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Writer's Knowledge Base

• Newsletter for MARCH 2012 •


Welcome to the March 2012 issue of the WKB newsletter.

Many thanks to Juliette Wade for her interview in last month's newsletter. This month we have an interview with author Margot Kinberg.

As promised, we're giving away a copy of Stephen King's "On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft" this month. The lucky winner is Ed L. Congrats!

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Until next time...

-- Mike Fleming

Our intention with the newsletter is to provide you with the most popular WKB articles from the previous month and to feature bloggers who have articles in the WKB. We'd love to hear your feedback on what you think should be in the newsletter.

The newsletter is broken out into the following sections:

Featured Blogger -- This section consists of an interview with a blogger whose work ranks among the most popular in the WKB. The questions are from Elizabeth.

Popular Links -- The most popular links from search results.

Getting to Know a Blogger -- The intention of this section is to highlight an author who has articles in the WKB and to showcase their most popular work. The selection is random.

Popular Links from around the Web -- This section highlights the most popular links as determined by popularity around the web and not just the WKB. See the first issue for how this works.

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Featured Blogger

Margot Kinberg of Confessions of a Mystery Novelist blog

What motivates you to write?

I write because I have stories in my mind that won’t give me any peace until I tell them. I know that may sound a bit melodramatic, but it’s true. I think of characters or situations, and I know I’ve got something that just has to be told. I also write because I know how much reading has meant to me through the years, and if I can give that kind of escape and pleasure to someone else – wow! That’s pretty amazing.

How has your background in academics and linguistics influenced your writing?

It’s actually had a fairly powerful influence. Academics are taught to focus their writing and not add a lot of “fluff” to what they write. So my fiction’s the same way. I don’t write long novels, and I don’t give a lot of description. In fact, I’ve had to teach myself to add enough “flesh” to what I write to engage readers.

As a linguist, I’m really attentive to language and the use of it. So I put a lot of thought into the way I write and say things. I like precision in language and that’s what I aim for when I write. Not that I always achieve it, but I do try.

Your knowledge of crime fiction is at the master level and you clearly love it. Would you say it’s your favorite genre to read? Will you continue writing it, or are you interested in other genres, as well?

First – thank you . That’s very kind. I really do love crime fiction and it’s most definitely my favourite genre to read. It’s varied, interesting, evolving and can be really intellectually engaging. If you look at the changes in the genre just in the last decade, you can see that there’s always something new happening. And crime fiction reflects our society and allows for really interesting commentary on it. Those are just a few of the reasons I’m such a fan of the genre.

I do plan to continue writing crime fiction; I’ve got a few plans for where I want to go with my Joel Williams series, and I’ll see where that takes me. Will I ever write in another genre? Possibly. I love historical fiction when it’s well-written, and I could see myself doing something along those lines. But right now, my focus is on making of myself a skilled writer of crime fiction.

Do you have a favorite crime fiction author that other mystery writers might not know as well and want to get familiar with?

I’m so glad you asked that. I could list all sorts of skilled crime fiction writers; I’ve been fortunate enough to read lots of excellent work, so in a way, this question is a hard one. But here goes. One writer I think should get more attention is New Zealand’s Paddy Richardson. She’s written two crime fiction novels, Hunting Blind and Traces of Red, and I sincerely hope she’ll continue in the genre. Her work has taught me a lot about creating compelling characters and building suspense without gore. She tells absorbing stories and writes very, very well and I’m happy to give her work some “air time.”

You balance family, a career, and writing. I know you’re an early riser. What other tips do you have for fitting writing into a busy day?

To be honest, that balance is something I’m always trying to work on, because it isn’t easy. One thing I do, as you mentioned, is get up early. That peace and quiet first thing in the morning (or for night owls, late at night) can be invaluable for getting ideas. Another thing that I do is accept the fact that I’m simply not going to have hours and hours per day to write. That way, instead of feeling frustrated that I don’t have a lot of time, I make use of what I do have.

Some things I’ve found to be helpful are:
  1. Always be ready to write. You may only have 10 minutes, so keep a pen and pad or laptop or something handy. Even a voice recorder can help you make use of short bursts of time.
  2. Try to find ways to multi-task. For instance, I write while the laundry is in the dryer. I plan a story or a scene while I’m driving. And I think about writing when my hands are doing “busy work.” Agatha Christie wrote that the best to time to plan a story is while you’re doing the dishes, and she has a point.
  3. Make it easy to find out where you left off. Highlights, adhesive notes, “flags” in documents and other strategies can help you find exactly where you were, so that you don’t have to waste time scrolling or flipping all the way through a story.
  4. Be content with just writing. Don’t take up too much time revising and editing until a story is done. I find I get a lot more done if I just write and then later go back and revise.
  5. Remember that you are a writer – make it a priority. By that I mean even if you only have ten minutes, use it. Don’t let a day go by without doing something. Otherwise you lose your creative energy.
I’m sure there are a lot of other good ways to fit writing into a day; those are just some things I do.

Where can we find you online and what are you working on now?

I blog at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist.... I’m also on Twitter (@mkinberg) and I have a Facebook Author Page. You can also find me at Amazon and Goodreads, among other places.

As to what I’m working on now, I’m actually working on two things. One is a nonfiction book about crime fiction. It’s not an academic book – not intended as a textbook. Rather, it’s a more (I hope) general interest book about the genre for those who are fans, and for those who aren’t yet fans of the genre ;-).

The other project I’m working on is my fourth Joel Williams mystery. I’m still in the planning stages, so I haven’t got a lot of detail written yet, but I’ve got the basic plot outlined.

Margot Kinberg is the author of the Joel Williams mystery series. She blogs at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist and tweets at @mkinberg.

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The Writer's Knowledge Base is the search engine for writers. It contains links to the writing-related articles collected and tweeted by  @elizabethscraig. The WKB is developed by Mike Fleming and powered by Hiveword which is his web-based fiction organizer.

Elizabeth Spann Craig is a published author who blogs at Mystery Writing is Murder and tweets at @elizabethscraig.

Mike Fleming blogs about technology and writers and tweets at @hiveword.

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