Fiction in a minute: Train

The cameraman said “rolling” and the red light over the lens glowed. The blond antiques appraiser slid his mirrored compact into his pocket and looked at Howard expectantly. “What did you bring to the show today?” “Train set. My father’s. He said it was the only thing he would save if the house was on […]

Fiction in a minute: Dancer

The heavy bass pulsed through my skin, alchemizing my old bones to stretchy, strong muscle. I danced and whirled and spun and slid, my body melting like liquid into the music. Then, silence. Laughter and the sound of high heels on wood floors echoed off of the dance studio‚Äôs mirrors. I opened my eyes to […]

Setting 101 at Sleuthfest 2014

Sleuthfest 2014 in Orlando had some great panels on mystery and thriller writing, but two of my favorites were about creating and describing the perfect setting for your novel. When it comes to writing about locations, fiction writers find themselves in a dialogue with their readers. They are describing streets and cityscapes and buildings that […]

Molasses to honey

My first draft writing comes out like molasses, thick and slow, trying my patience and my will. The second draft flows easier, like honey squeezed out of those plastic, bear-shaped bottles at the grocery store. Will my third draft be maple syrup? I wish for words to flow like water.

Streamline bloated writing

Add a powerful punch to your writing by using as few words as you can to express your thoughts. Readers’ attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, so concise writing is key to keeping their eyes on the page or screen. I’m as guilty of wordy writing as anyone. Here’s a bloated paragraph I wrote: […]

Mining for gems in your writing

Writing is not unlike mining for gemstones. It’s labor intensive, can be frustrating and sometimes surprisingly rewarding. You can write better reports, blogs, emails and tweets if you break your writing tasks into three easy steps, similar to those taken by a rock hound or gem miner. Step 1 – Dig and collect. Gems are […]

Slow down and breathe

Two minutes of running as a beginner and I was gasping for air. How did people run for a mile? I couldn’t make it around the block. I asked my fast-footed sister for advice. “You’ve got to slow your breathing down,” she said. I had no idea how to do that, but on my next […]

Book Review: Worm

Worm: The First Digital World War by Mark Bowden My rating: 4 of 5 stars So, can Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, make TCP/IP and the domain name system exciting? The answer is yes and no. The 2008 Conficker worm infected millions of computers to create a “botnet” […]

Clear Writing Inspires Clear Thinking

Writing about complex ideas sometimes brings out the big vocabulary words and abstract expressions. This seems like the right approach — complex ideas should be explained and expounded upon with complex words, right? Wrong. If reader understanding and retention are our goals, then we want to make our document clear and easy to read, even […]

10 Ways to Revive Your Business Writing

Who says business writing has to be boring? OK, probably lots of people do. But anyway, there are lots of easy ways to liven up your memo and report writing which will increase the chances that someone, somewhere will actually read it all the way through. Here’s ten of ’em. Write conversationally. You do it […]