What’s In The Trunk?! A group story with Prose & Cons

The Prose & Cons blog address says it best: a unique and portable magic. Books. They can make us stay up late at night, miss our train stop, forget our problems, or teach us something, as in Mia Thompson’s post Six Things to do when Attacked or Abducted. That magical little book can transport us to breathtaking Rio de Janeiro, as in Conrad Turek’s post Ascending, or propel us to the future, to a world we do not know, or throw us back to an era long ago.  Books make us laugh, cry, or shiver with fear. We fall in love with characters we read about either by relating to them in some way, or by wishing we could be more like them.

Image from Dishin’ the Dirt with My Friends

Where will your next book take you? Image from Dishin’ the Dirt with My Friends

Eliza Cross posted 20 Great Books That Sparked an Early Love of Reading and reminded us why we fell in love with books as children. Holly West gave us all a gift with her post Good Summer Reads. When someone recommends a book, they are passing along its magic. The book touched them in some way and they want to share that experience with us. I’m sure our resident clinical psychiatrist, Dr. Suzana Flores, could analyse why, as she did in the comment section of her post Childless by Choice.  But I won’t attempt to guess.

As a writer, I love when my stories take a hard right turn to somewhere I never expected. Or when my characters behave in a way that shocks, frightens, or makes me laugh out loud.



Continue reading

Cookie Monster robbed a store this morning!

This morning I was half-listening to the morning news while doing my usual routine, reading blogs and emails.  When I looked up at the TV I said, “Cookie Monster robbed a store?  That’s an interesting way to disguise yourself.”

Cookie monster in an interrogation room.

Cookie Monster in an interrogation room.

My husband, Bob, looked at me like I had three heads.  The perpetrator was wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt.  In my defense, the photo captured on the surveillance camera wasn’t clear.  The lines were blurry.  Fuzzy, like fur.  At first sight, the stick-up man looked just like the cookie monster.  Well, to me he did.

What was actually on the TV.

What was actually on the screen.

My reaction, and quick recovery so my husband wouldn’t think I had totally lost my mind, was:  “Oh, sorry. I was looking at him through my writer’s eye.”  That seemed to satisfy Bob.  Phew, close call.  I could have faced a seventy-two hour psych hold in a padded cell for “exhaustion,” the celebrity excuse.

I’m only kidding, but it got me thinking about how Bob hadn’t seen the same thing I had.  I swear I saw a googly white eye, too!

Writers look at the world differently than anyone else.  Some are born that way and for some it’s a learned behavior.  The end result is the same.  When we, as writers, look at a person– whether we just met them or they’re someone we know well– we notice the way they speak, their mannerisms, their stance.  I’m an eye and teeth person.  That’s the first thing I zoom in on upon introduction.   When speaking with someone, I automatically see tiny details in their eyes…  golden flecks swimming in pools of sea-green lagoon water, or inky black bands around crystal-gray iris’ like an enraged wolf, or diamond-sharp specks of turquoise in a galaxy of electric blue.  You get the picture.

When you vocalize your discoveries to non-writers they tend to exchange a muddled glance.  Until, you try to recover with, “I’m a writer.”  Then you get, “Oh, okay!”  Like suddenly everything became clear.  “You’re creative!”  *flash air quotes*  I take it as a compliment, even though I’m guessing most times it’s not.  Needless to say, I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut.  But sometimes it just slips out.  Thankfully this mainly happens at home.  And Bob’s used to it by now.  He just gives me a slight smile, like a proud papa.

That reminds me.  A while back, I can’t remember exactly when it started, Bob invented this cool little game to keep my literary juices flowing.  If you haven’t already guessed, he’s my loudest cheerleader.  While watching a movie, a TV show, strolling through the garden, taking a walk, or even while driving, he picks something and says,  “How would you describe it?”

Sometimes I don’t feel like playing.  I’ve either just opened my eyes, or I’ve already been writing for six or eight hours and I’m spent, my brain shut down for the night.  Usually the latter.  Still, I try to humor him by describing the image or scene in great detail.  What I’ve found is, it has really helped me with my writing.  Who knew?  By Bob wanting to hear how I would go about rewriting someone’s scene or describing an inanimate object, unknowingly he has forced me to look at the world like I’m writing passages in a book.  I have to say, most times what I recite is terrible, for reasons mentioned in the above–  his timing sucks!  Now, however, I find myself playing this game alone in the car, because it’s great practice to keep sharp.

Just recently, I’m ready for him.  After so many years together– we just celebrated seventeen years over July 4th weekend– I know what he’s going to say before he does.  Therefore, I mentally rehearse my answer.  I haven’t let I him in on my little secret yet, and probably never will.  Think

He believes the response is just off the top of my head.  Shh, don’t tell him.  The new responses are better than what they were:  “Uh-huh, okay, I can see that.”  Pause.  “I suppose,” muttered under his breath.

What do you do to stay sharp?  Have you ever had “the writer” slip out in public?

Descriptions in fiction writing

Many writers struggle with descriptions.  How much detail do you give?  How important is it that I describe this object/place?  How do you go about describing an everyday object so you don’t bore your reader?  I’m not talking about people today just objects.  Although with people you certainly don’t want to use a laundry list such as:  He was six feet tall with brown hair and brown eyes.  No one will remember that.  But that’s a post for a different day.


In every story, regardless of genre, setting the scene is important so your reader knows where the story is taking place.  It’s also a great way to show a passage of time.  For instance, the sun drained from the sky.  By that sentence we know that it is past twilight.  You can go further to show that it is deeper in the night by describing a velvety black sky pierced with tiny pinpricks of light, etc…

But how do you go about describing mundane objects so we don’t bore the reader?  I read recently that some readers skip over the parts in books where the author sets the scene or describes an object or room.  Though I understand it in some cases, I believe the reader is missing out on valuable information.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Create Tension and Suspense. Keep the reader flipping pages!

I just completed the first draft of my latest novel, the sequel to Timber Point.  The working title was Dancing In The Shadows.  However, after completing the novel I thought of a title that fits better:  Silent Betrayal.

I often post about what stage I’m at in the process.  Therefore, today’s post is about creating tension and suspense in your thriller.  (Or in my case, make sure it’s done correctly during editing.)  Keep readers on the edge of their seat, flipping the pages.

I came across an article about this topic.  If you haven’t read The Kill Zone blog, I highly recommend it.  These tips were posted in that blog, but I added my own flair to them.  The expository is mine to help you better understand.

Free Birds 1-thumb-630xauto-43309

1.  Condense your setup and backstory.

Nothing is worse than reading ten pages about nothing.  All fluff.  Or hearing about the protagonist’s entire life story.  The author should know the story, but your reader doesn’t need every small detail.  However, IF parts of the backstory is relevant to the story line– keep it.  Just make it as short as possible.  Give the crucial elements your reader NEEDS to know without the fluff.  Add emotions, yes, but don’t let it lag along for pages and pages.

Continue reading

Please don’t base your success or failure by what you read on the internet

I don’t normally bash other people’s posts.  If you own a blog you have the right to say anything you want.  Right?  Well, in this case no.  And I’ll tell you why.

I was reading a post (I won’t reveal what blog or the author because that wouldn’t be right) where a young writer stated…  She read an article about authors who have “made it” and they said they wrote 1000 words per hour.  Well, I don’t know where she found this article or what it actually said, BUT she ran with it.  Advising all new writers to set their word count goals to 1000 words PER HOUR!  That’s right, 1000 words per hour.  No excuses.  Her words, not mine.

As I read this post I couldn’t believe the so-called advice she was giving to new writers.  It got my hackles up big time!



Continue reading