Plotting a Course

When talking with readers or doing interviews, I’m often asked how I plot out my books. Do I outline my story, or do I write it by the seat of my pants? The truth is I get a basic story idea and run with it from there. I do not plot out or outline the story before I write. I let the story take me in a direction as I write it. The general idea, with a beginning, middle and end, is there when I start, but it often changes significantly from what I imagined it would be in the beginning. Dead Man Code is a good example. I knew it would be a murder of a computer tech and would reveal secrets about the company he worked for. But that simple idea morphed into so much more, much of it evolving as I wrote it. No spoilers though, as you’ll have to read the book. I’m a believer in letting the story take me on a journey. At the beginning I’m thinking I will go right, and the next thing you know I’m headed left. It can be much like every day life, where you start a day thinking you’ll be doing one thing, then circumstances and obstacles will take you in a new direction. It can be quite exciting to me personally, on where the story hurtles to. Hopefully it’s the same feeling a reader gets when they dive into my books.

Though I don’t outline in advance, I do outline as I go along. I use Scrivener to manage the outline. The functions within the program I use are, Character Sketch, to keep track of character names, their place in the story and their physical characteristics. Then I use, Setting Sketch, to keep track of each chapter, with a brief summary on the cards on the digital pegboard of what happens and who is in that chapter. All of these can be organized in folders to better track the plot and refer back to.  My favorite feature of Scrivener is the Name Generator, which helps me come up with character names. It allows me to generate a list of unique names based on country of origin, male or female, first and last names starting with certain first letter, and so on. It is a wonderful program for outlining. Some authors I know use it for writing their story as well. But I still prefer Microsoft Word for this. And Word documents work well with Amazon, Createspace and Draft2Digital, so long as they are properly formatted. There are many books and instructions on websites out there on the proper way to format a file for eBooks and physical books. From the information I’ve gathered, I’ve designed a template that works every time. At least until they change their upload specs, which in the computer world is always a possibility.

I’m continuing to get lots of downloads of my free novel, Tracking A Shadow. This is coming off of several Instafreebie Group Giveaways I’m using right now, adding many new subscribers to this newsletter. If you’ve downloaded my book, or any of the other books in these giveaways, please leave a review for the author on the various review sites out there, after you are done reading. Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and any other sites where the book is for sale. Reviews are the lifeblood of authors. I know when I’m looking at a book to purchase, reading reviews can often be a deciding factor. Even something as simple as “Great Book! I Really enjoyed it and will read more by this Author” will not only make the authors day when reading it, but lead to more sales for them, fueling them to write additional great stories to share.

Speaking of those giveaways, here are some of the current ones. Be sure to check them out. There are a lot of great books here free to read, and generally available in all formats used by any eReader out there.







Thanks again for opening and reading my newsletter. Next month I will continue talking about my writing process, give some background on how Jarvis was born, and hopefully have news on my next Jarvis Mann PI book, The Front Range Butcher. Here is a little teaser from the book:


If you have questions be sure to reply to this email, as I love hearing from readers. And share this newsletter with anyone who is interested in my books. If they sign-up via my website I will give them a free eBook version of, Tracking A Shadow. Thanks again and be sure to share a book with a friend!





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