Writing books, style manuals, and assorted books designed to teach writing.

Writing from within: The Next Generation

Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction

Effective onscreen editing: New tools for an old profession

This all started in an offhanded way. I had a situation with my computer. Between you and me, I have to admit, I'm pretty good at finding computery solutions by myself and usually I don't have "situations." But this time I brought my problem to an online list. The very first answer came promptly from this guy, Geoff Hart, and what's more important is that he solved the problem. This successful solution was followed by a barrage of well-meant suggestions from a random selection of other helpers--none of whose helpful assistance would have actually been helpful. Some would have made the problem worse. This led to my paying more attention to the list. I saw Geoff Hart's name frequently, and always tied to the kind of extremely useful information that an earlier me would have written on a note card and put away for later. It was a while before the sluggish hamsters in my brain came to the conclusion that this useful guy was the author of a book I'd been hearing about, Effective onscreen editing: New tools for an old profession. Well, duh. No wonder he knew what he was talking about. I aimed the full force of my "Ben Steinian-like" long-windedness at him (which, I might add, he deflected with his delete key.) But before I put him to sleep in a monotone-induced coma, he flung his manuscript at me, after I promised not to make my fortune on his trade secrets, at his expense. (I completely understand, Geoff. I had my own set of young'uns to raise.)

How Editors Think: The Real Reason They Rejected You

Marcela Landres lives on a celestial tier as far as we writers are concerned. She speaks from that elevated perspective of an editor at Simon & Schuster, and, as the first ten or so pages of her book tell us, she goes around the country giving workshops and lectures enlightening writers with key advice about getting published. I do have to admit the topic is a crucial one. As soon as I heard the title--even though I have done my time as an editor--my first thought was "I have to get my hands on that book." Every writer wants to know the answer to How Editors Think: The Real Reason They Rejected You, especially writers with unpublished books looking for editors who are looking for books to publish. In fact, in my email to the author, I mentioned how some acquisition editors (who shall remain nameless) should be punished by having to edit the books they selected for publication.

Let me say right off the bat, the book is short. It resides on a slightly less celestial tier than its author- because I really do like my books to have substance. Though I am sitting here with a dozen books on my desk, most of which are over 200 pages, on one level, it is hard for me to think that a manuscript of only 33 pages is a drawback. I could churn my way through something longer, plow through extra prose put in there just for the page count but I certainly don't mind someone who gets to the point. Only there actually is a surprising amount of filler in something this short.

Police Procedure and Investigation, A Guide for Writers

I first “met” Lee Lofland through an online email group, Crimescenewriters. His comments and answers to questions others asked, to create realistic plots and characters, gave me tons of material I can use some day. After hearing he was a writer, too, I had to know more.

Lofland brings his experience as a veteran police investigator, who worked his way from an officer in Virginia's prison system, then a sheriff's deputy, a patrol officer, and a detective to his book Police Procedure and Investigation, A Guide for Writers. According to his web site, Lofland solved cases dealing with narcotics, homicide, rape, murder-for-hire, robbery, and ritualistic and occult crimes. He was an undercover officer and even a narcotics K-9 handler. He’s certified in the U.S. Department of Justice, Virginia State Police Academy, and the DEA, as well as continuing to be certified in Crime Scene Management and Crime Scene Investigations.

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