30th Anniversary of Pinellas Writers.

On Saturday April 22, 2017, we’ll celebrate the 30-year anniversary of Pinellas Writers. After the morning break, we’ll enjoy cake, hear a very brief description of the organization’s history, and have the opportunity to purchase commemorative t-shirts. Then we’ll resume our regular schedule of reading aloud and having our work critiqued. You don’t want to miss this special event!

So Long To Our Snowbirds.

Here’s a sad farewell to our snow-bird members, and wishes for your safe travel. The summer and early fall won’t be the same without you. See all of you come early winter.

With the snow birds gone, members won’t have to get there quite so early to get a reading spot, but we’ll sure miss hearing a lot of good writing!

Critique cards

We added the availability of members giving readers written critiques so long as the critiquer signs them. We’re hoping that this will increase the volume of input our readers receive.

How Many Ways Can You Murder Someone?

Here is my list. Please feel free to add yours in the comments.

MURDER BY DARE
MURDER BY LOTTERY
MURDER BY TRADE
MURDER BY SPIRIT
MURDER BY MAIL ORDER
MURDER BY MODEM
MURDER BY FAX (DEADLY FAX) (COLD HARD FAX)
MURDER BY DEFAULT
MURDER BY CANDLE LIGHT
MURDER BY COINCIDENCE
MURDER BY REMOTE CONTROL
MURDER BY HOOK AND LINE
MURDER BY AIR MAIL
MURDER BY SPECIAL DELIVERY
MURDER BY PROXIES
MURDER DOWN AND ACROSS
MURDER BY BISHOP TAKES QUEEN
MURDER ON THE SIDE
MURDER A-LA-CART
MURDER BY DEGREES
MURDER BY DISGUISE
MURDER BY NATURAL CAUSES
MURDER BY BELL BOOK AND CANDLE
MURDER IN HIGH PLACES
MURDER IN LOW PLACES
MURDER BY PAWNS REPAST
MURDER BY DAWNS EARLY LIGHT
MURDER IN The LONG TERM
MURDER BY BUNGEE
MURDER MILE HIGH
MURDER BY SERRATED EDGE
MURDER IN TOTAL HARMONY
MURDER BY DRIPS AND DRABS
MURDER IN THE CHERRY ORCHARD
MURDER AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD
MURDER IN 20 EASY LESSONS
MURDER BY CONNECTING THE DOTS
MURDER IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS
MURDER AT THE END OF TIME
MURDER BEFORE CONCEPTION
MURDER TODAY PAY TOMORROW
MURDER OF TOMORROWS VILLAIN
MURDER MOST DESERVED
MURDER WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS
MURDER A MILE DEEP
MURDER BY TENDER TOUCHING
MURDER BY VICE AND VERSA
MURDER IN THE OLD WEST 2001 AD
MURDER BY FLOPPY DISK
MURDER IN LIVING COLOR
MURDER FOR THRILL AND PROFIT
MURDER IN MY POCKET
MURDER IN MY HAT
MURDER ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON
MURDER ON THE DAY AFTER FOREVER
MURDER IN FOUR PART HARMONY
MURDER BY SLIP AND FALL

If you’re a murder mystery writer you must maintain a murder book. I add to mine regularly and it’s here as my gift to you.

Create A Memorable First Line

The first line of your story can determine, within seconds, if a reader wants to explore what you have to offer. If it’s intriguing, it can set the hook for the beginning of the book. Finding readership is a lot like fishing. You have to bait your hook with something tasty or the readers will likely swim right by.

Here are some great examples of books with famous first lines.

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” ⸺ George Orwell, “1984” (1949)

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anyone else, there pages must show.” ⸺ Charles Dickens, “David Copperfield (1850)

“It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice of the other end asking for someone he was not.” ⸺ Paul Auster, “City of Glass” (1985)

“They shoot the white girl first. ⸺ Toni Morrison, “Paradise” (1998)

“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” ⸺ Edith Wharton, “Ethan Frome (1911)

“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August 1974. ⸺ Jeffrey Eugenides, “Middlesex” (2002)

“What if this young woman, who writes such bad poems, in competition with her husband, whose poems are equally bad, should stretch her remarkably long and well-made legs out before you, so that her skirt slips up to the tops of her stockings? ⸺ Gilbert Sorrentino, “Imaginative Qualities for Actual Things.” (1971)

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” ⸺ Charles Dickens, “A tale of Two Cities” (1859)

“Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” ⸺ J. K Rowling, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (1997)

Of the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I’ve come to learn, is women. ⸺ Charles Johnson, “Middle Passage” (1990)

“He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” ⸺ Raphael Sabatini, “Scaramouche” (1921)

All these first lines have one thing in common. They entice the reader to read the second line. If your book’s first line is unremarkable the likelihood of someone reading it is greatly diminished. Think about this when you set down to start a new book or even a short story. Spending time to create a memorable first line can be a truly worthwhile endeavor.

Something I like to do when I an doodling around, not ready to write for want of sleep or ambition, is to create first lines of stories I may someday write. I read one of those stories that came out of this exercise at one of our meetings. The line was: “John Price has a bullet in his heart.” This story began as a first line exercise and eventually turned into a novella that I will soon self publish.

I hear so many writers say they don’t know what to write or can’t come up with a good story idea. Creating first lines can give your creative story farm some much needed fertilizer from which to grow new and interesting tales.

Publish Your Book On Amazon

Amazon’s Kindle bookstore is one of the fastest growing platforms for getting your work out into the world. Digitally published content is Amazon’s fastest growing segment. More and more authors are coming on to their publishing network every day. More importantly, more and more people are purchasing Kindles and making digital book purchases every day.

The Kindle bookstore can be a fantastic way to both bring in a new income stream, as well as introduce new people to your ideas and product funnel.

People often see publishing on the Kindle as much more difficult than it really is. The reality is, submitting your book to the Kindle store takes just a few hours.

In future post to this section of our site we will discuss ways to make your kindle publishing easier and more profitable. To see how easy it is to publish on Amazon Kindle click the link below for our free guide.

Kindle Publishing Step By Step Guide.

My Favorite Writing Tool

If you’re anything like me you love to write. I get a natural endorphin high when the creative juices start flowing and my characters come to life on the page. I get immersed in my stories when the plot twists and turns in directions I hadn’t even imagined. It’s not at all unusual for me to lose myself in the work and forget about time and obligations when the digital ink starts to flow. I love being a writer which is why I do it.

Unfortunately there is the second, third and fourth part of writing that is not as much fun. Editing what you write can be tedious and time consuming. No matter how much I edit and correct and re-write I always feel there is something more I can do to make the work better. After I’ve done what I believe is my best I usually put the piece aside for a while, sometimes a long while, to let it cook. Inevitably when I return to it I find glaring errors I missed on the first, second or twenty third edit.

I needed a way that didn’t involve bothering my friends or spending thousands of dollars on an editor to perfect my work. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I’m not Hemingway or Michener. I’m just a self published fiction writer who likes to create stories that other people might find interesting enough to read. Creating a well crafted story is only part of the job. The real writer’s craft is in the editing. The work must be edited for clarity and form and have proper, or reasonably proper, punctuation with perfect spelling.

The spelling is much easier these days with spell checkers working in the back ground of every word we type from emails to word documents. There are even spell checkers on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Of course there are still the you, your and you’re, and the their and there, issues and don’t forget the terrible twos, two, to and too that must be corrected. Then there are the words that sound exactly the same but mean something altogether different. But spelling is the easy part of the editing process.

Editing the reading rhythm and the punctuation can be totally mind boggling especially when you’re editing your own work. You know in your mind exactly what you wanted to say and how you wanted it to sound. When you edit your work you read it the way you thought you had written it. Unfortunately that’s not always how a reader will read it. They don’t have what’s in your mind to guide them and must depend solely on what you put on the page.

I found a way to make the editing process easier for me. It doesn’t involve other people and best of all it is absolutely free. I use a program called Apache OpenOffice. You can download it from this link: https://www.openoffice.org/download/

If you have ever used Microsoft Office you will find OpenOffice quite similar. In fact Apache Open Office will read and edit most Microsoft documents.

Once you have Apache OpenOffice on your computer you will need to do one additional step. The program allows third party plugins to function within the structure of OpenOffice documents. If you open the program to a new text document then click on “Tools” in the menu bar you will see a drop down menu. Three quarters of the way down you will find a link to the “Extension Manager.” Click on this link and you will see a popup window. On a new installation you should see “English spelling and hyphenation dictionaries and thesaurus” by Marco A.G. Pinto. If it’s there fine, if it’s not no problem, simply go down to the link just above the “Help” button that reads “Get more extensions online.” then search for it and download it to your system. This plugin will help with formatting your work and finding spelling errors.

There is a second extension I would like you to download. This extension is the reason for this article. It’s called “Read Text” by James Holgate. Find it and download it to your system. Once installed you will see a small black speech bubble on the menu bar of your text document in Apache OpenOffice. It looks like this:
Here’s how it works. Highlight a portion of your document as if you were going to copy some text. Then click on the Black Speech bubble in the menu bar. You will get a popup window that gives you three reader options. The first option is to use an outside program called Festival. I do not use this option but choose the Second External program which is usually already installed on most PCs “C:\Windows\SysWOW64\wscript.exe.” This is option number two and you must check the circle box next to this choice. If the program isn’t on your system do a search for it and load it into your windows operating system. You will only have to make this choice one time after which it will always default to the second choice box.

After you have highlighted your text simply click on the “OK” button in the bottom right hand corner and a very pleasant male voice will read what you have just highlighted. To stop the reader click the Black Speech bubble in your menu bar and the guy will stop reading. Once he starts reading I click in the white space around my text to turn off the highlighting so I can edit as he reads to me.

The way I use this function is to have my computer read me each paragraph. I listen to the rhythm and the words and how the reader handles my punctuation. If it doesn’t sound right it’s usually because there is a punctuation error or a run on sentence or a missing or extra word left in the piece from one of my static edits. I have my man in the machine read each paragraph several times and often test different punctuation and rhythms until I am happy with the way it sounds before I move on to the next paragraph. When I’m all through I have my guy read the whole chapter or story back to me stopping when I hear something not quite right. I can also use this function to time my piece by using my cell phone stop watch app to tell me what I am likely to be able to read at our meetings in six minutes.

I have found this trick invaluable to me in editing my work. I’m still no Hemingway but all I really need to be is a better me so my work gets read.

Mike Scott