10 Authors + 4 Bands + 1 DJ = Free

Hey all
There’s this amazing event happening Saturday night at “The Frog Spot” in L.A., with well known and newcomer crime fiction authors the likes of Eric Beetner, Sarah Chen, Danny Gardner, S.W. Lauden, and more!
And to top it off, a bunch of great bands to follow!
If you’re in the area, drop on by! Readings start around 5, and music around 6:30. Good times sure to be had by all!

S.W. Lauden

KillolaThis amazing event is happening THIS SATURDAY at The Frog Spot in LA.

There will be ten fiction and non-fiction authors reading (5-6:30ish, in no particular order):

  • Eric Beetner
  • Sarah M. Chen
  • Danny Gardner
  • Heather Havrilesky
  • S.W. Lauden
  • Tony Pierce
  • David Rensin
  • Travis Richardson
  • Stephen Jay Schwartz
  • Johnny Angel Wendell

markodesantisFour bands playing (6:30-9:30):

  • Johnny Angel Wendell & The Fabulous Knuckerholes—6:30pm to 7:00pm
  • Dylan Champion—7:15pm to 7:45pm
  • Ridel High—8:00pm to 8:30pm
  • Killola—8:45pm to 9:30pm

PLUS—globetrotting rock and roll DJ Marko DeSantis!

Open to the public. No cover charge, but proceeds from beer, wine and snacks benefit Friends of the LA River!

Come on out and get rad!


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6 Tips To Hook A Reader on Page One

Thanks for this Ms. Watters. Some terrific insight here for us on how to hook our readers from page one! Much appreciated!

Carly Watters, Literary Agent

I’ve read thousands of “page ones.” Very often I don’t read page two.

Sometimes all I read is that first page and I make judgements based on what I see there. As an agent and a reader my practice is that if I’m not connecting with the material I move on–and quickly.

I wish I had time to give writers (and their books) more of a chance but I can tell a lot by one page: sense of dialogue, setting, pace, character, voice, and writing talent–yes, usually all from one page. Five at the most.

So how are you supposed to get us past one page?

6 Tips To Hook A Reader on Page One

1. Learn how to balance what readers need to know vs. what you, as the writer, want to tell us. I can sense a writer who is trying to show off very quickly. It really only takes…

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Interrogation—Patricia Abbott

Thanks to Mr. Lauden, we get another insider point of view from writer Patricia Abbott on making the difficult transition from short stories to the longer form. Definitely not as easy as you’d think!
“I am hesitant to give much advice other than to read a lot and more than just crime fiction…and stop writing short stories before you hit 150. And stay in the chair” (Abbott).

S.W. Lauden

Who: Patricia Abbott

What: The author of more than 140 published short stories, one of which won the Derringer in 2009 (“My Hero”). She is the co-editor with Steve Weddle of DISCOUNT NOIR and the author of two ebooks: HOME INVASION, a novel in stories, and MONKEY JUSTICE (stories).

In 2015, Polis Books published her first print book CONCRETE ANGEL, which garnered a starred review from LIBRARY JOURNAL and a good review from BOOKLIST. In 2016, Polis will publish SHOT IN DETROIT. Both are standalone books. Figuring out how to write series detective stories is still in her future. She is also the senior movie reviewer for CRIMESPREE MAGAZINE.

Where: Detroit

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

I just read CONCRETE ANGEL and found it to be funny, dark and devastating. How did the multi-decade tale of Evelyn “Eve” Moran and her daughter Christine come…

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Friday Noir: River Of Doubt

A touch of the Friday Noir, courtesy of Jersey photographer/ Springsteen fan. Check out his site for your Friday dosage, prose and pics, to boot!

Thanks for this, Mr. Krajnak!

JerseyStyle Photography

Sometimes it’s a wonder where we end up, no?

Things bouncing a long all nice and easy.

You’re finally getting some reach in this world.

Then all of a sudden, through luck or happenstance, you get T-boned.

Could be physical, could be mental.

Which is worse?

I don’t know.

The hardness of this world…

Just grinds our dreams away.

And we’re left with what we’re left with.

Best to keep the gat cocked and loaded.

May be your best option, sometimes.

Awash in this river of doubt.

© Mark V. Krajnak 2012 | JerseyStyle Photography | All rights Reserved

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Interrogation—David Rensin

Wow, Kudo’s to Mr. Lauden for another great interview. Now I can’t wait to read Mr. Rensin’s book on Miki Dora.
I can so relate to it all, since I grew up in So. Cal, with a brother who lived to surf, basically two, three times a day, every day, and who had the same frame of mind with regards to the crowds in the waves as Dora did.
Especially laughed hard when he said that Dora would literally toss them on their boards if they got in his way!
Oh, Rensin gives some solid tips on co-writing for new authors. too.

Another terrific interview, Mr. Lauden. Keep em’ coming!

S.W. Lauden

Who: David Rensin

What: Author and co-author of sixteen books, seven of them New York Times bestsellers. They include: ALL FOR A FEW PERFECT WAVES, the oral/narrative biography of legendary rebel surfer Miki Dora; THE MAILROOM, an oral history of what it’s like to start at the bottom in show business reaching for the top, and DEVIL AT MY HEELS and DON’T GIVE UP, DON’T GIVE IN—both with Louis Zamperini.

Where: Ventura, CA

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

Your oral history of Miki Dora’s life, ALL FOR A FEW PERFECT WAVES, is the definitive portrait of the legendary surfer. How would you explain Miki Dora to somebody who has never heard of him before? How did your opinion of him change researching and writing the book?

Miki Dora personified the rebel heart of surfing. He was king of Malibu when that break was queen in the 50s…

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Where Do Ideas Come From and What Will They Think if I Write Them?! by Anonymous-9

Anonymous 9 talks pantsers vs outliners, banned cats, and pen names to      protect, all while building up. A must read for all up and coming writers who like herself, tend to fly by the seat of their pants!

( Much thanks to Elizabeth White for the original interview posting)

It is my extreme pleasure to welcome to the blog today the woman, the myth, the legend… Anonymous-9. Where Do Ideas Come From? None of my ideas come fully formed. Inspiration is unusually sourced. For instance, way back in 2008, I was eagerly searching for e-zine publishers for my third and

Source: Where Do Ideas Come From and What Will They Think if I Write Them?! by Anonymous-9

Interrogation—Benoît Lelièvre

Mr. Lauden scores yet another incredible interview with author Mr. Lelièvre, on the art of the blog and social media.
Especially good for us newbie’s on the scene. And as usual, his questions are so great at getting to the heart of the matter.
I particularly like what he has to say about using Goodreads, that it’s “where the readers are” and to use facebook as a “platform for you to stand out, be your best self and improve the daily life of your audience.”

S.W. Lauden

Author - 2Who: Benoît Lelièvre

What: Benoît Lelièvre is a pop culture blogger and author who is also a gigantic basketball nerd. He lives with his better half Josie and his dog Scarlett. You can read him on Dead End Follies, BallBallBallBall and in Zelmer Pulp anthologies.

Where: Montreal

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

DEAD END FOLLIES turned six this week. What was the inspiration for your site? How has it evolved in six years?

Late 2008, I started working the night shift at an IT helpdesk in Montreal. It was a brutal job and a crazy schedule. In many ways, it was the beginning of my adult life. I had spent my early adulthood sheltered in academia and I thought I was being clever for doing so until I began a master’s degree and started losing faith in the process. The time where someone looked over my…

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Award winning crime fiction author Les Edgerton, on how to dump the “Rubber Ducky”….

( Much thanks to Virginai Mcgreggor for original blog post)

” A good example of a Ducky that never comes up is Thelma and Louise. It becomes clear over the course of the movie that something terrible happened to Louise (Susan Sarandon) in Texas; that’s why the two women take the long way around to the Mexican border. You begin to realize that she must have been raped in Texas, and then disbelieved in court. That she probably shot her attacker…But Louise never says anything explicit about it in the movie, and that makes her backstory all the stronger. It’s only delivered via hints.And, the first hint doesn’t even appear until more than a third of the way into the movie.” (Edgerton)



Les Edgerton is a wonderful novelist and writing teacher. His life and his writing are an inspiration. Here is one of his blog posts on the danger of including  backstory  – or, as he calls it the ‘Rubber Ducky.’ It’s a typically no-nonsense and hugely helpful  kick up the backside as regards focusing on writing what matters to readers.

(From Sydney Lumet’s and Paddy Chayevsky’s writings on the subject.)

I am going to rant about the ‘Rubber Ducky’ theory of backstory for a bit. I’m using material from Sydney Lumet and Paddy Chayevsky, which were intended for screenwriters, but apply just as much for novelists.

The ‘Rubber Ducky’ is Paddy Chayevsky’s term for when the hero or villain, at a lull in the action, explains that he is the way he is because his mother took away his rubber ducky when he was three.

It’s always a nice scene, well acted, beautifully lit, with a powerfully written monolog that the writer spent days on. And totally unnecessary in most stories and overused… It usually comes from not trusting the reader’s or viewer’s intelligence to “get it”…

It’s also the source for many of those godawful “prologues” in newer writer’s manuscripts. It’s often their protagonist’s Rubber Ducky and as such is a total waste of paper and/or electrons.

The character’s past may be crucial to your story. Batman is haunted by the murder of his parents by a mugger when he was small. That’s why he likes to dress up in latex and beat the tar out of muggers. In The Terminator, the hero’s past, which is in the future, is the hellish future of the entire human race. It sets up the stakes for the whole movie. In movies like these, we do need to know about the hero’s past. You will need to keep coming back to that past, to give it the weight it deserves. Both Batman and The Terminator, in fact, start with the hero’s backstory before getting into the main story.

But if all you’re trying to do is give your hero more emotional depth, for the sake of emotional depth, without integrating his backstory into your story, you are running the risk of awakening the dread Ducky.

The strongest way to create a sense of character is to give the character things to do and say on screen that give us a sense of a person. If the character’s personality doesn’t leap off the page, readers will feel that the character is flat. And personality is created by how he or she reacts to the obstacles encountered in the struggle. How he or she is proactive in resolving the story problem and isn’t simply reactive or passive. Development executives will ask to know more about the protagonist’s past. You will surrender to the urge to put in a Rubber Ducky. Then if the picture becomes a go, the actors will get attached to the Rubber Ducky scene, because it shows they can Act. So the Ducky stays in the picture. (To its detriment.)

In novels, the same thing happens when the characters are seen as flat. Many times, in my classes and in private coaching of novelists, I’ve advised the writer that their protagonist just wasn’t interesting. Almost always, the first reaction is to give him/her a Rubber Ducky, thinking that giving him some traumatic experience in his or her past will render him a more interesting character. Except… it doesn’t. Way back then, when the Ducky took place, sure, that may have been interesting. That was then, this is now. The Ducky is ancient history. The reader knows the character survived so it loses most of its emotional punch.

Almost always the core reason the character is flat is because the author is delivering him one of two ways.

One, he gives us a character who is predominantly in his mind. We’re mostly witnessing the protagonist’s thoughts. He’s just not doing anything but… musing. Musing doesn’t affect the emotion of a reader. Only one thing affects the readers’ emotions—the character acting on his/her behalf to resolve a problem. With… action.

The second way the protagonist is rendered uninteresting is that he engages in a lot of dialog. He “solves” story problems by… talking. It’s the same thing, basically, as a character ruminating about in his head. The only difference is the writer is delivering the same thing by having the character say those thoughts out loud. To another character. While dialog is part of action, that brand of dialog isn’t. This is a common fault of beginning screenwriters as well as novelists. Newer screenwriters, in particular, have bought into a myth that movies are mostly dialog. Plays are, but screenplays really aren’t. A successful movie works the same way as a successful novel. The audience wants to see the characters doing something. Sometimes, that “something” is dialog, but far less than many think. A movie that depends on heavy doses of dialog has a name. It’s called a “talking heads” movie. A novel that depends on heavy doses of dialog has a name as well. It’s called “unpublished.” Or, “self-published.”

A too-obvious Ducky cheapens the character.

Kurt Russell’s character Jack O’Neil in Stargate is suicidal because his young son killed himself accidentally with a pistol he left around the house. To make us care more about his otherwise unpleasant character, O’Neil delivers a small monologue to James Spader’s character Daniel Jackson. It is important to the picture that O’Neil is suicidal, but not why; and given O’Neil’s contempt for Daniel Jackson, it’s unlikely that he would open up to him about his guilt and shame. The emotional truth of the situation is that Daniel Jackson would never know why O’Neil is so willing to die. It might have been more emotionally truthful for the movie never to relay this information. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Kurt Russell wanted the audience to know that his character had a good reason for being such a bastard. Actors want you to have sympathy for them.

A good example of a Ducky that never comes up is Thelma and Louise. It becomes clear over the course of the movie that something terrible happened to Louise (Susan Sarandon) in Texas; that’s why the two women take the long way around to the Mexican border. You begin to realize that she must have been raped in Texas, and then disbelieved in court. That she probably shot her attacker which was why she ended up in jail. But Louise never says anything explicit about it in the movie, and that makes her backstory all the stronger. It’s only delivered via hints. And, the first hint doesn’t even appear until more than a third of the way into the movie.

If development execs are asking you for the Ducky, the screenplay isn’t working for them. Don’t give them the Ducky, but do focus your scenes so they show the character.

Go through your script again, scene by scene, and make sure that every time the hero acts, it shows us who he is.

Make sure you communicate how he feels about what he’s doing, and give him a fresh way of doing it, one someone else wouldn’t have… If an agent or an editor gives you the same note, use the same strategy for making the protagonist interesting—one the reader will want to follow. Not to see his brilliant and riveting thoughts… but to see how he struggles against huge odds to gain his objective. And in original ways. Then, you’ll have an interesting character.

Sidney Lumet said:

In the early days of television, when the kitchen sink school of realism held sway, we always reached a point where we explained the character. Around two-thirds of the way through, someone articulated the psychological truth that made the character the person he was. [Paddy] Chayefsky and I used to call this The Rubber Ducky School of Drama: ‘Someone once took his rubber ducky away from him, and that’s why he’s a deranged killer.’ That was the fashion then, and with many producers and studios it still is.

I always try to eliminate the rubber-ducky explanations. A character should be clear from his present actions. And his behavior as the picture goes on should reveal the psychological motivations. If the writer has to state the reasons, something’s wrong in the way the character has been written.

And finally…

The same principles apply to memoir. A memoir that is based mostly on the author’s own Rubber Ducky, is one that is probably going to end up largely a victim story. Unfortunately, those are pretty much over. That becomes a ‘me’ story and we’re not much interested in those these days.

Create your characters in the ‘present’ of your story. Give him or her a compelling problem and put obstacles in their path and give them really cool and interesting (and unexpected) ways to overcome those obstacles.

Keep out of their heads as much as possible. Not entirely—just less than you might be tempted to. Not as much going on in there as you might think…

Hope this helps!

Blue skies,


Interrogation—William E. Wallace

You ask some great question here, Mr Lauden. Especially about Mr. Wallace’s research habits. It’s interesting that he finds less need to write the story once he’s done a lot of research. I would think it would be the other way around. Either way, I can’t wait for Bottom Street to come out. Sounds terrific.
And, I like what Mr. Wallace has to say about novella’s, that:
“they give you room to expand the story and explore the characters more, but are more the kind of length that people seem to be looking for in this limited-attention-span age.”

So true today!
Thanks for this, Mr. Lauden!

S.W. Lauden

WEW with gunsWho: William E. Wallace

What: A former award-winning investigative reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, Naval intelligence analyst, private eye, house painter, cook, dishwasher, magazine writer and journalism professor. His most recent book, DEAD HEAT WITH THE REAPER, was released by All Due Respect books in August 2015. His short fiction has appeared in All Due Respect, Shotgun Honey, Out of the Gutter Online, Near to the Knuckle, Over My Dead Body, Dead Guns, Plan B, Spinetingler and Dark Corners.

Where: Oakland

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

The first of the two novellas in DEAD HEAT WITH THE REAPER is called “Legacy”. Is the character Frank Trask based on anybody specific?

Trask is an amalgam of a number of people I’ve met, but he is primarily modeled on my own father, a construction mechanic and blacksmith who drank heavily and died in 1994. In fact, the backhanding of the biker, one of…

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Check Out QuarterReads.com

Hey all you fellow novices
This might be just what you’re looking for. An even playing field, so to speak. I’m definitely looking into it!

S.W. Lauden

QuarterReadsLate last year I interviewed Ian Rose, founder of a short fiction website called QuarterReads. If you haven’t checked QuarterReads out yet, it’s a pretty cool site where writers can publish short fiction without an involved submission process. Readers can read those stories for only 25 cents a pop, as the name implies. Most of that money goes to the writer. Here’s what Rose had to say about it in our interview at the time:

How is QuarterReads different from short fiction magazines/e-zines?

QuarterReads is different because we’re trying to carve out a space between the magazines and the self-pub community. The former has great quality but a limited scope and focus, determined largely by the wonderful editors that run those markets. The latter has more in terms of quantity than you could ever want, but lacks even the most basic quality control, allowing for the complete range from dreck to…

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Steve Weddle Chimes in on Do Some Damage:

Take a look as Steve Weddle shares some super thoughtful insights:
Thanks for this, Mr. Weddle!

But you know what you can do? Tweet me your word count. Facebook your opening paragraph. Because I bet it’s wonderful. Or maybe it sucks. But you know what? You did a thing. While the soy latte, coffee-shop writers were home in bed or matching their trucker caps to their flannel shirts and thick, unnecessary eyeglasses, you were hand-cramping your way through that scene that had been eating at the back of your brain for a week. And you got the damn thing down on paper. Con-friggin-grats.

Post that word count. Share that sentence. Then get your ass back in the chair tomorrow and do it again. Because I’m sitting here with an empty space in my TBR pile and I’ve been waiting for something wondrous.

Those who find they’re touched by madness
Sit down next to me.
Those who find themselves ridiculous
Sit down next to me.

Do Some Damage is a group of crime writers, each with a different voice and something to say. From grizzled vets to grizzly rooks, they pull back the curtain on the way the industry works. Whether beating deadlines or beating characters, each week they share their thoughts on reading, writing, plot,…

Interrogation—Les Edgerton

Mr. Edgerton’s and Mr. Lauden get real as the MFA-MA debate rocks on…It’s worthy reading, folks!
Thanks for this guys!

“Since the mid-90’s our culture has more and more been subverted by the insidiousness and odiousness of the political correctness mindset. It even reaches back in history to sanitize classics such as HUCKLEBERRY FINN. More and more, we’ve become a nation afraid of words. Of words! These cockroaches who promote PCism should be treated like the vermin they are. Language and the clear and precise use of language lies at the heart of all of our freedoms. When we begin to proscribe which usages we allow and which we don’t, we’ve successfully torn away the very underpinnings of freedom of thought and expression.” ( Edgerton)

S.W. Lauden

LESEDGERTONWho: Les Edgerton

What: An ex-con who spent two years and change in prison on a plea-bargained down 2-5 sentence for burglary, armed- and strong-arm robbery, and possession with intent to sell, at Pendleton Reformatory in Indiana. Since his release, he’s earned a B.A. from I.U. and an MFA in Writing from Vermont College and had 18 books published. His career for many years as a criminal and outlaw lend an air of rare verisimilitude to his crime novels.

Where: Indiana

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

I just read your most recent novel, THE GENUINE, IMITATION, PLASTIC KIDNAPPING and loved it. Very dark and very funny. How did you come up with the character of Pete Halliday? Why New Orleans?

FINAL COVER FOR KIDNAPPING2The novel stemmed from a short story that was published in The South Carolina Review and was about a guy who embodied many of the…

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So This Is What It’s Like To Get Published (Part 1)

Mr. Lauden is kind enough to share his exciting journey to getting published with the rest of us novices who are still as he puts it, “dipping our toes in these murky waters,” just feeling out the landscape and writing our best to get in. Stay tuned for more of his sage advice as his career takes off like a rocket!

“Given the sudden increase in publishing activity around here, I thought I would start a semi-regular blog series about my beginner’s path to publishing. I am no expert, not by a long shot, and I don’t pretend to be. But as a rookie myself, I appreciate any insight I can get into this mysterious and often frustrating world. I hope you will enjoy what I have to share—whether you say “That sounds like a good idea. I think I’ll do that too,” “Why would anybody publish this idiot?!?” or something in between.”

S.W. Lauden

Florida 2

(Updated August 23, 2015)

As many of you already know, Down & Out Books will be publishing my novella, CROSSWISE, in March of next year. I am beyond thrilled to work with D&OB and their fearless leader Eric Campbell (read my interview with him HERE). This is one publisher I have had my sights on since I decided to start writing mystery/crime fiction a few years ago. I can’t wait to see my name on the incredible author roster alongside Eric Beetner, Les Edgerton, Anonymous-9, Jack Getze, Anthony Neil Smith, Gary Phillips, Terrence McCauley and many, many others.

And just last week I announced that my novel BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION—the book that started all of this for me, and the first in a planned series—has been picked up by Rare Bird Books. It should be available (GULP) in October of THIS year. Guess I’ll be seeing you at Bouchercon in Raleigh.



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Interrogation: Sarah M. Chen

S.W. Lauden strikes a chord here with writer Sarah M. Chen, on her rise from struggling writer to successful author. Fellow sisters in crime, take note:
Mz. Chen has some great words of encouragement for us:

“Writing is so solitary that if I didn’t join Sisters in Crime/LA, I’d probably have given up at the first sign of writer’s block to go be a professor at my dad’s college. I credit my entire writing success actually to Sisters in Crime. If it wasn’t for stumbling upon their booth at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in 2006, I never would have discovered the courage to keep writing. They are the most supportive group of people, and I feel so lucky to be a part of it.”

S.W. Lauden

Sarah M. Chen photoWho: Sarah M. Chen

What: Sarah M. Chen has always worked a variety of odd jobs, usually all at once, ranging from script reader to bartender. She continues this trend now as an indie bookseller, transcriber, and private investigator assistant. Sarah’s crime fiction short stories have appeared online and in several anthologies, the most recent being Elm Books’ Death and the Detective with her short story WHITE DEVIL. Her noir novella, CLEANING UP FINN, will be released in 2015 by Stark Raving Group.

Where: Los Angeles

You started publishing mystery fiction in 2007 and have published several short stories since then. What happened in 2007 that made you want to break into writing? 

I’ve always wanted to write since I was a little girl, actually, but it’s hard to pursue that dream when you have parents who don’t think writing is a legit career. So I did the college and graduate…

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MFA or not to MFA by Josh Stallings—Part 6

Here’s the latest installment on the MFA/ MA series I helped spawn over at ashedit.com.
Mr. Stallings gets real for us, in a way that only he could.
Rock on, Josh!

AshEdit—News About Books & Writers


Josh 1

To help support his family he did many things, among them selling bootleg hooch to sailers on the Long Beach Pike. For a
lark he took the L.A. sheriff department’s entrance exam. He passed it and became a life long cop. When he was promoted to Chief of Corrections the brass discovered that although he had two honorary degrees from USC, he never graduated from high-school. There was a rapid scramble to get him a GED diploma. The man was well educated, he just didn’t go to school.

A fellow writer once referred to me and Pearce Hansen as street writers. I was proud to be associated with Hansen, but didn’t see the link. It took a while to understand street writer was code for ‘he ain’t gots no higher edumacation.’ That what I knew, I learned in the street. True, sort of. I learned some things in the street…

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Craig Faustus and S.W. Lauden Speak Writing

Just how does a budding crime fiction author get from killer short story to novella, to actual full-blown novel?
Join us as we peek in on crime fiction author, Blogger and interviewer S.W. Lauden’s interrogation of author and Mystery Writers of America SoCal chapter President Craig Faustus, on his debut novel Go Down Hard, whose path was paved by way of Anthony Award nominated short story “Dead End” to longer Novella Psycho Logic, to the full blown novel-length, slam dunk feature show!
Faustus gets real on the day to day angst of our craft, handing out much needed food for thought, especially encouraging to any new authors out there on the scene out there struggling to get it right.

Lauden: Was your approach to writing the novella any different than writing the novel? How did you grow as a writer between publishing the novella and the novel?

Faustus: I think I learned most of the basics years ago. The problem is keeping them all in mind at the same time. It’s impossible. You focus on character and make a dumb plot mistake. You focus on style and forget about conflict. I think writing is like playing a sport: the more you do it, the fewer bonehead mistakes you make. You never stop making those mistakes but you do reduce their frequency as your literary muscle-memory plays an ever-expanding role. So I wouldn’t say I learned any specific lessons, but my writing improved because the added writing hours reduced my duh factor.

S.W. Lauden

CraigFaustusBuck_smallWho: Craig Faustus Buck

What: His debut noir mystery novel, GO DOWN HARD, was published by Brash Books in 2015 and was First Runner Up for Killer Nashville’s Claymore Award. His short story “Honeymoon Sweet” is currently nominated for both the Anthony and the Macavity Awards. He is chapter President of Mystery Writers of America SoCal.

Where: Los Angeles

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

I just finished reading your debut novel, GO DOWN HARD. It focuses on two of my favorite things—L.A. and rock and roll. How did you dream this story up? Why is L.A. the right place for this story?

After years toiling in TV, I was sick of outlining (a required step in selling a script), so when I turned to crime writing I just sat down and started. I had no idea where the book was going, but I…

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SAM WIEBE Sounds Off on the MA DEGREE — Part 5 MFA series

Today, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sam Wiebe, successful crime fiction author and English Professor from north of the border. Listen in as Sam sounds off on his journey from struggling MA college student to successful author and satisfied teacher:
“Career-wise, I don’t want to be owned–by a student loan, a giant mortgage, a boss, etc. If I can accomplish that as a writer, terrific. In the meantime I teach, and I enjoy that. Making kids aware of Dorothy B Hughes or Dashiell Hammett, helping them to express themselves–what’s not to like about that?”

AshEdit—News About Books & Writers

Sam Wiebe header


SAM WIEBE: I basically dropped out of school after my second year and worked a bunch of blue collar jobs, driving a forklift, stocking shelves at a liquor store, etc. I was without purpose. I enrolled at the local university-college because I remembered enjoying literature. I took a third-year Shakespeare course with a teacher named Neil Kennedy, and I was back in 100%. I went through and then into the MA program at Simon Fraser University, and finished in four semesters. I’ve been teaching ever since.

Lisa singleLISA: So tell me what your MA experience was like in Canada.

Sam Wiebe equalizeSAM:College in Canada is neither cheap nor guaranteed–it’s cheaper than the States, for sure, but still very expensive. I worked two jobs through most of my education, and I graduated with quite a bit of student debt.

On one hand I wish finances hadn’t played as much of a…

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Interrogation: Paul D. Marks

You don’t want to miss this smoking’ hot interview folks!
Crime fiction author and blogger S.W. Lauden interviews Paul D. Marks, a Shamus Award-Winning mystery-thriller author, also short listed for 2015’s best Short Story Anthony and Macavity Awards. Marks gets down to the wire here, weighing in with strong words for new writers looking to dive into the market, especially noir:
Short stories offer you a way to try out ideas or characters that can later be expanded into novels. Chandler did this with Marlowe who, though he first appeared… in The Big Sleep, sort of originated in short stories, though under different names. Short stories can be seen as the out-of-town Broadway tryouts, or Off Broadway shows, or a farm club for baseball.” (Marks)

S.W. Lauden

Paul_D_Marks_bio_pic -- CCWCWho: Paul D. Marks

What: Author of the Shamus Award-Winning mystery-thriller WHITE HEAT. His story HOWLING AT THE MOON is short listed for both 2015’s Anthony and Macavity Awards for Best Short Story. VORTEX, a noir-thriller, is Paul’s latest release.

Where: Los Angeles

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

I just read your next novel VORTEX. I loved how the action bounced around Southern California, almost as if the region was one of the main characters. Was that your intention when you set out to write it?

Thanks for having me, Steve, and I’m glad you picked up on that. To me the location of my stories or novels are characters in and of themselves. They inform the stories, they mold the characters. Often the people are who they are not only because of their background in terms of upbringing or what they’ve done or…

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Does Paul Brazill ever Get Serious??

World famous crime fiction writer Paul Brazill carves out the low-down on his hardboiled, Brit Grit style, along with some savvy advice on the author social media front.
Enjoy this all!

AshEdit—News About Books & Writers


Elaine: What amazes me is the fact that you’re everywhere. In a few short years you’ve built this amazing profile online, your stories are here there and everywhere, and you even attracted all these writers to give you stories for an anthology. How do you do it???

Paul: Sitting on you arse and messing about on the internet isn’t exactly the most demanding of tasks, Elaine!

Elaine: Very funny, now let’s get serious. Lots of writers are burning their brain cells up trying to figure this stuff out.

Paul: I use Facebook most because it links me to the widest range of people — family, old school mates, friends from the music days, musical heroes, models, people who work in film, journalists, film critics, artists, people I’ve worked with, people I’ve boozed with … There’s a greater variety of banter there.

I’ll link to my own stuff – loads, sometimes! But…

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Here’s some terrific advice for fledgeling mystery writers from a Mystery writers of America top author, Edgar winner, and educator:

Straight talk and sound writing advice from Reed Farrel Coleman, a former executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America, who’s published sixteen novels, short stories, poems, and essays, and is also a three-time recipient of the Shamus Award for Best PI Novel of the Year, as well as three-time Edgar winner! 

I’d say all that qualifies him pretty darn well. So lean in, and listen in well folks, as he offers up his sound advice for all us fledgling, and not so fledgling, mystery writers:

Hope you enjoy!

(Originally found on the Mystery Writers of America website at: http://mysterywriters.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/MWA-U-2013-Special-Issue.pdf)

Fall in love with writing, not with what you’ve written,  

By Reed Farrel Coleman

It’s been said that Mozart could simply jot down whole pieces of music without going back over his score to correct and refine it.

Well, I’ve met a lot of writers in my time — many of them supremely talented and disciplined — but none of them had Mozart’s knack. As an editor, “I have my work and I have my children. I try never to get them confused.” Words are not your darlings or your babies. They are just words.

Editing makes weak writing stronger, fair writing good, and good writing great.

That’s pretty self-explanatory, no?

Spewer vs. Write-itor

Just as writers usually break down into two categories — Pantzers (writers who work without an outline) and Outliners — there is a similar phenomenon when it comes to editing.

There are Spewers (writers who must get the entire manuscript written before looking back to edit) and Write-itors (writers who write-edit-write-edit-write and so on). Just as with the Outliner/Pantzer dichotomy, there are advantages to both the Spewer and Write-itor approaches. Spewing allows the writer to get his or work out there and done with. In other words, they don’t let roadblocks or bad days or anything else get in their way. They feel compelled to move forward with their project. This makes for great momentum and helps the writer avoid all those nasty mental games we play with ourselves.

I’m a Write-itor. I write a certain number of pages in the morning, reread and edit them in the afternoon, and do the same thing in the evening. The next day, I begin the day by rereading the edited work from the previous day. It’s like getting a running start. It helps with continuity and to establish a very strong base for the project I’m working on. It is said that Hemingway reread whatever he was working on from page one every single day. I know that Daniel Woodrell (Winter’s Bone) does this as well. It helps the writer become extremely familiar with his or her work. Not only does it help with continuity, but it helps with pacing, and rhythm as well. I do a limited version of the Hemingway/ Woodrell method. Until I get to page fifty, I reread the project from page one every day. Once I get to page fifty, I feel I have a solid base. Then I reread only the previous day’s edited writing. I have published fourteen novels and usually do one draft. Of course, the catch is that one draft has been edited hundreds of times.

Whatever method you choose, whatever process or routine, the important thing is that editing and rewriting must be an important part of it.

Editorial Aids

1) Read the work aloud to yourself. Moving your lips while you read and listening to your internal voice does not count. Aloud means aloud. You will spot all awkward, arrhythmic, and clunky language. You will spot grammatical mistakes, incorrect punctuation, and sentence fragments.

2) Read aloud to someone else. Dogs, cats, iguanas and other household pets do not count. It is preferable that this other person have some familiarity with the genre or sub genre you are working in. If you can’t find someone, record yourself reading your work and listen to the playback.

3) Find two or three trusted readers. In this case, trust does not mean someone you trust with your kids. It means someone you trust to tell you the truth or to give their opinion honestly. You mom should not be one of your readers. It will help you learn to deal with criticism and to learn how to listen to what kernels of wisdom come within these criticisms. No one likes it, but it’s part of the process.

4) Don’t be so quick to change a manuscript based upon a single criticism. Follow my Rule of Threes. If you get the same specific criticism — Your protagonist isn’t likeable. The plot doesn’t hang together. The villain is one-dimensional — from three people, you might then consider revisiting an issue. If you change your manuscript every time someone has a complaint, you’ll never get it done.

If editing and rewriting was good enough for William Shakespeare, Dante, T.S. Eliot, the Bronte sisters, Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler et al., it is good enough for you. In fact, editing, rewriting, and tweaking are often the things that salvage a manuscript from the slush pile.

In my writing classes at Hofstra University and during my class at MWA-U, I put a lot of emphasis on the importance of editing. Why? I’ve found that the biggest problem new or inexperienced writers have is that they are too wedded to what they have written. They cling too dearly to the words they have put to paper.

What I try to get across to my students is that what they have written are just words on a page or on a screen, not revealed knowledge from the gods. To this end, I’ve come up with some basic mantras they can repeat to themselves when they get tense about rewriting.

The Three Mantras

There is no such thing as wasted writing.

The only way to get better at anything is to do a lot of it. So even when your work isn’t great, it helps you to get to where you want to go. Besides, you can always save what you’ve done and cannibalize it for later use. Some hold that you have to write 1,000,000 words before you really get good. Others, like Malcolm Gladwell, believe you have to put 10,000 hours into something before you are competent.

Fall in love with writing, not with what you’ve written.

If you’re waiting to spend your millions or to have roses thrown at your feet, pick a different profession. Writing
is difficult, isolating, and tiring. If you expect the rewards to be the reinforcement, you’re in for disappointment. However, if you learn to let the process of writing be your reinforcement, you have a chance at success. In any case, never become too attached to your work. As I once said to an editor, “I have my work and I have my children. I try never to get them confused.” Words are not your darlings or your babies. They are just words.

 What To Edit For

1) Entertainment Value

Genre writing means you are in the storytelling and entertainment business. Anything that keeps the reader from turning the pages or makes the reader stop and turn back is a bad for business.

2) Clunky and Awkward Language

Not all writing has to be poetry, but it shouldn’t be so jumbled that it slows down or confuses the reader. Short declarative sentences are usually best. When in doubt, choose comprehension over art.

3) Confusing Plot Twists

It is one thing to mislead the reader, but never mistake misleading for confusing. No plot twist is so clever that it is worth making the reader put the book down.

4) Run-on Sentences and Fragments, Punctuation

Particularly important for new and/or unpublished writers. Agents and editors are overwhelmed with submissions. There are many more people empowered to say no than yes. A manuscript full of grammatical errors is more likely to get the boot.

5) Overwriting

It is one thing to try to write the great American novel. It is another to try to write the great American sentence … every sentence. Limit your imagery, metaphors, similes, descriptions, and uses of adverbs. Less is more.

6) Inconsistencies in Plot and Character

Not a good idea to have contradictions about events in the novel. If on page 2, X happens on Tuesday, March 1st, but on page 252 X happens on Wednesday, March 2nd, that’s a problem. The same is true for characters. Your protagonist cannot have blue eyes on page 20 and green eyes on page 200. He or she cannot act consistently one way for most of the book and then have them do a complete about-face near the end unless you’ve set the stage for such a shift.

7) Inconsistencies in Setting

Please, don’t set a novel in 2011 and have the plot turn on finding a payphone. Setting is more than time and place. It includes the clothing worn, the technology, the language.

8) Inconsistencies in Tone

There’s a reason there are no pie fights in Heart of Darkness. Mood, tone, atmosphere must always be taken into account along with what is unfolding within the novel.

9) Dialogue

Make sure your characters don’t all sound alike or like the author. Check for attribution and try not to use synonyms for he said or she answered. Avoid adverbs. Beware of using dialogue for info dumps.

10) Beware of Slow Pacing

Make sure to include action and movement. Too many scenes and/or chapters with characters internal musings, exposition, or pure dialogue can be death to a manuscript.

11) Research

Make sure of your facts. Is the building where you say it is? Does the gun your murderer uses shoot five or six bullets? It is important for the author to know more than the reader about his research. Avoid the temptation to dump all you’ve researched into the manuscript.

12) Emotional and Thematic Resonance.

Is the book about what you wanted it to be about when you began? Does it have the emotional impact you intended it to have?

If you take some or all of the steps I have outlined above, it cannot help but make you a better, more polished writer.

Reed Farrel Coleman is the author of 14 novels, and a former Executive Vice President of MWA. He has won Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Awards, is a three-time winner of the Shamus Award, and has twice been nominated for an Edgar® Award.

The muse needs exercise as much as the body

Having Trouble with your writing muse?
Author/blogger Lisa L Jackson shares her tips for re-generating those ideas, and getting them down on the paper. In spite of feeling stymied. Read on for some great ideas:

Live to Write - Write to Live

We all know that it’s important to exercise our bodies. But it’s also as important to exercise the muse.

Without exercise, the body can waste away, get used to inactivity to the point where it doesn’t want to do anything, or even stop working all together.

The writing muse is similar — without regular activity, the muse will get bored, turn its back on you when you call, or not respond at all.Exercise the muse (1)

As with physical exercise, you want to start slow and build up. With a sudden burst of I’m-getting-in-shape-once-and-for-all, you can head off to the gym and lift weights and get an hour of cardio in and feel fabulous, and then be so sore you can barely move the next few days.

Likewise, if writing inspiration hits and 7,000 words pour onto a page in a day, you can feel quite energized, maybe even imagine your worldwide book…

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To MFA or Not to MFA—STEVE WEDDLE Part 3

Ok All, so here’s part two of our series on the MFA vs MA degrees.
In the first part, I played devils advocate for the MFA. This time, I get to play detective, and do the interviewing instead, while successful author, and former MFA’r himself, Steve Weddle, weighs in on the matter at hand. To all you aspiring authors, who may be considering a higher degree, this should be interesting reading!


AshEdit—News About Books & Writers

rsz_steve_weddle_became_known_to_me_in_2009_via_his_story_called_missed_flight_which_i_editedSONY DSC

Lisa headline

Lisa headshot

LISA CIARFELLA: How did you decide upon an MFA degree and then how did you choose your program?

STEVE WEDDLE: I was completing my master’s degree in English literature at a graudate school in Kansas.I had been writing poetry, as we all do, for years. I’d been the editor of the literary magazine at my undergraduate school and continuted to send out poems, having a few poems published in magazines that probably no longer exist. As I finished my master’s degree, I knew I wanted to go on and had a choice whether to pursue a PhD or MFA. I picked poetry because I liked the idea of making the thing people talked about instead of talking about something other people made. Seems a silly notion now, but there it is.

My two top choices were the MFA program at University of Memphis and the one at Louisiana…

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Interrogation: Anonymous-9

Terrific Interview here with acclaimed crime fiction author, Anonymous 9. Her advice to budding crime fiction writers, and writers in general, is spot on, about finding a like-minded community of writers to conspire with!

S.W. Lauden

A-9Cactus 2Who: Anonymous-9

What: Anonymous-9’s work has won awards from The House of Crime and Mystery, Spinetingler Magazine, and has been publisher-nominated for Thriller and Derringer Awards. Her hardboiled short story TRIANGULATION appeared in the debut issue of THE BIG CLICK alongside Tom Piccirilli and Ken Bruen. She has book deals with Blasted Heath (Scotland), New Pulp Press, Down & Out Books, and Uncanny Books. Anonymous-9 is the pen name of book editor Elaine Ash, who has no affiliation with the “Anonymous” group. Elaine’s latest book project is the untold story of legendary playwright Tennessee Williams and Mia Phoebus (now 93 years old), who shared a house the summer of 1940. The work of Elaine Ash and Anonymous-9 is almost schizophrenically different.

Where: Los Angeles

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

Your novel, HARD BITE, was recommended to me by several different writers and I…

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To MFA or Not to MFA—Part 2 by Lisa Ciarfella

TO MFA or not?

Uncover the burning answers here folks!

Renowned crime fiction author, Elaine Ash, (Anonymous9)  and editor at large, comes to me for my thoughts on the matter. And, not surprisingly, as a current MFA student, my musings on the subject were plenty! Read on friends,  for an insider’s take on the topic:

AshEdit—News About Books & Writers

Lisa headshotMA crop Lisa

As a first year university Grad student, I had a choice to make. I qualified for both avenues in the English department; the MA, (Masters of Art) as well as the MFA, (Master of Fine Arts) degree. It was up to me to decide which way to go. So I had to ask myself; did I really want to spend the next two plus years buried up to my eyeballs in the library’s dungeon-like cubicles, researching and writing about what others who came before me wrote, and who some in the industry affectionately call those “dead white guys.” Or, did I want to try and flex my own, original and budding creative writing talents, and maybe even become one of their contemporaries in the process, putting my own work out there for others to read and enjoy?English crop

The answer didn’t come easily. As everyone in academia knows, the MA seems…

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Short and Sweet Advice For Writers – Have a Point (plus WIIFM)

Suddenly Jamie expands here on the point, of having a point!
To be direct, she’s right on point!

Live to Write - Write to Live

hand drawn mind mapIf you want your writing to be effective, you need to have a point: a purpose, something specific you’re trying to say, a “Why” behind the writing. This rule applies no matter what you’re crafting – novel, short story, poem, personal essay, op-ed, sales page, website, flash fiction, screenplay. Having a point is what stokes your creative fire, and it’s what gives you the ability to write something that will make people care.

I have written in the past about the magic of clarity:

Clarity brings focus and purpose to your writing. It illuminates the ultimate reason you’re driven to write a thing and it helps you make critical decisions about what to include and what to leave out. Clarity is like a pair of enchanted glasses that filters out everything extraneous so you can hone in on exactly the things you need to tell your story. When you have clarity…

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Author Steve Weddle knows what he’s talking about….

Read on, as Steve Weddlle gives us all great words of wisdom here, on what not to do as an author trying to market oneself. Not sure, but think the moral of the story is…stick to the writing. Make it good, and the rest just might take care of itself, for the most part. 

Re-blogged, straight from his site, Do Some Damage, at: 


 Thursday, May 14, 2015:  Are You Authorpanuring Yourself Enough

By Steve Weddle

So folks are the internet out there are working to help authors --
I mean, I like the idea of helping. I really do. I don’t know what an “AUTHORPRENEUR” is, but it sounds cool. Maybe it’s an author who does nails and hair styling during writer’s block.
AUTHORPRENEUR. Rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?
According to the article about being an AUTHORPRENEUR, you need an email list for a few reasons. Honestly, I don’t know how I’ve gotten by without an email list myself. I get up each morning before sunrise, brew some coffee, open the moleskine, and write. (Proof is here,)
A pen, a notebook, and a novelty mug of coffee. I have one from the Big Lebowski. I have one of banned books. I have one from a real car dealership that exists in the county I’m writing pretend stories about. I have so many mugs. I’ve gone to so much trouble with the thinking and the writing and the buying 100-year-old high school yearbooks and rare government pamphlets and all sorts of stuff. You’d think I’d have enough sense to have exported my friends and family into a database I can use.
The experts, and the AUTHORPRENEUR in particular, say I need to have an email list so that I can reach my “target audience.”
Not only will I have readers who are “anxious” for my next book, but I have a “pool” of people waiting to beta-read my next book. So, with this list, I have a group of people I can send my book to so that they’ll read it and tell me what they think of it? Don’t I already know these people? Don’t I email with them anyway? I need people who are kind of interested in what I do, but not so interested that I chat with them regularly? Isn’t that called “family”? I don’t know.
Do people use beta-readers? Do they hyphenate themselves? I guess the idea is that you would spam, er, launch an email campaign asking your prospective consumers if they’d be interested in serving as your focus group? Then what happens? A couple dozen people email you back — or complete a Survey Monkey form — telling you the strengths and flaws of your book? That does not sound like something I would enjoy.
Keep in mind that the internet has, at my latest Googling, just over 1,837,119 posts about how to market yourself as an author. Which is good news if you enjoy reading posts about how to market yourself as an author. Oh, my bad. I meant to say, “as an Author.” Or AUTHORPRENEUR.
According to one of the posts — which I am certain is sincere and meant to be helpful somehow — the key to being a successful AUTHORPRENEUR is “building relationships.” That makes sense to me. In my favorite short story, “Hills Like White Elephants,” the relationship between the man and the woman is key. What does he want? What does she want? Where’s the conflict between them? Excellent.
Oh, wait. There was more to the post.
Building a relationship with your readers, where they can respond to you and communicate with you as an author, is advertising you can’t buy.
Oh, sweet lord. I can’t unread that sentence. A relationship with readers is great advertising? What in the name of Frank friggin Norris does that even mean?
Let me tell you who these people are. Ugh. I’ve been trying to be generous here. But that sentence. I just can’t go on like this. Look, these are the people who talk to you at parties until they realize that someone on the other side of the room can better help their career. Then they flitter off to that person. These are the people who post sticky notes on their MacBookPros telling them the proper ratios of marketing tweets to personal tweets. (They say 1:10. I say they’re dopes.)
A relationship with your readers isn’t advertising. Are these the people who say the penultimate chapter in this book satisfies the reader for THIS book, but the last chapter makes them hungry for the next one? I can’t keep up with the helpful formulas on being a writer.
Yes, building involves marketing. I have business cards with my book cover on it, so that when people ask about my book, I can hand them a card. I think taking the card helps them feel as if they’ve done something, some transaction with me, so that they don’t have to ever buy the book or read it. I don’t know. I should probably do a better job networking through my LinkedIn page if I want to be a real AUTHORPRENEUR. After all, I want to build that relationship with readers, don’t I?
Are your readers your customers? I don’t know. I’m not writing for my customers. I’m writing to make this paragraph sing. I’m writing to tie these threads together. I’m writing because I’m kinda interested to see what the heck happens with these people in this cabin.
According to the people who read “the experts” in the field, “the experts” estimate that “readers need to be exposed to your product up to seven times” before they consider completing a “transaction.”

If you’re attempting to complete a transaction by exposing your audience to your product over and over, then you’re at the wrong damn blog, pal.

I’ve subscribed to many author newsletters, I don’t always read them. I read some of them, but I don’t always have time. I’m interested in seeing where my favorite authors are signing or hearing about upcoming projects. I like “keeping up with” the authors I enjoy reading, as well as the authors I personally know and like. That’s cool. But I’ve never, ever bought a book because an author emailed me a newsletter.

Think about the last book you bought, the last novel you enjoyed. Did you complete the transaction because of marketing tweets and email newsletters?

I’m no stranger to spreading myself around the internet from MySpace to Reverb Nation. And maybe I could do a better job marketing my writing via newsletters and cleverly using the hashbrown symbol on Twitter. If you’re on the internet off and on all day and you’re reading posts at Medium about seven things you need to do to be a better Author, and all seven are how to sell your book, well, I don’t know, I think you could get lost in that.
My guess is that people like to feel as if they’re in control. What have you done today as an Author? I sent out an email thing to people. I updated my website. I had an author photo taken. I gave a reading. I joined a Twitter promotion hashbrown thing to expand my reach. Yeah, that feels like doing stuff. I’ve done that stuff. Those are things you can write down in your calendar. That’s great. Those things are comforting because they feel like accomplishments. They feel active.
Writing is hard. You get 20,000 words into a novel and realize only the last 1,000 are useful. You get done with your 100,000-word story and it dawns on you that you should combine two of the characters. That’s you and your story. That’s tough. You can write all day for three weeks and then, on Day 22, notice a gaping plot hole you’ll never fix. There’s no real checklist for writing a good book. Each book is a damn snowflake, ain’t it? You can write three novels that are huge successes and sit down to write the fourth and feel as if you’ve forgotten how to be a writer.
But you know what? If I’ve read and enjoyed your book, then you’re a writer. I have a relationship with your book. I’ve put it on my shelf. I’ve gotten you to sign it. I’ve bought copies of your book for friends. You worked your tail off on the book, and it shows. Your book is great and, honestly, you’re pretty awesome. Because you know how to write a damn book, you know? Heck, I might kick back with your book this weekend and read parts of it again. Especially that chapter where he’s having the dream about the bird with the broken wing. Damn, that’s beautiful.
If you’re an AUTHORPRENEUR, then I saw the E-blast (the subject line, at least) that you sent out about the Twitter campaign you’re holding next Tuesday. Good luck with it. Hope you’re able to move some product.

Being True to Yourself – Part 1 – Authenticity

This a great piece on staying true to oneself Michelle.

Having Just finished the first year of an MFA program, this is something our professors keep reminding us to do. And when we write outside of what they might consider our own authenticity, or true voice, they make sure we know it every time. It can be difficult to hear, at times, but it’s true.

The best writing comes from inside. From the places we sometimes, don’t want to go. Not when we are trying to emulate another writers style or  tone, even if it’s one we have long admired!

Michelle Hanton OAM - Dragon Sisters

The Being True to Yourself Series, is a result of personal observations and experiences. I’ll also be featuring guest bloggers to share their perspectives and experiences.

Authentic means being true to who you are. Genuine. It means not allowing a spin doctor, campaign manager, copywriter or another well-meaning advisor to change your way of speaking or behaving. Certainly there is a need to gain poise and polish, but this does not need to mean a loss of authenticity.

g you go through grows youThat is not to say we don’t evolve and change over time. Of course, we do! It’s part of life and the experiences we go through shape us as individuals. Some of us are very fortunate to have great role models and mentors come into our lives naturally. They help us evolve. I am lucky to have had some wonderful influences, from a range of professional and cultural backgrounds in both my…

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What Do Agents and Publishers Really Want? – Free public event

Going to be a great event…and super helpful!
Go if you can Friday night!

AshEdit—News About Books & Writers


I’m going to speak in Claremont, CA July 10th at 6:30PM. Hosted by Coffee House Writers Group​, the talk is titled, What Do Agents and Publishers Really Want? Here’s the promo:


Elaine Ash leads this illuminating workshop that gives insight into how literary agents and publishers select material and talent. What is the first thing an agent does after reading a query? (The answer may surprise you.) Why is it critical that proofreading and grammar are ignored until a story is “locked?” (Reeealllly surprising answer!) What are the pros and cons of writers’ groups and how do you get the best out of them?

Elaine Ash edits, ghostwrites, and produces books for a living. She has signed book deals with four different publishers and
writes crime and horror under the pen-name “Anonymous-9.” Thirty-one thousand copies of her series debut novel HARD BITE sold…

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To MFA or not to MFA—That is the Question

Established crime fiction author and editor Elaine Ashe, recently interviewed both myself, a current MFA student, and  several other previous MFA’rs  on the value of the degree, one way or the other.

Being part of this interview was illuminating, to say the least. And as the debate rages on,  I don’t think there are any easy answers to be found. Read on, to uncover the mystery!

AshEdit—News About Books & Writers

University of Toronto (in good weather) University of Toronto (in good weather)

“To be, or not to be, that is the question,” Shakespeare posed back in early 1600 when his play, HAMLET, first appeared. Borrowing from the bard, I  applied that question to the MFA program, the Masters of Fine Arts degree, which many accomplished writers have obtained, and many more accomplished writers have not. Considering the pros and cons of the MFA came to me via Lisa Ciarfella, an MFA student I met in Long Beach, California, at the Coffee House Writers’ Group. Lisa was interested in my opinion of the

MFA degree and I honestly didn’t have one. My own higher education was a Bachelor of Applied Arts in radio and television writing, and then I went on to dabble in political science and economics while I debated competitively and wrote my first bestselling novel, on the


side. (I flunked out of…

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To structure or not? That is the question here, and Jim tackles it well. He says
” For me the experience is intuitive, as if storytelling is archetypal in nature. The story seems to want to be discovered. It unfolds on its own. Then, in order to keep it from turning into an unmanageable mess, rather than impose the structure of timeline, plot line, or synopsis, I take a more distant view. ”
What do you think? Do you work best with a self imposed structure, or does your best work come from winging it? Weigh in with your thoughts here.