Monday, November 10, 2014

Is It Okay to Break Writing Rules?

Jackie--obeying the rules
by Jackie King

I try to be a good citizen and rule-breaking goes against my nature. However, the older I become, the less sure I am that writing rules and regulations shouldn’t be broken...sometimes.

Learn the rules before you break one.
When I write something contrary to general writing rules, my first impulse is to delete the scene. This is because another writer once said that it was wrong. Lately, however, I've paused over the delete button, now aware that I might be making an error. I've learned to hesitate before making something disappear from my screen forever. I've become cautious about pushing that delete button. I leave the words for the moment and make the judgment later during editing. (Unless you’re on deadline, when you do whatever is necessary to finish on time.)

When I wake up with a scene in my head that breaks all of the rules and my old writing teacher’s voice shouts inside my head, “YOU CAN’T DO THAT!” I do it anyway.
I can't do what?
I key in whatever words fill my mind, and try to put my heart on the paper. If this sounds messy, it’s because it is. Very. And hard. And exhausting. I’ve mentioned to other writers how exhausted I am after writing. Most agree. The average person, husbands, wives, etc., don’t get this, and there’s no reason they should, unless they also write.

One rule you should follow:
Back when I taught fiction classes I told my beginning students to commit themselves to writing 30 minutes a day. The important thing was to write every day, I assured them.

Several hands always went up. “But, I love writing and want to write for hours and hours,” students would say and most of the class would agree.

“Just make sure you clock 30 minutes. It’s harder than you think,” would be my answer.

The next week at roll call, I’d ask, “Did you write every day?” Few could answer, “Yes.”

No one knows how hard it is to put your heart’s blood on paper except those who write every day.

In each class there would always be one or two who ‘got’ what I was saying. Those were the students who became selling authors. You just have to stay with it. You have to plod through the days you wonder what on earth ever made you think that you could write.

But sometimes…
Usually I follow the rules. Today I may break one.

My Grace Cassidy Mysteries:

#1 in series

#2 in series

No. 3 in series is now a work-in-progress

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Weird Kind of Storyboarding

by Jackie King

The amount of time it took me to write my second Grace Cassidy mystery, THE CORPSE WHO WALKED IN THE DOOR, was downright embarrassing. To avoid this on my third in the series, I researched storyboarding and plotting. Then I told anyone who would listen that I would block out each and every scene before I typed one word in my third Grace Cassidy mystery.

 Book 2 in the Grace Cassidy Series
2nd Grace Cassidy Mystery

Well, I lied!

Sorry about that.

My intentions, as always, were pristine. (And, yes. I do know the name of the road that’s lined with good intentions. My mother explained all of that to me when I was 13.)

But in my own defense, is it my fault that the headlights of my brain only show me a tiny stretch of the road ahead? (You can blame God, if you like, since he created me. But first you should know that He and I have already agreed that He’s always going to be right, no matter how good of an argument I manage to offer.)

I began my storyboard for my 3rd Grace Cassidy mystery in good faith. I bought a bulletin board at Walmart for ten bucks, came home with my purchase and marked it into four sections with masking tape. Feeling very self-righteous and completely sure of my success in this project, I started making plot points on index cards, as I’d always done.
1st Grace Cassidy Mystery

This grew old in a hurry. My fingers started to cramp. (I am an old girl, after all.) Then it occurred to me that I could type much faster than I could write in longhand. So I finished my notes on Word. Then I changed the margins so I could cut each note in an index card size. These I pinned to the board.

The first section was filled when suddenly the characters came to life and started talking inside my head. The problem was, they said what they wanted to say, not what I had planned. And since I’m sort of a wishy-washy person, I didn’t argue with them, but just followed blindly. (For some weird reason there seems to be a sort of magic connection between my fingers and the story. I’d be a real bust at dictating).

I’m still convinced that storyboarding is the right way to go and might save me a year of rewrites. Therefore my storyboard for my 3rd Grace Cassidy mystery is still in progress. However, my method evolved. (Some writers work with files and some work with piles. I’m a pile person.) I now pin the plot progress on my board as I go. I’m a gal who must write as she goes. I start with a premise, knowing only who has murder in their hearts, and why and who. The rest I learn as I write.

I wish I could be a strict plotter, but it seems I can't. I have to write "by the seat of my pants."

Oh well, it worked for the pilots in the 1920's maybe it will work for me too.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Linda Trout Talks About Writing Romantic Suspense

Thank you, Jackie for having me on Cozy Mysteries and Other Madness. I feel right at home among mystery writers since I also have an infinity for killing off people. On paper at least. {wink} When some of my friends and former co-workers read my first book, Grave Secrets, they couldn't believe I’d written it.
 First Book by Linda Trout

Where did that come from, they’d ask. You’re so sweet and nice so how did you think of such a dark character?


I think everyone who writes mysteries knows there’s a bit of a dark side to all of us. It’s a matter of tapping into it, then transferring that to paper.

I love putting my hero and heroine through their paces; throwing them into dangerous places, then proceed to make it worse.

Romantic Suspense Novel
 In Last Hope Alaska, my latest release from The Wild Rose Press, I’ve done exactly that. I keep throwing everything but the kitchen sink at them. Oh, wait. I think I even threw the metaphorical sink at them in the end. J  But being the romantic that I am, they had to have their Happy Ever After, even if they are a bit banged up. I suppose that’s why I write romance as opposed to straight mystery, that HEA.

Emily Redfern's ex-fiancĂ© learned to kill on the back streets of New York. Now, she is his target. Broke, exhausted, and a step ahead of the man she once loved, she clings to one last hope: the wilds of Alaska. The quiet safety of her hide-a-way becomes addictive as she grows to care for the man who offers her refuge.

Released from prison after a wrongful conviction, native Alaskan Sam Tarkington is determined to regain his business, repair his reputation, and rebuild his life. But when he meets a desperate and vulnerable woman, guarding secrets of her own, she tugs at his heart. She's a distraction he can't afford. Sam must choose Emily or achieving his dreams.

Like Emily's life, the peacefulness of the wilderness is an illusion as danger lurks in the distance. Does Sam hold the key to her survival or will her past cost them everything?

Thank you again for having me, Jackie. I’ve enjoyed visiting. My book is available everywhere eBooks are sold and the print version is also available. I’d love to hear from your readers and can be reached on my website: or Like me on Facebook at


Thursday, September 4, 2014

September Is Blog Tour Month!

September is blog tour month celebrating my second Grace Cassidy Mystery THE CORPSE WHO WALKED IN THE DOOR. Since I’m determined to get book 3 out ASAP, I asked the Partners in Crime Blog Tour group to help with this. They’re wonderful! There are plenty times for readers to sign up for a chance to win a copy of THE CORPSE WHO WALKED IN THE DOOR. So follow the tour, leave a comment or sign up as directed, and maybe it will be you!

 Book 2-Grace Cassidy Mystery

The first give-away on Words by Webb, will be open for the next 15 days! Other opportunities will be given on most of the participating blogsites.

 Book one--The Grace Cassidy Mysteries

Book one: THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE IS ALSO AVAILABLE: Both on Kindle at $3.99 each


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What Is Going on with Me!

Killer Nashville August 2014

by Jackie King

Killer Nashville rocks! I highly recommend this mystery con for mystery writers or for any writer who needs an excuse for a fun trip. The conference was scheduled over the weekend, August 22 through 24. T.D. Hart, my traveling buddy, aka Jennifer Adolph, and I left on the Wednesday, August 20. We went early to attend the Sister’s in Crime workshop on Thursday afternoon, which was titled: DOING TIME WITH SinC: GREAT BEGINNINGS. We brought the beginning of our current WIP, up to 200 words.

Hank Phillippi Ryan with T.D. Hart (Jennifer Adolph)
 The presenters were Laura DiSilverio, (president of SinC), Catriona McPherson, Cathy Pickens and Hank Phillipi Ryan.

The president read our copy, which felt a bit like taking your clothes off in public and letting everyone critique your body. In other words, it took courage. But wow! Did we ever get some great tips. As soon as I came home I immediately rewrote my beginning. What I learned was well worth the cost of an extra night at the Omni Hotel (First 5-star hotel I’ve ever stayed in.)

Killer Cozy Panel

I was on the KILLER COZY panel at 10:00 on Friday morning. Panelists: Jennie Bentley/Jenna Bennet, Kay Elam (panel leader), Caroline Fardig and Nancy Parra.

MWA Party-Killer Nashville 2014

Book one in Grace Cassidy Series

Book Two of the Grace Cassidy Series



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Desperately Seeking Discipline

by Jackie King

The most successful authors I know all share one trait. Self-discipline. Discipline is more essential for a writer than creativity. Discipline is to be desired above either talent or creativity.
A disciplined individual, who decides to write, can learn fiction and nonfiction techniques and master the craft. She/he can learn basic plot types and can use these tools to practice creating stories. Creativity can’t be taught, but a clever person could learn character development, basic plot formation and then learn to apply these techniques to produce an entertaining story. And then another entertaining story.

A creative individual, who writes only when she/he feels inspired, will be lucky to finish even one book, much less enough work to form a career. Inspiration is a fickle work tool. And many editors and publishers tend to agree with me. Mine is included in that group. Regardless of the talent involved, before a work can be edited and published, it first must be completed. That’s where discipline comes in handy. And, oh, how I wish that quality was my long suit. But alas, it is not.
So each day I must strive to put my behind in the chair that sits in front of the computer, my fingers on the keys, and coax pouting characters to come out and play.
These characters, like cats that have been left behind while the family vacations, are angry and refuse to acknowledge my presence. To be honest, I don’t blame them, and must continue paying penance until I am forgiven. Let’s hope that is soon.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014


I wish my dear friend, Peggy Moss Fielding could be here to celebrate this day with me. But she passed to a new life on May 20, 2014. I miss her terribly. But she would expect me to press on and keep writing, so that's what I'm doing.
My publisher has verified that my new Grace Cassidy mystery THE CORPSE WHO WALKED IN THE DOOR, will be ready to purchase online by May 30. The trade-paperback will be available later in June.
Available in ebook  on May 30, 2014
This book, second in the series, moves a bit slower than the first, but the stakes are higher. Grace fears her son Brand is getting too involved with the ditzy housemaid, Sandy Walker, and she’s not ready to be a grandma.

Our heroine longs for a quiet, orderly life. She yearns for time to become acquainted with the woman she really is, not the cardboard caricature of her former self. No wonder she bored her husband Charlie. She always did everything he expected.

But that was all in the past. Now she’s surprising and delighting herself with this new persona. Being a woman is a lot more interesting than being a perfect-lady. But life interferes with her plans.

The boss-from-hell, Wilbur Wimberly’s identical twin, thought to be long dead, shows up at the family reunion. Her son is accused of attempted murder, and later of rape. Her cat Trouble finds a dead body in the bathroom of her room. And ex-husband Charlie wants to come back.

All of this and Police Sergeant Sam Harper, who wants to move their friendship to a relationship.

Once again, Grace has her hand’s full.