors, publishers, agents etc.

The athletes work toward goals.
Writers need goals too (contests/deadlines/# of words per day)

The athletes take care of themselves physically, mentally and emotionally.
Writers who take breaks for exercise, eat healthy foods and get enough sleep will be able to think more clearly and accomplish a great deal every day.

The athletes devote their time to their sport, making whatever sacrifices they need to in order to train.
Writers often complain that they don’t have enough time. Take a look at little things that can be removed from the day-to-day routine:  get up 30 min. earlier or go to bed 30 min. later/watch less TV/let your
phone screen calls when you’re writing.

The athletes keep a positive attitude.
It’s easy for writers to get discouraged and feel like giving up. How badly do you want it? Don’t let those rejections stop you.

The athletes push themselves and their boundaries outside of their comfort zone.
As a writer I find it stimulating to try writing in genres outside my comfort zone just as creative exercises or to query a new publication, even if it’s one that’s known to be difficult to get an acceptance from.  

Athletes strive to win races and medals.
Writers strive for acceptances and contracts.

Watch the Olympic games today. Maybe you’ll get that inspiration you need for your writing.

January 18, 2014

Tips for Writing Suspense

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 7:57 PM

All writers want to keep their readers engaged in page turn after page turn.  Writing great suspense can be very difficult.  Check out these links for great ideas from some of today’s best suspense writers:

How does Stephen King create suspense?

Where does Mary Higgins Clark get her inspiration for all those different stories?

What did Agatha Christie do to become the best selling novelist of all times?

Why did Janet Evanovich switch from romance to mystery and suspense?

Do you follow John Grisham’s Ten Commandments of how to write a thriller?

What’s the best way to improve your own suspense writing?  Learn from the best.


December 31, 2013

Make 2014 your year

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 5:03 PM

Instead of making resolutions (and feeling like a failure if you don’t live up to them), why not just look to 2014 as the year you will devote as much time as possible to your writing career…period.

If life gets in the way, then deal with the hurdles.

If you don’t work on one project, work on another one.

If you really want to get an agent or to get a traditional publisher, polish up those query letters and sub them out.

If you don’t feel confident in an area of your writing, read books, take courses, find information and perfect that flaw. (Personally, I’m still working on voice again this year)

If you want clips, target some publications, write you best material and submit it.

If you want it, then go get it!

Make 2014 your best year yet!

Happy New Year!


December 11, 2013

Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine

Love writing a good mystery but not sure you want to write a novel?

Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine is a monthly digest filled with stories dripping with mystery and suspense in all its genres and sub-genres.  It’s been around since 1956 and continues to provide readers with page turning short stories, plus a book review, a puzzle and more.

If you’re not familiar with the magazine, I recommend reading a few issues or at the least, ordering a sample copy to get the feel for the style of the magazine and the types of stories included.

Writers’ guidelines can be found here:  http://www.themysteryplace.com/ahmm/guidelines/


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