Yesterday's Echo by Matt CoyleMay 2013 marked the long awaited (by me) launch of my debut crime novel, Yesterday’s Echo. It has been a dream come true and a lifetime goal achieved and never would have happened without the help of many people, most of whom I mentioned in the book’s acknowledgments. But I never would have had the chance to thank anyone if I hadn’t been willing to break out of the comfy confines of the Cocoon.

I knew I wanted to be a writer ever since I was fourteen when my dad gave me The Simple Art of Murder by Raymond Chandler. The hard part was actually doing the writing and that didn’t really start in earnest for about thirty years. I’m a slow starter. However, even when I buckled down and consistently put my ass in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard, I still had a lot to learn.

Being a fledgling author is a fun and exciting time. You’re finally doing something you were put on earth to do, and dammit, you’re pretty good at it. You start each day reading over the literary gold you spun the day before and realize that you’re home. You’ve found your niche. If you stay with it, you’ll have a draft in around a year, give or take. Then it will only be a matter of time, a short matter at that, before your brand new novel is on the bookshelves between Connelly and Crais.

Or so I thought. But why wouldn’t I? I read what I’d written every day and it was genius. The couple members of my family whom I’d let read the book even agreed with me. Now they might have just been happy that I’d finally started writing instead of just talking about it, but they wouldn’t lie. Would they?

Still, I’m Irish and with that comes self-doubt. So, I decided that before I quit my day job and found an agent to get me the big contract, I’d better vet the work with a professional. Let someone outside the warm, snuggly, cocoon of my family and myself read what I’d written. That is sort of the point of being an author, isn’t it? Hopefully, at some point strangers will read your work and they’ll have opinions.

So, I took some night classes at UC San Diego from a mystery author turned writing teacher. Well, apparently she wasn’t that good of a teacher because she failed to recognize my genius. I was shocked and disappointed. I’d paid good money and I got some flunky as a teacher. It was a beginner’s novel class and most students never really began writing so my stuff was on the chalkboard each session. It was ugly. The teacher asked me questions that I’d never thought of, like what does your character want in a scene and what is he thinking?Matt Coyle, August 24, 2012

It took a while, but I started to realize that the teacher wasn’t that stupid and I wasn’t such a genius. It hurt. I’d jumped out of my cocoon and let strangers see my work and been slapped in the face. Hard. I lost some of that confidence earned writing in anonymity. Maybe I couldn’t do this. Maybe I wasn’t good enough and never would be. But after I stopped feeling sorry for myself (in just a few days…okay, a few weeks) and started revising through the teacher’s prism, the book got better.

Then I joined a writers group and exposed my work to other writers. Like the teacher, they tore it apart and helped me put it back together. Stronger. It took years of tearing and mending before I knew, that, finally, it was ready for an agent and then a publisher. Ten months later was just last month and the publication of Yesterday’s Echo.

Writing in a cocoon will make you feel good. Breaking out of it might get you published.

Matt Coyle grew up in Southern California, battling his brother and sisters for respect and the best spot on the couch in front of the TV. Yesterday’s Echo is Matt’s first novel. He drew from his days in the restaurant business and his extended family’s law enforcement background in creating this book. Matt lives in San Diego with his wife, Deborah, and their Yellow Lab, Angus.

 

A Murder at Rosamund's Gate by Susanna Calkins

Today, April 23rd, marks the release of a novel I’ve been looking forward to very much: A MURDER AT ROSAMUND’S GATE by Susanna Calkins. It tells the story of Lucy Campion, a seventeenth-century English chambermaid serving in the household of the local magistrate. Her life, an endless repetition of polishing pewter, emptying chamber pots, and dealing with other household chores, is interrupted when a fellow servant is ruthlessly killed, and someone she loves is wrongly arrested for the crime.

Susanna kindly accepted my invitation to chat about our novels, both of which are set in Restoration England and feature strong female protagonists who must struggle against the gender and class constraints of their time in order to achieve their goals.

HW: When I tell people I’ve written a historical mystery they often comment on how much research it must’ve taken and how daunting that is. But I actually found that writing a story set 350 years ago was freeing in some ways.  I like the world building involved in reconstructing a historical time period for the purposes of my fiction. Plus, I’m a complete geek about the Restoration so I found my research a pleasure. Did you find the research you did for A MURDER AT ROSAMUND’S GATE at all daunting?

SC: I started doing research in early modern English history when I was a graduate student, years before I began to put A MURDER AT ROSAMUND’S GATE to paper. I had come across some really interesting murder ballads from the 1650s when I was writing a paper on “gender patterns in domestic homicide in 17th c. England.” Later those ballads became the impetus for my novel. So, for me, doing historical research was always part of what I loved about being a historian. So, in A MURDER AT ROSAMUND’S GATE, I wanted to place my heroine in some deeper themes, reflecting what I knew about gender (specifically the role of working class women), religion, politics, and culture.

What themes did you explore in DIARY of BEDLAM?

HW: At first, I only knew I wanted to write a story set during the Restoration. But as I got to writing, my protagonist evolved into a fairly complex person–she’s been a mistress to the King for fifteen years and at his behest, she operated as a spy against the Dutch. She lost her brother in the plague and she’s served time in prison. I was surprised, however, when the subject of motherhood entered her story, and realized it’s because of my own relationship with motherhood (I don’t have children and don’t plan to) that I wanted to explore the subject with her.

The story takes place during the Popish Plot so religion, politics and the corruption of the court all play big roles in the story as well.

In an interview I read, you indicate that you’re not overly fond of using real-life people as characters (I paraphrased that, obviously). Which, if any, real-life people did you use in the novel, and why?

SC: I don’t think I have any “real” historical figures in my novel, although of course I mention important figures from time to time (Charles II, the diarist Pepys, as well as the murderess Anne Scarisbruck). I don’t have anything against other writers who fictionalize historic figures–Sam Thomas, for example, quite admirably fictionalizes the midwife Bridget Hodgson in A MIDWIFE’S TALE. I don’t like when historical figures are either romanticized (made to seem more important and perfect than they were) or trivialized (diminished as a punch line). There’s too much ‘Great man’s history’ as it is; I don’t like to add to that in the public imagination.

Is your heroine, Isabel Wilde, a real historical figure? She sounds like Aphra Behn, the famous writer, who was also a spy. Did Behn’s life influence you at all?

HW: Two parts of Isabel’s backstory come from Aphra Behn: the spying, of course, and the prison time for debt. But I’ve got other real-life people who appear: King Charles II is a character and the murder itself is based upon a true crime that was never solved. For me, there was never any question that Charles II would be an actual character in the book and not just mentioned. He’s not a main character, but the scenes in which he appears were definitely the most fun to write.

Tell me a little bit about your protagonist, Lucy Campion. I’m assuming that she is, in some ways, a woman of her time, but I want to know how she rises the above the constraints of her place in society (that of a chambermaid) in order to achieve her goals in the novel.

Author Susanna Calkins
Photo by Lisa Bagadia

SC: Even though Lucy was not particularly well-educated, I wanted her to have a lively, inquisitive mind. I deliberately placed her in a small household run by a thoughtful magistrate–someone who would not shut the door on a good idea just because it came from a woman and a servant. There was, after all, a progressive spirit of Enlightenment thought that was infusing the thinking of more educated people at the time. If Lucy had been in a different type of household, she might well have been beaten for some of things she did, and than that would have been the end of her curiosity and her pursuit of justice. What’s the fun of that? Moreover, at the time of the plague, and certainly after the Great Fire, there was an unprecedented social mobility in England, as servants rose up and took over their master’s trades and households. (If everyone else flees or dies, who’s around to say something isn’t yours?)

Why did you come to focus on the murder of Edmund Godfrey? How did you come across it? I think it’s told in Magnolia…did you ever see that movie?

HW: The story, as told in Magnolia, is more about the coincidence of Green, Berry, and Hill, three men who were falsely accused and executed of the murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey. Godfrey’s body was found at what is today known as Primrose Hill, but for a time, the location was known as Greenberry Hill. It has a small mention in Magnolia.

I came upon Sir Edmund’s murder quite randomly–it was a featured entry on Wikipedia’s home page one day when I happened to be looking for inspiration and I thought it might work for my plot. I soaked up every account of his killing I could find and constructed my story from there. Though his murder is a true historical event, my telling of it is fiction, through and through.

I find myself now in the exciting but daunting position of writing a sequel to DIARY OF BEDLAM. I know you’ve written an sequel to A MURDER AT ROSAMUND’S GATE. I’m curious to know what your experience has been writing a second Lucy Campion novel. Was it easier? Will there be others in the series?

SC: Yes, I’ve finished the sequel, tentatively titled FROM THE CHARRED REMAINS, which like ROSAMUND’S GATE, gets its title from a fictional pamphlet which relates to the murder. I really enjoyed writing the sequel, if only to continue with my characters. This book picks up about 2 weeks after the last one left off, in the aftermath of the Great Fire. Lucy, like many Londoners, is pressed into service to help with the massive cleanup. A body is discovered in a barrel outside of an old tavern; the man was clearly murdered before the Fire. Unbeknownst to others, a pickpocket takes a little bag off the body and passes it to Lucy. Inside are a number of odd objects, including a poem, which Lucy convinces the local printer to publish as a pamphlet. She begins to be targeted by some people who believe she knows the secret of the man’s murder.

What was the funniest or more surprising question you got from people when they found out you had written a novel?

HW: Honestly, I haven’t gotten what I thought was a funny response to me writing a novel. I’d been talking about it since I was a teenager, and after a failed attempt to write one ten years ago, they were probably thinking “finally,” or “yeah, right.” But for the most part, people have been really supportive. What about you?

SC: Supportive yes, but a lot (A LOT!) of people asked me how much sex was in my novel. First question! Yikes!

***

Yikes indeed! Well, my response to Susanna’s writing a novel is obviously “YAY!” There’s nothing I like more than a good historical novel set in my favorite time period, Restoration England. Thank you, Susanna, for stopping by my blog and congratulations on your Book Birthday.

Susanna Calkins is an educator and faculty developer by day and a writer by night. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two sons.

King Charles II ruled England from 1661 until his death in 1685

You may have noticed the recent “NEXT BIG THING” meme popping up on your favorite writer’s websites. Last week, Naomi Hirahara, author of the Edgar Award-winning Mas Arai series, tagged me and a handful of other writers, including Gar Anthony Haywood, SJ Rozan, Sujata Massey, and Ed Lin to write about our NEXT BIG THING. So here’s mine:

1) What is the working title of your next book?

DIARY OF DECEPTION. It’s the second novel featuring Lady Isabel Wilde, a favorite in the court of King Charles II of England who secretly makes her living disguised as fortuneteller Mistress Ruby.

2) Where did the idea come from?

Originally the idea came from a contemporary news story about a girl with amnesia who showed up in NYC and didn’t know who she was or how she got there. As the idea evolved, I realized I wanted to explore Isabel Wilde’s family history, particularly that of her deceased brother, Adam, and how she’d react if she discovered he’d harbored secrets from her.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Historical mystery

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

The only part I’m sure of is Federico Castelluccio as King Charles II. He’d be perfect.

Federico Castelluccio

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When a young girl claiming to be Isabel Wilde’s deceased brother’s daughter comes into Isabel’s life, she tells Isabel that her father was murdered, not killed in the plague as Isabel has always believed, driving Isabel to investigate a twelve-year-old death to learn the truth.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I can’t talk about the details publicly yet but a couple of exciting things are in the works!

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?

Thus far it’s only a book proposal! But DIARY OF BEDLAM, the first novel in the series, took about six months to write. I expect DIARY OF DECEPTION will take less time.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The story bears similarities to Sue Grafton’s “O” IS FOR OUTLAW in that both Kinsey Milhone (Grafton’s protagonist) and Isabel must revisit events of the past in order to learn the truth about someone they care about. In Isabel’s case, she’s forced to confront some discomfiting secrets about her beloved brother.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’ve wanted to write a novel set in Restoration London for almost as long as I can remember. DIARY OF BEDLAM was that novel, and for a long time I thought it would be a standalone. Now it’s looking very much like it will be a series of at least 2 books. So my inspiration for DIARY OF DECEPTION has really been recent developments pertaining to DIARY OF BEDLAM.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

The Isabel Wilde books are not romances, but she does have an ongoing relationship with King Charles II that is kind of steamy. My favorite scenes to write are the ones in which he appears because I think I’ve succeeded in creating a monarch who is well aware of the power he wields but very human at the same time. I kind of have a crush on him.

On December 12, be sure to visit these authors to see what their NEXT BIG THING is:

Lisa Brackmann – Author of ROCK PAPER TIGER and GETAWAY
Travis Richardson – Author of LOST IN CLOVER
Eric Beetner – Most recently, the author of THE DEVIL DOESN’T WANT ME
Susanna Calkins – Author of the upcoming A MURDER AT ROSAMUND’S GATE

I’m looking forward to reading what these great writers have in store!

Cover of The Devil Doesn't Want Me by Eric BeetnerEric Beetner is a frequent guest on this blog, and for good reason. Not only is he a great crime fiction writer, he’s very supportive of fellow writers. In fact, he co-founded Noir at the Bar Los Angeles along with Stephen Blackmoore and Aldo Calcagno and it’s become an enormous success–a place for crime writers at all stages in their careers to read their work for an enthusiastic audience.

I recently had the pleasure of reading Eric’s latest novel, The Devil Doesn’t Want Me. It’s about Lars, a mob hitman for a prominent East Coast crime family who finds himself put out to pasture when he’s been unable to kill Mitch-the-Snitch, an informant living in witness protection who has managed to elude him for the past seventeen years. Lars is given the task of training his own replacement, an arrogant young gun named Trent. It’s an uneasy relationship, to say the least, and when the hit on Mitch goes hopelessly awry, Lars finds himself in a new and precarious role: that of protector to Mitch’s teenage daughter Shaine.

Lars might be a little stuck in his ways, but it can’t be denied that he’s a consumate professional–he has definite opinions on how to do the job right. But his convictions don’t end with a hit, they extend to other areas of life, from love to exercise to music. And speaking of music, it plays a significant role in The Devil Doesn’t Want Me, so I asked Eric about it.

Eric Beetner: Music ends up being a fairly strong through-line in my new novel, The Devil Doesn’t Want Me. It opens with a chapter about a song on a jukebox and ends with a line from an AC/DC song. Honest to goodness, it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind as I was writing.

Using music as a way into character is not a new concept. I feel like it gets used much more in film than in novels, primarily because you can, y’know, hear the songs. If you introduce a character on screen with a shot of a Harley riding up, a close up of big black boots and the opening strains of Bad To The Bone, you know a hell of a lot about that character before you ever pan up to his face. Though if you do use George Thorogood in your movie my biggest takeaway will be that you are lazy. Music is a fast track to cliché-ville.

used music to define a deep generational gap in my characters. Lars, the aging hit man in the book, is a classic rock purist. There are lines in the book touting the praises of hard rock classics like AC/DC and Motorhead, and trashing things like the Hagar-era Van Halen and Steely Dan. Compare that to Lars’ main rival in the book who listens to an iPod, dresses like a refugee from MTV and couldn’t name a Judas Priest song if his life depended on it.

Music then became a way to get to know Lars’ mental state too. We hear about what is playing in his head during certain scenes. Though I did have to cut some lyrics from Ace Of Spades because of copyright reasons. I was bummed. 

Music can be an effective way to get to know a character since music is very personal. Every one of us identifies strongly with the music we like. It effects the way we dress, the way we spend our free time, how many tattoos we have. A guy who likes the Grateful Dead and a guy who like Norwegian death metal are already a long way to having their character’s defined for them simply based on the type of music they listen to. We assume things about people based on their music tastes in the real world, I assume we also do it to the same extent in books. Now, please take note that Lars’ musical tastes are not a reflection of my own. I’m not a classic rock guy, though the bands I did use in the book I am generally a fan of. Well, maybe not Judas Priest. Or Iron Maiden. But I do really hate Sammy Hagar and Steely Dan, does that count for something?Author Eric Beetner

I’d love to see a day when books came with soundtrack albums. Not that I want people listening to music while they read. I can, and most often do, read in noisy places like restaurants. There is constantly music playing and I can tune it out easily enough. But if I put on something I like and want to hear my reading attention goes out the window.

I’m also not a music listener when I write. Can’t do it. Too distracting. I envy the people who can tune everything out to write. I think my relationship to music is just too intimate. Music has absolutely changed my life at different points. I played music for many years and have written dozens of songs. I like to really focus on music when I listen. I don’t like background music. 

I do think if you’re going to write about music, it has to be something fairly universal. You want people to hear the song in their head as they read, not go look it up on iTunes and discover it’s some über-hip Japanese band I’m into. Believe me, I’ve got plenty of obscure hipster music I could name drop, but then my book wouldn’t be understood, readers would be pulled out of the story the same way if I referenced an obscure movie or other literary reference. But if you name check a band everyone is familiar with, they don’t even need to know the specific song, they get the vibe.

I bet there are no music references in Diary of Bedlam, huh? Kind of hard to bring up a song that is 400 years old that people can relate to. But you’ve written contemporary set stuff too. Have you ever used music to set a scene or define a character?

Holly: Thanks for tossing the question back to me, Eric. Diary of Bedlam actually does have a soundtrack. I downloaded an album of 17th century folk songs that I occasionally listened to while writing to get some atmosphere in my head. But mostly I like silence when I’m writing anything beyond the first draft. I’m just too easily distracted.

When I’m writing a first draft, however, I occasionally listen to something or have the TV on in the background (usually something silly and familiar, like I Love Lucy  reruns). It’s still distracting, but I’m not working so hard at choosing precisely the right words. I’m just trying to get the story out and if I self-edit too much during that process I get stuck. So having something else going on keeps me on track somehow. During the first draft stage of writing, silence has a sort of paralyzing affect on me. Kind of weird, but there it is.

Many thanks to Eric for stopping by the blog. And if you’re looking for an absorbing read I can definitely recommend The Devil Doesn’t Want Me or any of Eric’s booksHe wasn’t voted Most Criminally Underrated Author” in the 2012 Stalker Awards for nothing.

Hello fellow slackers!

Procrastination is a problem for me, so I asked some of my author friends how they shake off the lazies and get to work:

Eric Beetner
“When I finally commit to a novel or even something short I like to get it done and not lose momentum. I find inertia plays a big part in getting through a novel and keeping an even tone to the writing.”

Kris Neri
“Shortly before I fall sleep, I remind myself where I left off and what I’ll want to tackle the next day.”

Thomas Pluck
“It’s important to set aside time to daydream, as much as it is to have writing time. After all, you need something to write about.”

"It's important to set aside time to daydream, as much as it is to have writing time. After all, you need something to write about." –Thomas Pluck

Hello there, fellow slackers! Today we have another installment of "GET TO WORK," this week featuring Thomas Pluck. An outstanding crime fiction writer and all-around good guy, Thomas is the co-editor of Lost Children: A Charity Anthology. It's a collection of 30 incredible stories, the proceeds of which go to PROTECT and Children 1st.

Lost_children

If you recall, the question I asked was:

Do you have trouble buckling down and getting to your writing? If so, what is your no fail (or mostly no fail way) of getting yourself concentrate and get the work done? Or is it such a habit now it's really not a problem?

Thomas Pluck: I wish I had one, because lately I've been succumbing to sloth. Guilt always works. If I say I'm "off to the word mines" on Twitter, I know I can't keep jabbering with my friends without knowing they'll be looking at that tweet and thinking, "This guy's no pro. He's here goofing off, when he said he was on the clock. I bet he's still in his boxers, and that his feet smell like Frito's corn chips because he hasn't showered and it's 4pm." That usually works. It's also good for keeping you on your diet, and not buying Frito's corn chips. 

But seriously, folks… the old adage of "set aside time to write" is what I do. When I get in my pink dining room chair in front of my laptop, I'm all business. I plug in the headphones and choose the proper playlist. (If I'm writing the novel in progress, it's AC/DC, all Bon Scott and Flick of the Switch, their most underrated album; If it's Denny, I put on Run DMC and Grandmaster Flash). By then, I'm usually thirsty and get a beer, and the cat steals my chair. I can tell how focused I am on writing by how much effort the cats put into getting my attention. Shadow, a twenty pounder we call Cat Loaf, will jump on the table and sit on my hand. Charlie, the Siamese rescue we call the Gimp, will paw at my elbow. Word count low? Blame the cats.

Christa Faust said that what separates the amateurs from the pros is that the pros write even when it's tough. Like the famous Jack London adage- you can't wait for inspiration, you have to after it with a club. The other great piece of advice is from Hemingway, who said to stop writing while you still know what happens next. It works like a charm. By the time you write again, you've (hopefully) been daydreaming and taking notes about your work in progress, so you go a bit further, and further the next day. It's important to set aside time to daydream, as much as it is to have writing time. After all, you need something to write about. I've always been a daydreamer, so I steal moments where I can. So if you're a lazy, guilt-ridden daydreamer, writing should come easy. 

Just lay off the corn chips.

Note from Holly: Well, it's 12:26pm and I'm still in my PJs. Make of that what you will.

Thanks for stopping by, Thomas! Some great advice here (I especially like the playlist idea).

"Shortly before I fall sleep, I remind myself where I left off and what I'll want to tackle the next day." – Kris Neri

As you know from this post, I recently asked several of my writer friends how they motivate themselves to do the writing. Sometimes, all it takes is getting that first word down–but you'd be surprised how difficult it sometimes is to just do that.

I admitted to a serious case of the lazies in that post, but since then I've made some good progress on my revision of Diary of Bedlam. I'll be done with the revision today, with what I call "copy edits" starting tomorrow.

Magical_alienationToday my friend Kris Neri stopped by the blog to offer her tips for staying on track. Kris is the award-winning author of the Tracy Eaton mystery series, the Samantha Brennan and Annabelle Haggerty magical mystery series, and several stand-alone titles. Her latest novel, Magical Alienation, is nominated for a Lefty Award this year. She also co-owns The Well Red Coyote bookstore in Sedona, Arizona.

So here's the question I asked:

Do you have trouble buckling down and getting to your writing? If so, what is your no fail (or mostly no fail way) of getting yourself concentrate and get the work done? Or is it such a habit now it's really not a problem?

Kris Neri: The second half of any book seems to create a decent level of compulsion for me, but I sometimes have to push myself during the first half. My best technique for keeping my mind in a book that I'm not too far into is to actively work at using my unconscious. 

Shortly before I fall sleep, I remind myself where I left off and what I'll want to tackle the next day. I address any questions I might have about the next segment, and tell myself the answers will come to me before I settle down to write. And lastly, as I drift off, I visualize myself seeming really engaged in my writing, not frustrated because I don't have enough time. If I do that regularly, I'm able to make better use of small amounts of time, and I never really leave the book.

I'm also a big believer in starting the day with journaling. The act of starting the day writing something, anything — even if it's misspelled brain dribble — helps me get into writing mode. Unfortunately, I still have to work at it some of the time.

Holly: Thanks, Kris! I like the idea of actively putting myself into the mind set of writing, the process of visualizing engagement in order to acheive it. This is something I'll definitely be trying.

"When I finally commit to a novel or even something short I like to get it done and not lose momentum. I find inertia plays a big part in getting through a novel and keeping an even tone to the writing." –Eric Beetner

I've been having a really hard time getting to work lately. Not sure what the problem is, but it's been bad, folks.

I decided to ask a few of my writer friends what they do to shake off the lazies and get to work. First up is Eric Beetner, author of numerous short stories, novels and novellas. His latest novella, DIG TWO GRAVES, is available from Snubnose Press on the Kindle.

But since distraction is the order of the day for me lately, let's start with Eric's great trailer for DIG TWO GRAVES:

 

All right, now that that's out of my system let's get on to the real purpose of this post. Here's the question I asked:

Do you have trouble buckling down and getting to your writing? If so, what is your no fail (or mostly no fail way) of getting yourself concentrate and get the work done? Or is it such a habit now it's really not a problem?

Eric Beetner: I think everyone struggles with this at least a little. Thankfully, I don't very much. I also don't beat myself up if I'm not writing. I'm not one of those "I have to write everyday" people.

That said, when I finally commit to a novel or even something short I like to get it done and not lose momentum. I find inertia plays a big part in getting through a novel and keeping an even tone to the writing. I like to be in the same head space the whole way through, and for me, the easiest way to do it is to keep on a tight schedule. It's why I don't start until I have a full road map of where I'm going, and why I won't start something if I know I have a big break coming up, whether work or otherwise.

For instance, I recently moved and I have two novels I would love to write but I knew better than to start DigTwoGraves something I couldn't follow through with. I'm gearing myself up to start right now, but this is when I face the inertia of not having written for a while. Other things have gotten in the way too like catching up on other projects that got put aside during my last novel. Things that pay a little bit and involve other people who are waiting for me. 

But these are all wonderful problems to have. No complaints. I'd always rather be busy than stagnant. It's funny how being busy in other aspects of my life actually fuels the writing. You'd think a calm non-writing life would lend itself to more writing, but I find it leads to more lazy movie-watching and sleeping.

In the end, if I ever feel like I'm not writing when I should be I can be very hard-assed with myself. "Suck it up and sit down at the keys, boy!" That kind of thing goes on in my head. And some of the best nights of writing I have ever had have started out as times when I did not want to write at all.

Holly: Thanks, Eric! I like this idea of having a "full roadmap" before starting the novel and then plowing through to get it done. I'm the sort of person who needs that direction or I start to waver and go off course.

In the coming days/weeks, I'll feature additional writers who've come forward and offered me advice and/or commisseration. 

Dani Amore is the author of DEATH BY SARCASM and DEAD WOOD. Today she was kind enough to stop by the blog and tell us about her path to publication.

I decided to become an independent author because a famous writer gave his reason for why you shouldn’t self-publish.  Basically, he said that if you’ve written a novel and can’t attract interest from an agent, you probably haven’t written a good enough book. So don’t self publish.

I had written a novel that attracted attention from an agent. In fact, I’d written two different novels that had attracted two different agents.

The agents had several things in common:

1.  They both represented New York Times bestselling authors.
2.  They both believed in my respective crime novels.
3.  They each represented me (one in 2003, the other, in 2005)
4. They absolutely could not sell my respective crime novels.  Despite going out to many publishers.

So I after the second agent couldn’t sell the second book, I found myself without agent representation.

I’m feeling pretty low.  I’ve taken to calling myself Miss-Can’t-Sell-A-Book.

Of course, I can’t stay away from the blank page.  So I write a thriller.  My most ambitious work to date.  The manuscript is 600 pages or so.  110,000 words.  It’s dark. Gritty.  Bad-ass. I love it.