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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Writing Resolutions


Do you make New Year's Resolutions? If you make them, do you keep them? Besides the usual promises to lose weight, be a better person, or follow a budget, why don't you make a resolution to pay attention to your writing life.

Perhaps you need to finish your first novel. Or finish that series you've been working on. Perhaps you have twenty novels but your sales are dwindling. Here are some ideas to help you make this year more creative.
  • Write it down. Put pen to paper and describe your goals for the year.
  • Make it simple. Complicated goals almost guarantee failure.
  • Be specific. Do you want to write every day? Is that possible? Be truthful with yourself.
  • Place your goal somewhere you will see it. On the wall by your writing desk is a great location.
Here's to a new year and a rejuvenated writing life.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

GUEST POST - How to Write Villians

The Villain’s POV


Kathleen Garnsey

Writing the villain’s point of view is one of my favorite things to do. Call it my alter ego, my hidden bad-girl, or the part of me that will never, ever be, but I love to write it. Call me weird, sick, or whatever you like, but it is fun! Why? Because I will never be that person, and I want to create the worst of the worst on the planet, or in my case other planets! My bad guys are bad---through and through bad. I have been told they should have at least one redeeming quality, but I do not agree. I like them bad to the bone, un-redeemable, the character everyone wants to hate. So, how do you do that? I will tell you.

First, you can only be in the villain’s pov when your main characters are not! That is an important point. If you have a hero/heroine in the scene, it belongs to them. The kind of scenes I’m talking about belong only to the bad guy, or killer. Now their pov will be twisted and demented since normal, good people do not murder or torture. The villain’s world (pov) is where he/she plans the murder and shows the reader how evil, and or sick they really are. Their thoughts show their true character and motivation and you will be amazed what you can do while in their head (pov).

The scene with the murder’s pov will not be as long as your other scenes, and should not be since the real story belongs to your protagonists. There have been times my villain could take the entire story over, since I have so much fun writing them, but I have to limit myself. Too much of an evil thing is too much! Now you may not have quite the demented bad guy I like to write, but the reader needs to understand what drives that character to do the things they do. We have all asked ourselves, how could he do such a thing? Well, this is your chance to show the reader why.

How does your murderer/villain treat other people in public? In private? What do they say differently when they are alone? Are they always alone? Do they have friends they use, who do not know who they really are? Does this character have friends in common with the victim(s)? These are some of the questions you can show the reader while in this pov. Use it sparingly, and use it well. Depending on the length of your book, not more than three to four short scenes. It is a great tool to enhance the mystery of your book. Now, you may say that letting the reader know what is going to happen and when will spoil the story—Alfred Hitchcock would beg to differ. His philosophy was that anticipation builds suspense to a higher level. Knowing that the killer waits in the closet at the top of the stairs makes every step your victim takes riveting.

Think about some of the movies you have seen. Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, or Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. Those two characters will scare you to the bone and beyond! But they are great examples of the real psychotic that can make your story, or take it over. I say that because you remember the bad guy more than who chased them through the entire movie, but that was the point in those movies. You do not want your character to be quite that bad, but you get my point regarding characterization.

Have fun with your characters—yes, even the evil, psychotic, twisted killer. This character is the entire reason for your story—let him/her shine in their own wickedness. Without the demented murderer there would not be a story—your hero/heroine would have nothing to do and no one would die!

Kathleen Garnsey

Born in Michigan, raised and married in California, Kathleen is now a twenty-nine year resident of Missouri. She currently lives in Ozark and stays busy with her husband of forty-nine years, her son, daughter-in-law, and three fantastic grandchildren.

Writing is Kathleen's passion, which she became serious about in 1987 when she joined Ozarks Romance Authors. Always a fan of sci-fi and romance, she loves combining the two elements into stories of passion and adventure in another time and place. She has written five futuristic romances which are available, or soon to be available on Amazon. Look for her past titles: Warrior's Link, Hawk's Redemption, Falcon's Quest and Secret of the Kiah. She just completed The Alluring Traveler which will soon be released

Friday, October 7, 2016


Our very own Cait London has graciously agreed to share some of her writing wisdom on our blog. Read, learn and enjoy.
November 2016 The Bride’s Basket (book 3)

The Business of Writing
When you’re a career writer, craft, time management and consistency count. But the business of writing may play a higher percentage of effort and time in your career.
While traditional publishers sell many of my books, I’ve written my newest series as an “Indie”. This means, I am responsible for not only the bookkeeping, but the marketing and promotion to make those books successful. I calculate loosely that three-quarters of author’s time is dedicated to the business end of writing. UNLESS that writer has a dedicated team working for him, including a web designer, a virtual assistant, an editor, a marketer, etc.
I’ve just attended a writers conference dedicated to marketing and promotion. Five days and nights of multiple workshops running every hour. With a new book coming out in November, the third in a series, The Bride’s Basket, I am now deep into testing what I’ve learned at Novelist Inc. a group for professionals.
In networking with other professionals, I learned that it is best to focus on:
·         Subscribers for an e-newsletter. (I’m using Madmimi.com because of ease.) It is best to use a mail system such as MailChimp or Madmimi. This so the spam machines won’t kill newsletters. These require the sender’s email address from a website.
·         Using contests by professionals to add to that subscriber list. Currently, RyanZee.com multi-author ads and whatever giveaways, contests. Landing Pages are essential.
·         From that subscriber list, I asked for beta readers and am so far thrilled with the results. Beta readers can be used to help with reviews, etc. They can help with ideas, circulating your information, etc. (If you wish to beta read for me, please email cait at caitlondon.com?)
·         To send to beta readers and contest winners, I’m using Bookfunnel.com, one of the best writer-helpful inventions ever.
·         To prepare files for Bookfunnel, I’m using Vellum.pub (only for Mac). Vellum is miracle formatting software which takes a Word file and spins it into different files suitable for Kindle, Kobo, Nook, etc. and epub. It produces beautiful graphics with your choice of book styles. You upload that file to the specific retailers. In Spring 2017, Vellum plans to add the paperbook create element. I’ve used a lot of software, including formatting CSS and hand formatting for CreateSpace, so Vellum is a miracle to me.
·         Vellum also produces an epub format, suitable for SmashWords and when exported can be used as a PDF that is also used by Bookfunnel. Yes, some people don’t use e-readers and prefer PDFs.
·         With these files available at Bookfunnel, files such as ARCs, contest winners, etc. can be sent directly to the recipients.
·         Facebook Ads. I’m gearing up to learn these, but every heavy self-promoter I queried recommended these ads.
·         A proper website. For ease, I’ve used my blog during a family stressful time, but am preparing a proper website at BlueHost.com (I recommend this webhost.) This will be my second proper website with BlueHost.com, but this time, I am building it in WordPress. Mooberry for grids is an excellent plug-in.
·         I regularly use Adobe Elements for graphics, banners, etc. but plan to use more Canva.com Did you know that visuals are 94% more likely to get a reaction than text? And 40 times more likely to be shared?
The above represents only a small portion of the work some writers do—if they do not have teams providing for them. There are more that can be added to the list, including JoAnna Penn’s podcasts at TheCreativePenn.com. Mel Jolly at AuthorRx.com also provides great informational enewsletters for organization tips. (She’s a Virtual Assistant helping others.)
I hope that shares a glimpse of what an author is expected to do business-wise. There are different approaches: Many travel and speak at conferences and booksignings. Many stay online, etc. But writing for publication and sales is a business.
 USA Today Best Seller/NY Times Author Cait London's book list includes romantic suspense, paranormal, contemporary, humor, *western historical, and women's fiction. Always busy, she travels and loves any distraction. Her small town NorthWest upbringing is relived in her stories, also her life experiences as the mother of 3 daughters and as an artist. She's learned her family's German; she's forgotten it and French, but may attempt Norwegian. Her awards include: Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award, RT W.I.S.H.(s), RT Career Achievement, Laurel Wreath Award, RIO, Overall Sales Performance, Best Paranormal, Booksellers Best, WRWA Reader's Award, Dorothy Parker Award for Excellence and various nominations.

>>NOTE: *This author thoroughly researches her books, driving the Oregon Trail, the NW gold trails and the sites of her stories.

 For More:

**Visit her website: www.caitlondon.com

**Sign up for her newsletter: http://mad.ly/signups/199386/join

**Facebook: www.Facebook.com/CaitLondonBooks

**Twitter: www.Twitter.com/CaitLondon






Saturday, September 3, 2016


In today's digital age, are book signings still relevant? Let's face it, many people have completely given up paper books for the more convenient electronic readers or smart phones. It's so easy to download a book. Just a few seconds and you have a new story to read.

Here are some reasons book signings are still important for authors and readers.

  • Believe it or not, there are many people who will not give up their hard copy books. Their reasons vary. I've heard everything from the feel of a book in their hands, the smell of the ink, or the connection they have to just turning a real page.
  • Authors need to connect with readers and vice-versa. Writing is a lonely occupation and it's nice to get out there and talk to people. And readers often are in awe when they get the chance to meet one of their favorite authors.
  • It's a good way for authors to get a feel for what people are reading at the moment. And, it's an ever changing landscape. Perhaps you write mysteries. Are people interested in true crime, cozy's, or a little supernatural action? Just seeing what people are actually buying will give you a good idea.
  • For readers, it's a great way to find a new author and/or new genre to get captivated by.

This fall would be a great time to attend some book signings whether you set up to sell and sign or you go to just browse and buy. Check with your local book stores for any upcoming events. Here is a link to one where several Sleuths' authors will be selling, signing, and giving out some swag.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Olympics and Writing


Please enjoy this guest post by Sleuths' member Tierney James

What the Olympics taught me about writing:

There is something captivating about the Olympics. Every four years we are glued to watching sporting events most of us will never see in person, much less be a participant. We cheer for the home team and cry for the losers (as long as they aren’t pitted against us). Even if you aren’t prone to watching TV sports, for two weeks we fall under the spell of possibilities. We listen to the stories about adversity and sacrifice of athletes along with their families, who in a way, are champions too. Then the national anthem plays and who can keep from tearing up from the pride they show standing on that platform with shiny medals?
In a way, being a writer is like being an Olympian. “Nothing worthwhile is easy,” as the saying goes. What will you be in the writing world? I know writers on several continents. Like athletes everywhere, some writers like the thought of being a writer. They go to meetings, tell people they’re working on some ideas, and carry a notebook of insightful advice given at group presentations. I had one lady tell me a couple of years ago, “Anyone can write a book. I’ll write one someday when I’m bored.” (Truth!) This might have been interpreted as condescending; certainly not encouraging.  But I ignored it.

So are you a writer destined for publication? Are you an Olympic writer that will stand on the medal podium and hear the national anthem? Let’s talk about training.

1.       Read everything.  Books on writing. Books in your genre. Grow your reading list by reading fiction and nonfiction. One of the things I do, because I write thrillers & suspense, is subscribe to Time and National Geographic.

2.       Attend organizations (like Sleuths' Ink) that are encouraging and offer educational growth.

3.       Write every day. EVERY DAY! I can’t tell you how that will shape your writing world. It becomes like breathing. It was not easy for me to learn that lesson. I’ve learned to produce a lot more work by practicing. Sometimes it’s promo, ideas, notes, research, and then the actual story itself that keep me in the groove. There are days I write ten pages and other days it might be three paragraphs. But. I. Write. Do you think Michael Phelps skips a day swimming? How about Gabby Douglas? Does she whine about being too busy to do one more death defying flip? Whiners don’t make the Olympics.

4.       You’re going to feel you just can’t go on. But you can! What if Jane Austen had given up because she was a woman? Michael Blake’s book, Dances With Wolves, was a so-so success until Kevin Costner asked him to write a screenplay for the movie.  The rest is history. There are people all around you that want to be a cheerleader. Let them. Sometimes good things happen. Be prepared for success.

5.       Isolation is part of being a writer. Many of those Olympians will probably tell you they didn’t have much of a social life. They worked hard and tried to improve their ability to compete. There are times when I get lonely because my best friends are the characters I create. At the end of the day I realize I’m proud of what I’ve written. Yes. I still need coaching to make it better so I can win, I mean publish. 

6.       When the newscasters brag on our Olympians for shaving one hundredth of a second off their time, I smile. This is just like getting a good review. You feel like Rocky running up the steps in Philadelphia with some magical music spurring you on to victory. Read them over and over. They are your gold medals. You made someone escape, happy, cry, dream, and just possibly gave them the will to change their life. You are a writer.

Remember that lady who said she’d write a book someday when she got bored? Not too long ago we met for lunch. I ask her if she ever started a book. Shaking her head, she informed me after watching how much work I had to do, writing wasn’t something she wanted to tackle. She wasn’t that bored.
Be a writer, not someone who likes to think of themselves as a writer.

Friday, August 5, 2016



During the next two weeks, we will be hearing that word a lot because of the Olympics. Soccer, basketball, water polo, and other sports depend on making goals in order to win.

But, we can also make goals in our personal and professional life. Do you set goals for your writing, or do you just hope everything lines with the stars and wish for the best? 

Many people wouldn't think of taking on any endeavor without a plan and a goal written down. Others like to stray off path and see where it takes them. 

Here is a definition of 'goal' from Wikipedia.

goal is a desired result that a person or a system envisions, plans and commits to achieve: a personal or organizational desired end-point in some sort of assumed development. Many people endeavor to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines.

However, much to our chagrin, sometimes our goals change. This could be referred to as 'serendipity'.
A "fortunate happenstance" or "pleasant surprise". We either embrace this occurrence or fight tooth and nail to turn things back around to our original goal. That fight response can be both exhausting and debilitating. Many people just throw up their hands and give up. 

How about the next time serendipity occurs in your life, embrace it. Accept it. Adjust your goals. Who knows, it may turn out to be the best thing you ever did. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Tips Of The Trade


I shared this on my personal blog and thought I would re-post it here.

I recently spent some time beta reading a writer friend's new book. For those who don't know, beta reading is one of the first steps you should take after writing a novel. You give it to people you trust, to read and tell you what they think. I usually go a bit further and do some editing suggestions. Just because I like that part of it.

If you're ever asked to beta read here are a few rules:
  1. Make sure the book is ready to read. The writer should have done all the editing they could on their own before they ask for your help. You definitely don't want to read a first draft.  I highly recommend The Frugal Editor  -  an easy to follow process for self editing -  http://amzn.to/2aEoydz
  2. Be kind, but honest. Most writers really want to know what needs improvement. If they don't, then they shouldn't be asking for your input. If you know the person well enough to believe they may be offended, think about politely turning down their request. Better to keep a friendship than make an enemy. 
  3. Try to point out things like POV (point of view) mistakes, inconsistent characters, plot holes, or anything that just doesn't make sense to you as a reader. Let them know if the beginning captures your attention or if perhaps they might want to start the story at a different spot. 
  4. Don't make any changes yourself. Use Word comments to make your suggestions. You are not the author and they will not appreciate your corrections, no matter how well intended. 
Beta reading can be fun. After all, you get the first look at a new novel and maybe your suggestions will help the author craft an even better story. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016


Tuesday, June 7, 2016


Discovering My Story, Rooftop Angels

I never know where my next story will originate. I believe world geography connects everything around us. I was a geo-teacher for National Geographic where we taught students 5 very important themes: Location, Place, Human Environmental Interaction, Movement and Region. This training brought such a love for the world community to my life that I tied it to everything I taught, wrote and read. In my mind’s eye the earth became a series of dominoes, balancing precariously on a shaky table where every action forced a reaction.

So when my father gave me one of his National Geographic magazines I found an article about the Wakhan Valley in Northern Afghanistan. As of today I think I’ve read it some fifteen times, and each time I’m captivated. After reading everything I could find plus watching numerous YouTube videos about this amazing culture I just had to include them in my Enigma Series. The things I learned about Afghanistan cemented my love of Central Asia. Its raw beauty and ability to survive wave after of invasion convinced me to put it on my bucket list. Rooftop Angels was born from a need to create a journey others could share and maybe begin to investigate for themselves, what is Afghanistan. Want to see more? Check out my blog http://www.tierneyjames.com/blog where I investigate the amazing land nobody knows.


When Tessa Scott wakes with blood on her hands in a rat infested shack in Afghanistan, she discovers six orphan girls and the Undersecretary of State counting on her for protection. Confused at how she got there or why a smoldering Black Hawk helicopter has crashed outside the village, forces her into yet another adventure of cat and mouse with the Taliban who intend to kidnap them. With the help of a Kyrgyz tribesman and his men, they elude the danger only to discover their protection comes at a price which involves marriage to the leader. An unexpected chance at new love outweighs the secret Tessa must now carry forever. Meanwhile Captain Hunter, an Enigma agent, desperately searches for her before she disappears on the rooftop of the world. A race against time and ruthless drug lords, who work with the U.S. government, create obstacles which change Tessa’s life in a way she never expected.

Tierney has been in education for over thirty years. She recently stopped teaching World Geography for a nearby college to pursue her writing career. Creating a workshop for beginning writers, speaking at schools and serving as an officer in the writing group Sleuths’ Ink, are some of the work she does when not writing. With the creation of Winds of Deception, Tierney is now working with one of the crew members of USS Liberty in hopes of obtaining the Medal of Honor for him.

Besides serving as a Solar System Ambassador for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and attending Space Camp for Educators, Tierney has traveled across the world. From the Great Wall of China to floating the Okavango Delta of Botswana, Africa, she ties her unique experiences into other writing projects such as the action thriller novel, An Unlikely Hero, the first in the Enigma Series. Winds of Deception is the second in that series. Living on a Native American reservation and in a mining town for many years fuels the kind of characters she never tires of creating. 

Twitter: TierneyJames1

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

2nd Quarter Contest Photo

This is for members of Sleuths' Ink only. Our 2nd quarterly contest will be to write a story of 750 words - 1000 words from this picture.  Remember, the story MUST INCLUDE A CRIME.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

April 9th Speaker - CARA BRISTOL

USA Today bestselling author Cara Bristol has published more than twenty-five erotic romance titles. Her most recent book is Captured by the Cyborg, which has hit the top 100 list for science fiction romance on Amazon. No matter what the subgenre, one thing remains constant: her emphasis on character-driven seriously hot erotic stories with sizzling chemistry between the hero and heroine. Cara has lived many places in the United States, but currently lives in Missouri with her husband. She has two grown stepkids. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading and traveling. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Carabristol.com.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Almost Over


JANO 2016 is almost over. Thirty-one days go by so fast. Some of our participants made the goal of 50,000 words. They have a novel under their belt. Not a polished, ready to publish novel, but a great start. Others are still typing their fingers to the bone trying to reach the end. And still others have thrown in the towel.

But, no matter where they ended up this month, they are all winners. They took the challenge to write a novel. Lot's of people say they want to write a novel, but never do. 

As chairperson, I want to thank you for signing up and writing your stories. I also want to thank the volunteers who set up virtual write-ins and donated prizes (see our donor list to the right). It takes a village. 

Don't stop here. If you are done with your novel, put it away for a few weeks, then pull it out and start polishing it. Fill in those plot holes, take out those repetitive words, add description. Repeat. Then, don't let it sit in a drawer. Submit it. Yes, you'll probably get some rejections - we all do. But, who knows, you could be the next J.K. Rowling.