Writing Feed

Should Talented Writers Stop Writing?

Cant even
On Twitter, Stephen Langlois asked:


Now, let me just say this guy isn't a self-published hack (I checked his Twitter bio, snob that I am). In fact, he's a NYC Emerging Writer Fellow at the Center for Fiction--and his work has been featured in Hobart Pulp, Barrelhouse, Joyland Magazine and Split Lip Magazine.

I tweeted back to him:





He then replied "Life is too short to be miserable--indeed! Thank you for sharing!"

I continued:

It's true. Now, if writing gave you supreme pleasure--money and/or audience be damned--I'd say keep going. But when writing starts to become a drain, you have to ask "Is it really worth it?" Talent doesn't demand our slavery.

Just because we're good at something--even really good--it doesn't mean we have to do it. We don't owe anyone anything in this life. In fact, we don't even have to do it if it helps people. 

Imagine that.

Ten Books to Help You When You're Discouraged, Blocked or Feel Like You're Not a 'Real' Writer by Janet Boyer

What are the true enemies of writers—those monsters that haunt, harangue and harass?

After twenty years of writing—the last decade spent as a traditionally-published non-fiction author and Amazon.com Hall of Fame Reviewer—I’ve chased down those fu@#$!% fiends and took names.

Turns out that there are only two, if you can believe it.

Yeah, I know. And here we thought we were dealing with Legion…

Without further ado, meet…Comparison and Perfectionism. (Oh wait. You’re already BFFs! That second “F” being “Frenemies”, of course.)

Now, procrastination likes to borrow their masks and play boogeyman (or lull us to sleep), but he’s just a lackey—a symptom, really—of those two main monsters.

Here’s the real kicker:

Those monsters? They are us.

Both comparison and perfectionism are narratives—stories we tell ourselves about our writing (or even our “brand”)—that involve words like “should”, “must”, “always”, “never” and “best”.

Humans are control freaks. And writers? Arguably, doubly so.

So we try to control our “optics” (how we appear to the world). Our clout (how much influence we have—often confused with followers, “likes” and retweets). Our marketability (visibility and productivity). Our profitability (sales).

If we become particularly neurotic, we may lash out at other writers in envy—wondering why they get all the attention and success. (Or, at least, hold some pretty profanity-laced imaginary conversations with them—or their fans—in our heads).

And dealing with internet trolls, stalkers and haters on top of it all?

Good Lord, no wonder many of us are emotional wrecks!

Although there are many wonderful writing craft books out there [looks at her bulging shelves and counts over 100 of them]—not many focus on primarily the emotional aspects of writing.

Fear. Disappointment. Jealousy. Loneliness. Discouragement. Frustration. Anxiety. Confusion. Existential angst. Anger. Sadness. Despair.

Not including physical/medical causes, those feelings tend to coalesce from what’s between our ears—i.e., the unexamined thoughts, assumptions, mandates and judgments we hold (often without realizing they’re fueling our emotions).

The good news? There are some high-quality books on creativity out there—many, writer-centric—that focus on commiserating about dark times, identifying the root of painful emotions, cultivating resilience, persevering with your craft, inviting uplifting states of being, forcing life to mean and recognizing what’s really important to us (NB: it’s not the same for everyone).

Here are the books that helped me the most. I hope you find them as the equivalent of a hot cup of tea. Or a soft pillow. Or a bracing splash of cold water. Or, like The Hermit’s lantern, a brightly-burning flame that will lead you back to your truest, most empowered Self.

Rather than giving mini-overviews of each book—they would probably sound pretty similar, anyway, since my Top 10 address parallel themes—I’ll share highlighted passages from my own copies.

1. Writing Past Dark: Envy, Fear, Distraction, and Other Dilemmas in the Writer’s Life by Bonnie Friedman

200Writing Past Dark

Envy is a con-man, a tugger at your sleeve, a knocker at your door. Let me in for a moment, it says, for just one moment of your time. It claims to tell the truth; it craves attention. The more you listen to it, the more you believe what it says. The more thoroughly you believe, the more you think you must listen. You must get the info on who is out there, how young the competition is, where they’ve been reviewed, what they’ve won, and what that means about you. The antidote to envy is one’s own work. Always one’s own work. Not the thinking about it. Not the assessing of it. But the doing of it. The answers you want can only come from the work itself. It drives the spooks away 

2. The Van Gogh Blues: The Creative Person’s Path Through Depression by Eric Maisel, Ph.D.

200Van Gogh Blues

You are what you think. Meaning-making is impossible if your thoughts lead you about by the nose, if you have no way to dispute your negative thoughts, and if you can’t penetrate the real thoughts and feelings behind your customary expressions. Train yourself to hear what you’re thinking. Train yourself to confront your negative thoughts and to replace them with self-friendlier ones. Train yourself to look behind your words to discover what you actually mean. As with the other tasks I’m describing, this is a lot to ask. But asking anything less of yourself is a recipe for enduring depression.

3. The Artist’s Way Every Day: A Year of Creative Living by Julia Cameron

200Artist Way Every Day
Festivity breeds creativity. Rigidity breeds despair. When your high spirits are straitjacketed in the name of virtue or discipline, the vital and youthful spark in us that enjoys adventure and is game for invention begins to flicker like a flame in a draft. Creativity responds to nourishment and warmth. If we are forbidden to be childlike—told perhaps that is “childish” or “selfish”—if we are urged to be too sensible, we react as gifted students do to an authoritarian teacher—we refuse to learn and grow. Our considerable energy is channeled into resistance and over time solidified into a hard-to-penetrate shell of feigned indifference. The universe is alive with energy. It is fertile, abundant, even raucous—so are we. Most of us are high-spirited, humorous, even pranksterish with the least encouragement. What is lack for so many of us is precisely the least encouragement.

4. Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod

200Ignore Everybody
If you can accept the pain, it cannot hurt you. The pain of making the necessary sacrifices always hurts more than you think it’s going to. I know. It sucks. That being said, doing something seriously creative is one of the most amazing experiences one can have, in this or any other lifetime. If you can pull it off, it’s worth it. Even if you don’t end up pulling it off, you’ll learn many incredible, magical, valuable things. It’s not doing it—when you know full well you had the opportunity—that hurts far more than any failure.

5. Chapter After Chapter: Discover the Dedication and Focus You Need to Write the Book of Your Dreams by Heather Sellers

200chapter after chapter
From writing my memoir, I learned everything has to be about two things. Along the way, I learned that having too many writing projects at once is not appealing to the muse; it’s slutty, and she has Standards. Writing a book is exactly like love. You don’t hold back. You give it everything you have. If it doesn’t work out, you’re heartbroken, but you move forward and start again anyway. You have to.

6. Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

Steal like artist
Keep a praise file. Life is a lonely business, often filled with discouragement and rejection. Yes, validation is for parking, but it’s still a tremendous boost when people say nice things about our work. Occasionally, I have the good fortune to have something take off online, and for a week or two, I’ll be swimming in Tweets and nice e-mails from people discovering my work. It’s pretty wonderful. And disorienting. And a major high. But I always know that high will taper off, and a few weeks down the road I will have a dark day when I want to quit, when I wonder why the heck I even bother with this stuff. That’s why I put every really nice e-mail I get in a special folder. (Nasty e-mails get deleted immediately). When those dark days roll around and I need a boost, I open that folder and read through a couple e-mails. Then I get back to work. Try it: Instead of keeping a rejection file, keep a praise file. Use it sparingly—don’t get lost in past glory—but keep it around for when you need the lift.

7. Life Without Envy: Ego Management for Creative People by Camille DeAngelis

200live without envy
If we don’t acknowledge what we feel—if we don’t process it in a similar manner to an invoice we receive in the mail—those feelings with take up residence inside us. Your envy and frustration become part of your fabric of muscle and bone and tendon. You carry your disappointment in your blood. It courses through you and keeps your stuck…We can’t do anything about other people’s rage and sorrow, but we owe it to ourselves—not to mention our family and colleagues—to deal with
our shit, to see it and let it go…These stores of stale and unproductive energy accumulate over a lifetime, so releasing them is going to take awhile too. You have to be patient with yourself

8. You’ve Got a Book in You: A Stress-Free Guide to Writing the Book of Your Dreams by Elizabeth Sims

200book in you
Remember you are more than your head. Be sure to pay attention to your feelings as you go. Maybe some fear is coming up, maybe some anger about what you’re writing. Whatever emotions come, never resist them. Allow them to be. Notice them, and neither suppress them nor go drama queen about them. As you write, ask yourself: How am I feeling now? Is my belly nice and loose, is my breath coming freely? Are my neck and shoulders loose? Am I having fun? Have I smiled in the last few minutes? Have I smiled at all since I started doing this? Am I taking myself too seriously?

9. Writing from the Inside Out: Transforming Your Psychological Blocks to Release the Writer Within by Dennis Palumbo

200writing inside out
I would argue that, painful as it seems, it’s actually easier to endure feelings of inferiority than to challenge yourself to grow as an artist. If fact, in my own life, when I’m tempted to devalue my work in comparison to others’, I’ve learned to see it as a red flag, a kind of warning beacon alerting me to look back at myself and see where I might feel stuck, unmotivated, uninspired. Invariably, if I explore my working process honestly, I’ll find that comparing myself to others was triggered by a lack of excitement or commitment to what I was working on.

10. Toxic Criticism by Eric Maisel, Ph.D.

200toxic criticism
Self-criticism is a mental mistake rooted in the way that the mind readily turns mere problematic information—such as that you are speaking at a certain high-decibel level—into self-chastisement: that you are speaking too loudly. Because you are built to make this mental mistake, you regularly commit what philosophers call the naturalistic fallacy: you turn an “is” into an “ought”. “I am speaking at XX decibel level” is an “is”, a natural fact. “I am speaking too loudly” is a statement about right and wrong, about what is proper and what is improper. To move habitually from a fact to a negative self-judgment without noticing that you have cavalierly attacked yourself is the epitome of neurotic self-harm. The truth will set you free. But smacking yourself in the mouth as you tell yourself the truth will only break your teeth.

Honorable Mentions (other books that have been extraordinarily helpful to me on the creative path):

Loving What Is by Byron Katie

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

Why Your Life Sucks (and What You Can Do About It) by Alan Cohen


Me red winter smallerJanet Boyer is the author of Back in Time Tarot and Tarot in Reverse, as well as the co-creator (with her husband, artist Ron Boyer) of the Snowland Deck and the Coffee Tarot. Janet's third traditionally-published book, Naked Tarot: Sassy, Stripped Down Advice, releases into the wild from Dodona Books September 2018. The Coffee Tarot Companion Book also launches this month. As a respected, trusted Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer (there’s only 159 of them), she's penned over 1,200 reviews, and several articles have been featured in print magazines. A radio co-host (Tarot Insider) and podcaster (Naked Tarot) she’s been a guest on the nationally syndicated radio show Coast to Coast AM with George Noory, Jim Harold’s Paranormal Podcast and other metaphysical programs. She invites you to visit her online at JanetBoyer.com.

Blurbs vs. Reviews - What's the Difference?

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There's a big difference between blurbs and reviews, although the line often gets muddied (intentionally)--especially with skyrocketing citizen reviews and self-published authors.

Here's the lowdown on the difference between a blurb and a review:

Blurb - Definition: A blurb is a short summary or promotional piece accompanying a creative work. The word was coined in 1907 by American humorist Gelett Burgess (1866–1951).[1] It may refer to the text on the back of a book but can also be seen on DVD and video cases, web portals and news websites. A blurb may introduce a newspaper or magazine feature story.

Blurbs are basically promos--teasers that get you to buy or click. The "praise" you see on an author's book jacket or website? Those famous authors raving are usually colleagues from the same publishing house! Or, friends of the author. Nothing wrong with that, of course...except, many readers think those glowing raves are independent, objective reviews. As in, famous author just happened upon the manuscript of the book in question...and fired off a testimonial.

Uh...no. Doesn't work that way. In fact, I had someone high up in publishing tell me that authors write blurbs all the time for fellow writers--without even reading the book! (I can attest to this: I asked a famous author to blurb my first book, Back in Time Tarot--and he told me to "Just write what I wanted and sign his name.")

NEGATORY. Not on my books, anyway...

So, fellow authors, if a colleague asks for a blurb...that's what the request is all about. And, once he/she submits a blurb, please don't call it a "review". It's not. It's a courtesy. 

Love Hate SmallerReview - Definition (mine): Critical assessment of a book, movie, play, CD or other product. Notice the word "critical" there. This means an actual evaluation--one that doesn't have a vested interest in whether the product sells or doesn't. Did you know this is one reason that the FCC required reviewers to start disclosing freebies received in exchange for reviews?

In their minds, getting free products may very well be an incentive to write a glowing, rave review. Why? Because the same publisher and manufacturer will keep sending them free goodies!

This is rampant in online Tarot reviewing. I know of five (yes, five)  Tarot deck "reviewers" who get free decks from a major publisher--and always (I mean, always) write 5-star reviews for those decks (or post giddy videos of their new acquistions). In fact, two of the women (maybe more) actually work for the publisher, behind the scene, as social media gals who contribute/run the blog and FB accounts.

Nice, huh? So much for transparency...which is why the FCC had to step in. (But, as you probably noticed, many reviewers--especially in the Tarot world--don't disclose that they regularly get decks for free...despite the fact that the law requires it.)

The major publishers of Tarot decks won't even send me review copies anymore becuase they know they can't buy me (in terms of getting a 5-star gushing review)--not even when I was on one of the pub's payroll!

How to spot a "real" review on Amazon? Check out my post 5 Ways to Spot a Trustworthy Review at this link

So, don't buy the hype...and think for yourself. 

-- Janet

Writing and Pitching a Non-Fiction Proposal Audio

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If you happened to miss my presentation at the Business of Tarot TeleSummit on Writing and Pitching a Tarot Proposal (which also applies to most non-fiction books), here it is below for your listening enjoyment. Let me know if you have any questions or comments!

Download Writing and Pitching a Non Fiction Proposal

-- Janet

The “No Time” Whine

Catching Time

Ever see individuals on Facebook posting that they’d love to author a book “someday”—or perhaps create a chapbook of poems, write a play or pen a movie script—but then, in the next breath, lament they “have no time”?

These same people can be found posting (at all hours) about what they ate, what they bought, what their kids did, current weather conditions and the latest cat memes.

But that’s not all.

They also post about the dozens of shows they watch—the actors, the characters, the plot, who’s hot, who’s not.

Imagine how many hours are wasted on a daily basis just on watching TV…let alone time spent on social media babbling about it.

And you don’t have time to write a poem, a blog post or a book?

Give me a freaking break.

Note: If you’re one of those people, just consider this a gentle kick in the butt to write that novel, screenplay, poem or short story you’ve been dreaming about. Unplug from the gadgets and dance with the Muse; we need your Voice!

-- Janet

Writer Quirks (and Advice!) from Hugh Howey

I am extremely pleased and honored to have Hugh Howey on my blog today!

Hugh smallerIn case you've been living under a rock, Hugh Howey is the self-publishing sensation and inspiration between the sci-fi book Wool. I'm happy to say that I was one of those readers who bought installments of the Wool series while it was becoming a smash hit. 

And, it was very cool to see Hugh on the cover of the May/June 2013 issue of Writer's Digest magazine, too!

Hugh was kind enough to take some time to answer my nosy questions about his writer quirks (yes, he has them!), as well as advice to his fellow scribes. Take it away, Hugh!

The quirkiest thing I do as a writer is probably the programs I use and my crazy workflow. Two years ago, I started using Pages for my writing, and I fell in love with the all-black screen with just my word count and page number on the bottom. Once I got used to writing like this, I couldn't switch to anything else. I tried Word's fullscreen mode, but it could no longer cut it. I tried Scrivener, and that didn't work. Which leaves me writing in a program the developer has stopped supporting and which exports abysmally into every file format imaginable.

Wool 300In order to get an e-book out of my Pages document, I used to copy and paste the entire thing into notepad to remove the formatting, and then paste it into Word. And then go through and re-italicize every word that needed it. A major pain. I eventually found I could export to an .rtf and have a pro format the e-book for me. I'm sure there are a dozen other solutions, but I never found any that worked.

Is that too geeky and technical a quirk?

I also write in my underwear a lot, but I imagine that's quite normal. The only other weird stuff I do are the things I stick in my rough drafts. I write BOOKMARK anywhere that I leave off and need to come back and write more. This makes it annoying when I use the actual word "bookmark" in a story, and have to sort through these to find my space. I also type XXX anywhere that I forget a proper noun, like a name or place that I'll need to fact-check later. I've sent rough drafts to my wife and mom with these weird notes to myself. They probably just assume I'm off my rocker.

Dust hugh 300The best writing advice I ever got was from the mother half of the Charles Todd writing duo. At the Virginia Festival of the Book, she became very animated and told those of us in the audience to stop dreaming of becoming a writer, stop talking about coming a writer, stop thinking about becoming a writer, and go home and write! It motivated me to go home and write my first novel. I've been writing nonstop ever since.

Thank you so much for spending some of your valuable time with us, Hugh! Best wishes for your continued success--and thanks for being such an inspiration to fellow writers, as well as a hugely entertaining author. 

You can visit Hugh online at his brand-spanking new website, HughHowey.com

Dust, Hugh's latest installment in the Silo Saga, descends upon the world August 17, 2013. 

-- Janet 

Writer Quirks (and Advice!) from Anne R. Allen

In the latest installment of Writer Quirks (and Advice!), I'm pleased as punch to introduce you to my colleague and friend, Anne R. Allen. I met Anne through Twitter, subsequently discovering her fabulous writing blog. In fact, her writing blog is so good, Writer's Digest just named it one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers in their May/June 2013 issue! Without further ado, here's Anne...

AnneI think I might be one of the world’s unquirkiest writers. Unless being boring is a quirk. I sit down at the keyboard every day at 8:30 AM with my tea and almond milk. I check email, listen to Garrison Keillor’s Writers Almanac at 9:00, turn off the radio at 9:05 and get to work.

I always go over the pages from yesterday before going on. I try to write 3 pages, but sometimes it’s 10 and sometimes it’s a half a page I delete the next day. But I always aim for those 3 pages.

I take a break at exactly 12:30 and get back to work about an hour later. In the afternoon I mostly work on social media and my blog, guest blogposts and promotions. Mondays I go to Farmer’s Market and do errands. Saturdays I take off and go to the beach or go out and listen to live music if I can. Even if I have a big deadline. I’ve learned if I don’t take at least a couple of afternoons off a week, my muse gets cranky.

On regular writing days, I go for a walk at 4:30, then come back to prepare dinner—I try to cook everything from scratch—and I eat in front of the hokey local TV news. (Great fodder for stories. Way better than national news.)

Then back to the keyboard at 6:30 if I’ve got a project going, or sometimes I sit down to read. 

That life might sound like hellish boredom to some people, and it would have to my younger, wilder and crazier self, but it’s an idyllic life for me right now. I guess I feel I’ve had my share of adventures, and now it’s time for me to stay put and write about them.

My advice to writers is remember only you can write your book. Trust your muse. Listen carefully to feedback, but never change anything just to please somebody else if it doesn’t resonate with you.

You’ll end up with a Frankenbook written by committee.

I spent way too much time with my first novel incorporating feedback from critique groups, workshops, beta-readers, etc., and I ended up with a cobbled-together mess of genres and styles. My current editor is trying to make sense of it now. But I think even he is stumped. It has some of my best writing, but the plot goes off in too many directions.

E age 300Catherine Ryan Hyde and I have written a lot about how to deal with critique in our book How to be a Writer in the E-Age...and Keep Your E-Sanity!. It’s important to remember critiquers all come to your page with their own agendas. If they’re self-involved beginners, they’ll try to rewrite your book to be about them. If they’re rule-bound “old hands” they’ll try to get you to write a cookie-cutter book that’s just like everything else out there. The trick is to nod politely, say “duly noted” and forget everything they said.

My favorite quote happens to be from my eBook: “People are always asking me ‘how do I know I’m a real writer?’ and I say, “If you write—and you’re not a wooden puppet carved by an old Italian guy named Gepetto—you’re a real writer…. Don’t give up because you don’t have an agent yet, or your mother-in-law calls you a slacker who ‘sits around on your butt all day,’ or your mechanic keeps asking why you don't have the money to replace that clunker. You’re a writer. Go write.” 

Bio: Anne R. Allen is a former actress and stage director who lives on the Central Coast of California. She’s the author of six romantic-comedy mysteries. Her newest is No Place Like Home. She has written a guidebook for authors with Catherine Ryan Hyde (author of the iconic novel Pay it Forward.)  How to be a Writer in the E-Age...and Keep Your E-Sanity! She shares an award-winning blog with NYT bestselling author Ruth Harris at Anne R. Allen’s Blog…with Ruth Harris   named one of the Best 101 Sites for Writers by Writers Digest.

-- Janet

Writers and the Magpie Syndrome

"Do what brings you life. Do not do what deadens you." – Alan Cohen

It’s been said that shiny baubles and sparkly objects attract magpies. Apparently, they thieve such items to weave into their nests, perhaps to attract a mate.

MagpieThus, humans irresistibly drawn to what is shiny, new and pretty suffer from The Magpie Syndrome—earning them the nickname “magpies”.

While this can apply to hoarders, collectors and obsessive consumers—as well as dabblers and dilettantes—I’ve come to believe that this syndrome can apply to writers, too.

And I think I may be suffering from it.

Books with the prettiest covers, widespread attention and commercial success are fiction. And, having read my share of poorly written fiction, I’ve concluded “Hell, I can do better than that!”

But after three novel attempts—with encouraging feedback and “I want to see what happens!” (even from seasoned readers and published mentors)—I’m beginning to suspect that I’m deluding myself.

I’m enamored with brainstorming and new ideas. Although I’m a finisher, starting is so much more fun for me. That, and the immediate gratification of instant creativity. My husband suspects that is why I love blogging so much: I think it, I write it, I select pictures to accompany it, and BOOM! it’s out for public consumption in under 30 minutes. Same with reviewing.

There is no laboring with these types of writing, no angsting over rewrites. Come to think of it, there’s little labor or re-writing with my non-fiction books, too. The inner editor keeps me on track as I write, for the most part.

As I was talking to Ron before he left for work, he made a remark that jolted me more than he realizes, “For someone whose path is so clearly marked, you sure have a hard time figuring out what to do.”


What he meant by that is that I love writing Mind/Body/Spirit books—especially Tarot—and it’s easy for me. I mean, every part of it. Easy to come up with ideas, easy to innovate, easy to write, easy to query, easy to propose and easy to cinch yet another book deal. (Sure, it took a lot of labor to GET so proficient, but I pretty much sail through things now). If you love it, and you’re good at it, it’s your path…right?

FrustratedSee, I have a strong Warrior Archetype in my psyche and I think this pattern—which has served me well in overcoming major obstacles—has convinced me that any worthwhile path must be uphill. A difficult challenge. Laborious.

It’s no secret that I detest the lazy, the slackers—and the mindless who don’t question anything, especially their own assumptions.

Perhaps I’ve erroneously assumed that if something is easy for me (forgetting that it wasn’t always), I’m somehow “lazy”, or that my endeavor isn’t worthwhile.

I’ve been asking myself some hard questions about writing. Questions like:

  • Just because I can write fiction, does that mean I need to? Or even want to (deep down)?
  • What do I think fiction publication will give me that non-fiction writing won’t (other than illusionary “big bucks” and long-shot recognition)?
  • If it’s not fun to write fiction—if it’s 98% unenjoyable grunt work—then what in the hell am I doing?

 As I’m re-reading what I wrote, I feel a bit silly. It’s like being handed bliss on a platter (which my life is, outside of writing-related angst) and saying “Oh, no. I think I’d like to forage for my own food in a dense forest 1,000 miles from here, which I’ll arrive at on foot, and then cook my meal when I get there”.

What about you, dear reader? What causes you angst in your writing life? Have you ever been torn between genres? Or wondered where the hell the “best path” for your creative life lies?

-- Janet

Writer Quirks (and Advice!) - Janet Boyer

Since I’ve put Chris Brogan, Jenny Milchman and Rachel Thompson (Rachel in the OC!) through the writer quirk wringer, I figure it’s about time for me to expose my own bizarre writing quirks (and dispense some dubious writing advice at the end).

UnplugThose of you who follow me on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) may have noticed me saying, “I’ll post it when I’m back at my PC” or “Offline for a few days!” or “If you’ve emailed, I’ll get to you when I get back online”.

Friends and fans know exactly what this means, but I’ve not shared my sordid secret publicly until now: in order to get any writing done (not to mention homeschooling, domestic duties and spousal mandated relaxation), I have my husband hide the broadband modem at work. And my old school Kindle.

That’s right: I’m so pathetic, so lacking self-control, that my husband totes the square, black device—as well as my Kindle in it’s purple leather case—to work with him. To hide in his locker at work. Until I tell him to bring them home.

Sometimes, he’s carrying so much with him to work (packages to be mailed, his lunchbox, mp3 player, cell phone, etc.), that he tries to hide it here at home.

Thing is, I’m psychic. Honest to God psychic. As in, I can zero in on the freakin’ thing—even if it’s hidden in the basement, atop the ceiling beams where I can’t see it and need a plastic step stool (that I retrieve from the second floor) to reach it.

Now that our 14-year-old son is taller than his Dad, I can get him to reach up to feel for it! Ha! And, of course, dear husband is amazed that I can find it.

Most days, Ron good humoredly goes along with my antics by taking my stash to work in a plastic shopping bag. Some days, he even insists on it (“that internet is nothing but trouble!”). Once in awhile, though, he gets tired of carrying my shameful, addictive burden with him (“can’t you just self-regulate?”).

Which he knows damn well that I cannot.

I know some of you are shaking your heads right now, and a few are even laughing (you see yourself in this, don’t you?).

But it gets worse.

Kindle holding smallSee, I also have a Kindle Fire. Now, I have hubby hide the regular Kindle at work because the 3G capabilities can still allow for internet access. Kindle Fire, however, is WiFi only. So if the broadband modem isn’t here, I can’t access the internet.

Except, my neighbor two doors down programmed her WiFi password into my Fire last week. So, some days, I’ll stroll down the road (in my PJs, at times) to ask—like the pathetic Ethernet beggar that I am—to use her WiFi. We catch up on neighborhood gossip as I check email and admire her latest horticultural acquisitions (she’s got a major green thumb!). I also get a bonus prize: mad lickings from her adorable Chihuahua (Roxy Girl!). Eventually, I leave.

A few weeks ago, I got the idea that I may just be able to pick up her WiFi from my yard so I don’t have to waltz down there at 10 PM like some kind of addict looking to score her next fix (she works afternoon shift, and doesn’t mind me hanging out on her cozy porch).

Lo and behold, if I get right up next to the fence bordering my property, I can access her WiFi! Fortunately, it works when I’m far away from the road so that onlookers don’t wonder what the hell some lady is doing standing close to her fence in broad daylight, huddled over some kind of device.

Wifi smaller
Silly husband made a sign!

But addicts don’t just operate in the day. Oh no, they lurk and lurch around in the cloak of darkness.

So the last few nights, I go outside in the pitch black, jonesing for my device to pick up her WiFi (instead of trying to log into my WiFi, which is a no-go since the broadband—which is at my husband’s work—needs to complete the connection). In my pajamas. With my crocs on. After a rain.

I almost slip into the edge of our garden-to-be. Getting my footing, trying to use the glow of the Fire screen to navigate my path to the fence, my feet finally find purchase. Until I step in a @#$%*&! gopher hole and almost break my ankle!

I did say I was pathetic, right?

And it’s not like I’m major cyber slut; I’m lucky I visit ten sites on a regular basis!

Le sigh.

Writing by handMy other writing quirk is much tamer: despite having severe tendonitis/CTS in both hands, I must write longhand when it comes to my non-fiction writing (read: 70% of what I write). Reviews and blog posts I can compose just fine on my PC with my handy dandy ergonomic keyboard. I’ve even trained my brain to work on my cozy mystery novel-in-progress via PC.

But not my eBooks or non-fiction books.

Why? Well, I think author Amy Peters sums it up nicely in her book The Writer’s Devotional (which, incidentally, I quoted in my scandalous eBook 111 Quotes for Writers):

Writing longhand will help you experience your writing in a different way. Your mind will think in a different manner, both because writing longhand is a slower process and also because you won’t have the opportunity to backspace and erase the words you’ve just written. Writing in longhand is a more deliberate act. There is an elegant simplicity to writing longhand: it takes writing back to a primal and pleasing place. As an added incentive, there’s also a sense of instant gratification. The moment you make a mark, it is real. Unlike the sometimes dicey business of storing your writing on a computer’s hard drive, the handwritten page won’t disappear into a mysterious Ethernet void.

 Hell, I’m not even allowed to do dishes because my hands are so wracked by numbness and pain. (After the fifth broken glass, hubby and son took over dish duty. We’ve since switched to almost all plastic glasses, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to point that out! After all, there’s still the Pyrex measuring cup, glass baking pans, porcelain casserole dishes to consider…)


So there ya have it. Two crazy writing quirks from yours truly.

Now, about the writing advice.

Gosh, I don’t feel qualified to give much out, since I’ll still muck my way around despite being a traditionally published author x3 and having various other writing “successes”.

SherbetBut as a reader, Amazon.com Hall of Fame Reviewer and despiser of BS, I will say this: the most important piece of writing advice I can give you is to be an original.

Despite appearing as glib advice, it’s not as easy as it looks, especially if your original voice happens to be controversial, polarizing, illuminating and raw. In case you haven’t watched TV lately (I haven’t—been without TV programming for over five years, in fact) or noticed magazine covers in the supermarket, “fakeness” sells.

Think about it: magazine models are photoshopped. Wrinkles, blemishes and discoloration? Magically wiped away. Open the inside of the magazine, and women are told we need makeup to be beautiful, skin cream to look younger, perfume to smell better and designer break-your-damn-neck stilettos to be sexy.

If you’re a man, you need a newer car to exude achievement, the latest electronic device to seem “hip” and a pretty girl on your arm to appear virile.

“Reality” TV? Ain’t nothing real about it.

And what about well-meaning advice from religious leaders, New Age gurus and social media experts saying that we all must “play nice”? Smile at everyone, never be negative, always be complimentary, be happy, vibrate quicker, sing Kumbaya and don’t rock the boat.

In other words, stifle urges coming anywhere near uncomfortable emotions, unvarnished truths or authentic ideas.

So writer’s self-censor—on social media, in their relationships, and, perhaps most damaging, on the page.

The result? Books filled with bland writing, cardboard characters and a “who gives a shit?” plot. Which are the types of books that are, sadly, even published by the Big Four. (It’s Four now, right?)

Goon smallerSurely I’m not the only one finding good books hard to come by these days? And my husband? Even pickier, especially when it comes to fiction. Fortunately, I gave him A Visit from the Goon Squad, which (for now) holds his immersive attention…

So there you have it, dear reader. My embarrassing writer quirks. And some advice lobbed your way, to boot.

Are you a writer with some writing quirks? By all means share them here in the comments! Your writing advice is most welcome, as well.

If you’re a published author and would like your writing quirks and advice showcased here on my blog, please send your wise words to [email protected] along with a headshot and preferred bio.

And about good fiction: come across any lately?

-- Janet

Writers: When Is It Time to Quit Social Media?

TypeMany publishing “experts” admonish writers and authors to establish a platform, maintain a Facebook page, gaggle on Google+, chirp on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn and blog until your eyes bleed.

Some even advocate ingratiating on Goodreads, lollygagging at LibraryThing or swimming down the deep, dark Amazon Forums.

But once you have one or two books under your belt, with others under contract, do you really need to “do” social media? What about if you pen a column, sell a steady stream of articles or publish stories on a regular basis?

In all honesty, it depends.

It depends on four things, as I see it:

  1. Your goals as an author
  2. The health of your writing life
  3. The state of your personal life
  4. The condition of your emotional life 

If your authorial goals involve networking with other writers, hobnobbing with industry pros (if they’ll even talk to you), securing an agent and (trying) to stay current with publishing trends, remaining active in social media may very well be beneficial to you.

However, you can get a similar experience (arguably, a better one) by choosing to opt out of real-time socializing and, instead, subscribing to informative blogs and industry mags, as well as joining supportive, professional groups organized by genre, topic or skill. In addition, some authors swear by writing conferences.

And if you’re trying to reach more readers, allow me to let you in on a secret: you attract more (and better quality) readers by continuing to publish great work. Another way to attract more readers? Getting interviewed on radio shows or podcasts. Go to BlogTalkRadio.com, for example, and search topics relevant to your writing, books and expertise.

Twitter Egg eyesOn Twitter, for example, what you mostly find are other authors clamoring for readers, many who sound like carnival barkers. Good luck being “heard” above the herd, even if you don’t happen to be one of these obnoxious types. In fact, you’ll likely have to do some major brownnosing and ass kissing over a long period just to get people to RT you.

If your authorial goals tend towards writing more books and publishing more articles or stories, then beware of the social media time suck. Do you really want to be spending your time chatting about what you had for dinner, the latest internet meme, your mile-high TBR list or some smoke-and-mirrors scandal?

If you’re spending more time on social media than you are actual butt-in-chair writing (that is, writing towards publication), the health of your writing life may be flat lining. Some signs that your writing life needs attention STAT include:

  • Lack of focus
  • Unclear writing goals
  • Absence of regular writing practice
  • Unsubmitted queries or proposals
  • Lack of enthusiasm
  • Procrastination
  • Dry creative well
  • Indecision

The very act of unplugging your computer and avoiding internet access for at least a week (yes, it’s doable) can be enough to refocus your attention, recharge your batteries and resuscitate your writing life. The question is, do you have the courage to do so? Is your writing life worth it? Or would you be hunky dory with keeping things exactly as they are?

While our writing life is important, our personal life is just as important (arguably, for many, it’s more important). Some of us are wives, husbands, mothers and fathers. Others are taking care of aging parents or disabled siblings. Some have enjoyable “day jobs” with no intention of quitting despite publication success. Then there’s volunteering, spiritual/religious involvement, homeschooling/school-related events, domestic duties, close relationships, hobbies and so on.

For many writers, these enriching “personal” aspects of our life trump writing success every time. But it doesn’t have to be an either/or choice, unless something interferes with our happiness.

If you feel “torn” between a satisfying personal life and a rewarding writing life (especially if, for some reason, you’re finding it difficult to have both), then it’s time to do a values clarification inventory. You must ask yourself these hard questions:

  • Decisions manWhat is important to me?
  • What part of my personal life needs attention?
  • What can I afford to “let go”?
  • What is non-negotiable?
  • What am I not willing to sacrifice?
  • What would I regret neglecting?
  • What am I after?
  • How do I define success?
  • How do I want my life to look 10 years from now? 20? 30?

Nothing sharpens our focus faster than clarifying values. (If you don’t even know what your values are, how do you expect to maintain them? Or live a satisfying life? In this case, take the time to discover and determine your values, then take steps to live in alignment with them. One of the biggest causes of personal dissatisfaction is living out of alignment with deeply held values.)

For example, if you say your kids are a priority, but you spend 5 hours a day on social media—and lay your head down every night wracked with guilt for neglecting to spend time with them—then your personal life is suffering. In this case, you do not value your kids as you say (we spend both time and money on what we truly value), or you value social media more than you value your kids or you’re caught up with internet addiction and can use some professional help.

Lastly, there’s the issue of our emotional life. If you think about it, every goal and ambition we have is—at core—the desire to feel something. As Tony Robbins points out, men don’t really want a shiny new red Ferrari. What they want is to feel virile and youthful. The Ferrari is merely a symbol or catalyst for that feelings state.

Authors want book deals, syndication and sold articles in order to feel successful, accomplished, smart, worthy, productive [fill in the blank]. Writers write for various reasons, and seek publication for a host of (sometimes) different ones.

If your desired emotional “bottom line” involves feeling the following on a regular basis—and social media cuts into or thwarts that—then it may be time to walk away:

  • Peace
  • Harmony
  • Support
  • Encouragement
  • Positivism
  • Optimism
  • Acceptance

Thus, if hanging around on social media distracts, irritates, upsets, discourages, bores or angers you, then you need to ask yourself if spending time tweeting or +ing is worth the time and aggravation.

After all, no one is guaranteed another minute of life, let alone another day or year.

OutstretchedDo you really want to spend your valuable time on social media, especially if the negatives outweigh the positives? If it’s contributing to living out of alignment with your core values? If it’s taking time from creating, writing and publishing? If it’s making you miserable?

Only you can answer these questions—not an industry expert, a social media guru, an internet marketer or a well-meaning fellow author. After all, they’re not living your life…you are.

And, let’s face it, 99% of the virtual people in your life right now sure as hell aren’t going to be with you on your deathbed where you’ll either be proud of who you are, how you lived and what you accomplished…or end up regretting all the mindless time sucks, stupid flamewars, jockeying for position and flailing for attention you’ve participated in online.

-- Janet

The Writer's Workout - Christina Katz

“Writing career growth takes root and flourishes when you give it ample time and plenty of practice. When you rush it or push it beyond its capacity, you get diminished results.” – From The Writer’s Workout by Christina Katz

As a scribe in the writing game, have you ever wished for a coach to help strategize your next move, an enthusiastic cheerleader to encourage flagging resolve and a waterboy to replenish depleted reserves? What about a warm yet honest friend that, after a tough game, gently points out why you may have fumbled or missed a pass, yet is also quick to praise brilliant tackles, yards gained and sportsmanlike conduct?

Writers Workout CoverFootball metaphors aside, writing coach Christina Katz pretty much does all this and more in her latest book The Writer’s Workout.

Divided into 4 seasons (and 366 chapters) that can represent actual chronological seasons or the symbolic cycles of a writing life, readers can use The Writer’s Workout whenever sage advice and helpful tips are wanted and needed. 

From organizational skills to restocking the creative well, establishing visibility to avoiding people pleasing, Christina also addresses the periphery of the writing life that, while not actual butt-in-seat labor, nevertheless impacts an author’s career and wellbeing.

But make no mistake, the author dispenses loads of great writing advice (peppered with humor), too. For example, periods and commas should always stay inside quotation marks lest they look like white bras worn on top of a black turtleneck or whitey-tighties on the outside of denim jeans. (Ha! That’s a grammar mistake I never make, either, but I am an unabashed overuser of the em dash…Trailing ellipses, too, as you can see.)

The two-page introduction to The Writer’s Workout alone contains some of the best writing advice I’ve come across (and know first-hand that works), e.g. “creativity should not be rushed and writing careers take time to mature”, “you are exactly where you are supposed to be”, “slow and steady wins the race” (whatever winning means to you), etc.

Here are just a few examples of the fantastic topics offered by the author:

Spring: Get Going

  • Trust Your Instincts
  • Keep Writing Central
  • Guard Your Time
  • Declutter Your Thinking
  • Finish Everything
  • Unblock Yourself 

Summer: Find Your Stride

  • Pay No Attention to Fame
  • Query Well
  • Cultivate Confidence
  • Temper Your Disappointment
  • Accumulate Credibility
  • Allow for Surprises

Fall: Become Recognizable 

  • Understand Platform
  • Set Your Identity Free
  • Don’t Mimic
  • Partner Conscientiously
  • Just Say No
  • Develop Calluses

Winter: Coach Yourself

  • Test-Market an Idea
  • Become Memorable
  • Be in the Tribe But Not of It
  • Abandon “Overnight Success”
  • Write Yourself Wealthy
  • Stay Prolific

And the icing on the cake? 366 well-chosen quotes heading each chapter. I’m a huge fan of quotes, and more than one insightful passage has gotten me through tough times as a published author and reviewer. Right now, I’m relishing the quote Christina chose to head Chapter 84 (Don’t People Please), penned by Rachel Naomi Remen: “Approval cannot be trusted. It can be withdrawn at any time no matter what our track record has been. It is as nourishing of real growth as cotton candy. Yet many of us spend our lives pursuing it.”

At 374-pages, The Writer’s Workout (published by Writer’s Digest Books) is one of the best writing books on the market in my opinion (I own well over 120 of them), addressing actual concerns and issues facing all writers—from beginners to published-for-decades veterans. I’ve had this book for several years and am currently immersing myself in the author’s timely words yet again so I can discover new strategies, remind myself of reliable tactics, embrace balanced approaches, continue growing as a writer and remember I’m not alone.

--  Janet

Writer Quirks (and Advice!) from Rachel Thompson

It's always lovely to run into a fellow smart-mouthed red head (yeah, yeah...I know I'm a blonde underneath!), especially one so big hearted and supportive of fellow writers (especially indies). 

RachelYou know who I'm talkin' about, right? None other than Rachel in the OC herself, Rachel Thompson! ::throws confetti, opens a bottle of vodka and passes the Nutella::

Rachel kindly answered my nosy questions about her writer quirks, and tossed in some great writing advice, to boot. Take it away, Rachel!

Thanks for asking me, sweet Janet!

 Okay, writing quirks:

1) I cannot write a thing without drinking coffee first thing in the morning.

2) I listen to moody music for inspiration when I write, primarily women. My favorites are Poe's HAUNTED, Fisher's WATER (stunning album BTW), Jonatha Brooke, Imogen Heap, Heart, Grace Potter, Tori Amos (Little Earthquakes), and the quieter songs by Sheryl Crow and Madonna. That's good for now. :)

3) I'm always in black. What. I lived in NYC. It's how I roll. Bright colors distract me.

4) I like all the blinds closed when I write. If it's rainy outside, I'm happy. Gloomy is good for my writing soul.

As for writing advice: trust your vision. lots of people will have lots to say about your writing, and I encourage you to be brave and show it (via guest posts, your own blog, sharing in critique groups, whatever). But ultimately your name goes on it. It's YOUR book. Be true to your vision.

Also, give yourself permission to write the hard stuff. Don't self-edit. Get in that headspace and just go. You're a grown up. Write like it.

Ohhh, another writer that likes gloom and rain! ^5

Gah, I need to work on that self-editing thing. Comes in handy for non-fiction writing but, geez, it sure is a pain in the ass when it comes to fiction writing. Le sigh. I'm working on it!

Thanks heaps, Rachel, for sharing your writing quirks and advice with us!

BrokenPieces 400Readers, Rachel is out with a brand new book called Broken Pieces. It's a raw, unflinching look into Rachel's soul and the effects of abuse. I'm about twenty pages into these essays and, admittedly, I had to put it down...only because I was feeling a bit raw, myself. When I'm stronger, I will pick it back up to read. The prose and authentic emotion is exquisite.

If you're more in the mood for snarktastic humor, check out Rachel's other bestselling books A Walk in the Snark and The Mancode: Exposed.

You can find Rachel on the web at rachelintheoc.com and 
BadRedheadMedia.com, as well as on Twitter (@RachelintheOC and @BadRedheadMedia).

-- Janet

Writing Advice (and Writer Quirks!) from Chris Brogan

Chris roarChris Brogan is one of the most entertaining, accessible, generous and media savvy people I've ever encountered.

I adore him.

In case you don't know Chris, he's the president & CEO of Human Business Works, a media and education company providing tools and smarts so professionals can do the work they want, only better. He is also the New York Times bestselling author of four books.

When I asked Chris if he had any writer quirks he'd like to share with my blog readers, the guy shot back an email within a minute (as he always has). 

I did say "accessible" and "generous", right?

Oh, and funny! My God, how could I forget that.

Without further ado, I give you Chris Brogan...sharing not only his writer quirks, but also some fantastic writing advice:

Quirks, she says. Janet wants my quirks.

Okay. Here's a list, in no particular order:

* I must edit while I write. I can't do what smart writers do and edit later. It just doesn't work. I MUST (MUST!) go back and fix typos and rewrite while I'm in the first draft.

* In fact, there's never a second draft.

Trust Agents 300* When Julien Smith and I wrote Trust Agents, we wrote about 130 pages, and then threw it away when we realized we wanted to write the book a different way. Julien wanted to save the pages. I can't do that. In my life and in my writing, I must start fresh when the mistake is too big.

* I write about 4000 words a day. Where they go depends on what I'm doing: a book, a course, some newsletter stuff. It goes all over. But I keep the habit going, so that I can produce when I have to.

* You can't wait for the Muse. Write and she'll show up when she's ready. But if you wait for her, you're not an author. You're a hopeful. You can't wait for the muse.

* Learn grammar. Then forget it.

* Look for your quirky repetitive bits and remove them. I use "things" a lot when I don't really know which word to use. That becomes like a stutter or an "um" in the larger story.

* Write a strong beginning, middle, and end. People mess up on the ends. All the time.

* Never mistake the value of storytelling. It is huge. Never leave it behind for other temptations.

* I dress pretty much like a fat Mark Zuckerberg. I wear a hoodie and jeans and a tee shirt most every day that I don't have a speech or some other reason to dress like a grown-up.

* The best book ever on writing is who cares? Write. You'll never get it from a book. (Well, King's On Writing is the best of that kind, but it's because he says what I said, only maybe nicer.) 

Impact equationUm, wow. Is this fabulous advice or what, dear readers? (Hey, Chris, I wear pajama pants and T-shirts every day! But I'm not divulging my writer quirks until a later date...) 

In case you live under a rock, Chris is out with a brand new book that's sure to help writers (and anyone trying to affect or influence an audience). I bought my copy months ago, in fact. It's called The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise

And, seriously? Considering what I witness on social media every day, I really think many of you need this book. Not trying to be rude or anything, honest. Like Chris, I want you to create, thrive and make an impact.

Not be a pain-in-the-ass carnival barker lacking substance, passion or relevance. You don't want that either, right?

So don't just get yourself a copy of The Impact Equation, but also visit ChrisBrogan.com. Remember that generosity I mentioned? Chris freely gives helpful, sometimes life-changing, advice on his website, podcast and via his newsletter. 

He makes an impact. And I'm grateful.

-- Janet

Writer Quirks - Jenny Milchman

I'm super duper happy to introduce a new segment to my blog, one that's been brewing in my head for a long time. What is it? Why, Writer Quirks!

I knew I had writing quirks, so I suspected fellow writers did, too. And guess what? They do! They really do. 

Without further ado, here's the first one...

Jenny Milchman 2I met Jenny Milchman on Twitter, and found her engaging, witty and sweet. Turns out that Jenny happens to teach at the NY Writers Workshop, co-hosts the literary series Writing Matters, and chairs the of International Thriller Writers' Debut Authors Program. She's also the author of the brand spankin' new suspense novel Cover of Snow, now out from Ballantine. (I'm on Chapter 42 and OMG! Honestly--and it sounds so cliche to say this, but--her debut novel is a freakin' page tuner!)

Anyway! I asked Jenny if she happened to have any writer quirks. She does. Here's our back-and-forth emails (reproduced because I think she's so darn funny):

JanetI'm doing a blog post about Weird Writing Quirks of Writers. Do you happen to have any to share? (Don't lie.)

Elephant jennyJennyI touch a tiny glass pink elephant each day before I sit down to write a first draft. Can explain why if you want :)

Janet: Of course you must explain! Geez...

Jenny: You mean you don't understand?

Janet: LOL :oP

JennyOK, short version...my husband and I met in college in a philosophy club where we debated the burden of proof. Do I have to prove a pink elephant is in the room, or do you have to prove it's not there? So pink elephants have ever since been lucky, and now I have a teensy glass one I touch every morning before I begin writing a new book...

So there ya go, dear readers. An adorable writer quirk from a very talented author. 

Cover of snow smallerBy the way, writers, if you've ever felt like giving up, you must read this post by Jenny on She Writes. Not only did it take her thirteen years for Cover of Snow to see publication (yes, you read right--13), but she also endured rejection, discouragement, loss of an agent and more. She even decided to give up a psychotherapy practice to stay home to write (while having children, too). 

To learn more about Jenny and her writing, visit JennyMilchman.com. (P.S. It was her husband who did such a fab job designing her rockin' site).

So what about you? How many of you authors out there have writing-specific quirks? Feel free to share your writing quirk here in the comments section or email it to me at synerjay (at) atlanticbb (dot) net for possible inclusion in the Writer Quirks series. 

-- Janet

Naming Your Cozy Mystery

Pen inkI was just over author Lorna Barrett's blog (she's the author of the Booktown Cozy Mysteries) and noticed that she was having trouble naming Book #8 in her series. In fact, she's holding a contest for those who email her a winning title.

I just submitted a dozen titles to her that I came up with in about ten minutes. But then, it occurred to me that there are other cozy mystery authors who may be in the same boat, trying to name their first (or, like Lorna, their eighth) book. 

I'm working on my own cozy mystery series (my first!) and I've amassed over 70 crime-related words to help me brainstorm titles. I thought I'd share them with you in case you're having trouble naming your mystery. After I list them, I'll also share the dozen titles I submitted to Lorna...and how I came up with them.

Crime-Related Words for Mystery Titles

Poison 2Death


Fingerprint 2Chase


So, how did I come up with a dozen titles for Lorna's 8th book? It was easy, really. First, I Googled "book related words" and found this link. (She said it had to have a "catchy 'wordy' word that has to do with writing"). I studied the "wordy words". Then, I looked through my list that I've just shared with you to see if I could do a book or word-related mash-up. I came up with:

Definition of Death
Pen ink 2Fatal Ink

Killer Reads

Pushed Over the Page
Capitalized Corpse
Stanza Shot
Lethal Lines
Wicked Writings
Funeral Plot
Column Crime
Silence the Scribe
Catalogue Cadaver

Cool, huh? So if you're writing a series about, say, fish--then find fish-related words to match up with the crime-related words. Minnow Mortem, anyone? What about Tainted Trout? Aquarium Assault? Bury the Betta? Grave Guppy? OK, OK...I'll stop. *wink*

Have I missed any crime-related words? What words do you think are good candidates for a mystery book title?

-- Janet