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Thursday, October 29, 2015


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.


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


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.

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


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.


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.


  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


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!

The Scarry Inn