October 13, 2015

Stepping through the looking glass with Tracee Lydia Garner

October 23 will be a big day for me. I’ll be “stepping through the looking glass” with author Tracee Lydia Garner at Northern Virginia Community College at an event sponsored by the campus Partners’ Club, a group dedicated to promoting disability awareness. Tracee and I will be discussing writing and publishing, but our primary focus will be on portraying characters with disabilities. As those who have read House Divided know, my protagonist, Leonard Robbins, is wheel-chair bound as a result of an injury he suffered while in South America working for the CIA. If you can’t make that event, perhaps you know someone who might be interested. If so, please tell them to visit the Events Page on this website […]
October 13, 2015

Writer’s Retreat Do’s and Don’ts

I’ve only two days left in my two-week writer’s retreat and thought I’d share what I’ve learned from the experience. I came to my summer home by myself not expecting many external distractions. Everything was perfect except when I arrived my basement was flooded. Five inches of solid rain for two days had nowhere to go because our drainage pipe was totally blocked by a root mass. In addition to clean-up chores that needed doing after the pipe was cleared, I had some outdoor work that needed my attention. That part at least I was prepared for, and as the weather turned colder, I also became a slave to my fireplace––gathering kindling to go with the split wood I’d secured […]
September 28, 2015

All pluses at the third Creatures, Crimes and Creativity Conference

A small, but enthusiastic group of writers and fans attended Intrigue Publishing’s third Creatures, Crimes and Creativity conference this past weekend in Hunt Valley, Maryland. It was my first C3 confernce, and I’ll make an effort to attend next year depending on where and when it is held since for me the conference was all pluses. To begin with, my short story “The Great Satan,” was included in the conference anthology along with stories by Andy Straka (one of the keynoters), crime writer Michael A. Black, Sandra Campbell, paranormal, writer-editor-publisher Weldon Burge and conference co-coordinator and private eye author Austin Camacho. I also served on a workshop panel, where I received an unusal compliment. The format had three writers taking […]
August 20, 2015

The Writer’s Best Laid Plans

I thought I’d share some insights into the writing process for people who enjoy my novels as well as for my writer friends who might find some useful ideas. I’m at work on my sixth novel. It will be another thriller based on an exciting what if proposition: What if the son of the president-elect has evidence his father is an agent for a foreign power? Initially, I set the story to begin right after the 2024 election, but after completing more than twenty chapters, or approximately 60 percent of the anticipated story, I realized it needs to take place in 2028, not 2024. Simple, you might say, but actually. . . not so much. For example, in 2028, Thanksgiving […]
June 19, 2015

Brenda W. Clough, Imagination Express

Brenda Clough, Hugo and Nebula nominee, author of multiple novels, short stories and novellas, as well as writing instructor, graced the Howard County chapter of the Maryland Writers Association for a talk June 18 on ‘story construction.’ Clough began her comments drawing on Dorothy Sayer’s five facets of a story taken from The Mind of the Maker (1941). The five are: Setting, Plot, Character, Theme and Tone. (Footnote: Sayer’s book is certainly available with an introduction by Madeleine L’Engle.) Clough pointed out that certain genres favor one or the other facet. Romance is of necessity about character, while mystery and scifi tend to be plot centric. Setting is also central for sci fi. She gave as an example, her novel […]
June 16, 2015

Are there prerequisites to becoming a good novelist?

Can anyone become good at writing simply on the strength of innate talent and a desire to do so? That’s a fair question, isn’t it, given that hundreds of people are self-publishing novels never having taken a writing class or even mastered the elements of grammar as taught in high school English. These writers seem to be operating on the belief that all it takes is desire. They see fame achieved by people who are not too dissimilar from themselves and say ‘if she can do it, why can’t I?’ It’s easy to find works created with this mindset. I get emails daily offering self-published books for $0.99 or even free. I’ve tried to read several. I say tried because […]