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Monday, February 28, 2011

JANO Party - March 5th at Cafe Rosewitha

It's almost time! This Saturday, Sleuths' Ink will host its Second Annual JANO party. Congratulations to everyone who participated in this fun, productive event. Eight people managed to reach their 50,000-word goal in January. (As you may recall, a freak blizzard forced postponement of our original February party)

In addition to awarding prizes to the first three people to reach 50,000 words, we'll have ten other prize categorizes, which we'll be voting on at the party. Check back next week to see who the winners are.

Sleuths' Ink would also like to thank our wonderful sponsors who donated prizes for JANO. You can see the list to the right of this post. We couldn't have done it without all your help.

If you missed out in 2011, don't worry. We'll be doing it again in January 2012.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Yesterday I finished the first draft of my third novel. Well, it's not really finished. I left a few blank spaces at the beginning of the book because I didn't start writing until last July and it's due in March and I was anxious to get the thing rolling. So now I have to go back to the beginning and fill in what's missing. But the important thing is, I've written the last sentence. And I added "THE END!" on the last page of the manuscript.

I had fun writing it. I write science thrillers because those are the books I liked when I was a kid -- The Andromeda Strain, The Terminal Man. But I also like mysteries and literary novels, and I love Stephen King and Lee Child and J.K. Rowling, and when I'm in the midst of writing a novel I often face the temptation of abandoning the whole difficult enterprise and reading someone else's book for a while. So I have to be very strict with myself. I tell myself, "If you want to finish this novel, you have to make it the most interesting thing in your life. Writing this book has to be more interesting than any show on television or any article in the New York Times or any movie that's playing." I didn't always succeed, but there were many mornings when I tossed the newspaper aside and thought, "This is boring. I'd rather work on the book."

But my favorite part is writing the last sentence. I love that moment. And I bet lots of novelists feel the same way. Now I finally know how the story will end. The uncertainty was really bothering me. I worked on these characters for seven months, spending just as much time with them as I spent with my family, and for most of that time I didn't know what was going to happen beyond the next chapter. I had a vague goal in mind but no idea how to get there. I would come home at night and tell my wife, "God, I don't know what Jim's gonna do. He's really in trouble." And she would say, "Who are you talking about? Are you talking about your characters again?"

Now the last puzzle piece is in place. I don't know if it's any good. In all likelihood, many sections of the manuscript are confusing or boring or wildly implausible (or all three) and my editor will advise me to rewrite huge chunks of it. But that's okay. During the revision process I'll try to make the story more sensible and entertaining for the reader. But at this point it makes sense to me.


Mark Alpert, a contributing editor at Scientific American, is the author of the international bestselling thriller Final Theory and its sequel, The Omega Theory, which comes out this month (see www.markalpert.com for more information). His third novel, which has no title yet, will be published next year.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mark Alpert Guest Blogs on Thursday

A self-described lifelong "science geek," Mark Alpert majored in astrophysics at Princeton University, writing his undergraduate thesis on an application of Einstein's theory of relativity. After earning an MFA in poetry at Columbia and working as a reporter, he became an editor at Scientific American, where he simplifies bewildering scientific ideas for the magazine's readers. Mark lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

Join Mark on Thursday and comment for a chance to win a copy of his newest book, The Omega Theory. Marks topic will be Finishing the First Draft.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

And Here's Amanda

Let's Get Organized

Author Amanda Barke will speak at the February meeting of Sleuths' Ink on Saturday, February 12 at the Library Station at 10:00 a.m. Amanda has been active in and past president of Springfield Writers' Guild. She'll speak on "Organizing the Unorganized Writer."

Based in the rural Ozarks, Amanda J. Barke is a freelance journalist, author, editor, singer, and songwriter. She splits her time between writing Christian Fiction and children’s picture books, editing newsletters, and writing articles for five regional publications. Her work can be seen online at ehow.com, livestrong.com/lifestyle, and amykitchenerfdn.org. When she is not writing, she enjoys traveling with her family’s Bluegrass/Gospel band, The Clarke St. Strings. For more information on Amanda’s many projects go to www.amandabarke.com