Sit. Stay. A weekend update and some writing advice for 2015 . . .

fallsbooks1Next week at Maine Crime Writers there will be posts by Sarah Graves (Monday), Kate Flora (Tuesday), Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett (Wednesday), Vicki Doudera (Thursday), and Dorothy Cannell (Friday).

We begin the new year with the question, posed to each of our bloggers: What is one piece of writing advice you would give to an aspiring writer whose resolution is to finally write that book?

Kate Flora: At a conference I attended recently, someone suggested that the first piece of advice to give to someone who longs to write but hasn’t yet given it a serious try is to use the words to yourself that you’d use to train your dog: Sit. Stay. That’s pretty much what my mother, who was a writer, said to me.

Barbara Ross: If I had a nickel for every time someone has said to me, “I’d write a book if I had the time,” I’d have a HUGE pile of nickels. I always look at them and think, “Do they think I have a magic machine that makes more time? I get the same 24 hours in a day as everyone else.” So here’s my advice: If you want to write, you’ll make it a priority. I know it feels selfish to steal time from job, spouse, kids, parents, but that’s what you have to do. If you don’t want to write badly enough to do that, there’s no harm in it. Don’t write and don’t stress that you’re not writing. The great thing about writing, unlike say, being an Olympic-level gymnast, or a baseball pitcher, is that you can do it at any age. Writing will be there, waiting, when you do decide to make it a priority in your life.

Susan Vaughan: The single most important thing is to write every day. But I can’t leave it at only one piece of advice. The other is to hone your craft. Learn as much as you can about what elements make a good story. Study your favorite writers and what it is that brings you back to them. And write every day. Oh, yes, I meant to repeat that.

Lea Wait: Writing advice:  Read, and keep reading, especially in the genre you’re thinking of writing. And study Publisher’s Weekly. Knowing what the current market trends are won’t tell you what will be published in two or three years.  But it’s a beginning. For writing advice, Donald Maass’s Writing 21st Century Fiction is on the top of my list.

Al Lamanda: My advice to aspiring writers whose resolution is to finally write that book is simple, to start it. So many young writers I talk to all seem to have the same problem, they talk about it, dream about it, research it, make notes about it, but never seem to write that first word. It’s like walking. You have to take that first step. So forget all the rules, sit down and write. Once you do get started, the words will begin to flow.

Sarah Graves: I’m of two minds about the finishing the novel advice. On the one hand, half an hour per day — the length of one TV sitcom — is not too much to ask of your own life. And you can write a novel that way. On the other, the surest way to find out whether or not you are a writer is to see whether or not you write. So I guess I’d say try it for half an hour a day, and if you keep it up you’ve got your answer, and if you don’t, then you’ve got your answer, too.

Vaughn Hardacker: Advice for an aspiring writer: Several centuries ago Confucius is supposed to have said: The longest journey starts with a single step. Likewise: The longest story starts with a single word. Write it.

Kaitlyn Dunnett: My writing advice: Don’t let anyone talk you out of making your dream a reality.

In the news department, here’s what’s happening with some of us who blog regularly at Maine Crime Writers:

From Kathy Lynn Emerson: Interested in the story behind Murder in the Queen’s Wardrobe? I answered just that question this past week at   Meanwhile, I’ve been putting the finishing touches on the sequel, Murder in the Mercery, so that the manuscript can be sent to my editor at Severn House next week.

boiledoverlargeprintcoverFrom Barbara Ross:  The large print version of the second Maine Clambake Mystery Boiled Over will be released this week by Kennebec Large Print, an imprint of the fabulous Maine publisher Thorndike (a division of Cengage).

From Lea Wait: Thrilled that Shadows on a Maine Christmas was named one of the best books of 2014 by Kings River Life, a California magazine, and one of the dozen best Christmas books of the season (along with Kaitlyn Dunnett’s Ho Ho Homicide) by Library Journal.

Twisted ThreadsAnd excited that my Mainely Needlepoint series with Kensington Publishing will debut this week with Twisted Threads. This first in the series introduces Angie Curtis, whose mother disappeared when she was ten. Her grandmother brought her up in Haven Harbor, Maine, but she had a tough adolescence, and headed west, away from Maine, as soon as she got out of high school. Now it’s ten years later and it’s time to go home: her mother’s body has been found, and Angie is determined to find out what really happened 18 years ago, even though that will mean confronting her own past.


An invitation to readers of this blog: Do you have news relating to Maine, Crime, or Writing? We’d love to hear from you. Just comment below to share. Don’t forget that comments are entered for a chance to win our wonderful basket of books and the very special moose and lobster cookie cutters.


And a reminder: If your library, school, or organization is looking for a speaker, we are often available to talk about the writing process, research, where we get our ideas, and other mysteries of the business. Contact Kate Flora: mailto:

This entry was posted in Sunday Updates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Sit. Stay. A weekend update and some writing advice for 2015 . . .

  1. Monica says:

    I’ve read a million books on writing, stolen moments of writing time, and I am now *this* close to finishing the book I started writing 8 years ago.

    The final push? My mom has cancer and I want her to be able to read it. Sometimes you just have finish something for someone else.

    Now it’s time to read up on how to find an agent. But mom gets a copy next week to be a first reader.

  2. Lea Wait says:

    Congratulations, Monica! I’m sorry about your mother … but really happy that you were able to achieve the hardest goal: you’ve finished your book! Life works in strange ways.

  3. Laini Giles says:

    I’d started plenty of books before, but never finished anything. I recommend moving to another country and not being able to work for 11 months for doing that.

    Trapped in a small 2 bedroom house in the wilderness outside of Edmonton, enduring my 1st Alberta winter was the true test of my emotional and psychological mettle.

    I coped by making the drive into the city with my husband every day, dropping him off at work, and sitting at Starbucks for 4 or 5 hours until I pounded out my first book. Once I got started, I couldn’t stop. With very few exceptions, I write every weekday morning. You do what you have to do. #2 is being published this coming summer, #3 is almost finished, and I have several candidates for #4 vying for my attention.

  4. Great story, Laini. Thanks for sharing and congrats on your forthcoming book.


  5. Reine says:

    My new motto with the letters cut from an old school decal and stuck to the frame of my computer: SIT. STAY.

    Thank you Maine Crime Writers. I must finish this book.

  6. Write what you know about. Writing is words on paper and it requires a lot of “bum glue.”

  7. sandy says:

    That post was great. So many writers we’ve been following sharing their advice. From out here in the trenches, that’s all great!

  8. sandy says:

    That was great: sharing your news as well as your advice. From out here in the trenches, that advice is very special…..

  9. Edith says:

    Great advice from some great writers! Sit, stay sums it up. I’m on a push to finish the first draft of my fourth Local Foods mystery. Setting a word count goal and fulfilling it every single day does it for me. 14000 to go, so I’ll be done in ten days. Or sooner…or later, if the story needs more than that.

  10. Monica says:

    Writing as I did around 6am yesterday, I forgot to mention my book group! We meet every Monday at the Freeport library to discuss our writing. This wonderful group slogged thru my second draft with me for the past 18 months. The story took a remarkably unexpected side trip when they all decided they wanted to know more about a minor character who intrigued them.

    They’ve been wonderfully supportive so that would be my recommendation – find a couple of people dedicated to providing real support to everyone’s efforts. (I found out my punctuation is horrible, so bad everyone stopped correcting it. But, the dialog I write is fairly compelling. I wouldn’t have known either without my group.)

    And, reading this blog has certainly encouraged me, even though it’s not a mystery l’m writing.

Leave a Reply