Writing Contests

Why enter a writing contest one may ask.  Well, it’s simple, sort of.  First, there’s the hopeful feeling that just maybe the piece you entered will win and you’ll have all of those wonderful prizes.

Okay, that said, let’s look at some other reasons.

Writing contests will challenge you in a couple of ways.  Do you have a certain number of words that must be completed in a relatively short period of time?  That will help you concentrate on discipline.  You will have to stay focused; not get side tracked by social media and procrastination (something all of us are guilty of at one time or another).

The awareness you are up against other outstanding writers will or should cause you to strive to write the very best piece you can.  After all, you do want your work to be noticed, do you not?

Contests will force you to become more organized.  You will use your time a little more wisely and if one is in the habit of editing as you go…you’ll need to re-think that.  Not that editing as you go is a bad thing…but sometimes it’s counter-productive and we’ll get into that another time.

So….if you decide to accept the challenge, then go for it.  Win or not, you’ll come away with some positive enforcement and improvement and that’s a very good thing..So, you win anyway.

Happy writing; Happy reading.



Today, I had a rude awakening and it sort of hurts.

As we know, our name is our brand.  Anything negative about us will come back to haunt us, sooner or later.

What’s my point?  Well, a friend asked me to help a young writer get started on his first novel.  His name isn’t important.  What is important is what happened.

I contacted the man and introduced myself.  After finding out what he needed to begin, I gave him all the information I could to get him started.  The information was valuable as is my time, but I spent over an hour with him so he could get started writing.

Today, my friend informed me he had blocked her, so in checking, I found out he also blocked me.  This after he took all the information from me that I had given him.  I had given him the tools to organize, gave him pointers, etc.

So, this is what I’ve decided to do.  Will I help anyone asking for help?  Sure!  Will I invest that much time in the beginning?  No.  I’ll give them enough information to get started…then wait and see what they do with it and if they come back and ask for more help.

One bad experience will not define me.  However, his utter lack of respect to the publisher who signed him will define him.  Perhaps he’s finished before he even began and that’s just sad.  Sad for him and maybe for us.  Who knows?  He could have been a great author and I do wish him success, but he now has a black mark against the brand he has yet to develop.  Those are hard to get rid of.


Good morning all!

I decided to take a moment and chat about writing programs.

We all have our favorites.  Mine happens to be yWriter5.  Why?  Well, I’ll tell you.  First, once you become accustomed to it, it’s a snap.  This program has eliminated almost all of those pesky sticky notes I used to keep track of character names, interviews with the characters, locations, items used, and yes, at one time I did use a story board.  Now thanks to yWriter5 I have all of that at my fingertips.

Another great thing is that in using yWriter5 you are able to break down your work into chapters and then break down the chapters into scenes.

Why is that great?  Well, if you’re at all like me, once the work is finished and editing begins, maybe that scene in chapter six would work better in chapter three, for example.  It’s a simple matter of moving that scene where you want it.

Another great feature is this…once you have the scene where you want it, all you have to do is highlight is and copy and paste to say a Word program.

Does it add more work?  Yeah, maybe in the beginning, but it sure helps bring your work together faster in the long run and makes editing so much easier.

Now, I’ve tried just writing my books in Word and going from there and it was a disaster for me…and then add in all those pesky notes lying around…well, it was a real mess.

Now, I’m not saying this is going to work for everybody just because it works for me.  Find your own way, but for Heaven’s sake write!

One last thing.  yWriter5 is a free program and let’s face it…free is always good!

Happy Writing!



It’s been a few days since I blogged.  I don’t like blogging unless I have something helpful to say.  That being said, I’d like to put out a warning.

I have a friend…her name is Tammy and she’s a fabulous writer.  Her book, Whispering Promises is a great read.

So, what’s my point?  Hang on, I’m getting there.  See, Tammy got roped in and published her book with Publish America.  Here’s the rub.  She has sold thousands copies of the books, has great reviews and in the four years since her book came out has not received one…that’s right folks…she has not received ONE royalty check.

The powers that be claim she has not sold even one copy.  We know this to be false.

Take heed, folks.  Obviously this is not a reputable company…and I thank the fates that I did not go with them when Redemption was ready to be published.

Oh, and just so we’re clear…another author who I am proud to call friend as well published with them, too.  He wasn’t thrilled with them, either.

So, steer clear of these cretins.  We work too hard on our books to be ripped off like Tammy and Harry were.

That’s all I’ve got to say.

Happy Reading!  Happy Writing!

It’s a great life!


Three NEVERS of Social Media for Writers

This was just too damn good not to reblog!

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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These three professional blunders can hang on like the smell of dead fish and stink up our author career, so avoid them at all cost. I understand that many of you who follow this blog are new, so if you’ve made one of these mistakes, you’re learning. We all oops (especially in the beginning), so don’t sweat it. Yet, I see these three behaviors far more often than I’d like.

You’ve been warned ;).

NEVER Be Nasty in a Blog Comment

I am fully aware that my blog can’t make everyone happy. I work my tail off to entertain and enlighten but I know I can’t be all things to all people. If I’m not your cup of tea? Just click the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the e-mail WordPress sends you or e-mail me and I will happily assist you leaving (and cry later *sniffles*).

There is no need for…

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Writing a Great Mystery

I found this on Create Space and thought I would add it to my blog.

This piece is full of excellent tips.  That’s all I’m gonna say about it right now.  Read it, learn from it…and Happy Writing.

Mystery author Agatha Christie is the best-selling writer in the history of writing, having sold over 4 billion copies to date. Her play The Mousetrap opened in London in 1952 and is still running after 25,000 performances.

You too can be a part of this rich genre. Mystery is central to human thinking. What happened and why? This is the core idea to most great novels.

But let’s start small. Hone your skill with short mystery stories less than ten pages in length. Then consider tackling your own novel.

  • #1 – Start with the Ending

Initially, spend all of your time crafting the finish. Your story will be no good if it doesn’t end with a wham. Every word and paragraph leading up to the finale will be for nothing if you don’t leave the reader wowed.

Your conclusion must be surprising. Like a good roller coaster, it should make your readers lean in one direction and then whip them around. So think about the unexpected. Ask essential questions about your crime and criminal.

  • What is creative and devious about the crime?
  • Who did it?
  • What is the motive?
  • What is the method?
  • Why is it surprising that your criminal did it?
  • Who is the obvious (and false) guilty party?

Envision your final scene. Your sleuth discovers and reveals the last clues in a dramatic and entertaining fashion. Your criminal is exposed. The metaphorical curtain drops and the crowd applauds. Hearts should be pumping.

If you can’t feel this concluding moment and aren’t excited to get there, get back to work on until you have a finish line worth crossing.

Once you have your finale, build your fictional machinery to carry your readers there.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had Sherlock Holmes. Agatha Christie had Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. You need a lead character to build around. Craft one right and readers will want to read the next adventure.

Free-write on every aspect of your character. The sleuth will flavor the entire story, so know the person well.

  • Are they a professional investigator or an amateur in the right (or wrong) place and time?
  • How do they dress? How do they move? How does this reveal the person underneath? Give them a signature style.
  • What is their method of investigation? Do they interview and ask lots of questions? Are they a quiet observer with sharp intuition?
  • Are they like you? Imagining yourself as the hero of your story can be great fun, but so can channeling a very different character.
  • How do they talk? Write a conversation for them and develop a unique form. Write an inner dialogue and understand how they think.
  • Do you want to use first or third person narration?

You may want a super-intelligent, physically gifted wonder-detective, but be sure to have a character with balance. A perfect person with no flaws is tough for readers to relate to. A human with weaknesses and foibles will gain more empathy. A signature wrinkle, like being distracted by sweets or overly trustful of children, will give you a lovable and entertaining lead character.

  • #3 – The Clues

Looking again at the conclusion of your story, compose a list of clues for you sleuth and reader to discover. Consider the order of discovery. What is the final clue that ties it all together? What clues are meaningless alone, but together with the other items becomes important? Show the readers something early that they won’t take note of. Then, when another element of your mystery is revealed, that something becomes a big thing and it was right there all along.

If you have an imperfect sleuth, he or she might have overlooked something the reader did see. Then your reader watches the sleuth proceed in the wrong direction. You can also do the opposite: have the sleuth two steps ahead of the reader. Your audience is wondering what your investigator is up to before realizing the truth.

Be sure to lay out some false clues. This will help you draw your reader and sleuth in the wrong direction so you can surprise them in the end. Make them feel foolish for following a false lead. Make a trail that leads to the wrong culprit, the obvious choice, and then drop a clue showing why the person is innocent or even framed.

  • #4 – The Setting

Every element of your story should contribute to your theme. Begin with the place. City or country? A mystery in a crowded metropolis must deal with a multitude of potential witnesses and suspects. One taking place in a less populated area has fewer possibilities, but greater interaction among the people. Everyone knows everyone in a small town.

Ten people in the same mansion is a classic setting. So is a locked-room mystery, where it seems obvious no one could have done it. Think about how the place, large or small, and the people affect the conclusion of your story.

You choose the elements on which to focus. Do you write about the gargoyles to create an eerie mood? If you describe in detail the types of door-knobs in the house, be sure it is important to the story. Do the hinges squeak or the floors creak? Only note this to illustrate how difficult it is to sneak around in your house.

Is the weather essential? Flashes of lightning and booming thunder may be dramatic, but be sure not to be cliché. Nasty weather can keep your characters isolated, ensuring muddy footprints will follow anyone back inside. You could contrast the perfect weather of a tropical setting with devious, evil actions.

When you rewrite, notice if you wander onto an unimportant tangent. No one cares about the bowl of fruit on the table if it isn’t poisoned. Keep your writing tight and focused on your finish.

  • #5 – Be Yourself

Mystery is a very dense genre, with many famous authors, sleuths, side-kicks and styles. But this is your story. Don’t try to follow another’s footsteps too closely.

Write a mystery the way no one else has. Use bright, imaginative language and your unique rhythm. If you don’t have fun writing, no one will have fun reading. Be excited to move toward your conclusion. Enjoy hanging out with your characters, especially your main one. Love reading your drafts aloud and savor the taste of the language.

Create a signature style for yourself. Do you want choppy, terse sentences? Lots of snappy dialogue or more internal monologue? Do you want the sleuth to take the reader on a journey, revealing his or her thought process? Or is your detective also a mystery, always moving ahead with your reader chasing?

Know that this can become a series. Develop a method and be organized so you can make another. For the next adventure of Detective X, have a different crime and criminal, but use the same rhythm and style. Build a following of loving readers.

Thank you Create Space!  You always have great content!


Hi everyone and Happy Holidays to you all.

That said…time to get down to the nitty gritty.

The title says, “When it hits”  and you’re wondering what I’m talking about.  Well, wait no longer.

When it hits you that you are indeed a writer.  Suddenly, you’re looking at a piece you wrote or a book you labored on and it hits you, “Oh my God!!!  I’m a writer.”

Who can deny that cold feeling in the pit of your stomach as the realization sinks in?  The realization that your work is out there for folks to read can be a little daunting, to say the least and with that comes the uncertainty.  Will they like it?  Do I have more to offer?  Where do I go with this?

Well, first things first.  Breathe.  Then step back and take stock.  Take a moment to congratulate yourself.  Now, get back to work.

A writer is many things.  Articulate?  Yes.  Imaginative?  Of course.  We’re also only as good as our last work.  So, climb back into the saddle and get back to work.

Self-published or traditionally published makes no difference, and with the changing times, self-published is as good as those traditionally published.  So, again, congratulate yourself, then get back to work.  Don’t let the uncertainty gnaw at you.

Do the best work you can…give your readers something to rave about and keep on telling yourself, “Wow, I’m a writer.”

That’s an awesome thing to admit.  You’re a writer.  You’ve followed your dream.  Good for you.  Forge your own path and keep on going.

You’re a writer!  Awesome!!!