Here at Buckeye Crime Writers, we recently received news that our beloved friend and supporter of many years, Karen Harper, has passed away. For us, Karen will always be that OSU football fanatic, tireless in her love and care of her family, and a pillar in our local writing community. In addition to her writing and appearances, Karen was a co-founder of COFW (a local romance chapter, established in the 1980s) and held a chair on the advisory committee for the OSU library for ten years. Though she usually wintered in Naples, Florida, in recent years she’d moved back to Ohio on a full-time basis and became a more active BCW member. She was our first-ever speaker for our Holiday Luncheon, and spoke to our group anytime we invited her. Her work ethic and ability to professionally survive in the ever-changing landscape of publishing inspired us. Prolific in several genres –contemporary romantic suspense, Amish mysteries – her love for all-things-British was undeniable. Over her thirty-eight years of writing, her work, an impressive list of over seventy books, hit both the NYT and USA Today Bestsellers Lists. Always friendly, full of writerly wisdom, and energetic, her presence will be greatly missed across the Columbus writing community. We hope to honor her by continuing to read and promote her books (she has a new release: DEEP IN THE ALASKAN WOODS, and an upcoming, highly-anticipated release in May: THE QUEEN’S SECRET). What an enduring legacy. What a lady. Rest well, Karen.
If you’ve been a writer for any length of time, I bet there’s something you didn’t know – you’re chunky. Yes, according to Allie Pleiter, the masterful presenter for “The Chunky Method,” all writers are chunky. Whether you write first thing in the morning, during lunch breaks, or only on weekends, writers fall into one of two categories: Big Chunky or Little Chunky. What does that mean? Well, Big Chunk writers prefer to write in their office, have no time limit looming, and no interruptions; they tend to accomplish 500 – 1,000 words per writing session. Little Chunk writers, on the other hand, are those folks who can write on index cards, while riding the subway, and aren’t rattled by sudden distractions – such as taking a friend to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy (Allie helped out four friends in that very situation); they might accomplish 250 – 300 words per writing session. What does this mean for writers? By knowing which type you are, a writer can apply Allie’s Chunky Method to target a few things. First off, you need to discover your average word count per writing session. Then, determine how many writing sessions you can commit to per week, based on your schedule, your life. With that knowledge, you can then find out how long it will take you to write or finish your current project. For example, if you write 500 words per writing session (Little Chunk) and you can commit to four writing sessions per week, you’ll end up with around 2,000 words per week. Enter that info into Allie’s Chunky Method calculator (provided to those who sign up), and you can see how long it will take you to write that book, based on the word count you’re aiming for. If your word count goal is 100,000 words, you’ll complete your novel in 50 weeks (based on our simple example). This is helpful in many ways. For one, it can help writers determine if their goals are realistic, can encourage them to *tweak* the amount of writing sessions (as needed), and can be a useful tool when committing to a deadline. There’s more to it, of course, but Allie’s Chunky Method is a wonderful resource for helping writers achieve their goals.
By Eileen Hammond
Buckeye Crime Writers member
I recently had the good fortune of attending the Magna Cum Murder writing festival in Indianapolis. As I reflect back, here are some takeaways from the conference.
- Book the conference hotel as soon as you know you will be attending. You will feel more a part of the action, as you will be having conversations in the elevator, in line for coffee, etc.
- Practice the elevator pitch for your book or for the project on which you are currently working. There were quite a few occasions where someone asked me what I was writing. It’s a great opportunity to share the great stuff you are doing.
- Order bookmarks or cards for your books, if you are published. (Thank you to board members Kandy Williams and Connie Berry for that suggestion.) After giving your elevator pitch you will be happy to be able to have something to give out as a reminder. It also makes you look more professional. I used vistaprint.com and was quite pleased with the results.
- Go to all the sessions you can. I got something out of nearly every one I attended. Bring a notepad and a pen. You never know when your next best idea will be triggered.
- Go for the weekend, if you can afford it, especially if it is a smaller conference. You will run into people repeatedly: they will get to know you and you them. According to some of the authors with which I spoke, this is a more intimate conference. It was a true family-like atmosphere.
- Get the complete experience. If you are an author or hope to be one someday, buy at least one of the books for sale and have it signed.
- Bring your laptop. There was an impromptu time-bound writing contest sponsored by the Indianapolis chapter of Sisters in Crime. (Two hundred and fifty words centered on or based on a Christmas carol.)
- Engage with the other attendees. Even if you go by yourself, you will feel like you are part of the community. Plus it’s a great opportunity to learn. At the lunch table a New York Times bestselling author suggested aspiring writers attend the Penn Writers conference, which is in Pittsburgh next year. It sounds like an intensive three days.
- Ask questions. The panel authors are grateful to get them and you can get answers to writing questions that may be vexing you.
- If you are a published author, let the organizers of the conference know (yes, even independent authors). When I signed up in May, I wasn’t, but by mid-October I had two books out. They are always looking for people to be on panels. And they had a place for readers to purchase panelists’ books and specific book signing times.
By Patrick Stuart
Confession: I use the word ‘that’ way, way too much. OK, not that much. See? Just did it. ‘That’ is one of those words that sneaks into my rough drafts with regularity, then when I go back for a revision I notice them popping up like mushrooms after a rainstorm. Not that that’s the worst . . . dammit. Twice this time. Does anyone else do this?
Turns out; yeah. A lot, actually. Even with famous authors who end up contradicting their own writerly advice. Which is what statistical word nerd Ben Blatt set out to find in his fascinating book Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve. By comparing several well-known authors of different genres and the books we know them for, he ran their work through complex computer programs to parse out their commonalities and secret habits. You know how Stephen King likes to slam adverbs (i.e., words ending in -ly)? Turns out he’s not quite so adverse with adverbs; he’s actually somewhere in the middle of the pack with usage (between Salman Rushdie and Charles Dickens). At the low end is Ernest Hemingway, whereas the high end tops out with E.L. James (50 Shades of Gray series) and J.K. Rowling. Which posits the following theory:
More adverbs > commercial work
Less adverbs > literary work
So maybe Mr. King has a point with his prejudice of sadly, suddenly, and tearfully (note: he’s hardly the only author against extraneous adverb usage). However, as the shopping channel likes to say; but wait, there’s more. Ben also compares the novels of Toni Morrison, Kurt Vonnegut, William Faulkner and others, and it turns out their most famous works (e.g., Beloved, Cat’s Cradle, The Sound and the Fury, etc.) also use less adverbs, while their lesser-known books tend to be more adverb-heavy. Which further supports the prejudice against adverbs:
Less adverbs > higher literary quality
More adverbs > lower literary quality
But it’s not just adverbs. No, Ben’s just getting started. There’s comparisons of swearing between male and female authors, the use of exclamation points (!), qualifiers (e.g., very), sentence length, clichés (spoiler: James Patterson and Janet Evanovich use the most), similes, and, yes, favorite words (hence the title). By taking blind snippets of books, Ben can even statistically predict who the authors were… imagine using that in a jury scene with an anonymous ransom note. One minor criticism: NKWIS is filled with statistical data, numerous bar charts, scatter plots and lists, which can come across a little dry at times. But ultimately, by teasing out these wonderful little factoids, it’s a fascinating trip inside the minds of our favorite authors and their literary peccadillos. And that’s why this is recommended for your to-read list (another ‘that’ … shut up).
(Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve, by Ben Blatt, The Atlantic, Simon & Schuster, pub. 2017
Writers, are you ready to spend an afternoon getting advice from a literary agent? Most agents live in NYC, making it a RARE opportunity that you can sit and chat with such a professional in a relaxed setting–not in the hussle-bussle of an expensive conference. So come hang out with us, and Ms. Vicki, for this unique event.
AND, for those who are interested, she will be reading and reviewing your query letters. There is a fee of $10 per query letter you wish to submit. Payment and query letters are required in advance of the meeting.
You can pay through Eventbrite, there is a link on our web site or you can go to Eventbrite and pay directly.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We’ll also be enjoying lunch afterward, so plan on joining us!
9:00 am – 9:30 am Registration, Continental Breakfast
9:30 am – 11:00 am Award-winning Pittsburgh author, Nancy Martin, on“The Ten Questions Before Starting Your Novel”
11:15 am – 12:15 pm Karen Harper, NY Times and USA Today bestselling author, on “Ten Tips From the Trenches: A 32- year published author talks about what works to get and stay published”
12:15 pm – 1:30 pm Lunch on your own at the food court
1:30 pm – 2:30 pm Mindy McGinnis, 2016 Edgar Award Winner for Best YA Mystery Novel, on “Writing a Historical Mystery with Modern Appeal”
2:45 pm – 3:45 pm Successful romance novelist turned mystery maven, Duffy Brown, talks about “Plotting the Page-turner or 12 tricks on how to add a sense of breathlessness, anticipation, and sheer gotta-know-more to your story”
3:45 pm – 4:00 pm Afternoon Snack
4:00 pm – 5 pm General panel discussion: all Authors “21st Century Publishing: Where Is It Going and What Do We Do About it?
5:00 pm – 5:30 pm Author book sale and signing
During the afternoon, Nancy Martin will provide individual ten-minute critique sessions for the first ten participants who register for a critique. You will receive your scheduled time on the day of the workshop.
The event will be held at Burton Morgan Lecture Hall at Denison University in Granville Ohio.
Directions and campus map can be found on Denison’s Website.
REGISTRATION DEADLINE JULY 25 2016!
When you are ready to register, pay per one of the options below and submit this registration form (instructions for submittal on form). Workshop Registration