Guest Post

HAVE A BOOK TO PROMOTE? Lyrical Pens welcomes guest posts. Answer a questionnaire or create your own post. FYI, up front: This site is a definite PG-13. For details, contact cj

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter greetings

Wishing you the Gift of Faith
The Blessing of Hope
And a Life filled with Joy . . .

May this Easter day bring peace and happiness into your life,
knowing that even when we feel like giving up, there is hope.

Have a blessed and happy Easter Day


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Crappy first drafts can lack descriptors

cj Sez: My first drafts are crappy and sparse, mainly for two reasons: First, I was once a corporate journalist/editor with limited line space, and second, I got turned on to creative writing by a screenwriter. (I won’t delve into my brain cramps and writer’s blocks.) I often get criticized for my lack of details, but once I’m finished with the first go-through, my editing process expands on details of the five senses…hear, see, taste, smell, feel… and the characters’ state of mind.

I do incorporate some action descriptors, but I consider too many of them stage direction. Some writers use them to “tell” their readers what to think or as a way to add words to a short manuscript. 

Action needs to have purpose. If describing an action doesn't contribute to the reader's knowledge of the character, scene conflict, or mood, then it’s stage direction. Because I write mostly suspense and thrillers, I have a minimalist approach to action … using few words speeds up the pace and heightens the tension. On the other hand, readers of cozy mysteries or more narrative-based novels want (and expect) to know every detail.

It’s a good way to control the pace of your novel. Even in suspense and thrillers, there are places where the reader needs a respite from the action. These would be the spots where I add more detail…or beats. Places where I can reveal more of the characters’ growth, i.e.,  transformation, as the plot progresses.

Hint: Adding detail words slows the pace; being stingy speeds it up.

When action is needed to set some mood for the scene, then yes, I detail the action. Sometimes I add details to slow the action and increase the tension. If I want a character to give the reader a sense of impending danger and fear, then I add more description to the action. I tend to follow the lead of my favorite authors...Robert Parker, Stephen King, James Lee Burke...their succinct style of writing is what I like to read, and it is this reader who is my target market.

Hint: Write what you like to read...for your target market.

When I write, I take my cues from screenwriting, except I’m the actor. Since internal dialogue doesn't convert easily to the movie screen, I tend to develop most of the characterizations within action. I step through the scene in my mind and react to the events as my characters would, physically and mentally. I can do that because I know their personalities well enough to know what they would do in a given situation. I want my readers to identify the character more by what s/he does and says rather than what I might tell them (aka author intrusion).

Fiction, non-fiction, whatever the genre, each has a different set of “rules” because the readers have different expectations and wants. The key is to write for your target market . . . and make that the genre you read and analyze. Over time, the structure of the genre will become second nature, and your writing will be even more successful.

If you have any questions or more info to add to this post, please leave a comment. Lyrical Pens would love to hear from you.

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

Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook
Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo

Sunday, March 13, 2016

An author's age is not a disability

cj Sez:  First: The NOOK warning that I posted, and as I later learned, is aimed at U.K. users. It may be coming to the U.S., but that will be wait-and-see.
On to the post for the day . . . I am pleased to announce that I recently passed another annual millstone (sic): I had a birthdayof course, the cake was chocolate. I really hadn’t celebrated my birthdays since I hit 21, but this year, I thought
“why not?” I spent the day taking advantage of free lunches and free desserts at more than one restaurant. The kicker was, these free items were not age-based. That is, I didn’t have to be a certain age to qualify. But that age thing is a big deal for me and a lot of women, maybe “most” women.

We (that plural pronoun includes men) have come to the realization that the world is geared to the younger generation. They get ads for computers, tablets that can do everything but dance, hundreds of phone apps, outrageously sexy vacations, every sort of sports equipment you can think of, and flirty workout apparel that's sure to inspire you to shape and tone. Past the age of let’s say 35, it seems the majority of advertising is aimed at medicines … for constipation, overactive bladders, or erectile dysfunction.

2013: My first published novel
Agents, some of whom look like they’re two years out of high school, voice their interest in finding the unique voices of young writers that they can “develop.” I was personally exposed to this attitude at a conference a few years ago, and it put a damper on my ambition…for a short time. Then I decided, I didn’t need an agent to write. Personally, I didn’t even “need” to be published, (although I have appreciated very much the publisher’s affirmation of my story telling skills).

I did and do, however, need to write.

Here’s a quote by author Babette Hughes from her recent guest column on The Writer’s Dig that I now keep on my computer:

Age is not a disability, it is a second chance at life. I’m 92 years old and Post Hill Press has just published my three-novel Kate Brady series; (The HatThe Red ScarfThe Necklace); I’m working on my fourth novel (Searching For Vivian) and fifth book, and am a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post.

That is so awesome, Babette! I stand in awe of her discipline.

What keeps you from writing? More importantly, what inspires you to write?

You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same (maybe I can make it to 92 one day and still be writing).

PS:  Did you remember to Spring Forward and set your clocks ahead one hour. My body is not thanking me right now because I went to bed on Saturday’s time and got up on Sunday’s time. For all of you that did the same, I feel your exhaustion.
Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook
Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo        

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


cj Sez: This  article crossed my Facebook page this morning.
 “B&N nukes the NOOK with a 15 March deadline for customers to save content”

I'll delete the reference from my signature the next time around.

Sad news, indeed.

You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I'll try to do the same.
Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook
Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Writers need support groups

cj Sez: First: BSP (Blatant Self Promotion). Choosing Carter got a new rave review on Amazon, and I quote:  

A well written page turner! cj petterson did a wonderful job of putting you in the Colorado wilderness and weaving her cast of characters. I really enjoyed the book and would highly recommend it to others. I am going to buy several copies to give as gifts. 

And cj Sez: LOVE that reader, and thank-you-very-much.

As my writing year progresses (or not), I have to admit that I need a support group. As my regular readers have noticed, I promote critique groups and writing groups heavily and often (this post is a rerun) because it is my belief that authors really cannot write in a vacuum. We need something that a Google search for info cannot give us; we need human interaction but not just for the atta girls. We need personal testimony of experiences and verbal encouragement in order to continue the singularly and often lonely task of writing. And there are two or three groups in particular that I rely on…in addition to a fabulously talented critique group of which I am a member.

Disclaimer here:  I am a proud member of the international organizations I profile below and am writing this blog with a great deal of affection and appreciation for the support I’ve received from the members all along my journey to publication. Most of the paragraphs that follow are lifted directly from the public websites of the organizations because there’s no way I could say it better.

From the Sisters in Crime website:

“Did you know...
SinC was founded in 1986 and is now 3600 members strong in 48 chapters world-wide, offering networking, advice and support to mystery authors.

“Did you know...
We are authors, readers, publishers, agents, booksellers and librarians bound by our passion for the mystery genre and our support of women who write mysteries.”

The work of the organization benefits not just its members but all women authors of crime stories as it seeks to garner equal review space in newspapers and combat gender bias.

Sisters in Crime was founded by Sara Paretsky and a group of women at the 1986 Bouchercon. In 1996, SinC realized it had achieved real recognition by the publishing industry when Publishers Weekly called Sisters in Crime “ubiquitous” . . . indeed, in ten years, they were everywhere.

By the way all you aspiring author-guys, there are misters among those sisters, so don’t be put-off by the name.

Once a member of SinC, writers are eligible for membership in Guppies. “Guppies” is the online chapter of Sisters in Crime.

From the Guppies website:

“We come from many different occupations, locations, and avocations, sharing experiences and enriching our larder of resources. We write crime short stories and novels in the mystery genre. Our subgenres include; cozy, traditional, police procedural, PI, paranormal, supernatural, humor, suspense, thriller and romance. Our common goal: to see our work in print.

“The name ‘Guppies’ is an acronym for ‘The Great Unpublished.’ Although the majority of members start out as unpublished, many Guppies have changed that status by using the support and resources of the group to assist them in honing their craft and finding the right path for them to publication. Once published, many Guppies remain members to pass along their knowledge and expertise, which has become a tradition.”

A Guppy author’s BSP is guaranteed to receive beau coup congratulations . . . fin flaps, applause, virtual champagne toasts abound. Guppies are amazing in their generous and selfless support of the success of fellow members.

If you’re a mystery/crime writer looking for a great support group, opportunities for online critique groups, and whole manuscript exchanges, SinC and Guppies
are inexpensive memberships to consider. (Psst: I am also considering memberships in the highly acclaimed Mystery Writers of America and Romance Writers of America. They are a little more expensive, so I have to save my pennies for those.)

How’s your writing progressing this year? Facing a conundrum? Ask Lyrical Pens. Stick it in the comments, and we promise to answer.

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

(PS: The toons are from my Facebook pages.)
Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook
Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo