The Carolina Conspiracy had a panel discussion this past weekend at the Gaston County Public Library in Gastonia, North Carolina, on the topic "Murder for Fun and Profit." The branch sponsors many really interesting programs( http://www.glrl.lib.nc.us/eventsexhibits/events.htm ) and librarian Carol Reinhardt was a wonderful hostess. Our group answered questions, sold books, and ate some delicious refreshments courtesy of the Friends of the Library. Conspirators Lynette Hall Hampton, Richard Helms, Kathleen Delaney, Terry Hoover, and I discussed writing, why we love mysteries, and our books. We never really nailed that "profit" part of the program down, but talked about the other rewards that writing brings us.
It's always fun to get together with the Conspiracy and have a chance to visit with people with interests and struggles similar to mine. We're all typically voracious readers (especially of mysteries), and face the same challenge of a blank page each day. For me, it's a real pleasure to be around other writers. I have to admit to feeling a little like a weirdo sometimes as a mystery writer. I was with a group of moms at the pool a couple of weeks ago and they were talking about their jobs (they all happened to be preschool teachers....an extremely challenging and rigorous job, but also a fairly rated G one.) When they asked me what I did, I mumbled, "Write murder mysteries." I can still see the stunned expression on their faces. Not the most maternal of jobs. And it's really funny when my second grade daughter tells her friends that I kill people in my books. Sigh. And I had been hoping to get away with an explanation that I write Encyclopedia Brown-type books for grown-ups.
So being with the Conspiracy is always a treat. I get to hear other people talk about what inspires them, how they meet their writing goals, overcome their challenges, and fit writing into everyday life.
Free Download of a Classic:
I would download this book, but I already have it in my library--have had it in my library since high school, actually. If you're not familiar with Elements of Style by William Strunk, here's an opportunity to download the first edition for free. E.B. White became a coauthor in later editions--that's right....the E.B. White of Charlotte's Web fame.
Here is the link to Rob Parnell's blog, then click on "Download: Elements of Style.
I've used this book more than any other guide to composition. Strunk's advice to "omit needless words" is just as important (or more so?) now as it was in 1957 when Elements first released.
Online Stuff: The Writing Frump....an anonymous writer's gripes. She seems to get stiffed fairly regularly by businesses who employ her as a freelancer. Very funny: http://writingfrump.wordpress.com/
Useful Advice for Writers--The Writer's Edge: http://writersedgeinfo.blogspot.com/ . Includes information on publishing payout schedules, book deal escalators (I wish!), book pitches, manuscript acceptability levels for contracts, etc.
The Small Publishers Association of North America's list of Ten Things Agents and Editors Hate: http://www.spannet.org/article-frishman-agent.htm