Writing Plan for the Week

No server access? Get out the Underwood!

Not having a plan is like not having server access. You get nowhere!

According to my business card, I am a writer. So what should I be doing tonight? Well, it’s Sunday night, the wind from Hurricane Joaquin has barely touched us, and the rain has slowed to a fine mist. It has not been the best beach day but at least we in Seaview have not been tormented by flooding problems. Other parts of the East coast? Not so fortunate.

Aside from the three church services this morning, and the potluck lunch, and the trip to the Brown Dog Ice Cream Store in Cape Charles, and a nap, and a fine dinner of grilled cheese sammiches, what else should I be doing? Lucy Silag of Penguin’s Book Country published a blurb about treating your writing career like a start-up, akin to business management for writers. I’m not sure she had these line items in mind:

Watch latest episode of Dr. Who? Check.

Make a fresh pot of coffee and have a cup? Check and check.

Post the recipe from the potluck? Check it out here.

Plan the writing for the week?

[insert cricket noises here]

Shazbot – I knew I had something else to do. Let’s try this and see what happens:

Monday – AM: revise query letter.  PM: read Matterhorn, written by Karl Marlantes.

Tuesday – AM: check QueryTracker for agents accepting culinary mysteries. Or mysteries. Or anything.  PM: Keep reading Matterhorn.

Wednesday – AM: Twitter-stalk agents and see what they like (and don’t like) in a query. PM: Keep reading Matterhorn and take mental break – yoga class.

Thursday – AM: Make decisions on agent queries. Customize and send. PM: no spare time.

Friday – AM: Research publishing through Booktrope and Book Country. PM: Keep reading Matterhorn.

Saturday – AM: Try to finish Matterhorn. PM: Read out loud the first few chapters of The Milk Chocolate Murders (to get back into that frame of mind.)

Sunday – evaluate the plan and make a new one.

There you go. That should keep me busy for a while. Will this work? Maybe. Will I follow the plan? Perhaps. Is it better to have a plan than not have a plan? Definitely.

Do you have a plan?

If so, please do share. And I’ll make you a deal. You give a short synopsis (is that redundant?) in the comments and I’ll follow up next week with how my plan went. I’ll even ask you how your plan went. We could call it…writers supporting writers! Has a good ring to it. Hey, it has worked with the Book Country Buddy Program. It could work here, too!

Looking forward to your thoughts!

DJ

 

 

 

A Book Store Miracle?

One of the best ways for a writer to improve is to read. And choosing books in your particular genre is a great place to start. On a recent trip to our local Barnes & Noble, I was happy to find an entire bookshelf dedicated to my genre: cozy mysteries. Not only that, but the top shelf had several culinary cozies facing front to allow their great covers to attract readers. For those unaware, I specialize in writing such tasty novels.

The marketing ploy worked. I spent more than a few dollars on this trip. The bad news was I could not take well-composed photos of the covers. The good news was the customers taking the books off the shelf were the reason my camera work was rushed. If you have to have a problem, too many customers is a good problem to have, I guess.

If you are looking for a good read or two, and you can’t wait until my novel is published, try one of these!

A Batter of Life and Death

A Batter of Life and Death

Cancans, Croissants, and Caskets

Cancans, Croissants, and Caskets

Dead Men Don't Eat Cookies

Dead Men Don’t Eat Cookies

Icing on the Corpse

Icing on the Corpse

Writing & Coffee – what perks your work?

What's your order?

                                                  

Having just posted my second novel, The Milk Chocolate Murders, up on Book Country for workshopping, I can now refocus on the tweaks needed on the first novel, The Apple Pie Alibi. If all goes according to plan, APA should be ready for submission (again) by September 1. That timing allows me two months to outline the third book of the trilogy, The Wedding Cake Witness, in time for the next slog known as Nanowrimo.

Throw in a commission to write a 5 minute piece of classical music (not as easy at it sounds) and I once again find myself very busy. This will take much coffee.

Speaking of coffee…

I have always wondered if genre dictated coffee choice. In other words, do writers in the mystery genre prefer straight espresso, or perhaps (as I do) an Americano? Do romance writers like, I don’t know, one of Starbuck’s new drinks? A caramel cocoa crunch frappuccino maybe? Just guessing. I have no idea what a romance writer typically orders.

Hey! What about a totally unscientific poll?

Comment below with your genre and favorite beverage, be it coffee, tea, or something stronger. There will be no prizes, but rest comfortably with the knowledge you have helped to further define your genre in a new, and tasty fashion.

Let’s here from everyone! <clink!>

Count Basie and Sisyphus walk into a bar…

Sometimes art can be found in the most unexpected places.

Sometimes help can be found in the most unexpected places.

Question: what do Count Basie and the mythical trouble-maker Sisyphus have to do with my writing?

More on that question in just a bit. First – some good news. I have just received some awesome feedback from Henery Press about my first novel, The Apple Pie Alibi. No, it’s not quite ready for publication, but major strides will be made thanks in large part to the personal comments from the staff readers at Henery. You can’t buy this kind of assistance. Well, maybe you could. But it would cost a lot more money than I have in my pocket right now. And who would have thought a literary press would take the time to do this? It was as unexpected as finding a big band in the desert.

Not familiar with Henery Press? Based in the greater Plano / Frisco area just north of Dallas, Texas, Henery focuses much of their attention on bringing cozy mysteries to the market. And I must say, their book covers are awesome. Every so often, the good people at Henery sponsor what they call a Sub-Spree. They choose a sub-genre (oh, say culinary cozy, for example) and then open a separate mailbox for those submissions – for one week and one week only.

You don’t know what genre they will choose next, so it would be near impossible to read the announcement and then write a novel to fit. Your best course of action is write your novel, and if it fits the sub-spree requirements, fine. Otherwise, you can always submit the traditional way to Henery.

What’s the difference? Neither sub-spree nor regular submissions require agents. As long as you fit their genre and style requirements, you are cleared hot to submit. But here’s the inside scoop: sub-spree submissions will be read within 10 days or so – and personal comments from the editors and staff will be sent to the author. It’s like getting 10 minutes with an agent at a writer’s conference, except there is more than one agent, and you get more than ten minutes, and you find out not only what they dislike, but also what they like. No form letter at all; just help from an unexpected source.

Henery Press. Not my publisher – yet. But still, a group you should take a minute to check out if you write cozy mysteries. If you like reading cozy mysteries? Take two minutes. Maybe three. Plenty of great stuff to peruse.

Now, after I take the next few weeks to finish the recipes for The Milk Chocolate Murders, I will return to the first novel and see how I can employ the suggestions from Henery. Who knows? By the time I finish the draft of book 3, working title The Wedding Cake Witness, I may have a published book on my shelf!

The answer to the question about how Count Basie and Sisyphus are related to my writing? That’s an easy one. It may be April, but this ain’t Paris, so it’s back to the depths of revision hell – “one more time.”

We heart writing “on location”

View from the Artist Loft - Cape Charles Coffee House

View from the Artist Loft – Cape Charles Coffee House

Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day and the two of us decided it would be a great day to do something together, out in public. No – not that. This is a family blog, you know. But given the outside temperature is in the 20’s (-3 or so Celsius) and the high winds not helping matters, a relaxing morning inside the warm comfort of the Cape Charles Coffee House was deemed to be public enough.

A few pancakes, some scrambled eggs, a yogurt fruit parfait and muffin later, we found ourselves upstairs. The building, beautifully restored to the elegance it had over a century ago, has a nice artist’s loft. Paintings by locals hang on the wall; there are small and large tables, plus comfy chairs. A perfect place to hold a small informal meeting, or in our case – plug in the laptops and write.

Truth be told – once my trilogy of culinary cozies hits the press, readers may see a coincidental resemblance of this coffee house to the diner-headquarters of the main character. Why shouldn’t I use such a great space for the setting of a novel, right?

So here we sit for a while – me catching up on my social media accounts and eventually moving on with revisions to book number two. My better half? She’s doing work. I know, not as fun as my quest, but she gets to work in an elegant space. And with such fine company!

Valentine’s Day or not, if you need a space to write, look for a quiet place that still has some life to it. You might try a coffee shop, a library (yes, that building with all of the books,) or anywhere people will ignore you, yet be visible for inspiration. Heck, try the waiting area at your local airport. You’ll definitely see a cross-section of humanity there!

Wherever you write – may inspiration hit you like a strong cup of hot coffee; and may any writer’s block be vanquished!

And now I’m published!

The World Unknown Review, Vol I

The World Unknown Review, Vol I

Shameless self-marketing post:  One of my noir-ish humorous shorts was chosen for the first volume of The World Unknown Review, with L.S. Engler, editor. Containing 11 short stories and one novella, this new literary review features authors who have an impressive publishing background, as well as those (me) who are just breaking into the business.

My story? Titled The Crucible, this tale is a slice of life featuring an English teacher at an exclusive private school. Distraught with the futility of his efforts, he receives a ray of hope in a promotion to headmaster, only to see…well, you will have to read it for yourself.

If you are a teacher, you can probably relate to this story. If you aren’t, you very well may be one of the characters!

Yes, I’m excited! And you should be, too. Eight clams and some change for the paper version (huzzah for an editor who wanted to make a traditional book!) and just under a dollar for the Kindle version.

If only there was some occasion where you could use a new gift. Hmmm.

Now, back to my happy dance!

The Dreaded Author Photo

The latest mug shot of D.J. Lutz

The latest mug shot of D.J. Lutz

Well, sports fans, the time had come for a new author photo. For those of you who know me, I have never enjoyed having my picture taken. Yet, duty called and I had to submit a new photo, this time in a landscape format. I would have used an old photo, but most were formatted in a square, since that worked best in my social media accounts. That said, I was being interviewed about wellness for writers – and they wanted a photo.

Lemony Snicket had the right idea: never be seen except as a shadow, or perhaps from behind. In a throwback to the iconic Alfred Hitchcock, I could do the same thing? Or maybe pretend I’m Wilson, the neighbor in Tim Allen’s old show Home Improvement, where all you see is Wilson’s eyes and forehead as he peers over the fence.

If you Google Author Photos, you will see that the search engine helps you out by categorizing the photos by quality. Great, Good, Bad, and – Worst. Dare I say it? I hope mine does not end up being placed into the Worst zone. Maybe I can slip Google some cash to bump me up into the “Meh” or even the “It’ll Work” category? No, they probably don’t need the money. And I only have about ten bucks in my pocket right now anyway.

What do you think of your own photo? Any opinions on what constitutes a decent author photo? Anyone want to sub in?