Roundtable Topic #2

Hello fellow writers! This month’s topic is:

How long does it usually take to write the first draft of your novel? How long does the revision/editing process take and who do you go to for “another pair of eyes” on your work? Do you use a beta reader, editor, proofreader? What is your process from start to finish?

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Roundtable Topic #1

Hi everyone! Today is the first of many roundtable discussions I hope to have involving writing. Consider it a virtual meeting of the minds. I thought it would be nice to start out with a simple topic to discuss. So…let’s begin:

How do you make time to write? When do you do your best writing?

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How many professors can you bury? (academic mystery)

masterful mystery by one of my all-time favorite authors.

The Penningtons Investigate

Poison Ivy, by Cynthia Riggs

Cynthia Riggs’ Martha’s Vineyard mystery Poison Ivy takes place at a small college on the Vineyard, Ivy Green, where nonagenarian crime-solver Victoria Trumbull is an adjunct poetry professor. I loved Mrs. Trumbull as a poetry teacher focused on her students’ expression in various poetic forms; and as advocate for three students whose research is plagiarized by their tenure-seeking sociology professor. An overarching theme is the (often abusive) power struggle that plays out in a dozen deadly ways in the college tenure process.

Mrs. Trumbull finds the first body– a tenured professor dead a few weeks without anyone missing him. Thanks to the caretaker’s dog who has a nose for cadavers, more bodies are exhumed. Soon the campus is pock-marked by graves dug by a perfectly respectable serial killer twisted and scarred from his own tenure ordeal. As the drama unfolded, I cheered for the two women who opted out of tenure madness and admired…

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What To Do When All Else Fails? Succeed!

Most of my LCRW friends know how hard I’ve struggled to become a published author. I made it through all the hoops…went to writer’s conferences, had my work critiqued by professionals in the biz and by my peers, pursued agents and managed to hook one with a strong reputation, grabbed the interest of editors from “big” publishing houses. And then…things went downhill from there and my books never got published.

What went wrong? I ask myself that countless times. Was it bad timing? A difficult marketplace? Editors busy looking for that “best seller” and not seeing that possibility in my work?

In the end, I have no answers. But if there is anything we writers do in this business…it’s persevere. Because the truth is, the first person that needs to believe in me is…well…ME. And I do. I have to admit, every step up the mountain of success has surprised me. I dream big, but wait for that familiar moment of disappointment. That step onto crumbly stone that sends me going backwards instead of forwards. The climb is difficult. Painful. But the view every time I look back? Beautiful.

My next step, which feels like a step back but is really a huge leap forward, is to self-publish my book SEVEN LITTLE SECRETS. It’s a young adult novel about a high school cheerleading squad and the co-captain who takes her own life. I wrote it many years ago, and it had some close calls with publishers, but ended up a no-go. But with 13 REASONS WHY making headlines these days, this is a great time to market it (thanks, Lisa Scott, for pointing that out for me). So I intend to do so. And do it well. Because in the end, I haven’t failed. I’m just doing it different than how I envisioned ten years ago. I’m using different strategies, finding a way around rushing rivers and mudslides. But still moving forward.

That alone, makes me a success.

 

 

 

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Meet Lyssa Pennington — Spunky professor who loves geeks, dangerous thrills, and solving mysteries

Why does Terri Ponce describe my sleuth, Lyssa Pennington as “a handful and a half, and a blast to be around”? See for yourself! (https://terriponce.com/2017/04/30/meet-lyssa-pennington/)

Terri Herman-Ponce

I met a really exciting character this week and just have to share what I learned with you.

Lyssa Pennington is a spunky economics professor who, when she’s not tackling huge egos and nasty gossipers on campus, solves mysteries. In fact, for Lyssa, the more thrilling the better!

She’s a handful and a half, and a blast to be around.

Want to know more about Lyssa and her stories? Read on…


I’m so excited you’ve asked me to interview, Terri! I love solving murders with my husband, Kyle, in The Penningtons Investigate, but I’m excited about having the spotlight just on me, Lyssa Pennington, today.

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
I couldn’t survive without my sense of humor. My habit of looking for something laughable in even the most serious situations has helped me get through some terribly difficult times. As my husband, Kyle, says I’m…

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Fun with Definitions

I hope LCRW enjoys this play on words, from author Catherine Castle

Fun with Definitions

old-Correspondence By Bebb, M. S. Wikimedia.com

 

The English language is nothing if not strange. Its homonyms and homophones can confuse anyone. Add synonyms to the mix and that’s a lot to learn. Here’s another twist you can add to the complexity of our language: the redefining of words throughout the ages. When I was a kid, sick meant you were ill, not feeling well as in “I’m too sick to go to school.” In the eighties, the word came to mean awful, terrible as in “She’s so sick. I hate her.” Today when the kids call something “sick” they’re not referring to germs, they’re making the word a compliment: “That concert was sick!”

As writers, we should consider the changing guard of words as a challenge and use them to add flavor to our books. This can be especially interesting if you want to put your out-of-time…

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Detritus

For some reason, in my shower this morning, I began to think of the word ‘detritus.’ I had just used it in a story I’m in the process of writing and I began to wonder if I use the word in all my stories. Truth be told, I really love the word.

I have several favorite words. Lovely, fantastic, wonderful… I use them a lot in my day-to-day conversations, so they are probably favorites of mine. There are also a couple four-letter-words I use—sometimes often, depending on what kind of day I’m having. I don’t know if that qualifies those words as favorites or not. Since I’m a sweet little old lady, I’ll say that they are not favorites, but rather something like anomalies. Frequently used anomalies.

But, getting back to detritus… It’s just so much fun to say the word.  For instance, you could say, ‘The yard was littered with junk and trash.’ (How gross!) OR:  ‘The yard was littered with detritus.’ Here’s another pair:  ‘The old yearbook was filled with yellowed, crumbling pages.’ OR:  ‘The old yearbook was filled with the detritus of yesterdays.’ (Ahhhh. Now isn’t that a picture?)

I’m so disappointed when I think of all those years I missed saying, “Honey, would you take out the detritus, please?” Just watching/listening to his reaction would have been better than an I Love Lucy show.

And how about renaming our DPW organizations to Detritus Pick-up Workers? Can’t you just picture their backs straighter, their heads held higher, their trucks less squeakier? (Now, there’s an oxymoron—another good word for perhaps another day.) (And yes, I know the descriptive phrase should be “less squeaky,” but I didn’t want to break the “-er” pattern. Poetic license. ‘Nuff said.)

Now I must go do my laundry while I walk the elongated circle of my basement for half an hour’s exercise and avoid any notice of the detritus lurking in the corners.

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The Art of Writing a Review …

Great tips on reviewing a book for a fellow author. (Yes, I’m still happy to gift you my mystery, Planted, in exchange for an honest review!)

So, you’ve read a great book lately have you? Maybe even found yourself a new “keeper” author. Can’t wait for that next great read?

Like any other entertainment professional, authors need encouragement. Validation over and above the initial sale. Where do we get that much-needed encouragement? Through an honest review.

'The end. Well, time for bed. What are you writing?'
Tips for leaving a review
:

  • Most importantly, a review can be short. Don’t feel like you have to recap the entire book. That’s the sole purpose of the posted blurb. Two to three sentences outlining your reaction is more than enough. And, of course, set the ‘star’ ranking.
    • Example: “I usually don’t care for secret baby stories, but this one was different. Cody was the smartest, cutest thing ever. Sometimes adults are so stupidly blind, but that’s what makes love grand! Great story.”~ 5-star Amazon Review for Home is Where the Hunk is
  • If you do choose…

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Diehl and D’Avanzo Mix In Student Research

Wanted to share my current reads with fellow LCRW writers . . .

The Penningtons Investigate

Colleges have come a long was from the old Lecture/Recitation model of education. Today’s undergraduate students learn valuable life lessons in the field through civil engagement, and they get hands-on real-life experience by participating in their professors’ research projects. As an author and avid reader, I’m enjoying the new crop of academic mysteries that show students gathering and analyzing data and engaging in other aspects of timely scholarly research.

Two authors are stand outs: Lesley A. Diehl and Charlene D’Avanzo.

Diehl’s character Laura Murphy is a psychology professor in upstate New York. In the 2016 mystery from Creekside Publishing, Failure is Fatal, Laura’s ongoing study in sexual harassment on campus is at the heart of the story. A student is murdered, and the description of the murder is one of the anonymous responses to the study’s current round of data gathering. This is not a grisly or grim tale, however, as Diehl’s humor…

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Inspired by life with enhancement and modification to increase interest.

Jean Verno asked me to post this for her.

 

Inspired by life with enhancement and modification to increase interest.

By Jean Verno

 

Where do I get ideas? The most common and least complete answer is “from life”.

My stories begin with an image usually sparked by a something, song or an overheard conversation, a person or action that catches my eye.  A unique location or photo will give me a feeling that something interesting happened here, and I am drawn into spinning what fantastic event it would have been

Sometimes I will see a person in a public place and wonder how they got there or into that circumstance and before you know it, I have made up an impossible story. I never know where my imagination will go but the characters end up quite different than the original.

Give me a title and I’ll make up a story but if I have a story first, I struggle to find a title.

A story is told about the writer* who left journalism to become a novelist. When asked why he chose to leave a successful career for the unpredictable life of fiction he gave this answer.  “I was covering a major fire, it lasted all night and tragically lives were lost. I realized then that what I wanted to do was to write the story with a more satisfying outcome.” He went on to write very successful novels in which, ironically, many lives are lost.

In fiction, we can make things come out the way we want them too, mostly. Sometimes your characters just insist on following their own paths. Still, it is the author who decides which way the story ends.

Once I get these flashes of imagination I am usually sort of left hanging and then the work begins. It is like turning on the stove with a vague idea of cooking something. Now you have to assemble ingredients, decide what to add where, and how much. Should you chop or slice the onions or just use the dried flakes? How long should you cook it so that it is done perfectly, not raw and not overcooked? How should you serve it to best enhance the whole meal? And a big question, how do you let the world know that your wonderful creation is there and ready for them to consume with pleasure? And, hopefully look forward to more.

Getting ideas for stories is the easy part. It is the developing, plotting, refining, editing, adding, removing reediting, and on and on, that is the real work. That is the crafting; that is what leaves blood on the keyboards.

Life, after all is what you make of it but most people don’t make stories, poems or books. It is only those of us who believe that we can improve on the common experience by twisting it and twirling it and coloring it to our fancy that do.

*If you want to know who, email me. I couldn’t find the original source so I didn’t use his name.

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