Edit Out Loud

When I began my novel, I didn’t have a clue as to the depth and breadth of this thing called EDITING. I wasn’t one of those who resented other people editing “my baby,” because I’d re-written it too many times to be that sentimental about it. I was just grateful that my editor was kind, even when suggesting changes.

My publisher suggests to everyone that they read aloud their work as part of the editing process. I thought it was a good idea, but couldn’t imagine reading my whole book again – and aloud. I’m a fast reader – reading aloud slows me down!

But after it was pointed out that I had way too many repeated words (smiled, grinned, laughed, etc.), I decided to give it a try.

It took about 3 days, in hitches, to read it aloud, and I couldn’t BELIEVE how much it helped. Here are some areas that made the most difference to me:

  1. Repeated words. When you read aloud, it shows you just how boring repeated words can be. You can imagine that I immediately looked up synonyms for “smile” and “laugh.”
  2. Unnecessary words. Along those same lines, when saying it aloud, you realize that you don’t need to describe when the conversation lets you know what the character is emoting.
  3. Out-of-place sections. Oh. My. Goodness. My last read-through showed me that the VERY FIRST PARAGRAPH, taking place in April, was repeated verbatim in a section taking place in JUNE. Oy. I had to change the entire first scene of the book on my last read-through. Neither I nor my editor caught that the first time. When I got to it in “June,” I thought – wait a minute, I’ve seen that before . . .
  4. Poor word choices. Sometimes we write things as dialogue that a human would never say. Sometimes we write things as description that will make a reader laugh when it is at a particularly poignant scene. For instance – Sarah’s shoulders slumped slightly. Alliteration is fun, but not when the character is sad! When I read that one aloud, I literally laughed out loud.

Westerfield.commaThere are many other advantages to reading your manuscript aloud. It’s taught me that I not only need to do this at the end, but as I go. Punctuation, paragraph length, spelling – all those things can be caught on a read-aloud.

So my advice? Slow down and read aloud. You’ll be glad you did.

story with a captial S

Over the course of my writing career I’ve struggled with what it is that makes a good story. Since writing is so subjective, it’s a given that there will always be someone or groups of people who won’t like your story. I used to think that in order to have a successful book, it had to be well-written. But not all books that are well written make an impact. And not all books that are badly written will tank.

TwilightTake Stephanie Meyer and her Twilight series. It was a resounding success in both the book and movie realm. But ask any regular writer about how well the Twilight series books are written and you’d get an answer that is certainly not a ten star review.

So, how did the Twilight series get so popular? The tone of the books, a forbidden love that goes beyond the norms along with the cost this love has on each character along the way, is alluring. Every character is perfectly flawed and appealing in their own way.  Twilight had story with a capital S.

I was just discussing this with another writer the other day as we were dissecting Twilight. We came to the conclusion that Meyers had the knack for keeping the reader hooked and wanting to turn the page to find out what was going to happen next. The audience became attached each time something happened to keep those lovebirds apart. Readers were rooting for Team Edward or Team Jacob. Whether you liked or read Twilight or not, this series had an emotional investment we all want to have between our characters and story and the reader.

Andrew Stanton, a Pixar writer and producer, shared what made Pixar’s stories so good in his The Clues to a Great Story . In his TED talk, Andrew shared the points to focus on in creating a resounding story.

  1. Make Me Care. You have to care about the characters right away. What is happening that makes you identify or have empathy for this character? Is the character suffering an injustice? Is the character thrown into a new situation that is difficult or emotional and you automatically want to root for them? Is there a secret that is intriguing and needs to be figured out? All of these make us care for the character immediately.

 

  1. Take Me With You. Give the reader a promise, a problem that will make the story worth reading. Is it the promise of adventure? Is the character fighting to overcome something? Is it revenge? What is it that the reader is going to expect to find in the pages?

 

  1. Be Intentional. There has to be motivation for the character. Is the character searching for love or acceptance? Do they require vengeance against some force that wronged them? Are they working to overcome a difficult past? Each character has to have a reason for being in the story.

 

  1. Let Me Like You. Your characters have to be likable. This is the part I struggle with because I tend to be black and white, especially when it comes to my villains. But every evil character thinks they are the hero in their own story. Let us like them for some reason, to at least understand what motivates them to do what they do. An evil queen must have been a sweet girl once. Let’s see what makes them vulnerable so we understand their despicable actions.

 

  1. Delight Me. Charm your audience. Get them on your character’s side. Make them cheer for the hero who counters the death spell and turns the rabid wizard into a slug, who’s then swallowed by the shark they’ve been mind-controlling. Let’s sigh with relief when the protagonist finds the decree that saves hundreds of innocent lives in the kingdom. Let’s feel it when the hero kisses the heroine when the town is saved from a gun-slinging bad guy.

 

We may not read or love vampires like in the Twilight books, but we can learn how to create beloved characters who are placed in a dire situation that the readers stick with until the resonating end.

It’s all about story with a capital S.

Who said that? POV and Head Hopping in fiction

My friends who are just beginning this writing journey must be very confused about some of the things we authors say.  “I think the POV is a little off in this scene.” “Oh no! Now I’m head hopping.” What????

Yes, we tend to get caught up in catch phrases at times. But the concepts are simple-and very important to how our stories will be received by our readers.

POV- Point of view- means the perspective from which the story is told. Each character in a good story has a different outlook about what is happening. Their own past experiences and expectations come into play. Besides, the way the story is unfolding has a lot to do with  what they know about what is happening, and how they learn those details. Each person involved sees, hears and experiences different parts of the event in different ways. Point of View varies according to who is telling the story.

In many old manuscripts, a real narrator is used. This is called “omniscient” Point of View.  You, as the reader, are privy to everything that is going on. You can see and hear and experience all of what is happening at once.

First Person  means that the narrator-the main character- is only telling us her side of the story. Most sentences begin with “I”,   because she can only tell us what she did, what she heard, what she felt about what was happening.

Third Person point of view takes the “I” out and refers to the main character as “she” or by name. We still get only one viewpoint, but it’s as if we are watching the story unfold. A popular variation on this Third Person point of view takes us deeper. We really get inside our heroine’s head, and she may have some internal thoughts that bleed over to First person. Most often, the writer uses italics to make this clear.  Many stories switch from one Third Person point of view to another, in order to fill in some blanks, and experience the “other side” of an event.

Head hopping? No, I am not talking about flying body parts here (another catch phrase, sorry). Head hopping is when we are safely hearing the story from inside one person’s head, and suddenly, another view point intrudes. It’s like hearing a voice coming from somewhere that we can’t identify. These “who said that?” moments take the reader out of the story, causing them to stop and re-read, or maybe just giving up all together. Not what we want as writers!

Okay- to illustrate this- to “Show and not Tell”- let’s have an example. Here’s the same short scene told with different types of point of view.

Example One:

“Inside a rustic pavilion in one of Arkansas’ premiere State Parks, four generations of a family gathered for their annual reunion. Happy chatter erupted and echoed from the log walls. As each group arrived with their hands full of covered dishes and ice chests, they were shown the best place to deposit those items.” – POV??? Omniscient

Example Two:

“I pushed up the window covering, bracing it to keep it from falling back down. There were lots of my husband’s relatives here. That was a good thing, they always had a good time together.”  POV??? First person

Example Three:

“Jenny stood next to the long serving bar, rearranging to make room for the third bowl of potato salad. She smiled at her husband, who was standing nearer the door, glancing out toward the parking lot.”  POV??? Third person

Example Four:

“It was a little hard for Jenny to keep her mind focused. She should feel happy at the turn-out for this reunion. But she couldn’t help noticing that their own branch of the family tree stopped abruptly. None of the next generation had been able to fit this gathering into their schedules. Heavenly Father, help me to enjoy this day without feeling sorry for myself. 

Chris noticed that his mom’s back was turned, and prompted little Austin forward.

‘Aaahh!!!’ Jenny took a side-step to keep from falling over the smiling munchkin standing so close by here side. They did make it! Thank you Lord.”   POV??? Deep Third Person with an intrusive bit of Head Hopping. Did you catch it?

So, POV is not so hard to understand after all. It is just a tool to help us get those stories told. Each genre- type of story- has varying norms for the point of view that is used. It’s all about what your reader expects, and what makes them want to keep reading. Because, as a writer- that is definitely what we want!!

What’s in a name?

When Marilla Cuthbert first meets Anne Shirley, she asks the 11-year-old orphan girl what her name is.

“Will you call me Cordelia?” she asks.

Anne goes on to explain that she despises her “plain, sensible” name, but thinks it would be perfectly lovely to be called what she considers such an elegant name. Marilla declines, and Anne reluctantly accepts being called by her real name, although with the caveat that it always includes the “e” on the end.

Thus, Anne “with an e,” though plainly named, cements herself as one of the most beloved of literary characters.

One of my favorite parts of writing is naming my characters. I have always loved the history of names. I read my first baby name book cover to cover when I was 8, loving the discovery of their origins and meanings. So when it comes time to naming my own characters, I have a lot of fun! But just as one poorly conceived plot device ruin a good book, so can an ill-named character take the reader out of the story.

Here’s a few of my rules when naming characters:

ShakespeareChoose a name you like. 

Seems kind of silly, doesn’t it? But just like naming your children, this is a name that is going to stick with you with for a long time, depending on how fast you write, or how successful the story has been. Make sure it’s something you’re going to like for the long haul.

Choose a name that suits the character. 

In early draft of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, her spoiled Southern belle was named “Pansy O’Hara.” Can you imagine “Pansy” vowing to never go hungry again, or helping Melanie have a baby while a battle raged on around them? Thank goodness someone made her change the name to the now iconic “Scarlett!” When I started writing my murder mystery, the protagonist’s male co-sleuth was named “Reed Spencer.” But after writing just a few pages of “Reed,” I just couldn’t stand him. He wasn’t a Reed! Today, “Drew Spencer” is helping Mira solve murders!

Choose a name that works with your story’s genre and time period.

Seems simple, but I hate, hate, HATE it when I read a story that features a protagonist named something that utterly doesn’t fit with that time period or genre. Think of a cowboy romance with a heroine named “Tiffany” or “Arwen.” Or maybe a futuristic sci-fi adventure with characters named “Herman” and “Mabel.” Just doesn’t seem to work, right? It goes the same way with modern fiction: if your character was born in the 1980s, most likely her name would be something like “Jennifer” or “Jessica,” two of the most popular names of that decade, rather than something funky, like “Legend” or “Naveah.” And if you want a funky name, make sure there’s a reason for it, other than “I’m a writer and I can do what I want.” (Good reason, but probably won’t hold up with your publisher.) A great resource is the Social Security website, which lists the most popular names by decade going back to 1880.

AnneChoose a name that your readers or target audience can pronounce. 

This one’s a personal pet peeve of mine. Don’t spell your character’s name in such a way that your reader doesn’t know how to pronounce it. Unless they are listening to an audio book, it’s hard to know how an oddly-spelled name is pronounced. The exception: fantasy stories often have unusual names, but there is usually a hint from others on how to pronounce it (“rhymes with BLANK,” etc.).

Of course, sometimes we can’t control our character’s names any more than we as writers can control them. L.M. Montgomery stated in her autobiography, The Alpine Path, that the character of Anne Shirley just came to her, fully fleshed out and named, down the all-important “e.”

So, how do you decide what to name your characters? Are they named after someone in particular? Or do they just come to you?

When the Story Just Isn’t There

A writer sits down at her keyboard and stares at the blank screen. She prays. Her fingers hover over the letters, but the story just isn’t there.

It’s been that way for days. A sense of panic sets in. What if she can never find the words again? What if all the stories are gone?

I remember a very similar experience to this when I sat down to begin my second book A Great Catch. I called my friend and mentor Judy Miller and told her about the blank screen looming before me. “I’m afraid I can’t do it again.”

She laughed and said,”Yep, and it will only get worse.” Then she added, “Self-doubt is part of being a writer. It’s time for you to remember the stories are never yours. They belong to God. He’ll give you the story.”

I typed the words, “HELP ME. HELP ME. HELP ME.” I wrote a  whole paragraph of help me’s, before I felt a flicker of creativity. I captured the thought and quickly transferred it to my screen.

I don’t remember if I kept what I wrote that day–I sort of think I did–but I do remember the story God gave me flowing through me.

 

So what can we do when the stories just don’t seem to come?

  1. Pray.  As in all things, turn the dry spell over to the Lord.
  2. Self-Care. Are you taking good care of yourself? Are you getting enough rest? Are you writing during your best time of the day?
  3. Feed your story craving. Read a book or binge on a Netflix show. Good stories feed the muse.
  4. Plot. Now, no booing. Honestly, if you know where a story is going, it’s much harder to hit a dry spell.
  5. Do something else creative. Whether it’s coloring a page in an adult coloring book, scrapbooking, or crafting, doing something creative engages the creative side of your brain. This could be the wake-up your mind needs.
  6. Breathe. The stories are still there. Phil. 1:6 says, “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” Trust God, not yourself, to finish the story He put on your heart.

Now, it’s your turn. Have you hit any dry spells in your creativity? What did you do to get going again?

 

When the writing stops – a RE-introduction

When the writing stops . . . I didn’t plan to write a book.  Fifteen years ago – no TEN years ago – I would have laughed at the prospect. I mean, maybe a little devotional or a sweet little encouraging gift book?

In The Beginning . . .

. . . I found fanfiction – I started reading stories and found some incredibly well-written pieces, and some not-so-well-written. After reading some of the not-so-good, and running out of the excellent, I decided that if I wanted to read good stories, then maybe I should think about writing some. So I did. I found somewhat of a following, and the instant gratification was AMAZING.

That’s when I met author Lorna Seilstad. She and a few other writers on the site were trying to make the transition from fanfiction to published original fiction. I joined their group, and I started writing in earnest.

Serious Writer? Me?

I joined ACFW, and started networking on email loops and blogs, started writing on Inkspirational Messages, and before my first ACFW conference, I already had friends “in the biz.” The first author who reached out to me outside of our beloved Inkspers was Kaye Dacus. I interacted on her blog, and when we met, she said, “you’ve got to meet Kathy Cretsinger.”

Sometime after that, I did, and joined the Ken-Ten (Kentucky/Tennessee) Writers’ Group. I was in the group a little over a year when I really started looking for someone to publish my book. Since it’s Christian Fiction of the “romantical” sort, I thought maybe Love Inspired. They asked for a full manuscript, but when all was said and done, they didn’t want it. I entered contests. Got the same scores no matter WHAT I did to it.

So I gave up. Kinda.

After the last rejection, I took a break from writing, my writing group, and this blessed blog. But it wouldn’t go away. I tried starting other books. I kept going back to Carolina Dream, the book of my heart. I don’t know what it was about that story.

So, after a year of upheaval, minor health issues, and a busy life in general, I felt the urge to go back to my writing group, and writing. In corresponding with Kathy, who is the unofficial leader of our group, she indicated that she was interested in my book. She had read it, she liked it, and, by the way, she had a publishing company, Mantle Rock Publishing.

I wasn’t sure. I mean, was I ready? Had I missed my opportunity? It’s kind of like the guy who drowned in a flood. He got to the Pearly Gates and asked God why He didn’t rescue him? God said, “Man, I sent you a raft, a boat, and a helicopter!”

I felt like this opportunity, and Kathy, was my helicopter. I still do.

Publishing Contract Signing with Mantle Rock Publishing, Kathy Cretsinger
Publishing Contract Signing with Mantle Rock Publishing, Kathy Cretsinger

What Next?

Currently, my book, still titled Carolina Dream, is in the hands of an editor who is doing wonderful things with it. A graphic artist is working on a cover. One of these days I’ll reveal that both here and on my author website.

In April, after I get up from keeling over at the sight of my new book, I’ll invite all of YOU to the launch party.

God didn’t want me to quit writing indefinitely, but he had things to show me in the interim. Things like watching two girls grow up into young women, go to college, suffer heartbreak, move away, etc. Things like helping a husband get ready for retirement somewhere down the road. Things like accepting some things as they are, and changing things that need to be changed. Just little things like that.

It all came down to this – when I decided to get back in the writing game, I re-read the story of my heart. Guess what? I still liked it. I still LIKE it.

God doesn’t give you a story that’s a dud. EVER.

 

Thanks for reading, and for having me back!

Regina

Regina Merrick

It’s all in the details…

Are you a stickler for detail? Does incorrect information pull you out of a story? I know some readers who are real nit-pickers but I usually don’t allow myself to get bogged down by minor details when I’m devouring a novel. Recently though I’ve noticed a few glitches that really threw me off my reading game. They got stuck in my brain and replayed over the course of the story. Drove me crazy!

ink-2

I recently caught the airing of a new holiday movie — The Nine Lives of Christmas. It was right up my alley.  Fire fighter hero (need I say more?) Frisky ginger cat with a mind of his own. I do so love a good animal story! What’s not to love? Well there was one scene…

It’s Christmas time (obviously) and, baby, it’s cold outside. The hero and heroine head out on an impromptu date. She’s in a slinky black mini dress and high heels. He’s in shirt sleeves.  They decide to get dinner at a food truck and eat outside at a picnic table. In December. In the cold. Everyone around them is bundled up — coats, mitts, hats and scarves. It’s obviously freezing outside but these two are flirting and bantering practically in their skivvies! The incongruity of it all bugged me for the rest of the movie. Talk about distracting! Why didn’t anyone catch this rather obvious detail? Writers, actors, director? Somebody must have noticed how odd it was.

baxter-family-christmas

I recently read my first Baxter Family book (Karen Kingsbury.) A Baxter Family Christmas is #24 in a long line of books in the series. Phew! There’s no way I could catch up but the author did a great job of creating a memorable story that had just as much meaning for the new-to-the-Baxters readers as life long fans. Loved the story — the way faith and family are shouted from the rooftop! The sweet, goosebumpy Christmas message. So off I went to post my review only to discover some 1 and 2 star reviews. Seriously? Who could rate such a heartwarming story so low? Die-hard fans, that’s who. Readers who knew the Baxter family, including the ages of the parents, kids and grandkids and apparently, those ages didn’t add up in this Christmas story and they weren’t happy. On the one hand — how awesome is it to have people so emotionally invested in your characters? On the other hand — how scary is it to have people so emotionally invested in your characters? A writer would definitely have to be detail-oriented to keep on top of things.

Isn’t it funny how the little details have the power to stall a reader’s karma? Like when a cover doesn’t match the story. Now that can send me into a tailspin. I just finished reading a romantic suspense where the heroine was described as having close-cropped hair that framed her face but on the cover image she’s sporting a long swishy ponytail.  Seriously?

ink3

And take a look at this cover for Shelley Shepard Gray’s A Sister’s Wish. If you are an Amish fiction fan you will notice a major faux pas in this image. The hero is sporting a very un-Amish haircut. And if that isn’t enough, this bachelor has a beard and a mustache! (insert indignant gasp here.) Amish men don’t grow a beard until they are married and no Amish male has a mustache. Period.

So how did the art team get this so terribly wrong? I have no idea — other than maybe they surmised by the back blurb that Simon, who had lived among the Englisch for some years, had just recently returned to Charm. However, he’s been back for quite a while, living Amish but never married. So the whole hair/beard thing is  wrong on so many levels. There is a very minor character — a teen named Justin described as having “hair practically shaved off”- and I wonder if someone caught that description early on in the book and just assumed it was the hero? I can’t tell you how distracting that cover was for me as I read the book. And obviously it still does since I’m mentioning it here.

So — if you are a writer — how do you keep track of details? Is it a struggle or are you just naturally detail-oriented? And if you’re a reader — do mixed-up details bother you or do you just go with the flow?

 

 

 

Going Indie

Friday Jenny talked about her writing path changing, going another direction. Today I’m going to talk about my publishing taking a different direction.

This past Spring a publishing company expressed interest in helping me hybrid publish my YA contemporary novel, Knee High Lies. Due to some unforeseen issues, they have had to back out of finishing the project. So, I’m going Indie.

That means that I’m finalizing the edits on my own, not an impossible hurdle as my editor Sarah, along with her line editor Josh, did an amazing job. I owe them a huge thank you for helping polish my story and bringing it to a level above what I could have ever done. Thank you to Ben Wolf who is helping to make this transition as easy as possible.

linda-fulkerson-300x300The next real hurdle is finding a cover image that will work. I have enlisted the help of Linda Fulkerson and her company DLF Digital Services to help with the cover and formatting my book for publication. I know she’ll do an amazing job, IF I can ever settle on an image.

Which brings me to what I’m doing now. I have searched pages and pages of images on the stock photo site but so far have not come up with an image that completely fits what I have in mind, though there are several that might work. So, I’ve asked a photographer friend to help me bring the image in my mind into reality. I have a model, now I have to find a place and create a summer scene in these winter months. Ha! I might need a miracle.

I’ll be putting together a street team soon and navigating my way through marketing the book. street-teamThis is as exciting as it is terrifying for me to undertake. But, I’ve had some great examples that have gone before me. With the help of friends I know I will succeed in getting my book published by the summer of 2017.

I’ll begin documenting my journey, do a cover reveal when we finally have an image, and share dates when they become available on my personal website at dawnfordauthor.com. So far I haven’t had much to share. I’m looking forward to actually having something noteworthy to talk about.

Prayers are coveted. May God bless this journey.

The Road Ahead – Constantly Changing

When God gives us a talent for storytelling or writing, one of the most common comments we hear is “You should write a book.” For as long as I can remember, my goal has been just that. The stories inside my head are well thought out. I feel as if I have known the characters all of my life.  I could pic any one of them and write you a complete bio right now.  So when will you be able to read a  book by Jenny McLeod Carlisle? Well, that is the $64,000 question.

It is not as if I haven’t been trying. I have submitted to contests, attended conferences, gotten valuable feedback. Joined writing groups, been critiqued by professionals and amateurs alike. I have been represented by an agent. Still,there is nothing you can download on your reading device, hold in your hand, have autographed at a local bookstore. So what is the problem?

Well, if you are on the same pathway, you know that this is not an easy road. There is an endless array of market research, suggestions for improvement, advice from every direction. Still, my stories are my stories. My journey to publication is not like anyone else’s.

Recently, I have been inspired to change direction. Perhaps what I am writing needs to be aimed at a different audience. Maybe the genre is Young Adult, rather than Contemporary Women’s Fiction. This opens new doors, but also necessitates new research. I will be reading more books, studying up on different agents, different publishers. And then, there is always the new and ever changing word of self publishing.

It’s all very daunting, but at the same time very exciting. Meanwhile, I am writing. I still have a monthly column in a print magazine, and I still love reaching out on this blog. I am developing an image, a presence.  Hopefully, I am entertaining someone, inspiring someone, commiserating with someone. When the time comes, I may be someone’s favorite author. I trust completely in Jeremiah 29:11. God does have a plan for me. It’s a confusing road, but it’s my road. Here am I. Lord, send me.

 

The research behind the writing

Have you ever read a story that is so immersive in the time, place, and setting, that you could swear the author must have lived through what they were writing about?

First off, that’s the sign of a good writer. And secondly, that means the writer did such a fantastic job of researching their subject and setting that nothing ever jarred you out of the story because it felt out of place. In fact, it felt natural.

Honestly, as an unpublished writer, research is something I both love and hate.

I love it because, hey, I love to read! I love to learn new things! I will happily spend an hour diving down a rabbit hole about Henry VIII’s wives, and emerge on the other side knowing far more than I ever needed to about cleaning practices in the 16th century.

But I also hate it because it takes time away from the actual writing of a story, making that dream of publication seem even further out of my grasp.

However, if I want that dream to become reality, I have to make sure my story won’t be picked apart by a well-meaning editor just doing their job.

A lot of people think that historical writers are the only ones who need to research. And while, yes, historical fiction writers bear the brunt of research, since the setting of their stories is critical before they even put one word on the page, almost any kind of writer benefits from a helpful librarian, a good search engine, and free time to browse Wikipedia.

mistletow-webFor example, I’m working on a Christmas romance novella that takes place in the Mt. Hood area of Oregon. I wanted a specific landmark to be covered in mistletoe, but then I had to stop and think: Does mistletoe grow in Oregon? (Yes, it will grow pretty much anywhere.)  There is a snowstorm brewing that strands a few characters in my fictional town for several days. I had to do a quick search of typical winter weather in that area, because the last thing I need is for the whole thing that sets the story in motion to not be possible because Oregon only gets an average of two feet of snow a year (it doesn’t, by the way). Even the livelihood of one of the characters has to be researched: I want the hero to be an Iditarod competitor who trains dogs and takes tourists on dog sled excursions during the off-season. But wait– is that even a thing outside of Alaska? Thanks to Google, I now know that it does, and that I need to convince my husband that we need to take another trip to Oregon in winter so we can take a dog sled ride (all in the name of research, of course!).

violin-webAnd don’t get me started on my symphony murder mystery! A lot of the research in that story has taken the last four years, because it’s literally the job I do of a living every day. I’ve learned so much about my field, and I can channel that into my story. However, the only things I know about murder are what I’ve read in other murder mysteries and seen on TV, so that part of the story definitely requires some research. (You all will vouch for me if the FBI confiscates my computer for disturbing web searches, right?)

So, the next time you fall down a rabbit hole in the name of research, just tell yourself: it will make your story better in the long run.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I am thankful for all of our bloggers and readers here at Inspirational Messages!