Two Essential Elements to Writing Success, in More Ways than One!

No electrical power since last Saturday after late October snowstorm destroyed trees and downed wires. I am counting on the wisdom of Ben Franklin:

Energy and persistence conquer all things.

Here’s hoping our power is back soon!



It’s Not Write What You Know; It’s Write Who You Are

“Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
―      Albert Einstein

Buzz Your Book – Novel Marketing Ideas for Novels

by Shelby Patrick 

I spent a week in New York City recently attending ThrillerFest 2011. While there, I went to several workshops and my favorite was on “Buzzing Your Book”. The presenters were very professional and full of knowledge. After providing an introduction, they asked for volunteers to stand up and tell everyone what their
book was about in one sentence, then the presenter was asked a few questions,
and afterward the workshop instructors brainstormed FREE ideas to market their book. I’d like to share a few with you here now.M.J. Rose, one of the instructors, told us of how she got a new puppy and started frequenting an online forum for the breed of dog she had. At the end of every post, she would put in a simple tag line (M.J. Rose, author of Lip Service). She posted a lot and after about six months time, someone on the board finally asked her what Lip Service was. When she responded, 400 books were sold overnight. Wow! That would be nice, wouldn’t it? Posting to forums is a tried and true method of getting the word out; however, don’t go in there with the intent to advertise straight out. Do it subtly, in a small signature line.

Another idea, as pertains to fiction, is to create short stories centered around each of your characters. People will get more involved with the overall book if other stories use those characters. Popular books and movies do it all the time with their fan fiction. Readers love to see their favorite characters in other settings outside the original one.

Once you have tried that, or even if you prefer not to, then let’s move on. Try picking five things from your book that catch your eye. For example, in my upcoming novel Behind the Masque, I might choose the following: University of Michigan, The Whitney Restaurant, Society of Former Special Agents of the F.B.I., Alcoholics Anonymous, art history majors. Then do a search online using those terms. Find places, organizations, forums, etc. where interest might lie in those subjects and get involved, once again subtly advertising your book.

Books don’t get sold by themselves and most of us probably can’t afford an expensive advertising budget or to hire a PR firm, so we have to find easy and cheap ways of getting the word out ourselves. It’s not as hard as one would think. If you can write, you can come up with new and exciting ways to market yourself. Good luck!


Shelby Patrick’s  newest book is Behind the Masque, a psychological
thriller that pits nosy reporter, Angelique, against the murderous cult of a
rich socialitee. An alcoholic ex-FBI agent comes to Angelique’s aid, but will his past catch up to him before he can stop the evil and powerful cult?

The War of Art – One Key Element to Success in Writing

by Pamela Hegarty

Several speakers at writers’ conferences recommended Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art before I broke through my resistance against touchy-feely self-help books and bought it. Pressfield talks a lot about Resistance, portraying it as a powerful entity that stops us from realizing our dreams. I had always blamed time, mainly lack of it.

I was thankful that The War of Art was a compact book, broken up into short pieces that I could read while waiting to pick up my kids from band, etc. I soon realized it was much more than that.

I’ll be sharing some of Pressfield’s ideas in future posts, but one that particularly caught my attention today was his one-page insight that Resistance is Most Powerful at the Finish Line. He used the story of Odysseus, so close to home after overcoming dreadful obstacles. His weary men could see the fires of their beloved families on the beach. Odysseus, thinking he was safe at last, lay down for a nap.

His men tore open an ox-hide sack they thought contained gold and treasure. But the sack held the Winds, given to Odysseus by King Aeolus. The Winds blew Odysseus’s ship far away. Odysseus had to endure many more trials, losing all of his men, finally returning home years later.

Pressfield cautions that since Resistance makes us afraid of success, the danger is greatest when the finish line is in sight. My goal is to e-publish my thriller in November. Even now, I can hear “Resistance” telling me that I’m stealing too much time away from my other obligations to write, that The Seventh Stone can’t possibly compete with so many other thrillers, that people who know me will think I’m delusional if I think I can tell a good story. I could go on, but that would give Resistance the power of the Winds.

So don’t let Resistance stop you from pushing through to that finish line and crossing it. Or you will never know what waits on the other side.

More Best Websites for Thriller Fiction Writers

by Pamela Hegarty

With the volatile changes taking place in the publishing industry today, it’s more important than ever to polish and advocate for your novel, whether you are published “traditionally” or “independently.”

Your primary promotional piece is your book’s cover. A simple step to making it fit the genre and reach your reader is to search Google Images for Thriller Book Covers.  It’s easy to see in the thumbnail images that many of these covers have a single eye-catching image and use a large font for the title and author’s name. It’s especially important to avoid clutter and smaller fonts when selling a book on Amazon, where the reader will only see a thumbnail image of the cover.

A great website to learn about cover design is  The host, Joel Friedlander, a professional book designer, offers insights not only on cover design, but on book interiors, publishing timelines, editing, authentic writing and more. I especially enjoy his book design cover awards. I find it inspiring to see so much creativity by many writers taking advantage of the new opportunities to make their books a reality.

On the writing side, check out the Writer’s Toolbox page on Lisa Gardner’s website. The best-selling thriller writer offers entertaining tips from the perspective of an experienced professional. And who can resist reading a post about Plotting the Novel: Or the Real Reason Writers are Neurotic? Her system may not be for everybody, but it’s worth checking out.

Thriller Writing – A Leap of Faith

by Pamela Hegarty

Every great thriller novel doesn’t begin with action, a dive head first into uncharted waters.  It begins with the writer’s leap of faith.  If you want your readers to believe that a young boy named Harry Potter can learn to cast spells, you’ve got to believe that you can cast spells with your readers. So although I plan to focus on marketing on my Monday posts to this blog, my marketing tip of the day is this:

Believe in yourself. Keep believing in yourself. That is the cornerstone of a successful marketing plan.

Take that leap of faith and allow yourself to try promoting your book creatively. If your thriller is set in a winery, perhaps a winery will display it at their tasting bar and sell it in their gift shop. If your thriller is about genetics, think about getting a blurb from an expert in that field. Distribution networks like Amazon and the internet open new portals to potential readers who are looking for your book. Invite them in.


The Advantages of a Series Character

By Pamela Hegarty

Lee Child, bestselling author of the Jack Reacher thrillers, offered these insights in a workshop which I attended some time ago:

A series character makes it easier for a reader to buy a book, and sometimes encourages them to buy previous books in the series.

You can’t design a series character to be succesful. Let the character be himself and hope for the best. Don’t worry whether the character will be liked or disliked.

Allow the main character to be a little rugged, a tad dastardly. Many writers use a sidekick to be the tough one so the main character can remain pure. The main character should have those “dark” elements. This can work well with female characters, too.

On character development, Child believes his readers are looking for the same character in different situations. Series characters don’t even have to age. Readers can always count on Jack Reacher. This works well for Jack Reacher, but not for all series characters, like Harry Potter, or Christa Devlin, the main character in my upcoming series, who are altered by the experiences.

But the most important tip Child offered: Be yourself. Close your eyes and jump. Don’t be intimidated.

Travel as Inspiration in Fiction Writing

by Pamela Hegarty

Whether you’re travelling to new worlds in body or spirit this summer, the journey can only enrich your writing.  Greece is next on my list of places to see, for research, of course, into their unparalleled storytelling tradition and a first-hand experience of the Acropolis, which is featured in the opening chapters of my next book.

Mark Twain, one of my favorite authors, has this to offer.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the
things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the
bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Can Women Thriller Writers Shoot Out the Glass Ceiling?

by D. Pat Thomas 

At ThrillerFest last week in New York City, a high-powered panel explored the question “Is There Equal Opportunity Among Women Thriller Writers?” Editor in Chief of G.P. Putnam’s Sons, Neil Nyren served as Panel Master, with Dan Conaway from Writers House and authors Lisa Gardner, Brenda Novak, Karen Rose, Erica Spindler and Kate White as panelists.

Gardner began the session with controversial statistics: half of the thrillers on the
market are written by women. However, in 1985 only 15% of them were reviewed by
the New York Times. By 1989 that figure rose to 25% and it now stands at 34%. A
survey assessing readers’ perceived quality in writing showed higher scores for
authors with initials over those with female names for the same material. While
the Prestigious ThrillerMaster award has been awarded fairly evenly, other ITW
awards have gone disproportionately to men. Gardner maintained ITW cannot start
counting gender, but White countered, “At some point you do have to look and
see if there’s unfairness there” and drew the categories into question.

”I like my tough guys really tough,” one reader told Gardner, stating he did not read female writers. Three of the other female writers recalled similar emails. “I don’t think there are a lot of female readers who don’t read men, but I do think there are men who don’t read women, and the reason is men suck,“ quipped Conaway; “Guys like to read Lee Child and say so.” The panel seemed to agree that ebooks could well signal a change,
since no one can tell what is being read. In the meantime, Gardner said she has
been instructed not to wear pink and not to smile in her pictures; black leather conveys a better image.

Conaway said he would rather sell a big hard cover deal to Nyren if the author is a woman, and explained there are more women readers. According to an audience member, more editors are asking for female writers, and more of those editors are women as well.

D. Pat Thomas is a new thriller writer who craves action, as can be seen from her website.