Continuing Education with Michele Drier

My seventh book is languishing, mired in the dreaded middle third.

I know where I’m going to end up—although I haven’t written the last line yet—but the middle is a slog. Partially because I’ve had a few interruptions.

I write in two genres, traditional mysteries—not cozies and not thrillers—and paranormal romance. And my timeline is three books a year. I’m an unknown, still, and figure that since I haven’t had the “breakout debut novel” I’m better off with a quantity of work out there. All good quality, just unread, as yet.

One of my other hats is the secretary of my local Sisters in Crime chapter, Capitol Crimes.

We have about 50 members and are an active group. In 2012 we were the host chapter for the Left Coast Crime conference—lots of work and great fun.

And last weekend, I was the chair for our one-day Writers’ Workshop, with David Corbett, Allison Brennen and Simon Wood as presenters.

Great line-up, wonderful workshop and a fair amount of work. Threw my schedule out of whack for couple of weeks…not to mention getting up at5:30 a.m.on Saturday (not a morning person any more!).

I’ve always called myself a panster—I start writing at page one and just write through, finding characters and trailing down paths and detours until the last line. It makes for interesting writing and my characters surprise me by the tacks they take and some of their reactions. Nothing out of character, just nuances I didn’t realize they had.

So I wasn’t sure how much I’d come away from the workshop with—beyond sore feet and a mild case of exhaustion.

But I did.David Corbett talked about characters and motivation, about yearning and questing, about barriers for the protagonist and resolution and secrets that, when revealed, lead to healing. Heady stuff.

Allison Brennen is a true pantser, starting each book with no idea where she’ll end up. And she does, with 24 novels as well as short stories published. “Prolific” was probably coined for her. And she does it all while raising five children.

Simon Wood is a plotter. He puts together a chart of about 80 scenes, color-coded by action, lead, subplot, surprise, final action and reaction and a wrap-up. Because of his meticulous planning, he can write a book in four months.

All different people with different writing styles and techniques. I went into the workshop as a worker, watching for late registrants, checking for the lunch delivery, eyeing the clock for windup, and I ended up being a student.

I believe everything is continuing education. I’ll continue being a pantser with an idea of where I’m going, maybe somewhere closer to Allison with a little of Simon thrown in.

But the best take-away? Positive, close to raving, evaluations, still trickling in. One participant said, “Thank you for allowing me to be able to attend this wonderful workshop and also join Sisters in Crime.”

And we even had a small profit!

Now back to Labeled for Death.

Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home.  During her career in journalism — as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers – she won awards for producing investigative series.

Her mystery Edited for Death, called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review is available at Amazon. She’s working on the second book in the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Labeled for Death, out in spring 2013.

Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, is available in ebook, paperback and audible at ebook retailers.  All have received “must read” reviews from the Paranormal Romance Guild. SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story and Danube: A Tale of Murder are available singly and in a boxed set at Amazon, B&N and Kobo. The fifth book, SNAP: Love for Blood rated 5 stars, is now out. She’s writing SNAP: Happily Ever After? for release in summer 2013 and a seventh book in late fall 2013.

Visit her websitefacebook page,  or her Amazon author page.

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