Three Things I Learned About My Writing in 2021

Hello Writer Bees,

With the holidays and the new year fast approaching, I wanted to take a minute to reflect on 2021. More specifically, my writing journey and its ups and downs. Here are three things I’ve learned about myself as a writer this year.

Always Find Time to Write

When I started my 9 to 5 office job, I was grateful for the opportunity but also worried about not having time to write. Sometimes, it’s stressful for me to juggle a full-time job, a blog and a work of fiction. This year, I learned that there’s always time, I just need to look hard enough. Just because I can’t write until the wee hours anymore, like I used to, doesn’t mean I can’t get creative another time of day. Now, I write during my lunch break. And I write after hours and on weekends. Writing is important to me, therefore, I make sure I find those scraps of time.

Write Outside the Box

I’ve learned to be open to experimenting and taking chances with my writing. This year, I challenged myself to write outside my comfort zone and preferred genre. Even a mystery writer like myself can write outside the box and have fun with it. In doing so, I became more aware of my writing style and voice. Here on this blog, I’ve dabbled in other genres I don’t normally write in. And I wrote a few 100 words stories too. If you’re interested in reading, check out a few stories below!

Trust In My Writer Gut

During NaNoWriMo, I focused on editing my mystery WIP. Of course, with editing, comes making major and minor changes to the story. There were times I doubted myself. Am I fussing over nothing? Am I making unnecessary edits? This year, I learned to trust my gut. If my writer instinct is pulling the plot is a certain direction, or I need to change something, I should go for it. It’s my story to tell and I’m going to tell it the best I can. As a writer, I’m learning to be confident in my choices, even when others may disagree.


What have you learned about yourself and your writing this year? How have you grown as a writer? Talk to me in the comments. As always, I love to hear from the writing community.

Head’s up, I’ll be taking the next few weeks off for the holidays. See you all in 2022!

Stay safe, stay creative and happy holidays everyone!

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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Receiving the Top Writing Blog Award from QueryLetter!

Hello Writer Bees!

So, something amazing happened. Lady Jabberwocky received an award.

The incredibly kind folks at QueryLetter.com honored me with the Top Writing Blog Award. Apparently, I’m a phenomenal resource for writers. Their words, not mine. Truly, I’m touched. Blogging isn’t always easy. I have my down days. Sometimes, I feel like I’m not doing enough for the Writing Community. Not helping enough. Not creating the best content possible. Sometimes, I feel like I’m not fulfilling a purpose.

This recognition means so much. You have no idea. I only hope I can live up to such high praise. I wanted to share this bit of good news with you all. In times like these, good news is a gift. I want to thank every single reader sticking around all this time. You are well appreciated. Seriously, this blog would not be here without you guys and your support.

Keep an eye out for this little gem floating around the blog.

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Stay safe and stay creative!

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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3 Terrifying Tips on Scaring Your Readers

Hello Writer Bugs!

In any kind of fictional story, a little bit of terror can go a long way. But how do you strike fear in the hearts of your readers? Have no fear, I’m here to help! Here are three tips on how to scare your audience senseless.


Setting the Mood

A spooky setting can be a total game changer in a horror story. With this literary element, details are key. Paint a horrifying picture for the audience. No, that does not mean you need copious amounts of blood and guts spilled everywhere. Even the most ordinary places can be transformed into a scary environment. Build an atmosphere that unsettles readers, that only enhances the fear factor of the antagonist. Consider what the weather would be like, or how a room is furnished, or the architecture of a building. Once you provided them with vivid descriptions, let the audience’s imagination handle the rest. Not sure where to start in descriptions? When it doubt, the “it was a dark and stormy night” trick never fails in fiction.

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Solid Characters

In horror – or in any genre, really- you can’t skimp on the characters. The audience isn’t going to care about a damsel-in-distress, Mary Sue who happens to tumble into a haunted basement. And if readers don’t care, they won’t keep reading. And they won’t be afraid when that character is put in danger. Simple as that. However, they might care more about a child running around a creepy hotel. Create complex characters and give them real struggles, flaws and life problems that the audience can identify with. The goal is to make readers care and want to protect the main character. To make them feel like they could be standing in that character’s shoes, facing the same horrors. To have them biting their nails until the very end, just to make sure the character survives the ordeal.

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Pacing Makes Perfect

Specific phrasing or wording can enhance the scary factor in horror fiction. When you have longer sentences, it slows down the action, thereby torturing readers with the suspense. On the other hand, quick and short sentences can keep readers on their toes and get their hearts racing. Those fast, up-tempo phrasing works best when a character is running away from the monster or is internally spiraling into panic and confusion. If the scene doesn’t feel quite right, try switching up the pacing. This one element can change the entire vibe of a scene.

Last week, I experimented in writing horror. I noticed that using short sentences added to the claustrophobic feeling. I almost made myself panic as I was writing the story. And if it scares the writer, it will most definitely scare the reader.

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To my fellow writers out there, how do you go about scaring your audience? Also, with Halloween around the corner, what are you dressing up as for Halloween? Talk to me in the comments.

Stay safe and stay creative.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

5 Subgenres of Horror Fiction Explained

Hello Writer Bugs!

Since we are officially in spooky season, I wanted to dedicate a couple posts this month to horror writing. Horror fiction is intended to frighten the audience senseless. A lot of people love a good scare. As a genre, horror can come in a variety of shades of darkness. Today, I’m breaking down the most notable subgenres of horror fiction.


Gothic

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The gothic horror subgenre is a healthy mix of horror, mystery, death and a little romance. And some would say it’s the true beginning of horror fiction and the jumping off point for other horror subgenres that developed over time. The macabre takes takes center stage in this type of story. Setting plays a key role in gothic horror. The atmosphere must be dark and moody, usually taking place in a castle, religious abbey or haunting estate. The theme of death and love are prevalent in the plot. It’s a dreary, decaying world full of ominous omens and unexplainable events.

Example: The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Monster

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Let’s do the monster mash. A true classic in horror genre. Typically, the plot centers around a character(s) encountering a creature. Creatures of the night are either the result of scientific experiments, born from fantastical means, or simply urban legends come alive. Iconic monsters including – but not limited to – werewolves, vampires, mummies, zombies etc. An argument could be made the even gigantic monsters like Godzilla would be included in this horror subgenre. Sometimes in the narrative, there are underlying themes of duality, an internal conflict between good and evil. It’s an interesting battle to explore within characters. Is the monster really a monster at all?

Example: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Paranormal

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In the paranormal subgenre, it’s all about the fear of the unknown. Evil spirits, wicked witches and demonic entities wreck havoc and chaos in the lives of mere mortals. Ghosts, demons and haunted houses tend to fall under this category. Exorcisms – whether the holy kind or the high-tech ghostbuster kind – occur in paranormal horror. Similar to the Monster horror subgenre, antagonists can have supernatural abilities and there’s usually a struggle between good and evil. However, paranormal creatures are derived from mythical, other-worldly origins. And let’s be honest, the things that go bump in the night are often what scares us the most.

Example: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Killer

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A killer is on the loose! For this horror subgenre, the story focuses on a central killer. The main antagonist can be a supernatural entity or a natural born psycho. Whatever their reason, the killer’s sole mission is to annihilate anyone and everyone they deem a target. With elements of a thriller and/or crime plotline blended in, building suspense is crucial in this kind of story. You want the reader to feel like the killer is breathing down their necks and lurking around every corner. Will the killer be brought to justice in the end? That’s entirely up to the writer. In horror, no one is promised a happy ending.

Example: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Psychological

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Send readers into a living nightmare. Throw rationality out the door and turn the mundane into something terrifying. Characters in psychological horror have either fallen into madness or are trapped in extraordinary situations. Surreal imagery or bizarre visions experienced by the protagonist only add to the insanity. For this horror subgenre, the narrative would benefit from a tight viewpoint, not a multi-narrator piece. A single character’s internal conflict can be just as compelling than an external conflict, if written well. Phobias, paranoia and one’s deepest fears are explored in this type of plot. In psychological horror, there’s not overarching monster or antagonist, the real monster is the human mind itself.

Example: The Shining by Stephen King


Personally, I’m not a fan of excessive gore. However, as a mystery writer, I sometimes must describe a corpse or a crime scene, for the sake of the fictional investigation. A little bit of horror can go a long way in any genre.

What’s your favorite subgenre of horror fiction? And if you are a horror writer yourself, how would you categorize your story? Talk to me in the comments. As always, I love hearing from you.

Stay safe and stay creative.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

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Celebrating 4 Years Blogging with a Q & A

Hello Writer Bees,

Hope you all are doing well.

Recently, my little blog reached it’s 4 year anniversary here on WordPress. Even more recently, I hit the 1,000 follower mark. That’s crazy. The other day, I was looking through my first posts and talking to my boyfriend about it. We both couldn’t believe it’s been that long. Maybe this pandemic is messing with our concept of time.

Thanks for sticking around, writer bugs. This blog has kept me writing all these years. It’s also been a platform for me to help others in their creative endeavors. I genuinely don’t know where I’d be without Lady Jabberwocky.

To celebrate, I’d like to have a Q&A. Ask me anything you want, about my life, my WIP, my blogging experience. Whatever you want, I’m pretty much an open book. Never really done a Q&A before, part of me thinks no one will even responded, but why not give it a go? Leave your questions in the comments and maybe I’ll answer them in a future post.


Sorry Friday posts are still sporadic. Life has been… Life. I’m still figuring out the best schedule that works for me.

Thank you all again for the love and support over the years.

Stay safe and keep writing.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

Taking a Break from Blogging (Mental Health Check)

Hello Writer Bees,

Ever feel like a candle burning at both ends?

Yeah, me too.

For some time now, I’ve being feeling stretched thin. Pushing myself and trying to everything until my battery depleted.

Keeping my mental health in mind, I need to take a step back from blogging. That might mean no Friday posts for awhile, or posting every other week, or reposting old posts. I’m not sure yet. Prompts of the Week will still be happening on Mondays though. The next few weeks will be up in the air. Sorry about that, I hope you guys understand.

This is such a hard post for me to write. I feel guilty. Creating content and encouraging other writers is my passion. I feel guilty about taking a break, like I’m letting you guys down. But when your head and heart need some time off, it’s not about when it’s convenient for others. It’s about taking care of yourself, so you can take care of others. Guess I’m still learning that.

I need to focus on life outside of the blog for a bit.

Thank you all for understanding and supporting my humble little blog. It means a lot to me.

Stay safe and keep writing.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

Month of Mystery Wrap Up!

Hello Writer Bees!

May of Mystery was awesome, in my opinion! Thank you all so much for stopping by and celebrating mystery fiction with me. All of your comments were wonderful. Felt like you guys really got into the spirit of detective fiction. In case you missed it, here is a wrap up of all the posts from May of Mystery.

Mystery Prompts of the Week

Main Friday Posts


Another Genre Themed Month?

This is something I’ve been thinking about doing for awhile now. May of Mystery was fun and all you amazing readers really seemed to enjoy it. If I do another month dedicated to a specific genre, what genre should I focus on? Fantasy? Horror? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Apologies for the short post this week. I’ve been feeling sick and exhausted, but I didn’t want to let you guys down. What do you want to see next on this blog? Talk to me in the comments.

Stay safe and keep writing!

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

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Scream For Ice Cream and Murder (Mystery Short Story)

Hello Writer Bugs!

For this post, I’m sharing my response to one of the mystery prompts of the week, describe a crime scene. Here’s a short story, featuring the detective duo from my WIP. Let’s go back to the scene of the crime.

Warning: This scene may be disturbing for some readers. Contains blood and a dead person.


I’m not going to sugarcoat this. There was too much blood for an ice cream parlor. No pun intended.

The cops needed an extra hand on this one. It was a curious case. And curious cases in Coney Island tend to fall under Mister Barnaby’s territory.

As the detective and I entered, the little bell by the door jingled. It was what you’d expect from your classic ice cream corner shop. Squeaky linoleum floor. Squeaky red barstools. Buckets of dairy. Cash register full of dough. Dusty chalkboard that listed all their sweet treats.

I checked out the menu. “15 cents for a sundae? The crooks. Though a chocolate cone does sound pretty good.”

Oscar, now is not the time.” He sighed, eyes inspecting the shattered front window, glass shards on the porch steps. Thick eyebrows pinched together on his wrinkled face. “Someone broke this from the inside, not the outside.”

“What’s that mean?” I shoved my hands in my pockets and took a guess. “Someone was locked in?”

His shoulders shrugged. “Perhaps to make it appear as though there was a break in. Our culprit is none too bright. The world is full of imbeciles.” Leaning on his walking stick, the detective teetered towards the bar. Behind the counter, a trail of blood drippings. A red handprint stamped on the doorway leading to the backroom. The temperature plummeted. In the cluttered storage, jars of sprinkles and candies lined the shelves.

“Didn’t Officer Lester say the body was back here?”

More splashes on red on the floor. A path of drippings led to the ice locker. Strange, the walk-in fridge was locked from the inside. Like something out of a locked room mystery we’d listen to on the radio. It took some fiddling, but eventually, I heaved the heavy vault open.

Between tubs of cream and cake boxes, a round man – Sal Pellegrini – slouched on a chair, with an ice pick lodged in his neck. “Jesus Christ,” My stomach twisted into a knot. “Yikes, right in the jugular. What happened to you, big guy?” Apron splattered with red and brown mess. Skin turned blue. Dark purple fingernails. Frost lingered on his thinning hair. He smelled like vanilla and death. In his left fist, a crumpled piece of paper. A recipe card. I handed it to the old man. “Any ideas on this one, boss?”

His eyes flicked back and forth, like he was reading something. “I remember this. Newspaper article published on September 29th, 1921. Mr. Pellegrini’s family recipe was deemed the best Strawberry Shortcake in New York.” He teetered closer to the body, a shaky grip on his walking stick. “Well, everything make perfect sense now.”

“It does?”

“Of course. It would seem someone tried to steal the famous cake recipe. When Mr. Pellegrini refused to hand it over, his attacker stabbed him in the parlor room.” The detective hummed, glancing around. “Somehow, he fled from his attacker, but was losing too much blood.”

“You got all that from a blood trail and a crumpled piece of paper?”

“Certainly.” He pointed to the brick wall that Mr. Pellegrini’s back was leaning against. “Move that one.”

A single brick disconnected from the wall. When I pulled the loose brick out of its place, we found a hiding spot of more recipe cards. Chocolate fudge, Vienna cake, Lemon sponge cake. Old recipes passed from generation from generation. “He locked himself in, to protect his family’s heirlooms, I’d imagine. Hid his prized possessions in plain sight. Quite impressive.”

“Or absolutely insane.”

“Regardless, a killer is still out there. There is more work left to be done.”

Mister Barnaby turned to leave the ice cream parlor. As always, I followed him, like a shadow. But not before I helped myself to a chocolate ice cream cone, with extra sprinkles.


This is the last post for May of Mystery. Thank you all so much for sticking around. Hope you all enjoyed!

Stay safe and keep writing.

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

What Its Really Like to Write Mystery Fiction: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Hello Writer Bees!

Over the years, I’ve received comments and questions about what writing my whodunit is like. Plenty of times, I’ve talked about my murder mystery WIP here on this blog. My main characters have even appeared in a short story or two. When I started this blog, I wanted to help encourage other writers in their creative endeavors. However, I also wanted to share my honest experience as a writer. The ups and downs that come with a writer’s journey to publication.

So, in the spirit of May of Mystery and sharing my writer life, here what’s its really like to write a mystery.

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Why I Chose to Write a Murder Mystery

When I was in college, My interest in the mystery genre grew. I started reading detective fiction, like Holmes, Poirot, Marlowe, etc. Those books inspired me to imagine my own dynamic duo. At the time, I was writing an epic fantasy story – which didn’t get past chapter two – and the detective on the back burner kept nagging me, “write about us instead!”. Then, when I finally had the opportunity to give mystery writing a shot – in fiction writing class, no less – I fell in love with my sleuths and their sleuthing and the 1920s NYC setting.

Looking back, I’m not surprised I chose to write a mystery, based on my personal story preferences. Plot twists, complex characters and dialogue-heavy tales are a thrill to read. There’s something oddly satisfying about an extraordinary event happening then unraveling to reveal the truth. It’s like that feeling of fitting the last piece of the puzzle into place. That’s what a good mystery is, right? Something out-of-the-ordinary suddenly becomes a clear picture. It’s exciting, magical even.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Creating the characters is my favorite part. Suspects are awesome to craft, giving each character probable cause and motive to commit the crime. Nothing in this kind of story is black and white. Every character has their good and bad traits, and everyone has the potential for evil. You don’t know who to trust. That’s what makes suspect characters – and sleuthing protagonists – feel realistic.

Dropping clues can be fun too. Like I’m some Easter Bunny leaving presents behind. Let me just hide this bloody murder weapon behind this bush. Since my murder mystery is set in 1924, it’s an extra challenge. No modern technology is present and forensics is minimal. I really have to consider what would be evidence in a murder investigation for this specific time period.

And it sounds cliché to say, but I really do like my detective protagonist and his assistant. Detective Barnaby and Oscar Fitzgerald have this great banter that’s a pleasure to write. I enjoy writing about them investigating together. I wonder if Doyle felt the same way about writing Holmes and Watson’s relationship. When an audience is reading a mystery, they connect to the detective. They root for the hero(es) to unravel the mystery.

Tricky Business

For me, outlining and narrative pacing are my weakest points as a writer. Always have been. I’m working on it. Structuring the sequence of events in a mystery can be difficult sometimes. Timing is everything. When do the readers and the detective learn this piece of information? Is it too early in the plot? Too late? Does this timeline make sense for this investigation? I’m still learning how to perfect the perfect outline.

Also, I’ve been told my pacing is too fast. My narrator is a fast talking New Yorker, how could I not tell a story with some pep in its step? Finding the right tempo is tricky. I’m learning I don’t have to speed through things to keep readers engaged. It can’t all be drama filled and actioned packed. There needs to be moments of relief, a calm pause now and then, to break up all the excitement. All while maintaining the intrigue of a mystery.

What You’d Be Surprised About

With any genre, I’d imagine there’s some level of research involved. Some of it can be lovely, like researching 1920s fashion. Often times, the search history on my computer – or my wandering thoughts in general – can lead to pretty disturbing things. Most mysteries involve murder, so I have to consider all elements of death. Cause of death, details of a corpse, crime scenes, blood and guts. It’s not for the faint of heart. And when creating suspects, I have to highlight the worst in people. Does this make me a dark and twisted person? Probably.

Final Thoughts

Look, this is my first time writing a full length novel. I don’t have all the answers. Writing is a constant learning process. But I’m happy I have this blog to share my writer experience. Mystery writing is a challenge, it’s true. In the end, getting through these challenges will have been worth it, because I will have a complete murder mystery story to be proud of.


Hope this post gave you a little insight into my experience as an mystery writer. If you want more posts on my personal writer journey, let me know in the comments.

For the mystery writers out there, what is your experience writing mysteries? For all creators, what is your biggest challenge crafting a story? What is your favorite part of writing? Talk to me in the comments, I’d love to hear from you guys.

Stay safe and keep writing!

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

5 Subgenres in Mystery Fiction Explained

Hello amateur sleuths,

The mystery genre is like ice cream.

Exciting. Delicious. And they both come in a variety of flavors.

Today, I’m breaking down some subgenres of mystery. Since some of these subcategories overlap with one another, I will try to focus on the 5 most notable subgenres in detective fiction.

Classic

A straight vanilla mystery right here. Everyone loves and respects a good classic done right, right? This has your traditional storyline where the investigator – who can either be a professional or a novice – solves a whodunit. A large chunk of the plot is centered around an inspector gathering clues and interacting with suspects. Depending on the sleuth and the target audience, the level of gore may vary. However, traditional mysteries tend to involve murder. In the end, the culprit is reveal and all loose strings are neatly tied in a bow. Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Nancy Drew are the prime examples of this mystery subgenre.

Nancy Drew GIFs | Tenor

Cozy

Looking for violence and sex and foul language? This is not the mystery subgenre for you. A cozy mystery is the kind of story you want to unwind with while wearing fuzzy socks. The tone is much lighter, and can even be considered wholesome and humorous. Book titles are pun-filled and corny. The crime is described in a less gruesome way. Typically, the sleuth is an amateur detective, nosy neighbor, or a knitter with some free time on their hands. Solving a mystery is like a fun hobby or satisfies their idle curiosity. These kinds of mysteries often include a fluffy companion, like a loyal canine or finicky feline. For a cozy mystery, solving the crime is all in good fun.

Old lady knitting gif 1 » GIF Images Download

Noir

Opposite of a cozy mystery. In noir fiction, like it’s film counterpart, the atmosphere is dark and gritty. The world is a cynical and hopeless place. Shadowy street corners. Femme Fatales a lighting cigarette. Hard-boiled detectives are flawed anti-heroes with ambiguous morals. Those are the common traits of noir. When it comes to what’s right and what’s wrong, the lines are blurry. Noir endings can often be open ended and open to interpretation. Is justice served? Is the detective a hero? All valid questions in noir.

She Devoured Men The Way She Devoured Cigarettes | Movie stars, Bogart and  bacall, Humphrey bogart

Police Procedural/Forensic

For readers who enjoy those CSI shows, this subgenre is for you. For this subgenre, the main focus is police investigation. And it’s as accurate to real life as possible. Think unsolved crime documentary. Usually, the main character’s occupation is in law enforcement, in some way. Whether that be a cop or a forensic scientist or a coroner. In this subgenre, a lot of time and detail is devoted to the forensic science side of a case. Autopsy reports, crime scenes and dead bodies are described in almost too vivid detail. Not exactly for the faint of heart. But hey, reading a story like this, you may actually learn something about police procedure in a realistic case.

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Supernatural

Need some spooky Halloween vibes? This mystery subgenre is centered around the paranormal, investigating things that go bump in the night. In a supernatural mystery, the story designed to startle and thrill readers, dipping its toe in fantasy and horror genres. Elements of the unknown, ghosts and mystical are mixed into the narrative. Haunted houses and misty graveyards would make an excellent setting, I’m sure. The supernatural mystery is a puzzle – for both the reader and the detective. Explaining the unexplainable is the main goal of the investigator. When the story concludes, there’s usually a logical explanation for the paranormal disturbances.

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What is your favorite mystery subgenre? And if you are writing/have written a mystery story, what subgenre would you categorize it under? Or what is your favorite mystery subgenre to read? Talk to me in the comments. I love to hear from you guys.

Hope you all are enjoying May of Mystery so far. If you have any ideas for future mystery posts, let me know!

Safe safe and keep writing!

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky