July Meeting Will Focus on Social Media Tips for Writers

mouseclickBugged by your blog? Tormented by Twitter? Join Mystery by the Sea on Monday, July 13th, as we discuss how writers can use social media to promote their work, connect with readers, and interact with other writers.

The meeting will be held at the Greenbrier Library in Chesapeake from 6 to 8 p.m. in the upstairs meeting room. Writers of all levels are welcome to attend to ask questions and share their knowledge.

June Meeting Addresses Balancing Life with Craft

clock1Finding time for work, family life, and daily chores is a juggling act for everyone. Writers face a unique challenge in that they have to carve time from an already packed schedule to find inspiration, nurture their creativity, write, and promote their works.


At the Mystery by the Sea June meeting members shared some of their tips for staying motivated, getting inspired, and meeting goals. Here are some highlights from the discussion:

→ Work in intervals. If you struggle with staying focused, commit yourself to a set amount of time – 5, 10, 20 minutes – and write during that time period. When time is up, run an errand or complete a chore and return to your desk for another session.

→ Use index cards to keep your novels or longer pieces organized. Use different colored index cards or highlighters to distinguish between the various plots and subplots. Keeping track of your storylines will ensure all loose ends are tied up at the end of the novel. As ideas come to you, jot notes on the index cards so your thoughts will be available when you sit down to write.

→ Get more out of the time you spend doing routine chores by thinking about your writing as you work. Ruminate on a pesky plotline while loading the dishwasher after dinner or mull over the nuances of a character as you vacuum. When your body is active, your mind can be too.

→ Let music inspire you. Songs can spark an idea or an emotion that could be the beginnings of a novel, short story, or poem.

→ Find time in your day to write. One member told the group about how she writes and eats lunch in her car at work. That time is her time to create and let the words flow. When can you steal a few minutes for your writing?

→ Remember that writing is a privilege. Capturing your thoughts, feelings, and imaginings on paper in words is a joy to be treasured. Everyone has a unique voice that tells a story.

June Meeting to Cover Business Aspect of Writing

home officeHave you ever wondered how published authors handle the business side of their writing careers? Would you love to know the successful ways they have marketed themselves and their work? Join us Monday, June 8th, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Greenbrier Library in Chesapeake for our monthly meeting and ask group members all of your burning questions about the business of writing.

May Meeting Delves into the Three Ds of Writing: Dialogue, Description, and Details

At the May Mystery by the Sea meeting author Jayne Ormerod discussed the three D’s of writing: dialogue, description, and details. In case you missed it, here are some highlights.

Dialogue    Dialogue

1.) Keep your dialogue lean. Although you may be tempted to portray realistic dialogue, complete with “um” and “you know,” leave it out. If the words you are putting on the page are not true to the character or don’t advance the plot, hit delete.

2.) Don’t worry about getting everything right when writing your first draft, especially the dialogue. Get everything out the first time through, then go back to make corrections and add layers to your words.

3.) When it comes to attributes, “said” is not as overused as you may think. There are lots of words to use in place of good old “said,” but use those words sparingly. When using said, don’t fall into the trap of dressing up what you think to be a bland verb with adverbs. Phrases like “he said sadly” or “she said happily” are signs of lazy writing.

4.) Remember rhythm when writing. When emotions run high, dialogue is brief. Shorter sentences increase tension.

Description sunrise

1.) Always remember to focus on only what your point-of-view character can see.

2.) Avoid huge clumps of description. Today’s readers like short paragraphs and lots of white space. Leave the purple prose of 19th century novels in the 19th century.

3.) Keep descriptions, especially those of characters or their wardrobes, to a minimum. Give the reader a few brief clues about how a character looks and then let their imaginations do the rest.

4.) Weave description into the story instead of stopping the narrative to describe a person, location, or item.

5.) Remember to describe who and what your characters interact with through their eyes. The sunrise looks a lot different to a chipper early riser as opposed to a hung over night owl.


When it comes to details, is more really better? Just like Goldilocks, you have to decide what is “just right” for your writing. If you provide too few details you run the risk of losing your readers. If you provide too many, you will be burying your readers in an avalanche of details they may not be able to dig their way out of. Decide what is just the right amount of detail for your writing and stick with it.

May Meeting Topic

penMystery author and group member Jayne Ormerod will speak at the May meeting of Mystery by the Sea. The meeting will take place Monday, May 11th, at 6 p.m. at the Greenbrier Library in Chesapeake. Jayne, author of the Blonds at the Beach mystery series, as well as several short stories, will talk about the three Ds of writing: description, dialogue, and detail.

Writers of all levels are welcome to attend and learn more about the craft. Hope to see you there!

Post Event Wrap-Up: Coastal Crime Fest 2015

Coastal Crime Fest was held Saturday, March 28, at the Central Library in Virginia Beach. Mystery by the Sea members welcomed fans and writers of mysteries to spend a day learning about the craft, reconnecting with fellow Hampton Roads writers, and meeting new friends.

Maria Hudgins, author of the Dotsy Lamb travel mystery series, started the day off talking about the craft of mystery writing. She offered tips on how to plant clues in a mystery manuscript and provided insider insight on how to come up with an outline.

Maria Hudgins addresses the audience at Coastal Crime Fest 2015.

Maria Hudgins addresses the audience at Coastal Crime Fest 2015.

Jim Healy, a retired FBI agent turned writer, entertained the audience with tales from the Edgar J. Hoover-era FBI and answered numerous audience questions about his work, both past and current.

Sheryl Jordan, author of Manipulation, Money, and Murder, spoke to the group about her path of self-publication. Her book is a fictionalized account of a murder in her husband’s family. She detailed the years of work and the obstacles she overcame to get the book into print.

Sheryl Jordan spoke to the group about self-publication.

Sheryl Jordan spoke to the group about self-publication.

The program concluded with a self-defense demonstration from Marty and Pat Rogers. The couple, trained in numerous types of martial arts, talked about situational awareness and how to keep yourself safe. They showed the group how to defend oneself against an attacker, including several ways to use a cane as a weapon.

Gift baskets, generously donated by Mystery by the Sea members, were raffled off during the event.

Several gift baskets filled with writer-themed goodies were raffled off at the event.

Several gift baskets stuffed with writer-themed goodies were raffled off at the event.


Sergeant Dave Michalski Addresses Group at April Meeting

Sergeant Dave Michalski from the Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office was the guest speaker at the April meeting and Mystery by the Sea members were treated to an in-depth discussion of crime scene investigation. Dave’s talk included information on how police officers approach a scene, how they process a scene, how they conduct an investigation, and how they process evidence. Dave’s knowledge and respect for his topic was evident, as was his sense of humor during Q&A.

Portsmouth Sheriff's Department Sergeant Dave Michalski

Portsmouth Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Dave Michalski