Free Online Crime Writing Course

How to write crime fiction

Just thought I’d pass this along:

Free Webinar on how to write a crime novel presented by The Writers’ Academy at Penguin-Random House.  Thursday March 29.

It sounds interesting. 

Here’s more info:

Tasting Samples

All my bags are packed

I’m ready to go…

cayo largo

Besides, a rather small carry on, I’m taking along these books with me. Although my list may seem ambitious (even crazy) – especially for a one week holiday – except for a couple books, the rest are samples which I downloaded from Amazon to my iPad. I’m eager to get into them as I’ve read fantastic reviews for all these books. 

The Secrets of Married WomenOur Little SecretThe Perfect neighboursDon't Stand so Close

The Wife Between UsThe Chalk ManAdriftJourney to Death.jpgBecause she loves meThe Woman in the Windowbook-cover-the-perfect-nanny-by-leila-slimani The Memory Watcher

The Perfect Roommate Depth of Lies e.c. Diskin do-not-wash-hands-in-plates



Self-Editing Your Work

It’s my pleasure to have Kristina Stanley over to explain her latest project. Although she is well known for her mystery series she also is very much involved in helping authors sell their work. She is the author of The Author’s Guide to Selling Books to Non-Bookstores and her latest non-fiction is Fictionary – helping writers edit their first drafts.



I’m very pleased to be invited onto Carol’s blog to share my writing and editing journey. I’d love to tell you why we created Fictionary and how it can help you.

I’m an author who loves to edit, and I believe today’s author must be also their own structural editor.

The difficulty with editing is keeping track of writing knowledge, the time it takes, and the cost of an editor. So what if I could have writing tips focused on my manuscript, speed up the process, spend less money, AND write better fiction?

This is the story of how we created Fictionary.

What is the Fictionary?

 Fictionary will help writers turn a first draft into a great story by becoming their own big-picture editor.


With Fictionary, you can focus on character, plot, and setting. Fictionary helps you evaluate on a scene-by-scene basis or on the overall novel structure. Fictionary will show you the most important structural elements to work on first and guide you through the rewriting process.

Why a structural editing tool for writers?

Creating Fictionary began when I finished the first draft of my first novel. By then I’d read over 50 how-to-write and how-to-self-edit books. I’d taken writing courses and workshops, and had 100s of writing and rewriting tips swirling about in my head.

I knew I had to begin the editing process and improve the quality of my draft before sharing my work, but I didn’t know how to go about it.

My Worry:

How was I supposed to remember the torrent of advice and apply it to each scene? A spreadsheet, that’s how!

I created a spreadsheet with a chapter-by-chapter, scene-by-scene structure. Then I listed the different writing advice I needed to consider for EVERY scene. I ended up with over 75 “key elements of fiction”. I used the reports from the spreadsheet to visualize my novel.

The process I used was then developed into the Fictionary online tool for writers.

Did Fictionary Work For Me?        

After the hard work of self-editing, the quality of my fiction was validated when my first two novels were shortlisted for prestigious crime writing awards and I landed a two-book deal with publisher Imajin Books.

My first editor said: “If every manuscript was this good, my job would be so easy!”

The next exciting moment came when DESCENT, my first novel, hit #1 on Amazon’s hot new releases. Descent was published by Luzifer-Verlag in Germany, and I sold the audio rights to Auspicious Apparatus Press. Imajin Books also published BLAZE, AVALANCHE and LOOK THE OTHER WAY.

Building Fictionary

 I wanted to share my process, SO OTHER WRITERS COULD BENEFIT FROM AN IMMEDIATE APPROACH TO SELF-EDITING and rewriting first drafts. But who would want to use a spreadsheet?  Perhaps a fun, fast tool that helps writers visualize and self-edit their novels would be better.

I joined forces with author Michael Conn and business specialist Mathew Stanley, and we formed a company called Feedback Innovations just to build this tool for fiction writers.

You can find out more about Fictionary at

Turn Your First Draft Into A Great Story

You can try Fictionary for free (no credit card required) for two weeks.

Download our free eBook, BIG-PICTURE Editing And The 15 Key Elements Of Fiction, and learn how big-picture editing is all about evaluating the major components of your story.

I’d love to hear in the comments what your biggest structural editing issue is.

Thanks for reading.



Kristina Stanley the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Feedback Innovations: a company created to help writers rewrite better fiction. She is the best-selling author of the Stone Mountain Mystery Series. Her first two novels garnered the attention of prestigious crime writing organizations in Canada and England. DESCENT, BLAZE, and AVALANCE are published by Imajin Books. THE AUTHOR’S GUIDE TO SELLING BOOKS TO NON-BOOKSTORES is her first non-fiction book.


You can find her at:


How I Got Published: Thelma Mariano


Thelma Mariano began writing fiction in the confessions field, where she sold over 40 stories to women’s magazines (such as True Story, True Confessions and True Experience) put out by NYC publishers in the days of mass readership.

She also freelance edited at the corporate level of a major multinational and published dozens of articles in the self-development field, primarily on the Web. For ten years, she worked as a life coach and motivational speaker to help people overcome limiting beliefs and go after their dreams.

Fiction, though, is what makes her heart sing, both as editor and author.

She recently launched a website to offer her services as a Freelance Editor for writers of women’s contemporary fiction. She enjoys working with other writers to help them strengthen and improve their characterization, fix plot holes, and increase story tension. She values what wants to be expressed, whether working with another author or writing her own novels.


For Night Cries, I was offered representation by First Books, Inc., a Chicago-based literary agency, in 1994. They said they could sell it as “women’s mainstream” in the mass market but asked me to cut out two of my subplots and reduce the point-of-view characters from 4 to 2. At the time, I balked at the changes and put the book on the back burner. Twenty-three years later, I looked at the novel with fresh eyes and saw they were right! By then, the publishing world had gone through a sea change and self-publishing was a viable option. So I made the necessary revisions and put my novel in the marketplace.

A poignant novel about teenage sexual abuse and broken family ties … told through two sisters finding their way back to wholeness and each other.



For my second novel, ConneXions, I was represented by reputable literary agents in London as well as NYC. They told me that publishers wanted a focus on “the hunt for the serial killer” but I preferred to tell the story from the viewpoint of the potential victims he targeted.

It hasn’t been out on Amazon that long but has been selected as a Reader’s Favorite and given an excellent editorial review.

A dating site where lonely women have become prey … for a serial killer



My third novel, SeaStruck, is a paranormal romance (mermaid story) that first came to me in a dream.

In a race against time, a mermaid finds the perfect mate but an ancient curse binds her to another man.


For many years, I sold my copyright to publishing companies who bought my stories and published them without a byline, because that was “the deal” in the confessions market. With self-publishing, I feel I am taking my power back by maintaining control over my own material.  I decide on the covers and the content and keep my work on the market as long as I wish.

You can visit Thelma here and here.






Judy Penz Sheluk

I often feel overwhelmed with all the reading that is piling up on my Kindle, especially when I start a new novel and my Kindle reader tells me that the approximate time for reading the novel is 8 hours or more. Therefore, I was happy to download Judy Penz Sheluk’s collection of short stories – stories that can be read before going to bed or while sipping a glass of wine lying on a lounge chair.

Although Penz Sheluk is known for her Glass Dolphin Mysteries  and the Marketville Mysteries this collection of short stories demonstrates her skill as a short story writer.

  The stories are fast paced and unpredictable, filled with twists and turns that kept me swiping the pages of my Kindle and made me feel that, in such short time, I knew the characters.

If you’re pressed for time and looking for something fun to read  consider this collection.

In “Live Free or Die,” naive 21-year-old Emmy falls hard for 31-year-old Jack, an efficiency expert from New Hampshire who is not all that he seems.
In “Murder in the Marsh,” cyclist Carrie Anne Camack discovers more than she bargained for in the fertile farmlands of Ontario’s Holland Marsh.
In the final story, “The Cycopaths,” a triathlon team’s open-water swim training in Collingwood, Ontario, has deadly consequences.

For more on Judy Penz Sheluk visit her author page.





Moore Delivers Smexy

Brittany Carter must choose either to live in the present or in 1765. She cannot have both.

In her present, she is finally starting to reach her goals of fame, success and money. Her romance novels are bestsellers! But success does come at a price.

And that price is Mitchell Killgower.

Drop dead gorgeous and with a heart to boot. The man of her dreams, the love of her life, THE ONE she’s been waiting for her entire life.

But can she trust him?

Does she want to live in 1765 with all its inconveniences which she takes for granted in the present?

Is she willing to give up fame, success and money?

Moore is delightfully good at historical romances. With wit and intelligence she takes the reader back to Georgian England where bad-boy Mitchell is in the midst of an inheritance row when Brittany Carter  literally drops into his life.

With the romance between Brittany and Mitchell as veneer, Shehanne Moore smoothly makes her way through the power struggles between men and women – using as backdrop a feisty, strong protagonist with present day relationship values trying to apply them to the relationship values of a man living in 1765.

One of Buddha’s famous quotes is

Happiness is a journey not a destination.

The journey to arrive at the ending of The Writer and The Rake is complex, entertaining, amusing, reflective, smexy and made me happy as well.

 The Writer and the Rake is the latest in Shehanne Moore’s Time Mutant series.

Have you ever had to choose between a career and romance?





To find an answer to a problem, Bear Heart taught to face east and think about the problem, saying: “Grandfather Sun, you come each day to dispel the darkness. In that same way I ask you to shed your light so that I may see where to take the next step.”