FACEBOOK LAUNCH PARTY Skeletons in the Attic

You won’t believe the number of prizes at today’s Facebook launch party. Come on by and meet author Judy Penz Sheluk. Just click the image below and you’ll be taken to the party. It starts at 3 PM EST. TODAY.

Click now, and you’ll be taken to the party site. Once there, click the join button and you’ll be included in event.  All you have to do is show up, answer the odd trivia question, and you can win books!

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What goes on behind closed doors doesn’t always stay there…

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited a house in the town of Marketville—a house she didn’t know existed. However, there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: she must move to Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder. Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00072]
Callie’s not keen on dredging up a thirty-year-old mystery, but if she doesn’t do it, there’s a
scheming psychic named Misty Rivers who is more than happy to expose the Barnstable family secrets. Determined to thwart Misty and fulfill her father’s wishes, Callie accepts the challenge. But is she ready to face the skeletons hidden in the attic?


Here’s a list of participating authors and the book titles they have so generously donated to help Judy  celebrate:

Vicki Batman: Temporarily Employed
Gail Baugniet: Blood Red Homicide
Conda V. Douglas: Mild West Mysteries
Lynn Franklin:The Blue Diamond
Donna Beckley Galanti: The Human Element
Jane Gorman: What She Fears
Lc Hayden: Secrets of the Tunnels
Heather Hiestand: A Treasure in Laguna
Molly MacRae: Last Wool and Testament
Barbara Monajem: The Rake’s Irish Lady
Terrie Moran: The Awareness and other deadly tales
Author Luke Murphy: Dead Man’s Hand
Judy Penz Sheluk: The Hanged Man’s Noose/Live Free or Tri/Unhappy Endings
Linda Reilly: Out of the Dying Pan
Josie Riviera: Seeking Patience
Laurence St John Author: Metatron: The Angel Has Risen
Kristina Stanley: Descent
B.k. Stevens: Her Infinite Variety: Tales of Women and Crime
Eileen Schuh, Author: The Traz
Cheryl Kaye Tardif: Divine Intervention
Jessie B Tyson: White Heaven Women


MYSTERY MONDAYS: Luke Murphy – Kiss & Tell Released Today

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00072]How exciting to have the international best-selling author, Luke Murphy, kick off the Mystery Mondays series.

An author, an athlete, a husband and a father. Why wouldn’t I want to share Luke Murphy’s new thriller with you? First about the book, just to get you interested.

With the death of her father…

Officer Charlene Taylor has received her dream promotion—working Homicide with the LAPD. Her first case is the high-profile murder of Ken Anderson, a playboy UCLA professor with a haunted past. A mafia kingpin, billionaire tycoon, cheated wife and jaded lover are only a few on a long list of suspects, all with motive and opportunity.

…all hope of reconciliation is lost.

Not only does she feel the pressure from media and her boss to solve her first case, but Charlene must also deal with her father’s murderer, the “Celebrity Slayer,” a serial killer who enjoys baiting her with his knowledge of her life and routines.

Can a rookie detective work two high-profile cases and still keep her sanity?

1425368_517024845062353_568710561_oNow about the author.

Luke Murphy is the International bestselling author of Dead Man’s Hand (Imajin Books, 2012).

Murphy played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. His sports column, “Overtime” (Pontiac Equity), was nominated for the 2007 Best Sports Page in Quebec, and won the award in 2009. He has also worked as a radio journalist (CHIPFM 101.7).

Murphy lives in Shawville, QC with his wife, three daughters and pug. He is a teacher who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing, and a Bachelor of Education (Magna Cum Laude).

Kiss & Tell is Murphy’s second novel. He is represented by The Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency.

For more information on Luke’ books, visit: www.authorlukemurphy.com, ‘like’ his Facebook page and follow on Twitter (@AuthorLMurphy)

My “Baby” – a bit about Luke in his own words, but watch out – Luke may be a mystery writer, and his novel is a psychological thriller, but the following contains a hint of a love story about his writing and his wife.

This novel took me 15 years to write. Well, not exactly, but…

Even though Dead Man’s Hand was my first published novel, it’s not the first book I wrote. Kiss & Tell is my “baby”. It’s the first book I ever even attempted to write. I started writing the novel in the winter of 2000, while playing hockey down in Oklahoma.

A lot of circumstances surround this novel, and it’s the reason I started writing in the first place. This novel, and all of my writing, happened by “chance”. I was playing professional hockey in Oklahoma, and was struck in the eye with a stick in a preseason game. That injury ended my season before it began.

My wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, was attending a French college in Montreal, and her English professor assigned the class the task of writing a short story.

My girlfriend knew that I was an avid reader, so she asked me if I would help her develop the story, which I did. I had so much fun with the project, that when we had finished, I took one of the characters we had created and started writing my own story.

I wrote Kiss & Tell in six months, but it was nowhere even close to being publishable. Actually, it stunk. It was a practice story for me, so I left it sitting in my computer, and started writing a second book.

After I published Dead Man’s Hand in 2012, I decided to reopen Kiss & Tell and take another look. My first reaction…it was bad, written by a first-time, newbie, amateur author. But I loved the plot, cast of characters, and the potential. I didn’t want to give up on this story.

So I took everything I’d learned about the craft of writing and the industry and put it into editing Kiss & Tell. The revisions completely changed the entire book.

After I’d completed it in 2001, Kiss & Tell was written from the point of view of Jessica Philips, the primary murder suspect in the Ken Anderson investigation, and the story was told from Jessica’s first person POV.

The Kiss & Tell that came out in 2015 is told from Detective Charlene Taylor’s point of view, written in third person. Although the plot never changed, some of the characters and scenes did.

A major scene/twist change that occurred?

In the original Kiss & Tell, the identity of the Celebrity Slayer was never revealed. I was planning on turning this CS plot into a series, extending the investigation through a number of books. But, taking into consideration a suggestion from one of my editors, I decided to change that. But don’t think I don’t have more plans for the Celebrity Slayer, in upcoming Charlene Taylor books.

But that’s for another time, and another place.

Buy the book here: http://myBook.to/Kiss

Praise for Kiss & Tell

“Luke Murphy scores big with this deep psychological thriller. Just when you think you’ve got things pegged, Murphy serves up another twist. Fast paced and fun, you won’t want to put this book down.” —Tim Green, New York Times bestselling author of Unstoppable

“An intricately detailed and clever mystery featuring a tough minded but vulnerable protagonist with more than a few demons of her own. The twists and turns kept me guessing to the very end.”                 —Christy Reece, New York Times bestselling author of Nothing To Lose

“Luke Murphy’s novel, Kiss & Tell, has lots of twists and turns, and police procedures where the good guy, in this case, Charlene Taylor, is not always good. The characters come to life with suspense, drama, explosive action, and an ending you never see coming.”                                                                                     —John Foxjohn, USA Today Best-selling author of Killer Nurse

Have a question for Luke? Comment below and hear from him personally.

Next week on Mystery Mondays: Join us to find out what Horror and YA Thriller author Michael Conn has to say.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy Kiss & Tell.

Thanks to HSW Literary Agency

Life as a writer is often spent behind closed doors working hard, but there are moments when a writer catches a glimpse of hope that her work may actually entered the world of the published.

Margaret Hart and Natalie St. Pierre at the HSW Literary Agency have been working hard behind the scene to help me get my novels published.

Their last post at HSW Literary Agency:News certainly made me smile, so here’s a shout out to say thanks.

Sometimes a girl just has to share her happiness.

Thanks for reading . . .

Here is what HSW wrote about me:

Persons Unknown? Crime Writer Kristina Stanley Makes Her Name

Author Kristina StanleyThe life of an author, quietly perfecting her craft, is often anonymous. But the efforts of crime writer Kristina Stanley are at last getting the attention they deserve: Stanley has three works up for separate crime writing awards!

Descent, the first book in Stanley’s Kalin Thompson series, is nominated for the Unhanged Arthur, the Arthur Ellis Award recognizing the year’s most promising piece of unpublished crime fiction. Over in the UK, the Crime Writers’ Association honours book two in the series, Burnt, with a nomination for their Debut Dagger. Finally, just in time for Short Story Month, Stanley’s “When a Friendship Fails” is nominated for the Capital Crime Writers‘ Audrey Jessup Short Story Award.

Congratulations, Kristina! We anxiously await the results!

Procrastination Can Be A Writer’s Friend

Procrastination? Don’t feel like writing but want to hit your word count?

Writing a novel can be an intimidating task, so why not try something shorter?

For me, when I’m overwhelmed or feel too pressured by word count, I write something else. I like to have my blogs written and pre posted. In my lifestyle, I’m never sure I’ll have internet access on a daily basis, so writing blogs ahead of time reduces the stress for me. You’re probably laughing and thinking what stress can I have living on a boat for the winter, but I take my writing and my blog seriously. Self induced stress, but still stress.

How does writing in smaller increments help with novel writing?

I find by taking on a shorter piece of work, I often get in the flow of writing and can switch over to the novel. Even if I don’t, I’ve been productive and written something.

Does it have to be a blog? Nope. You could write a short story or an entry in your journal.

How do you kickstart your writing?

Thanks for reading . . .

Scene Development

Writing is an endless process of revisions and editing, at least for me. So how does a writer know when a scene if finished? I use a template, shown below, to make me ask myself some hard questions. Once I can fill in the blanks below, I feel like I have a working draft of a scene.

I also have templates for settings and a detailed spreadsheet to keep track or dates, when a character is introduced, weather, etc., but template below gives me a sense of whether the scene has done its job in the context of the novel.

My template keeps growing and changing with each novel, but here it is in it’s current format.

Beginning = Hook:

Middle = Development:

Climax = Disaster:

Action (Scene or Sequel):

What does POV Want:

Outcome if POV fails:

How Does Scene Move Plot Forward:

How Does Scene Builds on Previous Scene:

How Does Scene Leads to Next Scene:

What’s Happening Between Characters That’s Not Spelt Out:

Is Setting Best Place For Emotional Impact?

Do you have anything you could add to the template?  I like to add new items that I can think about.

Thanks for reading . . .

Opening Your Story

Do you read books on how to write?

The latest I read talked about opening a story and checking for four criteria.

Does your opening start with:

  • the protagonist,
  • conflict,
  • movement,
  • setting?

This is a lot for an opening, and I’ve been studying novels to check if authors do this.

The first point, the protagonist, doesn’t seems to happen consistently. There are books that start with the protagonist, the villain, a minor character, or a character that doesn’t appear in the rest of the novel at all. I like all of them. So I guess on this one, you have to decide for yourself if your protagonist is the best place to start. I do agree the protagonist should appear early in the story.

Conflict: This one seems more consistent. Sometimes the conflict is quiet or subtle. Sometimes it’s a full-out battle, but it’s there.

Movement: I find books with no movement boring. Even if the character is walking, it’s better than sitting still, or worse yet, if there’s no mention of what the character’s doing.

Setting: This might only be one word, one line, one paragraph or this could be more. To me the setting it important at the beginning. I like to know where the character is. Are they in a city, in the country, on a mountain or in outer space? This helps me figure out what kind of story I’m reading.

Do you follow any guidelines for opening your story?

Thanks for reading . . .

Word Sensitivity

As a writer you probably focus on words more than others. You spend a good part of your day trying out the different words to see which one gives your sentence the meaning and nuance you’re striving for.

But what does this do to you as a person?

Do you listen differently than you used to?

I’ve found that I certainly do.

Sometimes I hear what’s been said, then I process it, and then whammo – I think – that was an insult. I might not have noticed before I started writing, but now I have to turn down my sensitivity metre. Sometimes it’s not a good thing to understand the deeper meaning behind words. Sometimes I think, what a great way to hide an insult inside a compliment, and then I use it in a novel.

On the happy side, it means I’ll notice a compliment more often too. And that makes me smile.

Has writing changed you? Do you hear differently?

Thanks for reading . . .

Writing Novels With A Spreadheet

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I love to write with a spreadsheet. I’m still amazed by how helpful  I find the tool and that I still find new ways to use it.

One of the columns in my spreadsheet lists objects. Originally I put this column in to make sure my scenes weren’t empty sets. I also list smell, sights, and sounds for this purpose.

Sometimes with the objects, I’ll use the object in a later scene. Like an innocent little baseball bat. The list reminds me to check what I’ve placed in an earlier scene and see if I can use it in an inventive and unusual way in a following scene. Like an innocent little baseball bat that’s not so innocent.

I knew all this. What I discovered this week is the object column can also help me find errors.

In one scene I have two characters eating lunch together. I list a fork. Later in the scene, I list a spoon as an object. But wait! I’m writing about the same character eating the same meal, so why has her utensil changed?

I went back in the scene and discovered I’d changed the utensil. Silly, but unnoticed when I read the scene without listing objects.

I love discovering new ways my spreadsheet can help.

Let me know if you use a spreadsheet and how it helps you write.

Thanks for reading . . .

Related articles:

Writing a Series: Spreadsheet

Keeping Track of Scenes

How to Use a Spreadsheet for Your Synopsis

Tips For Ordering Scenes In A Novel

Tips For Ordering Scenes In A Novel

Have you ever had trouble deciding the best order to put your scenes in?

Once you have a first draft written do you try different combinations to see what works best?

If you’ve been reading my blog, you might have guessed I’ve added a new row to my spreadsheet. I call it Scene Dependency.

First, I was just using it to list what scenes had to come before the scene I was reviewing. Then I discovered something even better.

Was it possible to link the end of one scene to the beginning of the next?

You bet. There are different ways to achieve this. For example:

  • Have one character end a scene. Have the next scene start with another character thinking of the previous character.
  • Put an object important to the story at the end of one scene and beginning of the next.
  • Use the same location at the end of one scene and the beginning of the next.
  • End a scene at night, start the next scene the following morning.
  • Reference the same weather in both scenes.
  • Reference the same sight. Maybe the moon setting or an avalanche at the end of one scene and the beginning of the next.
  • Use emotions to link the scenes.

In the end, have it all listed in your spreadsheet. You might be surprised how it changes the order of your scenes and gives you a fluid motion throughout your novel. The reader will feel more connected to your story if one scene links to the next even if the scenes are about different events.

Can you add to this list? Do you have any tips to ordering scenes? I’d love to hear them.

Thanks for reading . . .

Do you want to improve your grammar?

Here’s one method on how to become more confident with your grammar skills.

Scientific America Mind (October 2013) has an article called What Works, What Doesn’t that discusses techniques that work or don’t work for learning. The second item in the article discusses the importance of self testing. The article makes the point that before reading a chapter the student should take a test to see how much they know on the subject. The theory is we learn by our mistakes.

Each year I read a different book on grammar in an effort to keep my skills strong. As a writer, I consider grammar knowledge an important tool for creating a novel.

Thinking I should test the theory put forward by Scientific America Mind, I set out on the search for a grammar book laid out with an introductory test, study information and an end of chapter test.

I found Sharp Grammar: Build Better Grammar Skills by Kaplan  follows this process.

I’m now working my way though the book, surprising myself by what I know and don’t know. If I only learn one new thing, I think it’s worth the effort. I also believe that continual practice will keep me at the top of my game in the sport of grammar. Can you ever practice too much?

What do you do to keep improving  your grammar and punctuation skills?