Friday, November 24, 2017

DPL’s Indie Author Day

This link leads to two recordings made on the INDIE AUTHOR DAY sponsored by the Davenport Public Library and held last Oct. 14 at the main library downtown Davenport.

The first is BUILDING YOUR BRAND presented by poet and novelist Jodie Toohey of Wordsy Woman Author Services. Toohey gives a practical look and concrete goals for the necessary steps all writers and authors must face as they promote their work and gain visibility in a crowded market place.

The panel on THE EDITING PROCESS gave all the panelists a chance to talk about their experiences with the many kinds of editing available, and to offer pertinent insights and suggestions on how to make the process work for the writer at any stage of their career. 30 minutes.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


I was stuck. And being stuck in the middle of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, slows down the race for the 50,000 word count—not a good thing.

I was stuck because I couldn’t nail down what exactly happened at my crime scene. That was important info to have. Writing a mystery involves essentially coming up with TWO stories: the one that happened and the one that appears to have happened. Or so I was told early on.

For my first novel, Clouds Over Bishop Hill, I was the classical PANTSER. I constructed my plot, found my story, and developed my characters as I wrote. I wanted to do it differently for the second time around. It became very important for me to figure out who was who, who was where, how they got there, and where did they park those cars.

To that end, I spent an afternoon digging through my stash of Bishop Hill maps. I’d started a collection many years ago just for a day of need like this.

I found what I wanted and taped four sheets of paper together to give me a nicely laid out Bishop Hill of a size that would be useful. I raided a Bananagrams game for letter tiles, and voila, I had a way to move characters around to test out likely meet ups and such. 

So, I say, when imagination and mental agility fails--do go back to the basic visuals.

Note: the map in the upper left shows how Bishop Hill was originally laid out. There are sections of village streets that are now grass covered and still passable.  A lot of streets never made it past the mapping stage. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

I Must Share This List

What’s not to like about a list? Lists are so popular. They’re everywhere and about everything. I came across this one on Facebook. Loved it. Well, liked it enough to save, respond, and share.

Ten novels agents have seen so many times before it makes them nauseous.

Fun to peruse—UNTIL—I found a couple that actually affect me and the NaNoWriMo novel I’m working on RIGHT NOW!


1.    The Axe to Grind Novel:  Okay, I like my villains. They came first. Such strong personalities. But I didn’t mean to grind axes. You gotta believe me.

2.    I Didn’t Ask for This! Okay, my protagonist is a little reluctant. But come on, she’s only twenty-two. She’s not a fully-formed adult yet. Cut me some slack.

3.    Strange But True:  I did this with a photo and a short story. Will it be okay if I promise to be extra careful in the future?

4.    You Can Trust Me:  No you can’t. I only know three things, for sure, at any one time. Those three things can change. I know it, and now you do too.

5.    Anything Zombies:  I don’t do Zombies. I reserve the right to write about aliens and fairy folktales.

6.    Greatest Hits:  Not likely.

7.    Picture Books for Adults:  Not even remotely possible.

8.    Eat, Pray, Whatever:  So not going to happen. I’m keeping this stuff to myself. You’re on your own.

9.    “Historical” YA:  Also not likely. There are severe language issues here. Kids today talk in code. However, I reserve the right to mine my own history.

10. Professor Wonderful, i.e. Wonder Boys???  I have no clue what this is all about. The world is safe on this one.

Here’s where to find the real list:

Friday, November 3, 2017

History: Part One

It’s NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, and I’m off and typing away.

Is it a completely new novel? No, not quite in the strictest sense. I’m bending the rules by working with last year’s NaNoWriMo’s product: a completely awful first draft that made a huge detour into Galva territory. My advantage, I hope, with this year’s effort is a five-page synopsis that’s the closest thing to an outline that I could come up with. It keeps me in Bishop Hill, and therefore writing a “Bishop Hill Mystery”.

There are two fun elements that I’ve wanted to work into the plot: money, and a wedding.

I’ll follow the money first.

Bishop Hill colonists acquired their own money, actual printed currency. (Not uncommon in a time without a strong, centralized banking system. Anyone with a little capital could print their own money.) The pages of bank notes bought from Western Exchange Fire & Marine Insurance Co., Omaha City, were dated Nov. 2, 1857. It’s lovely stuff. The intricately engraved images of Native Americans watching trains cross the prairie and hunting buffalo might not be accurate, but it’s true to the times in which it was created.

I knew that buying this currency for the colony had turned out to be a bad investment. There was a panic and they’d lost their shirts, so to speak. My research found the reason for the panic, or economic downturn, was an offshoot of the Crimean War. Ukrainians increased their exports of wheat. This wheat flooded the US market. The problem for midwestern farmers was their timing. They’d wanted to up their own production of wheat and had increased their investment exposure with bank loans. Prices for spring wheat fell and the loans couldn’t be paid back. Land prices dropped too.

The end result for the Bishop Hill colony was to take one step closer to eventual dissolution. However, they had a nice supply of useless, but lovely, money-like printed paper. The term for modern-day collectors is obsolete currency, and, 160 years later, that old “money” is finally worth something.

The wedding will have to wait for next week.