AshEdit—News About Books & Writers

February 16, 2018

Coming Soon: Dealmaking & Dollar$

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 7:18 am


Dealmaking & Dollar$

Dealmaking & Dollar$2 (1)

December 1, 2017

Year in Review

2017 year review11 (1)2017 year review21 (1)2017 year review13 (1)2017 review four2017 year review five2017 year review six

2017 year review seven









October 10, 2017

Plain Princess Jane by Jennifer Milne

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 3:14 pm

PrincessJenni article (1)

Find Jenni on Facebook

hjsaJennifer Milne

August 7, 2017

Steve Hodel – Homicide Detective, Black Dahlia Murder

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 10:36 am
Elizabeth Little

Elizabeth Little, new prez, Mystery Writers of America, holding her first thriller DEAR DAUGHTER, which has gobbled up first-novel awards.

Thanks to the generous hospitality of Elizabeth Little, current President of the Mystery Writers of America, SoCal chapter, I got to spend wondrous hours at a backyard picnic table with  STEVE HODEL, author of five books based on the Black Dahlia murder. Along for the convo was Maxine Nunes (Dazzled). (Maxine is a mistress of sentence-craft and an author I love to read.)

Maxine & Steve (1)

Maxine Nunes and the great Steve Hodel. Holding down the background are Richard Brewer (left) and Steph Cha (right).

The murder occurred in Los Angeles, 1947, and has been the basis of countless novels, hodel-home-rightscreenplays and movies. The most incredible thing about all this is that the murderer was Steve’s father, Dr. George Hodel–a brilliant and charismatic doctor, who threw parties for Hollywood glitterati, while leading a double life as a secret serial killer.

We dined on fine southern BBQ as Steve revealed that his latest research points to the same Dr. George Hotel as the Zodiac killer of San Francisco.

Every hard-crime writer should know of Steve Hodel and  his work. That he had the guts and fortitude to do the right thing and out his own father as a brutal maniac strains the bounds of my mental capacity (and I don’t say that lightly!)

Thank you, Steve, for your incredible example as a writer, a seeker of truth, and as an honorable former member of law enforcement. Steve’s website. Steve’s books.


July 7, 2017

Book Distribution News

Baker and taylorI was thrilled to hear that a librarian in the the great state of New Jersey had already ordered Bestseller Metrics: How to Win the Novel Writing Game. But when I hopped over to Amazon, the sale was not showing. Neither was it showing on Create Space, where this workbook-sized paperback is published. I admit, dark thoughts of piracy and theft bubbled in my mind, but caution prevailed.

I called the helpful-and-instantly-available support staff at Create Space and ran my story past them. It was explained that when the book was published, I had chosen “Expanded Distribution,” qualifying Bestseller Metrics to be listed with distribution giants Baker and Taylor, Ingram, and Barnes and Noble. How about that, huh?Print

There is one caveat to this fantastic perk, however; royalties are tabulated 30 days after Barnesthe production of the book, unlike a sale on Amazon or Create Space, which shows within hours.

Mystery solved with a happy ending.

June 27, 2017

Elaine’s Big Shoot – Part 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 5:21 am

Even though the Author Learning Center is taping my interview in a rather glamorous setting, they want it relaxed and not too formal. Believe it or not, the picture below is the valet parking area of the hotel (which they pay for on my behalf). Too bad I don’t have a valet parking kind of car. The attendants are going to think, whoo this lady made a wrong turn. After staring at the picture for five minutes I figured out that that grey cylinder thing above the yellow striped curb is where you sit and wait for your car if you don’t want to sit inside on that orange modern-arty chair.

Valet parking

An Author Learning Center interviewer made contact, and I was impressed with the amount of research she put into my career and background. These people really check you out! Look at this….

Here are the suggested questions for your interview. Responses to each should be limited to around 4 mins. or less to keep the content convenient for viewing by our members.  Please let me know if you have any concerns or have any other talking points that you would like to cover:

·         Your latest book release, Bestseller Metrics: How to Win the Novel Writing Game, has been called “Moneyball” for novelists. Explain how this patent-pending system works and how writers can benefit from using this approach. How did you go about creating this system? How do you see this impacting the publishing industry?
·         You’ve helped hundreds of writers – both emerging and established – prepare their manuscripts for submission to agents or publishers. What are the key elements that make a manuscript stand out to an agent or publisher? What are the most common mistakes that you see new writers make in their first manuscripts?
·         How important is it for new writers, especially, to consult/hire a professional editor? How should they go about finding the best fit for their genre and writing style, and what can they expect when working with a professional editor?
·         You’ve had great success writing award-winning, crime fiction stories under the pen name, Anonymous-9. What was your reason and strategy for establishing this pen name? Two common questions from our community are A) when to use a pen name and B) how to be successful when using one. What has been your secret for effectively marketing work under your pen name, while also promoting your editing services and other work under your business name, Elaine Ash?
·         What is noir or hard-boiled fiction? Where/how can writers in this genre best reach their target audience?
·         Reviewers have said of your award-winning Hard Bite series, “Hard Bite singlehandedly stretches the boundaries of modern noir fiction”, and of your short story collection, “A9 has the most unusual, vivid, colorful, complicated, and freaking fun imagination you are ever likely to come across in your lifetime.” How did you get started writing in this genre and how do you keep the intensity and edginess to your writing interesting and fresh?

Isn’t that something? It all happens on Thursday. Wish me luck! Elaine Head '17



June 26, 2017

Elaine’s Big Shoot

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 6:04 am

Elaine Head '17On Thursday I’ll be shooting a lengthy interview with the Author Learning Center. They discovered Bestseller Metrics all on their own and contacted me about being a “featured expert” on their site (if all goes well, of course). I can even use their professionally produced clips from the shoot once they get edited, at no cost.

Believe me there’s more to this than meets the eye. The helpful on-camera tips they sent (below) mean my new outfit is out the window. No white jacket, which “glows” on video. Back to the closet for outfit two!

Tips For On Camera Appearances.  (Copyright Author Learning Center 2017)

You’ll be wearing a microphone – Be aware that a lavaliere or lapel microphone is attached to your clothing. Keep that in mind when choosing your outfit.

Focus: While on camera, focus on the person interviewing you or the camera person. Do not look straight into the camera. Pictured below: The set for the shoot.

TidesAdditional Tips:

  •  Bring water, as you might find your mouth gets dry when nervous.
  •  Bring your book or other promotional items in the event that you get a chance to showcase it on camera.

1. Tone: Casual. No need for suits. The idea is that the audience is getting to connect with you personally.

  1. Clothing Patterns: Wear a solid colored outfit, nothing with wild patterns (especially tight patterns like pin stripes or hounds-tooth, which can cause optical illusions on screen, or busy patterns and shapes – they draw the audience’s attention to the outfit instead of you).

    Clothing Color:

    1. Pick a color for your clothing that isn’t the same color as the background you’ll be sitting in front of (no pink tops in front of a pink wall).
    2. Avoid wearing black, white, bright orange or bright reds (white glows, black can wash you out, red is too saturated and can bleed into other parts of the picture, giving the same effect as they can bleed in your wash). These colors can cause problems on video.
    3. The best solid-color shirts are: blue, beige, off-white, etc. If you wear a bright white shirt or blouse, make sure to wear a darker jacket over it.
    4. Avoid too much bright to dark contrast – either the bright or dark color loses detail. For instance, pure black and navy blue clothing will lose all detail and appear like a solid dark blob.
    5. For men: If you’ll be wearing a tie, simple is best – Bring several options. Avoid complex patterns, thin lines, or bright reds and oranges.

      Tip: Presidential Candidates always stand in front of a royal blue curtain background because that color happens to be the most flattering to most skin tones – It literally makes you “pop” out of the background. It’s also a good color to wear close to your skin. A royal blue blouse or shirt will make you look terrific.


      Interesting huh? Tomorrow I’ll post the interview questions they’ve prepared for me.

June 24, 2017

Bestseller Metrics Released

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 5:21 pm

Watch me on video.

“Look inside this book” on Amazon.

I hate flogging, so I’ll leave it at that. The book is selling well with the little publicity it’s had so far, and a mystery film crew (which I’m waiting to get permission to talk about), has summoned me to Santa Monica for an hour-long interview about the Bestseller Metrics system this Thursday, June 29th. I’ll let you know as soon as I can say more.

BM Front cover


June 3, 2017

Novel Structure from a New Angle

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 7:33 am

I’ve coached hundreds of writers on their novel manuscripts. The same writers who nail dynamic characters and lustrous prose sometimes need a little more time at the workbench when it comes to structure. To my way of thinking, if so many writers need help with structure, there should be a ton of books on the topic, just like the tons of books on writing characters and good grammar. But, there aren’t.

So, I decided to write one.  BM Front cover

My approach to novel structure is different than the standard ‘how-to’ book. Long ago, I started seeing mathematical patterns in bestselling novels, even though I flunked out of grade ten mathematics and thought I had no interest. However, the numbers kept leaping out of novels as I read them, and clocking me in the head, so I started writing them down. When I showed my work to fellow-writers like Dana King and Dan Kelly, they saw a similarity to the early work of Bill James, who invented Sabermetrics for baseball. I hadn’t even heard of him until then!

Excerpts on structure will be posted here over the coming weeks. There’s a new website, too: in case you want a sneak peek.

Bestseller Metrics: How to Win the Novel Writing Game will be out in a week or two. I’m interested in getting a few reviews, so if you do that sort of thing, please send a message.


September 21, 2016

BESTSELLER METRICS—How to Win the Novel Writing Game

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 1:17 pm

“It’s Moneyball for novelists.”  —Dan Kelly


Promotional poster for the movie of how Sabermetrics revolutionized baseball. The system was invented by Bill James when he worked as a night security guard in a pork and beans factory.

After a decade of novel editing, it was time to write down some of the information compiled  inside my head. The result? A book called Bestseller Metrics, also a patent pending system by the same name that can catch and diagnose many writing mistakes that development editors get paid to find. The manuscript is not yet finished, and I’m actively soliciting feedback, not just from senior authors (who might say nice things if they like it), but also unpublished writers who could benefit from using the system.  (Note: Response was huge and the trial is closed for now.)

I need to say here that I’m not pushing a formulaic style of writing. In fact, my system frees writers from formula to reveal principles that underlie successful novels. It works  for writers of most genres who have a full-length fiction manuscript from 50,000 to 150,000 words that they’d like to sell.

I start with an intensive examination of handpicked bestsellers in popular genres. Here is the first test a writer can easily apply to their own work:

         Character Counting—Believe it or not, most bestselling novels feature a similar number of characters in the first quarter, whether it’s recent hits like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, or an all-time classic like The Big Sleep. What’s a very common problem with beginning manuscripts? Too many characters appearing too frequently to keep track! Bestseller Metrics catches the problem early and offers proven solutions—even for unfinished manuscripts.

Here’s an excerpt about the rationale behind Character Counting:

No matter how many minor characters swirl in and out through the mid-story, it’s a core cast that shows up at the beginning (or almost the beginning) and marches through to the end of any novel. Incredibly, the average amount of characters that carry through is 12— whether book length is 70k or 146k.

           Once you test a novel, any novel, on the character count of its first and last quarter, you gain a new perspective on continuity. The numbers are not subjective—character continuity is either there or not there. The results are like an x-ray into the skeleton of the story. It’s not the whole picture, but it’s an important part of story foundation.

            If the number of surviving characters in the last quarter is too low, this may signal a lack of interconnected relationships that flesh out the “world” of the novel. (Please note emphasis on the word “may.” Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice is a notable exception. Why? Because vampires live forever, outlasting all the human characters.) A low number may also indicate an absence of subplots that serve to keep interest high on a number of levels. Subplots develop on the strength of characters, and if they’re not there in the last quarter, it’s doubtful they’re there at all.

   If the number of surviving characters in the last quarter is too high, there’s risk of not enough page time for the core cast—readers don’t get acquainted with them enough to develop a bond. Characters start whipping by on the page, or drop in and drop out before readers have the chance to form an attachment. The more bonded readers are to your characters, the more invested and enthused they are likely to be about the story.

How to Test Your Manuscript

A series of simple tests, done on paper, asks questions about your story. Results are easy to calculate—anybody who can count from one to ten can do it. Scores are then compared to those of famous bestselling novels in a variety of genres, and suggestions are provided for improvements.

The system has pinpointed and solved problems that stubbornly elude writers’ groups, workshops, how-to books, and even critique in MFA programs. (In fact, I’m hoping educators will adopt the system as a tool in their writing classes.) It works for writers with a finished manuscript or one-in-progress; prepares beginners before they begin writing, and acts as a powerful tool in the hands of any seasoned professional who wants to deconstruct their literary competition.


What People Are Saying

Elaine Ash is surfacing the boundary between art and science. She is a pioneer. —Dr. Timothy Allison-Aipa, Statistics PhD

[BESTSELLER METRICS] codifies insights that I have been groping toward in the dark for years.   —Albert Tucher, author

This is one of the most enlightening books on writing I’ve read, and I’ve read a lot of them. —Rochelle Staab, President, Sisters in Crime SoCal

“I’m a big believer in the value of empirical evidence over anecdotal. Yours will be the first book I’ve ever seen that applies those principles to writing without coming across as pressing for a formula.” —Dana King, Nick Forte series, speaker, P.I. novel expert

“Why settle for subjective feedback about the inhabitants of your manuscript when industry book doctor Elaine Ash has discovered the great novels all share serious math. Compare your character list to those of the literary champs and learn why numbers tell their own story.”—Jack Getze, Author, Austin Carr Mysteries, Fiction Editor, Spinetingler

It shows you how others have written successful bestsellers, not how to fit your work into a formula. It makes you aware of the rules, so that when you DO break them, you know WHY and WHEN to do so.—Sam Wiebe, Last of the Independents, Invisible Dead

Elaine Ash doesn’t teach you how to write in this book, she teaches you what works using a method that revolutionized the entire industry of baseball already. Learn how to play moneyball with your creative writing! Benoit Leliévre, Deadend Follies



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