Writing the last word in a first draft brings joy to me and probably every other writer.
Dismay—call it the second-draft blues—follows the celebration. Much work remains to be done. How much? That’s almost impossible to say. Evaluating your own writing is difficult, particularly when you’ve just finished the draft.
That’s why I came up with a way to look at a manuscript objectively and judge how much revision it needs. I developed this visual assessment system years ago and have taught it in numerous nonfiction workshops.
I’ve adapted it for fiction. This week I shared the highlights on former judge and current mystery writer Debra H. Goldstein’s blog: https://debrahgoldstein.wordpress.com/2016/03/28/guest-blogger-carolyn-mulford-lookng-at-your-ms.
The December weather in New Madrid is mild when Thunder Beneath My Feet begins. Betsy keeps warm by wearing shawls over her wool and linsey-woolsey clothing. (Linsey-woolsey contains linen and wool or cotton.)
By January, the earthquake has destroyed almost all the houses, and the little group camping out at the Lawton farm prepares to cope with the cold by knitting mittens, making skunk- and coon-skin caps, and lining moccasins and boots with fur.
The prospect of trekking north into a much colder area forces Betsy to deal with the need for coats. One of the simplest to make is a blanket coat like the capote (cape) that had spread from the French fur traders to American hunters and Native Americans. One of the most popular was a white blanket with short stripes in red, yellow, green, and black.
These blanket coats still live today, some made much like the originals. I write about making the old and new in Lois Winston’s Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers blog at
Many people have forgotten—or never heard about—some of the most powerful and long-lasting earthquakes to ever hit North America. One reason is the epicenter was on the frontier, on the west side of the Mississippi River only a few years after the Louisiana Purchase. Even so, the quakes and severe aftershocks shook most of the country east of the Mississippi and southern Canada.
When the New Madrid earthquakes began on December 16, 1811, the destruction on land and the Mississippi convinced many of the people living in or near the little river port that they signaled the end of the world.
Just an obscure event we don’t need to think about? Wrong. I tell why on Suzanne Adair’s Relevant History blog. Those who leave a comment have a chance to win at copy of Thunder Beneath My Feet, my novel set during the months of quakes. To read the blog, go to http://bit.ly/1pIHEov.
You won’t find Show Me the Ashes in stores or libraries for a few days, but Five Star/Gale, Cengage shipped hardbacks to distributors March 16. The e-book went up immediately on Amazon.
In this fourth book in the series, former covert operative Phoenix Smith divides her attention between a cold case and a hot one.
Now running a foundation to assist crime victims, Phoenix listens to a desperately ill woman’s plea to prove her daughter was sent to prison because of a coerced false confession to manslaughter and arson. The sheriff then was the adored husband of Phoenix’s best friend, Annalynn. She has served as sheriff since his violent death. Phoenix begins a preliminary investigation without telling Annalynn.
With her term almost over, Annalynn focuses on solving a series of increasingly ominous burglaries. Naturally she enlists the help of Phoenix and Achilles, her K-9 dropout. Some wants Achilles and Phoenix dead. She must solve both cases to protect them and others.