Writers are a peculiar group of people.

We can spend hours discussing the merits of the semi-colon versus the comma. We love talking about when to use the em-dash instead of a hyphen. We have to know about tabs, quotation marks, indents, and italics. We’re taught to make every word count, and we worry (sometimes quite a lot) about finding the perfect word. In a book of ninety thousand words, that can add up to a heap of worry!

We also must have something to write about. We need a story. And not just any old story, it has to be a good story.

Once we have even a vague notion of the plot, we have to consider things like pacing, story arc, characterization, and dialogue.


Contrary to what some people believe, good writing doesn’t just happen. The next time you read something–a novel, an article, a short story, the back of the cereal box– picture the author sitting at the computer, or with pad and paper worrying about pesky adverbs, em-dashes and realistic dialogue.

Writing, like any art form is work.

It takes dedication and butt-in-the-chair time to get good at it. One of the most gratifying things for me (other than those scintillating em-dash conversations) is to watch a writer turn into a darned good writer.

Twice a month on Thursday evenings I join two or three of my writing buddies at a mystery critique group. We call ourselves The Red Herrings, a nod to something else writers of mysteries must consider.  We’ve been meeting for a couple of years now, and have become better writers, and friends.

One of our members, Milt Mays has just published his first mystery/thriller. It’s called Dan’s War and I encourage you to have a look. Right now you can get it for your electronic reader at the ridiculously low price of $.99. Here’s the link.

If you don’t have an e-reader, you can download it and read it right on your computer. Think about it. It would cost you more in gas to drive to the bookstore or library, so it’s a no-brainer to download and read Milt’s baby.


What’s it about?

This is straight from the author:

Dan’s War is about the end of world oil … in two weeks. Abdullah El-Hamain, a high-roller OPEC member, hates Big Oil for polluting earth and killing his wife. His solution: sink or swim—end global warming by destroying the entire world’s oil supply in two weeks, using spiders and nanobacteria. Drawn into his apocalyptic scheme is Dan Trotter, a CIA computer savant without equal, but with Asperger’s-like syndrome that makes him a social goof. If Dan can only become a field agent in a real war he will become a hero like his father, breaking out of his geek job, and gain the respect from his wayward son, and roaming wife. Dan soon finds himself in the middle of an oil war, a war that his own computer program helped start. He strives to save our world, fighting inner demons, family problems, and reeling from an affair with a hot Marine. In the cataclysmic ending, Dan’s priorities are totally rearranged. From Vienna to Indonesia, Dubai to the bayou country of Louisiana, this techno-thriller is as international as it is current.

 Sounds good eh?

Here’s the thing: writing is solitary work. Most days it’s just you and your computer. That is until you put something out into the world for others to read. Then, introverted writers have to morph into extroverts to sell their book. Blogging, website development, and Facebook pages replace those quiet days at the computer.

I’d love to give my friend Milt a little boost this weekend. When he checks his stats, (and he will do this many times over the weekend) wouldn’t it be great to see a huge jump in numbers?

If you’re so inclined, download his book and have yourself a tall glass of lemonade and a really good read. You won’t be sorry!