A Voice on Outline Driven Writing

Sue Coletta:

As some of you know I’m working on a deadline, trying to get Timber Point ready for submission to a publisher whose window closes on Saturday. So, I came across a perfect post to reblog instead of writing one, and save myself time in the process. Win win. Hope you enjoy it. And please, tell me what you think.

Next up: I’ll continue with the series, Badass in Heels.

Have a great, productive day, all!

Originally posted on James L'Etoile:

Outlining versus Free Form writing is a hotly contested debate in author circles.  I know, I know, the subject doesn’t carry the weight of  discussing a solution to violence in Afghanistan, or searching for a missing jetliner in the middle of the Indian Ocean.  But the fact that writers seem willing to spill blood over the issue, says something about us – we’re a bit too tightly wound for our own good and the voices of the characters in our heads start to take over if left unattended too long.

Image courtesy of getkjfit.com Image courtesy of getkjfit.com

I’ve written a few novels using a detailed outline and others in a free-form, or more commonly called the seat of your pants method, used by “The Pantser.”   Both methods work, but recently, as I wrote a section for a novel from an outline, a voice called out…

Voice:  Hey!  Whatcha doing?

Me:  Writing.  Hush…

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Where I’ve been… and why.

I don’t normally talk about my daily life. I guess I’m private that way. But I feel I need to clear some things up. I’ve been seriously lacking lately in reading your blog posts. I know this and I’m doing the best I can to rectify this. There is a good reason for it though. One of my dogs– Gideon, I’ve talked about him before– is gravely ill.




He’s been sick for a few weeks, but took a turn for the worse six days ago. Without going into detail, he requires massive amounts of my time while I attempt to keep him alive, with a quality life. At the same time my other dog, Cascius, is seething with jealously. So I try to give him extra attention. It’s both physically and emotionally draining.  lazylion

As such, everything else falls to the wayside. Family first. It’s a must.

I wish this wasn’t the case. I wish Gideon would magically bounce back, return to being healthy, running and playing. I wish I could leave him for a few hours to see my granddaughter, too. She’s growing so fast and we’re missing it. But the sad reality is I don’t know how much time he has left, could be days, could be weeks. When I do get a break I read to escape the horrors of my reality. Books are magical in that way. Don’t you agree?

Image from Dishin’ the Dirt with My Friends

Image from Dishin’ the Dirt with My Friends

So, I haven’t abandoned you. I always have and always will support you in any way I can. I just need a little time to deal with the ones I love. I think everyone can understand that.

I do have some exciting news, a surprise guest appearance by the author of six critically acclaimed thrillers, who’s also written two of the best craft books I’ve ever read. A must for every writer’s toolbox, IMO. I’ve also added some new links on the crime writer’s resource page and added menu items. More on all that later. For now, I’ll hold you in suspense.


This pic just never gets old.




Writers and Serial Killers

Sue Coletta:

Found another great post! What kind of killer– I mean, writer– are you?

Originally posted on James L'Etoile:

Writers and Serial Killers have more in common than you think.

I binge watched (yes, I should have been writing – consider me scolded) the first season of Hannibal this week, something that I’d put off for a while. The Thomas Harris novels, Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal were gripping and the movie persona of Dr. Hannibal Lecter was so perfect, that anyone other than Anthony Hopkins just wasn’t going to work.


Or, so I thought.

From NBC archives From NBC archives

Mads Mikkelsen plays a younger Dr. Lecter in a timeline before Red Dragon. Hannibal is cruel, sadistic and gets off on watching the people around him crumble and self destruct. In addition to his cannibalistic predilections, Hannibal plays the other characters like a puppet master. FBI investigator Will Graham goes slowly insane and victim Abigail Hobbs is psychically driven off a cliff under the good doctor’s care.

Then it…

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MARRED Excerpt – Sue Coletta

Sue Coletta:

It’s excerpt week on The Write Stuff! Come read. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite author. If you’d like to contribute email Marcia with your excerpt and she’ll post it for you. Since I’m a contributor I posted an excerpt from MARRED… Enjoy!

Originally posted on The Write Stuff:



1:30 P.M.

I used to believe people were inherently good, if only at their core. I saw the brokenness of the homeless. The, if only he caught a break. . . I respected the overachiever in the football star, hoping for Daddy’s approval even though he knew he’d never get it. I saw the heart of the sinner. The souls of lovers. The shattered dreams of an abandoned child. I saw good in evil. Spirit in the unholy. The complexities of love, marriage, life. Hell, I welcomed the challenge. I had hopes and dreams and affirmations. I did.

And then, that all changed. My views shattered. Or maybe, my eyes finally opened.

That’s what Niko would say. Though now, devastation also fills his eyes. He no longer looks at me as his optimistic wife who loves life. I miss our blissful marriage. I miss our baby. I miss…

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The Crime Thriller Book Title Generator

Sue Coletta:

Since I’m neck deep in revisions right now I thought I’d share a fun post with you. Funny, how you come across things at just the right time. Thank you, Tara! BTW, mine is The Dead Room. What’s your name translate to in crime thriller talk?

Originally posted on Tara Sparling writes:

Stuck for a title for that crime novel you’re working on? Or perhaps you have no intentions whatsoever of writing a book, but find yourself preoccupied almost hourly with schemes and plans for murder, mayhem and wildly inventive violence. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a title to go along with your plotting?

(Oho! You thought I’d finished, did you not? That I’d got all caught up with writerly whining and ranting? That I’d just get bored after The Chick Lit Book Title Generator and The Literary Fiction Book Title Generator? But I didn’t get bored. Oh no.)

It’s The Crime Thriller Book Title Generator!

I apologise for making the first word of everybody’s title just “The”. But there are rules, you know. I can’t just go changing 30 years of genre titling rules purely for entertainment purposes.

 The Crime/Thriller Book Title Generator

 So what’s mine, you say?! Oh, go on then…

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I’d Like to Thank The Academy…

This morning started the usual way. In the early morning hours I read Karin Slaughter’s KISSCUT by the fire, then played on Facebook, checked emails, and then opened my blog. That’s when I discovered Joycelin from Tribalmystic had bestowed on me the Very Inspiring Blog Award. I’ve blogged long enough to know WordPress has a million awards, but that doesn’t make it any less wonderful to receive. To think I’ve inspired someone enough to send me this award makes the work all worth it.

If you haven’t checked out Tribalmystic, it’s a place where Joycelin shares videos and posts about nature, art, tribal life, writing, short stories– there’s something for everyone. She has a way of finding the most interesting and unusual things to share, and often I learn something new with each visit. You can find her by going here, or click the title above or on my blogroll. I highly recommend a visit.

very inspir gold borderTo meet the requirements of the award, I must:

  1. Display the award on your blog.
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  3. State 7 things about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 bloggers, link to them, and notify them about their nominations.

Seven things about me…

1.  Once my début novel– whichever book that might be– hits the shelves I want to get a tattoo of the book cover. I have three tattoos now, but I’m thinking of covering one of them up.

2.  I used to breed Rottweilers, but never wanted to give up the puppies. No potential home was good enough for ‘my babies’. Which is how I ended up with eight adults and a fresh litter of thirteen pups. I’m still not sure how we survived, but wouldn’t trade those memories for the world.

3.  When I was sixteen years old I went to psychic who predicted I would marry but it would only last a few years, then years later would remarry an older man (11 years older specifically) and after over a decade with this man my life would turn out better than my wildest dreams could imagine. She went into specifics, even drew pictures of the two men (both my first and second/present husbands) and gave details of my life along the way. To date, everything she’d told me has come true– right down to the tiny details, like how many car accidents I would have. I’m now waiting for my ‘dream come true’.

4.  I’m an advocate for animal rights. Personally, I think what one does to an animal should result in the same penalties as if they had committed the crime against a human. Why the law isn’t this way now baffles me. If I ever hit the lottery or strike it rich I’ll donate a large part of the money to shelters and other animal welfare organizations.

5.  I believe wholeheartedly in the human soul, that our bodies die but our soul lives on. That some have the ability to leave their physical self and astral-project to far away lands, and I’ve incorporated my beliefs in some of my books. During my forty-something years on this planet I’ve seen many things to solidify my belief. Which also means I believe in the hereafter, spirits, hauntings, and evil entities.

6.  I believe everyone is created equal regardless of race, sex, religion, or political creed, as long as they don’t harm others in the name of their beliefs. I know that sounds like a line, but it’s true. Alternatively, I believe in living by God’s teachings. So much so I was re-baptized in the Christian faith at age twenty. However, I do not believe in pushing my religion on anyone else, which is why you’ll rarely hear me speak about it, if ever.

7.  I truly try to help people any way I can, even it means putting my own needs last. For instance, years ago when the recession hit we were barely scraping by. It was Thanksgiving time and I’d seen that our local supermarket was having a one-day only sale on turkey. I knew if I didn’t rush out we wouldn’t be able to have turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. While at the market I saw this disabled woman hunched over on a walker, and she was hyperventilating.

I hurried over to her and asked if I could help. She told me she had health problems. She was massively obese, too, which also made walking difficult for her. All she wanted was a few things at the store was brought to tears from her inability to get them. I told her to sit tight and I would get what she needed, took her list and the few dollars she had and left my husband to sit with her. He was all to happy to talk with her while I was gone.

When I got to the register I realized she had only given me enough money for about half the stuff. After hearing her tales of woe minutes before I knew this was all she had, so I took my turkey and fixings money and bought her groceries instead. When I rolled the carriage over to her she started crying, hugging me so tight I could barely breathe. She didn’t know, but I had added a second small turkey for her to freeze for later.

My husband and I went home empty-handed that day, but we were filled with so much more. And even though we had eggs and bacon for our holiday meal it was our best Thanksgiving yet!

very inspir award type


Here are the fifteen blogs I nominate, in no particular order:

1. www.dyingwords.net

2. www.leelofland.com

3. www.margotkinberg.wordpress.com

4. www.fanwritesstuff.wordpress.com

5. www,nicholasrossis.me/

6. www.happysimpleliving.com

7. www.susanclaytongoldner.com

8. www.marciamearawrites.com

9. www.thelavenderfield.wordpress.com

10. www.emaginette.wordpress.com

11. www.writeitforward.wordpress.com

12. www.taylorgraceauthor.wordpress.com

13. www.kevinhotterwritersblog.wordpress.com

14. www.theoldshelter.com

15. www.writerbabble.com

Unfortunately, some blogs I wanted to nominate are award free; have been blogging for years and probably have every award under the sun; I’ve nominated them for an award in the past, or have gotten Writer’s Digest awards and this WordPress award might seem a bit ridiculous in comparison. Therefore, I’ve excluded them from the list. Others, I simply ran out of room. There are so many great blogs that I enjoy. If yours isn’t on the list it is only because I was limited to fifteen. I’ll catch you next time.

very inspiring plume


All bloggers will be notified by tomorrow the latest. Have a great day, everyone!


The Ups and Downs of Indie Life

You’ve written the best story you can. You’ve gone over it with your critique partner, run it by beta-readers, maybe even paid to have it professionally edited. You’ve personally gone through it a gazillion times to check your word choices, removed passive voice where you can, varied your sentences, made sure you started the book in the right place– the hook–and rounded it off with a kick-ass ending.

Now what?

Well, you have two choices. You could go the traditional route by learning how to craft a query letter and then contact agents or go direct to publishers. Perseverance is key. I just wrote a guest post about this on Molly Greene‘s blog, sort of a “how-to go traditional” with links to help you on your journey toward success, which you can find here. Or, like a lot of writers today, you could self-publish your book on sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Createspace, and the like.

How do you decide the right path for YOU? 

This is your career. You and you alone need to decide. Don’t let others sway you. Hold firm to your dream. But how can you choose if you don’t have all the facts?

Today, I’ve invited someone who knows both sides of this coin, has traveled both publishing roads, and is here to give you the ins and outs of each. Nicholas Rossis is a hybrid author– a term coined by author Bob Mayer which means an author who is both traditionally published and self-published. The best of both worlds, if you ask me. You may have seen Nicholas around the blog, usually leaving a sweet comment. He has a fantastic blog that I highly recommend. He often blogs about how-to promote your books, what works and what doesn’t.

Even if your dream is to go traditional you’ll be asked to do most, if not all, of the marketing. Prepare yourself by learning how to do it properly. It’s a great site that you can find here. It’s also on the sidebar in my blogroll. Incidentally, I just did an author feature on his blog. It was one of the funnest Q & A’s I’ve done thus far, and you can find it here.

Take it away, Nicholas!

self publishing vs trad publishing

Thanks, Sue!

I was watching a hilarious Mike & Molly episode the other day. Molly is a new author whose manuscript was recently accepted by a publisher, along with a nice cash advance. She is showing her publisher the first draft of her contemporary erotic novel.

As soon as he enters the room, he claps his hands in admiration. “I love it,” he says. “The story of a woman who sleeps with a lot of men while searching for her one true love is brilliant. I only want to make a tiny suggestion.” He leans towards her. “What if, every time she has sex, she travels through time. That way, she still has to sleep her way to her one true love – only, through time.”

After trying to ignore the suggestion at first, Molly finally protests, declaring her refusal to do so.

“I apologize,” the publisher says and steeples his hands. “I’m sorry if I gave you the impression you have a choice. Now get out there and write me my book!”

Sitcom hyperbole aside, this is how many Indie authors imagine the collaboration between author and publisher.

As a hybrid author, I have been lucky enough to have been on both sides of the fence. That is how I know that having a good publisher is a major boon to you and your work.

Most Indie authors will rave about the fact that they can publish whenever they feel like it, not when a higher authority gives them their stamp of approval. They will grin when thinking of how they can choose the perfect book cover or change their prices at will. They have the freedom to organize as many giveaways and promos as they desire. They can make changes to their book whenever they wish. In short, they have complete control. And they keep both rights and the majority of money made through sales. All this is important, especially if you are a published author with an established readership and platform.

There is a flip side to all this, though.


I started writing professionally in 2009. I had a few short stories published in magazines and in an anthology, then, in 2013, I self-published my first book. I was shocked to find that mine was one of some 3,000 books published each day. To set my book apart from the other 2,999 ones, I had to develop some serious marketing skills – and fast.

The other day I saw the number of books published daily has now climbed to 6,500.

You need all the help you can get to make this work, and most Indies will forget that self-publishing turns them, effectively, into a small publishing house. They have to deal not just with writing, but with editing; proofreading; cover and swag design; organizing blog tours; marketing; social media campaigns and giveaways. They have to watch out for poor deals, with marketing companies promising authors the world, only to take a large chunk out of their limited budgets. They have to adapt to a rapidly shifting environment on a daily basis.

Indies will seldom mention the long hours all this entails, or how exhausting it can get. It’s not a coincidence that most Indies have published a single book – I literally work all day to build a brand for my epic fantasy series, Pearseus, and for myself.


Having expanded into children’s books lately, I now have to make twice the effort.

Don’t get me wrong. Personally, I love it. I have some 20 years of Internet marketing experience, and have founded or co-founded eight startups in that area. I have approached writing with the same passion, dedicating my every waking hour to it. Still, I sigh with relief whenever my publisher sends me some promo material for Runaway Smile, my children’s book, knowing that I didn’t have to design it from scratch. I smile, cause I don’t have to negotiate deals with bookstores or distributors. Nor did I have to find the perfect printers for my book.

That’s why I always say that I’m not against publishers.

I’m against the poor business practices sometimes associated with bad publishers – such as retention of rights, dodgy book-keeping practices, ridiculous pricing and dreadful book covers. A good publisher, however, can be your best friend. I chat regularly with mine (Hi, George!), about everything, from politics to the future of the publishing industry.

Before signing with him, however, I had already rejected the first publisher I had approached, because of the terrible terms their contract offered. In the back of my mind, I knew I could afford to do this, as I had already self-published half a dozen books. I knew the ropes, and self-publishing had helped me to better understand the limitations and benefits of traditional publishing. It gave me the confidence to walk away from a bad deal and negotiate a good one.

So, if you’re lucky enough to find a publisher you can work with, definitely go for it. If, however, you feel you’re getting a poor deal, remember there is an alternative route. It’s not for everyone, but it has its own rewards.

book photo NR_500

Architect by training, Nicholas holds a PhD in Digital Architecture from the University of Edinburgh. He’s an avid reader, a web developer, and now, an author.

Nicholas loves to write. He lives in Athens, Greece, in the middle of a forest, with his wife, dog and two very silly cats, one of whom is always sitting on his lap, so please excuse any typos in his blog posts: typing with one hand can be hard. Mercifully, all his books are professionally edited.

You can find out more about Nicholas and his books by going to his author’s page here, or connect with him on his blog at: www.nicholasrossis.me. Because of his generous nature you can read his children’s book, Runaway Smile, free on his blog by clicking the title, cover, or go here. I loved it so much I’m buying a copy for my granddaughter. It’s that good!

I hope this helps you choose the right path for you. Whatever road you take please know I will support you and wish you huge success.

Do you have any questions/comments for Nicholas? You know what to do.

As always, if you’ve enjoyed this post please share it on your favorite social media site. Thank you!