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Breaking In: Voice by Karen Dionne

All agents and editors look for different things in a manuscript. For authors hoping to sell their novel to a major publisher, this variety of tastes and opinions works in their favor: one man's trash is another woman's treasure. But one item comes up over and over again: Voice. The reason is simple. Readers are going to have to live with that narrative voice for two or three hundred pages, so the author's voice needs to be as captivating and compelling as ...

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Creating The Perfect Predator: Tricks of the Trade from a Forensic Psychologist by Mary Kennedy

The Thursday afternoon group therapy session was held in a small, cramped room on the ninth floor of the forensic unit.  It was a hot August day, and since the shatter-proof windows were nailed shut, the room was hot, humid, and eerily still. The group  members–all  men, all convicted of violent crimes, including rape, battery, incest and  murder–watched warily as I slipped into an empty folding chair near the door.  It was my first week as staff ...

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Authors – Looking for a Mentor? Here’s How to Find One by Karen Dionne

Early in my writing career, there were two people who I consider mentors. Both were New York Times bestselling authors. One worked with me for over a year, the other, only once. Both were instrumental in helping me take my writing from promising to publishable. I met Gayle Lynds in 2005 at a mystery writers conference in Chicago. Later, after she kindly agreed to read the first 50 pages of my agented-but-not-yet-published novel, to my surprise, she called me on the ...

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First Draft Terror by Suzanne Chazin

I recently started the first draft of a new novel. This instills in me all the self-confidence of two virgins in a MINI Cooper. I’m sweaty and awkward. I don’t have a clue where anything goes. And I’m already questioning my choice of vehicle. First drafts are scary. There’s so much expectation—and so much disappointment. Scenes lumber off in the wrong direction. The writing feels clumsy and artless. The story confuses. Or worse, it bores. I compare the ...