My Writing Process

The wittiest writer I know, Russell Gayer, hooked me up on this blog tour. I’m thrilled to be included in his blog last week and honored to say we’re in the same writer’s critique group. His weekly Friday fiction story based on a photo prompt often has me rolling with laughter. Check out Russell’s blog at

What am I working on?  I’m finishing the editing, rewriting and what seems to be endless changes on a mystery novel about a young Ozarks reporter who’s trying to rebuild her career after being accused of libel. Danni Edens has a chance to repair that damage as she writes a series of articles on a corrupt jail program and a string of child murders; two investigations that have her butting heads with the wrong people who’ll do anything to stop her. But Edens’ personal life brings its own problems with a psychologically troubled mother and a father whose cemetery business is struggling with bad press alleging a ghost is roaming the grounds.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? Although my character is much different from me, she comes from a similar background. I grew up in the cemetery my parents owned, and I spent nearly twenty years as a newspaper reporter for both weekly and daily newspapers in the Ozarks of Northwest Arkansas.

Why do I write what I do? Writing mysteries is a passion for me because I love to read them. I enjoy the twists and turns my characters take, sometimes so unexpected they surprise even me. Some of my short stories lean more towards thrillers. I hope to eventually sharpen those skills enough to try my hand at a thriller novel.

How does my writing process work? Like any writer, my writing process starts with an idea. I keep notes on possible characters, clippings from newspaper articles that have sparked an interest and snippets of plot sketches for future stories. Before I start to write, I like to develop that plot sketch with some details about the characters and how they’ll deal with the troubles I’m throwing at them.

I’ve had some short stories published, but my biggest problem with a full novel is learning to let go and call it done! I keep finding things I want to change and not finding the time to get them done. This one has to end soon. My second story about reporter Danni Edens is growing in my head and roaring to get on paper.

I’m excited to pass the baton for this blog tour on to two very different and fantastic writers. Although one writes fiction and the other non-fiction, and they come from different continents, they share a last name. Alice White and I are members of the Northwest Arkansas Writer’s Workshop critique group together, and Sarah E. White and I once worked for the same daily newspaper. Please check out what they’ll have to say about their writing process next Monday, March 24, and the information below about them both.

0When author Alice White married her best friend, who happens to be a Vietnam Veteran, and moved to the U.S. from England in September 2009, she never envisaged publishing her work until meeting Velda Brotherton; an already well established author from Northwest Arkansas. Velda became her neighbor, friend and mentor; teaching her how to publish to Kindle and helping to proofread manuscripts. Since then, she’s learned to use Createspace and tried to keep up with the ever-changing world of self-publishing. Check out her exciting time travel trilogy, The Blue Door, on Amazon and visit her website at and her blog at

headshotcropSarah E. White writes at Our Daily Craft ( a blog about crafting with and for kids and creativity for moms and other busy people. She also writes the knitting websites for ( and Craft Gossip ( and is the author of two books about knitting, the latest of which, Quick and Easy Baby Knits, was published in August by Stackpole Books. She’s at work on another book for Stackpole, this time on color knitting, which should be out next year. When she’s not crafting or writing about crafts, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their four-year-old daughter.

Lippman eBook Price Finally Makes Sense

When I checked Amazon earlier this month to download the new book by one of my favorite mystery writers I was shocked to see the price of $15.99 on the eBook, which was higher than the $11.51 for the paperback and just 20 cents less than the $16.19 hardcover!

photo-25I posted a complaint on Laura Lippman’s Facebook page and vowed not to buy the new book. I also noted other complaints about the price of “After I’m Gone.”

I’ve bought nearly every book Lippman has written. If not in paperback, I have it on my Kindle. I decided I’d be borrowing this one from the local library. Thankfully, the price is now down to $11.19. I saw a note by another reader that it had dropped to $13.59 at one point since the February 11 release before coming down more than $2.

It’s still high for an eBook, but at least it’s now appropriately less than the paperback. And, of course, it’s Lippman and likely to be a fantastic read, so I’ll buy at this price.

I don’t know what drives the price of eBooks, so I asked the owner of a small publishing house. He uses the profit margin of a book to determine the eBook cost. Asked why a publisher might price an eBook at more than a paperback, he said, “Because they can.”

I’ve downloaded freebies and paid a little over $10 for eBooks, but it has to be a book I’m clamoring to read before I’ll pay that much. I recently bought John Grisham’s new “Sycamore Row” for a great price at $6.49, which was $3.50 less than the paperback on Amazon and a fantastic story!

Checking the New York Times top five bestselling books in fiction for the week of March 3, I found the following on Amazon:

  • “Private L.A.” by James Patterson sells for $11.99 on Kindle, $12.24 in paperback and $16.80 in hardcover
  • “Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt sells for $7.50 on Kindle, $16.95 in hardcover with no paperback offer
  • “Killer, An Alex Delaware Novel” by Jonathan Kellerman sells for $11.48 on Kindle, $20.59 in paperback, and oddly $16.80 in hardcover
  • “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd sells for $10.91 on Kindle, $16.63 in paperback with the hardcover at just 14 cents more
  • “Still Life with Bread Crumbs” by Anna Quindlen sells for $10.65 on Kindle, $14 in paperback

I would encourage publishers and writers to realize the impact of price. Readers may be big fans, but cost will influence most of us when deciding whether to buy your book.

What’s your price limit on a book? If you’re a writer how do you decide pricing?

Photo by Lori Ericson

Real Data about E-books and Self-Publishing

This is great information about the publishing industry. I think a publisher gives some credibility to debut novel, but once a writer is out there and established, self-publishing is a good choice. I really do like some of the small press options these days. They offer a lot to less established writers, i.e. credibility, guidance and editing!

Before Downloading “Look Inside”

After this experience, I will always “Look Inside” before I download a book. I want to see if the author has a clue about ebook publishing and if I can bear to read the prospective purchase in the format provided. I also would love to have my money back for this Kindle book buy.

It was billed as a “mystery suspense thriller” and I couldn’t resist the title by an author I’d never read before. I downloaded the book, opened it in my Kindle and started reading.

The layout of paragraphs immediately alarmed me. I actually like that style for a blog, but not a novel. Each paragraph stands out in a blog but it’s too much for a lengthy read. I use it here. But in a novel I want the paragraphs indented and no space after each one.

KindleI thought maybe it would stop after the first chapter, just a forward for the novel. But no, it went on. I scanned ahead but stopped reading. If I chose to go on, I’d have to tap my Kindle to turn the page more often than I was willing to do to make it through this one.

I went back to Amazon, found the order and did the “Look Inside.” Sure enough, the Kindle edition shows it in that format. No indents and extra spacing.

I clicked the print edition and found it to be proper formatting. I won’t bother to order the book in print. This author has already wasted my money.

I love reading on my Kindle and have come across some minor errors in ebooks before, but nothing like a whole book full of bad formatting.

So, warning to all readers check out that “Look Inside” feature to see if you can handle the format before you download that next ebook. And authors, whether your self-publishing or have help getting that book out from an established publishing house, please format your precious words so that readers don’t have to struggle to digest them. They might just read past chapter one.

Anyone else have issues with ebooks?

Writer’s Goals and How To Get There (IMHO)

This is truly inspiring for a writer, but also as we enter this insane commercial season. “What do you want that you already have?” Think about it all in those terms and don’t wish the joyous Christmas season away standing in a line at the local mall!
What do I want that I already have: a wonderful, caring and truly supportive husband; two healthy and smart daughters, now grown and making me proud daily; my first novel that I’m more confident in daily as I make final changes, along with the feeling that I’ve finally found my writer’s voice; all my supportive writer friends; my health; my job that supports my life and keeps me connected with good people; good friends and people who care about me; and, I have to mention again my absolutely adorable husband!

Live to Write - Write to Live

As a life coach, I talk to clients often about goals. I start with this question: What do you want that you already have?

My answer might be: “I have a life coaching blog that I love and am excited about every time I post to it.”

I used to ask clients simply: “What do you want?” but I found people always listed only the things they didn’t already have.

“Who cares?” you might ask.

I care because the important part of the answer to these questions is not the actual answer; it’s how the answers make you feel.

What do you want? A three-book deal with a major publishing house.

How does it feel to want that? Lousy since I don’t think I’ll ever get it.

When we want things from a place of lack, we take very different actions than we do when we want…

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Any Help With a Book Title?

The title of my book isn’t working, but I’m stumped a little on what will work. I know it’s important. I want it to grab the potential reader, give them some idea of what they’re getting, but not give away too much. So, it needs to be short and catchy.

photo-20I’ve heard it called the “business card” of the book, and that’s probably true. I know I’ve picked up thousands of books in libraries and bookstores over the years, and now, click on books on Amazon just because I like the title.

One writer’s blog suggests write some keywords from the book and action verbs on small pieces of paper, and draw them out of a hat to come up with great combinations. Another suggests making a list of twenty titles from books you like in the genre you’re writing, brainstorm using important words from your book and come up with similar titles to try to find a combination you like, and then see if it would fit in the list of the twenty book titles you found without being to similar. I’m working on that.

I know, ultimately, a publisher will have a lot to do with the title, but I need to capture the interest of that publisher with a title that will make the best impression. If I don’t intrigue a publisher with the title, readers aren’t likely to be impressed either.

The book is tentatively titled “Arkansas 309,” which is the name of a state prison program involved in this mystery. It’s too restrictive and may not attract readers outside this area. It’s a mystery that involves a female protagonist who is a newspaper reporter with family and career problems, who’s investigating a story of police corruption and simultaneously writing about a serial killer. And, of course you’ll understand if you know me, she grew up in a cemetery.

My husband thinks I need to worry less, call it simply “309” and go on. I’m not sure. Any suggestions out there? Please?