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BB&B front cover croppedSo excited to open my inbox yesterday and find an email from my editor/publisher Stephanie Blackman, owner of Riverhaven Books in Whitman, MA! As scheduled in our contract, yesterday was the due date for her to provide me with suggestions to fine-tune ‘Bed, Breakfast,  & Blackmail’.

So far, her suggestions have been small adjustments, with no major changes to plot, characters, or basic writing technique. My plan is to continue the review process through the weekend, and zip this file back to her bright and early on Monday morning.

After she finalizes the adjustments, she’ll request the galley copy which I will need to review with the proverbial fine-toothed comb before advising any final changes. Steph will then upload to Amazon and order printed copies from the local print shop on my behalf.

Looking forward to the day when I hold the actual book in my hands… nothing more satisfying for an author!

And then the marketing efforts begin!

 

 

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Wordcounter logoAs I approached the final edit of ‘Bed, Bath, & Blackmail’, I loaded my manuscript into a website called ‘Wordcounter.com’, a most useful tool.
This website came back with a list of my most-used words, along with their quantity. Imagine my surprise to see how often I used ‘when’, ‘about’, ‘back’, ‘down’, and ‘time’.
This tendency to use the same words over and over is a trap that writers groups won’t catch, because they see only a chapter or two at each meeting.
Most often, these redundant words … and the phrase that goes with them … can simply be eliminated. On occasion, another word brings more clarity to the context. My total word count for the story has been reduced by 3,000 words, resulting in a tighter story.
For the writers reading this post, I encourage you to give wordcounter.com a try. You’ll be amazed at the result!

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aus books - smallThere is nothing more satisfying than to walk into a bookstore and see both of my mysteries displayed on the shelf in the local author section.

I’m referring to An Unlikely Story in Plainville, Massachusetts. Children’s book author Jeff Kinney of Wimpy Kid story  fame, built his unique bookstore on the site of the historic Falk’s Market at the intersection of Rt.106 and Rt.1A. Some of the shelving and stairs to the second floor were built using the floor boards from the old market… truly a nod to the past.

When my debut mystery ‘The Uninvited Guest’ was published,  the Strong Women Book Group at An Unlikely Story chose it as their book of the month. I joined them at their follow-up discussion for an enjoyable question and answer session. I’ll be suggesting the second story titled ‘Where There’s Smoke, There’s Trouble’ and ask them to choose it as an upcoming monthly selection.

And it’s time to contact the venues located in the area around Largo, Florida. Last year, when I arrived in January as a first-time snow-birder, I was too late to be included in their calendars. Many suggested I touch base this fall as they’re preparing the calendar for 2019, promising they’d do their best to assign a date for my Author Talk.

About the daily writing efforts … re-sequencing is the word of every day as I continue to create story #3. ‘Bed, Breakfast, & Blackmail’ takes place during the days leading up to Christmas. After attending a 3-day forensics class at the Cape Cod Writers Conference last month, and then discussing the nitty-gritty details with my local police detective, I found I had to re-shuffle many activities one day earlier than I’d written them. Doing this is not as simple as it sounds. By moving a key piece of the investigation to the previous day, it impacts conversations between characters, where they go, and what they do. My opening chapters are now interspersed with green text to signify it’s been moved, and red text to signify re-writing is required. Chapter numbers are also changing as the quantity of pages in each ebbs and flows.

And so, I chug along each morning, knowing that one day, I will type ‘The End’ … and mean it!

 

 

 

 

 

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hands on keyboardAs I’ve been penning the third story in my four-book mystery series, it occured to me that the first two stories were told strictly from the viewpoint of my amature sleuth Gwen Andrews. I wondered if transforming certain scenes to the viewpoint of another major character might add texture and depth to the story-telling.
And so I saved my WORD file under an adjusted title and gave this idea a try. The emotional impact within both main plot and sub-plot are becoming a more interesting page-turner for my readers. After all, it’s my readers that I need to satisfy!
The process of recreating those scenes from another POV will no doubt extend the time it’ll take me to reach ‘The End’, but I’m convinced this plan of action is worth the extra effort.
Which character was chosen for this second narrator? You’ll have to be patient as I fine-tune the dialogue and internal thoughts to solidify the logic and plot progression. I won’t be passing this third story to my publisher Riverhaven Books until I’ve exhausted my editing and polishing tasks.
Stay tuned!

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imagesA few months ago, I was contacted by the host of “Be My Guest”, an interview show on the Upton local cable station and scheduled for May.

The show’s host … Jan Miller … is a delightful woman who asked pertinent questions about the creation of my two published mysteries, ‘The Uninvited Guest’ and ‘Where There’s Smoke, There’s Trouble’. Jan also asked about my writing process and work in progress, which is titled ‘Bed, Breakfast, & Blackmail’. In addition, she touched on my volunteer effort as an audio book narrator for Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown.

The half hour flew by, and we said goodbye much too soon. She invited me to come back when my third story is published.

A delightful activity, and one that every author should pursue. Here is the link if you’d like to have a listen to the interview:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A_Woman_Reading_Papers_At_Her_DeskAfter two years of sharing my writing journey with audiences in New England, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Florida, I received a return invitation from the friends group of my local senior center to speak to them again about the current status of my writing life.

My first author talk to these volunteers explained the ins and outs of creating my debut mystery The Uninvited Guest.’ Now that I’ve published my second story, ‘Where There’s Smoke, There’s Trouble’, my author talk needed to focus on the challenges of writing a series. My talking points had to be updated.

To this end, I pulled out my crib notes for the original talk, opened a new file titled ‘Author Talk, The Sequel’ and updated each step of the process from the viewpoint of the second story.

  • The fictitious seaside town of Harbor Falls remains
  • My amateur sleuth Gwen Andrews again solves the mystery
  • Creating Characters becomes ‘Who Stays, Who Goes’
  • The season switches from autumn to spring
  • The location within the town switches to the local bookstore
  • The plot has to be totally unique… no repetition from the first story
  • Research and local experts change as needed to support the new storyline
  • Decision to omit expensive outside editor
  • Cover creation based on new storyline
  • Publication remains with same independent house
  • Marketing is adjusted during approach to previous venues for follow-up talk

After I share this new Author Talk the first time, I’m sure I’ll find sub-topics that need to be tweaked, but that is simply the nature of a presentation.

My writers life in my retirement years remains a fulfilling activity.  I continue to meet new and interesting people, keep my brain active, and hopefully provide enticing stories to my readers and ever-expanding base of fans.

 

 

 

 

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audience-clipart-lecturer-3For the past two years, I’ve been presenting my Author Talk centered around how I learned to write a mystery. I was thrilled recently to receive an invitation from the Friends group for my local senior center to speak to them again this April with an update on my writing career and my work in progress.

Obviously, my original outline will not be appropriate for this return engagement, so I need to re-create my notes, adjusting the various aspects of writing as it now relates to a series.  Some of the topics will remain the same, but the content will be adjusted to move past the first story and into the next.

For instance, I will talk about choosing names for the characters, but for the second story, when some first story characters remain, and others drop off, I had to create new characters to support the new plot, being mindful of beginnings and endings, number of syllables. etc.

When speaking about the plot, this second talk will share that although the fictional town and main character will remain the same, the location within Harbor Falls will change, along with the season.

I need to be sure nothing from the first presentation is duplicated. Don’t want to bore audience members who attended my original Author Talk!

 

 

 

 

 

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