The short answer: As much as you let it

A used-up tube of toothpaste cut open at the far end, which is clipped together with two paper clips.
A used-up tube of toothpaste cut open at the far end, which is clipped together with two paper clips.
Toothpaste: Author’s own

This is the long-delayed (though probably not much awaited) conclusion to my ‘How I Wrote My First Novel’ short series, in which I’ve tried to walk readers through the process of writing a first book, as I did it, complete with mistakes. Here, we’re going to look at the aftermath: Success.

First things first: By “success,” I mean a sale to a traditional publisher, resulting in a novel you can walk into a bookstore and see on the shelf. That’s what it meant to me — and to most aspiring writers — when I was working on my first novel…


As Winston Churchill said, ‘Never give in; never, never, never.’

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Photo courtesy of Amazon KDP, from a licensed stock image.

The first pages of this book, which is being released on Amazon today, were written in 2005. To give you some perspective on that: At the time, the reigning social media platform was MySpace. Really.

Also in 2005, I was a relatively young writer in San Luis Obispo, California, who’d had the astounding good luck to sign a three-book contract with Bantam Dell, on the strength of a debut mystery, The 37th Hour, and the representation of a good literary agent. 37th Hour had been published in January 2004, and the sequel, Sympathy Between Humans, in January 2005. Now all…


What Paul’s advice can tell us about navigating the Twitter-and-Parler world

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Photo by Mohammed Reziae via Unsplash

‘Whatever is good, whatever is pure, whatever is just, whatever is commendable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things.’

What an amazing sentiment. As Phil Dunphy once said on Modern Family, I don’t even need context! The message is quite clear.

What is worth pointing out, though, is that scholars believe Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi was written between 61 and 63 AD — meaning more than 1,950 years ago. Which makes that surprising that this verse is so remarkably relevant to the 21st…


Why do we love our old devices so much? The answer — like what’s cool and what’s square — is a moving target

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The grande dame of cell phones, the Nokia 3310, and her 2017 reboot. (Photo: WIkipedia Commons).

Chances are, you’ve been to a movie in the past ten years in which a young aspiring writer works on a manual typewriter. It’s also likely that this didn’t seem odd to you. It certainly would have, though, to a filmgoer of twenty-five years ago. Back then, no creative writer would be caught dead using a typewriter, because the typewriter was still a fairly valid piece of office equipment, associated with staid efficiency.

Now, it shines with vintage glamour. If you work on a typewriter, you’re no longer a Boomer secretary, you’re a free-thinking artist. Unless it’s an electric typewriter…


A Q-and-A with the author … by the author! All about the writing life, how to handle success (learned the hard way), and the must-have writer’s accessory.

A black-and-white photo  of Jodi Compton, who is, believe me, extremely attractive.
A black-and-white photo  of Jodi Compton, who is, believe me, extremely attractive.
Photo: Author’s own. A publicity photo for the release of ‘Hailey’s War,’ my third novel.

Wait … This is a Q&A? Why?

I’ve found that writing in a question-and-answer style is a fun, quick-moving way to write autobiographical pieces. It keeps me from getting too verbose (a common problem for writers, who as a group are comfortable behind the keyboard), and it eliminates clunky transitions.

Okay. Let’s start with this: Who exactly are you?

I’m the author of four mystery novels (I tend to use the term “crime novels,” but either/or), with a fifth coming out through Amazon in 2021. …


Part 2: “How did you know you were ready?”

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Photo by Andrew Neel via Unsplash

“How I Wrote My First Novel” is a short series about, as you’d expect, the process of writing my first crime novel, The 37th Hour, and getting it published. It’s meant to help aspiring novelists — especially those who work in genre, and who have publication as a goal. It’ll progress in chronological order, with each subtitle being a frequently-asked question about the novelist’s process. However, if you want the whole story start-to-finish, with a bit more biographical detail and less focus on technique, you can find that here.

Here’s the…


Aka, ‘How I Wrote My First Novel, Part 1’

Close-up of architectural blueprints.
Close-up of architectural blueprints.
Photo by Pixabay via Pexels.com

“How I Wrote My First Novel” is a short series about, as you’d expect, the process of writing my first crime novel and getting it published. This series is meant to help aspiring novelists, especially those who work in genre, and who have publication as a goal. This is why the subtitles take the form of questions published writers are often asked. …


From early ambition to Bantam Dell, in a nutshell

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Photo by Anete Lusina via Unsplash

“How I Wrote My First Novel” is a short series about, as you’d expect, the process of writing my first crime novel, The 37th Hour, and getting it published. It’s meant to help aspiring novelists — especially those who work in genre, and who have publication as a goal. It’ll progress in generally chronological order, with each subtitle being a frequently-asked question about the novelist’s process.

However, if you want a summation, the whole story start-to-finish with a bit more biographical detail and less focus on technique, here it is.

My career path was set in near-stone from, approximately, birth…


Part 3: “Are short stories always the first step?”

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Photo by Elena Mozhvilo via Unsplash

“How I Wrote My First Novel” is a short series about, as you’d expect, the process of writing my first crime novel, The 37th Hour, and getting it published. It’s meant to help aspiring novelists — especially those who work in genre, and who have publication as a goal. It’ll progress in generally chronological order, with each subtitle being a frequently-asked question about the novelist’s process. If you want the whole story, with a bit more biographical detail and less focus on technique, your can find that here.

While it’s an old chestnut that published writers are always asked, “How…


How did ‘unkempt’ end up as a swan without a mate?

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Photo: Sinval Carvalho via Unsplash

A comedian friend of mine has been doing a riff lately about words that seem like they should be an antonym but aren’t. That is, an opposite made by the attachment of a prefix like un- to a root word … except there’s no root. He includes unruly without ruly, inept but not ept, and — seemingly his favorite — unkempt, which has no kempt.

That last one was of particular interest to me, because immediately, I had a theory about where thelinguistic trail led: to the word kept, which can mean “maintained,” and is spelled almost exactly like the…

Jodi Compton

Jodi Compton is the author of four crime novels. Learn more about her books at amazon.com/author/jodicompton.

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