Guest Post

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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Food for thought

cj Sez: To say the weather is sweltering where I live would be an understatement. Today’s heat index reached triple digits…something like 110°. Needless to say I was not outdoors.

The following is an excerpt from comments by someone defending about fifty percent of the U.S. population (i.e. potential buyers and readers of books), from the published comments of an author. Given the penchant for hateful posts and responses I’ve seen on the Internet, I choose to keep the combatants anonymous.

“The other nakedly called supporters of POTUS45 bigots, xenophobes, homophobes, misogynists, etc. on Twitter. So I called him out that if that sizable chunk of his reader base is that awful, would be (sic) be magnanimous returning their money for previous book purchases--hashtag, don't bite the hands that feeds you/sh*t where you eat."

cj Sez: I happen to believe authors don’t have to agree with their readers’ (or other authors’) choices, and vise versa. But offending potential buyers/readers with personal diatribes is like cutting off your nose to spite your face (seemed like an apt cliché). Publishing insults is not the way to increase readership. (It’s all about the marketing.)

"…authors MUST be personable, engaging, in tune with their audience(s), and just plain-out decent folks. These people PAY their royalties, and word-of-mouth will make or break an author when writers are their readers, too . . . and word ripples to non-writers about this or that author's sourness. In this age of social media, you cannot afford to be a nekkid jerk. If you're raking it in, okay; if you're not, don't. Just don't in general, but that's just me :-).”

cj Sez: I’ll admit, I have, on occasion, like the angry responder above, felt the need to respond to comments that ticked me off. I’ll write down my outrageous rant on a “mad pad.” (I like pressing the pen down hard onto the paper and leaving imprints on the page behind.) When I’ve gotten the anger out of my system, I put the mad pad aside for a while, then either edit out the anger and post an abbreviated response, or wad up the paper and don’t respond at all.

Have you had a similar encounter of feeling insulted in print--where the published word "seems" to carry more authority? How did you handle it? 

On a happier note, my grandson called this afternoon and invited me to dinner tonight. A spur-of-the-moment invitation that told me he was thinking about me. Now that he’s working, it was his treat. Love that kid.

Okay, that’s it for today. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.


For great vacation reads, available on Amazon, pick up a copy of:

Deadly Star

Back of the book blurb: "cj petterson has crafted a tale of murder, espionage, and romance which builds to a dramatic and satisfying conclusion. With a gift for well-written dialogue and a deft touch at creating suspense, Ms. petterson delivers a must-read story in Deadly Star."  Rebecca Barrett 

Choosing Carter
Review: "Ms. petterson brings the drama with a cinematic adventure that weaves intrigue, peril and passion in the spectacular Colorado Mountains."--4.5 stars, InD'Tale Magazine

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

“Write what you know” means “write the truth”

Writers are always looking for formulas and rules to make their writing struggles go easier. Eight rules on this, ten tips on that, three on the other. In fact . . . 

   My take on that is, the more I familiarize myself with the different philosophies and “rules” of the various writing worlds (journalism, creative, non-fiction, et al.), the better I am able to write the truth about my characters…their personalities and their worlds. In a way, I am world-building for my novels, even though the characterizations are based on people I’ve met and emotions I’ve felt.

   Granted it's easier to write “what you know”—i.e. the truth—when we write about the people and places we know best. In my Choosing Carter novel, the setting is Dinosaur National Monument and the Yampa River that runs through it. And yes, I once did a five-day white-water rafting trip there. Even with that familiarity, I had to do more research to make sure I had the dialogue and sites correct. (Memories are notoriously faulty.)

   The following excerpt is from regional writer Judy Alter who specializes in her familiarity with Texas.

. . . “setting a book in a particular region (doesn’t) make a writer regional. It’s essential that the author absorb the setting so that rather than obviously telling, such things as geography, culture, food, and manners flow naturally. Otherwise, the background looks like those fake sets in so many grade B westerns.” 

   I’ll take Judy Alter’s advice one step further: Regions are made up of cities, and to write the truth about a city and its characters means the writer also needs to absorb the city setting and its language. That’s why Elmore Leonard’s books are so Detroit-authentic.

   I would never consider myself a regional writer, though not by choice, but by happenstance. Born in Texas and raised in Michigan, I currently live on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. (I guess I could do a decent job of characterizations and syntax of Detroiters.) As a native Texan, I do populate almost every story with a character from Texas, and now that I live in Mobile, Alabama, I people-watch intently. I want my new characters to have some authentic Southern attributes.

   I know a slew of excellent Old-South-regional writers; I also know I’ll never be that good. Writing things Southern is its own genre. There’s a humor and a dialogue cadence that are peculiar (and I mean that in the nicest way) to the South.
Ave of the Oaks, Spring Hill College, Mobile
   Whatever the genre (mystery, suspense, romance) or theme (cats, dogs, yoga, ecology) of the novel, the setting is all-important. How do you incorporate your setting and what you know into what you write?

Passing along information …..

Congratulations to the winners! The 2018 International Thriller Writers (ITW) Thrillerfest Award winners were announced at ThrillerFest XIII, July 14 in New York City, and now you have more books to add to your to-be-read pile:

Best Hardcover Novel
   Riley Sager —Final Girls
Best First Novel
   K.J. Howe —The Freedom Broker
Best Paperback Original Novel
   Christine Bell —Grievance          
Best Short Story
   Zoë  Z. Dean —Charcoal and Cherry  
       (Zoë beat out Lee Child) 
Best Young Adult Novel
   Gregg Hurwitz —The Rains 
Best eBook Original Novel
   Sean Black —Second Chance

Stop by for more information about the International Thriller Writers.
Sandra Seaman's excellent site, “My Little Corner” ( )  lists calls for submission to anthologies and tons of markets.
  Okay, that’s it for today. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.


Judy Alter’s Murder at the Bus Depot, book 4 of her Blue Plate Café Mysteries series can be found on Amazon at   

For great vacation reads, don’t forget to pick up your copy of Deadly Star (
and Choosing Carter ( Available on Amazon. 

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