The Right Opening

Have you ever experienced the tyranny of the blank page?

If you’re nodding in agreement, you are in good company. In fact, I believe every author—from beginner to published—has experienced those feelings of doubt and apprehension, especially at the start of a new manuscript. That’s when the gremlin thoughts are most powerful.

In this post, I will offer several suggestions on how to squash those gremlins and start writing the first page of your next manuscript.

Continue reading on the Sisterhood of Suspense blog.


Nuts and Bolts of Writing

L-R Alison Bruce, Donna Warner, Liz Lindsay, Joanne Guidoccio

Yesterday evening, I participated in a lively panel discussion with three other mystery writers at the main branch of the Guelph Public Library. We are all published authors and members of Crime Writers of Canada.

We gave mini-presentations on our favorite nuts and bolts of writing—The Right Opening, Character Development, Self-Editing, Building Your Author Brand—and read excerpts from our recent novels. During the Q & A sessions, we delved into a variety of topics, among them short stories, writing and critique groups, conferences, and contests.

Thanks to librarians Andrea Curtis and Deb Quaile for organizing and facilitating this event.

To learn more about Guelph Partners in Crime, visit our websites:

Alison Bruce

Joanne Guidoccio

Liz Lindsay aka Jamie Tremain

Donna Warner

Finding Inspiration

When I decided to pursue my writing dream, I imagined one of the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne visiting each morning, taking my hand, and guiding me to the computer. There, she would remain, offering words of encouragement until I produced my daily quota of words.

That was the fantasy.

The reality was very different.

I was unprepared for the tyranny of the blank page. While everything was in place—business cards, new computer, dreams of a runaway best-seller—my writing muscles refused to budge.

Continue reading on Brenda Whiteside’s blog.

On Finding My Tribe

After 31 years of teaching, I was ready for a change. So, I put pen to paper and revisited a writing dream I had concocted during my high school years. When I shared my new career direction and goals with family and friends, I was taken aback by their comments.

“Why don’t you write a math textbook instead?”

“Are you sure you want to put yourself through all that stress?”

“But you have a math degree!”

As the months turned into years, I continued to share my experiences but started to notice glazed expressions in the middle of conversations. While my friends were supportive, they simply didn’t understand the struggles and slow progress of a writing career. First drafts don’t automatically evolve into polished manuscripts that are picked up by enthusiastic agents. And most published novels don’t land on best-seller lists.

I imagine many of them wondered why I even bothered to write.

Continue reading on the Buried Under Books blog.

Dealing with Dialogue Tags

Glancing back at some of my earlier work, I cringe at my use of “said bookisms” such as roared, admonished, exclaimed, queried, and hissed. I was trying to avoid overusing the word “said” and searched for suitable alternatives. I realize now that substituting those words made it sound like I enjoyed using my thesaurus. Instead, I was annoying the reader and drawing attention away from the dialogue.

From different workshop facilitators, I’ve learned that I don’t have to interpret the dialogue, or worse, tell the reader how the words are said. If the dialogue is strong enough, “he said” and “she said” will do. Like other parts of speech—the, is, and, but—that are used several times on each page, “said” is invisible and allows the reader to concentrate on the action and dialogue.

Continue reading on the Sisterhood of Suspense Blog.

Email Power!

Can you compose efficient and effective emails?


When I heard this question, my first impulse was to say, “Yes, of course.” But glancing through my in-box, I realized I wasn’t that efficient or effective. While I don’t ramble or use ambiguous language, I could improve the tone of my emails.

In her book, Playing Big, Tara Mohr devotes an entire chapter to “Communicating with Power.” She stresses the importance of identifying those “little things” that “walk the fine line of saying something without coming on too strong, but in fact they convey tentativeness, self-doubt, or worse, self-deprecation.”

Continue reading on the Sisterhood of Suspense blog.

Plotting on the Parkway

I’m happy to welcome back C.D. Hersh. Today, Catherine and Donald share their plotting adventures and recent release, The Mercenary and the Shifter.

Here’s CD Hersh!

plottingontheparkwayhershIt’s getting kinda antsy at the C.D. Hersh household, because we’ve got book number five in The Turning Stone Chronicle series to finish plotting. We do our best plotting on the road and we don’t have any upcoming trips. Our paranormal romance series was conceived on a loooong, cross-country trip after we saw an exit road sign for a place called Turning Stone, New York. A bit of brainstorming and a series was born.

Plotting on the road makes the time go faster for Donald, who drives, and keeps Catherine (who writes the notes in longhand a lot of the time) from seeing all the crazy drivers tailgating us and zipping between semi-trucks and our safety zone. Nothing drives Catherine nuttier than watching an F-150 Ford with a full jump cab try to squeeze into a space that barely fits a smart car, without giving us a signal! She truly believes all the imaginary braking with her right leg, while in the passenger seat, contributed to her arthritis. Fortunately, we aren’t considering traveling anywhere near the Jersey Turnpike where everyone drives like maniacs, although we think quite a few drivers we’ve encountered must have had lessons from a Jersey driving school.

So what’s the point of this post, you ask?

Here’s a few things we’ve learned during our loooong drives:

1. Aging knees don’t like being cooped up in a car. Imagine that.

2. It’s really hard to read plot notes written months ago while driving on a bumpy interstate.

3. It’s even harder to write on a bumpy interstate road.

4. Catherine should really transcribe her notes as soon as we get home.

5. Especially when words written while driving on the buzz strips on the shoulder of the road make her notes look like an EKG reading.

6. The new flash stick recorder we got works better than the old-fashioned pencil and paper, although it does allow Catherine to still see all the nutso drivers, and when Donald transcribes the notes they’re not always coherent. Catherine’s a blonde. J BTW, she’s writing this, so don’t take offense, ladies.

7. We like plotting almost better than writing—or maybe it’s the traveling we like.

8. Donald plots very well—most of the time. However, Catherine always has to throw a few suggestions out the car window. Isn’t that what a collaborator is for?

9. We need more road trips because we have two more books left in this series.

10. Writing with a collaborator is fun!

How and where do you plot your books?
Or do you travel—oops, write—by the seat of your pants?



When mercenary soldier Michael Corritore answers a desperate call from an ex-military buddy, he finds himself in the middle of a double kidnapping, caught in an ancient war between two shape shifter factions, and ensnared between two female shape shifters after the same thing … him.

Shape shifter Fiona Kayler will do anything to keep the shipping company her father left her, including getting in bed with the enemy. But when she believes the man trying to steal her company is involved with kidnapping her nephew, she must choose between family, fortune, and love. The problem is … she wants all three.



cdhershPutting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.

Together they have co-authored a number of dramas, six which have been produced in Ohio, where they live. Their interactive Christmas production had five seasonal runs in their hometown and has been sold in Virginia, California, and Ohio. Their most recent collaborative writing efforts have been focused on romance. The first four books of their paranormal romance series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles are available on Amazon. They also have a Christmas novella, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow, with seven other authors.

Where you can find CD Hersh…

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