Thank you for allowing me to visit your blog today and share my newest release, Murder on the Mountain, a romantic suspense set in the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Release day, May 2nd, went well and the reviews have all been great. Like any writer, I love positive reviews but I also try to learn from the comments made by readers. I am far from an expert at my craft and I will take every opportunity to learn to be a better storyteller. Like I tell my science students, no one is born knowing everything and we must learn from our mistakes as well as our successes.
One particular thing I have worked hard to perfect over the years is how to tell a page-turning, suspenseful mystery. In this particular story, Emma witnesses a murder and then becomes a target of the local cartel. A reviewer commented that she felt like she’d been the one running from the cartel by the time she finished the book. I count this as a win! Other comments about how readers were on the edge of their seats and they couldn’t put the book down tell me I am on the right track. When I discussed this with a fellow writer and friend last night, she said she could literally see the story in her head as she read it. Yay!
I wasn’t always so good at such scenes. I had many rejections from agents and editors over the years for “telling” to much and not “showing” nearly enough. I struggled with dialogue tags until my very first editor at a small press showed me the way to show who is saying what rather than just labelling it. Oh, and let’s not forget the over use of the words “just” and “was”. I learned through experience, rejections and comments from readers and fellow writers that those filler word can kill a story faster than a cartel hit man.
If I could back in time a decade or so, I’d tell the novice writer that was me to avoid these pitfalls of writing. I had a high school English teacher who probably influence my writing career more than anyone else, before I even knew I wanted to be a writer. I turned in an essay and received a 98% on it but with no marks or comments. I asked him why he didn’t give me a 100% and his response still sticks with me- “Because with writing there is always room for improvement.”
I think this advice applies to so many things. I will never claim to be an expert on anything, because I am always learning, and I encourage my readers to do the same. Start a new hobby, learn a new language, or heck, write a book!