Monday, September 29, 2008

My Lucky 13 Tips for Dialogue

Today I'm proud to be a guest blogger at a site maintained by four published murder mystery authors. Surf on over to the Murder by 4 blog to read my 13 tips on writing dialogue. Pick any one of them to serve as my Tuesday Tip for Writers this week.

Be sure to browse all the great entries on this blog and bookmark it. It's one of the blogs I routinely visit.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dark Knowledge Earns Silver

DARK KNOWLEDGE, the novel I describe as Flowers for Algernon with a Dean Koontz twist, placed 2nd in the 2008 SouthWest Writers Contest in the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror division. The judge was an editor with The Penguin Group, and she had some nice things to say about my submission. I'm a happy man.

My record in contests ain't bad. I've entered four novels over the years and won twice--first place for ABOVE HALDIS NOTCH in '04 and this second place win for DARK KNOWLEDGE.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday's Tip for Writers - #1

My inaugural Tuesday's Tip for Writers is about dialogue.

TIP #1: People don't routinely address each other by name in conversation. A character may say a name in greeting, to get someone's attention, or to make a point, but it's not natural to keep calling someone by name.

"I see what you mean, Tom."
"Do you? Do you really, Margaret?"
"Tom, would I lie to you?"
"No, I guess not. I didn't mean to question you, Margaret. Forgive me?"

I frequently see this done in the novels and stories I edit, and I think I know why. As long as a character keeps calling the other by name, the author doesn't need to use dialogue tags to make it clear who's speaking. Now I'm all for eliminating unnecessary dialogue tags, but this isn't the way to do it. Sit in a public place and listen. You rarely hear one person address another by name. If your characters do it, it'll ring false to your readers.

This tip is one of 13 in my article "My Lucky 13 Tips for Dialogue." You can read the full article beginning Monday, September 29th, at the Murder by 4 blog. But don't wait until Monday to visit the blog. It's run by 4 murder mystery authors, and it's full of great advice for writers. Visit it anytime and bookmark it. It's updated often.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Friends in Print: Melody Groves

Melody Groves is a celebrated western writer, currently celebrating the release of the second novel in her Colton Brothers saga. SONORAN RAGE follows the release earlier this year of ARIZONA WAR, and there's already a third in the series being readied for publication, BORDER AMBUSH. More are in the works. It's a highly entertaining western series, stories of yesteryear written for today's readers.

In addition to the Colton Brothers series, Melody has a non-fiction book out about Rodeo, and she's working on another non-fiction book about historic bars of the southwest. She also writes for various publications.

When she's not busy writing, Melody is a gunfighter. And if you meet her, be sure to ask her about her experience riding bulls in rodeos. She's almost as interesting as the characters she creates. Check out her website and order a book or two.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blogs of Note: Cafe of Dreams

There's a book giveaway going on over at the Cafe of Dreams blog for the novel I blogged about a few months ago, DEAD WITNESS by my friend Joylene Nowell Butler. If you haven't already purchased a copy, why not enter to win one? Just visit the Cafe of Dreams blog and leave a comment where indicated before the drawing on September 24th. There's also a review of DEAD WITNESS and an interview with Joylene.

If you miss the September 24th deadline to register for this giveaway, consider visiting the blog for their book reviews and author interviews. They appear to have regular book giveaways too. What a deal.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Me, Music, and MySpace

I spent part of Labor Day weekend messing with my space on MySpace. As expected, I had fun blurbing my upcoming novel and adding images of my novels-in-waiting. What I didn't expect was that I'd have so much fun adding music.

I started with one song for background music. I'd never heard the song before, but it seemed unoffensive. Now there's a fine quality for a song, right? But as unoffensive as it was, I got tired of hearing it while I messed with my profile, so I replaced it with a few songs I wanted to hear, ones that make me turn up the car radio, drum my fingers on the steering wheel, and intentionally miss traffic lights so I don't reach my destination before they end. Hearing those songs triggered memories of other songs I suddenly needed to hear, and I'd go off into the Internet to find them and expand my song list. As of yesterday, I have 24 songs on my playlist. I find myself visiting my profile just to listen to the music, so I imagine I'll add even more soon.

My musical tastes are mired in the past. Many songs on my playlist are from the 80's. Some are older. There are a few more recent selections, but I think only one song is less than a year old. Ah well. These are songs I love.

Do you think the selection of songs on our playlists reveals something about us? If so and you want a peek into my personality or just want to enjoy some great songs (all right, classics), wander over to my MySpace profile at

Happy toetapping.