Friday, January 28, 2011

Voices of Mystery: Molly MacRae

Ball State professor Nancy Carlson interviews Molly MacRae about her newest novel, Lawn Order. The interview took place at the last Magna cum Murder.

When you're through watching this interview, why not follow up with Gwen Mayo's?


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Quantity and Quality - Not What You Think

In a recent exchange on the #amwriting thread on Twitter, I said that I had only written about 400 words. Someone responded: "Quality, not quantity!" When I thought about those words, though, I realized that this axiom doesn't quite work with my approach to writing.

Quality? I hope I eventually get there with everything I write. My method of getting there, though, is to sit down and force myself to write the scene, even if I'm not sure where I'm going or what's going to happen later in the story. I brazen it out, feeling foolish and seeing the clumsiness of the words.

Then, I fix it. I go back and forth, changing redundant words, seeking the perfect way - or at least a clear way - of saying what I want to say. I may have only had 400 new words on my computer screen, but there were probably another 300 I deleted en route to better phrasing. Like Penelope, I weave and unravel. Unlike her, my objective is to finish the job.

After I have a washcloth or face towel of writerly fabric, I smooth out the phrasing, add details, and take out all the "reallys". Sometimes, I shift whole blocks of words because I've gotten ahead of myself and the material needs to be put into chronological order. With novels, I write the scenes as they come to me and then list them on calendar pages. Once I know 'when' everything is, I reorder the scenes and fix them, reweaving the golden thread of continuity, until they fit together again.

But before all those repairs comes the moment of throwing the words down on the page: the "Well, here goes!" moment. I learned that from journalism. We'd come into class, which was set in a room with typewriters and reams of papers (yes, I know I'm dating myself by admitting that). The professor would have certain facts written up on the board - the famous "Who, What, Where," etc. He would tell us: "Write a page and a half on this. You have X minutes." Naturally, this led to a lot of panicked typing. When the time was up, we had to turn in our work, finished or not. I wondered then why we so rarely got our work back with grades. Now I know why... the point was to get us to write, to set aside our fears of being imperfect.

These days, I occasionally hear people complain: "They don't teach you how to write in journalism, they just teach you to write to deadline. You don't learn anything about the art of it."

You can talk about the craft of writing all day, but you won't learn that craft until you actually write. The same with painting, playing music, dancing, sports... you develop skill and craft by doing. Later, in the higher level classes, our instructors did talk more about the skills and approaches to different types of articles, but first we had to learn to write. Imperfectly, of course, but... to write.

The art comes in the rewrite. At least it does for me.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Guest Post on Austin Camacho's Blog Today!

Austin Camacho is the author of the Hannibal Jones series. If you haven't had the pleasure of meeting him at Bouchercon or Magna cum Murder, he is a great person. I'm the featured guest today at Another Writer's Life, his blog.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Please go VOTE for my wife!

Preditors & Editors is doing their Best of 2010 poll. If you're familiar with their usual work, I want to assure you that this is a positive poll.

Gwen Mayo's book, Circle of Dishonor, is in the running for Best Mystery Novel. Gwen is my wife, in case you didn't know... so I am imploring everyone to go over to the poll and vote for her. While you're there, you might find some other books and authors you want to support. Pill Hill Press is making a very good showing in several categories.

The slate for Mystery Novels is at:

Please consider supporting Gwen's first novel... if not, support someone. Writers need all the encouragement they can get.

Your friend in nepotism,

Sarah Glenn

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I May Have Super Powers! So May You!

Unfortunately, they only work on flu. According to 'recent research', some people (okay, nine people) who got swine flu in 2009 developed super-powerful immune systems that are hell on wheels as far as the flu is concerned.

The power of the H1N1 immune response is extraordinary. According to the researchers, five of the types of antibodies isolated in their research would be enough to fight off all seasonal flu variations, the Spanish flu virus that killed as many as 50 million people in the pandemic of 1918, and a potentially deadly bird flu strain known as H5N1.
Guess who came back from Bouchercon 2009 with swine flu? You guessed it! I may have a super-duper immune system now, rendering me immune from all major flu strains plus the scary avian flu, too! Not only that, my wife was with me and caught swine flu also! What a relief to her supervisors, who now know they can call "bullshit' on her if she ever takes off work for 'the flu' again. Her employability just went up.

The best part? We caught it at Bouchercon, which had over a thousand attendees. This means that many mystery writers and their fans were exposed to super powers, too! Since Sisters in Crime held a workshop the day before, perhaps we should rename ourselves "The Wonder Women".

The now-super-powered Ohio River Valley Chapter of Sisters in Crime.
It's nice to know that my favorite mystery writers are safe from the flu forever. It's also nice to know that there will be plenty of bookbuying fans to come back year after year after year.

I only have one burning question...

Will it protect me from the common cold as well?