Monday, June 28, 2010

Scare the Light Away and book titles

Off to critique group tonight. I will absorb their comments about Edward County and hope to have the book finished and ready for my agent by the end of the week. Wish me luck. My daughter was here on the weekend and I was telling her about the book. She hates the title Edward County, thinks it says nothing. I have my thinking cap back on. Speaking of titles, my first novel from Poisoned Pen Press was Scare the Light Away. I have come to realize that is a poor title. Several people at booksignings said that they wouldn't read it - they don't like horror. Oops. It's meant in the psycological sense as in not wanting to know the truth about your past. I blogged today at Type M for Murder about a look back at Scare the Light Away, which is a standalone suspense.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Value of a Critique Group

I am almost finished Edward County. It’s been a year, and that’s a long, long time for me to spend on a book (of course I did take a break to write an entire Molly Smith book). Right now the MS is with several of my writer friends for critiquing and is due back in a couple of days.

I am a firm believer that no writer can judge their own work. The author is just too close to it. Certainly no one can edit their own writing – you see what you think is there, not what is there – but when writing fiction the author can be too close to the work to see what’s missing or what isn’t explained. When my crit group began reading Edward County they said they didn’t know if the first-person narrator was male or female. That’s pretty important. I didn’t bother to mention it because to me it was perfectly obvious.

The most important thing about a critique group is that it has to be a GOOD group. A bad critique is worse than none at all. You need to work with writers you respect and whose own writing you like. Most readers who aren’t writers or editors can’t usually give a proper critique. They can say what they don’t like, or what they think is missing, but they can’t usually say WHY they don’t like it. (e.g. Too much telling not showing). There are exceptions, of course.

I’d advise very strongly against joining a critique group online, of people you don’t know. If you don’t know them, or their work, how do you know they are a good judge of what works? You don’t know if they have an agenda of their own, such as the need to crush other people to lift their own ego or the need to praise in order to get approval back.

Where, then, do you find a good critique group?

Probably the best place is your creative writing class. If you are a beginning writer, you are taking classes, right?

Monday, June 14, 2010

What's Next?

I’m taking one whole day off.

I finished Among the Departed, the fifth Constable Molly Smith book, last night. It will now sit and percolate for six to eight weeks and then I will read it again. I find that giving myself a long break means I can go back to it with a fresh eye. It will then go to the editor at Poisoned Pen Press who will suggest changes large or small, so more work will be required.

So far it took 2 ½ months. Probably a record for me.

Tomorrow I dive back into Edward County. The Edward County break has been more like 2 ½ months because I’ve been slow to get the critiques back, plus I wanted to finish up Among the Departed.

Edward County will then go to my agent, Patty Moosbrueger, and she will no doubt have suggestions large or small. So the work might be days or it might be months.
Then it will be time for the next Klondike Book. I have a title already – Gold Mountain. The book will not be a mystery, per se, but an extended chase novel. Stay tuned.

What else is on my plate? Whew, isn’t that enough?

I am going to take a break from Molly Smith and John Winters for a while (fear not, they will be back) and my next book for Poisoned Pen will be a standalone. I am going to stick with the format of Scare the Light Away and Burden of Memory, and have a back-story of something that happened in the past that is effecting events of today. It will be set in Prince Edward County, Ontario, where I live now.

I think that’s enough for now.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mysterious Writers: The Many Facets of Mystery Writing

I have just found out that an interview with me is part of an exciting new book titled Mysterious Writers: The Many Facets of Mystery Writing. . The book is only available as an e-book (so far) and the link above is to Amazon, but it will be out in other formats soon. I know that lots of people are interested in the writing process, in how writers first got published, in getting advice from experienced writers etc etc. The book interviews something like 70 crime writers who answer those questions, and many more. It's edited by Jean Henry Mead, and many kudos to her for doing it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Website pictures

I posted some new pictures of the tea party at my web page. If you are interested, run on over and have a look. There are also pictures of my visit to Dawson City and scenes of "Trafalgar" including the view from Molly Smith's apartment. Click on Photo Gallery in the bottom right.

Monday, June 7, 2010

I haven’t got a clue.

Yesterday I wrote all day. This is unprecedented for me, but I was finishing the first draft of Among the Departed and was getting the scenes sorted out and polished off. I always work in the morning, over a pot of coffee, for three to four hours. But yesterday I went almost all day, with just a break for a walk and a bit of necessary housework. Instead of taking a glass of wine out to the deck to read in the evening, I brought it to my desk and kept on writing.
This morning I read over what I did yesterday. Generally, I was pleased with it. However I found this, at the very end.

He waited outside the bakery. In one hand he held a bag bulging with chocolate croissants, almond pastries, raspberry tarts. In the other, a bottle of wine.
He shifted his big feet, feeling exposed, awkward.

I do not have a single clue as to who ‘he’ is or why he’s waiting outside the bakery, and why he would feel exposed on the street. I must have meant something by this.

I bet it’s brilliant.

I only wish I knew what.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


I have written recently about trying to cut out the clutter from the Internet by switching off the modem when I'm writing. It seems to be working. I always have a single boiled egg after about an hour of writing time. Twice over the last two weeks the pot has boiled dry and the egg exploded. That's concentration.