Fun Flash Fiction Fridays…

Hey Mr. DJ…

(by yours truly)  

DJ Image

Image courtesy of DJ Nederland (@NLDJTwitter

 

Bill sat high up in his DJ tower over looking the frenzied dance crowd down below. He had just started spinning Madonna’s Vogue and the players on the floor were hitting some serious poses. One guy had his right arm up in a salute and the chick he’d been slapping around had her face down in his crotch, tongue going up and down fast, in perfect time to the beats, pretending to do the nasty.

Her licks looked like they were coming in right on target, about 125 per minute. The tongue never seemed to slow down.

Another couple on the floor was bee bopping in 2/4 time and was swinging his partner round in circles like a rag doll. But they were hitting their marks perfectly every time. Not bad considering he had to get her all the way around to land it. But that Janet Jackson crew over in the far corner carving out a semi perfect rendition of Rhythm Nation, now they were impressive! Banging it out on the down beat, 130 beats per minute exact.

Boy, were they ever on point! Looked like their troupe had been practicing since they were born. Not a foot out of line, not a step right when it should have been left. A precision drill team, hitting their marks, spot on every time. Bill would have to stay on his game to keep this this crowd grooving happy.

He leaned down to pick out the next set of discs. Let’s see. Kool and the Gang’s newest on the Celebrate CD was calling to him. It was 125 to 135 BPM’s all the way, right on track with what the crews were slamming out down below. But to be sure, he needed to count it.

He grabbed the massive headphones and stuck them on his ears. Madonna shouted in his left ear, while K and gang rang in his right. He counted, drumming the reps out with his fingers.

              Eight reps per set, eight sets per move, two moves per step down below. 130 beats per minute That’s what he was going for. A disco ball flashed in his face. He squinted and held out the left ear to hone in;

              95, 100, 110, 120, Nailed it! With a flick of his wrist, he spun the disk round hard and let her rip. 

              Let’s Get this party started, ya’ll.

 

 

This week’s Monday Muse, and last night’s escapade…

the-night-patrol

Google Images

So, last night’s real life crime drama played out before my eyes as I rode along LBPD’s finest set of real life police characters in Signal Hill. Many thanks to Officer Taylor who chauffered me along all night and patiently and kindly explained how things work out there in his nightly world of cops and robbers. And kudos to the bad guys we had first hand dealings with who made my night and caused me to take lots and lots of handscribbled notes in the dark as we drove around and arrested, searched, and seized the stuff HBO movies are made of. Here’s a recap of my notes and some of our best scary, or rather shady, moments:

“Just arrested a dude shoplifting at home depot, and brought him in for booking..the kicker was, his wife sat chain smoking outside waiting on us, and yelling the whole time for the car keys so she could bail…

Earlier we busted down the door in room 12 at a motel 6 where a bunch of tweekers were out on bail and had warrants for possession of firearms. 
When we went inside, there were glass pipes and the smell of smoke everywhere…they sat out on the curb, cuffed and waiting….
The tall tattooed one in the middle had a brick of Mary Jane bigger than a basketballl…
Looks like he’s going back into the system…Too bad he just got out 3 weeks ago…

Definitely gonna be a long night… more fun and games ahead, as this shift lasts another 12 hours, and we’ve barely just started…

This just in…Gotta go now and chase down a guy reported wandering around with a gun at Mcdonalds…”

Gotta say, I came home pumped at midnight, and wanted to do it all over again! In fact, I’ve already got another one in the works with LBPD so stay tuned for more on this score!

 

Hope I gave you all something to muse about on this lovely Monday Morning!  

What’s your Monday muse??  Jump on in here, the water’s warm!

 

 

Interrogation—Jack Getze

big-shoe

Google images

 

S.W. Lauden throws down another great interview on http://badcitizencorporation.com, with New Jersey based Jack Getze, former newsman and Anthony-nominated Spinetingler Fiction magazine Editor, and author of the latest Austin Carr mysteries, BIG SHOES, published by Down & Out Books.

Looks like a terrific funny and edge of  your seat kind of read. I’m particularly intrigued by as Getze describes it, “one particular Power Point presentation to a Jersey state racing commission that ended in automatic weapons fire,” and also in his enticing character, “Mama Bones.” And I love Getze’s comments in response to Lauden’s great question regarding how much of his journalism experience found its way into his fiction:

 I hated school but wanted to be a writer, so I landed a copy boy job with the intent of learning to write. I was nineteen, seriously into my Hemingway, and I’d read that’s how he started. Thus the biggest thing I believe I’ve taken from journalism is a love of brevity and clarity. I subscribe wholeheartedly to the Elmore Leonard school of craft—if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it—and I think all those words I created on The Times’ Underwood helped make me a clean and lean write. ( Getze).

 

Go here, for more of this great interview: Source: Interrogation—Jack Getze

Thirty Dog Thursday, anyone???

30 dogs mugging for the camera

Thanks to spectacular photo for this.

OK, who hid the bones?

And just where might you fit in??

Sweet, sour, sexy, or salty? These guys got it all covered!

Not sure which is me, but I’m considering the little one in the front, all the way  to the right – Black and white, with small ears and a big smile. Or maybe, the black poodle-doodle in the third row right – with the curly hair and white chest markings!

 

What’s got you barking today??

Any way you slice it…Gotta luv a good dog face! 

 

The Perfect Storm…

What’s your perfect storm like for writing?
Is it a a white-out, snow driven, stephen king-ish type day where the wind’s whistling at 20 below and the only respite is found bundled up inside the 4 walls of the house hiding underneath the drifts?
Or is it the opposite; a sunny, shore drenched cove, where the kids are bopping and the waves are rolling and margaritas flowing…

Personally, I prefer days like below  – cold, crisp, and clear…with my pup curled up by my feet, and the world shut out tight, with only the keyboard to contend with on my lap.

Would luv to hear your thoughts on the matter…
the perfect storm...

It’s 2016, and a real hum-dinger!

Well, well, well. If 2016 didn’t ring in with a bang! A real humdinger, if ever there was.

Especially since as of today, I can officially rank myself among the chosen lucky. You know, that group of published authors whose stories can be both found and bought on Amazon. Yes folks, I rang in this new year with a glass of the bubbly and a little private dance I like to call “the bear” which, I give credit to my big brother for, and which tends to follow my high points where ever and what ever they be. Granted, the groove is a little goofy. But hey. I figure, dancing in my pj’s in my basement with no one but my pup giving me the once over doesn’t exactly make for a Kodak moment. So you wont be seeing the rendition here any time soon. But rest assured, yours truly is feeling pretty pumped!

My short story, “Midnight in Alaska” is now up on Amazon, and part of a 20 tale horror print anthology put out by the terrific team at Sez Publishing at  http://www.amazon.com/Frightening-collective-work-Sez-Publishing/dp/1519590954/ref=sr_1_1?

The story was inspired by an Anchorage to Dinali cruise I took through the great white state a while back. And if you’ve never been, Alaska truly is like the wild west. Its own frontier, just bursting at the seams for story writers, especially creepy crawly Stephen King kind of stories. (Not that I’m comparing myself to the master. I’m not. Never would.) But his writing is seriously inspirational in that respect, and the Alaskan backdrop basically cries out for that kind of a creep. Santa Claus land, as it turns out, doesn’t only inspire sugarplum dreams of candy canes and mistletoe, but seriously flawed fairy tales gone way the heck and yonder off the beaten track and far down some deserted path instead. Really. Go for yourself and you’ll see what I mean!

I was also blessed to enough to have been asked to guest blog this month on Wendy Van Kamp’s site, http://nowastedink.com/category/guest-posts/. It would be great to see all of you there too, so drop on by and leave your thoughts. All in all, a pretty good January, and it’s only the first week!

If you’ve been following my blog here at all, you know that my first writing love in Noir, and crime fiction. And I’ve been busy writing that stuff too. A novel is in the definite works, and I’m in the trenches slogging it out, making good headway. And I have another short story coming out sometime this year in a pretty well-known publication in the crime writing community. But I hesitate to name it quite yet, as I don’t like to jinx things. But that’s all the more reason for you to keep checking back in on me to keep me honest at posting the dirt first hand as it happens.

My blogging goals this year are simple:

Monday’s Muse posting: Here I’ll post my weekly reads and reviews on classic noir, classic crime fiction, and classic detective novels from the masters of the past who have a thing or three to teach on us on honing our craft. Watch for this week’s post, on Dashiell Hammett’s, “The Thin Man.”

Author to Author: Watch for  weekly posts where I highlight my favorite authors and other bloggers who have put out the business, making my ears stand up in the process with great author to author interviews, and their tips and tricks on how to write better fiction.

Also,  watch for Fun Flash Fiction posts, where I put up a new story a week, as the muse inspires, and or as you submit.

Hope to see you around the campsite and I’ll be looking for your comments, so don’t be shy. And, if you have a piece you want me to put up, feel free to send it. I can’t pay. But if it’s mysterious, intriguing, or just plain weird, send it on over and I’ll consider it. The more the merrier, I always say.

 

Here’s to a rockin’ 2016 all!

Ciao for now,

Lisa

Mondays Muse

Hi all, and happy 2016!

So, to kick off today’s Mondays Muse, I just thought I’d tell you all about Dashiell Hammett’s “The Thin Man,” which I just finished reading. And what a great read it was! If you’ve never read it, or haven’t read it recently, it is a super fun must do to add to your 2016 GoodReads list.

Mr. Hammett penned a couple of terrific characters here; a polite, upscale, charming, and engaging couple who live in a fancy New York hotel with a miniature dog and who dine on duck legs and chicken livers in between martini happy hours and solving mysteries. <br>Nick Charles as the retired but easily swayed private detective gets caught back up in a murder mystery when long time friends daughter Dorothy shows up on his doorstep wondering what happened to her father. Of course, he can’t turn down her request for his help, and the story is off and running.

Hammett’s characters are quirky and fun, like Nora, Nick’s boozy but glamorous wife, as is Asta her miniature dog with spirit who pounces her paws ferociously on all who dare enter. And Mimi is a super charged femme fatale, lying and scheming her way to the money, and throwing herself to whoever she can to get what she wants. <br>Hammett hides the thin man incredibly well, right up to the end, keeping us guessing as to his whereabouts. A masterful arrangement of buring the lead, if ever there was! Kept me reading on into the night. Too bad Hammet only wrote the one book with these guys. I would have loved to see more of them!

Check out my Goodreads list for more great reviews, which will be posted here as well as I go through them. My 2016 goal? To get through all the classic noir and crime fiction works I can from the masters past, who definitely have a thing or three to teach us about the craft. Hope you all enjoy reading them as much as I do!
<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/44321941-lisa-ciarfella”>View all my reviews</a>

 

Workshop Woes by Lisa Ciarfella

So this week I guest blogged on Wendy Van Kamp’s site, “No Wasted Ink,” on a topic ripe for debate, the MFA workshops. My piece reveals the inner workings of workshops, the pros and the cons, and what, if anything can be gained from such experiences.
Would luve to hear your thoughts on the matter!

No Wasted Ink

Boulder_Book_Store_YA_workshop

Eighteen months ago when I first started this roller coaster of an MFA ride, me and my small group of scrivener cohorts all had essentially, the same innocent, naïve dreams dancing through our madly scribbled prose. We were all going to land the same fortune cookie tale. You know the one. When cracked open, it tells tales of highly praised, sought after scribes writing prolific prose in the genre of choice, with agents camped out on lawns and multi-gazillion dollar world-wide book sales jamming up our inboxes. And of course, ditching the day job as soon as possible in exchange for hunkering down in some great old Italian Villa to write full time to our ever growing, overwhelming international demand. Yeah, as far as tall tales go, it’s a nice one.

But then the sun crashes in hard through that dream, abruptly waking you to the realization that last night’s…

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Friday Fun – Your Writer’s Wisdom Council

So a post on “Live to Write, Write to Live” by Deborah Lee Luskin caught my eye this morning about forming your own “Writing Wisdom Council.” In it she asks an interesting question. If you could form your own “Writing Wisdom Council” with any combination of favorite authors (dead or alive), favorite characters, and or both, what would yours look like, and why? And I thought, why not start the debate here. Since we all have our own faves, it ought to be an interesting list. So, I’ll kick it off for us.

My writing council would be of course populated by the great Raymond Chandler; his iconic predecessor Dashiell Hammett; fifties master of the noir, Jim Thompson, and his current doppelgänger, Hollywood’s one and only, Paul D. Marks.

Just who might be on your list, and why? I can’t wait to hear your responses.

(Original post here – Friday Fun – Your Writer’s Wisdom Council)

 

 

 

Live to Write - Write to Live

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: Welcome to the New Year! Another 365 days of your journey as a writer. Huzzah! Let’s imagine that to help you with all your New Year’s intentions, goals, and plans, that you can assemble a  “Writer’s Wisdom Council” to advise and guide you. And let’s imagine that you can populate this council with a) characters from your favorite books, b) authors (living or dead), or c) a combination of both characters and authors. Who would you choose to sit on your council and why?

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson: What a great set of questions for the new year! At first glance I can’t think of any helpful characters that could help guide me other…

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POV by Rick Stepp-Bolling

Just how do you make the best POV choice when crafting your masterpiece? Author and retired writing professor Rick Stepp-Boiling breaks it down for us (courtesy of Wendy Van Kamp, and No Wasted Ink).

No Wasted Ink

Tell Tale Heart

POV: How I Stopped Worrying About Myself and Started Using an Effective Persona

How often do beginning and even experienced writers get red-penciled for a POV change in the middle of something they are writing? Okay, I can raise my hand along with the rest of you. POV or point of view lapses are not uncommon. Usually, those mistakes are minor, say changing from one character’s perspective to another on the same page when you are writing in third person limited (I’ll explain that later). The more grievous error would be switching from first person to third person, or utilizing second person when you meant to use third person objective. So does any of this make sense? Let’s take a deep breath and review some of the basics of creating an effective persona for your story.

Persona, as I am defining it here, is your storyteller. In other words, who…

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Interrogation—Ryan Sayles

Thanks again to S.W. lauden whose interview with Ryan Sayles on his new book,”The Subtle Art of Brutality” gets some interesting feedback on the art of literary three’s:

“I try to work in pairs of threes in a book. Three events, all connected somehow, each more dire than the last. The three fires in SAOB, the three lovers. I heard somewhere that the human mind likes three. It also likes odd numbers. I learned that in photography composition. So using three of whatever in a story seems like a fitting application,” Sayles.

S.W. Lauden

Who: Ryan Sayles

What: Author of SUBTLE ART OF BRUTALITY, WARPATHTHAT ESCALATED QUICKY! and the forthcoming GOLDFINCHES and I’M NOT HAPPY ‘TIL YOU’RE NOT HAPPY. He’s had over two dozen short stories in print and is a founding member of Zelmer Pulp.

Where: Missouri

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

I just read your intense and engrossing novel, THE SUBTLE ART OF BRUTALITY. How did you develop the “h​alf predator and half savior” c​haracter of ​Richard Dean Buckner? How about the story?

First off, thank you for the compliments. They really do mean a lot. The idea of Buckner popped up in 2006 while I was stationed in the San Francisco Bay Area. I wanted to write a hardboiled character who was so hardboiled he was scraping the line between awesome and cartoonish. I wanted to crank everything up to…

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Mia Phoebus Remembers Tennessee Williams

A day with Mia Phoebus at Gatsbys books in Long Beach. The author/poet wow’d the crowd with her energetic, lively, readings and persona.
Mia’s life and times with Tennessee Williams make for extrodinary story telling, but don’t take my word for it. Grab her book, and read all about it!

AshEdit—News About Books & Writers

M-G Mia reading 2 Mia reads from her first book of poetry, REMINDERS OF AN I NOT LEFT BEHIND.

NINETY-FOUR YEARS YOUNG and she had the audience at GATSBY BOOKS hanging on every word. Mia Elkovsky Phoebus showed us the character, intellect, and energy that so fascinated Tennessee Williams way back in 1940. The event was the release of Mia’s latest book, WALKING THE DUNES WITH TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, a poetic memoir of the Provincetown glory days so often mentioned in Tennessee’s biographies.

When I say the audience hung on every work, I’m not exaggerating. Mia’s rich, resonent voice filled the shop easily and she poured operatic emotion into her reading. Sean Moore, the owner of Gatsby’s and a poet himself, called the work “remarkable,” and instantly invited Mia to come back early in 2016.

M-G arrival w Sean Mia and Sean with her books.

Sean mentioned that a sample copy left at the store a week ago for him…

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Interrogation—Paul D. Brazill

So folks,
Here’s an awesome double dose of author to author wisdom from crime writers extraordinaire S.W. Lauden and Paul D. Brazill. Interviews just don’t get much better than this!
Lauden’s questions are brilliant as always, and Brazill’s quirky, dark comic form seeps right through, and straight into his words for fellow aspiring crime writers:

Lauden: “Any advice you would give to up-and-coming crime writers?What’s one pitfall you would tell them to avoid?”
Brazill: “Never give or listen to advice..”

Never Indeed! Read on, for more…

S.W. Lauden

profile pic Dec 2014 (2)Who: Paul D. Brazill

What: Author of KILL ME QUICK!, GUNS OF BRIXTON, COLD LONDON BLUES and THE LAST LAUGH, AND OTHER SHOTS OF NOIR.He was born in England and lives in Poland. He is an International Thriller Writers Inc. member whose writing has been translated into Polish, Italian, German and Slovene. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including three editions of THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST BRITISH CRIME. He has edited a few anthologies, including the best-selling TRUE BRIT GRIT–with Luca Veste.

Where: Poland

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

I just read your new novella KILL ME QUICK! It’s gritty, fast-paced and hilarious. Where did the inspiration for this story come from?

I was in correspondence with the great Cathi Unsworth after reading her novel WEIRDO and Graham Greene’s BRIGHTEN ROCK back to back. We noticed that there weren’t too many other examples of…

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Blogging and Me: Three Years Later and Seven Lessons In

Michelle at The Green Study shares some Blogging 101 tips. Informative, interesting, and inciteful words here, author to author!
Enjoy!

The Green Study

The Writing WallThree years ago yesterday I typed my first post called Climbing the Wall. It was a little 488 word ditty about starting something new. My public writing had always been confined to my high school paper or departmental newsletters. I once had a poem published in a town paper and that still remains the height of my writing career. I was 10.

canstockphoto7296234This is all to say that the first post felt like a very big deal. I didn’t really understand blogging or the fact that there were a million people like me doing the exact same thing, shooting off their words into an echo chamber. With trepidation and anxiety, I hit the Publish button. And then nothing happened.

Three years and 259 blog posts later, here is what I’ve learned about blogging and about myself as a blogger:

Blogging, Inc. is not my thing. I’ve gone several…

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HOW TO “WRITER”

A terrifically funny and poignant Thanksgiving post, from author Brandon Scott, at http://coolerbs.com, by way of author, Paul White, on the trials and tribulations of being a writer. It will make you laugh, while also sneaking in some sound, author to author advice.

Thanks much for this, Brandon:

“Can I make a living as a writer?
That really depends on what type of writing you want to do. Fiction writing is really risky and hard. You could crash and burn at any moment, and that’s assuming you manage to get off the ground at all. Ghostwriting or technical writing, on the other hand, is fairly consistent work, and pays decent. Editing, which is sort of like writing in its own way, also pays well. Writing for a website is actually feasible, but the website has to be really successful. It’s entirely possible, but it’s an upward battle.” (White)

Ramblings from a Writer's Mind

ill-1

Originally posted on http://coolerbs.com/  (Now updated & re-posted here!)

 JANUARY 17, 2015

For everyone who wants to be a writer, I present the honest answers to all of your questions:

What are writers?

People who write words, preferably ones that chain together to mean something.

Can I become a writer?

Yes.

Who can be a writer?

Anyone.

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Guest Blog: Because January is Cold and Hammett Died Broke by Aaron Philip Clark

A blast past, but a terrific guest blog here from Paul Brazill’s site, courtesy of  Aaron P Clark.

Clark relates how Hammett has been a main force of genre influence for crime writers everywhere, in spite of the fact that he was over looked in his day, and still is in certain literary circles.

” As the anniversary of Hammett’s death nears, I think crime writers of today can still learn a lot from how he lived and wrote…always fresh and never formulaic. He helped solidify a kind of crime writer’s paradigm. He wrote fast, drank hard; he was a master of sharp dialogue, double entendre and quick wit…a renegade style of writing, the kind that if he were alive today would keep him off of Oprah’s big yellow couch…” Clark

Paul D. Brazill

 
“I’ve been as bad an influence on American literature as anyone I can think of.”
Dashiell Hammett
 
I seem to get most of my best writing done during the cold weather months. You may assume this is because it’s too unpleasant to spend time outside and most of my time is spent indoors, but this would not be the case. There is simply something about the winter that brings out the worst in people, and for a crime fiction author that’s a good thing. I’m an avid reader of newspapers. I mostly read the crime sections and it always seems like during the winter the crimes get more desperate, more ballsy, more bizarre; more, dare I say, inspirational. Perhaps it’s because of the holidays? I once read that the crime rate goes up significantly during the months of December and January, and so does the suicide rate…

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Interrogation—Mike McCrary

Thanks Mr. Lauden for yet, another great interview!
The question about different approaches to short stories vs the longer form is a great one, and Mr. McCrarry’s answer is worth reading.
If you’re trying to make the move too, you know that it can be tough.
And it’s nice to know that Mr. McCrarry winds up not using a lot of the pre-work, and as puts it, “wings it in the end.”
Boy, can I relate!
Would luv to hear more thoughts on the topic!

S.W. Lauden

Who: Mike McCrary

What: He has been a waiter, a securities trader, dishwasher, investment manager and an unpaid Hollywood intern. He’s quit corporate America, come back, been fired, been promoted, been fired again. Currently he is a screenwriter and author who writes stories about questionable people who make questionable decisions.

Where: Austin, TX

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

Your 2013 novel, REMO WENT ROGUE, is one hell of a read—fast-paced, vicious and dark. How did the character of Remo come together?

Thank you, sir. Glad you dug it. Yeah, Remo kinda came out of a fascination of defense attorneys and the weirdness of their jobs. All the information that must be swirling around their heads at any given time, knowing all the horrible shit that your clients have done and it’s your job to set them free or at least get the best deal…

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Editing Tip #110 – Knowing What Format You’re Writing in is Half the Battle

M.J. Mores breaks down category genres and expected word count for us in the traditional sense. Some guidelines to adhere to especially when submitting, and looking for an agent!

Many new writers know of the two main categories of writing: Novels and Short Stories. Occasionally emerging writers are also familiar with the term Novella but this is where things start to get ‘sticky’. Certain genres do well as novellas and certain others not so much. And then, if you can believe it, there are over a dozen forms of Flash Fiction (smaller than a Short Story) and something called the Novelette…

What?

Let’s break this down.

Flash Fiction: 6 – 1000 words (6 word stories, micro-fiction, postcard fiction, short short stories, sudden fiction, etc.)

by bonnybbx CC0 Via Pixabay by bonnybbx CC0 Via Pixabay

Short Story: 1000 – 7,500 words

Novelette: 7,500 – 17,500

Novella: 17,500 – 40,000

Novel: 40,000+

Genre Specific Word Counts.

Picture books: 350 – 600 words

Early Readers: individual publishers set targets according to reading level, but under 3,500

Chapter books: 6,000 – 10,000

Middle Grade (or…

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#MockPit 2

To all you potential submitters:
A mock twitter-pitch contest, held by Kyra Nelson, just in time practice for the real thing. Get your ducks in order, and go for it!

Captain (Query) Hook

Hey guys! After the success of the first round of #MockPit, I’ve decided to host it again. This round will take place on Wednesday, November 18th and will run officially from noon to 7 pm EST. See below for more details.

What is #MockPit?

MockPit is a practice round for Twitter pitch contests like PitMad. I will be going through pitches and offering suggestions for improvements. If I favorite your pitch, I think it’s great just the way it is! I’ll also be giving away a handful of critiques, so there’s some extra incentive to participate.

How to enter:

  1. Follow me at @kyramnelson.
  2. Tweet your pitch using #MockPit. You do not need to @ me.
  3. Get feedback from me.
  4. Pay it forward! Favorite or comment on other people’s pitches. This can be a great way to support others and make new friends!

What are the rules?

  1. Only one…

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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!

ROL

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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 Blog

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)

WRITING MASTERCLASS BY LES EDGERTON: (THE DANGER OF BACKSTORY (OR THE RUBBER DUCKY)

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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,

Les

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,…
DOSOMEDAMAGE.COM

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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Read…

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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

rsz_my_grandfather_was_forced_by_poverty_and_his_father’s_death_to_drop_out_in_the_sixth_grade

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

Question:
Just how does a budding crime fiction author get from killer short story to novella, to actual full-blown novel?
Answer:
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 coverLINK TO READ SAMPLE

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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Itchy finger.

Strong read along here folks, from the renowned Paul White. Goes down quick and dirty. Just the way I like em’!!!  Itchy finger.  by Paul white.  

Re-bloggeg from: his site at: .https://alittlemorefiction.wordpress.com

“It was a strange sensation to be pointing my gun at the old man. I should have simply pulled the trigger as I normally do, but something made me hesitate and now I was looking at him, looking at him as a person.
That was a mistake…”

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 ASH

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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