Jess is best known for her critically-acclaimed Murder-by-Month mysteries, which have earned multiple starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist, the latter calling her writing “a splendid mix of humor and suspense.” She is a tenured professor of creative writing and sociology, a recipient of The Loft’s 2014 Excellence in Teaching fellowship, and leads interactive writing workshops all over the world. Salem’s Cipher, the first in her thrilling Witch Hunt Series, hits stores September 2016. You can visit her on Facebook or Twitter.
Shannon writes the Kate Fox mystery series (September 2016 from Tor/Forge). Stripped Bare, the first in the series, features a sheriff in rural Nebraska and has been called Longmire meets The Good Wife. Baker also writes the Nora Abbott Mystery Series, a fast-paced mix of murder, environmental issues and Hopi Indians published by Midnight Ink. Baker was voted Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2104 Writer of the Year. She writes from the Colorado Rockies to the Nebraska Sandhills, the peaks of Flagstaff and the deserts of Tucson. Visit her on Facebook or Twitter.
Giveaway! Jess and Shannon are each giving away a book. Give us a one-line bit of writing or life advice you treasure, or leave a comment for a chance to win.
The Writing Tricks We’d Be Naked Without
All writers have a bag of tricks up their sleeve, a bag so weathered from desperate rifling that it’s a wonder it doesn’t fall apart. Today, Jess and Shannon—who’ve published 19 books between them—share the tricks they wouldn’t write without. Some they came by honestly and others they stole.
Shannon says…Write From Beginning To End
I know there are writers who will disagree with me on this one, and everyone gets to do it their own way. But I gallop from page one to the end. I don’t go back and edit along the way, even if I need major revisions. I make buckets of notes and catch it all on the second draft. Here’s my reasoning: chances are, I’ll end up revising the revision as I get to know my story and characters more intimately. I throw away earlier notes and replace them with better ideas. Plus, I hate to lose momentum, because, like Jess, I have a 2000 word a day train chugging and I don’t want it derailed. Revisions take a whole different quota.
Jess says…Word Count Vs. Time Count When Writing
Always give yourself a daily word count when you’re writing. If you err and give yourself a time count, say two hours in the chair, you’ll find yourself justifying “awful plastic surgery” and Awkward Family Photos as “legitimate research.” It took me a year of flailing in this manner to update my method. Now, I write 2000 words a day, five days a week (with time off for good behavior), which results in two books a year.