Dramaquill's All Things Writing

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/

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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.

October 31, 2013

Hallowe’en’s a great time to read a suspense novel

What better time of year than Hallowe’en to read something scary?

When Love Won’t Die, my suspense novel, will keep your lights on well into the night.

It’s a quick, page-turning read, available online at the following sites:

http://www.amazon.ca/When-Love-Wont-Die-ebook/dp/B004AYD6YE

http://www.amazon.com/When-Love-Wont-Jacqueline-McMahon-ebook/dp/B004AYD6YE

http://redrosepublishing.com/books/product_info.php?products_id=649

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/when-love-wont-die-jacqueline-mcmahon/1026475808?ean=9781604357837

July 26, 2013

Writing Advice: What Do You Want To Know?

Over the years I’ve blogged on a wide variety of writing topics from playwriting to suspense novels, marketing, book reviewing, contests and more.

After going through my archives, I thought I might turn my blog over to my readers for the month of August by answering your writing related questions.

Please fill out the form below. I’ll post answers (and links, if appropriate) to my favourite questions every Tuesday in August.

March 5, 2012

Reviews of WHEN LOVE WON’T DIE

I’m looking for reviews of my adult suspense novel, “When Love Won’t Die”. If you’ve already read the book, please post a short review either in my comments section OR at Amazon.com on my book page: http://www.amazon.com/When-Love-Wont-Die-ebook/dp/B004AYD6YE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330989772&sr=8-1

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

 

Writing a Novel: Outline or Not?

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Yesterday I finally had the pleasure of getting back to work on my second suspense novel, a sequel to my first book, “When Love Won’t Die”. It’s been quite a while since I looked at the project as a whole, rather than tweaking a couple of chapters to submit to my critique group.

I learned a lot from writing the first novel. This time, I had a general set of plot points and a series of events already in mind before I began Chapter One. I already knew my characters quite well as most of them made an appearance in the first book.

But this time, I decided to outline each prospective chapter before actually writing the entire story. This has certainly come in handy since I had to take a considerable hiatus from my indepth work on this project and the chapter by chapter outlines I have recorded in a notebook now remind me not only of the story’s direction but also how I want to interweave certain characters’ circumstances together and also the layers of sub-plots I intend to use in the sequel.

I’ve never really had a big problem just starting a story and letting it unfold as I write it but I believe that by doing the task of outlining first, every aspect of this second book will become stronger because I have taken the time to really think things through first. That doesn’t mean I’ll be rigid and unwilling to change things from my outline. It just means that I have a clearer direction this time.

Suspense novels need to have a build-up of tension to keep the reader interested, but more than that, each incidence must evolve out of something else and by doing an outline, I believe that the evolution in this sequel will be more believable and more exciting because of it.

Do you outline your novels? What are the Pros and Cons? Try answering this before you start work on your new book and see which side you end up on?

December 6, 2011

Nanowrimo aftermath

 
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Well it’s been nearly a week since Nanowrimo (the national novel writing month) ended and participation in the event has given many writers a rough draft of a new book or at least several thousand words toward such a project.

Did I win by writing 50,000 words?  Nope!  But I still won by participating.

Nanowrimo forced me to get back to working on my sequel suspense novel and because of the discipline of having to write something every day in November, I now have some 17,000 more words added to my book and a much clearer understanding of not only my ending, but also the areas I will now revise and rewrite to make the book its best.

Did I participate in Nano this year in hopes of finally winning with 50,000?  A part of me would have liked to have achieved such a lofty goal.

Am I disappointed that I didn’t cross the perverbial finish line so to speak?  Absolutely not!

All writers know that writing is a solitary job.  Having the discipline to stick with a long project like a book manuscript requires isolation from others (both online and off) and a real commitment to sitting down and fleshing out the story.  With all of life’s distractions, getting ample time to finish such a project can be extremely difficult.  Nanowrimo provides just the push that I need, especially at a time of year when life is busier with the impending holiday celebrations.

Thanks Nanowrimo for another great year!  You kick-started my first novel which definitely helped me on the road to having it published.  Hopefully, my sequel won’t be far behind.

May 29, 2010

The Creative Process…unpredictable

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Just recently I received the artwork for the cover of my upcoming suspense novel and I must say, I was thrilled with the entire look of it.  It completely captures the essence of my book and I think it will entice many to read the synopsis at the back and hopefully want to buy the book.

So, I had been working on a sequel to this novel, but due to some major revisions to the first book, a sequel may or may not be my next step.  Slightly derailed in my creativity for a few days, I sat down, literally with pen and paper, and began to write out some other plot ideas that had been festering inside my head.

It seems I have a completely new book, with a new cast of characters, ready and willing to pour out onto the page.  The character sketches and major plot points came together incredibly quickly and after two or three hours of writing, I now have a prologue and two full chapters and I’m quite intrigued on where this is all going.

The creative process is indeed unpredictable.  I was completely sure, and completely excited to finish the last third of my sequel.  My characters were still fresh from the rewrite of book one and the intricacies that had developed in the sub-plots and amongst the major players had me convinced that I’d complete the manuscript within a few days.

But my creative persona had other plans.

You’re a writer.  Don’t let yourself get tied into one idea or one project.  If the creative muse comes a calling with something new, open yourself to the possibilities of the creative process.  You never know what might happen.  Savour the unpredictable.

October 30, 2009

I pitched my novel to a publisher at the Muse Online writing conference

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I hope you all had the chance to attend the Muse Online writing conference.  It’s a free resource for writers of all kinds and includes numerous free handouts as well as real-time chats, assignments, forums for discussion and pretty much anything else that would be of interest to writers of all levels.

A new aspect of this year’s conference were the pitch sessions.  Writers registered in the conference could submit a 100 word pitch to the conference leader in the hopes of being lucky enough to secure a spot pitching live online to a real editor from one of the dozen or more participating publishers.

Luckily, I secured a spot with a publisher and pitched my adult suspense novel.  At the end of the pitch, they asked for a synopsis and the entire manuscript.

I was thrilled!

So I spent the next week meticulously revising, reformatting and tweaking my final draft until I felt it was at its best.  I submitted everything and now must wait 6-8 weeks to find out its fate.

For those of you who say you can’t attend a conference due to travel, expense of attending, can’t take time off or any other reason, this free online conference brings everything you could ever want right into your own home, on your time, at your computer.

Make sure to check it out for next year.  They are already gearing up for registrations for 2010, which begin in November.

http://www.themuseonlinewritersconference.com/registration.htm

April 6, 2009

What I learned from writing my first Suspense Novel

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It’s taken a while to get what I believe is a solid, polished suspense novel.  I’ve revised, rewritten and reviewed.  I’ve read and re-read.  I’ve had a professional critique done by a published author in my genre.  And I’ve sent my final revision through my long time, online critique group. 

I’ve even decided to try publishers first, instead of agents.  Why?  Well, that’s another post.

So what did I learn?

As I continue writing my second suspense novel, I cannot believe how much more critically I’m analyzing my writing.  My characters are stronger and I’m really enjoying finding new ways to make my readers want to turn the pages.  I’m seeing the big picture from the book and not just one chapter at a time. 

I don’t believe that my revision process on this second book will need to be as extensive as it was on my first book.  I’ve learned so much.  In fact, although I enjoyed writing the first book, I have to admit, it was a lot of work.  Now, I’m not saying the second book won’t be work, but my first draft of this book is already far ahead of my first book.  I’ve already eliminated much of the revising I had to do on the first book just by knowing more as I write this second manuscript.

What is the most important thing I’ve learned from this experience so far?

Never give up!

I’ve found my niche.  I love suspense.  I want to make my readers jump.  I want to hit my characters with obstacles and situations that cause them to really have to think.  And I have to admit, I love writing the villains. 

No writing you ever do, whether it’s published or not, is ever a waste.  Just keep writing and honing your craft and enjoying the journey along the way.

January 6, 2009

FINAL REVISIONS – When is enough, enough?

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I submitted my final chapters of my adult suspense novel to my online critique group on Monday and am now waiting for the critiques to come in.  I’m excited about the entire process because it pushes me one step closer to my finished, polished, manuscript.

What I submitted to them was my fifth revision.  I truly believe that my manuscript has grown and my writer’s voice has become stronger with each re-write.  I’ve especially noticed a difference in my characters, implementing “showing” instead of “telling” and in my ability to write POV.

We’ve all read comments from agents and editors regarding bad writing.  If we truly want a shot at getting our book published, we know that we have to submit our very best work. 

But at some point, the time must come when we set down our critical eye and stop revising and re-writing and start querying.  I believe I’m now at that point.

I do believe that some amateur writers  sub out manuscripts that are not ready.  I can’t say enough how important it is to get feedback from others (and this doesn’t mean your friends and your family).  Join a critique group!

But I also know that it would be quite easy to continue to revise, re-write and tweak this manuscript forever and never consider it finished.

As writers, what we sub out should always be our best work.  But when is enough, enough?

When you’re positive this is your best work.  You’ve checked and double checked for typos, grammar, puctuation and proper formatting.  You’ve read and re-read the submission guidelines for your target agents and/or publishers.  You feel pumped about sending out this project that has consumed you for so long.

So I’m going out today to stock up on ink for my printer and packages of paper.  I will print out this final draft and begin the task of reading it backwards, to find any mistakes I may have missed.  I will give it to my critique partner for one last look.  I will begin drafting my query letter, which I will also sub to my critique group.

And finally, I will search through the agents and publishers I’ve been collecting throughout this entire project and begin with my first round of queries.

How are you doing with your revisions?  Do you know when enough is enough?

November 4, 2008

A Nano 360

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So, Nanowrimo started November 1st.  I made sure I was all signed up and had my book ideas gathered together.  I’d even made some preliminary character sketches for a YA chicklit novel.

So we’re on day four of Nanowrimo and guess what?  I can’t get into this book at all.  Nope – not even a little. 

What’s a writer to do?

I never seem to have a lack of ideas so I’m making a complete 360 today and deciding to work on a second suspense novel called Dear Aunt Jane.  It began as an attempt at a short story years ago but I truly believe that to properly tell the tale, it should be a book so that’s what I’m going to do.

I’m already feeling that adrenaline rush of excitement as I search through old files and folders for my background notes.  I’m already plotting for the long haul of a book and chopping up the short story version.  I can feel my protagonist pushing me to get writing her story.

Will I make the 50,000 words by the 30th?  Who knows.  I realize I’m not about 6,000 behind schedule but it doesn’t matter.  My creative juices are over flowing with this switch so “thank-you” Nanowrimo for pushing me down this path.

Am I worried about the YA chicklit book never getting finished?

Nope.

I know, when the time is right, I’ll tackle that one.

I just really feel drawn to the suspense genre right now and maybe that’s because of the months of revisions I’ve been doing or maybe it’s because I just ordered a new Mary Higgins Clark/Carol Higgins Clark book.

Whatever the case, Nano, here I come.

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