Saturday, January 7, 2012

Poetry Corner ~ Calling ALL Poets!

Your Coat of Many Colors

That coat of many colors that you display upon your back,
You’ve worn it really well; it serves your life’s needs,
You only let through what you want it to portray,
You shed each color as it suits you according to your needs,
I was fooled by what you represented yourself to be,
You’re a wolf in disguise in that beautiful coat,
Each color represents a side of your emotions; I’ve learnt them well,
The blue represents the playful you that only emerges when it’s to your advantage,
The yellow represents your warmth and affection, it is rarely ever seen,
The green represents your jealous and distrusting soul, as you are well aware of your unfaithfulness,
The red represents your anger which is the one you’ve almost warn to death,
The white represents purity and wellness; you are not allowed to wear that one,
And of course, let’s not forget the black, which represents just how evil you are.

Written by Becky Illson-Skinner

Friday, January 6, 2012

Getting Published ~ Part II Information and Resources

Hi everyone,

As promised in “Getting Published ~ Part I Options” that was run on Tuesday of this week, here is “Getting Published ~ Part II Information and Resources”.

Agency Representation:

The first rule of thumb is to try and choose an agent’s filed of expertise matches your genre. Don’t just choose one or two but make a longer list of about 10 – 15 possibilities and then prepare your Query email or letter. For rules for preparing your Query email or letter, check out the post that was on Mystery Writers Unite by clicking the following link: The Query Letter.


Do not send any files until an agent asks you for more material. Also, don’t be afraid to let the agent know that numerous agents are considering your project and you have made “simultaneous submissions”.  Lastly, don’t try to flatter or cajole an agent and resist the temptation to praise or denigrate your own work and don’t phone them to find out what their decision is because agents can take much longer to reply and sometimes they never reply. Your better off to focus your energy on those who do respond instead of worrying about those that don’t. This option is NOT for the faint of heart.

One final note: Fiction writers will be asked at some point to submit either a sample of their work with a synopsis or the complete manuscript whereas non-fiction writers will be expected to submit a proposal. A classic guide for submitting a book proposal is Michael Larsen’s How to Write a Book Proposal. For those of you that are more visual, literary agent Ted Weinstein offers a free 90-minute “Proposal Boot Camp" seminar online.

Independent Press:

The leading association of independent publishers in the US is the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA). They are located at 627 Aviation Way, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 or online at . A national group of independent publishers is the Small Publishers Association of North America (SPAN). They are located at P.O. Box 1306, Buena Vista, CO 81211 or online at .

Co-op or “POD” Publishing:

Most Co-op or “POD” publishers arrange for the printing of your book through a print-on-demand technology, which means that books are produced only in the quantities orders, eliminating the need to maintain an inventory. If you plan on producing a single copy that is likely to sell in a low quantity (less than 1000 copies) then this may be an option for you.

Co-op or “POD” publishers vary in the amount and quality of production and publicity services they will provide so it is important to research their contract very carefully and that in the end you will still probably do the majority of the publicity of your book. If you are the type that is willing to invest in your work but prefer not to get involved in all the technical aspects of publishing, then working with a Co-op or “POD” publisher may be just what you’ve been looking for. Feel free to visit the following links to get a feel for this new publishing option:

Lastly, here are two websites that compare the costs and benefits of various Co-op or “POD” Publishers: Problems & Benefits of POD  and

Electronic Publishing:

Some online references about ePublishing include:

Visit the following electronic publishers to get an education in this field:

As you can see, there are MANY options to become published and there is no right way or wrong way!! Happy writing and publishing everyone!!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

How James Taylor Helps Me Write

Kate Burns

I caught my husband online again. It happens every few days, actually. Whenever he's got a little private time, no one is home yet, work done... and I come home, calling out. Instead of an answer, drifting up from the basement come the strains of...

The Seventies.

Specifically, the amazing songwriting-driven performances of Simon and Garfunkel, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Dan Fogelberg and James Taylor.

As I come down the stairs to greet Dave, he is already filling my head with new facts. Did I know that James Taylor had been committed? That Fire and Rain was partially a lament for a friend, Suzanne? And so on...

I sat and listened, and it put me in mind of tonight's post. Have a look at these lyrics.

Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone
Susanne, the plans they made put an end to you
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
I just can't remember who to send it to

I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again

Won't you look down upon me, jesus
You've got to help me make a stand
You've just got to see me through another day
My body's aching and my time is at hand
And I won't make it any other way

Oh, I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again

Been walking my mind to an easy time my back turned towards the sun
Lord knows when the cold wind blows it'll turn your head around
Well, there's hours of time on the telephone line to talk about things to come
Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground

Oh, I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you, baby, one more time again, now

Thought I'd see you one more time again
There's just a few things coming my way this time around, now
Thought I'd see you, thought I'd see you fire and rain, now

Note the cadence. Note how each line is strictly structured to follow a music and poetry formula, how each word has been carefully chosen to either conceal or reveal exactly what James wants you to know at any particular point in the song.

Here's an exercise: Look up one of these amazing songwriters' efforts. Or, find a favourite song of yours. Read the lyrics, as a poem.

Your novel, though longer, should have all of the elements of a great songwriter's work: cadence, a sparing reveal of information, a twist (subtle or not), and above all, make every word count. When you write, tell as interesting a story as you can, in as few words as possible.

Thanks, Dave. I don't know why you don't just look at the pretty ladies on the internet like other dudes, but I am glad you find what you find.

Kate Burns

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Author Interview ~ R.S. Guthrie

MYSTERY WRITERS UNITE is THRILLED to be starting off 2012 supporting the work of R.S. Guthrie, author of BLACK BEAST and his NEW RELEASE LOST (see below).
Rob lives in Colorado with his wife and two Australian Shepherds, and a Chihuahua who believes she is also an Aussie. He hopes to retire to the remote mountains of Wyoming and continue to write.
As a special thank you to all our readers, MWU will be giving one lucky commenter an eBook version of both of Rob’s books – as a reader of his work, I can tell you that you won’t be disappointed!!
--- Interview
MWU: Great to be interviewing you again! Being that we’ve talked before, I had to dig a little deeper to come up with great questions…lol With that, here is the first one – if your wife was approached on the street and was asked what your writing quirk(s) is/are what would she say?
R.S. Guthrie: Well the first thing she would say is “thank you for knowing who my husband is---you’re the one!” Then she would probably say that my biggest writing quirk is that when I want to read what I’ve created I will send it to my Kindle and then draw a hot bath to read my writing. Oh, did I mention it’s a bubble bath? TMI, right? It’s okay, I’m comfortable in my manhood…
MWU: If you could be a character in the CLAN of MACAULAY SERIES, and you can’t pick Bobby Mac, which one would you want to be and why?
R.S. Guthrie: Great question, now that you took the cool, manly hero out of the running! I’d say Gunnery Sergeant Montgomery McBride. He’s a fairly minor character in the series, but he’s one of those memorable guys—a Senior Drill Instructor in the Marine Corps who at sixty can still do more pushups than his charges. Just a tough son of a gun who takes life by the, uh, horns.
MWU: What do you think readers will most enjoy about the MACAULAY CLAN SERIES?
R.S. Guthrie: This one is pretty easy. I chose to write a series because I feel very strongly about memorable characters with whom a reader can relate and for whom they can cheer. I tried to do that with Detective Bobby Mac and I get a lot of really positive feedback on that protagonist. I think readers will find they connect with Mac. He’s an everyman hero.
MWU: If your main character in the MACAULAY CLAN SERIES (Bobby Macaulay) could say something to you, what do you think he would say?
R.S. Guthrie: He’d probably tell me to stop getting him in these dangerous situations all the time. Maybe write him on to a nice private beach in Bali with Agent Amanda Byrne. And no bad guys. (I’d like to think he’d also thank me for making him so cool.)
MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from BLACK BEAST AND LOST (you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go….
BLACK BEAST: Action. Not a lot of filler. A fast-paced read with human, likable characters that you will care about. An interesting villain.
LOST: More horror than the first book.  An adventure element and some creepy twists. The good, bad, and ugly in family relationships.
MWU: If you were approached to make the MACAULAY CLAN SERIES for TV, who would you think could do the best job in the role of Bobby Mac? Father Rule?
R.S. Guthrie: The funny thing is I was tasked a few months ago with coming up with a Bobby Mac image for an online promotion. I ended up choosing a fairly familiar face—a current television actor, who also plays a tough, ex-military cop: Australian Alex O’Loughlin, who currently plays Lieutenant Commander Steve McGarrett on Hawaii Five-0. I guess we’d just have to offer him more money.
MWU: How did you develop and differentiate your characters and how do you “stay in character” when your writing?
R.S. Guthrie: My characters are a combination of protagonists and antagonists I have read over the years. As a writer, much of my style comes from subconsciously emulating the writers I love. I say ‘subconsciously’ because I fuel my imagination by reading the authors I love and then the writing just comes. When I am writing, I read almost exclusively in my genre. That keeps my mind in the game.
MWU: Who do you see as your “ideal” reader?
R.S. Guthrie: I am still trying to build my readership, but one of the things I have noticed is that I get the majority of positive feedback from women readers. I think the ideal reader for what I write is someone who enjoys dialogue and a writing style that gets to the point. I don’t enjoy reading long, overwritten books, so I don’t write ten pages of landscape development. If a reader likes a “good read” book that they don’t want to put down, that’s my reader.
MWU: What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
R.S. Guthrie: Listen to all criticism—there is almost always something useful in comments from someone who has taken the time to read and critique your work. And never argue with a critic. Ever.
MWU: What are your thoughts on the ever-changing publishing industry? What do you see for the future, as a writer?
R.S. Guthrie: The price point of books scares me. It’s incredibly low—many readers are becoming accustomed to spending anywhere from 99 cents to a couple of dollars for a novel-length work (and 99 cents seems to be more and more the de facto price for an indie book). I think the “established” authors’ books are going to keep coming down and pretty soon writers are going to have a hard time making a living. You can’t support your writing on 12 cents net per book.
MWU: Is there anything you would like to say to new writers, new readers or current fans of your work?
R.S. Guthrie: To new writers I would say take pride in your work; make it the best it can be. To all readers I would say support your favorite writers by posting reviews, buying their work, and passing the word. To current fans of my series I would say don’t worry, Bobby Mac isn’t going anywhere!
Synopsis for BLACK BEAST:
Decorated Denver Detective Bobby Macaulay has faced down a truckload of tragedy over recent years. The death of his partner; the loss of his own leg in the line of duty; the companionship of his beloved wife to cancer; his faith in God to his inner demons.

After the man who ruined his leg and killed his first partner is executed, Macaulay becomes the lead detective investigating the Sloan’s Lake murders. The method of killing in this double-homicide is so heinous it leads Macaulay and his partner down an ever-darkening path—one that must be traversed if they are to discover the evil forces behind the slaughter.

Just when Bobby Macaulay is questioning the very career that has been his salvation, he will discover a heroic history buried within his own family roots: The Clan MacAulay—a deep family lineage of protectors at the very core of a millenniums-long war against unimaginable evil.

Synopsis for LOST:
L O S T is the sequel to Black Beast, the 5-Star debut novel in the Clan of MacAulay series.

Denver Detective Bobby Mac returns in this intense horror/thriller, set in the northern panhandle wilderness of Idaho. After receiving a phone call from his brother, the Chief of Police in Rocky Gap, Idaho, Bobby Mac travels north to assist in the investigation surrounding two gruesome murders and the abduction of an eleven-year-old girl.

These two seasoned cops---estranged brothers reunited---will bring all of their experience to bear in a case that threatens not only the safety of a small town, but also the sacred lineage of a family of heroes.

Make sure to leave R.S. Guthrie a comment so your name can be entered into our draw for a free eBook copy of both of his fantastic books!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cleaning Up

Kate Burns

Well, it's back to work time. Not yet back to school time for my daughter (seriously, who wants to be a teacher? I do!), but definitely back to the salt mines for me. Today, instead of doing one more social to-do, I took a large part of the afternoon to get some organization back into my home.

This gets me thinking about the new novel that I am working on. I am 5000 words in, and 'first draft plotted', so to speak, but the post-Christmas reintroduction to routine is a great time to jump-start the work on the novel, clean out the cobwebs of wrapping paper and last-minute gifts, and give myself the gift of steady, organized progress.

As a segue into my work, I am going to take some sage advice and reread what I have written so far, to get into the headspace. Then I am going to schedule -- gently and without breaking myself -- time every weekend to write. I will set a goal of a certain number of words, and build in time to reread what I have written the previous week.

With a full time job, a husband and an eight year old daughter, and several other projects looming in the January-to-March timeframe (including but not limited to: backstage work for a cabaret, a large family reunion that I am helping to host, co-authoring a short story with another author), I need to be both bloody-minded and practical.

I think it's a good idea to set not only some short term goals (word counts, etc.), but some medium and longer term goals as well. I want to do a 'quarterly edit' on the novel -- every 20,000 words, do a read-through and rewrite for continuity, character, spelling and grammar.

I am going to host a writer's retreat. End of February, five women needed. Weekend goal is to write 10,000-20,000 words. $70/writer, great location. Should be fun!

I have not made any New Year's Resolutions this year. But I am going to make progress. I am going to work hard.

It will take resolve.

Happy (and productive!) Writing,
Kate Burns

Monday, January 2, 2012

Getting Published ~ Part I Options

Hi everyone,

My first post of the year that isn’t one of the regular weekly posts (Poetry Corner, What Can YOU Write in 6 Sentences or an Author Interview) is going to be a two-part post about “Getting Published”.

In today’s publishing world, there are so many options to choose from in order to get your work out to the masses and I’m going to cover them all very briefly in this post and then provide a bit more in-depth information in part II.



The traditional route, for some, is still the most desired route and you can certainly submit your work to an agent in the hope that you will find representation by a major publisher.  You can find a fairly decent list of literary agents online at AuthorAdvance, or you can search the database of the Association of Authors’ Representatives. Another alternative is to check at your local library as they may have a comprehensive listing of book publishers, agents or other resources available.

Independent Press:

A growing field, the independent press, enables you to find a publisher who may not give you any money up front for your work but who is more likely to be loyal to your work over the long run. You won’t find many agents that work with the smaller publishers because their advances are small or nonexistent, and agents live on commission.

Co-op or “POD” Publishing:

Until I had begun research for this post, I had never heard of this option – a recent development in alternative publishing! This group comprises of co-op publishers, who charge authors a fee for the production and publication of their work. A great alternative and a step above the self-publishing route where the author bears the full cost of publication for a very small number of conventionally printed books.

A word of caution: some Co-op Publishers let you retain your rights as the publisher while others do not.

Electronic Publishing:

A publishing option that is rapidly gaining public acceptance and is becoming a significant economic force in the publishing world!! Some e-publishers produce POD books and some don’t. Also, some may be here today and gone tomorrow so you want to make sure you have up-to-date information on the field before committing your work to any particular firm.


If you have determination and some money to invest, you can be your own publisher and Mystery Writers Unite has already done numerous posts on the subject! Check out some of the information by clicking here: Self-Publishing

Make sure to check out Part II of “Getting Published” on Thursday!


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!!

Wishing everyone the very best for a safe and prosperous New Year!!

Becky and Katie