The Blog Tour, Day #8 — Anne K. Albert

December 1st, 2011

Anne K. Albert is an award-winning author who writes both mysteries and romantic suspense — both with a delightful touch of humor.

In my never-ending quest to steal the writing secrets of others, I asked Anne to tell me some things about hers, and she walked right into my trap.  So here goes:

Anne, what’s your writing routine? How did you evolve it? Why does it work for you? Does it break down from time to time, and if so, why? How do you get it up and running again?

Routine? I wish I had a writing routine!

When I began writing (back in the Stone Age), I’d steal a few hours from each work day and just write. Then, when it evolved into my primary reason for being, I spent all of my free time writing. It was heaven!

Now that I’m published and write full time, I’m amazed (and sometimes dismayed) at how many hours of each day are required to self promote and market my books. With all of the social media available, one could be online 24/7.

Another problem, or at least an issue, is that I write two series. One is the Muriel Reeves Mysteries. The other is the romantic suspense series. Both target different readers and as such require different marketing strategies. It’s a lot of work to coordinate both, yet it’s vital that I do whatever I can to further my career. Very recently, I’ve attempted to limit this aspect of the job to mornings only, but I’m rarely successful. There always seems to be something or someone who requires my attention. Or an opportunity arises that is just too good to pass up!

Moving on to part four of your question, (Does it break down from time to time, and if so, why?) yes, it does! Prior to being a published author, I vowed I would never miss a deadline. Well, not only have I missed a deadline, I’m still behind on that deadline. Three months to be exact.

I began the new year with such optimism and enthusiasm. I told my editor I wanted to release two more novels in 2011. Bless her, she suggested I relax and enjoy the ride. She said I’d be busy enough. Did I listen? Nope! But she was right. A published author has a lot more to do than just write. Who knew!

How do you develop your ideas? Do you plot in advance or write by the seat of your pants? Once again, how did you evolve this approach and why does it work for you?

I begin with a kernel of an idea, and then move forward. S-L-O-W-L-Y. Very slowly! That grain of sand could be a blurred image, crime, snippet of conversation, or whatever. It’s never really crystal clear inside my head. It’s more like a mirage or feeling.

As you might imagine, I’m envious of those writers who plot out their stories beforehand. I just listen and stare in wonder when a writer says they have such and such a scene to write and then provide in-depth details. How do they do that? How can they possibly know these things? I never know from one sentence to the next what will happen.

As you may have already guessed, I’m a pantser!

It took me a long time to accept this haphazard process and embrace it as my own. I wanted to find an easier way to write. I wanted to get the story down as quickly and painlessly as possible. Anything seemed preferable to standing in the fog and inching one step forward and then taking two steps back!

I can’t tell you the number of how-to write articles I read that advocate plotting out a story before committing it to paper. I tried to follow these instructions. I tried outlining. I plotted two complete manuscripts and wrote page after page of detail, dialogue, and description. But when it came time to actually write those stories, I couldn’t do it. I’d start, write a few words, then suddenly decide the bathroom needed cleaning. (Very odd, considering I detest housework!)

It took years for me to figure out why I was procrastinating and avoiding writing. The answer? Plotting took the fun out of writing. What was the point when I already knew how the story would unfold as well as how it would end?

I came to realize I’m my first reader. I write to find out what happens next.

Every writer needs to understand there is no correct way to write. Some authors plot. Others interview their characters. Some write in spurts. Others dive in and immerse themselves in their imaginary world and refuse to come out until they reach ‘the end’. All that really matters is getting the story written. How it is accomplished is up to the individual. What works, works. End of story!

Tell us about your book.

Frank, Incense and Muriel is the first book of my Muriel Reeves Mysteries. It’s the week before Christmas when the stress of the holidays is enough to frazzle anyone’s nerves. Tensions increase when a friend begs Muriel to team up with her sexy high school nemesis, now an even sexier private investigator to find a missing woman. Forced to deal with an embezzler, kidnapper, and femme fatale is bad enough, but add Muriel’s zany yet loveable family to the mix and their desire to win the coveted D-DAY (Death Defying Act of the Year) Award, and the situation can only get worse.

To read more of Frank, Incense and Muriel click here:  To buy it, click here.

Or visit me online at my website and blogs and I’m also on Facebook and Twitter

Thanks for featuring me, Tim. Before I say goodbye, I’d like to reminder readers to enter my Comment-to-Win Contest.

CONTEST DETAILS: Three names will be selected at random from comments on all 14 of Anne’s Mystery We Write Blog Tour guest appearances. Winners will receive an e-copy of FRANK, INCENSE AND MURIEL, book one of the Muriel Reeves Mysteries. Visit for her schedule and contest details. Good luck!

Thanks, Anne — we have an enormous amount in common relative to our approaches to writing.  While Anne talks to you all here, I’m visiting Beth Anderson at and talking about attribution — you know, how I let you know who’s talking in a scene, and how few acceptable ways there are to do it.

14 Responses to “The Blog Tour, Day #8 — Anne K. Albert”

  1. Anne K. Albert Says:

    Thank you so much, for featuring me today, Tim!

  2. W.S. Gager Says:

    Anne: I too get crushed under the promotional burden and get behind. Glad to hear I’m not alone.
    W.S. Gager on Writing

  3. M.M. Gornell Says:

    Anne, what a wonderful look into your life as an author. Two series with two different audiences–WOW. And, YES–a kindred pantser!


  4. Marilyn Meredith Says:

    Anne, you are so right. We all have our own quirks and routines about how to write–and yes, promotion does get in the way. Great post.


  5. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, Anne, and thanks for coming by. I LOATHE self-promotion, to the point where I almost never do it, and my ebook sales have nosedived as a result. And you know what? Fine by me.

    And it’s great to hear your reason for pantsing” “I came to realize I’m my first reader. I write to find out what happens next.” EXACTLY!!! I’ve never been able to say it that clearly. (But I will in the future.)

  6. Jean Henry Mead Says:

    A fellow pantser, I write in four genres and find it difficult to promote them all. (I’d rather be writing.) I enjoyed reading Frank, Incense and Muriel and look forward to the next novel in the series, Anne.

  7. Alice Duncan Says:

    Interesting post, Anne! I love hearing how authors go about their business — different routes to “the end.”

  8. Brenda Says:

    Thanks for sharing this. It is so interesting to hear how your books develop. Frank, Incense, and Muriel sounds like fun.

  9. Jenny Milchman Says:

    Anne, I can imagine how busy you are, especially with two (reminds me of what we moms said to each other when we made the leap from one to two babies 🙂 I think the balance you strike is admirable. You’re certainly a presence on the web and a support to other writers. I recently read Larry Brooks’ book called STORY ENGINEERING and he addressed how pantsers can have a little more–design, ideally cutting down on drafts. I wonder what you’d think of his approach?

  10. Karen Mayers Says:

    I am such a sucker for a PI novel. Is this something you have always wanted to write, or is it just a change from the romantic suspense? I can’t wait to find a copy and get started reading.

  11. Anne K. Albert Says:

    Wendy, Mad, Marilyn, Tim, Jean and Alice, there seems to be a universal theme here–that we’d all just rather write!

  12. Anne K. Albert Says:

    Brenda, I’m biased, of course, but I do think Frank, Incense and Muriel is a fun read. I hope you agree!

  13. Anne K. Albert Says:

    I’m not familiar with Larry Brook’s book, but I’ll definitely take a look. I enjoy reading about other methods of writing as much as I do mysteries and romantic suspense novels. Thank you, Jenny, for the tip!

  14. Anne K. Albert Says:

    Hi Karen, I always wanted to write a mystery, but a traditional mystery lacks a little romance and a dash of humor and that mix just seems to be the right ‘recipe’ for me.

    Although I’m writing book 2 of my romantic suspense series at the moment, I’m also excited thinking about the mayhem that could (and likely will) happen in the next Muriel Reeves Mysteries book that I will begin writing in January. Even though I’m a pantser, I know who shows up dead, so that’s great fun!

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