Saturday, January 21, 2012

Poetry Corner ~ Calling ALL Poets!


Sometimes I feel so numb and sometimes I feel so focused and sometimes I feel so confused and sometimes I feel so useless and sometimes I feel full of joy and sometimes I feel so bitter and sometimes I feel so complete and sometimes I feel so empty and sometimes I feel so directed and sometimes I feel so lost and sometimes I feel so controlled and sometimes I feel I’m wild and sometimes I feel satisfied and sometimes I don’t and sometimes I feel lonely and sometimes I feel crowded and sometimes I feel strong and sometimes I feel weak and sometimes I’m so scared and sometimes I have courage and sometimes I have goals and sometimes I have no idea and sometimes the two blend into one of the same and there is no way I can tell which one is really me – the great chameleon and sometimes I’m quite certain of who I am and what I’m about.

Written by Becky Illson-Skinner

Friday, January 20, 2012

Finding a Publisher ~ Part II

Finding a Book Publisher ~ Part II

Hi everyone and welcome back! To recap from Monday’s post, we looked at he first 5 steps that need to be completed in order to find a publisher, which were as follows:






6. SUBMIT YOUR BOOK PACKAGE – only send the editor exactly what is requested. If you are mailing a large manuscript, use a box for this purpose (available at stationary or office supply stores). Address it to the editor by name and make sure your package is sealed securely but don’t use a half a roll of tape.

7. INCLUDE A STAMPED, SELF-ADDRESED ENVELOPE – make sure you send a large enough return envelope (depending on if you want your manuscript back or not) and sufficient postage.

8. PREPARE TO WAIT – it can take two months or longer to receive a response to your query and can take up to six months or more to find out if the publisher is interested in your manuscript.

9. KEEP WORKING – don’t wait to find out if your book is being picked up or not, get started on your next book or begin building a network of followers for when your book does hit the shelves.

10. DON’T GIVE UP – it’s hard but you need to try not to take rejection personally as there could be numerous reasons as to why your book may not be a good fit for one publisher to the next. Move to the next publisher on your list and remember it take time, effort and usually many submissions to get published.

Two common questions asked are:

How do I copyright my work? Good news! It is not necessary to register your work with the Copyright Office to protect it. The fact that you’ve put your book on paper places it under your copyright. You can declare copyright ownership by typing the words “Copyright (year) by (your name)” on the first page of your manuscript.

Should I get an agent? Usually first-time authors look for an agent AFTER a publisher has expressed interest in publishing your work. You will want the agent to help negotiate your contract.

Best of luck to everyone!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Most Boring Thing

Kate Burns

Here's an exercise to keep your writing muscles limber.

Find the most boring thing that happened to you today... or, perhaps, the most boring thing you did. Now, write a paragraph about it. Here's the catch: when you are finished, it should be the most nail-bitingly suspenseful piece of writing ever.

I turned my boss's really boring commute into this:

Two Hours Late

Tallie's nails tick-tick-ticked on the steering wheel. The dash clock blinked its seconds, but minutes snuck forward while her eyes were on the road. It's still ok, she thought. Still closer to nine than ten. Tallie punched the radio on. That woman was still droning on about art in the community. "Ugh." She slapped it off.

Any other day. Any other day, it would have been fine to be late. She looked out the window to her right. Would it be faster off here? No. The lineup of cars with their exhaust mingling with the sleet ran all the way back behind the exit she'd just passed. Tallie breathed out slowly, let her head sink down onto her hands.

If only it were Monday. Why did it have to be a Tuesday? Nothing good ever happened on a Tuesday. She wondered if the lawyers knew that. Hers was a good one, a real detail guy, Dad said. He'd have noticed, surely.

If it was Monday, she'd just be on her way to work. She'd be late, but she wouldn't be rushing. Could never rush. Tallie hoped she could still go to work after this was over.

Tuesday. Seven months, twelve days ago. First Tuesday in April. Late for work, driving too fast. The light. Yellow, then red. Pushing it. The white Honda. The driver, a woman. Her face, surprised...

The car behind her honked, startling Tallie. She looked at the clock. Nine fifty two. Then she knew. The woman was already there, waiting. Waiting to see if Tallie had any sense of remorse. The woman would be at the hearing, right now, Para Transpo driver smoking in the hall, waiting to take her back to her own busy schedule: physio, group, crafts.

So would the judge.

Happy Writing!
Kate Burns

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Author Interview ~ Alan McDermott

MYSTERY WRITERS UNITE is DELIGHTED to be supporting the work of Alan McDermott author of GRAY JUSTICE (see below).

Alan lives in the south of England and is married with beautiful twin daughters. When he's not creating clinical software for the NHS he writes short stories for his daughters and thrillers for everyone else. In his spare time he wishes he has more spare time...

--- 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 that indie authors do! Now for the fun stuff!! If your wife was stopped at the grocery store and someone asked her what your biggest writing quirk was, what would she say?

Alan McDermott: Definitely the faces I pull!  When I’ve written some dialog I tend to re-read it making the facial expressions I would expect of the characters.  By taking part in the scene I can tell if it feels realistic.  I don’t mind her laughing if it gives me the effect I’m looking for.

MWU: Aside from the main character in GRAY JUSTICE, who is your favorite character and why?

Alan McDermott: That would have to be Abdul Mansour.  I wanted to create someone who was dark to Tom Gray’s light and I think I captured that in his character.  This is a man for whom human life means nothing, and he is willing to sacrifice anyone to achieve his goals.  I found Gray’s character quite easy to relate to, but Mansour was anathema to me, so it took a lot of work to create him.  I wanted someone who had a single purpose and was ruthless to a fault, and I think I managed to achieve it.

MWU: What is one of your favorite chapters or scenes in GRAY JUSTICE and why is it your favorite?

Alan McDermott: That would have to be the battle scene towards the end.  I wrote the majority of the book with that scene in mind and I couldn’t wait to get it down on paper.  The book took me a year to write but that scene was done in a day and a half.  I added as much detail as I could and a few readers have commented on how vivid it was. 

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

Alan McDermott: I plan to bring Andrew Harvey back in the third book.  He was the MI5 officer tasked with stopping Tom Gray, and while he was doing his very best he was hamstrung by Gray’s excellent planning and the short amount of time he had.  I actually felt sorry for him at the end of the book and he was the first one penciled in for a return.

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

Alan McDermott: I had a bad case with Gray Justice and I’m going through something similar with the sequel.  With the first book I didn’t write a single word for ten weeks.  I’d gotten so hung up on maintaining a daily word count that I was trying too hard, and I found that putting it aside and forgetting about it let me come back with fresh ideas.  If I hadn’t taken that break I don’t think Gray Justice would be the book it is today.  In fact it was heading in a different – and not very plausible – direction at the time.

In the current project, whenever the block sneaks up on me I simply close the book and take a step back.  That lets me gather my thoughts and consider the next line.  Once I have that committed to paper the rest of the scene seems to fall into place.  It has meant a longer process than I would have liked but I feel it is worth it in the end.

MWU: What did you learn from writing GRAY JUSTICE?

Alan McDermott: Going back to the previous question, I have learned not to put words down just for the sake of reaching a deadline.  Writing is like chess: you have to think a few moves ahead, and every scene I write has to take subsequent chapters into consideration.  I am constantly revising the outline and I’m not afraid to go back and change a scene in order to help develop a new idea.  This does slow the process down, but I would rather take a year to deliver a great book than spit out something I’m not proud to call my own.

I also learned the value of having a good editor.  With Gray Justice I published it within a few hours of finishing it, and boy did I pay for that!  I have had to upload several new versions as errors have come to light, and I won’t be making that mistake again.  I have an editor lined up for the sequel, a certain Becky Illson-Skinner.

MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from GRAY JUSTICE (you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go….

Alan McDermott: It’s a rollercoaster ride from start to finish, with twists and turns and an ending that no-one sees coming.  The action scenes are vivid, the tension builds throughout and you’ll be carried along in the most original story you’ve read in a long time.  As one reader put it, “Think Law Abiding Citizen and you’ve only scratched the surface.”  While that was a fabulous film, I wasn’t trying to match or emulate that story: I was aiming to deliver a fresh twist on the vengeance theme, and I’m confident I delivered.

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

Alan McDermott: I am currently working on the sequel, which I hoped would be out in late February 2012, but I recently revised the outline (again!) so I’m hoping to get it on the virtual shelves by the end of March.

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

Alan McDermott: To new writers: try to imagine your book on the big screen.  The music industry is constantly churning out covers and the film industry is giving us remakes of classics, yet there is so much original material to be tapped in the indie market.  Come up with something never seen (or read) before and you have a great chance of making a name for yourself.  I have had so many people tell me that they would love to see the film version of Gray Justice at and that was always my original dream.  It’s a real compliment when my work has the same impression on others.

To anyone about to read my book, the ideals of Tom Gray are his alone.  I could have had him accept the decision of the court, but that would have meant the world’s shortest novel with a piss-poor ending.  Instead, I ask you to suspend disbelief and indulge him in his endeavors.

To my current fans, I can’t thank you enough for the reviews and messages of support.  When I started out on this journey I was a man alone but now I feel like the father of thousands, with the responsibility to deliver time and time again.

The synopsis for GRAY JUSTICE:
When a son is killed by a career criminal who spends just a few months in jail for his crime, the father can either accept the decision of the court, or make his voice heard: When it happens to Tom Gray he chooses the latter and takes retribution to a whole new level. His five-day campaign reaches a global audience and targets the British government, who need him alive, but four thousand miles away an up-and-coming figure sees the chance to make a name for himself and travels to England with one mission: kill Tom Gray.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's My Birthday...

no, seriously. Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, I don't feel like writing, barking up the wrong tree....

Love you all, Goodnight!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Finding a Book Publisher ~ Part I

Finding a Book Publisher - Part I

For those of you that don’t have the time, money, energy, know-how or patience to go down the self-publishing route (it does take all of these things to get it done), this post may be for you!

Let’s get the first misconception out of the way right of the bat – you don’t have to have an agent, or connections within the industry, to get published. However, you do need to know how to submit your work in the most professional manner possible and you need to ensure that you have what a perspective publisher will require if they are interested in publishing your work. Imagine getting that email, phone call or letter from an interested publisher and within the first few moments you discover that you don’t have what they need in order to publish your work? It would be catastrophic!

Today we will look at the first 5 steps you will need to complete in order to find a publisher. On Friday, we will look at the last 5 steps in “Finding a Book Publisher – Part II” and some common questions that get asked.

1. WRITE THE BOOK – not an outline or the first few chapters but the entire book. The first thing a publisher will want to establish is that you have the skill, stamina and discipline to complete a full-length book; they are interested in selling a product not your ideas.

2. DEFINE YOUR AUDIENCE – you ask some writers the question, “Who is your targeted audience?” and they don’t know the answer. You should be able to answer this question because it will help you choose an appropriate publisher. Also, you need to be able to define what genre your book belongs to. Not wishy-washy statements like “its sort of a mystery-romance with some sci-fi elements” because statements likes this will only confirm that you either haven’t refined the concept of your work or that you don’t understand the book market. Think in terms of how books are stacked on the shelves at your local Chapters.

3. RESEARCH THE MARKET – I know…research, blah. This is a critical step that can’t be avoided. You don’t want to call just any publisher listed in the book to see if they might be interested in publishing your work. Instead, focus on publishers that publish work that is within your genre. If you are not sure who publishes work in your genre, visit your local Chapters or library and see which publishing houses have published books in your genre.

4. DO YOUR HOMEWORK – you can find out promising publishers in the current Writer’s Market (available in bookstores), which lists what publishing companies are buying and their rates and will let you know how to approach the editor (e.g., some publishers want to see the entire manuscript whereas others only want a query letter outlining your idea). Of course, if you need more information you can write or call the publisher to request a copy of their writer’s guidelines. Another resource for publisher information can be found in the Literary Market Place (in the library reference section of your local bookstore).

5. PREPARE YOUR MANUSCRIPT – make sure that your manuscript is printed on high-quality white bond paper and never use erasable paper or a dot-matrix printer. Make sure you double-space your manuscript and leave a 1-inch margin on all sides, number your pages, check your spelling (not with just a spellchecker), use a clear readable font in 10 or 12 pt., don’t justify your right margin, don’t mix fonts or overuse boldface or italics. If you have further questions about how to format a proposal, query or manuscript you can consult The Writer’s Digest Guide to Manuscript Formats.

Remember to check back on Friday for the final 5 steps and some commonly asked questions.

Have a great day!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

What Can YOU Write in 6 Sentences or Something Like It!

Hi everyone,

Voting for what the Sunday post should be about has only been open for a week, which isn't enough time to make a decision. Let's give it another week and see where we end up and what idea is the most popular according to all of YOU. 

So far, the numbers stack up as follows:

Idea One: The Online Story

Idea Two: Week in Review

Idea Three: Guest Blogger

Idea Four: eBook Giveaway

I will let all of you know next Sunday which idea was the best of the four according to those that visited an let their wishes be known. If you need more information in order to cast your vote (maybe this is your first time visiting MYSTERY WRITERS UNITE or you missed last Sunday's post) take a few minutes and read the post from last Sunday. 

I encourage you to get your vote in and make your voice count. This website is being structured around YOU the reader so let's make it what you want!