September Newsletter

The Awkward Adolescence of my Cozy Mystery - The Completed First Draft of Kat Out of the Bag

    I'll be finishing my book's first draft in October. That's a meaningful milestone to celebrate, as many of you know. Like many writers, I'm so proud of my first draft, but it's not pretty.  It's not ready to stand on it's own. My book is no longer in its cute, enthusiastic, exciting ideas of a childhood. It has entered into its awkward adoloscence.

    My initial idea that at one time was just a glint in my eye is now all on paper. This is the story for me. Its not publish ready, but it's written and I can see it all even with its blemishes. I've gained momentum and I feel empowered. I know how the story ends and all that happens to get to the ending, but I don't know how it will all turn out - if it will get published. If published, will anyone buy it or read it? That's the risk I take and now I know I can go the distance and rewrite/edit my first draft to guide it from adolescence to an independent future when it will stand in the world on its own.

    If you're working toward your first draft, take heart and keep writing. One word after another. Keep writing every day. You may feel fear, but write it anyway and take heart that you're writing your draft. You'll have time to fix it afterwards.
  • You can't fix what's not on paper
  • You're establishing your writing habit
  • You have a story and first you need to tell the story to yourself
  • During your first draft you're getting to know your characters even better
  • Your first draft will show you how what comes before can be fitted to the end of the story
    So let your joyful, innocent young story idea grow in writing. You'll want to celebrate its awkward adolescence, which holds its own beauty.



Upcoming Workshops - 

I'm so excited to be presenting two workshops at the Write in the Harbor Writers Conference on November 4th. Last year was my first adventure at this Conference and the organizers, presenters, and attendees are all so enthusiastic and we all learned a lot from each other.
    The Contemporary Cozy
    Layering Your Writing

I was so impressed and motivated by the other two Writers Conferences I attended and presented workshops at this past summer
    PNWA 
    Rivers of Ink


Learn From Published Authors - Kendall & Cooper New Podcasts:

Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Claire Johnson - writing mysteries with a side of politics and humor
    Recommended: Beat Until Stiff

Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Tonya Kappes - mystery and the supernatural
    Recommended: A Ghostly Murder

Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Kevin O'Brien - A genius of suspense, he's Kevin OMG O'Brien
    Recommended: Disturbed and also his newest Hide Your Fear

Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Kellye Garrett - Mystery goes Hollywood, written by an insider
    Recommended: Hollywood Homicide




Exploring the Soul of an Octopus = by Sy Montgomery
    Here’s a sweet read written by a mesmerizing storyteller who spins a true novel all about a sea creature that I discovered I knew very little about.  This book entertains with so much interesting information that surprises. 

Deep Under Cover - by Jack Barsky
    The tension and intrigue of a thriller, spy novel is irresistible for so many of us. What about reading a spy memoir?  Can real life spying stand up to artistic license to kill?  In this case, yes. 

Ghost Man - by Roger Hobbs
    A casino robbery in Atlantic City goes horribly sideways, despite all appearances of its intricate planning.  The brain behind the operation needs to repair the damage and make it go away.

Mastering Suspense, Structure, and Plot by Jane K. Cleland

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

Fast Fiction by Denise Jaden

Stein on Writing by Sol Stein

The Art and Craft of Storytelling by Nancy Lamb

How To Write A Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey


Fun Fact From Cozy Research - Gucci
    Guccio Gucci established the Florentine Company, which was a leather manufacturing company, in 1921 after working at the Savoy Hotel in London. Inspired by the style of the Aristocratic luggage passing through the hotel, his first Gucci iconic bag was The Bamboo which came from wartime shortages. Designed in 1947 with a handle made of burnished bamboo. It was seen on the arm of Elizabeth Taylor early in the 1950's and then it became a must-have.

May Newsletter

posted May 9, 2017, 7:49 PM by Kendall & Cooper   [ updated May 9, 2017, 7:50 PM ]

"Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." 
                William Shakespeare  (Twelfth Night)


    I was delighted to interview one of my author heroes, Laura Childs (pseudonym) / Gerry Schmitt.  Preparing for the interview, my ppulse raced with excitement that was tinged with trepidation.  Could knowing more about her blur the heroic vision I'd created for myself?  How much do we really want to know about our heroes anyway?  How muich should be left to our imagination?

    So I've been thinking about the heroes we creeate in our stories.  What do readers look for when they're shopping for a hero?  Heroes don't come from off the rack; they're customizsed - think of unique Frodo Baggins, Nancy Drew, and Indiana Jones for diverse examples.  And yet, there are elements that set our heroes apart.  Here are a few:

Courage is the essence of a hero.  A hero overcomes personal fears and challenges head on.
Sacrifice is what is noble acts about a hero.  Admiration follows a character who suffers for others.
Persistence against endless obstacles, and sometimes failures, sets a hero apart.  They find a way.
Compassion and tenderness is extended to those ailing or in distress.
Honesty is the foundation for a hero's efforts, and gains the trust of followers and readers.
Loyalty burns brightly from within the heart of heroes.
Belief is strong in the hero, and will not be swayed.
Wisdom gained and applied by the hero will win the day.

    A reader determines for himself your character's "hero worthiness" - those distinctive mental and moral qualities demonstrated through your writing.  A hero will gain heroic elements and learn to use them through the story, and the reader will see how the changes direct the character's actions.  A reader wants to know more about their heroes, that appetite is never fully satisfied.  It's good to learn about our heroes.  Don't approach your heroes with trepidation.  We all possess some heroic virtues; what sets a hero apart is how they're used.  The engaged reader wonders, could I have done that?  Could I have faced that?  The writer is responsible to show those heroic actions as a spark of imagination that leaps from the page into the reader's heart.  That's when you've made actions speak louder than words.

    And by the way, Laura Childs does not disappoint - she shines.  I'm so glad that I've learned more about my hero, and had some fun with her as well.  Treat yourself to Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Laura Childs/Gerry Schmitt - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHKHhZtqJsc&feature=em-share_video_user
You'll learn so much information that's applicable through the broad mystery spectrum, and beyond.  And who knows, you may discover a new hero.



New Podcasts - Let the Suspense Begin

In addition to Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Laura Childs


Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Glen Erik Hamilton, who thrills the Podners with his Van Shaw series:  Past Crimes and also Hard Cold Winter, with the third, Every Day Above Ground out in July.  We talk thrills for his characters, and breaking news on his next works.  Find out how Gloen and Van Shaw are similar and get surprising book recommendations. -   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHf-TCFmzEE&spfreload=5


Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Simon Wood,  who tells the Podners fascinating information about his many exciting thrillers like Terminated and Deceptive Practices, and reveals how daring life experiences shape mystery writing, and also reading. -  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOujqAmY09c&t=857s



Recommended Reads - 

Pekoe Most Poison by Laura Childs
Little Girl Gone by Gerry Schmitt


Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton - 




The One That Got Away 
Terminated
Both by Simon Wood - 



April Newsletter

posted Apr 6, 2017, 12:37 AM by Kendall & Cooper   [ updated Apr 6, 2017, 8:40 PM ]

The Podners, Kendall and Cooper Talk Mysteries with Laura Disilverio - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LGwn17dP98&t=148s
Enjoy this enchanting chat with an author who's work spans the full mystery spectrum.

And have a closer look, at a Close Call by Laura D., and The Reckoning Stones which are both recommended in my syndicated column - http://myedmondsnews.com/2017/04/recommended-reads-gripping-mysteries-from-a-delightful-author/

Practicing Descriptive Writing

Good descriptive paragraphs are really fun to read because they fuel a reader’s imagination. A good description welcomes the reader into a part of the author’s world, not just to see it but also to feel the sensations, experience the smells and the tastes of the subject written about. When you use your strongest feeling or impression last, it can increase the memorable impact.

Using figurative language gives your readers a comparison. For example, saying that the couch was, "as hard as a rock," helps to describe what the couch feels like. Personification is another fun way to add description to your writing. This means giving human qualities to inanimate objects. For example, "My heart nearly leapt out of my chest when I saw that puppy."

The descriptive writer's first job is observer. When observing your subject, look for the hidden importance.  Search for the relevant detail that others may miss. Show the significance of that detail, when you incorporate it in your description. This will give your descriptive paragraph deeper meaning, and give your reader something to consider and ponder at length.

Ultimately, your goal as a descriptive writer is to recreate your subject inside your reader's mind. To do this a reader needs a spatial pattern of how the subject is organized or designed. Sometimes that pattern is obvious, like describing a building from top to bottom. If there is a logical pattern, go with it. That will keep things clear for the reader. If there isn’t, consider the subject's dominant features. For example, when describing a photograph or a painting, start with the main subject first, and then focus on interesting details in the background.

Let your fun creativity show, like Karen Russell does in her collection of stories St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised By Wolves.  Here's a great excerpt - 

I take a running leap down the pier. 'Ayyyiii!' and launch over the water. It's my favorite moment: when I'm one toe away from flight and my body takes over. The choice is made, but the consequence is still just an inky shimmer beneath me. And I'm flying, I'm rushing to meet my own reflection -- Gah!

These phrases like "one toe away from flight" and "just an inky shimmer" are perfect descriptions in the context of the story.

When using descriptive language, it’s important to vary your sentence structure. Try to avoid using the same subject-verb pattern in all sentences. Embedding descriptive elements and combining sentences can help to avoid the routine subject-verb structure, can help break the monotonous tone and the clipped, subject-verb style. Here’s an exciting example:

Racing down an empty hall, she skid into the classroom, breathless, just as the bell rang above her.

                Use description that advances the story, and avoid dumping all the description in at once, or dedicating whole, long paragraphs to setting. Trickle and layer description throughout the scene. When you integrate setting with characters, it’s delicious to read.


March, 2017 Newsletter

posted Mar 3, 2017, 12:01 AM by Kendall & Cooper   [ updated Mar 21, 2017, 10:22 PM ]

It's All Fun and Games Until the Story Gets Hurt

    An interesting Academy Awards, Oscars, show this year.  It was a Hollywood story with all the glitz and glamor, many characters, subplots, intrigue, pacing, suspense, conflicts, humor, and the finale.

    The story was exciting, but was it the story they'd intended to tell?

    An editor's job is to make sure that a writer's work says what the writer intends, and in the writer's voice and sensibility.  Editors work to make what is good better, and what is great, outstanding.  The writer does the hard work and the fun of creating a story.  The editor serves the project, author, and reader by refining.  Through editing we validate that the intention is clear, enjoyable, logical, flows smoothly and conveys the author's meaning.

    Just as Oscar's star designers have an eye for details and also for the overall look, a skilled freelance editor can be hired for different assignments at different stages of the project.

        Copy editor - deals primarily with spelling, grammar, punctuation, fact checking, and word definitions
      
        Developmental editor - helps the writer from the idea stage through the final draft suggesting topics, help with research, verifying facts, and planning the manuscript structure

        Substantive editor - focuses on story elements, plot, characterization with sufficient motivations, dialogue, order of scenes, conflict, point of view, characters' individualized voices, sentence construction and syntax, and pacing

    Both the fiction and non-fiction editor will bring an outsider's eye to a manuscript and notice when and where elements don't fit, or where there's something missing.  The editor will advise whether the "envelope" opened at the end of your story satisfyingly serves your intention and holds true to the story, fulfilling the promise of the story opening.


I'm proud to share some compelling and entertaining new author podcasts - 

Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with author Mike Lawson - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvL7y9FU9gE
        Award-winning author of fourteen published novels. He has been nominated for the Barry Award six times, and has twice won the Portland-based Friends of Mystery Award for his Joe DeMarco political thriller series. The first book in his second series, titled Rosarito Beach, involving a rogue DEA agent named Kay Hamilton, was optioned for television. Mike’s eleventh DeMarco book, House Revenge, was released in July, 2016 and his third Kay Hamilton book, K Street, in January 2017. Prior to turning to writing full time, Mike was a nuclear engineer employed by the Navy and he lives in the Northwest. He truly writes books that transport you.

Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with writer Keenan Powell - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcIEo7IT1VE&t=730s
        Mystery writer and practicing attorney in Anchorage, Alaska. Look for her legal column called Ipso Facto written for the Sister in Crime group’s Guppie’s Newsletter, called First Draft. the Guppies are the unpublished writers. She’s also an interesting and vivid blogger on her Mysteristas blog. And her short story The Velvet Slippers, was recently selected to be published by Malice Domestic 12: Mystery Most Historical.  Another of her short stories, The Cattle Raid of Adams, will be published by Level Best Books in its Busted Anthology. We talk in part about getting to the Truth of a legal mystery.

Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with author Bob Dugoni - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkrJ8TEVAsc&t=29s
        He burst onto the NYT Bestseller list in 2006, and wrote more successful books in the David Sloane legal mystery series, stories set in the Seattle area. The first book in that series was Damage Control, successfully followed by Wrongful Death, among many others. He earned stellar reviews and awards.  When he wrote My Sister’s Grave, a more recent series featuring Seattle detective Tracy Crosswhite, that book was the No. 1 Mystery Suspense Bestseller on Amazon for 3 consecutive months and ranked on the Wall Street Journal’s bestseller list. He's now nominated for an Edgar Award nomination!  Best Paperback Original for The 7th Canon. He is the maestro of a successful and sophisticated layering style in his writing.

Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with The Mystery Woman Loretta Martin - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n44WarLQDu4&t=39s
        She writes mystery plots for entire towns to enact so the residents and visitors can join in gathering clues and amateur sleuthing.  Loretta has been writing the annual mystery event in Langley, WA for 17 years.  She also writes mysteries for other towns.  Talk about engaging your reader!
 

December, 2016 Newsletter - Wendy Writes Information For You

posted Dec 28, 2016, 10:38 PM by Kendall & Cooper   [ updated Dec 28, 2016, 11:11 PM ]

Lights, Camera, Action for Writers

                The more authors I interview, the more I see an interesting link between acting skills and writing skills. Authors like Boyd Morrison, (Tyler Lockett Thriller series, and other books including collaborations with Clive Cussler) are actively acting in stage plays.

                Novelists who are also actors have several advantages. They have an awareness of orchestration of a scene including how characters move around a setting, and how to describe the choreography of a fight scene, or a love scene. As an actor it’s especially necessary to map out where everyone is in a scene and how they all move. Having this sense is invaluable to a writer in creating a setting and scene for their readers.

                Another advantage for the acting writer is the sense of timing for a scene, and the pacing.  An actor’s delivery is enhanced with the timing of delivery, and the knowledge of their interactions with other actors on the stage. In writing this natural rhythm, and the pacing of tension and conflict is what keeps readers reading.

                Acting writers take advantage of their skills for deep character analysis and understanding, and they can apply this to their writing to develop memorable and believable characters that resonate for their readers. For example, as Colin Firth said, “Whenever you take on playing a villain, he has to cease to be a villain to you. If you judge this man by his time, he’s doing very little wrong.” And as John Lithgow said, “The most exciting acting tends to happen in roles you never thought you could play.”

                Not all writers have the acting talent to appear before audiences, and not all have been bitten by the acting bug. I encourage you though to spend some time off your chair and on your feet enacting your scenes in your living room, or family room, or kitchen, or backyard, or wherever you’re comfortable. See how it feels to move as your character and to become your character in a scene. You may discover some very helpful insights that you can then capture on the page. At the least, it’s very important that you read your words out loud to really hear them. But I encourage you to act out scenes as your different characters; you’ll learn a lot from them.

                Leonard Nimoy –  “The true creation of a being, a character other than one’s self, for me is comparable to a mystical or spiritual experience. To stand in another person’s shoes. To see as he sees, to hear as he hears. To know what he knows, and to do all this with a sense of control, a mastering of the dramatic moment, there must be more than a ‘natural talent’ at work.”

Book Recommendation – Shakespeare’s Rebel

                Prime example of a bestselling author who has also been a working actor is C. C. Humphreys. His book Shakespeare’s Rebel is my latest book recommendation that you can read at this link. This novel is an excellent example of memorable and believable characters, and his written description of the choreography of the fast paced sword play in this swashbuckler is excellent for the reader. If you read his novel with his acting background in mind, I think you’ll see many ways that he’s incorporated both talents.


Gene Wilder Tribute

“As they say in Corsica . . . Goodbye” – Gene Wilder

                A treasured actor, comedian, and talent, Gene Wilder was lost to us this year of 2016. He was another actor who was also a talented writer. Along with his autobiography, he also wrote some deeply memorable and dramatic novels. You’ll see his beautiful writing is built on a foundation of acting skill and talent. You can’t go wrong with his novels, but I’m recommending My French Whore, A Love Story at this link

Editing Note

Don’t Start a Novel with a Cat

                You want to be very conscious about your characters, and your use of characters. Every character that you take the time and effort to include needs to execute a purpose for you as the writer, to tell the story. Think of each of your characters as actors that you have to hire and pay to be in your story. What’s your return on investment? Are your characters executing the purpose you need them to fulfill? You’re not interested in gratuitous characters, you want purposeful characters.

                I’m especially including in this editing note those small role characters such as the “walk on roles.” The barista who serves one of your main characters, what does that barista need to deliver? Is she a way to reflect the mood of the heroine, or show the rudeness of another? How do you want to effectively use these smaller roles to tell your story? Decide this consciously.

                Pets and animals are also incredible characters and souls for you to include in your stories, but a certified editor has advised, “Don’t start a novel with a cat.” Of course, there are exceptions to every “rule.” The reader will give you precious little time at the start of your novel to hook their interest. You want to show a sympathetic character. You may do that by having a character show a kindness to a cat, but that needs to be about your main character, not about the cat. 

                Got it? Purrfect. 

October Newsletter

posted Oct 28, 2016, 10:46 PM by Kendall & Cooper   [ updated Dec 18, 2016, 12:02 PM ]

Write In The Harbor Conference November 5th

I'm looking forward to conducting workshops at this exciting conference at this annual Gig Harbor Writer's Conference

        Revenge, Risk, Reward, The Art of Mystery
                It will be so fun co-facilitating with Julie Cooper again

        Project Manage Your Book From Start to Finish

        Marketing 101
               I'm so privileged to be on this panel with A. C. Fuller and Anna Fuller



Fall Back To Reading and Writing


     As daylight time gets shorter, and there's a chill in the air I appreciate mysteries even more.  That chill that goes up my spinne is more than the season.  This season of shadows and silhouettes suggest mystery.

    As I write we're on the verge of Halloween, and my Podner Julie Cooper and I talk Haunted Mysteries with the author of Haunted Snohomish, and other books Deb Cuyle.  

    Deb Cuyle writes a descriptive and entertaining series that combines historical with paranormal, and mystery.

    Take a look in your writing to see what you're mixing together as well, to be sure you're giving emphasis to the inforamtion you really want to highlight at different points of a scene.  It's not a balance of different aspects combined.  It's a mix.  You, the author, decide how you'll artfully craft how much of each ingredient into each scene.  Deb is mixing the importance of setting, with historical context, paranormal action, and cozy community.  Think of how interesting all these dimensions are to her readers.  And she appeals to a broader target audience.

    In your work have you included all the dimensions you want, to fully tell your story?

    Enjoy this Halloween treat with  Haunted Snohomish author Deb Cuyle, and some mystery talk from Kendall & Cooper.  We've all got some reading recommendations for you as well.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOBRTCBMqiU

The Game’s Afoot

The International Exhibit of Sherlock Holmes is in Seattle at the Pacific Science Center now to January 8, 2017.  I hope you’ll take the time to enjoy visiting this interactive exhibit where you’ll become Holmes’ eyes and ears, helping him to solve another baffling case.

For the general public, the mystery genre really got its start in 1887 when Arthur Conan Doyle introduced Sherlock Holmes. Here we have the archetypal detective. Detecting is his job, and something he does for intellectual amusement. He goes about it rationally. He’s quirky, but effective. Like a lot of modern detectives, Holmes is alienated from society and has an occasional problem with substance abuse.

Most significant, Holmes gives us the first example of the detective who is a little arrogant, with a taste for the darker side of human nature and an unrelenting determination to solve the case.

Sherlock Holmes is the subject of four novels, and fifty-six short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  In a way, Holmes epitomized the times he was written in.  The Victorian age was an age of great technological and scientific advancement, and this is reflected in the Holmes stories in many ways.  It was an era not only of science but of the scientific method.  Darwin had applied the method to naturalism and come up with his theory of evolution.

Although he didn’t particularly like the detective he had created, Conan Doyle had found a meal ticket that would allow him to write the serious literature he really desired.  Throughout his career he returned to Sherlock Holmes when he needed money.  Ironically, Conan Doyle came to feel that Holmes was in the way of him attaining the literary greatness he sought.

How can Sherlock Holmes be discussed without speaking of Watson?  The two are inseparable.  They complement and complete each other.  They first meet because both of them are looking for someone to share a flat with.  The most important fact of the relationship is that it’s through Watson’s eyes that we see Sherlock Holmes.

Holmes isn’t a very nice character on the whole.  George Bernard Shaw once described him as “a drug addict without a single amiable trait.”

Just as Sherlock Holmes had a formula for discovering bloodstains, Conan Doyle had a formula for writing mysteries.  All detective stories rely on a backstory.  They usually begin with the discovery of a crime.  The action on the page is the discovery of the facts of the case, but the action of the story itself has already happened.  So actually mysteries start at the end and the detective reveals thestory to the reader as s/he learns it through investigation.

The Holmes stories are certainly mysteries, but some have other aspects as well.  Some have aspects of horror.  The Hound of the Baskervilles is closest to aspects of the supernatural.

When you visit the International Exhibit of Sherlock Holmes, or when you’re solving other mysteries, you may want to keep in mind Holmes’ admonishment, “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

September, 2016 Newsletter - Changing Seasons, Positive Changes In Your Routine

posted Sep 14, 2016, 7:23 PM by Kendall & Cooper   [ updated Dec 18, 2016, 12:03 PM ]


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