When is a writer an author?

When does a writer make the leap to author?

This is a question I’ve pondered for years.  I know what “they” say.  By “they” I assume it means industry standards.  They say a writer becomes an author once they become published.  OK, let’s use that standard.  Does that mean traditionally published or self-published?


First let me say I am not bashing self-publishing.  I’ve thought about it many times myself.  Please do not take this as an attack because it’s NOT.

So, you stay a “writer” until you get a book deal from a publisher.  OK.  Well, what if it’s a brand new publisher that no one has ever heard of?  Does that count?  Obviously if you’re lucky enough to get a deal from one of the “Big 5″ you have definitely morphed from writer to author.  But why?  Because you were in the right place at the right time? Continue reading

Real Life Serial Killers– What makes them tick?

The serial killer has become wildly popular in crime fiction.  Maybe they are so fascinating to us, as readers, because they are complicated creatures.  They are deliciously bad.  We, as writers, are told never to make our antagonist (bad guy) all bad, or our protagonist all good.

Dr. Hannibal Lector is a perfect example of this.  Especially the one depicted in the television series, Hannibal.


Dr. Hannibal Lector– played by Mads Mikkelsen– is a brilliant forensic psychologist and culinarian (although some of the ingredients in his dishes are questionable).  In one scene we see his soft side with Dr. Alana Bloom, and in the next, he is slaughtering people and arranging them in dramatic convoluted poses.  Far beyond what is necessary to end their life.  He’s an artist when it comes to designing a shocking display for the FBI.  Yet, part of me loves him!  Why?  Because nothing is black and white with him.  He’s justified in his actions, which makes him a perfect character.  However, in the real world the serial killer is a frightening creature.  And one I never want to come in contact with in a dark alley.

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Top 5 Tips for Researching Your Fiction Novel

I write a lot of my posts according to what I am working on at the time.  Right now I am researching a subject for my sequel’s underlying plot.  I can’t reveal that subject, but it’s AWESOME!  :)

Research is extremely time-consuming but well worth the effort.  After all, you never want to get your facts wrong, even with fiction.


Here are my top 5 tips for researching your novel…

1.  You will inevitably gather loads of interesting facts about the subject you are researching.  Do not use everything you’ve learned.  No reader wants an information dump that shows how much you’ve learned, or how smart you are by using the new jargon.  Include only the most interesting or necessary facts, those elements that will drive your story forward.  And do not allow the research to lead YOU.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the knowledge we’ve gained it’s easy to veer off course.  You are the author!  YOU control where the story goes, not the research.  The story must come first.  Be true to it.

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Book Two In A Series, Sequel Writing

If you’ve followed my blog for a while you know that now I’m working on Mad Rush, the sequel to Timber Point.  Before I finished writing Timber Point I knew I wanted to make it into a series.  For two reasons:  I had so many ideas of how Shawny Daniels could get herself in trouble.  And the second book kept pestering me.  It wouldn’t allow me to write anything else.

When this happens it’s a good sign that you should write a sequel.  Do not write a sequel because you don’t have any other story ideas, or it’ll show in your writing.

So I got to work…

Courtesy of That Cute Site

Courtesy of That Cute Site

Sequels and series are a crap shoot.  Some readers love them, some hate them.  But if you feel you need to write that sequel– go for it.  Just know, it’s hard, it’s time-consuming, and at times makes you want to rip your hair out.  Plus, come publishing time, an editor might tell you you’ve gone the wrong way with the story and you’ll have to either re-write it or trash it.

If that happens was the time wasted?  No.  I don’t believe that.  Whenever we are writing and creating we are strengthening our craft.  How can that be wrong?

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Character Building– Why is JUSTIFIED justified in fiction writing

Why is Justified, the TV show, justified in fiction writing?

Your characters are what your story is all about, right?  Without a character there can be no story.  So why do some writers spend lots and lots of time developing their characters, while others do not?  The simple answer is– they should.

Whether it be books, TV, or movies, the characters that leave an impression on us are the ones who make us think, feel, laugh, cry, etc…  The key to good character building is to give your reader a visceral response.

How do we do that?

By giving your characters certain traits.

Your main character– protagonist– must have a flaw.  And he/she must overcome this flaw in the epiphany in order for the reader to experience catharsis.

Humans are fallible.  We have strengths and weaknesses– and so should your characters.  The best way to create a character, in my opinion, is to first think about their flaw.  Are they pig-headed?  Insecure?  Believe they can do no wrong?  Or is it more subtle than that?

Sometimes it helps to use something that contradicts your character’s lifestyle…

  •  A homeless man with a genius IQ.
  •  A rocket scientist who has no common sense.
  •  A popular high school girl who secretly wishes she was a boy.

GooseDresses  Or a group of Geese that like to dress in centuries-old attire, depending on your genre.

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