I delivered my second book, the sequel to The Guilty Die Twice, back in early July. It was several months late, and a first draft. Like… a for-real, no-shit first draft. My previous book was a ninth draft by the time I submitted it to my publisher, so this one is eight drafts behind. It needed work.

Luckily, I know a fantastic developmental editor. I engaged him, and sent that first draft off like I was sending my firstborn to summer camp. Or Marine boot camp.

Today, I got the editorial letter back, along with the dev edits. I did a quick read of the letter, and I agreed with everything he said in it. I used to be an actor, I can take a note. My task for the next few weeks is to re-work that first draft into a really tight, gripping second draft.

Someone asked me recently how I deal with feedback from editors. I welcome it, especially when that feedback comes from someone whose judgement I trust. The issue I’ve seen with many successful writers is that people (editors, publishers, reviewers) stop giving them honest feedback. They can publish any garbage and someone will buy it, so that’s exactly what they do. I will work very, very hard to make sure that’s not my fate.

He also came up with a great working title that is now the real title: Innocent Blood.

I’ll keep posting on the process for this book, just like I did the last one.

Here is a very kind review of The Guilty Die Twice from a reviewer who doesn’t normally do review requests. She made an exception in my case and things worked out amazingly well.

Here’s the link to Haphazard Creative for the full review.

And here’s my favorite snippet:
‘I seldom read legal thrillers, but this story was so well done; it kept me enthused all the way through.’

I can’t think of a better endorsement than drawing in someone who doesn’t really read my genre. This is a serious win for me.

Okay, I’ll stop bragging for now. Back to regular posts tomorrow.

As of today, we have at least two and a half more weeks of ‘Stay Home, Work Safe.’ I normally work from home anyway, but now almost everything is shut down and I can’t go anywhere (versus just not being inclined to go anywhere).

I’m already losing my mind.

I thought I’d impart what little wisdom I have and share what I know about writing. Quick hits, nothing too extensive or involved. In the shallows, no deep dives. Okay, maybe only a few deep dives, no telling how this is going to work out in two and a half weeks.

Quick Tip #1 – people don’t really speak the way you have to write your dialogue.

Get on the bus some day and listen to the conversations around you. Or do the same at the airport, or in a restaurant, or a mall, wherever you’re not supposed to gather during this COVID-19 business. People speak in fits and starts, in incomplete sentences, and in unfinished thoughts.

You cannot write dialogue like this, no one would be able to follow it, or even read it for more than a few lines.

The secret to decent dialogue is to make it feel like someone might be speaking it, even though almost no one outside of a TED talk uses words like that.

So how do you do that, smart guy? How do you make complete sentences FEEL like genuine words coming out of someone’s mouth?

Well, that’s the art of the craft, isn’t it? You have to write dialogue over and over again. Say it to yourself, OUT LOUD, and get a feel for how your characters would say the thing you’re trying to get across.

Being an actor helped me tremendously, though I know not everyone can lean on that crutch. But I can guarantee that whenever you read dialogue that sounds stilted and wrong, it’s because the author didn’t – at a minimum – read that dialogue out loud to himself.

Join the community

This week my publisher begins our weekly author support group call.  I will detail this, because I think it’s an innovative way to build a community from people who will likely never meet in person.  If it works, maybe someone else can use the idea to their own benefit.


I have to move my websites to a different (better?) server.  It’s called ‘reprovisioning’ in IT double-speak, but what it really means is ‘pain in my ass.’  This particular site promises to be very, very easy, since Automattic has offered to do most of the work for me.  But we’ll see.  I’ve been working in IT for a very long time, and nothing is ever as easy as it seems.  This week, for instance, has been ‘Get Don To Do Stuff He Hasn’t Done In 15 Years’ Week.

I’m asking you to please, bear with me.  This site may be up and down the next few days, as this moving mess works itself out.  My post about tomorrow’s meeting may be this weekend, for all I know.  Things will smooth out eventually.  I hope.

In the meantime I’ll brush up on my old MS-DOS commands, because the way things are going I’ll probably need them.

Join the community