Saturday, January 28, 2012

Poetry Corner ~ Calling ALL Poets!

The Painter

The canvas is ready and my brush is poised,
I’ll be the painter and fill this blank space,
The scene I wish to aspire to is attainable,
With all its warmest and richest shades,
There are only ripples of darkness in this picture,
I see a sky so blue and clear,
With a few white clouds sporadically placed,
After all, life would be so boring without some challenges,
I also see a huge mountain that forms to a peak,
Representing that most roads worth traveling are usually up hill,
But when you reach the top fulfillment shall be present,
At the top of this mountain is a castle in all its glory,
In which I shall of course be queen,
Living my life as I see fit and happiness around me,
Below this is a valley that is flourishing with flowers and trees,
The colors are so enticing and beautiful,
That the onlooker can almost feel their rhythm and joy,
And then of course there is a gorgeous waterfall that flows into a river,
The most vibrant color that you’ll ever lay eyes on,
You’ll want to search it time and time again,
To see if you can find all the hidden treasures there,
This is so picturesque and calming for the soul,
That I lay down my brush and feel satisfied.

Written by Becky Illson-Skinner

Friday, January 27, 2012

Working with an Editor ~ Part II

Working with an Editor ~ Part II

I’m going to say the following again because it is important and because I can :-)   Having your work edited by someone OTHER THAN YOU is a necessary evil because you won’t see your writing errors – you are too close to your story and far too familiar with what the words should say to notice, in some cases, what they do say. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one!

On Monday, we examined some common misunderstandings about editors and we are going to finish today by looking at some questions you may want to ask of a perspective editor and for those of you that still think you can do it all on your own, I will give you a checklist of things to look for when editing your book:

1.     What type of editing services do they offer?

2.     What fees do they charge?

3.     When are fees due (up front, upon completion of work)?

4.     How long will it take for them to edit your book?

5.     How much control do you still have with edited content?

6.     What type of books do they read in their spare time?

7.     What kind of books have they edited?

8.     How are they with meeting deadlines?

9.     What format does your book have to be in for editing purposes?

10. Can they provide references?

For those of you that still think you can be your own editor, I don’t agree but can’t stop you so here is an editing checklist of things you should look for and consider:

1.     Does your story have a good hook?

2.     Is there a prologue and do you really need it? Try reading the story without it and see if it makes a difference.

3.     Do you consistently stay in 1st, 2nd or 3rd person?

4.     Have you balanced your writing enough between action, dialogue and narrative summary?

5.     Does the action have a purpose and does it move the story forward in a believable way?

6.     Have you, in any part of your story, drifted off into a realm that doesn’t fit with the rest of the story?

7.     Are your plot twists feasible and believable?

8.     Does your plot and all of your subplots become resolved by the end of the story?

9.     Is your dialogue necessary to move the story forward? Is it advancing the plot?

10. Did you manage to keep your characters in character and are they true to their character arc?

11. Does the protagonist of your story have a clear character arc?

12. Does your story engage a reader’s senses through descriptions that allow the reader to get a sense of the setting and to visualize characters?

13. Have you shown your readers what is happening instead of telling them?

14. Does each chapter or scene stay in a single point of view?

15. Check, double-check and triple-check your story for spelling, grammar, and punctuation!

Happy writing and editing everyone!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Author Interview ~ Sevastian Winters


Sevastian Winters is a story teller's story teller. An author who firmly believes that characters have the inalienable right to be themselves, good, bad, and ugly, Sevastian enjoys injecting his characters into impossible situations.

A faced paced, action author who grabs you and pulls you through the pages, never stopping to let you breathe, Sev's got some stories to show you. So lace up your running shoes and let's go!

--- Interview

MWU: Let me start by saying thank you for agreeing to let MYSTERY WRITERS UNITE interview you, it really is a pleasure to support all the hard work of fellow authors! Now for the fun stuff!! What would you say your biggest writing quirk is?

Sevastian Winters: Thanks for having me. Hmm…. My biggest writing quirk… When I finish a book, before I release it, I print out a copy and light it on fire. I figure that one man’s masterpiece is another man’s kindling, and if anyone is ever going to burn one of my books, I want to make sure I’m first.

MWU: Aside from the main characters in THE TROUBLEMAKER and WOLF’S RISE, who is your favorite character and why?

Sevastian Winters: To tell you the truth, if I had it to do again, I’d re-write the Troublemaker. It probably won’t help my bank account to say this, but it’s not a very well written book. The story is good, but the execution is so embarrassing that I nearly took it off of the market recently. Now to answer your question: I really love my minor characters. I think a writer has to, if they want to get any traction with readers. People are complex. No one is fully good or fully bad, and especially when a character has limited ‘on screen’ time, the writer has to figure out how to bring them to life…to create a person instead of a prop. If I had to pick my favorite among them, I’d likely go with T.J. from Wolf’s Rise. He’s a walking paradox, and I love that.

MWU: What is one of your favorite chapters or scenes in THE TROUBLEMAKER and WOLF’S RISE and why is it your favorite?

Sevastian Winters: Bar none, my favorite scene in those two books comes from the Troublemaker, shortly after a couple is forced to endure the trauma of delivering a still-born baby. I’ve never gone through that pain personally, but after writing the scene I could barely get out of bed for three days. The scene itself is incredibly visceral, purposefully disjointed, and perfectly human.

MWU: Now that you’ve completed several books, is there a character in any of them that you may want to go back to at another time and write about them again?

Sevastian Winters: Well, for sure, I am writing a number of sequels to Wolf’s Rise. Next in that series is Wolf’s Cry, with releases at the end of March. I’m also planning to write a book called My Hat’s Funeral which I intend to pen as “Bill Collins,” a minor character from Wolf’s Rise, who wrote a novel and movie screen play by that name. I like the idea of littering the story universe with odes to other stories. I think that is a fun little way of saying thank you to fans who stick with my work.

MWU: Another question I ask every author I interview. Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you cope with it?

Sevastian Winters: Writer’s block is cured by but one thing: Writing! Show me someone with writer’s block and I will show you a person who is wrapped up in being a writer instead of being wrapped up in chronicling a story. When all else fails, ask your characters what is next. Then write it. Writer’s block doesn’t happen for people who are sitting at their desk with the story file in front of them. For those starting with a blank file, looking for characters or a story, I recommend the story formula I teach in my book How I are Becomed a Very Much Gooder Author. I defy anyone to use that story formula without finding a story to write.

MWU: Writing THE TROUBLEMAKER must have presented some interesting challenges being that the subject, even in this day and age is still pretty taboo, what where they and how did you overcome them?

Sevastian Winters: Actually, it didn’t present any challenges for me in the slightest. I write the story that’s there. I don’t care too much about who the reader might be. I know from the outset that there is always a market for a well-told story, even those whose subject matter is considered taboo. A writer’s job is to act as a camera and microphone… never a commentator. The characters themselves must live out their truth on a page…whether that truth bears any resemblance to how I feel personally as an author or not. I work from the premise that every character has an inalienable right to be themselves. As such, I start with characters and then I put them into the pressure cooker of story to find out what will happen next. I don’t believe a person can be a very good writer until they fully grasp the truth of that. Maybe that makes me a bit pompous… I don’t know. I just know that, for me, showing the character’s truth is far more important than whomever might be offended by it.

MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from THE TROUBLE MAKER or WOLF’S RISE (you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go….

Sevastian Winters: Wolf’s Rise is the werewolf novel for people that don’t like werewolf novels. It’s a military thriller… Werewolves meet the Bourne Identity. If you like six-page descriptions of drapes, Wolf’s Rise isn’t for you, but if you like books so jammed with action that you can skip your cardio workout at the gym for the week, then lace up your running shoes and come run with the big dogs!

MWU: I just love the title of your “HOW I ARE BECOMED A VERY MUCH GOODER AUTHOR” publication! Can you give readers a glimpse into why you wrote this book and how it can help aspiring writers like me?

Sevastian Winters: Having read dozens of books on writing, I came to realize that most books on writing discuss writing as a business or writing as a craft, but none of them discuss it as both. Having worked for ten years as a marketing professional and six years as a corporate CEO, I am well acquainted with some things to which most authors have very little exposure. I’m no expert, and I am wary of anyone who says they are, but I have done my homework. I wrote this book as a cheat sheet, to help writers bypass some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way. No matter if you’ve been writing for ten minutes or ten years, How I are Becomed a Very Much Gooder Author has something that will make you say “wow! I never thought of it like that before!”

MWU: What can your readers expect next and when can they expect it?

Sevastian Winters: I am releasing two new novels in the Spring: My Eyes Face Forward: Memoirs of the Serial Killer, and Wolf’s Cry, the first of several sequels to Wolf’s Rise.

MWU: Is there anything you would like to say to new writers, new readers or current fans of your work?

Sevastian Winters: Yes, please. To new writers, I say, excellence is its own reward. Learn your craft. To new readers, I say, never read a book just because you have it. Life is too short to read bad books, eat bad food, or collect bad art. Read what really appeals to you, and if a book doesn’t keep you riveted, put it down and go find something else. To new fans, I say Thank you. I am honored and I promise continued dedication to excellence. 

The synopsis for THE TROUBLEMAKER:

Tyler Wabash has more to deal with than just an abusive childhood in a single parent household. He (or rather she) was also born in the wrong body. Join Tyler on the Journey of a lifetime as he grows from a troubled little boy named Tyler into a triumphant woman named Renee. Sometimes life is as much about the journey as it is the destination. (Author note: This book was written before I realized that line editing and content editing are different skill sets. I am taking steps to have this book properly line edited by Feb. 1 2012).


Ten years as a marketing professional, followed by six as a corporate CEO and 5 years of writing full time, have given me a unique perspective on the business of being an author. From learning how to brand yourself, to starting the next book after your fans have begun to review the work you just finished, How I are Becomed a Very Much Gooder Author takes you through the steps, one by one, from aspiring author to very much gooder author, all the way, helping you avoid the pitfalls that I've found along the way in my writing and publishing journey. I don't claim to be an expert, but I have absolutely done my homework. Consider this book your cheat sheet. No matter your experience as an author, I guarantee, it will be worth every penny of the $3.99 eBook cover price.

The synopsis for WOLF’S RISE:
The military thought they were making the perfect weapon. Unfortunately for them, they were right! Werewolves meet the Bourne Identity in Volume I of this adrenaline packed LupoSapien Project series.

To purchase any of these titles, click on one of the links below:

The TroubleMaker

How I are Becomed a Very Much Gooder Author

Wolf's Rise (The LupoSapien Project)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Throwing Together a Quick Plot

Kate Burns

On Thursday, I have been asked, as a 'real author', to speak to my daughter's grade 3 class on the subject of how to take an idea and turn it into a real story.

Good question! But, like the class already asked, how?

Well, let's throw together a quick plot.

We'll start with a little Trouble.

Every good story starts, of course, with trouble. Not little trouble -- losing your car keys, or forgetting to let the dog out -- but Trouble. Like, say, if you lost your car keys in a bad part of town and found yourself running for your life as two rival street gangs open fire on either side of you. While delivering (stolen) diamonds for your abusive boss. That kind of Trouble.

The snowflake method is good for plotting. It's a good one for that nagging 'what happened next' question.

Basically, you write out a beginning situation: Martha gets up at four o'clock every morning to start her day's work in her parents' bakery. She slaves all day, quitting at dusk only to drag herself home and fall into bed, exhausted. Her chances of meeting a man with her head in the oven are slim to none.

And an end situation: Martha emerges as a heroine, having solved the mystery of the arsons in the neighbourhood. The blue-eyed fire investigator she sleuthed with has proposed to her, and she finds the confidence to break out on her own as a special events caterer.

An inciting incident: Four o'clock in the morning. Locks her keys in the car and is stuck outside in the alley behind the bakery. While waiting for a locksmith, Martha sees someone running out of the alley. She smells smoke, then all hell breaks loose as the tenement building next door explodes into flame.

With a dangerous complication: He sees her, too.

With some serious trouble in the middle: Martha is nearly cooked when her ovens malfunction. Is it a freak accident? Gross negligence that could cost her parents the business? Or an attempt on Martha's life?

Some serious sleuthing: She comes across a clue to ovenly sabotage, a motive, along with a few possible suspects.One of whom just started working there.

One Red Herring: The bakery's new cashier lives rent-free in a nearby warehouse, and is an anarchist. He believes home is wherever a person squats and would defend it with knife, gun or burn it to the ground before anyone else got to it. He's attractive, if a little high-strung.

An obstacle: The anarchist cashier likes Martha. A lot. She goes out with him a couple of times, only to discover that although he doesn't believe in ownership for property, he's pretty possessive regarding women.

And a twist: A little google is a dangerous thing: Martha comes to suspect the fire investigator of being an arsonist himself!

Or three: Trouble is, she's falling in love with him. And the cashier can see it, too. Whenever the investigator is around, she can't seem to shake loose her anarchist barnacle.

Weave in a Subplot: Martha's parents are not only not supportive of all the crazy things she's been doing, it looks like they may actually try to have her committed. It turns out her mother went through a 'crazy' phase in her own youth, only to have her dreams dashed and her heart broken by tragedy. She has been shielding her daughter from the same fate, by hiding her away in the family business.

And how about a title? Even just a working title: The Scent of Fresh Murder

Poof! A story! And all I did was start with a beginning situation, ask myself (or my muse) a few questions, and answer them according to some plot points I know I'll need.

And that is where I think I'll take those kids.

Stay tuned Thursday for what questions to ask while building a plot.

Happy Writing!
Kate Burns

Monday, January 23, 2012

Working with an Editor ~ Part I

Working with an Editor ~ Part I

Having your work edited by someone OTHER THAN YOU is a necessary evil because you won’t see your writing errors – you are too close to your story and far too familiar with what the words should say to notice, in some cases, what they do say. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one!

Finding the right editor for you can seem like a daunting task and if you don’t know the difference between the types of editing that is offered from one person to another and you may think you are getting something that you are not. That’s why it’s important to educate yourself!

We will look at some common misunderstandings about editors in order to guide you through some of this process and then I will provide some common check list tips for you to follow when looking to hire an editor on Friday in “Working with an Editor ~ Part II”.

It is important to remember that some editors may edit work from several different genres, but for the most part, editors specialize. They can’t be experts on everything and if the editor you are considering has integrity and morals they will tell you flat out if they are not the right person to be editing your book (tread carefully and ask questions before you commit to working with anyone).

Editors employed at publishing houses do perform editing and if you are being pursued by a publisher that doesn’t offer editing services for free prior to publication, you are probably working with a self-publishing service (e.g., vanity press) and not a book publisher.

Editors need to know the marketplace in order to assist you in preparing book proposal and if you can find a savvy book editor, especially one who has ties to publishers, you will maximize your ability to get your book proposal sold.

All editors DO NOT do the same type of work! There are several different types of editors:

In-house Acquisition Editors – buys the rights to books and oversee their publication, acting as a liaison with many different departments. Often, they are not the person that will do the actual line editing or structural editing of your book.

Developmental Editors – will restructure manuscripts, clean up writing and make it less awkward and more consistent and add in transitions and headers. This type of editor is sometimes referred to as a heavy-line editor, a structural editor or a book doctor. They will often, but not always, help you to develop your story and their services and fees vary.

Light-line or Copyediting Editors – don’t address the structure of the book, the voice or the tone. Instead, they fix grammar and punctuation; decide on styling, fact check, and not inconsistencies (this is the type of editing I offer authors). A copyeditor or light-line editor doesn’t necessarily do developmental editing and a developmental editor will often only do minimal copyediting.

Note: even though developmental editors do very little copyediting as they get the book into shape for the publisher, when they are finished their work they will turn the manuscript over to someone whose expertise is in copyediting and proofreading. Even if the developmental editor happens to be a great copyeditor as well, they know it’s better to have a second set of eyes looking at text that has become extremely familiar to them. Proving my point from the beginning of this post – having your work edited by SOMEONE OTHER THAN YOU is critical!

Whatever type of editor you decide you require, don’t wait to find a professional to work with until three weeks before publication because editors are often booked up months in advance.

Remember to check back on Friday for “Working with an Editor ~ Part II” to get your checklist for working with an editor.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

What Can YOU Write in 6 Sentences?

Hi everyone,

I can't believe it but after two weeks of the survey being active on the site and leaving it up to YOU to decide what kind of content you would like to see....well, there have only been 5 votes (THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!). To be honest, I thought there would have been more considering we have over 1000 page views a week.

Why is it so hard to get feedback from viewers? They come and they visit but seldom do people post a comment or, as in this case, take a few seconds of their time to cast a vote to help determine what kind of content this site will have for them in the future. I put in a lot of time and effort into this site and the limited interaction from our readers is frustrating (yes, that is a depiction of me pulling out my 

I'm going to give it a couple more weeks and see if the numbers improve. If they don't, then I think I will cancel Sunday posts all together.

If you want to cast your vote, check out the choices available by clicking here: Sunday Content Vote

Have a great day everyone!