How to Write a Great Thriller

authorphoto1by Mike Bond

All great works of art are thrillers

If a thriller is defined as a book you keep reading to find out what happens next, then all good novels are thrillers.

So is a good poem or any great work of art, be it a painting, sculpture, or music. Any fine work of art leads from initiation through growing awareness to conclusion, and we stay with it not only for the pleasure of each moment, or the greater consciousness and beauty it provides, but also to reach the culmination. Continue reading

Co-Writing: Plotting Murder without Killing Each Other

sparkle-300x215by Sparkle Abbey

The thing most people notice first when they meet Sparkle Abbey at conferences or book signings is that there are two of us. The question that almost always follows is: How do you do it?

This year saw the publication of Downton Tabby, the seventh book in our mystery series, and we’ve learned some things about collaboration along the way. First, a little background. Continue reading

Your Pen or Mine

2-pens-writingby Barbara Hunter and Catina Williams

When we tell other authors we are collaborating on a book series, the response is astonishment. Suddenly, no one is interested in what we are writing (harrumph). People only want to know how and why we do it. Collaborative writing has achieved the status of urban myth. No one has tried it, but everyone has a story to tell of foolhardy souls who dared. Lawsuits and bloodshed ensued. When asked to write this piece, we had to analyze how and why our collaboration works. Continue reading

Who’s Telling This Story? And Why?

shelly8-14By Shelly Lowenkopf

Three bag ladies are standing in the parking lot of a Trader Joe’s market, a common-enough sight in many cities. Now, two men—Mac and Ben—push their shopping carts out of the store and into the lot where the bag ladies stand. Mac and Ben have the satisfied look of guys who have earned big points because, for once, they’ve spared their wives the effort of shopping. This would be time for a celebratory beer at the nearby tavern, except—

Except that one of the three bag ladies stops Mac. “Before this day is over,” she tells him, “you will be named regional vice president of your company, and, ultimately, president.” Continue reading

On Editing an Anthology

Andrew MacRaeby Andrew MacRae

My teenage mind was blown years ago when I discovered the anthology Dangerous Visions, edited by science-fiction great, Harlan Ellison. Not only because of the stories and the incredible introductions Ellison wrote for each. For me, the very concept that an individual could commission stories for an anthology was ground-shaking. I immediately began making notes for anthologies I would someday publish, though at the time I had no idea how it could be accomplished. Indeed, the barrier to publishing was high and wide back then.

Fast-forward several decades. Seismic shifts in the way books are published make it possible for micro-publishers such as Darkhouse Books to produce quality e-books and paperbacks without mortgaging the future. Among our titles are, The Anthology of Cozy-Noir and And All Our Yesterdays, a collection of historical mystery and crime stories. Coming soon, Stories from the World of Tomorrow, our first foray into science fiction. Also coming is Destination: Mystery!  a collection of cozy mysteries set in popular vacation places. Continue reading

Narrative Voice: A great one will sell your book

01toniBy Toni Lopopolo, Literary Agent

What editors in publishing houses tell agents:

“I’m looking for well written, vivid, voice-driven books in adult, young adultand narrative non-fiction categories.” Sara Goodman, Editor

“What links the authors on my list are the quality of the writing, a distinct, compelling authorial voice, and a strong narrative.” Keith Kahla, Executive Editor Continue reading

The Inner Workings of a Romance Novel

by Sandra Murphy

RomancecoversBarbara Metzger has written over 40 historical Regency (and five contemporary) romance novels. “I tried to find a balance between the sexy scenes and humor,” she said in a recent interview. “I always found the writing took half as long as the thinking.” In one book, comments from the dog provided the added humor as he tried to understand why humans let problems get in the way of being together.

Research is important when writing an historical novel. It’s hard to know what it must have been like with no telephones or even radios, but harder yet to know anything about not having cameras or snaps on clothing. It’s easy for slang to slip into conversations too—and romance readers will call you on it. Continue reading