Leaving on a jet plane…or not.

on April 12, 2016

Reposting this piece on travel/research because this came up at an appearance I just did, and this is a MUCH more involved response than the one I was able to give. One of the questions I get a fair amount is whether or not it’s necessary to travel to a setting in order to write…

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Taking reader questions!

on April 7, 2016

Here’s a question I received from reader Jessica. Reposting the response because it’s actually a question I get asked rather a lot… What’s the process you follow when writing a mystery? Do you know the answer (who done it) and work backwards, or do you let the characters lead to you the answer? For me,…

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Making a list and checking it twice

on April 5, 2016

Nope, not channeling Santa, but a Twitter reader asked if I would give a checklist for polishing a manuscript before querying an agent. Well, certainly! But a caveat: this is what would work for me. Your mileage, as ever, may vary. Nothing I tell you is ever chiseled in stone except as it applies to…

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Do you hear what I hear?

on March 4, 2016

I’m frequently asked about process, and one of the questions that crops up most often is whether I listen to music. I know there are writers who don’t–and, stranger still, writers who can go out in public and write with ambient noise swirling around them. I’m the opposite. I need a peaceful atmosphere with the…

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Searching for research

on February 24, 2016

Today I’m doing a request post. Writer pal Alyssa asked the following about my research methods: “Do you read through first, take notes as you go along? Are you looking for specific things before you start (like filling out a questionnaire)? Or is it more like you’re trying to get into a mindset of time…

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Pondering fictional mothers–and the lack of

on February 16, 2016

Many moons ago, I had a question from a reader with regard to Lady Julia’s lack of a mother. It made for a good post topic, so I’m revisiting. Last month a reader—whose name I have shamefully forgotten—asked me why Julia has no mother. She was intrigued by the fact that the March family is…

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Some thoughts on historical accuracy

on February 9, 2016

So I was puttering through my archives, tidying things away, and I discovered a mini-rant on the subject of historical authenticity. One of the things people–me included–love to do when a new TV series or book appears is rip into its use of history. The authors and screenwriters who repackage history for contemporary entertainment run…

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Well, happy February!

on February 2, 2016

Goodness me, but January was productive. I finished rewriting A PERILOUS UNDERTAKING and turned it in to my editor–thank heaven! And I’m even more grateful that she loved it. She gave me some fantastic notes when I turned it in, criticism that I took to heart. I dug in on December 1, and with only…

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What I do well

on January 26, 2016

So when I talk about writing, I mention perseverance as being key to my success. I wrote for 14 years before I was published, and by that I mean, I WROTE. I wrote full novels; I tried to get them pubbed. (This was before the advent of self-publishing, and I’m not sure what my voyage…

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Creativity now!

on January 21, 2016

Since I’ve been wittering on about process a bit this month, this post deserves a rerun. It’s very easy to get stuck in the midwinter doldrums if you live in the northern hemisphere. It’s grey, it’s gloomy, we don’t want to do anything but binge-watch DVDs and hibernate with cheese. Everything feels slow, like walking…

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