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Monday, December 7, 2015

JOIN US FOR JANO 2016
JANO 2016
About JANO
During January, 2010, Sleuths’ Ink held it’s first-ever JANO challenge. Modeled after the popular National Novel Writing Month in November, JANO begins in, you guessed it, January.
Participants are challenged to write a 50,000-word novel during January. Join us and kick off the new year with a novel in progress! 

Two good reasons we picked January: 

1) You get an extra day to write. To complete 50,000 words during January, you only need to write 1,613 words a day.

2) The holidays are over. Winter has set in. What better way to spend a long, dreary month than writing a novel?

Over the past few years, participants from across the nation entered our challenge. Many of them reached their 50,000 goal, with a few actually receiving a contract for their completed JANO project.

JOIN US FOR JANO 2016!

Sleuths' Ink will hold its Seventh Annual JANO beginning January 1, 2016. Please join us and kick off the new year by writing a new novel or adding new words to a work in progress. And it's free! 

Rules: There may be no actual writing on your new JANO novel until January 1. If you are going to  add words to a work in progress, we can only count the words added after January 1. It is up to you to keep those word counts separate. You may plot your novel and create character sketches before January 1, 2016. On that date, write like mad (no editing) the entire month in order to reach the 50,000-word goal.  

To celebrate JANO members’ successes, Sleuths’ Ink will sponsor a party February 5, 2016. Details are forthcoming. As always, during the party, prizes will be awarded to our JANO 2016 participants.  See categories below.  In addition, we're giving away a $100 grand prize to one lucky JANO participant at our annual December holiday party.  The winner of this grand prize must be a Sleuths’ Ink member in good standing as of February 1, 2016 and must have written a minimum of 25,000 words in 2016.


PRIZE CATEGORIES FOR JANO:


  1. First to 50,000 words in January
  2. Second to 50,000 words in January
  3. Third to 50,000 words in January
  4. Best Title
  5. Best First Paragraph 
  6. Most Unique Character Name
  7. Best Blurb – 100 words or less  

    KEEP IN MIND: a Blurb is often used in your query letter to sell your story to an editor or what is found on the back of the book to grab your potential reader’s attention.
 Participant MUST have written at least 10,000 words to be eligible for prizes
  • Must be on the janowriters yahoo email loop. (see below)
  • No acceptances after MIDNIGHT January 31, 2016 deadline. NO exceptions!!!
Attendees of the Wrap-Up Party judge the last four categories on February 5th, 2016 and prizes will be awarded accordingly. You do not have to be in attendance to win, but we encourage everyone within driving distance to come join the FUN!
JANO is sponsored by Sleuths’ Ink, a mystery and suspense writers’ non-profit organization in Springfield, Missouri. JANO 2016 Chairperson: Wanda Fittro

Monday, November 30, 2015

MEMBER INTERVIEW - Cait London

Cait London
Please welcome one of our most well known authors, Cait London.
Thank you, Sleuth’s Ink for inviting me. I’m a happy member of this mystery group, which presents unusual, helpful programs and good fellowship. For years, Shirley McCann, V.J. Schultz and others have built and maintained this writer's group. I enjoy it very much.

Tell us about your writing journey.

2016 will be the 30th anniversary of my first published book. I started with an agent, Ray Peekner, and with Berkley Publishers in a category line called Second Chance at Love. From there, I had 4 more agents, including Curtis Brown and Wm Morris. Several historical romances for Berkley and Dell followed. At the same time I wrote category romances for Harlequin.
While still writing for Harlequin, I wrote romantic suspense for HarperCollins. Most of my career has been writing for two traditional publishers at the same time. With copy edits and galleys going back-and-forth, this was not easy. Add in the old-style promotion we used to do, such as traveling to speaking engagements, signing books, etc. and it’s a busy schedule. Some writers are still doing this now, but the Internet has changed that picture dramatically. During this frenzy of writing, publishing, promoting, I was also a single mother raising 3 daughters.

Over the years, I've had best sellers and received awards. Harlequin and HarperCollins are still selling my Cait London books.
Can you tell us a little about what you are doing now?

I am now dealing with my back list and working on new projects. 

Acquiring back list rights is not easy, yet it is like real estate and valuable in different ways. Publishers want to hold rights and so do some agents. This is why I recommend scanning legal agreements for later reference. Moving forward with your back list needs to be considered carefully. Choices have to be made: Do you update older books, spending time and money on them, or leave them and move forward. I love my books and I wanted them out in readers' hands.

I am a DIYer. Learning and doing self publishing took time. I’ve always been regimented, but shifting lanes to Indy publishing hasn’t been easy. Taking on the business end of publishing is a big job; it isn’t for everyone. The learning curve is steep. “Each to his own” rule applies. However, services can be hired. If you do hire, make certain those services are the quality you need and deserve. 
 What has inspired you lately? 
In early October this year, I attended a professional’s only conference, Novelists Inc. {http://ninc.com}This conference is unusual because it’s all leading edge information. It’s mostly Indy geared now, though many members are “Hybrids” writing for traditional/legacy houses and Indy publishing; no agents or traditional publishers are featured.
 NINC impacted my plans for 2016 and forward. Right now I’m listening to Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn {http://TheCreativePenn.com} podcast, and give it high marks. This podcast does not deal with how to write, but how to market and balance your creative times with necessary promotion. There are also interviews with people who are successful in promotion/copy writing (blurbs/ads etc.) One of the sessions dealt with dictating your books. I’ve used Dragon successfully with my PC for articles and blogs. (At one time, I had 3 blogs AND a full blown website.) I’m in a creative/fertile “nesting” period right now, writing away and learning.

What does the future hold for Cait London?

My plans for 2016 include:

  1. Get back into dictation.
  2. Collect all the articles I’ve written in the last 30 years about how to write and stash them in a folder for a potential book. We need more of those, don’t we? (To understand that last question, know that I have won awards for humor.) However: I highly recommend Dwight Swain’s Techniques of Best Selling Writers. Study it, mystery writers.
  3. Complete my book list {http://caitlondon.blogspot.com/p/books.html} up on my website {http://caitlondon.com} and linked. This is challenging.
  4. Switch my full website name domain to something I can manage for now.
  5. Indy publish a new completed book that is currently with my copy editor. Finish the WIP. Write the 3rd/4th Novelette in a series, lift a free short series to Wattpad. (Thank you, Shirley McCann, for pushing me into Shorts.)
  6. Publish more back list. This includes getting ISBN, formatting, and covers.
  7. Covers: More consistent looks. Work with designers (I like artistic filters).
  8. Review of my current published books’ metadata. I just heard this: Constantly review. We learn as we go. Or we should. Makes sense.
  9. Redo my Amazon author profile and link my out of print/reverted rights - traditional/legacy books with my own Indy books.
  10. Do some i-Book coupons, some free books, and some Goodreads giveaways.
  11. Take more online courses, re: marketing on Facebook.
  12. A friend and I are considering meeting for a formal brainstorming session. Each brings to the table 5 things about their WIP for which they need help. Time is equalized. That equal time is an essential agreement, or someone dominates and someone comes away frustrated.
  13. More stepping outside the usual, i.e. attending NINC - testing what works. I might even draft up a business plan. (A little humor, you know.)



Now let me ask you: What are your writing/publishing plans for 2016?

Thanks Cait for sharing some of your insights and knowledge with us.  
Please visit her website {http://caitlondon.com} and join her e-newsletter
{ http://mad.ly/signups/105014/join}. Giveaways and contests, you know, plus what I’m doing—like crocheting and painting, which will turn up in new books/shorts.
Link to her Amazon Author page


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

JANO 2016

JOIN US FOR JANO 2016
JANO 2016
About JANO
During January, 2010, Sleuths’ Ink held it’s first-ever JANO challenge. Modeled after the popular National Novel Writing Month in November, JANO begins in, you guessed it, January.
Participants are challenged to write a 50,000-word novel during January. Join us and kick off the new year with a novel in progress! 

Two good reasons we picked January: 

1) You get an extra day to write. To complete 50,000 words during January, you only need to write 1,613 words a day.

2) The holidays are over. Winter has set in. What better way to spend a long, dreary month than writing a novel?

Over the past few years, participants from across the nation entered our challenge. Many of them reached their 50,000 goal, with a few actually receiving a contract for their completed JANO project.

JOIN US FOR JANO 2016!

Sleuths' Ink will hold its Seventh Annual JANO beginning January 1, 2016. Please join us and kick off the new year by writing a new novel or adding new words to a work in progress. And it's free! 

Rules: There may be no actual writing on your JANO novel until January 1, but you may plot your novel and create character sketches before January 1, 2016. On that date, write like mad (no editing) the entire month in order to reach the 50,000-word goal.  

To celebrate JANO members’ successes, Sleuths’ Ink will sponsor a party February 5, 2016. Details are forthcoming. As always, during the party, prizes will be awarded to our JANO 2016 participants.  See categories below.  In addition, we're giving away a $100 grand prize to one lucky JANO participant at our annual December holiday party.  The winner of this grand prize must be a Sleuths’ Ink member in good standing as of February 1, 2016 and must have written a minimum of 25,000 words in 2016.


PRIZE CATEGORIES FOR JANO:

 
  1. First to 50,000 words in January
  2. Second to 50,000 words in January
  3. Third to 50,000 words in January
  4. Best Title
  5. Best First Paragraph 
  6. Most Unique Character Name
  7. Best Blurb – 100 words or less  

    KEEP IN MIND: a Blurb is often used in your query letter to sell your story to an editor or what is found on the back of the book to grab your potential reader’s attention.
 Participant MUST have written at least 10,000 words to be eligible for prizes
  • Must be on the janowriters yahoo email loop. (see below)
  • No acceptances after MIDNIGHT January 31, 2016 deadline. NO exceptions!!!
Attendees of the Wrap-Up Party judge the last four categories on February 5th, 2016 and prizes will be awarded accordingly. You do not have to be in attendance to win, but we encourage everyone within driving distance to come join the FUN!
JANO is sponsored by Sleuths’ Ink, a mystery and suspense writers’ non-profit organization in Springfield, Missouri. JANO 2016 Chairperson: Wanda Fittro

Thursday, October 29, 2015

NANOWRIMO TIPS

Even though Sleuths' Ink has it's own writing competition called JANO - (get more info about that on the JANO 2016 page to the right) - many of our members join hundreds of thousands of other people around the world and also participate in the original challenge that is National Novel Writing Month. If you've been under a rock for the last fifteen years and don't know anything about it, here is a link.

http://nanowrimo.org/

So, in the spirit of NaNo and our own upcoming JANO here are a few tips to get you through November and January.


  1. Buy easy to fix food. You've got to eat, but let's face it, there won't be a lot of time to prep and cook. I'm big on frozen pizzas, burritos, and mac & cheese. If you don't have a crock pot - go buy one. Great for soups, chili, and pot roast.
  2. You will need plenty of caffeine - whether you prefer coffee, soda,  or tea, make sure you have some. It sure helps with early morning writing before work or late night catch up.
  3. You must commit to writing everyday. To meet the challenge, you need 1667 words a day. If you miss just one day, you are behind. And believe me, it is extremely hard to catch up. 
  4. If you have a family, clue them in beforehand. They will need to be more independent and do things you usually do for them. Don't surprise them on the first of the month. They'll rebel and you will feel guilty. They'll probably rebel anyway, but at least you get to say "I told you about this."
  5. DO NOT EDIT. Lock that inner critic in the attic or basement. Put duct tape over their mouth. You don't have time for them this month. Later you can release them and maybe buy them an ice cream cone. 
  6. And because you can fix things next month, here are some easy cheats to increase word count: Do not use contractions. See what I did there? Don't is one word - do not is two. Easily fixed later with find and replace. All your characters have first, middle and last names - maybe even titles that they use every time they are introduced. "Hello. I am Queen Of Everything Victoria Marie Washington." Describe everything in thorough and complete detail. This is when you can use all those metaphors and similes you have been dying to use. Hint - put these in bold italics so they are easy to find when you are ready to edit. 
Most of all have fun. If you get behind - so what - you have more words than you did yesterday and closer to your goal of writing a novel.

Monday, October 19, 2015

MEMBER INTERVIEW

Please welcome Sleuths' member and current Vice President, Tierney James. This very talented lady writes thrillers, romance, and children's books. Check out her link at the end of this interview.

Do you write every day?

I try to write seven days a week. Usually Monday through Friday I treat it as a job going to my home office by 9:00am, break for lunch then back at it until about 4:30. I cook dinner, watch the news then usually do some marketing, edits and research while I watch my favorite TV shows. Some nights the computer is on until about 10:00pm. I’m trying to get away from that. I also write on the weekends but try to get out and breathe fresh air, go to a movie or visit family.

Sweet or salty snacks?

I eat way too much salt. I like to say I do it to keep my blood pressure from getting too low.

Do you have a special place you write or just wherever you land?

Writing from home works better for me. My favorite spot is on an old desk I bought at an antique store for $80. It’s in my little office that has big windows and lots of pictures of sailing ships on the walls. I also have some African masks and my grandmother’s cabinet where I store writing supplies. Some people can write at coffee houses or libraries. I find that I drink more coffee and people watch at those places.

What inspires you? Person, place or thing?

All those things inspire me but I find that ‘place’ leads to more story ideas. I have notebooks full of descriptions, folktales and culture of places I’ve visited.
Here is a blurb from her latest book.

WINDS OF DECEPTION
Tessa Scott believes her encounter with Ex-Delta Force Captain Chase Hunter, a year earlier, can finally remain in the past. After she arrives in Washington D.C. Enigma enlists her help when they uncover a plot to assassinate both President Austin and the Prime Minister of Israel. To complicate an already volatile situation a hurricane moves toward the nation’s capital creating the perfect opportunity to stage an attack.
Lines of loyalty begin to blur as Tessa confronts life and death events that could change the course of the United States. Complications arise when Tessa is faced with the knowledge her uncle plans to take revenge for Israel’s 1967 attack on the USS Liberty and its lost crew members. No one knows that a powerful member of the government is behind the conspiracy. Tessa and Captain Hunter join forces to halt the violence against the most powerful men in the world. She must ultimately choose between her love of country or exposing the truth against Israel.
The growing attraction between Tessa and Captain Hunter creates an emotional storm, adding even more dangerous consequences to The Winds of Deception.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

JOIN US FOR JANO 2016

JANO 2016
About JANO
During January, 2010, Sleuths’ Ink held it’s first-ever JANO challenge. Modeled after the popular National Novel Writing Month in November, JANO begins in, you guessed it, January.
Participants are challenged to write a 50,000-word novel during January. Join us and kick off the new year with a novel in progress! 

Two good reasons we picked January: 

1) You get an extra day to write. To complete 50,000 words during January, you only need to write 1,613 words a day.

2) The holidays are over. Winter has set in. What better way to spend a long, dreary month than writing a novel?

Over the past few years, participants from across the nation entered our challenge. Many of them reached their 50,000 goal, with a few actually receiving a contract for their completed JANO project.

JOIN US FOR JANO 2016!

Sleuths' Ink will hold its Seventh Annual JANO beginning January 1, 2016. Please join us and kick off the new year by writing a new novel or adding new words to a work in progress. 

Rules: There may be no actual writing on your JANO novel until January 1, but you may plot your novel and create character sketches before January 1, 2016. On that date, write like mad (no editing) the entire month in order to reach the 50,000-word goal.  

To celebrate JANO members’ successes, Sleuths’ Ink will sponsor a party February 5, 2016. Details are forthcoming. As always, during the party, prizes will be awarded to our JANO 2016 participants.  See categories below.  In addition, we're giving away a $100 grand prize to one lucky JANO participant at our annual December holiday party.  The winner of this grand prize must be a Sleuths’ Ink member in good standing as of February 1, 2016 and must have written a minimum of 25,000 words in 2016.


PRIZE CATEGORIES FOR JANO:


  1. First to 50,000 words in January
  2. Second to 50,000 words in January
  3. Third to 50,000 words in January
  4. Best Title
  5. Best First Paragraph 
  6. Most Unique Character Name
  7. Best Blurb – 100 words or less  

    KEEP IN MIND: a Blurb is often used in your query letter to sell your story to an editor or what is found on the back of the book to grab your potential reader’s attention.
 Participant MUST have written at least 10,000 words to be eligible for prizes
  • Must be on the janowriters yahoo email loop. (see below)
  • No acceptances after MIDNIGHT January 31, 2016 deadline. NO exceptions!!!
Attendees of the Wrap-Up Party judge the last four categories on February 5th, 2016 and prizes will be awarded accordingly. You do not have to be in attendance to win, but we encourage everyone within driving distance to come join the FUN!
JANO is sponsored by Sleuths’ Ink, a mystery and suspense writers’ non-profit organization in Springfield, Missouri. JANO 2016 Chairperson: Wanda Fittro

Thursday, October 1, 2015

MEMBER INTERVIEW

Please welcome Sleuths' member Shirley McCann. Not only is she a successful mystery writer, she is also one of the founding members of our group. Shirley has several books published and is a regular contributor to Woman's World Magazine's popular feature "solve it yourself" mysteries.
Be sure and follow her links at the end of this interview.

Where do you like to write - home or away?
Either is fine, but I prefer to write around 5 AM in the morning IF I can make myself get up. It's quiet in the house and outside at that time. And I love to watch the sun come up. As long as I have a never-ending supply of Earl Grey Tea, I’m good to go that early.

Wow, I can never get up that early.

Do you listen to music when you write?
Not always. Sometimes I just like listening to the noise around me. That’s assuming I’ve made it up early, of course. Otherwise, yes to the music. I have a Thunderstorm CD that I love.

Thunderstorm CD sounds intriguing - especially when writing mysteries.

What draws you to mystery writing? 
Solving the puzzle. I think that’s the case with a lot of mystery readers and writers. I like to try and find the clues (or plant them) and see if the reader can find them and solve the puzzle.

I must say, you are good at hiding those clues.

What hobbies do you enjoy?
Reading. A LOT.  And for the record, I always write reviews unless the book is so bad I won’t even finish it.  Crocheting is also a favorite pastime. There’s gotta be something else, but nothing comes to mind at the moment. 

It's so important as writers to read a lot. 

Favorite food? 
My mom’s enchiladas. She’s from Texas so that was always a favorite of ours growing up. And still today. Of course, chocolate is always on the list.

Oooh, I love enchiladas, especially if the person making them is from the southwest.

Thanks Shirley for sharing a bit of your life with us today!

LINKS
The Scarry Inn

Saturday, September 26, 2015

How To Get The Most From Writing Conferences



While we prepare for our next member interview, I thought we could consider how to make attending writing conferences worth your while. Fall is a great time to find a conference.

 
This is a picture from last weekends Ozark Romance Authors Conference in Springfield MO. It's a great and very affordable conference in the heart of Ozark Mountain Country. Check it out here:
 
If you live too far away from this conference, get online and search for writer conferences. There are ones all over the country and even on cruise ships. Wouldn't that be fun!
 
Here are some tips.
  1. If you can afford it, stay in the hotel where the conference is. Many times there is a reduced rate for attendees. Not only does this eliminate driving so much, you are sure to meet other attendees staying there and maybe make some lifelong friends. Or make important connections with the speakers.
  2. Pack a sweater - especially if you tend to run cold. Conference rooms are notoriously chilly. And wear comfortable shoes and clothes. Most conferences these days are pretty laid back in their dress code. But check ahead and make sure if there is a cocktail party or banquet, you are prepared with a little nicer attire.
  3. Take notes, lots of notes. Something may not resonate with you at the time, but later, a light bulb might go off and give you a great idea or inspire you in some way.
  4. At lunch, try to snag a table with one of the speakers. You will hear things and learn things that aren't necessarily in their presentation. It is also a chance for you to stand out from the crowd.
  5. If pitch sessions are available, please sign up. You may be nervous or maybe your work isn't quite done, but that's okay. Who knows what connection you will make or offer you will get.
  6. If author tables are present, be sure and visit them during breaks. Hopefully you have extra money to spend on books. If not, it's okay just to visit and ask them questions. Many also offer free stuff, like candy!
  7. Raise your hand - ask questions. There is no reason to leave a conference without your brain packed full of information.
Most of all - have fun. Take an extra day to explore the town you are visiting. When you get home, look up the connections you made online - either their web page, blog, Twitter or Facebook page. Keep in touch - these people could help you along your writing journey.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

PLOTTER OR PANTSER





http://www.morguefile.com
Most writers fall in one of these two categories. Some must outline and plan and plot, while others just begin writing and see where it takes them. And they will hardly ever switch and try writing the other way. It would be like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole - uncomfortable and awkward.

Some plotter's have every single thing planned out from all the twist and turns of the story, to extensive character development. This can run into several pages before one word of the story is written. Other plotters have a less extensive outline, allowing for possible change of direction.

Most mystery writers are plotters by necessity. Twists, turns, red herrings, and bad guys all need to be ready to go.

To a pantser, an outline seems insane. They can't imagine trying to plan how everything will happen. It takes the excitement of discovery away. Just let the character go wherever they want and let the story follow. Of course, this usually means a very rough first draft which must undergo extensive re-vision. That's not to say the plotter doesn't have to revise, but probably a lot less.

Which kind of writer are you? And would you ever give the other way a try?



Wednesday, September 9, 2015

MEMBER INTERVIEW

Murder wasn't on the itinerary when Lacey James and her friend, Stella, traveled to Ireland to help a friend. Expecting the sights and sounds of Ireland to soothe her spirit and provide background for her next mystery, Lacey became the prime suspect in an extremist plot. From the Book of Kells to St. Kevin's Monastery, Lacey is stalked by people demanding something that she does not have. Among ancient castles and legends in the Emerald Isle, Homeland security agent, Mitch Logan shadows her every move. He knows too much about her. Can she trust him? And who is Irene Bouchard, the redheaded bombshell that turns up every time Lacey is in trouble?


Please welcome fellow Sleuths' member, current Secretary and News Letter Editor -  Pat Elliott.
  
Who doesn't love a mystery set in Ireland? And the cover is so intriguing!

Here is a short interview with this talented writer, Be sure and follow the link at the end to her Amazon page. 

We just talked about writing habits on the blog. What are some of yours?

Living alone allows me to write anytime or all the time. But I procrastinate.  I need to do this – I need to do that. Anyone else a procrastinator?

      I raise my hand and look around for others. 

At what age did you first start getting serious about your writing?

I was published in the high school newspaper and I was hooked.
     
Where do you get inspiration for your stories? 

From travels and pictures, I imagine settings.  People I know or have met give me gist for my characters. Mix up their characteristics and viola I have a character that is good or bad or have flaws. Sometimes those people are only sitting at the next table in a restaurant or in church and I don’t know them at all.

Which do you enjoy more - writing the first draft or editing the final version? 

The first draft.  I hate editing.
      
What is your favorite color and does it ever play a part in your stories? 

My favorite color changes with my moods. I’m not aware of using color in my stories. Maybe I should start using color.

Thanks for taking the time to give us some insight to your writing process.

Pat's book Murder on Tour is available at Amazon.com.




Thursday, September 3, 2015

JANO 2016

About JANO
During January, 2010, Sleuths’ Ink held it’s first-ever JANO challenge. Modeled after the popular National Novel Writing Month in November, JANO begins in, you guessed it, January.
Participants are challenged to write a 50,000-word novel during January. Join us and kick off the new year with a novel in progress! 

Two good reasons we picked January: 

1) You get an extra day to write. To complete 50,000 words during January, you only need to write 1,613 words a day.

2) The holidays are over. Winter has set in. What better way to spend a long, dreary month than writing a novel?

Over the past few years, participants from across the nation entered our challenge. Many of them reached their 50,000 goal, with a few actually receiving a contract for their completed JANO project.

JOIN US FOR JANO 2016!

Sleuths' Ink will hold its Seventh Annual JANO beginning January 1, 2016. Please join us and kick off the new year by writing a new novel or adding new words to a work in progress. 

Rules: There may be no actual writing on your JANO novel until January 1, but you may plot your novel and create character sketches before January 1, 2016. On that date, write like mad (no editing) the entire month in order to reach the 50,000-word goal.  

To celebrate JANO members’ successes, Sleuths’ Ink will sponsor a party February 5, 2016. Details are forthcoming. As always, during the party, prizes will be awarded to our JANO 2016 participants.  See categories below.  In addition, we're giving away a $100 grand prize to one lucky JANO participant at our annual December holiday party.  The winner of this grand prize must be a Sleuths’ Ink member in good standing as of February 1, 2016 and must have written a minimum of 25,000 words in 2016.


PRIZE CATEGORIES FOR JANO:


  1. First to 50,000 words in January
  2. Second to 50,000 words in January
  3. Third to 50,000 words in January
  4. Best Title
  5. Best First Paragraph 
  6. Most Unique Character Name
  7. Best Blurb – 100 words or less  

    KEEP IN MIND: a Blurb is often used in your query letter to sell your story to an editor or what is found on the back of the book to grab your potential reader’s attention.
 Participant MUST have written at least 10,000 words to be eligible for prizes
  • Must be on the janowriters yahoo email loop. (see below)
  • No acceptances after MIDNIGHT January 31, 2016 deadline. NO exceptions!!!
Attendees of the Wrap-Up Party judge the last four categories on February 5th, 2016 and prizes will be awarded accordingly. You do not have to be in attendance to win, but we encourage everyone within driving distance to come join the FUN!
JANO is sponsored by Sleuths’ Ink, a mystery and suspense writers’ non-profit organization in Springfield, Missouri. JANO 2016 Chairperson: Wanda Fittro

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Writing Habits

http://morguefile.com


I hope everyone is enjoying our "meet the members" posts. I thought we would take a break before our next interview and talk about writing habits.

I have yet to meet any two writers who approach the process the same way. And if you are enjoying our interviews, you see what I'm talking about.

Like in this picture, some enjoy writing in a public place such as a coffee shop. While others prefer the solitude of home.

Coffee, tea or soda? Many writers need some sort of caffeine boost. Or, perhaps, like Hemingway, they require something with a bit more punch to get those creative juices flowing.

Pen and paper, or computer? Of course a computer is much easier to edit on, but some writers find the flow of words comes easier while writing long hand.

Music or not? Some writers create play lists and listen with ear buds or head phones. Others find music a bit too distracting.

The time of day we write differs for everyone. Just like some of us are morning people, others are night owls. The thing is to realize when you are the most creative and try to block off that time.

Share with us your writing habits. I bet no two will be alike.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Member Interview


Please welcome Sleuths' member Sharon Smith to our blog
today.
 
"Thanks for this opportunity!"
 
You're more than welcome. Let's get started. By the way, I love your picture!
 
When did you first get the writing bug?

This may seem like a stretch, but it began when I went away to college. The day I was dropped off, I began worrying something bad would happen to one of my loved ones, while I was gone. Yes, I’m the worrier in the family. :-(
For that reason, and also because I loved receiving mail, I sent letters to both of my grandmas at least twice each month.

Here's where the relevance begins to appear. My mom's mother often told me how much she enjoyed my letters. She was the initial stimulus. Second was the fact that early on I was a voracious reader. In grade school, I spent my summer vacations devouring books.

Third, my career required a lot of technical writing. I decided to see whether I could also write the stuff I loved to read. I wrote my first novel in 1996 and shelved it. It remains there.

In 2001, I began working on my second novel and signed a contract with an agent in 2002. Nothing happened.

In early 2003, I was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer. My life expectancy was 28 months. Suddenly, family memoirs took precedence. I knew my family, and I knew if memoirs were to be written I had to write them. Remember the grandma who loved my letters? She was a truly memorable person, and I wanted to preserve memories of her for future generations. I spent every available moment writing and researching. Through research, I met family members who added much to the memoirs and to my life. They remain dear friends.

I completed the memoirs in 2007 and returned to fiction. By then, the motive for murder in the book I completed in 2002 was no longer in the forefront. I did a complete rewrite. Then I paid an instructor from The Loft Literary Society in Minneapolis to critique this book. Bottom line: before I did anything else, I wanted to know if this novel merited additional attention or if I should find another diversion. I guess her response is evident. I’m still writing . . . whenever possible

I love writing and find it exhilarating. However, for the last 15 months life has thrown some roadblocks in my path. Even so, I'm still hoping to complete book four . . . and five . . . and six. (No, gratefully, it isn’t another bout with cancer.)
 
Wow, that's quite a story. Nothing like a health challenge to get us motivated.
 
What genre do you prefer in your writing and reading?

I love reading mysteries and spend most of my reading time enjoying that genre. Mysteries run the gamut from cozies to the graphic. I enjoy the former much more than the latter. Although my novels are police procedurals, they're as close as they can get to being cozies. Each contains a touch of romance, and humor often enters into the exchanges between my two protagonists.

If you could pick anywhere in the world to write, where would that be and why?

Right now, since I'm rarely at my home in St. Paul, Minnesota, I'd choose to write there. There are so many interesting locations, and many of the people actually are "Minnesota nice."

I do a lot of research for each of my novels. Fellow Minnesotans have supported those efforts. The lead investigator from the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office was a wonderful resource for my first mystery, and the second, third and fourth. He has also become one of my biggest fans.

My third book, Murder on a Stick, centers around the Minnesota State Fair, also known as the great Minnesota get together. A person who worked in the information booth gave me all kinds of interesting facts about the fair. Law enforcement and fire officials answered a plethora of questions, as did operators of the food booths. Because I love to learn things while I read, I always include opportunities for my readers to do likewise.

Morning, afternoon or night writer?

All of the above. When I'm writing, I'm totally engrossed. I write from the time I get up, until I go to bed. I eat breakfast, lunch and supper, while staring at my monitor. Prior to getting ready for bed, the only real break comes when I exercise for an hour on my Nordic Track cross-country ski machine. Yes, I actually have one and actually use it. But you already know I have OCD, correct?  :-)

Pantser or Plotter?

I'm definitely a pantser. When I begin writing a book, I start with my two protagonists and the victim. I don't know how or why the person was victimized.

I believe there's some magical connection between my fingertips, while they’re in contact with the keyboard, and the storytelling center in my brain. I sit at my computer, and the story develops. While working on the first draft, I hate to stop. I want to know what's going to happen. The guilty party is rarely the person I first suspected. While writing the first draft of my second book, tears streamed down my cheeks when the guilty party was revealed. I wanted that person to be innocent. My protagonists had the same reaction. Coincidence?

Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your life with us.

Please support this talented writer. Here are her links.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Why Writer's Groups Are Important

http://www.morguefile.com



Do you belong to a writer's group? If not -- why not?

Maybe you don't know of any in your area. Maybe you think you don't need it. Or, perhaps you are an introvert and meeting new people gives you hives.

Here are a few reasons I love my writer's group.

  1. Writing is a solitary endeavor. And let's face it, no matter how much you enjoy your own company, it's important to interact with others. If only to get a fresh perspective on your current work or get ideas for future stories. And although the local coffee shop's barista has a lovely smile, she probably can't tell you the difference between a simile and a metaphor.  
  2. Some groups have really great speakers. Just this year at Sleuths' meetings we've heard from a court recorder, a Karate expert, an arson investigator, and a newsroom producer. That's just a partial list. In short, I've learned how to start a fire, report the fire, defend myself at the fire and how the court will keep a record of my trial. Or, ummm, how my characters could all do these things. 
  3. Advice, feedback, and encouragement. Not sure how to write that query letter? I bet somebody in the group could help. Not sure the last passage you wrote is worth keeping? Ask that person next to you if they would mind giving you an opinion. Just got another rejection letter? "Great, at least you're trying. Keep sending it out there. You never know."

Still not convinced? Just come to one of our meetings and then decide. Don't write mysteries? We don't care. Our members write in all genres. Or if you don't live nearby, find a group close to you. I guarantee there is at least one. Just check online. Or maybe that nice barista can steer you in the right direction. Because we all know how much writers love coffee shops.  

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Meet Our President

http://morguefile.com/

This is the first interview with one of our members. There will be many more to follow. So grab a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy getting to know Susan Keene. She is a very talented story teller, published author, and currently serves as president of our group.

First tell us a little about yourself. 

My education is in the medical field. I went to school at Deaconess Hospital in St. Louis to be an X-Ray technician. The only reason I chose that field was because my dad didn't think girls should go to college and I was able to get a full paid scholarship.

I didn't like the work and after several years I went into sales for Sears Contract Sales and did some of their sales training.

I live in the country with lots of animals including sheep, horses, cows, mules, donkeys, cats and dogs. We have over three hundred fruit trees.

Sometimes, when I make the thirty-five mile drive to Springfield, I think it would be nice to live closer. When I come home to the quiet and beauty of it all, I change my mind.

What draws you to mystery/crime writing?

The world intrigues me, everything is a mystery. I think that is why I like to write them. My goal is to keep you guessing and hope you won't figure out who did it. I want each book to be a surprise. Nothing brings a smile to my face faster than the words, "Wow, I didn't expect that."

If you could have lunch with any author dead or alive, who would it be?

It would be fun to share a pint with Hemingway, but my favorite contemporary author is Harlen Cobin

Favorite food?

Boy, I love to eat so that is a tough one. It would be a toss-up between crab and pasta with white sauce.

What does your writing schedule look like?

I get up, grab a cup of coffee and go straight into my office. I write until my  particular train of thought is done and then go on with my day. Occasionally I write at the end of the day, but I am not as productive.

I am and have always been a creature of habit. Mess up my routine and it messes up my day.

You are the current president for Sleuths' Ink. What do you find enjoyable about the job and what bothers you? 

It is always fun to be the leader. I spend a lot of time thinking about the plot of the story I am writing. Presiding over the meetings keeps my mind in the present. The women and men who belong to Sleuths' are so talented, I am in awe to be around them.

I guess the downside is the preparation outside the meetings, like reserving the meeting room. I really do need a secretary.
Thanks Susan for sharing.
Please check out her links below.

http://amzn.to/1JURH0C   Link to Diggitty the Dog Saves Christmas

https://tinyurl.com//lxc5ngl    Link to Diggitty the Dog Finds A Friend

 http://amzn.to/1b3BuDL      Link to The Adventures of Diggitty the Dog

http://amzn.to/19IVg9H     Link to Tattered Wings