Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Quotes of the Week

You want to write a sentence as clean as a bone. That is the goal.
—James Baldwin

Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke.

Fairy tales are more than true not because they tell us that dragons exist but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten
—GK Chesterton

Read a lot. Reading really helps. Read anything you can get your hands on.
—J.K. Rowling

I don't want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.
—Carrie Fisher

Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely essential.
—Jessamyn West

The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.
—Terry Pratchett

I made mistakes in drama. I thought drama was when actors cried. But drama is when the audience cries.
—Frank Capra

It is not the object described that matters, but the light that falls on it.
—Boris Pasternak

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Titles

Today's Tuesday Tip is about Titles.

My first novel Still Falling did not always have that title. The original title that was just Falling. I liked it. It was simple and meaningful for the story and I went an entire year using it as the working title.

I was glad that I had the notion to go to Amazon and search for that title. When I searched I discovered that several hundred books were already titled Falling and most were romances.

This began my rules for titles. Rule number one is to make sure it is unique. Don't get so set on your title that you cannot change it.

There are other reasons to change your title. I pick working titles during the outlining phase. The title for my next novel was initially A Proper Darkness. When I was finished with the first draft a better title emerged from the writing: Virtues of the Vicious

Here are my simple rules for titles:

  • Make sure your title is unique on Amazon
  • Don't become tied to your title
  • Keep them as short as possible 
  • Make sure it doesn't convey the wrong genre

--Titles are more important than you may think.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Just Released: Worlds Enough. Fantastic Defenders

Now available on Amazon! My First fantasy story!

   Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders

Here is the description from Amazon:

Across astounding and magical worlds, five heroes step forward to defend against magical threats:

  • A sorceress in a besieged city faces a malignant force even more dangerous than the city's would-be conquerors.
  • An unassuming bureaucrat stumbles upon a threat to a vast empire and deals with it in his own inimitable fashion.
  • A resourceful bodyguard for an infant princess, trapped and surrounded by merciless assassins, finds a unique way to hold them at bay.
  • A mage press-ganged into the Royal Navy finds himself volunteered for a dangerous secret mission on foreign soil.
  • A disgraced royal guardian who failed in protecting his king hunts down those who cost him his honor.


My most recent story is in this Anthology called: The Once Damned

--Check it out!

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Tuppence Van de Vaarst

Tuppence Van de Vaarst

Tell me about yourself, Tuppence .

Starting with the deep question. I'll start with a safe subject, reading. I don't remember not knowing how to read. According to my mother, I taught myself when I was three. Since then, I've almost always had my nose stuck in a book at some point or another. I started writing my own stories when I was eleven, starting with a very bad rewriting of one of the Greek Myths. It's been an obsession ever since. I've saved everything I've ever written, too, which means there's a large portion of memory on my laptop that is all word documents in various states of completion.

As for the rest about me: I was born in Texas, grew up in Germany, spent most of my life in Virginia, and have lived in Hawaii, Maine, and am currently in Ireland studying for my Masters in Medieval Studies. You might say I have an incurable wanderlust, which I completely blame on my father. I have also participated the SCA, a medieval reenactment group, performed at multiple renaissance faires in the Northeast United States, spent four years in the Coast Guard, and invested far too many hours in both video games and pen and paper tabletop RPGs.

Tell me about your current Book:

What would life in the past have been like? That is the underlying question for most historical fiction. When writing Caribbean Magic, however, I took the question a step further. What would life have been like if there was magic? And what better setting for a historical fantasy than the golden age of piracy?

Josephine Crawford is the outspoken and tomboyish daughter of an English plantation owner. Her heritage, however, is much more complicated than her father's. Not only is her mother one of the native Taino, but her mother's blood has left her a legacy of magic. Unfortunately, Jo has very little idea how to use that magic, and it may be too late when a rich gentleman comes seeking to marry her. To escape a marriage of slavery, Jo runs away and finds herself thrust into a life of violence, adventure, blackmail, danger, and passion. In order to survive, Jo will have to learn quickly.

What are you working on now?

What am I not working on? I have far too many ideas congregating in my head. The foremost among them currently is the sequel to Caribbean Magic, which will center around Jo's brother Miguel. I also am working on a retelling of the Robin Hood legend in a series of novellas. The first one of those, Outlaw's Call, won first place in a short story competition at my community college. Oh, and there's my Master's thesis, which does need to be completed this summer.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

As long as I have my laptop, I can be anywhere! I've done most of my writing at various desks in the many places I've lived, but I've also taken my laptop on airplanes, ships, and just outside in the sun. Sometimes I'll also sprawl across my bed and write there. The place isn't the important part of my writing, the ideas in my head are.

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

That publishing a book is very much like performing on stage. This may seem like a strange statement, but everyone knows about stage fright. I've performed on stage before, and learned to overcome it. When I started the publishing process, however, it was one long drawn-out battle until I finally went for it. Now that it's done, I can enjoy the results, but the preparation and anticipation is far scarier than the reality.

What is your favorite Website? I can spend hours on that site, and it's sometimes good inspiration for story ideas. I dare anyone to go onto that site and not open a dozen tabs and wander down innumerable rabbit trails.



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Quotes of the Week

Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.
—F. Scott Fitzgerald

Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.
—Erica Jong

Anytime anybody tells me the trend is such and such, I go the opposite direction.
—Clint Eastwood

Remember we are mortal, but poetry is not.
—Patti Smith

A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God.
—Sidney Sheldon

There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.
—Joseph Brodsky

Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler's heart, kill your darlings.
—Stephen King

You'll go through a phase where you will imitate your favorite writers and that's fine because that's a learning experience too.
—JK Rowling

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
—Somerset Maugham

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tuesday Tips: The Hammer Through

This was some of the best pieces of advice I ever received about a first draft:

  • Hammer though the first draft without ever going back to revise. -Mark Henshaw
  • Give yourself permission to write a shitty first draft. -Ernest Hemingway
  • A first draft should not take more than three months, a season. -Steven King 

To actually manage the Hammer Through, here are some big things that help:

  • Eliminate distractions. (TV, Phone, Facebook, Internet, squirrels outside the window)
  • Eat right. Hydrate.
  • Get exercise.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Set aside writing time daily, first.
  • Write even if you don't feel inspired.
  • Write the story for yourself. Write a story that you want to read.

Some people go to coffee shops or the library to write. I can't do that. I always write at the same place and times. I have created a Pavlovian association with my desk and productivity.

Never answer the phone when you are writing. They can text or email you. Unless it's your wife who knows what your reserved writing hours actually are.

Use National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) to build the habit if you like. Then  keep at it.

--For me, every month is NaNoWriMo!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Reading: The Windup Girl

This week I read The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi.

Here is the description from Amazon:

Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history's lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko. Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in a chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.

What Happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits, when said bio-terrorism's genetic drift forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? In The Windup Girl, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi returns to the world of "The Calorie Man" (Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award-winner, Hugo Award nominee, 2006) and "Yellow Card Man" (Hugo Award nominee, 2007) in order to address these poignant questions.

--I have had this book for years. Finally got through it. Not really my cup of green tea.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

NEWS: Caribbean Magic

Tannhauser Press is pleased to announce the release of  Caribbean Magic by Tuppence Van de Vaarst.

Jo has always known that her father wants her to marry well, but she has no hope for that. After all, she is half Taino, and discrimination runs rampant among the English plantation owners of Jamaica. But when Mr. Reddings, a very respectable plantation owner, makes an offer for her hand, she realizes she may be wrong. Mr. Reddings has plans other than marriage for Jo, however, and Jo finds herself thrown into a world of betrayal, blackmail, piracy, sailing, and magic… 

 --Now available on Amazon!

World Building

Friday, May 12, 2017

Fast Friday Indie Interviews: David Keener

David Keener

Tell me about yourself, David.

I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was ten years old. I’d discovered my Dad’s collection of Andre Norton novels, and I wanted to write SF adventure novels just like those. My parents fed into this by buying me a typewriter (yes, I know, I’m showing my age), which was like the greatest present EVER.

Then life got in the way, I guess. I found out that the whole publishing industry was basically a machine for taking money away from writers, with all kinds of questionable gatekeepers, roadblocks and what any professional in any other field would call predatory practices. So I kind of gave up on The Dream until 2012, when I ended up having dinner with Hugh Howey, the best-selling author of Wool, and a few of his fans at the 2012 Worldcon in Chicago.

Hugh was the one who made me realize that this indie-publishing thing was a game-changer. The gatekeepers could be bypassed. Good stories could float to the top solely on their own merits. Suddenly, being a writer was a real option again. And my career in software development and project management was ideal preparation for creating products like ebooks, print editions and audio books.

So, here I am. The Dream is alive, finally. I’ve been writing for a while now. I’ve been honing my craft. My writing group and my Beta readers seem to like my stories. So 2017 is the year I start Publishing. The little birdies are tumbling out of the nest…
I work mostly at the novelette (roughly 30 – 70 pages) and novella (71 – 160 pages) lengths. Between anthologies and solo indie-published works, I’m expecting to release a story every 4 to 6 weeks in 2017.

Tell me about your current Book:

My Current Book? Um, that’s not really how I work, because I don’t seem to be a novelist (yet, at least). Since I work primarily at shorter lengths, I’ve got multiple works that have just come out or will be coming out within the next month.

I’ve got a novelette, “Road Trip,” appearing in an anthology called Reliquary, on the theme of relics:  Rocco Fitch, a wounded veteran of the war in Afghanistan, doesn’t have much left to live for. He’s disabled, unemployed and his wife has left him, taking their daughter with her. Then a beggar, a war veteran like himself, offers to sell him a road.

It’s a mash-up of different genres, which seems to be my specialty. This one’s an urban fantasy buddy story with a crime/military slant and some truly badass bikers.

I have a series of stories about a Royal Bodyguard in a fantasy setting that I’ve been working on. The first one is appearing in May in an anthology called Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders: Even though Lydio Malik is the Royal Bodyguard for the infant Princess Analisa of Salasia, his fellow bodyguards ridicule him for his foreign heritage and his almost obsessive attention to detail. But when disaster looms, the kingdom’s enemies will discover that when he says, “Over my dead body!”—he means it.

This is a fantasy thriller story with chess overtones, like the movies Die Hard, Highlander and Searching for Bobby Fischer all got together and had a love-child.

And finally, I’m publishing a novelette called “The Good Book” as a solo story:  Malcolm Jameson is planning to throw himself off a bridge when a passing bicyclist stops and hands him a magic book.

Unsurprisingly, the book has a considerably different plan for Malcolm.
And a bad attitude.

This one’s my outlier. It’s got a magic book in it, so it’s technically fantasy. But it’s really a story about finding a purpose in your life, so I guess it’s maybe really slipstream or magic realism or something painfully difficult to market.

What can I say? Sometimes my muse leads me into strange territories.

What are you working on now?

Well, that’s an unexpectedly complicated question. My fellow writers in my writing group tell that I must be some kind of mutant, because I work on about eight stories at a time. It’s either some strange form of ADHD, or else a carry-over from the software development side of my life (the side that pays the bills), where I’m used to multi-tasking like a banshee. So, it’s kind of like I have a pipeline
( going, with multiple stories in progress at once, but all at different stages.

Right now, I’m working on a story called “SkyriZe” for a zombie anthology that I was invited to contribute to. My story summary is:  Jack Johnson’s a computer nerd. He never expected to survive the zombie apocalypse, but he did. And in the worst place possible: the 88th floor of a skyrise in Manhattan, the most zombie-infested city in the country, maybe even the world. He’s got to escape the deadly tower he’s trapped in, plan how to survive long-term and, oh yeah, maybe eventually figure out how to reboot civilization.

Then I’ve got a story appearing later this year in another anthology called The Curator, on the theme of priceless artworks discovered in long-lost cache, with each story about a particular artwork. My story is called “Catalyst”: It’s 2636 and a traveling exhibition of priceless artworks has gone missing in the war-ravaged territory that used to be modern Brazil. Emily Dunkirk and her band of art historians and mercenaries are going to rescue the works. The obstacles to their success are fierce, and they’ll find more than they ever bargained for. They’ll also learn that, sometimes, the greatest works of art are painted in blood.

After that, there’s a sequel to “Road Trip” in the works and a couple sequels to my Royal Bodyguard story, plus, well, just go check out my Coming Soon ( page on my blog. There’s a LOT of stuff in the pipeline (ideas are NOT a problem for me (it’s time that’s the problem (hey, move over Deadpool, you might be breaking the 4th wall all the time but I’ve got TRIPLE-NESTED parentheses))).

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

My house has a big kitchen with a 12-foot-long granite island. It’s like the ultimate desk, with lots of room to spread out. I generally sit on a stool at the island, often with multiple laptops going. Of course, it’s complicated because She Who Must Sometimes Be Listened To periodically insists that I clean it off. In fact, just to torment, uh, I mean tease, her, I generally refer to the island as my Desk.

What is your favorite Website?

Gosh, how can you pick a single web site? The Internet is awesome, and terrible, and pervasive, and, ultimately, a real game-changer that I think people are still underestimating. It’s information at your fingertips. Just about anything you want to know, you can find out something about it on the net.

Some of the sites I visit most often are…Wikipedia (, Locus (the online presence of the industry magazine for the SF/Fantasy field) ( and, because I’m a movie buff, too: Box Office Mojo ( and the Internet Movie Database (


- If you can’t get your name on Twitter, well, go for something (hopefully) memorable.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Another Interview: The Dirty Dozen (12 Questions)

I was interviewed by another blogger!

She calls it The Dirty Dozen!

There are twelve questions. I answered so many that It had to be cut into two sets of a dozen! Here is Part 1.


Quotes of the Week

Great dialogue has transparency. Something is being said while something else is being felt.
—Robert McKee

Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.
—Steven King

A good writer is basically a story teller, not a scholar or a redeemer of mankind.
—Isaac B. Singer

If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story.
—Terry Pratchett

Find the key emotion; this may be all you need to know to find your short story.
—F. Scott Fitzgerald

To finish is sadness to a writer—a little death. He puts the last word down and it is done.
—John Steinbeck

I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the waste-basket.
—Ernest Hemingway

I don't try to guess what a million people will like. It's hard enough to know what I like.
—John Huston

Respect your characters, even the minor ones. In art, as in life, everyone is the hero of their own particular story.
—Sarah Waters

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Book Signing

Last weekend I did a book signing. I also did a talk for my writers group about how to host a successful book signing. I have sold a ton of books this way and have learned a lot every time I do another one.

Just to make things easier I made a checklist:

  • Write some books that don't suck
    • I'm serious
    • This is a prerequisite
  • Tell a pile of people you are signing books
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Email
    • Online groups
  • Make it easy for people to buy your stuff
    • Paper
    • Kindle
    • Audio
  • Have fun with it
    • People can tell you are having fun
    • Be approachable

Things to bring to make it easy and professional:
Good Signage
  • Have more books than you will need.
    • Running out is bad
  • Have a variety of books
    • Your novels
    • Anthologies you are in
  • Pens to sign stuff
    • Favorite pen and backups
    • I like Sharpies for signing
  • $200 in cash to make change
    • A cash box is a good idea as well
  • Be able to accept credit cards
    • Have a VISA/MASTERCARD plaque
  • Have good signage
    • Profession signage draws in people
  • QR Codes for Kindle Unlimited versions
    • Free books for readers cash for you
  • Business cards/book marks
    • Keep them in your cash box. Lots of them
  • Table cloths
    • Makes it look nice.
  • Shopping bags
    • It's a small thing but people like it
  • A folding chair (just in case)
    • Even a guest chair for people to chat
  • Book stands and racks
    • Readers need to be able to see your books
  • Downloadable freebies
    • Free short stories are nice
  • Email list signup sheet
    • Collect email addresses
  • Bowl of chocolate candies
    • Draw them in
  • Bottles of water
    • You will get thirsty from all the talking
  • Food if it's a long event
    • Power bars if not a real bagged lunch
  • A case to pack all this inside
    • Makes it easy to set up

Always get there early to set up. It lets you get a good spot. Always be extra nice to your hosts/organizers/contacts. Make friends and have fun. 

Keep in mind that you can be completely prepared, professional and ready and still not sell any books. It's happened to me a couple times. You just need to the foot traffic. And it also helps if the traffic you get are people from your target audience.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Read Some Short Stories!

There is a new anthology available called Tranquility and Other Myths. It is a collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction stories from my favorite writers group in Virginia.

I have a short story in this collection called,  Doctor Clark Loves Pizza

If you have memories of Delio's Pizza, in Batavia New York, from the 1980's, this is the title for you.

This book is now available on Amazon for about $6.99.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Thanks for coming to see me!

I wanted to thank everyone that came out to see me today at the Manassas Reads Book Festival in Old Town! It was a good day even though it was a bit on the cool side!

As promised, here is the link to the FREE short stories!

Come see me today!

Come on down to the Harris pavilion in Old Town Manassas Virginia!

How to be a Novelist

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Fast Friday Indie Interviews: John Murzycki

John Murzycki

Tell me about yourself, John?

I spent many years working as a high-tech marketing professional. It was rewarding, and I enjoyed much of it. But as long as I can remember, I wanted to write novels. I always loved reading, especially great books that would transport me to another place. I would marvel at how the author could make a story come alive.

In recent years, I began considering plot ideas that I took from my career in high-tech. I would often wonder about the unintended consequences of technology. What might happen if technology developed in a way we had never expected? And then I began to think about how I could write that idea as a fantasy story.

When I left a job last year, I decided to take the plunge and write full-time. I'm so glad I made this leap. The joy of completing and publishing a novel has been fantastic.

Tell me about your current Book:

What would happen if a computer virus evolved into something much deadlier than anyone ever expected? That's the underlying premise of Elthea's Realm. The book is part thriller, part futuristic sci-fi, and primarily fantasy.

At the outset of the story, five friends begin receiving messages asking about a college course called The Utopia Project that they took eight years earlier. Now someone wants more information about their involvement in it. The team leader in that project calls them together at his mountain retreat so they can try to figure out what is going on. At this point, the story evolves from thriller to fantasy as the friends are rescued from potential danger by a benevolent people who transport them to the enchanted land of Elthea's Realm a place with islands held high above the water by a single pillar. The people who rescued them are called the Astari, and they help the friends understand why they are being pursued by an evil force called the Bots, who continue to attack them even in this paradise.

The Bots will stop at nothing to kill or capture these particular companions. To make matters worse, the Bots begin to wage war on Earth's computer infrastructure. As the story unfolds, we learn more about what might happen if instruments of our technology become more than we can control.

What are you working on now?

I'm writing the next book in the series. I haven't finalized a title for it yet, but it will continue the adventures of the Utopia Project team. I'll examine the origins of the evil Bots in more detail and why they are so determined to destroy all that is good on Earth as well as on Elthea's Realm. This next book brings us back to the land called Elthea's Realm, and we meet others, including a group of people from Earth who ended up there many years earlier. I'll explore some new races in this land and how they figure into the battle against the Bots. I expect to publish it later this year. Beyond this, I have rough outlines for several other books in this series and some thoughts on a new series that will be a more traditional fantasy.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

I wrote the first draft of Elthea's Realm longhand on legal size paper. I would write anywhere. I was so energized with telling the story that I just wanted to get it down on paper without thinking about sentence structure or grammatical issues, or anything else. I just let it rip. Of course, that meant it took me more time to go back and clean it up in subsequent revisions, which I did on my computer at my work desk. That's where I now do all my writing, including first drafts. I like a place that's my own. When I sit at that desk, my mind automatically understands that it's time to work. But I think about plot ideas no matter where I am or what's going on. When a new plot idea or snippet of dialogue comes to me, I often have to stop whenever I'm doing to jot it down.

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

I discovered that book review sites are overwhelmed by requests for reviews. That's something I hadn't expected. When I first embarked on this road, I thought they would be an excellent way to inform other readers of my publication. What I quickly learned was how saturated they were by requests, and how many of the top sites charged a significant fee for a review. I guess it's only fair. They're in business just as I am. And although they are still an impartial jury weighing in on the quality of a novel, getting entry to their services is not as easy as I had originally thought it would be.

I also believe it's important for an independent author to understand the production process of copy editing, cover design, and marketing. If you do any of these poorly, it reflects on the quality of your writing.

What is your favorite Website?

I honestly can't say I have a favorite. I know Bing is a search engine, not a website, but I often look at it on most days to see the photo they post each day and to catch the top stories.

I live in Massachusetts, and I've been a fan of the New England Patriots football team for all my life. So on occasion, I read the ESPN blog on the Patriots.



Wednesday, May 3, 2017

I shall live badly if I do not write, and I shall write badly if I do not live.
—Françoise Sagan

But with writers, there's nothing wrong with melancholy. It's an important color in writing.
—Paul McCartney

There is no such thing as simple. Simple is hard.
—Martin Scorsese

It's harder to write in the third person but the advantage is you move around better.
—Ernest Hemingway

If you don't like what you're doing, it's unlikely anyone else will either.
—Billy Wilder

Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.
—Anne Sexton

You start by writing to live. You end by writing so as not to die.
—Carlos Fuentes

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Selling Books

I admit that I do not know nearly enough about the marketing end of being an Indie Published Author. I do know that the best marketing, Number 1, above all, advice is: Write a book that doesn't suck. The Number 2 rule probably is: Find the right Audience.

Let's presume you have already written your book, found your audience and placed it in the right categories on Amazon.

Now What?

There are four things that are the key to getting people to invest the time to read your story. Oddly the price is less important that I initially believed. It's a small matter weather it's $0.99 or $2.99 or $4.99. You need to convince the reader to invest the TIME in your book.

There is only so much more time until I die and I will never be able to read all the books I want to read by the time I'm dead!

Here's how you persuade readers to spend their time:

  • The Title 
  • The Cover
  • The Blurb
  • The Preview

When I realized that I did this for the books I read, it became clear to me how important these items are for a reader trying to decide to invest the time in your book.

The Title

I have said this over and over. Your title should be unique. It should be easy to find with an Amazon search. Please be especially careful about cross genre confusion. My first novel was originally titled FALLING. Prior to publishing I was smart enough to do an Amazon search for it and found hundreds of Romance novels titled the same. So STILL FALLING was born.

The Cover

You must have a kick ass cover that is eye catching, professional, contains the genre and tease. Remember that getting your book to the right audience is paramount. A great Scifi/Action/Adventure could be hated by a reader that thought they were buying a romance. The Cover is the first hook. The thumbnail is the part that brings in the reader.

The Blurb

You must spend serious time planning and writing your blurb. It must be well written, and set the stage for an exciting or romantic or scary story. It hooks the reader in farther. It confirms that this is the kind of story they are looking to spend time with.

The Preview

You only get one chance usually to make the first impression. I always read the preview. It has to hook me. It has to set the tone, light the fuse, set the bombs timer going, it has to make the reader afraid to not buy the book for fear of not knowing what will happen.

Make sure to take the time and focus on all of these. I know I suck at blurbs. I always get help with my blurbs.

--These are not ALL you need to do. But these are the foundation that needs to be in place when your audience arrives.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Manassas Book Festival on May 6th!

Reading: The Untethered

This week I read The Untethered by S.W. Southwick.

Here is the description from Amazon:

A juvenile delinquent chases his dream to build the greatest aircraft in history--and the world tries to stop him. A rising political star runs from her childhood dream--and the world encourages her on. A self-loathing geneticist hides below the streets of Las Vegas--and rebels against the whole world. An artist tries to make his father proud--at the cost of everything he loves.

When all four lives collide, each must make a choice. And the world will never be the same. 

--I really enjoyed this book. Highly recommended.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Liz Long

Liz Long

Tell me about yourself, Liz?

Liz Long is a magazine writer and editor by day. By night, she writes about gifted circuses (Donovan Circus Series), scared superheroes (Heroes of Arcania trilogy), and teen Reapers who want to be alive again (A Reaper Made).

Tell me about your current Book:

When criminal mastermind Fortune murders her little sister, Nova Benson must learn how to use her Unbreakable gift to stop him, or else watch the city of Arcania crumble beneath his lightning-filled hands.

Comic book readers and fans of CW Network smash hits Arrow, and The Flash, and Netflix’s Daredevil will root for Liz Long’s bestselling YA summer series as the HoA’s gifted teen superheroes attempt to save their city from its impending demise.

What are you working on now?

I am currently writing the 5th and final book of the Donovan Circus series, as well as working on a YA dystopian novel that I hope to put out later this year.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

My screened-in front porch with my dog Fisher by my side - complete with headphones, notepads and pens, and plenty of Skittles!

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

Success doesn't happen overnight. Or even in a year. This business is truly a marathon, not a sprint. It's taken 5 years, 9 books, and a lot of time and energy to finally get where I am now - and I'm just getting started!

What is your favorite Website?

This sounds lame, but probably I love keeping up with all my TV and movie entertainment news!



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Quotes of the week

We are all of us stars, and we deserve to twinkle.
—Marilyn Monroe

The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always.
—Arthur Miller

Let me live, love and say it in good sentences.
—Sylvia Plath

The best time for planning a book is while doing the dishes.
—Agatha Christie

Writing is like breathing, it’s possible to learn to do it well, but the point is to do it no matter what.
—Daphne Du Maurier

Read a lot. Reading really helps. Read anything you can get your hands on.
—J.K. Rowling

Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.
—Erica Jong

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write.
—Anaïs Nin

Play around. Dive into absurdity and write. Take chances. You will succeed if you are fearless of failure.
—Natalie Goldberg

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Editing

One of the skills an author needs is knowing his limitations.

With me, since I started writing, I have come to realize that I really suck at editing. I admit it. Spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes don't register with me. I think I have figured out why.

When I read I don't see words. I see images in my head. When I read the word "elephant" I don't see the word, I see an elephant in my head. It makes reading faster, more enjoyable, but it skips so much.

I just can't help it.

The errors have to be pretty bad for me to stub my toe on them. I have been trying to slow down and see the words more when I am in the editing phase. Using Gammarly helps.

The main take away for me is that it is really important to have help. A good editor on the team make a world of difference.

--Just as long as they don't laugh and point at me too much...

Monday, April 24, 2017

Book Signing: May 6th

I will be signing books at the Historic Old Town Manassas Reads book festival on May 6th, 2017!

I will be signing books along with several other local authors!

I will be in the Harris Pavilion.

Stop in to point and laugh!

Look for my fancy new banner before the wind sends it flying!

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Leighton Dean

Leighton Dean

Tell me about yourself, Leighton?

Let's see, I'm Welsh. But I can't play rugby, seriously. So what else is there?

I play games, probably too much. I’m currently juggling Civilization 6 with the launch of my book. I love reading & writing, anything really but technology plays a big part in most of my works so it lends itself to Science Fiction.

I'm also a cinephile, recently whittled down my VHS collection to the original Star Wars trilogy and the Omen trilogy. All in favor of DVDs which are now obsolete...

When not doing any of these I love to travel with my wife and work on our all important beer blog.

Tell me about your current Book:

When an undercover agent goes missing, his superior must enter an anarchist London to find the leader of the 'Free London' movement, before England invades it's own city.

In 2038 the Government rules from York after losing control of Southern England to anarchy. Now after 30 years of gangland law; Evan Bell has found an opportunity to unite the Kingdom.

Two days before his undercover agent is set to meet with the leader of the ‘Free London’ movement the agent goes missing, leaving Evan no option but to enter the city himself.

But when a Red Cross Transport is shot down it ignites hostilities between the city's gangs. His mission doomed, Evan finds hope in an unlikely ally; Bo, a 13 year old assassin.

Hidden within these pages is the algorithm for winning a national lottery. Guaranteed within four weeks play. Okay, this last part isn't true. But the book is fantastic.

What are you working on now?

My next book ‘Save Our Souls’, think ‘The Poseidon Adventure’ but in space.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

My study. Pacing between my desk and white board, listening to 65 Days of Static.

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

Finish what you start.

What is your favorite Website?

Den of Geek. Collider is a close second.



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

If I see an ending, I can work backward.
—Arthur Miller

Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark.
—Annie Dillard

What has always been at the heart of movie making was the value of the script.
—Douglas Fairbanks

Forget what you think about it and tell what you feel about it.
—Stephen Crane

Write as often as possible, not with the idea of getting into print, but as if you were learning an instrument.
—J.B. Priestley

The great writers can take us anywhere; but half the time they're taking us where we don't want to go.
—Martin Amis

To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music that words make.
—Truman Capote

I never reread a text until I have finished the first draft. Otherwise it’s too discouraging.
—Gore Vidal

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Perfection is a Trap

No one will ever accuse me of writing perfect novels.

Today's tip is a caution. 

The pursuit of perfection will stand in the way of your efforts. This issue is one of the big ones that stops some writers from finishing anything. They constantly revise, wanting everything in the first draft to be perfect.

With this mindset, writers cripple themselves. It crippled me for decades. It can be a kind of self-sabotage.

The solution is not difficult:

Give yourself permission to be imperfect. Hammer though your first draft never looking back. Allow yourself to make typos, write a weak paragraph or slow section. Generate the raw materials that will allow you to return and shape what you have made into the best story it can be.

The pursuit of perfection can still cripple you even if you finish your first draft, second draft, third...

There comes a point when you have polished it enough.

Use beta readers and professional editors to take it far enough.

Then let it go.
Finish it.
Publish it.
Move to the next project.

It will never be perfect. And that's OK. Get used to it, because reviewers will let you know.

--Always know, if you got as far as publishing something you are farther ahead that 99%.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Reading: Dead Six

This week I read the book DEAD SIX by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari.

Here is the description from Amazon:

Michael Valentine, veteran and former member of an elite private military company, has been recruited by the government to conduct a secret counter-terror operation in the Persian Gulf nation of Zubara. The unit is called Dead Six. Their mission is to take the fight to the enemy and not get caught.

Lorenzo, assassin and thief extraordinaire, is being blackmailed by the world's most vicious crime lord. His team has to infiltrate the Zubaran terrorist network and pull off an impossible heist or his family will die. When Dead Six compromises his objective, Lorenzo has a new job: Find and kill Valentine.

As allegiances are betrayed and the nation descends into a bloody civil war, Lorenzo and Valentine must face off. Two men. Two missions. Only one will win.

--Great action adventure with excellent characters.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

How to Become a Professional Author

This may be the best, most direct, simple advice. That and, Finish Things!


Friday, April 14, 2017

The Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Heather Elizabeth King

Heather Elizabeth King

Tell me about yourself, Heather Elizabeth King!

I love books and I love scary stories. I inhale Stephen King. I also inhale indie author, Nicholas Sansbury Smith. He writes para-ops zombie books. Not very girly, but the books are fantastic. On TV I watch Supernatural, Stranger Things, and Midsomer Murders (which doesn’t have any monsters at all. Go figure). One of my favorite movies of all time is Poltergeist.

On the writing end of things, I started telling stories when I was a kid, at sleepovers. I’d make up stories and act them out for my friends. Eventually, a graduated to writing my first screenplay. I was about 12. And because I had a lot of time on my hands, I also wrote the soundtrack. I think it’s safe to say I was born to be a creative.

Tell me about your current Book.

Zoe Matthews, the Undead Ghost and the Demon is a supernatural mystery. Zoe is married to a lying, cheating, SOB. In my world, as happens to all lying, cheating, SOBs, he’s murdered. He shows up in Zoe’s bedroom as a ghost, trying to ask for help. When the daughter of a friend is charged with the murder, Zoe investigates.

When a serial philanderer is murdered, a somewhat saddened, estranged wife, Zoe Matthews, must find a killer, or else risk being haunted by the ghost of her cheating husband forever.

What do you do when the ghost of your murdered husband shows up in your house? If you’re Zoe Matthews, you don’t celebrate the fact that the philandering bastard is dead, you set out to find a killer and clear your name.
The list of suspects seems endless. Was it one of the nearly adolescent girls he’d been sleeping with behind Zoe’s back, a sinister friend who dabbles in black magic, a pair of clueless thugs on the hunt for a missing object they think Zoe has, a sexy and all too appealing celebrity artist new to town, or the stuffy town mayor?

Armed with her two best girlfriends, a ghost hunting sister, a meddling spirit who refuses to leave her loft, and plenty of tea, Zoe sets out to get to the bottom of Joe’s death. What she finds out on this journey into the supernatural leaves her changed forever.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on the follow up to the first Zoe Matthews book. This one has been fun so far. Like in the first book, the reader won’t be able tell if the villain is human or supernatural.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

I’m boring. I set up the front room in my house as a study. It has my small library or fiction and reference books, a big comfy chair to sit in, my treadmill, and my musical instruments. I guess it’s more of a creativity space than a study. The best thing is that the room a lot of windows. Lots and lots of windows.

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?
To write the story the way it wants to be told. Never force anything to happen. If it doesn’t feel natural, remove it. I have a separate file where I put deleted sections from books. After all, you never know when something may fit a different book.

What is your favorite Website?

Netflix! Scary movies at my fingertips!!