The Blog Hop Stops Here

Last month I was invited by Linda Williams Stirling who has a blog called, Ramblings of an Eclectic Mind,, to participate in a blog hop tour. I don’t like blog hopping but I love Linda’s blog and her eclectic mind. Since my blog is supposed to have information about writing, I sighed and said “ok.”

Linda Sterling

I had to find three people to jump on the blog hop with me. I guess everyone else must hate hopping as much as I do, because I only had two takers. The first was the incredible, ultimate Alfie Thompson and, bless her heart, she doesn’t even have a blog!!!!!

Second was the sassy, sidesplitting (from laughter), multi-talented Sunny Cole. Since the blog hop stops here, I’ve decided to have them answer the BIG FOUR QUESTIONS on my blog. You’ll read more about my MRW sisters later.


Now the hard part…my answers to the BIG FOUR about MY writing process.

1. What am I working on?

I’m working on a couple of things. First, I’m writing a self–help book on teen suicide. It’s for parents, siblings and friends who have lost someone to suicide. After my December blog, “Surviving Christmas Grief,” I realized there were lots of folks out there who have lost someone to suicide who weren’t finding any resources to help them cope with their grief. This is what the book is for.

And I’m working on my prequel to the Victims of Love series. It’s about an FBI profiler who runs across a cunning and prolific female serial killer. She has been killing since her teens and getting away with it. It’s set in 1986 before DNA when profiling was just taking hold as an investigative tool for law enforcement.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

My son Eric.

My son Eric.

In my non-fiction book my focus is on teen suicide because I lost my sixteen-year-old son to suicide in 1996. I know what others have gone through after losing someone and I’ve done extensive research on this topic since I lost my son. I found books which helped but a lot more that didn’t help at all. In fact some of the literature out there feeds into the stigma associated with losing someone to suicide.

This book will pull all the right information together and have resources where the grieving can go to find help. It explains the brain chemistry, hormones and depression of the adolescent. I haven’t found one book out there that emphasizes those topics and teen suicide. My book also focuses on societal views of suicide and the facts vs. myths associated with suicides.

In my Victims of Love series, my villain is a female serial killer named Jillian. In almost all serial killer books I’ve read, the villain is a man. If you read my blog than you know statistically men serial killers do kill more often than female serial killers, but female serial killers kill over a longer period of time. What makes better killers for me are the next-door neighbor types. Like real psychopaths, they hide behind a mask. Jillian Black does it with expensive clothes, a sexy body, a butcher knife and syringe hidden in her Gucci handbag.

3) Why do I write what I do?

Obviously I’m working on my nonfiction book because my son’s death has taken root inside me. Mental illness is hard for people to understand, and death is taboo to talk about. Suicide is the worst of all of these. Just hearing the word suicide gives most people an image of someone with a dark, tormented soul. It leaves an invisible “x” of guilt planted on the minds and hearts of survivors who loved them and are left behind. I want to change this. I want people to understand the un-understandable.

For my Victims of Love series, psychopaths fascinate me as they do a good percentage of the world’s population. Shows like, Dexter, Criminal Minds and my all time favorite, Law and Order Criminal Intent (which started my writing career of writing fan fiction) are incredibly popular. I love to figure people out. It’s what I did as a therapist and it’s what I want to do as a writer.

4) How does my writing process work?

My process for writing fiction has changed over the years. When I started out I just wrote what I felt without realizing writing is a craft. Some are born to do it while others learn how to do it. I’m the latter.

I still write what I feel, but I’ve learned there must be a reason for every sentence in a book. It took me a while to accept that some sentences I really love may not add anything to my story and must be deleted. I basically had to go back from scratch and think while I wrote. A total re-write for me. Now when I read some of the early things I wrote, I can’t believe I wrote so poorly!

Every chapter has to have goal, motivation and conflict in it. Any moron can write. I’m proof of that! But if you don’t have these three things, you don’t have a story anyone wants to read.

Writing nonfiction is easier for me than fiction. You must research both types, but with fiction you also need deep POV (Point of View) within your characters to make them real to the reader. In nonfiction you are basically the narrator of the facts. And I’m very good at that.

Luckily I have great support from my local writing group, Mid-West Romance Writers, and my on-line group KOD (Kiss of Death) that allows me to be in a critique group eloquently named Lethal Ladies. These ladies (and gentlemen) know how to bloody up a chapter in red! They keep me on track and focused. I’ve learned so much from them all. Thank you everyone! You ROCK! I’ve learned the most from my next guest, Alfie Thompson. In a fictional story, she would be my mentor. In real life she is just that!

Alfie’s Bio:

With over 5 million books in print, Alfie Thompson’s 10 Harlequin and Silhouette novels have been published under the pseudonym Val Daniels in 29 languages and in 33 countries. Alfie has presented writing workshops from New York City to Hawaii for local, regional and national groups and conferences, and her non-fiction book, Lights, Camera, Fiction: A Movie Lovers Guide to Writing a Novel was published by Running Press.

Alfie T. Book Cover Lights Camera Action

WOW! Now doesn’t Alfie make a fabulous mentor?

Recently she self- published one of her most popular workshops as an e-book, Point Of View: Understanding Which POV is Best for your Story and Using It Effectively. During her five years on the Board of Directors of the Romance Writers of America, she initiated the first ever RWA “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing which has raised over $825,000 for literacy since its inception in 1990.

Alfie T. POV Book Cover

Isn’t she AWESOME!!!!!

Alfie, now it’s your turn to answer the BIG FOUR Questions…

1)     What am I working on?

When I suffered through a severe attack (several years) of Writer’s Block, what brought me back to writing was non-fiction. After selling a book on the subject of writing (Lights! Camera! Fiction! A Movie Lover’s Guide to Writing a Novel) to Running Press, giving programs and daylong workshops to writers’ groups kind of became my “writing” thing for several years. I’ve finally come full circle and am writing fiction again for the first time in a decade. It feels so good.

I’m writing a series of traditional romances that I haven’t decided if I will submit to traditional publishers or not. I may self publish them. (And I love, love, love my wounded hero in the first one.)

And I’m trying something brand new. This one is really difficult to write because it is different than anything I’ve done before. It’s a futuristic (30 years in the future) and I’m not sure if there is a futuristic genre it might “fit” in. My characters are also unique in that they are neither traditional in today’s times or that imagined distant future. They don’t “fit.” With this one, I’m just having fun, but my critique partners tell me they love it.

I’m also working on another e-book based on another of my popular workshops, Writing For The Reader. I hope to have it available in the next month as the second in my series, Tips, Tricks and Tools of the Writer’s Trade.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The futuristic one differs from anything I’ve read so I don’t know if it even has a genre. Maybe I’ll start my own.

My traditional series fits snugly into the traditional romance genre. The three stories are three brothers (two they have to find) who inherit their father’s ranch. It has many of the hot elements traditional publishers consistently request. The unique (I hope) element is that none of them knew this man was their father or that they had brothers. And they all have to “learn” to be cowboys. They’ve never worked or been around a ranch before.

Barthle Brothers Ranch

Barthle Brothers Ranch

3) Why do I write what I do?

I’m one of the lucky writers. When I first started writing, what I loved to read was exactly what I wanted to write.

For most of my writing life, people (writers) have been discussing writing from the heart vs. writing for the market. Which is the right approach? I’ve always argued that we should be doing both. Successful writers figure out how to write the story in their heart in a way that fits into the current market.

The current trends in publishing make it possible to successfully reach readers with either stories from the heart or stories written directly with the market in mind. I still believe writing from the heart for the market will be the way authors find the most success. So my traditional series is aimed directly at writing what the market wants (length, format and expectations) with three stories (and characters) I dearly love.

My futuristic is definitely “from the heart.” It is a book most knowledgeable people would have considered me to be wasting my time on a decade ago. There is no clear genre where it fits. I am trying to write the characters in such a way that any person reading it can identify with and totally understand their motivation.  I am “writing it for my (potential) reader.” If I can’t find that reader through a traditional publisher, I will definitely try to find him or her by way of self-publishing.

Whatever I write–fiction, non-fiction, traditional romance, futuristic, whatever–I write with the enjoyment of the reader in mind. In all cases, that means I have to love it, whatever it is, as I’m writing it.

Man Reading Book and Sitting on Bookshelf in Library
4) How does my writing process work?

My life is way too chopped up to work well as a writer’s life. (I didn’t fully appreciate how wonderful I had it when I had contracts and deadlines and no one expected anything from me if they knew that deadline was approaching.) I have several part time jobs that I love (freelance editing for one), that are flexible and let me schedule most of my work as I want to. That should mean I get lots of writing done, right? What it means is that I tend to put my writing last. I’m getting better at realizing my writing does not get done if I don’t put it on my list—with deadlines–like everything else.

I’m a total SOTP (seat of the pants) writer until I get about a third of the way into a story, then I have to stop and become a plotter and planner to figure out where I am going. I use my 5 Star Plotting techniques from Lights! Camera! Fiction! (which is a structural checklist of sorts) to get successfully to the end of the story.  At some point, the story veers and I become a SOTP again—though I do refer to my checklist frequently, and seeing specific things I need to achieve on that list becomes a great idea generator.

I’m still learning to do this. Thanks, Alfie, for bailing me out today. You will always be my mentor! And thank you so much for taking the time to teach me the craft of writing.

Next, a fellow writer and someone I consider my friend, Sunny Cole. I can’t say enough good things about this lady. She is talented and sidesplittingly funny. I have the utmost respect for her and all her talents. Continue reading and you’ll find out what “dramedy” means…

Sunny’s bio:

Bobbie Cole, aka Sunny, has written approximately 60 books under various pen names, ranging from women’s fiction to fantasy, and from erotic romance to romantic suspense. Her 2013 books included a romantic suspense for Harlequin Australia as Bobbie Cole, called  and an essay for disco diva Gloria Gaynor’s nonfiction, How We Survived.

Sunny's Book Cover

1) What am I working on?

I’m writing quirky women’s fiction involving cancer, recovery, bread baking, and blizzards. The first book in the Survivor series is MJ’s story. MJ has what she calls cancer of the soul. She fortunately fails a suicide attempt at the beginning, and the rest of the book revolves around her interactions with true cancer survivors. What she learns from their recoveries eases her into repairing relationships with her mother and others. The second book, a work in progress, is Kendra’s story. She’s just had a double mastectomy and gone through her second divorce when both her parents wind up in a nursing home.

Each book reflects the lives of women who can’t escape the harsh realities of life. With the help of their support group, they learn not only to survive but also to thrive. To grab reality by the throat and choke until they are able to architect the lives they want. Life doesn’t just happen to them. They impact life–theirs and the lives of others.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Most writers seem to feel their books are their babies. Mine are my parents, each one teaching me something I haven’t learned until I meet them. I’m not as interested in telling a story as I am showing the human condition and the process of growing from despair to joy. Characters, like their real counterparts, make mistakes and (hopefully) learn from them. They have feelings, motives, fears and inadequacies. Like I do. Like readers do. My books in this series are intended to offer hope, to swing the reader from tears to laughter, then ultimately to satisfaction…and maybe acceptance if they share traits or conditions with these characters.

3) Why do I write what I do?

It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and I figured there were others like me wearing Milk Bone underwear. I don’t sugarcoat emotions. My critique partners won’t let me. It’s difficult for me to bare my soul, but I’ve found my writing rings true when I do. I’m learning along with my characters that life can be joyous when I find my authentic self and when I’m not afraid to be open to risk and let others know the real me. Life doesn’t change. It is what it is. We change, and those changes fascinate me.

4) How does my writing process work?

What I feel I do: Character development then plot. Apply meat to seat and write until blood drips from every orifice.

What is more accurate: I grapple with subjects in which there’s little humor, and I find characters who exemplify what traits, abilities, and understanding are needed to overcome tragedies. I write dramedy. Drama with comedy. Difficult situations are plentiful. Characters/people who make the best of lousy situations and go on to succeed despite obstacles are trickier to find. But that’s what keeps my interest.

Mine too! And Sunny is great at it! Her books are sad but funny at the same time. Dramedy.

You can connect with Alfie at:
Twitter   @valfie

And my girl Sunny at:

What’s your writing process?

Happy writing,

Diane Kratz

Blog Edited by: Sally Berneathy

21 thoughts on “The Blog Hop Stops Here

  1. A wonderful post, Diane! I am so glad you sighed and said yes when I asked you to join in on sharing your writing process. There’s a wealth of information here. I loved your inclusion of your two writing friends with all their information. I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks!

  2. I am a total pantser. I wake up in the morning and think…I wonder what those people are going to do today? It’s always fun to find out!

    • dianekratz says:

      You are a wonderful writer and editor Ms. Sally! Besides don’t we just love the friends in our minds? They take us to places we’ve never gone (and sometimes want to sometimes not) and say and do the most incredible things! I love being a writer!

  3. Pamela Turner says:

    Sorry to hear about your son. Sadly, I’ve known a number of people who’ve committed suicide, many dealing with mental illnesses. Enjoyed your post. If you like, here’s mine: I posted it, but I don’t think anyone read it, except one person. 🙂

    • dianekratz says:

      I just went and read your blog Pamela, what a hidden treasure! Darklings Delights was AWESOME. I left a comment (I think I accidentally left 2, please use the second one) and followed! Thanks for brining back good memories of my childhood and Friday Fright Nights watching TV. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Sunny says:

    Linda and Diane, both of your blogs are interesting! Diane, thanks for hosting me.

  5. C. K. Crouch says:

    Nice post Diane I am a pantser I can’t plot, I have an idea or a picture in my mind and run with it. For my Navy SEAL story I had to research all about SEALs and their training. I’m army and knew nothing. Now I know a lot abiout SEALs but not much about modern army life. I have a group of ladies known as RomVets that help me with military things. I’m former military and I’m a writer so I’m part of this group.

  6. C. K. Crouch says:

    I forgot to mention I actually had more details and information in my early writing than I do now. I find i’m writing bare bones with noithing in there but dialogue and action.

  7. Naomi Fraser says:

    I did initially look at the blog simply for the writing processes. I don’t really investigate FBI things, but sometimes with information on writing, I’ve found nuggets of information that have helped me write my books. It happens rarely, but it does happen. I find that the writing process is different for everyone. It almost has an individual stamp on it, like someone’s fingerprint. Which is why plotting books sometimes don’t help anyone. And each book can also be different for an author to work on–what happened for your third book might be completely different process from the fourth etc.

    I never discount information until I’ve looked it over and seen if it relates or fits into what I know works or doesn’t work with me. The writing processes of different people help to show us that it’s very okay if you don’t write like everyone else and there is no set formula.

    Believe it or not, the best tip I have to give with my writing process (which is probably individual to me but might help someone else) is “jump on in.”

    I have learned to trust and believe in my ‘muse’ or whatever you’d like to call the intuitive creative spark inside me. It’s like walking along a deserted road. I have an idea of where I want to end up, but as I write the chapters, the journey is coloured with scenery and people and I read along as I get swept up into the story.


    • dianekratz says:

      Very well said Naomi! I think what you are saying is we grow with each book. I believe in life we never stop learning, if we do we are dead. I appreciate you thoughts on the topic and I think my readers will too! Thanks so much for commenting! It means so much!

  8. Bobbi says:

    I like to write, always have. I want to publish a book on my sisters life from birth until 2009, and beyond, 5 years missing and yet no answers coming from Local Parkersburg, WV Law enforcement. A Young single mother with child, Vanishes without a trace. A list of possible suspects waiting for the eye’s of law enforcement to come across the needed fact, connection in solving the Mystery of Missing KIMBERLY SUE JONES case. I want to write it, but im afraid my emotions would hinder me. Im afraid id over do it, in some way. Its something ive thought a lot about and deep in my heart I know it needs to be done and fast. Anything to bring her to light, put her face in front of the public. Perhaps someone on here or yourself may have a few ideas to help me understand where to start writing. Maybe use my photographs as a time line? Thanks for reading, Bobbi

    • dianekratz says:

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your sister. I would imagine this is worse than death, because in death you can bury your loved and say good-bye. With a missing person you don’t know if they are alive or not. Must be horrible for you and your family. Hugs for you Bobbi. I think writing about her disappearance is a wonderful in so many ways. First, it helps you as a sibling to understand how the events happen. Trauma often leaves blank spots in the memory. Second, you are grieving her presence, and writing about her helps keeps her alive and well in your mind. Third, bringing attention to her case might help solve it.

      As for starting the book, you need to think about the book’s purpose. Is it a memoir of her life? A book about her case? Self-help for families who have experienced the same thing with their love one? Each one of these have a different focus and starting place.

      If it’s a memoir, start with the beginning on her life. Using pictures is a great way to trigger memories.
      If it’s a book on her disappearance, start with the day she went missing and the events that followed. You can write a timeline for this as well.
      If it’s a self-help book, Start at the day she went missing and then how family and friends coped.

      Make a list of the points you’d like to make and stick to them.

      That’s the first step is figuring out what kind of book you want to write, and stay focused on that topic. I know for my suicide self-help I found myself getting side-tracked with my emotions. Grief has a way of rearing it ugly head into my writing. I wrote anyway but I know it will not be part of my book, because it’s not the focus of my book. But it had to come out of me, because I grieve him.

      Another thing you can do is read other books on missing people and see how they started they out. If you need any more help please e-mail me at: with your questions. If I don’t know, I will find out. I hope I helped you! 🙂 And I hope you get the answers soon with your sister’s disappearance.

      Take care of yourself,

  9. Diane, until today, I’ve been a lurker of your blog. The topic of suicide is one that comes home. I lost my middle brother over 40 years ago and and the sense of loss never goes away, possibly it gets stronger with time. There aren’t any simple answers, but I am encouraged that there are those who have the courage to write about it and try to help some of the walking wounded.

    About Bobbi’s sister, that is something I would have more trouble with because there seems never to be closer.

    Writing about these topics? I’ve tried to write about my brother, but there is one living member of my immediate family who would be very hurt. I would never be able to mask who it was I wrote a story about. So I confine my writing to my private journals. Not even after our older brother is gone will I attempt this because the middle brother’s child and our other children would be hurt. Some because they know the truth and the others because he remains an unknown.

    I do hate blog hops, but this one was well worth my time. Thanks 🙂

    • dianekratz says:

      The anniversary of my sons death is in two days. Seventeen (no eighteen this years) later it’s still raw at times. I’m glad you are keeping a journal to express the emotions of your grief. I’ve found suicides survivors often have lots of secrets it keep. Like the act itself, we tend to not talk about what happened out of shame or guilt. Eventually they spill out. Just remember, you are not to blame, nor is anyone else. It happened, and in the end it was their choice, not ours.

      Wishing you and your family peace,

  10. DeAnn Sicard says:

    Reblogged this on A Writer’s Guide to Words: and commented: the place to learn about serial killers and for an intro to impressive authors. What a great combination. This is a reblog of the Profile of murder blog hop.

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