Are you a Panster or a Plotter?







At Thrillerfest 2012, I had the pleasure and honor to meet and hear from the best in the industry. A variety of topics were presented on the craft of writing including: Crafting a Story Outline, Finding Your Storytelling Voice, Creating Mind Blowing Twists, Creating Compelling and Complex Antagonists, as well as talks on plot, structure, publishing etc.* Weaved throughout all the discussions, was the running question – “Are you a pantser (write by the seat of your pants) or a plotter (make and follow a detailed outline). Continue reading “Are you a Panster or a Plotter?” »

There’s Something Special About Your First Book

What Circle Dance means to me

When my sister and I first agreed to collaborate on a story, we constructed one similar to what we loved to read at the time—stories about women, their emotional lives, and the choices they make in life.  Our first characters were three sisters—beautiful, blonde, rich, and American.  The story was a struggle and we realized that we were not writing about what we knew or even about what spoke to us—but rather to what was popular and interesting at the time.We talked about the fact that there were very few stories about the Greek American experience.  While similar to other ethnic stories—there are unique aspects to being Greek that we felt needed to be shared. Continue reading “There’s Something Special About Your First Book” »

Where is the Best Place to Write?

Everyone needs a room of one’s own – at least according to Virginia Woolf. Whether this is a literal or metaphorical dictum is open to interpretation – the state of women’s rights in Woolf’s day vastly different from today. Still – the idea that a dedicated writing space was integral to my success as an aspiring author was one that I wholeheartedly embraced and set about establishing. The house we lived in at the time I began my novel had the perfect writing spot – a small room off the bedroom with a window overlooking a beautiful verdant space abounding with trees. The light was perfect for writing and I spent many hours concocting devious plots while gazing at the woods. Continue reading “Where is the Best Place to Write?” »

Writing with a Co-Author

People often ask me – “How do you write a book with another person?” When my sister and I decided to work together on Circle Dance, we didn’t know the answer to that question. I bought a book (“How to Write and Sell Your First Novel”, by Oscar Collier), read it, and proceeded to follow its advice. This particular book advocated outlining and set the foundation for the way I would write for many years until I modified that approach (see previous blog post Are you a Pantser or a Plotter?). Continue reading “Writing with a Co-Author” »

The Road to Publication

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment the paradigm shift occurred.  The transition from traditionally published author to an independent one marked the beginning of the change. When my first book was published, the overwhelming feeling of vulnerability I felt shocked me. A part of me was sitting on that bookshelf for anyone to see and criticize. Promoting the book felt like conceit. Sheepishly and shyly I approached bookstores and organizations as I attempted to broaden our distribution. Continue reading “The Road to Publication” »

Writer’s Block? 5 Ways to get Unstuck



We all have days when we sit down to write and the words flow fast and furious while our fingers race to keep up. But what about the days we approach our writing time with eager anticipation only to find that we have nothing to write? Our story is stuck. Our prose is flat. Our imaginations dry. It does little good to sit and stare at a blank screen, hoping the muse will show up and get our fingers dancing again. At times like these, a shift in process helps me. Continue reading “Writer’s Block? 5 Ways to get Unstuck” »

Lose the Lukewarm Writing – Going from Tepid to Torrid


I’m inclined to agree…
I was a little upset…
It was almost too much to bear…
He was kind of difficult…
She was barely passing…
She was practically salivating…

These limp descriptions are the tepid water of writing – the equivalent of a timid hand raised half way with no real expectation of being called upon. Continue reading “Lose the Lukewarm Writing – Going from Tepid to Torrid” »

Pontificating with Purple Prose


If there’s a passage I’m overly proud of—it usually means I need to cut it. There is a big difference between a well-crafted sentence relevant to the story, and one that sounds impressive but does nothing to move the story forward. This kind of self-indulgence is referred to as purple prose: metaphor after metaphor; meandering musings that take you nowhere; more scenic descriptions than a travel guide. In other words, those parts we skim to get to the good stuff. When I find purple prose in my work, I ask myself what purpose it serves. Am I trying to prove I can be as erudite as the next person or does the prose add needed melody and cadence? Purple prose is like an exotic spice—a little goes a long way—too much and it overpowers the entire dish. Continue reading “Pontificating with Purple Prose” »

Villains – the New Heroes?


I love my bad guys. They are the most fun to write—their evil deeds flow effortlessly from my imagination. They are malicious, devious, merciless, and sadistic. But If I’m not careful, they begin to resemble cardboard cutouts in black hats and handlebar mustaches. While it is tempting to craft a character oozing with evil intentions and only despicable characteristics, there must be at least a kernel of humanity in him or her. Good literary villains must be imbued with their own desires, ordeals, personal demons, and credible motivations for their actions. All villains are the heroes of their own story, and with rare exceptions don’t consider themselves villains at all. Continue reading “Villains – the New Heroes?” »