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, October 25, 2015

Killer Nashville International Conference 2015

cj Sez:  This weekend mystery/suspense/crime writers from “everywhere” converge on Nashville, Tennessee, for Killer Nashville International --   And I will be one of them. It’ll be my first “big” conference in a very long time.

Guests of honor for the 2015 conference are

John Gilstrap … the New York Times bestselling author of Against All Enemies, End Game, High Treason, Damage Control, Threat Warning, Hostage Zero, No Mercy, Nathan’s Run, At All Costs, Even Steven, Scott Free and Six Minutes to Freedom.

M. William Phelps … the New York Times best-selling author of 30 books and winner of the 2013 Excellence in (Investigative) Journalism Award.

Robert K. Tanenbaum … a New York Times bestselling author of three nonfiction books, including Echoes of My Soul, The Piano Teacher: The True Story of a Psychotic Killer and Badge of the Assassin

By the by, on Saturday a.m., Oct 31, I’ll be a member of the panel on Writing Romantic Suspense … woo hoo. That’ll be a kick. Since I want people to think I knew what I was doing when I wrote Deadly Star and Choosing Carter, I’m studying up on the genre.

There’s an upcoming new anthology from the conference as well. Killer Nashville Noir: Cold-Blooded is a collection of stories from bestselling authors that include Jeffery Deaver and Anne Perry.  Look for it on its October 27 release date.

Killer Nashville will be chockfull of writers, readers, agents, editors, publishers, old friends, and hopefully, some new friends. I am so looking forward to having a wonderful meet, greet, and learn experience. Fun and work at the same time (part of the job of being a writer). 

I’m thinking about what I need to pack, so I guess I’d better get to it. If you’re at Killer Nashville this weekend, I hope we have a chance to say hi.

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

PS: My books will be available at the Killer Nashville Barnes and Noble bookstore.
Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook

Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Not the Same Old Characters

Barefoot Writing Academy
Online Class
Character Development 101
This class is for beginning writers and those with writing experience who want to develop characters with greater depth.
Character Development 102 is for experienced writers of fiction. Scheduled for 2016.
October 26 - November 23, 2015
5 weeks
Limited to 10 students
Check or Charge Card
Mahala Church, instructor
Course Description
Creating believable characters is something every fiction author must master. Learn the difference between writing a book that resonates with readers, which translates into sales, and writing a dust collector.
Week 1
Five Simple Things to Get Started
Week 2
Not the Same Old Worksheet
Week 3
Sidekicks, Secondary, and Dysfunctional Characters
Week 4
Partnership of Character and Plot
Week 5
Wrapping up loose ends
Exercises: roughly 1 hour a week

Feedback between group members

Feedback from instructor

Discussion on lessons
Join free Yahoo group site to receive and submit lessons, exercises, and feedback. Site is open to paid registered members only.

Use Microsoft Word 2003 or higher to submit exercises and feedback to group.
Reading Material
Lessons distributed once a week.

Book: none required.

 Write like you mean it!   Mahala

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fall must-have: Tall leather boots from . . .

cj Sez: Oops. Wrong headline, but here I am, in a state of flux, trying to get ready for winter. I’m somewhere between the beginning of fall (the autumn equinox occurred Sept. 23) and the end of daylight savings time (if you’re on it, it ends November 1). I feel as if I’m on a slippery slope to the end of the year. Think about it. Right this minute, stores have displays for a generic harvest season, as well as for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and an increasing number of cultural holidays (including my personal favorite, Christmas).

If you’re a writer who likes a challenge, here’s something to do in the waning sunlight hours: The beginning of NaNoWriMo is November 1. The National Novel Writing Month.  Writing 50,000 words in one month. Let’s see, “30 days hath September, April, June, and November.” That means you’d have to write an average of (just a minute, calculations going on) 1,667 words per day. Whew!

If you’re going to take the challenge (I’ll only admit to “thinking” about it), now is the time to pre-plot … you probably should have already started the process. Deciding to take the NaNoWriMo challenge is one of those times where it isn’t a good idea to jump right in and begin writing. In order to accomplish 50,000 words in thirty days, you will definitely need some pre-planning.
From my Facebook page
You’ll need a basic idea of how you want the action to progress. Especially important to speedwriting is to know something about your story arc, your characters’ development, and what their emotional arcs will be. Attention-getting beginnings, strong middles, satisfying endings don’t just happen (especially the strong middles).

Granted, a final NaNoWriMo story will wind up as a fast first draft. However, the plus side of all that plotting and planning is not only will you have a better chance of completing the NaNoWriMo challenge, but it’s also a good bet that you’ll need a lot fewer rewrites to make that first draft into a viable, saleable novel.

If you’re not in a support group (get your encouragement and motivation there), there are multiple sources of helpful forums and advice online. There is even an official organization:

So, what are you waiting for? Put pen to paper or fingers to keys and get started on developing those plots. There are only 13 days left until Nov. 1.

And now that I think about it, since I get paid monthly, I have only two more paydays until Christmas. Aarrgh!

Okay, I’ll leave you to your work. You-all guys keep on keeping on; I'll try to do the same; and remember, I’m rooting for you!

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

PS: On Friday, grandson competed in/finished the Alabama Spartan Super Race in Saraland ...8+ Miles, 24+ Obstacles. Yay Jeff!

PPS Stocking Stuffer Hint No. 1:   
Stocking Stuffer Hint No. 2: 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

James Lee Burke and show, don’t tell

“The evening sky was streaked with purple, the color of torn plums, and a light rain had started to fall when I came to the end of the blacktop road that cut through twenty miles of thick, almost impenetrable scrub oak and pine and stopped at the front gate of Angola penitentiary.”
― James Lee BurkeThe Neon Rain

cj Sez: Every adjective works with the verb in that sentence to carry the action forward. The reader is on the road with the character, sees what the character sees, and ends up where the character does. A fantastic opening line to draw in the reader, and a wonderful example of show, don’t tell.

That is not to say that poetic words don’t have a place in a novel. Burke uses them also, and they still show what he wants his reader to see.

Write your descriptions, tell your readers everything, then re-write everything in a way that shows them. How to do that, you ask? Read, read, and read some more. Get familiar with how your favorite author handles the task. It just takes practice …writing and re-writing and re-writing and re-writing, and . . .

I’ve had a few of those. (Makes for elephant hide skin.)

Hope you’ve had a chance to read Choosing Carter. Let me know what you think, okay?

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

Choosing Carter (Pub: Crimson Romance) (Amazon)  (B&N)
Deadly Star (Pub: Crimson Romance)  

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Banning Books

There has been a lot of press recently about books that have been banned throughout the years. I thought you might enjoy this letter from a fairly well known Southerner, Harper Lee. When she learned in 1966, six years after the book was published, that Virginia’s Hanover County School Board had removed her book To Kill a Mockingbird from its school libraries and labeled the book immoral, she did what any self-respecting author would do.

She wrote a letter. Her letter went to the editor of the Richmond News Leader and politely included a donation (rumored to be $10) to their Beadle Bumble Fund. The newspaper’s fund had been in place for seven years to highlight and compensate "official stupidities."

In response to Lee’s letter and contribution, the newspaper gave free copies of To Kill a Mockingbird to every child who requested one. It would seem she made her point.

Monroeville, Alabama
January, 1966

Editor, The News Leader:

Recently I have received echoes down this way of the Hanover County School Board's activities, and what I've heard makes me wonder if any of its members can read.

Surely it is plain to the simplest intelligence that "To Kill a Mockingbird" spells out in words of seldom more than two syllables a code of honor and conduct, Christian in its ethic, that is the heritage of all Southerners. To hear that the novel is "immoral" has made me count the years between now and 1984, for I have yet to come across a better example of doublethink.

I feel, however, that the problem is one of illiteracy, not Marxism. Therefore I enclose a small contribution to the Beadle Bumble Fund that I hope will be used to enroll the Hanover County School Board in any first grade of its choice.

Harper Lee

The action of the Hanover County School Board is not particularly unique. Since publication, To Kill a Mockingbird has been removed from other school libraries and challenged by many more. Complaints center around the book’s racial and sexual themes. When I read about these banning incidents, I try to see them as a parent and a grandparent. When I read the book for the first time,  I was an adult. I saw a white Southern lawyer of integrity choosing to defend a black Southern man of equal integrity spread across the pages. I was shocked, stunned, and sickened by the events in the book, scenes that forced me to see the South I loved differently. One reason the book remains on the best selling list is the prejudices people of all races and ethnicities see in its pages, the shock of seeing themselves on the page. The Help recently caused a similar sensation.

The American Library Association reports that To Kill a Mockingbird has remained in the top 100 most challenged books since its publication. It continues to remain in the top ten books that get complaints - 50 years after first seeing the light of day! Least you think this is an American issue, Canada and some European countries have worried about their children being exposed to the “vile” language in the book.

In the United States today, school violence continues to escalate by students on students, bleak issues involving politics rear their nasty heads weekly, including gun control and claims of police brutality, a sexual assault occurs every 2 minutes (44% on children under the age of 17). Is it logical to ignore biographical information that might spur change? Can we preempt violence with knowledge? Have we learned anything by ignoring and glossing over attitudes and actions of bygone eras? Are we so ashamed of our past that we cannot discuss it and learn from it?

Literature is a vital resource from which to teach our children and ourselves about a world infested with both problems and solutions in the hopes that they never experience them personally. Hiding behind platitudes does not diminish the truth, it extols it, feeding the flames of misunderstanding and hatred.

Teens in my writing classes are sophisticated, enmeshed in a world at their fingertips, yet still
vulnerable. Reading and discussing fiction is an important way for them to learn the truth about history, not a varnished textbook diatribe of data, but an insight into the people who lived the history, made mistakes and made strides. It gives them an outlet to discuss their own fears and the violence in their world.

Well-read teens and adults are more open to new ideas, open to opportunities for change and growth, and open to meaningful dialogue: the agility to find our similarities and appreciate our differences.

Authors have a sacred responsibility to share the universe and all its many facets.

Long  Live Books!                                                                  Write like you mean it!