Jan Christensen's Blog (23)


The reason I write fiction is so I can make things up.

Suddenly, especially with TV getting so much wrong apparently (I don't watch a lot, so I only know what I read about watching TV), everything in fiction has to be real.


The only people who can write fiction anymore without fear of criticism about what they've made up, it seems, are those who write "Speculative Fiction." The rest of us can make up people, places, maybe some situations, but not things,… Continue

Added by Jan Christensen on January 12, 2010 at 9:06am — 7 Comments


Just found this fascinating article in the NY Times today--about the scents of NYC. Just reading through them will vastly increase our ability to use the sense of smell in our manuscripts.


(Hope the link works--if not, please cut and paste)

I try to have at least one distinctive smell in each chapter. When I check my descriptions, I try to remember to include a… Continue

Added by Jan Christensen on August 31, 2009 at 5:00am — No Comments


The one I'm watching right now has a dummy with movable eyes and eyebrows. His lower jaw also moves, of course, but that's to show speech. The eyes move from side to side, and although they don't change in size, they look bigger when the eyebrows are moved upward. The eyebrows can go up to show surprise or can go down to form a V on the dummy's forehead for a frown. The head may also be moved in a bobbing movement just a little and often from side to side.

Look at how the… Continue

Added by Jan Christensen on July 4, 2009 at 1:00pm — No Comments


A flash story (under 1,000 words) went on-line yesterday at http://pattinase.blogspot.com/
Although it's not a mystery, I hope everyone will take a look. Patti Abbott asked me to submit, and I thought the premise was interesting: A wedding cake in the road. Check out the other stories, as well. Scroll down about halfway until you see the picture of another wedding cake. I love being given a prompt and see where it leads me. Enjoy!

Added by Jan Christensen on June 8, 2009 at 3:05am — No Comments


Okay, yes, I'm going to promote my latest short story pubs right here. A selfish act, for sure.

However, you may note that there are two rather new ezines here and a small press print anthology all of which are looking for submissions. So, here they are. (I hope all the links work--tried getting them to be links here on CrimeSpace, but when I looked at a preview, all the links were gone. I went back to what I had copied and pasted from Word. So, you may have to copy and paste--so… Continue

Added by Jan Christensen on April 6, 2009 at 4:00am — No Comments


Besides some basics, such as "show, don't tell," stay in point of view, eliminate passive language and voice, and watch out for too many modifiers, I also learned the following about critique groups:

How to listen, with an open mind, knowing I can always decide not to make the particular change suggested.

What each particular critiquer brings to the table because of different backgrounds and sets of knowledge. Learn what they are, and use that person's background and… Continue

Added by Jan Christensen on March 1, 2009 at 5:45am — 8 Comments

Personal Research

Okay, I know i haven't written anything here in a long, long time. A couple of people have asked me to be their friends, and that prompted me to try to get back into the groove. Thus this entry:


I do nothing thrilling or dangerous or even exceptional for my

art. I have never so much as shoplifted, let alone robbed a jewelry

store, but I've written about it. I've never held anyone for ransom,

but I've written about it. Never mugged anyone,… Continue

Added by Jan Christensen on October 9, 2008 at 8:25am — No Comments


The steps below help me to keep on track when writing a novel. Through trial and error, I've come up with these ideas to stay organized.

Get idea. Get excited about idea. Start outlining, mental planning--whatever you do to get going. I always just dive into the writing.

Open a second document on your computer. I name mine [NAME OF BOOK] NOTES.DOC. Keep it open whenever you're working on this manuscript. In it note each new character's name and description as you write… Continue

Added by Jan Christensen on March 21, 2008 at 3:20am — No Comments


I'm trying to go paperless. I rarely print anything out anymore. When I want to keep something someone else has written, I make a Word

file, copy and paste information into it, then try to decide what to name it so

I can find it again, and usually end up making a new "file folder" in

My Documents. I tend to save whole

emails, as well, especially from family.

Sometimes new people get a file folder so I can…


Added by Jan Christensen on February 14, 2008 at 7:00am — No Comments


I've written a few novels, all but one unpublished. The reason the ones not published aren't is mostly because I think they need more revising, and I'm really stumped on how to do that. Short stories are pretty

easy--there's not a lot of words to work with; they usually take place

over a short period of time, so no timeline needed; they have fewer characters

to keep straight, and so on.

Oh, but a…


Added by Jan Christensen on February 1, 2008 at 3:45am — No Comments


I love

my computer. I really do. It does a lot of things faster and better

than that old IBM electric typewriter.

The only thing I dislike about it is that something happened along the

way to regular, conventional formatting of manuscripts to send to

publications. What happened was that

the publishers and editors must have said, "Oh, good, we can now get the

writers to do part of our job for us by requiring them to submit their… Continue

Added by Jan Christensen on January 27, 2008 at 4:18am — 8 Comments

The 10% Solution

Rule of thumb--after you've finished the first draft, get

rid of 10%. I saw this idea someplace a

while ago, but it wasn't brought home to me until the other day when I needed

to make a piece which is over 5,000 words, no more than 4,000 words. It was polished and ready to go, I


Then I began to edit, and guess what--I rather easily eliminated 500 words. One tenth. That's when I remembered the rule of…


Added by Jan Christensen on January 24, 2008 at 11:54am — 2 Comments

What I learned while editing my latest mystery novel

Nail the weather (season especially) and the setting before

doing anything else. The weather didn't

play a big part in my novel, so I only mentioned it once in awhile. The problem was it was fall at the beginning

of the novel, and only about ten days later, it was winter. I'd forgotten which it was! Minor, but I just know some readers would

notice. Also, I've found it best to mix

up your setting with both urban and more rural places because most likely,

you'll need… Continue

Added by Jan Christensen on October 2, 2007 at 2:33pm — 2 Comments

A fun link

Found this today. Never knew about ghost words. Every writer could have fun with these:


You'll get lost in the rest of the site, for sure.

Added by Jan Christensen on September 28, 2007 at 11:08am — No Comments

Writing When Away from the Keyboard

Some people seem to think about their current project whenever they are doing mundane, routine tasks. That has never happened to me unless I make a conscious effort. I wonder why that is, but I

have no answer.

I guess there must be other writers out there like me, and I wonder if they try to remember to think about their stories while doing other things. It does save time when you finally get to

sit down and…


Added by Jan Christensen on August 17, 2007 at 8:06am — No Comments

RV having fun?

Not really. The factory begins work at 6 a.m. Now, we're

retired, so we're used to sleeping a bit later than 5:30 a.m.

Like about three hours later than 5:30 a.m.

Anyway, they got a lot done, but not the windshield. They started

taking it apart, then stopped and did some other stuff we needed done,

and then quit for the day. Don't know when the windshield will

actually be replaced. Hopefully tomorrow.

I got no writing at all done. I should have. I… Continue

Added by Jan Christensen on May 1, 2007 at 11:33am — No Comments

Happy Day!

Two reasons to be happy today-we arrived safely in Indiana after two

breakdowns with the motorhome on interstate highways, and two wrecks

ahead of us, one of which caused us to have to leave the highway and

detour. We arrived yesterday, weary and not too happy.

We're at the motorhome factory service place to get some repairs

done. Never fun, but necessary.

Second reason to be happy is much better. A story I had published back in 1993 has been republished in… Continue

Added by Jan Christensen on April 29, 2007 at 12:58pm — 2 Comments

More words

Not that I think anyone is reading this!

But the last three days I've done my 1,000 words, and today I tweaked my agent query and sent one out.

I guess I should mention I was nominted for a Derringer which sure

goosed, I mean encouraged me. I have been reading the

nominations, and they are all so good! Wow. It's going to

be hard to vote.

The weather has improved down here in Port Aransas, and the birds have

been coming to the pond outside… Continue

Added by Jan Christensen on April 14, 2007 at 2:27pm — No Comments

A Pattern?

Okay, I think I'm beginning to see a pattern here. I've had

several rejections lately (which proves I've been submitting), and of

course I'm bummed. But I think they also tend to prevent me from

writing the day I receive them.

Today we drove into Corpus Christi so I could have my ear checked which

had an infection--it's all better. But that broke my routine of

writing in the morning. Yesterday I did my 1,000 words, but

didn't submit anything. Today… Continue

Added by Jan Christensen on April 7, 2007 at 1:30pm — No Comments

Took the weekend off, and Monday, too!

So, should i feel guilty? Do you feel guilty when you don't write

every day? I don't feel bad about Monday because I attended a

writer's group meeting here in Port Aransas--a great group of

folks. That happened in the morning, the time I usually write,

and since I did housework in the afternoon, I was quite tired by

evening, so didn't write then, either.

Today, though I did my 1,000 words right when I got up, and started

working on submitting a… Continue

Added by Jan Christensen on April 4, 2007 at 2:34pm — 1 Comment

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