Writer's Notes

5 Things to Know About Publishing Your Book

5 Things to Know about Publishing Your Book: True or False?

By G.P. Gottlieb

One: After writing and rewriting your manuscript thirty-seven times, you submit your final draft to 150 agents and/or publishers. You finally got a publishing contract, congrats! Now you can relax, scroll the internet looking for new boots, and read a juicy mystery set in Door County. True or false? False. Don’t be ridiculous – now you must start a list of followers, begin sending out a monthly newsletter, make sure your blog is up to date, and come up with a marketing plan!

Two: You start engaging with other authors, reaching out to bloggers about writing a guest post, seeking book groups and bookstores interested in a presentation, attending conferences, and sending out requests to be on podcasts and radio shows. You spend a couple weeks doing all that and scheduled 15 events, so you’re done! Now you can lie in bed after dinner and read a delicious historical mystery set in 1870’s England. True or false? False. It’ll take you two or three months, not just two weeks to reach out to at least thirty blogs and podcasts, and then you might have to wait weeks for responses.

Three: You’ve arranged to write 17 guest blogs and do 4 interviews on other writers’ blogs, so you list your characters and write about 500 words about what kind of pet each one has, how they like their coffee, and what their favorite kind of cookie is. Then you answer the interview questions for each blog, trying to sound cute and fun to be with. And that’s it. Now you can sit outside on the first warm day of spring, reading about a clever maid who solves mysteries in New York City. True or false? False. What makes you think that every one of those blogs gets thousands of viewers or that those viewers will whip out their credit cards to buy your book just because you wrote a cute blog post about how much your cats enjoy hearing you read out loud?

Four: You’re invited to participate in a panel discussion about music and literature because your latest book is about a psychopath who murders anyone who sings under-pitch. You can’t tell when the singing isn’t perfect, but your best friend takes it seriously and criticizes nearly every performance she’s ever attended. She loved all three of your books and has no idea that the murderer is based on her because you cleverly turned her into a man. When interviewers ask for the origin of your story, you tell them all about your friend and how her constant patter about “poor intonation,” and “scooping” inspired you to write the series. True or false? False. Absolutely not. Take that secret to your grave. Make up something about how your mom always said certain performers should be dragged through the mud, and you extrapolated from that.

Five: Your cousin introduces you to her author friend who self-published eight books in a cozy mystery series set in Skokie. You agree to read each other’s latest books, and hers turns out to be about a jittery Brittany Spaniel who solves murders in and around Oakton Park. Still, you agreed, so you write a brief review about how fun it was to walk down memory lane and give it 3 stars on Amazon even though it wasn’t worth more than 1. She gives you 3 stars even though your novel is complex, nuanced, and on a completely different level than hers, but at least it’s another review. True or false? True, but don’t worry about it, because Amazon will remove both reviews – they hate author swaps.

G. P. Gottlieb
Author of the Whipped and Sipped Mystery Series
Host, New Books in Literature, New Books Network
Mystery Readers Only Writer's Notes

Big News!

By Thonie Hevron

Last spring, I sent out word that I would be contracting with Indies United (IU) to publish my books. In May, I put out a post to that effect. Indies United is a fabulous resource for indie authors to publish their own work. Lisa Orban heads up a small cadre of professional help to facilitate that. She and IU have instrumental in getting many superlative indie authors into the market.

However less than a month after signing a contract with IU, I was offered a deal with Rough Edges Press (REP), an imprint of Wolfpack Publishing. I’d pitched my work to them before but got no result (hence signing up with IU). I really thought this house was the perfect home for my work. Turns out they thought so, too. The contract with IU was cancelled (IU includes a lovely escape clause for this type of circumstance) and I signed with Wolfpack Press.

My first assignment was a contract job for three novels written under their Christian Imprint, CKN Christian Publishing. In July, after the first manuscript was submitted, I signed a contract to have Rough Edges Press re-edit, re-cover, and re-publish my four previous novels, the Nick and Meredith Mysteries. They will all be re-branded as the Meredith Ryan Mysteries with a fifth book to follow.

I believe the timeline will take us through 2023. REP does rapid releases to keep the audience interested so stay tuned for updates here and on Facebook ThonieHevronAuthorPage!

Writer's Notes

To Serve, Protect and Write!

To Serve, Protect, and Write

Wow! I’m so honored to be included in this anthology. Authors from international law enforcement communities tell great stories on these pages. My short story, Johnny Walker, is included. Available on Amazon in print and ebook.

I also have a few copies. Contact me if you’re interested in a signed copy (signed by me only).👮🏻‍♀️

Writer's Notes

Guest Post

Guest Thonie Hevron

Today I’m a guest on the “Ladies of Mystery” blog with thoughts about ‘Be Careful What You Ask For.’ It’s not the cautionary tale you might imagine. Take a look: The Ladies of Mystery. Spend a few minutes looking around. Revisit old author friends and discover new writers at



Mystery Readers Only Writer's Notes

Coming up for Sonoma/Marin shoppers!

Great shopping for your holiday gifts with no supply chain worries!

This will be my second in-person event in the past many months. The day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 26 and Nov. 27 (Black Friday/Saturday), I will be at the Rohnert Park Holiday Arts and Crafts Faire (admission is FREE!) signing books from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Faire is at the Rohnert Park Community Center on Snyder Lane. With over 75 vendors, this is a wonderful way to do your holiday shopping. Local handmade goods to choose from, light lunch fair will be available. I’ll have my new release, FELONY MURDER RULE, for sale. It features a wild chase scene set in Petaluma!

Nick and Meredith Mysteries by Thonie Hevron
Writer's Notes

Exploring Your Character’s Closet?

By DiAnn Mills

September 10, 2021

Do you grab your readers by the hand and lead them into your character’s closet? What will you and the reader find? Is the character messy? Is the closet organized according to the type of clothing and color? Does it smell? What kind of boots or shoes does the character buy? Are they worn? Purse, backpack, or wallet? What’s their favorite color? Are the shelves layered high with memorabilia or collectibles? Does the character not have a closet?

A writer’s goal is for readers to experience our story vicariously through the characters and form a sympathetic bond. That means all of the assigned traits ensure the character comes alive. One way is to study the items their personal items. Stepping into the character’s closet allows the writer to explore—physically, mentally, and emotionally.


Glimpsing the choices made in clothing enlightens the reader to income, values, priorities, personality, and individualism as well as careers and hobbies. Those items are seen, touched, smelled, heard, and sometimes tasted. (A stash of chocolate hidden in a closet sounds good to me.)


Venturing into our character’s mental world after viewing a closet’s contents can reveal motivation, how the character processes life, more about their personality, and the inner secret-world not often visible to others. A character, unless suffering from a mental disorder, will not lie to themselves. The mental workings are a treasure chest of information.


Showing realistic emotions adds credibility to the story. A closet often shows how the character internalizes events and happenings through the seven universal emotions: surprise, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, happiness, and contempt. Study how items are arranged, even hidden.

Symbolism can represent the emotional realm when the character uses a tangible item to represent the intangible. Why has the character kept trophies from high school sports? A great-great grandfather’s rifle? His/her first dollar earned at a full-time career?

Look at an example below of how to incorporate the physical, mental, and emotional world of a character and write a deeper, developed story.

A female character’s closet is divided into two parts: business attire for an office job and camouflage from head to toe on the other. She believes in her job, but she is also an ex-marine. Discipline, training, and structure guide her thoughts and mindset. She prefers camouflage and misses her role as a marine. What’s holding her back from re-enlisting? What emotions have her in chains and why?

Every seen and unseen item in a character’s closet reveals more of the inner character.

Flip on the light in your character’s closet and see what’s inside. Every seen and unseen item in a character’s closet can reveal more about the inner character and insight into writing a deeper more developed story.

Besides a visit to the closet, how else can we writers enhance our writing by getting inside our character’s world?


Facebook: DiAnn Mills

Twitter: DiAnn Mills

BookBub: DiAnn Mills

Buy Link Amazon: Trace of Doubt


DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She is a storyteller and creates action-packed, suspense-filled novels to thrill readers. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.

Author DiAnn Mills

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is the director of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Retreats: Marketing, Speakers, Nonfiction and Novelist with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion for helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

Connect with DiAnn here:

Writer's Notes

Guest Post: The Road to Rejection

The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain by Elaine Faber

By Elaine Faber

Some years ago, I typed and mailed multiple query letters for my novels to traditional publishers. Some were returned with rejection letters, some actually with three to six handwritten words, e.g. Sorry! – Not interested! – You’ve got to be kidding! Many didn’t reply at all. Perhaps they just steamed the stamp off my self-addressed, return envelope to save and use again.

As time progressed, publishing houses preferred query by e-mail. No more opening envelopes, steaming off stamps or licking envelopes to return snide rejection slips for them. Now, my auto-rejection notices came by return e-mail.

Eventually, I found a couple of editors at small presses who requested the entire manuscript. One editor told me it contained too much romance, another, not enough romance. One editor loved the story, and suggested if I removed all the exclamation points and fragmented sentences, she’d reconsider. Another suggested I have it professionally edited. After I made all the suggested changes, paid to have it professionally edited and resubmitted the manuscript, none of the editors offered a publishing contract.

As I traveled this Road to Rejection, all those rebuffs forced me to re-examine my goals, re-evaluate my skills, and devote time, investment, and energy to improve my craft. Three different teachers taught me more about writing craft than I ever thought was possible to know. Surprise! You ‘don’t know what you don’t know.’ Which is to say, the early version of my novel probably wasn’t worthy of publishing in the first place. I revised, edited, re-edited, cut the story line in half, and fleshed out the characters and plot.

Looking back, I’ve come to believe that the Road to Rejection is not necessarily a pothole-riddled, mud-filled, weed-infested sticker-path meant to trip up and discourage new writers, (though it certainly does). Rather, it is a road of lesson-learning, character building and knowledge-testing meant to wean out the weak, ill-equipped writers, (of which there are many).

The Road to Rejection forces the committed writer to polish her skills and master what you ‘don’t know what you don’t know.’ This can be done by accepting critiques from knowledgeable writers, studying with individual teachers, and reading scores of books on the subject.

Your first novel is published? Congratulations. You’ve vanquished the Road to Rejection.  You now begin to market your baby. Fame and fortune must be right around the corner.

Wait! There’s another signpost up ahead? It’s called the Road to Frustration.

Synopsis of The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain by Elaine Faber

I intended The Spirit Woman of Lockeer Mountain, a story about a woman who drives a sewer truck, to be a humorous cozy mystery with funny circumstances. Overflowing toilets─ septic tank mishaps ─ a haunted bathroom fixture warehouse. Perhaps she’d unwittingly locate a rural marijuana farm.

Then an owl smacked into Lou’s window and the characters took over the story and completely changed its direction. Nate’s sister disappeared three months prior, following a minor MVA, but mysterious sightings of a woman and a mountain lion are reported. Nate’s constant obsession that his sister is amnesic, living wild in the woods with a mountain lion, is taking a toll on his budding relationship with Lou. Is the woman Nate’s sister, or is she the Native American Spirit Woman come to life, to help solve the town’s troubles?

There are troubles aplenty. Without input from the town, the government announced plans to build a mysterious medical facility nearby, along with a 100-unit housing tract, and a Wallynet big box store. Lockleer Mountain merchants are in an uproar, sure that such actions will alter the quaintness of town and destroy their small businesses. They intend to stop the government at any cost.

Then, a tragedy reveals that someone is selling illegal drugs to the local teenagers. Nate and Sheriff Peabody are challenged with a life and death decision when the reservation’s chief, White Cloud, threatens to take matters into his own hands. Can Nate and the sheriff resolve the troubling issues, or must the Spirit Woman and her feline companion help bring peace to the troubled town?

Author Elaine Faber

About Elaine:

Elaine Faber lives in Elk Grove with her husband and four feline companions. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Cat Writers Association, and Northern California Publishers and Authors. Her short stories have appeared in national magazines, have won multiple awards in various contests, and are in at least 16 anthologies. She leads a local writer’s critique group.

Elaine’s ‘Mrs. Odboddy mystery series’ has won annual awards with Northern California Publishers and Authors. Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary, and All Things Cat, an anthology of cat stories, won Cat Writers’ Association 2018 and 2019 Certificates of Excellence.

Elaine enjoys sharing highlights of her novels and her writing experience at author venues. She is currently working on two fiction novels to be published in 2021 and 2022.

More About Elaine’s books and where to find them:

Black Cat Mysteries: With the aid of his ancestors’ memories, Black Cat helps solve mysteries and crimes. Partially narrated by Black Cat, much of the story comes from a cat’s often humorous and poignant point of view.

Mrs. Odboddy Mystery/Adventures: Elderly, eccentric Mrs. Odboddy fights WWII from the home front. She believes war-time conspiracies and spies abound in her home town. Follow her antics in these hysterical, historical novels as a self-appointed hometown warrior exposes malcontents, dissidents and Nazi spies…even when she’s wrong.

The Spirit Woman Mystery/Paranormal/Adventures

The Native Americans believe the legendary Spirit Woman ‘protects the community.’ When Govt. demands create social unrest in a small mountain town, and drugs threaten the lives of their youth, the Spirit Woman and her mountain lion companion come to their aid.

Black Cat’s Legacy

Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer         

Black Cat and the Accidental Angel

Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary

NCPA Cover and Interior Design Silver award 2019

All Things Cat (anthology of short stories)

Mrs. Odboddy-Hometown Patriot      NCPA 1st Fiction 2017

Mrs. Odboddy – Undercover Courier NCPA 3rd Cover and Design 2018  http://tinyurl/com/jn5bzwb

Mrs. Odboddy – And Then There Was a Tiger      NCPA 2nd Fiction 2019

The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain

Writer's Notes

Good News!

By Thonie Hevron

News about the new book: for those of you who have been waiting for the Kindle version, it’s here! Now on Kindle! Felony Murder Rule $8.99 is where to come for news, book info and ordering, as well as a blog for mystery readers called (of course) Mystery Readers Only. Explore new authors and old favorites, usually less well-known but talented writers.

For authors, Writer’s Notes features tips on craft and culture. Learn what goes into the writing business.

For law enforcement memories, check out Street Stories. A great place for authors to find inspiration and for readers to get a glimpse into the day-to-day world of police officers, corrections and other specialty law enforcement positions. Great for story ideas and characterization.

On Facebook, look to ThonieHevronAuthorPage for announcements and appearances.

A review:

By Jonas Weisel

5.0 out of 5 stars 

Worthy addition to a solid mystery series

Reviewed in the United States on February 28, 2021

A great read. This novel is part of the Nick and Meredith Mystery series, but you don’t have to have read the earlier books to enjoy this one. The mystery has all the authentic police procedural details we’ve come to expect from the author. This story, though, is more personal for Meredith. She and Nick are married now and have a small child. When her father dies, the death brings back the pain of Meredith’s troubled relationship with him but also soon uncovers long-held secrets that threaten the lives of her and her family. The story is fast-paced, with a nice mix of action and character development. The villains are dangerous and ruthless and deftly drawn to make you feel the peril they pose. Hanging over the story, too, are the entanglements left behind by the father’s misdeeds and the way the past comes back to haunt the next generation. A worthy addition to a solid mystery series.


Read another short review from Jeane Slone, Local Author Distributor, on Facebook. Scroll to January 26th.



I’m honored that Felony Murder Rule is in the Book of the Moment Club! Thank you, Caleb and Linda Pirtle!


Blogs in which I’m the guest poster:

G. Cramer on March 8th, 2021

Lois Winston April 19th, 2021

Marilyn Meredith January 25th, 2021

Donnell Bell February 26th, 2021

C. Hope Clark article in upcoming April edition of Funds For Writers


I’ve also got a new host server and wasn’t able to export all those readers who have been following this site since 2014. If you like what you see, please sign up to receive the weekly (or so) posts from authors, readers, story tellers and me.

Writer's Notes

A Chat with Author George Cramer

By George Cramer

The Mona Lisa Sisters is a tender journey into the making of a family. The novel is full of careful historical detail and the pleasure of European trains and cities and plenty of mystery to keep the pages turning, but the greatest delight is Lura Grisham herself.

– Ramona Ausubel, author of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty

An enrolled descendant of the Karuk Tribe of California, George Cramer, brings forty years’ investigative experience to crime and historical fiction. He holds an MFA-Creative Writing Program from the Institute of American Indian Arts.

George conducted and managed thousands of successful investigations throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia. He kept his investigative skills honed by volunteering as a Missing Person’s investigator at the San Leandro, California Police Department.

In addition to the Public Safety Writers Association, George is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the California Writers Club. He is a contributing author to several anthologies and the Veteran’s Writing Project. Other than writing, his love is long-distance motorcycle riding his 2001 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic.

George’s debut novel, The Mona Lisa Sisters, was published in 2020.

When and how did you begin your writing journey? Before my sixty-eighth birthday, I was laid off from a fantastic job when H-P bought out Palm, Inc., beginning a journey through the world of age discrimination. One day, I saw a note about a writing class at the Dublin Senior Center—whose doors I swore never to cross. I took the class and fell in love with writing. Overcoming forty-five years of report writing was difficult. One day, the instructor randomly passed out photos to the class. “Take fifteen minutes and describe the scene.” I did not do as instructed. The second I saw the image of two young girls staring up at the Mona Lisa, I knew I was going to write a novel. In fifteen minutes, I had a rough sketch of what began an eight-year ride to The Mona Lisa Sisters.

I knew I needed help and formal training. For help, I joined the Tri-Valley Branch of the California Writers Club, followed by the Public Safety Writers Association. I went to the local community college for formal training, Las Positas, and pursued an English degree. I followed by the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for an MFA.

Writing at sea

IAIA introduced me to a group of superlative authors and mentors. My cohort mentors were Ramona Ausubel, Ismet (Izzy) Prcic, and Marie-Helene Bertino. These fantastic people guided my writing throughout the program and remain in my life.

Thonie asked about projects and what book I’m reading. That’s tough. For pure enjoyment, I just reread Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley. Two book clubs selected The Mona Lisa Sisters, so I’m reading eleven of the other books selected for the year. I’m reading a half-dozen other novels for a project I’m excited about.

When I began work on Mona Lisa, I set aside a thriller/police procedural spread over forty years, 1930 to mid-1970. I hope to have it published by the end of 2021. I’m also working my way through a crime trilogy. I never knew retirement would be so hectic.

The Mona Lisa Sisters is available through Amazon and the IAIA Book Store. You can reach me at and visit my blog at If you stop by, please leave a comment and follow.

Writer's Notes

6 Must-Know Online Resources for Writers

Desiree Vallena’s Online Writing Tools

By Desiree Vallena

Desiree is new to Writers Notes but is a welcome addition. I’ve been writing for many years but all of these tools are new and very exciting! I’m sure no matter how long you’ve been at the keyboard, you’ll find something interesting. ~~ Thonie

Whether you’re looking for educational content or a community, there’s never been a better time to be a writer — all thanks to the good ol’ World Wide Web. From the most granular details of craft (we’re talking word choice and comma placement) to the big picture of how to become a professional writer, there’s help out there for every step of the writing process.

With that in mind, today I want to introduce you to some tried-and-tested online resources that have helped me over the course of my writing career — from technical tools, to creative stimuli, to my productivity essentials.

1. OneLook’s reverse dictionary

If you’re anything like me, you sometimes find yourself completely unable to conjure a particular word you’re thinking of. The perfect word can be right on the tip of your tongue — or should I say fingers, since it usually happens while writing — but will somehow still evade you.

If this affliction troubles you too, I recommend trying out OneLook’s reverse dictionary. Just type in what you can recall (whether that’s a definition, a related word, or the vague idea) and OneLook will provide you with a group of suggested words, organized by relevance. A great quick fix for when you’re struggling to come up with the perfect… oh, what’s that word again?

2. Story Planner

There’s a lot of debate among writers over the best practice for how to plan a novel. From “pantsers” to “Snowflake Method” devotees, you’ve probably had enough of other writers trying to sell you on their way of doing things.

Luckily, Story Planner helps you wade through the sea of planning methods by letting you try them all on for size. Their different planning routes (which all come with a handy indication of how much time they’ll take) provide you with a framework to guide your process. It’s a straightforward, no-nonsense approach that will help you figure out what works best for you.

3. Grammar Girl

You’ve almost certainly heard of Mignon Fogarty’s powerhouse of a blog, Grammar Girl — and for good reason. If you’ve ever stumbled over a piece of grammar, or wondered what the rules actually are for using a question mark with parentheses (seriously, inside or outside?), Grammar Girl will lead you through it in an easily digestible format. Be sure to check out her podcast while you’re there!

4. Plot Generator

For the more fortunate among us, story inspiration can strike spontaneously, and in the most unexpected places. But what if an idea doesn’t just magically fall into your lap? Even the most creative writers can go through dry spells inspiration-wise, and that’s where the Reedsy Plot Generator comes in.

This page will automatically generate tons of unique story ideas for you. A word of warning: the ideas can be pretty random, so while you may not always find an oven-ready plot among its suggestions, this plot generator is a super-entertaining tool to get your creative juices flowing. You never know what might spark off your next big idea!

5. Critique Circle

One of the best parts of being online as a writer is the opportunity to access huge communities of like-minded folks. Critique Circle is one of the corners of the internet that provides just that. This online critiquing platform connects writers with fellow writers (and readers) who give constructive feedback, free of charge.

You have to provide three reviews to be eligible to post your own work for criticism, meaning the community consistently pulls its weight — and while the level of detail you receive from your critique does vary somewhat, Critique Circle is still a great place to get eyes on your work if you don’t have writing pals in real life. If you’d like to join this type of platform, be sure to check out Mary Feliz’s tips on how to be an asset to your critiquing circle here.

6. SelfControl

As Susan McCormick points out in her excellent guest post, there are ample sources of  distraction for the work-from-home writer: “the view outside the window, the dog angling for a tummy rub, the children clamoring for a snack or a game” and so on. And since we’re all stuck at home for the foreseeable future, how can we overcome these little daily disturbances? While it’s difficult to control external distractions, one thing we can do to maintain focus is limiting our online distractions. And there’s a tool for that: SelfControl.

No, I’m not just being passive-aggressive. SelfControl is the actual name of a browser extension and app, which lets you block certain sites for the set periods of time you choose. If you’re a chronic procrastinator like me, you can block out your main time-suck sites, whether that’s Facebook, YouTube, or cute puppy Pinterest boards. Fewer distractions equals more focus, so eliminating online noise should help you write faster and get more done!

I sincerely hope you’ve found these recommendations helpful, and that they’ve inspired you to explore new ways of using the internet to help you on your writing journey. Good luck!

Desiree Villena is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects self-publishing authors with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading contemporary fiction and writing short stories. She tries her best to take her own advice when it comes to writing, but couldn’t get by without her secret seventh tool: a strong cup of coffee.

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