Monday, March 30, 2009


Contests are a great way to "play" with your writing. You can try new genres, stretch your imagaination and just have fun. Sometimes you can even win a couple bucks. So, give these a try.

First, a contest sponsored by The Writer magazine. This one has a $10 entry fee but first prize is $1,000 and publication.

Deadly Ink also has a contest. No entry fee but the "deadly incident" must take place in New Jersey.

Golden Visions Magazine has a nifty contest too. They are a speculative fiction publisher but as long as your story has a spec. fic. nature, it can be mystery or even horror. Be sure to read the guidelines as there is a theme to this one. And, while you're there, read my story Prey, and give it a vote if you enjoy it. Thanks!

The Verb has a quarterly prompt based contest. I really like this one:-)

Again, be sure to read the guidelines.

One of the blogs I read on a regular basis is Hey, There's a Dead Guy in the Living Room. I heartily recommend you check it out. One of the regular contributors is Jeff Cohen. I stole his YouTube video and posted it here for your enjoyment.


I've given in and started twittering. If you'd like to keep up with what's happening on the blog and such, the please follow me. There's a link on the right side of the blog...somewhere up close to the top. I promise not to bore you with what I had for lunch or how I'm having a bad hair day. In fact, to avoid boring my followeres, I'm tweeting writing and motivational quotes.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday is for Fun

Here's a couple fun things to play with.

Wordle - Paste in the text of your story and Wordle creates a word picture. It's seriously cool. You can save the images and use them for bookmarks, t-shirts and other promo ideas.

Write or Die - Need help getting words on the page? Give this a try. For serious cases, set it on Kamikazi mode. Then keep writing or your words will disappear.

20,000 Names - Here's a great place to find names for characters. You can also search by meaning.

Free Book - Become one of our first 25 followers and be entered to win an authographed copy of The Tomb by F. Paul Wilson or The Writer's Digest Handbook of Magazine Article Writing.

Mysteries in the Making now has an "office" at Zoetrope. Once you join, find Mysteries in the Making in the directory and request to join. I"ll be glad to invite you in. It's private so we can post our work there for comments and critiques and not lose our rights. I look forward to seeing you there.

Lastly...I get to brag. Mysterical-e has accepted my short story, Up In Smoke for their fall issue. I'll post a link when it goes live.

Prey is live at Golden Visions Magazine. Please, go by, read and if you like it, give it a shout out by voting for it. The reader's favorites may end up in a year end anthology.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Prey by Jean Lauzier

My short story Prey is featured in the spring issue of Golden Visions Magazine. Head on over, give it a read and if you like it, then give it a "vote" shout out.

Be sure to check out their contest page while there.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

Not long ago I read that Realms of Fantasy was closing up shop. I was saddened at the thought that another short fiction market had been lost. There are so few really good short story markets that the loss of even one isn't a good thing. I've since read that Realms of Fantasy has been revived so I'm happy for them.

But, the other night I was chatting with a friend who has a small mystery ezine and he mentioned how he might have to let it go. Seems like subscriptions are down, costs are going up and as much as he'd like to continue, he's not sure if he can. I left the conversation terribly saddened.

It got me to thinking though. I didn't subscribe to his ezine, and I'm a mystery writer. What's wrong with me? I would love to have a story published in his ezine so why the heck hadn't I subscribed to support him?

Because I just didn't think about it. I took for granted that someone else would subscribe and support him. But you know what...someone else didn't. In fact, someone else has let several other ezines I know of fade out of existence. I can name three right now and possibly two more.

So...It's time to take action. Here's my challenge for each of you.

Find a short story market you'd love to be published in and subscribe if you don't already. If they don't do the subscription thing, then donate to their expenses. Markets that pay the writers are few and far between. And not only does the writer deserve to get paid, but so do the editors who work so hard putting out a quality reading experience. So does the owner who pays the web fees and expenses involved with each issue.

One of the best ways to get our name and writing out there to the reader is through the short story market. Yet, if we don't step up and support them, we are going to continue losing them. And that would not be a good thing. We need them as much, if not more than they need us.

Remember, become one of our first twenty-five followers and be entered to win an autographed copy of The Tomb by F. Paul Wilson or The Writer's Digest Handbook of Magazine Article Writing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Today has been one of those days. Not sure why but I've started this blog post four times now, each time with a different subject. And, it's taken me only 2 1/2 hours to get this far.

I've read a couple other blogs, caught up in a discussion group, chatted with my mom by instant message, google chatted with another writer and even made a few notes on another idea for a story.

One of the things most writers have in common is procrastination. So, help a fellow writer out and share your cure for procrastination.

Me, I'm going to turn off Instant Message, set my status as busy at google chat and apply the BIC method. Hopefully, I'll make some progress.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Link Salad

Remember, become one of the first 25 followers and be entered in a drawing for a free book.

I've got an autographed copy of The Tomb by F. Paul Wilson, The Writer's Digest Handbook of Magazine Article Writing (hardcover) and an "uncorrected proof, limited edition of Lifelines by CJ Lyons for you to pick from.

Here's some things to check out.

Pen to Press Retreat - Spend a week working on your manuscript with best selling authors and pitching to NY agents and editors. I'm registered and looking forward to learning from some of the best.

Hillerman Mystery Novel Contest - got a mystery novel set in the southwest then you might be interested in this. Winner gets a nice advance and a published novel.

Do you blog? Here's an interesting post on why you should.

Hardboiled Heros & Cozy Cats Mystery Conference. Sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America Southwest chapter and held in Dallas Texas, June 19-20 2009. They have some really great looking workshops.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Getting it Right

One of the things that really irks me when reading is an author who doesn't take the time to do the research needed to get the details right. For example, the silencer on a revolver. Sorry, just doesn't work. Or, the guy who just walks right up to a wild horse, rubs his nose a time or two then gets on and goes for a ride. I saw that on "survival" show a while back and actually yelled at the tv. Because of the lack of attention to detail, I won't be watching that show again.

When writing crime fiction, it's so important to get the details right. We have to get the firearm details, crime scene details, police procedure details and a host of other details just right. If we don't, our reader WILL know and may decide not to read any of our other writing.

One place to get those details is The Graveyard Shift, Lee Lofland's blog. Topics range from jails, bounty hunting, police dogs, investigation, forensics and many others. If you don't find what you need, Lee is great answering questions. Just leave a question in the comment section.

Lee is also the author of Police Procedure & Investigation. This is on my "keeper" shelf. I find it a great resource.

Remember, research may be time consuming but the details you glean will make your story better and better is well worth the work.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The End

Today at The Kill Zone, they are discussing things that make readers stop reading or toss the book. It's a good discussion so check it out.

One of my pet peeves is the end of the book. I want an end that makes me feel good, makes me feel all is right with the world and that the characters I've come to love will be "okay." I want an end that makes me believe I've not wasted my time reading the book. I want an end that makes sense, that leaves me going "Aaaahhhhhh!" An end that makes me want to go find more books by this author and have a read-fest.

I love reading series for the most part. And I understand the author wants you to purchase the next book in the series. However, when they leave the reader hanging out on a limb without resolving the main conflict, it drives me nuts. It makes me think they stuck that end on as a gimmick.

That really annoys me. What annoys you enough to stop reading a novel?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Finally Friday...

Thanks for stopping by this week and being part of our beginning. Remember, the first 25 followers will be entered for a drawing to win a book. I've got an autographed copy of F. Paul Wilson's The Tomb or I'll offer a writing book of some sort.

Is your mystery novel ready to submit? Does it take place in the Southwestern United States, including at least one of the following states: Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Southern California and Utah? Then consider the Hillerman Mystery Competition.

Check out Nathan Bransford's Ten Commandments for a Happy Writer. It's a nice reminder that we all need sometimes.

And for a good laugh, stop by here.

One of my favorite mystery blogs is Kill Zone. Yesterday they had an interesting post on the short story.

Want to promote your mystery novel on Mysteries in the Making? Email me and let's chat.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Get Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz

As writers, we'd like to believe that writing the next great American novel is our only job. However, the publishing industry is changing rapidly and the author has to wear more and more "hats." Even if the author wants only a small amount of success.

This is where a platform comes in. Defined as any means you use to get your name and your book known to a viable readership such as your website, articles you've written, classes you teach, and public speaking. Having a platform can help tremendously in the "getting known" department.

And building that platform is where "Get Known Before the Book Deal" by Christina Katz comes in handy. Christina guides the author step by step in creating a platform by using the author's personal strengths and expertise.

From platform basics to identifying our niche and audience, connecting with others and even how to grow our platforms, "Get Known Before the Book Deal" is filled with information simplifying the platform building process.

Christina goes on to say we are 100% responsible for the success of our writing careers, 100% of the time. Then, she gives us things we can do to build that success such as suggestions of places to find speaking engagements and even tips for a successful presentation.

The wealth of information in "Get Known Before the Book Deal" earns this book a spot on my "keeper" shelf and a "must read" recommendation for all writers who plan on pursuing publication success.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Series Characters

Not long ago in chat over at Long Ridge someone asked me what was the key to remember when developing characters that might be the start of a series.

We discussed several things we thought important and I thought I'd share my top three with you.

1. A series character must be likeable. This is a character the writer will be spending a lot of time with and getting to know better than their best friend. And, if we're lucky, our readers will be spenging lots of time with this character too. It's darn hard to spend time with someone you don't like and most of us won't.

2. A series character must be interesting. I think this is why so many series characters have such cool jobs. Landscapers, privite detectives, cops, forensic specialists, caterers, medical professionals and the list goes on. Not only does the writer get a chance to try out a new profession, but the reader gets tag along. Of course, the character's profession must be done correctly or your book will end up a wall banger and none of us want that.

3. A series character must have room to grow and develop. Not only as a person but in their career. Again, this character is going to be around a long time. Growth keeps them from becoming stagnant. Stagnant characters get boring quick. And we don't want that either.

So, what do you think are important when considering a series character?


Tomorrow I'll post a review of Get Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Thanks for stopping by. Here's some of what you can expect to find.

Book reviews of "how to write a mystery" books and other writing related books.

Reviews of mysteries we are reading.

Contests and conference information that relate to the mystery genre.

We'll also hold the occasional contest and give away stuff. This is where being a follower will pay off.

We'll take you with us on our journey from "first draft to publication" and pass along the things we learn along the way.

So, introduce yourself in the comment section. Let us know if there's anything you'd like to see on the blog.