Friday, January 18, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe
Promise only what you can deliver. Then deliver more than you promise. 
– Unknown

Thursday, January 17, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Confessions of a Pantser by Sandra Gardner

Today at The Write Way Cafe author Sandra Garner enlightens us on the ins and outs of pantser versus plotter.

I’m a proud pantser. As you might guess, a pantser is a person who writes by the seat of his or her pants. More or less.

That’s versus a plotter, a term that usually refers to someone who carefully plots, using tools such as an outline of what’s to come. Or what should be to come.

There’s the problem with being too much of one or the other. Too much plotting can mean the characters aren’t fleshed out enough. Too much pantsing can make your mystery go off the rails. Most writers have to use elements of both. For me, going over to the, um, other side – plotting – happens when I get desperate. When I’m mumbling to the people populating my head, this book isn’t going anywhere, guys. We need help!

Sometimes, I feel as if I don’t have much to do with what my characters do and say. They just appear inside my head and start doing things. Often I don’t know where they’re going or what they’ll be doing next. When they talk to me. I let them go on and on, telling me what’s happening (external dialogue), what they’re thinking (internal dialogue), what they’re planning on doing (action), what they’re afraid of (tension). I’m their scribe, there to listen and take all the notes I can scribble. And then try to make sense out of it all.

That’s all well and good. But … much as I loathe outlines, at some point, I have to bite the bullet. Because though I love listening to my characters, getting to know them, letting them have relationships, getting themselves in trouble, fighting off those who mean them harm – sometimes landing them in near-death experiences but managing to get themselves out of them – eventually, I realize that I don’t know where all this is going, how it’s going to get where it needs to get, and what I need to do to make it work to a satisfying end. Somehow, I have to balance keeping the characters talking, walking and acting, moving the story along and making it all work. In other words, I need … an outline.

Here’s an example from my Mother-and-Me Mystery Series.

My main character, MC (protagonist) Marabella, and her recently deceased mother (sidekick) – the bane of her existence in life -- popped into my head and wouldn’t leave (see description of the ghost-mother-detective later). That happened in Dead Shrinks Don’t Talk, book 1 in the Mother-and-Me Mysteries.

In Grave Expectations, book 2, the annoyingly helpful ghost mother reappears, warning about imminent danger to Marabella’s favorite neighbor, Sam. Sam becomes the first victim of an unknown killer. Mixed in were a bunch of possible suspects (greedy relatives, heir to the first victim’s considerable estate). There’s a second victim (Rose, another elderly neighbor and Sam’s friend), and then a third victim. Marabella tries to enlist the help of the NYPD. Unfortunately for her, her bête noir from book 1, Detective Eddie Rivera, now a lieutenant, doesn’t believe there was a murder and as usual, doesn’t take Marabella’s instincts seriously.

Though you need strong, believable characterization in a mystery – as in any fiction – you need a strong, believable story for the characters to inhabit. Which involves (sigh) plotting.

So, a plot outline becomes necessary. I’ve tried it several ways. One way is writing down scenes in numerical order. Here’s what I did in Grave Expectations:

     1.  Marabella’s (main character, amateur detective) elderly neighbor Sam (victim) is found dead. She and her mother-the-ghost-detective (sidekick) think it could be murder. Marabella calls cops and, as the executor of Sam’s will, notifies his greedy relatives and heirs (suspects).

      2.  Rose, another elderly neighbor and friend of Sam’s, is frightened, because she caught a glimpse of someone (possibly the killer) running out of Sam’s apartment. She’s afraid the person saw her.

     3.  Sam’s fancy funeral, staged by materialistic relatives. Rose isn’t there. Marabella finds her in the laundry floor, seriously injured by an attacker (second victim).

Woven into the story (and the outline) is the not-so-loving relationship between Marabella and her irritating ghost-mother. Making things worse in the relationship is the curmudgeonly cat Marabella acquired as a tiny kitten, who’s grown into Catzilla. Her mother and the cat hate each other on sight.

Into the outline go Toniann (best friend), a good listener who often just doesn’t get it. Her problem is her upcoming wedding and soon-to-be interfering mother-in-law (subplot). Marabella’s job is writing in a college PR department in New York City. (setting) In a big city, it’s easier to manufacture dangerous situations. The college is where Marabella met her hunky boyfriend, John, a vet who runs the veterinarian technician program. But his new assistant is a flirty, sexy woman whom every woman at the college, including Marabella, is ready to kill – or at least, do her harm. (subplot) Another problem in Marabella and John’s relationship is that his pets are three large St. Bernard brothers. Marabella hasn’t told him that she’s terrified of creatures larger than a breadbox, with too many legs or no legs. Even worse, she hasn’t told him about her ghostly roommate, whom no one can see or hear except Marabella and her cat ….

To make the story work, the dreaded outline includes these relationships, what’s happening with them, how they related to our M.C., how are they moving the story along, and often leading to a subplot or two. Oh, and of course, everything leads to a climax and we find out whodunit.

Now you know why and how this proud pantser uses an outline to save her mystery novel.

by Sandra Gardner

When Marabella’s favorite neighbor, Sam, dies, everyone -- including the NYPD – thinks it was natural causes. After all, Sam was pushing 80, with a heart condition. But Marabella knows his heart problem was mild and under control with medication. And she’s already acquainted with Sam’s greedy relatives, so she doesn’t think there’s anything natural about it. Neither does her sleuthing sidekick, her mother-the-ghost-detective, who recently dropped back into Marabella’s life, happy to interfere again. Marabella and her mother vow to track down the killer by investigating the heirs to Sam’s considerable estate. Can she and her mother find the killer before the killer finds her?

More information about Sandra Gardner and her books is available on her Website

Grave Expectations, book 2 in the Mother-and-Me Mystery Series, was published by Black Opal Books in December, 2018.

Print and e-reader copies are available from:

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Tuesday Special: Loveless Arrow

Lynn Hammond  

by Lynn Hammond
Victoria Price likes nothing more than to be in her deer stand, hunting for her next trophy hunt. She is only in her twenties and owns her own hunting show. Everything is great except her next-door neighbor has been an asshole since his wife died. He blames Victoria and her love of the outdoors for the tragedy.

Keith Thomas has spent two years hating his neighbor. Without her, Holly would never have wanted to go hunting, and she would still be alive. And now, with another season about to start, Victoria in her hunting gear will be taunting him every day.

Or enticing him?

One dangerous act will force these two together, but nothing good can come of this. Or can it?

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Lynn Hammond works fulltime as an LPN but writes at night. She lives in Rock Hill, South Carolina. She is an RWA member. She loves to make children’s tutu's in her spare time. Every night before bed she takes time to read. She loves romance, paranormal romance, and erotica. She is a proud mother of three beautiful girls, two beautiful grandbabies, two boxer pups, two lizards, seven ducks, and loves spending time with her husband riding in her father’s old corvette. She is a new author writing New Adult romance and would love to hear from readers. You can contact her at To find out more, please visit her Facebook page.

Monday, January 14, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Monday Morsels: Waiting For You

Waiting for You
by Rose Grey

     “Is he dead?” The child’s tone was a blend of delight and disapproval.
     Startled, Aidy Jones cried out as the back of her head cracked against the underside of the table. Hotel furniture was unforgiving in the best of times, but this mahogany behemoth, one of three antique sideboards lining the second floor corridor of The Grand Hotel of Demerest Cove, was remarkably hard on the head. She gritted her teeth and concentrated on rubbing the sore spot. It wouldn’t do to snap at the child of a paying customer. Preston hadn’t meant to startle her, but he did have a habit of appearing unexpectedly at the most inconvenient of moments.
     “Can I see?”
     Aidy crawled deeper under the table, purposely blocking the boy’s view. The situation was exactly as bad as she had feared. She would have to come back with a shovel to deal with this problem, but she couldn’t do that until she got her six-year-old witness out of the way.
     “Preston,” she said. “I think I hear your mother calling you.”
     The boy squatted and cocked his head for a moment. “Nope,” he reassured her. “I didn’t hear anyone.”
     “Well, I did,” Aidy lied.
     “Preston Hubbard Sturgis!”
     “Oh, thank God,” Aidy muttered.
     Magenta running pants over puffy sneakers arrived beside the boy. “Bath time.”
     "But I wanna see!” the boy said, wriggling ineffectively against his mother’s implacable grasp. “You never let me –”
     “You shouldn’t bother Ms. Aidy when she’s working, Preston,” Mrs. Sturgis said, leaning over herself to peek.
     “Just retacking the carpet.” Aidy tapped the wall in what she devoutly hoped was a sufficiently hammer-like sound.
     “But I saw a –” Preston protested.
     “Preston told me he saw a mouse,” Aidy interrupted. “But I am embarrassed to say it was just a dust bunny. I’ll be sure to speak to housekeeping.”
     “It wasn’t a dust bunny,” Preston said.
     “Look, Preston.” Aidy edged her head out from under the table and extended a hand filled with an ancient dust ball toward the little boy.
     “Ugh.” Mrs. Sturgis pulled the child away. “At least it’s not a mouse. I hate mice.”
     “I don’t,” Preston said. “I like them. I wish I could have one for a pet, but you always say –”
     But whatever Mrs. Sturgis always said was mercifully swallowed by the firmly closing door of the Sturgis family’s suite.
     Aidy breathed a silent prayer of gratitude and crawled out from under the table. She sat with her back to the wall, legs stretched out on the faded carpet of the corridor. It was not a good sign when showing a handful of dust bunny to a guest was the best option available. Something would have to be done. The paint in the hallway was peeling, the carpet was threadbare, the lights flickered every time there was a storm, the ceiling was stained from a leak no one had been able to find yet and now this. She rubbed her face, tired just thinking of the work that would have to be completed before The Grand was up to par.
     Since Aidy had taken charge of The Grand for her parents eight years ago, she allotted herself exactly five minutes of self pity at the end of each day. Unfortunately, it was only mid afternoon now. If she had her pity party now, she wouldn’t be able to truly indulge when the inevitable big catastrophe occurred. Because as sure as shooting there was bound to be one.
     She sighed and clambered up, brushing the ancient carpet fluff from her slacks. She must have an appropriate container somewhere. Something opaque would be best. She headed toward the garden shed first, dubiously eyeing the selection of rusty implements before settling on an ancient spade. Then she stopped at the dumpster which had unfortunately just been emptied. Darn. She detoured to the kitchen.
     Barney, the chef, shot her a grin as he deftly assembled a series of platters and shoved them toward bustling underlings. She had a sudden clear image of him propping her six-year-old self on a high stool so she could whip her own small bowl of cream next to his enormous one. He would place his hand around hers to show her how to handle the whisk and then would let her lick up the results without comment as he created a mountain of the stuff in his own bowl. The man was seventy-five years old now, but he still moved the way he had when Aidy was a child, his hands a blur of efficiency.
     The staff was in full cry as they dealt with the daily lunch rush, but Barney maintained a cheerful patter without breaking rhythm.
     “Aidy, love, what do you need?”
     “A box, if you have it,” she said.
     “Check the back.” He gestured cheerfully. “It’s a big one.”
     Big was an understatement. Barney made desserts for the dining room on a daily basis, but the hotel had an arrangement with Johnson’s Bakery to provide baked goods for large events. The white cardboard box was now slumped next to the recycling bins near the exit. Because it had held a vast sheet cake for the Rotary Club’s meeting, the box’s insides were rimed with frosting in lurid colors. It smelled like sugar and imitation butter. The cardboard was a bit soggy, but Aidy couldn’t afford to waste time looking for an alternative. She shuddered to think of the ramifications if Preston or his mother were to arrive back at the scene of the crime before she did. The Grand couldn’t afford to lose any more guests.

Want to read more?

Durrell Brothers Trilogy, Book 1     When Max Durrell books a room at The Grand, Aidy Jones, hotel manager, signs up for a dating service. Aidy knows what she needs and Max Durrell isn’t it. Her ideal man is attractive enough to have children with but not attractive enough to fall in love with. Ideally, he’ll also have some roofing skills.
     Max Durell has returned to Demerest Cove to accomplish a lifelong dream. The Grand isn’t on the market yet, but convincing the eccentric owners to sell should be a piece of cake. His brothers will take care of the transaction. Max’s job is to flirt with the owners’ daughter so she doesn’t interfere.
     Flirting is easy. It’s the friendship that’s the problem. He can’t help enjoying Aidy Jones and while he’ll never fall in love again (Been there. Bought the tux. Bride never showed up.) he is falling in like with her. Deeply in like.
     But any day now, the sale will go through. And once Aidy learns Max is the one tearing her beloved hotel away from her, she’ll never want to set eyes on him again.

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