Writer’s Toolbox

Welcome to the Writer’s Toolbox, a section I’ve included on the site for aspiring writers and those of you who are merely curious about the whole messy creative process. Here you’ll find articles I have written about the writing process and the resources that I find useful. Also available are the materials I’ve developed for two lecture series on writing. Once you click on an article or lecture name, there will be a slight delay while the pdf file downloads. This requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which you can download here for free.


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A Writer’s Blessing
Being married to an Irishman, I spend a great deal of time staring at the various copies of An Irish Blessing, found throughout our house. Fortunately, it’s a beautiful verse, well worth reading.

Then one day it occurred to me that writers could use a blessing, too. So I adapted the Irish Blessing into the following Writer’s Blessing, in honor of the 2004 Romance Writers of America Conference in Dallas, Texas. I hope you enjoy.

Confessions from a Research Geek
This short article includes tips for three kinds of research: primary, secondary, and hands-on exploration. From locating helpful publications to proper protocol for interviewing law enforcement experts, this article will walk you step-by-step through various avenues of book research.

Eight Ways Research Can Kill Your Novel
Covering the flip side of research, this quick list points out eight mistakes to avoid when incorporating research into your fast-paced novel. Remember, less is more, and too many experts can definitely spoil the broth.

Plotting the Novel: Otherwise Known as The Real Reason Writers are Neurotic
This article provides an in-depth guide to plotting your novel, including a section on how to fix pesky plot problems through playing “plot doctor.” If you’re anal, or really into creative uses of index cards, this is the article for you.

Seven Secrets of Romantic Suspense
This short article covers seven tips for writing a romantic suspense novel. For more information on writing romantic suspense, see the lecture series below.

The Villain: Developing the Diabolical Prima Donna
In this day and age of dark, gritty suspense, villains are people, too. Don’t miss this short article on how to make your villain as compelling-and frightening-as possible.

The Writer’s Tool Chest
This three-page guide includes a list of favorite books on writing, as well as some helpful writing organizations for the aspiring writer and some wonderful reference novels for researching suspense.

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Lecture Series

Click on the Lecture number to download it. This requires Adobe Acrobat Reader. Don’t have it? Download the Free Adobe Acrobat Reader here.

Conquering the Dreaded Synopsis: A Series of Ten Lectures
This in-depth lecture series, developed from a month-long class, covers everything from understanding the publishing market to writing a short synopsis to putting together a complete submission package. If you’re serious about marketing your novel, this is a good place to start.

Secrets of Romantic Suspense: A Series of Eight Lectures
Based on the shorter article above, this lecture series covers many writing basics, from proper use of setting to developing believable characters to creating cliffhanger plots. For any writer of popular fiction, this article should be fun.

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