Wednesday, September 5, 2012


It's release day for MAKING STORY! This collection of essays from twenty-one writers on how we plot is the first in a series of writing books that will address all sorts of writing topics. Collectively, these books will be known as the Twenty-one Writers Project. Our first installment addresses plotting methods. Some writers are outliners. (I envy them.) Others are "pantsers," who write by the seat of their pants. (I envy them too.) Some, like me, fall messily in the middle.
Our range of approaches are shared candidly in this collection, compiled and edited by Edgar- and Macavity- nominated thriller author, Timothy Hallinan.
I'm so excited to be part of this, and I hope that those of you who enjoy writing will check out the new book.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ebb and flow

It's been an interesting summer, writing-wise. Shortly after I finished the third Emily Locke novel, my publisher discontinued the series. I didn't see that one coming.

But the news isn't all bad. The hole that opened in my schedule offered time after work and on weekends for other pursuits, and it's been an otherwise fun summer with my kids and friends. I slowed down a little and found time for more moments like the one pictured here. Those feet belong to my daughters. We took our first camping trip.

And I haven't given up on that manuscript yet, although I'm not exactly sure at this point what I'll do with it.

Tim Hallinan is editing a new book, Making Story, that includes contributions from twenty-one writers about various approaches to plotting. I'm honored to be in such amazing company with authors Brett Battles, Cara Black, Lisa Brackman, Rebecca Cantrell, Jeffrey Cohen, Meredith Cole, Bill Crider, Jeremy Dunn, Leighton Gage, Gar Anothy Haywood, Wendy Hornsby, Debbi Mack, Mike Orenduff, Stephen Jay Schwartz, Zoe Sharp, Jeffrey Siger, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Kelli Stanley, Michael Stanley, and, of course, the tireless Timothy Hallinan.

The project is super neat, and the authors' perspectives are as unique and interesting as their novels. I hope that those of you interested in writing will check it out. I'll post updates on Making Story as we go forward. It's coming very soon!

My day job has me writing lately too--proposal efforts and peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts. I like the variety, and what's interesting is that I'm still writing these days, just different stuff. So my lesson this summer has been the one about what happens when one door closes...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I turned in the book!

It's a gut-twisty feeling. This must be what a guy feels like right after he asks his girlfriend to marry him. There is the thought, "This could be the best day ever!" but it's mixed with "Pleasepleaseplease don't reject me and make me cry like a little girl."

There is happiness with a finished draft. There is anxiety about the impending revision letter. Like last time I'll post any non-plot-spoiling editorial comments here on the blog to help demystify the publication process for those of you who are headed down this road.

One funny thing. It's been so long since I've turned in Dead Lift that I couldn't remember my own pre-submission checklist items. I had to look them up in the blog archives.  While looking, I rediscovered Ode to Revisions from back in 2010. Apparently, I'd blocked it from memory.

A coincidence, or perhaps not, is that both Ode to Revisions (2010), which I have no recollection of writing, and Ode to First Draft (2012), which I do, include the phrase "wear me down" in the first two lines. Apparently this is a running theme with me.

Maybe revisions kill more brain cells than alcohol.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ode to First Draft

by Rachel Brady

First Draft, our road has never been easy

You wear me down and make me queasy

I yearn for you, pursue you still

You never call when you say you will

We agreed on a year, you showed up in two

What the hell is wrong with you?

Plot holes, time warps, misspellings, grammar

Flat dialogue, word choice, scenes that ramble

Implausible twists, sagging middle

Cannot believe I wrote this drivel

Second Draft's handsome, Third Draft is smooth

Final Draft's sexy and confident too

You are a Two. Those guys are a Ten.

Why can't you just be more like them?

Instead you are stubborn, messy, and crude

Always late and in a mood

You don't comb your hair, your prose does not flatter

And your word count? My God. Yes. Size does matter.

You drive me to drink and complain all the time

Since the day we first met, it's been whine whine whine

Yet I tolerate you, inconsiderate ass

Because you clean up nice on the second pass.

The End

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Win a book contract. Get a free book. And one other thing.

Prepare for Random, folks.

1. If you are a mystery or suspense writer who is trying to get published, please don't miss an amazing opportunity offered by Poisoned Pen Press. The Discover Mystery Contest is open through April 30th and the publisher is looking for new blood!

2. In my last post I mentioned that I received two courtesy copies of Now Write! Mysteries: Suspense, Crime, Thriller, and Other Mystery Fiction Exercises from Today's Best Writers and Teachers from its publisher because I was one of the contributors to the book. Yay! But the deal is, I'm an OCD clutter-phobe, minimalist sort and the second copy is creating issues. It needs a new home. If you will feed it and walk it, it's yours. Just leave a comment below to let me know. If more than one of you are interested I'll figure something out. Just check back here in the comments. We may have a drawing on our hands.

3. Finally, I've just discovered Erica Spindler. Have you read her? I'm glad I'm finally aware of her wonderful books. Good stuff.

I hope you all are having a wonderful week and that your projects are behaving.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Guest Appearance in Now Write! Mysteries

The other day I received a package in the mail from a New York publisher. Packages are fun!

In 2010 I was invited to contribute an exercise for this compilation and it was about this time last winter that the submission was due. I polished it and sent it off. Then life happened and things got busy, as they will, and I lost track of the production schedule for it.

And then, suddenly, books in the mail!

My exercise, "No Sloppy Seconds: Write a Purposeful Supporting Cast," is squeezed between the covers with others from many of my favorite writers and friends, including: Stephen Jay Schwartz, Gar Anthony Haywood, Diana Orgain, Kelli Stanley, Tim Maleeny, Rebecca Cantrell, Meg Gardiner, Twist Phelan, and Bill Crider.

It was an honor to be included, and I love seeing the finished product.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mystery Writers of America University: New Orleans, October 1

Now a plug for my friendly neighborhood writing organization:

Mystery Writers of America University (MWA-U) is a full-day, low-cost writing seminar designed to teach folks the essential skills needed to write a novel. The workshop covers everything from the idea stage to the final edits. Here, college level courses are taught by published mystery writers who are also experienced teachers. Topics include:
After the idea

  • Dramatic structure and plot

  • Setting and description

  • Character

  • Editing

  • The writing life

The Southwest chapter of MWA will host this workshop on Saturday, October 1st in New Orleans. If it interests you, please click here for more information.

Happy writing!