Monday, October 31, 2016

READING: The Force Awakens

This week I read Star Wars - The Force Awakens written by Alan Dean Foster and based on the movie.

Here is the description from Amazon:

More than thirty years ago, Star Wars burst onto the big screen and became a cultural phenomenon. Now the next adventures in this blockbuster saga are poised to captivate old and new fans alike—beginning with the highly anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And alongside the cinematic debut comes the thrilling novel adaptation by New York Times bestselling science fiction master Alan Dean Foster.

Set years after Return of the Jedi, this stunning new action-packed adventure rockets us back into the world of Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2, and Luke Skywalker, while introducing a host of exciting new characters. Darth Vader may have been redeemed and the Emperor vanquished, but peace can be fleeting, and evil does not easily relent. Yet the simple belief in good can still empower ordinary individuals to rise and meet the greatest challenges.

So return to that galaxy far, far away, and prepare yourself for what happens when the Force awakens. . . .

I am a Star Wars fan and always read the novelization. I like the scenes that were in the script that end up on the cutting room floor.

--It was fun, Thumbs up.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Mehreen Ahmed

Mehreen Ahmed

Tell me about yourself, Mehreen?

I have been publishing since 1987. My writing career began with journalism and academic reviews and articles. My journalistic articles appeared in The Sheaf, a campus newspaper for the University of Saskatchewan Canada between 1987-1999. Later on, she published fiction, mostly introspective.

My reviews and articles have appeared in notable, peer-reviewed journals in my area of study. For example, the research article: A Note on Phrase Structure Analysis and Design Implication for ICALL, was first published in Computer Assisted Language Learning, Special Issue, Intelligent Call Systems, Lisse, Netherlands Vol 15 Issue 4, 2002.

Set in Brisbane Queensland, Jacaranda Blues is my debut novella, written in a stream of consciousness style. Following, I published The Blotted Line, a collection of short stories. More recently, Snapshots and Moirae were first published by PostScript Editions, UK in 2010 and a second edition by Cosmic Teapot Publishing, Canada in 2016.

One of my short stories, “The Anomalous Duo” has been accepted to be translated in the German language for publication in the anthology, Familie (er)zählt.  So far, I have co-authored quite a number books and her shorter works that have been included in various anthologies published by PnP Publishers. Our Treasured Stories and Poems, and Write to Remember are two of them.

Her books have made their ways into COPAC, WORLDCAT, TROVE sites through the gateways of Cambridge university library, Bodleian and fryer Library at the university of Queensland, Australia. Jacaranda Blues and Moirae have been heritage listed by the State Library of Victoria, Australia. Gutenberg Project has allowed Moirae to be self-published on their site.

I come from a family of writers. Many of my relatives are published writers of fiction and nonfiction including my father Manzoor Alam. My grandfather Jan-e- Alam Chowdhury was a novelist.

Tell me about your current Book:

My current book is called Moirae.  In Moirae, Nalia finds herself trapped in a strange and inescapable lucid dream. Danger looms ahead for her friends. Pressured out of their homes in the Lost Winds, every step threatens them with persecution and death.

Taking a daring route on a treacherous sea, they seek asylum in a new land. Will they make it to their destination? Will Nalia’s dream of finding peace in Draviland become the utopia that she desperately desires, or are the dangers of this new land even worse than her home?

Set in a real time, stream-of-consciousness narrative, this story takes you on a sweeping literary journey.

What are you working on now?

An historical fiction, The Pacifist.
In this story, Peter Baxter leave an orphanage as soon as he turns sixteen. The tyranny of the orphanage does not break him but rather makes him, as he enthusiastically embraces life and reinvents himself. He meets Farmer Brown the first day he steps out of the orphanage. Farmer Brown offers the homeless a room on his farm in exchange for free work. Peter is only too pleased to move in, but tries to return this favor anyway he can. However, he soon realizes that life here is not that simple after all, as Farmer Brown has a complex past. Peter is given to read a red folder one day, which details the farmer’s rather curly history.

A new story emerges from this point on and transpires gradually towards a stunning end, as the red folder keeps getting fatter with newer entries. It serves not only as a document of the farmer’s account, but Peter’s as well. A full on evolution of ruthless ambition fueled by profound love and unmitigated sufferings, where the orphanage, by far, not only plays a huge role in shaping the destiny of the characters, but becomes a metaphor of institutional power as well.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

My favorite place is my writing desk by the window through which I can see dark clouds.

What is your favorite Website?

I love the Absolute Shakespeare website.  It’s essential for any Shakespeare lover!



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Quotes of the Week

Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.
—Billy Wilder

I sweat blood to make my style simple and stripped bare.
—Margaret Mitchell

The writer is by nature a dreamer - a conscious dreamer.
—Carson McCullers

Never use a long word where a short one will do.
—George Orwell

I have rewritten, often several times, every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.
—Vladimir Nabokov

A writer is a world trapped in a person.
—Victor Hugo

The third act must build in tempo and action until the last event, and then—that’s it. Don’t hang around.
—Billy Wilder

You own everything that happened to you. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.
—Anne Lamott

Write for yourself and yourself alone. Don’t try to please anyone else, and don’t be afraid of anyone.
—Sallie Tisdale

Those who never make mistakes lose a great many chances to learn something.
—Mary Pickford

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tuesday Tips: Grow a Thick Skin

One of the best tools to have if you want to be a writer is to grow a Thick Skin.

Having a Thick Skin allows you to take advice. It allows you to listen to people that give you input prior to publication. This includes editors, beta readers and even writers groups.

I have seen writers that are totally UNABLE to listen to criticism. They cannot stand for anyone to say their baby is ugly.

If you can understand that every first draft is crap, share your work, listen, filter through the advice, act on the feedback, your story will be better. Even when you are done, it's been professionally edited, you are not done.

I always print several, "Red Pen Proofs" and have people read it and literally red pen it.

Having a Thick Skin will make all this work easier.

After your book is published a Thick Skin is also handy. Reviews are just the start. Readers will also email you. Critics will write about you. Your family won't take the time to read your book.

--Cultivate a Thick Skin. You will be glad you did. Because you're ugly and you dress funny.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Reading: World's Edge

This week was a reading twofer: I read World's Edge and The Wind and the Void by Ryan Kirk.

Here are the descriptions from Amazon:

Book Two of the Nightblade Trilogy:

 Two cycles have passed since Ryuu lost his adopted father, and he dares to hope that he’s found peace at last. But nightblades live by the sword, and when a new breed of warrior threatens the Southern Kingdom, Ryuu and Moriko are pulled to opposite edges of the known world to uncover mysteries that have lain dormant for hundreds of cycles. As the Three Kingdoms descend into chaos, the two nightblades must decide what they stand for. There’s no place to hide, and the secrets they reveal will have the power to change the world forever. 

Book Three of the Nightblade Trilogy:

The invasion is here. Already decimated by civil war, the armies of the Three Kingdoms struggle desperately to mount a defense against a force stronger than any they have fought before.

In the midst of the chaos the actions and choices of a select few will shape the future of the land. Akira prepares to give up his Lordship. Ryuu wanders the Southern Kingdom, searching for a reason to fight. Moriko sits quietly, biding her time before she leaves the Three Kingdoms for good. Finally, across the Three Sisters, Nameless fight to keep his fragile alliance of clans together.

A new age is dawning in the Three Kingdoms. An age born in blood and sacrifice. An age shaped by the wind and the void. . .

--I really enjoyed these. Thumbs up!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Ryan Troske

 Ryan Troske

Tell me about yourself, Ryan.

I am a biologist who spends time out on the Bering Sea working with all sorts of fascinating creatures.  Seriously.  I collect, maintain, and distribute data for scientific, management, and regulation compliance purposes in the Gulf of Alaska and the Eastern Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands.  When I’m not tangling with squid and wrestling with sharks, I enjoy watching and playing sports of all kinds, playing guitar, and of course, writing, which I hope to make more than a hobby instead of "that thing I tried one time."

Tell me about your current Book:

When a horrific car accident mysteriously leads to powers of mindreading and telepathy, thereby thrusting him into the world of Supernaturals, Ethan must put a stop to a tyrannical leader’s treacherous  schemes, or else it may cost him and his newfound companions their lives—if his ever increasing lack of control doesn’t do the job first.

To many, the idea of super powers is illogical; an absurdity reserved for the likes of Hollywood and overactive imaginations.

They are wrong.

Ethan is just an ordinary teenage boy--infatuated with sports, music and, of course, girls.  That is, until a horrific car accident changes his life in ways he could never have imagined. 

Waking in the hospital, Ethan discovers he now has the ability to read others' thoughts, and even more perplexing, move objects with his mind. 

And he's not the only one.

Seeking guidance and control, Ethan finds himself immersed in a world of individuals with their own unique special abilities--A world ofSupernaturals.

But not all can be trusted . . .

Full summary: Ethan is just an ordinary teenage boy--infatuated with sports music and, of course, girls. Or so he thinks. Heading home on a rainy night from an amateur guitar gig, he finds his life turned completely upside down--literally. His car spins and flips out of control after what he believes to be a small animal jumps out in front of him. The horrific accident is only the beginning of a series of mysterious and seemingly unrelated events that will change his life forever.

After awaking in the hospital, and following an encounter with an enigmatic doctor, Ethan discovers that something that occurred during the wreck allows him to hear others' thoughts, and even more perplexing, move objects with his mind. While trying to wrap his head around this mystery, he realizes he's not alone. There are others out there with special powers. Not long after learning of this new world, Ethan's ever increasing lack of control places those around him at serious risk. In order to protect those he loves, he makes the difficult decision to leave and accepts an offer to attend specialized training along with other so called Supernaturals to gain command over his newfound gifts. Shortly after beginning his schooling, Ethan is sent on a mission to kidnap who he believes to be the enemy leader in a well concealed Supernaturals war. But the further he becomes embedded in this new world, the more he discovers things are not quite what they seem and doesn't know who can be trusted.

In this first installment of the Supernaturals series, Ethan discovers that super powers aren't always so super, and is faced with difficult decisions that will not only affect his own life, but which may determine the life or death of his newfound companions and mentor.

What are you working on now?

I am currently working to finish up The Recruit (Supernaturals Book 2), as well as the first books in a couple other series I hope to complete: The Outbreak (Survival Book 1), a dystopian/post-apocalyptic journey; and The Lost Book of Behlkrumor (The Telkuhryn Chronicles book 1), an epic fantasy adventure.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

I love to sit outside and write.  Whether it’s enjoying a beautiful day at the park or relaxing at home in my own backyard.

What is your favorite Website?

Besides social media, the only site I visit on a regular basis is ESPN.  I’m a huge sports fan and love reading up on pretty much anything having to do with baseball, hockey, and football.



Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Quotes of the Week

You fail only if you stop writing.
—Ray Bradbury

Literature is the art of saying, with ordinary words, something extraordinary.
—Boris Pasternak

It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.
–C. J. Cherryh

Reading is the sole means by which we slip involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul.
—JC Oates

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
—Anton Chekhov

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.
—Friedrich Nietzsche

Don't be 'a writer.' Be writing.
—William Faulkner

Read at the level at which you want to write. Reading is the nourishment that feeds the kind of writing you want to do.
—Jennifer Egan

You don't write a song to sit there on a page. You write it to sing.
—Bob Dylan

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tuesday Tips: Time

This is a very important topic. It is all about the Time you spend writing.

Managing my time is more important because I have a full time job and a killer commute.

Here is how we will look at time:
  • Schedule your time.
  • Protect your time.
  • Use your time for writing.
  • Make the time a habit.

Schedule your time.

First and foremost you have to schedule the time daily. I blog in the morning before work every day, with coffee. I write fiction right after work. I get home about 4pm and get in about two hours.

Every day.

For me, so far, this has resulted in about two novels a year plus various short stories.

Protect your time. 

Create an environment that has no distractions. No TV is the biggest thing for me. I just cancelled my land line phone service. I don't answer my phone during writing hours. I tell people to not bother calling me between 4-6pm. No email. No Facebook.

Use your time for writing.

This sounds obvious but when I realized that with a quiet time to myself I found myself doing things that were not writing. I would be web surfing, cleaning my office, or even napping or eating. Now I try to just write.

Make the time a habit. 

If you want to really be serious about it, writing cannot be optional. Do not wait for the Muse. It has to be like a job. You show up and write something. If you do this, inspiration finds you.

--Time is the fire in which we burn...

Monday, October 17, 2016

Reading: Nightblade

Last week I read Nightblade by Ryan Kirk.

Here is the description from Amazon:

Ryuu is a boy orphaned by violence at a young age. Taken in by a wandering warrior, he learns he may have more strength than he ever imagined possible. A quiet child, Moriko is forced into a monastic system she despises. Torn from her family and the forest she grew up in, she must fight to learn the skills she’ll need to survive her tutelage under the realm’s most dangerous assassin.

Young, beautiful, and destitute, Takako is sold to pay for her father’s debts. Thrust into a world she doesn’t understand and battles she didn’t ask for, she must decide where her loyalties lie. When their lives collide together in a Kingdom on the brink of war, their actions will determine the course of history. If they can stay alive.

--I enjoyed this book! It gave me exactly what I wanted. I am currently reading the sequel. Thumbs up. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Ulff Lehmann

Ulff Lehmann

Tell me about yourself?

Once upon a bloody long time ago, in a small town called Wattenscheid, a young lad was born. Much like his birthplace, the young lad struggled to retain his identity, but unlike his birthplace, he did eventually figure out who and more importantly what he was. For unlike other children his age, he read, a lot. Courtesy of a somewhat cultured, but at the very least culture and history interested, mother, the young lad went to many a museum, soaking in all he could about times past. He learned how fishermen lived in the early days of the renaissance, how the Egyptians buried their kings, you know, the sort of stuff that usually bores a lot of kids. Sadly, his quest for knowledge wasn't understood or shared by the person he wanted to get attention from most, his father. The only way the lad gained his da's attention and appreciation was through athletic achievement, for that was the only thing his father understood. Sadly, the moment the lad quit sports, his father lost interest as well.

Without guidance from either parent, the lad went rudderless. He spent a year in the United States, became fluent in English. In hindsight, it gave him some appreciation for his parents. Sadly, he still lacked the guidance he sorely needed. Trying this and that, doing stuff like playing D&D his parents detested for they did not understand his need for and his ability of telling stories. Truth be told, the lad, now a young man, had very little clue either, it just felt right. The years passed, the lad turned man tried and tried and tried again to fit into society, become a part, but the more he tried the further apart he stood, or felt. Until, one day, the world became too much for him, he broke down and cried bitterly for many a day.

A dear friend of his, one of the few he had, saw his distress and pushed and prodded until the man went forth to find a doctor of the spirit who might help him find his way. Much like a cork carried by the water's waves, the man drifted from one doctor to the next, until he, finally, found a wise woman he felt comfortable with. Many a moon the doctor pushed and prodded, trying to find a way to break the wall the man had erected around his heart, and finally, progress! The man realized he was a writer, and under the doctor's careful guidance, he began anew to write a story he had tried to write many times before but never really finding his voice. Now, inspired by books he had recently read and encouraged by his dear friend and the wise doctor, he had found his voice. Over the course of many months he wrote, his mind's eye always on a specific goal he, with the doctor's aid, wrote a tale of pain and woe and war and friendship. It felt strong, but the lad turned man knew it needed be stronger. So, after it was finished, he read it, fixing what mistakes he could find, both story and style and writing. Then, he did it again and once more, feeling much like a blacksmith, nay, a wordsmith. Once it was done, a friend of his volunteered her services to give the book a read.

When she was finished, she and the man sat down and discussed the novel at length. At first she was hesitant, fearing her critique might upset him, but the more she said, the more he encouraged her to speak his mind, for her eyes saw things he couldn't because of his closeness to the words. Finally, after many hours, he had filled many pages with notes, all clues as to what needed to be done to make the story even better.

In the years since, the man tried to find agent and publisher, but his main focus was on writing the second novel. Now, still without either, he decided to release the book by himself, having the sequel as close to finished as he alone can make it, and the finale waiting to be finished as well. He has reached the last goal his wise woman doctor had set before him, and is glad he knows who and what he is.
(That original enough? :-D)

Tell me about your current Book:

Upon hearing he lives in the path of an invading army, a traumatized Drangar Ralgon must leave his home and his solitude behind, or else be swept up in a war that isn't his.

Friedrich Nietzsche said that if one looks too long into the abyss, the abyss looks back. Drangar Ralgon has been avoiding the abyss's gaze for far too long and now turns around to face it.

Shattered Dreams is told from multiple viewpoints, with each individual tale eventually intersecting with the others, forming a tapestry. In a land finally at peace, war, like a weaver, pushes lives of warriors every which way until their paths become patterns. There are no shining heroes, no damsels who cannot save themselves, only people trying their damndest to make sense of the chaos they call their lives.

This is but their first steps as they figure out their roles in the gigantic tapestry the gods have laid out for them. In a world where actions do have consequences, and mistakes are paid for in blood and pain, the lives of a few can make a difference.

For two years the mercenary Drangar Ralgon has kept his back to his dark past. Afraid to live, afraid to die, Drangar tries to ignore the abyss that lies behind him. Now, faced with a war he wants nothing to do with, he finally turns around and gazes back.

Inspired by the vigorous style of George R.R. Martin's A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, and in the vein of historical fictioneer Bernard Cornwell, SHATTERED DREAMS brings to life a stark, uncompromising tale of a man's path to redemption.
Please attach a Cover photo.

What are you working on now?

Aside from promoting Shattered Dreams, I am waiting on my beta-readers' feedback so I can rework that novel's sequel, Shattered Hopes, which has been gathering virtual dust ever since I started writing the conclusion to the trilogy, Shattered Bonds.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

In front of my computer, in my living room. The table this machine stands on is the same table I used to write at when I had my first computer. Its position allows me to stare at the roofs of my hometown, Hattingen, and the sky above. To me, it's perfect.

I have two computers, one exclusively for writing, it has no internet connection, no speakers, just the bare bones needed to write. When I need to print anything, I have to use a flash drive. It might sound annoying to some, but for me it is perfect.

What is your favorite Website?

Truth be told, when I spend time online, I usually have two tabs open, one for facebook and one for goodreads. These are but stepping stones that take me to whatever catches my interest, which then is opened in yet another tab. I do some research online, but I'm kind of old fashioned in that I actually prefer to have paper in my hands, so books it is most of the time. Although there are some great pieces on youtube, BBC documentaries and such.



Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Quotes of the Week

You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call 'failure' is not falling down, but the staying down.
—Mary Pickford

There is no “writer’s lifestyle.” All that matters is what you leave on the page.
—Zadie Smith

Everything can nourish the writer. The dictionary, a new word, a voyage, an encounter...a book, a phrase learned.
—Anaïs Nin

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

Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten

When asked, "How do you write?" I invariable answer, "One word at a time."
—Stephen King

Everybody has talent. It's just a matter of moving around until you've discovered what it is.
—George Lucas

The function of science fiction is not always to predict the future but sometimes to prevent it.
—Frank Herbert

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tuesday Tips: Research

We live in a wonderful time to be a writer. With computers and excellent software it is easier than ever to write and revise.

1) The Internet: It is easier than ever to do research. Google alone is a gift from the gods. Add Google's image search and and you can find fast details about almost any topic. The Internet is awesome.

2) The Library: You know what libraries have that the Internet doesn't have? Reference Librarians. They love helping people with real questions. It's a break from kicking out hobos that are surfing porn on the computers. They spend all day, every day, in a library and know a little bit about a million things. Treat the with respect, kindness and gratitude and they will enjoy working with you. 

3) Subject Matter Experts: The biggest research asset that writers miss are people. Need to know something about anything, there is an expert out there. All I have to say is, "My name is Martin Wilsey. I am writing a book and need information about..." and they will be happy to meet for coffee. Use Google to find their names. Don't be afraid to cold call or or introduce yourself in person. An interview will get you far. It's also big fun.

4) Location Scout: Go to the places that you are writing about. Get people to be your guide. This can be anything from a biker bar to a historic cathedral. If your story has a spooky cemetery, find one and take pictures. Go to hotel lobbies or university campuses or isolated cabins on a lake. Save your receipts, the travel is tax deductible. So is your camera.

NOTE - A caution about research: Not every detail you learn in your research needs to be in your story. Gratuitous info dumps can be a problem. Be careful who you select as your "expert". Many experts are not really that informed. Get lots of input.

One final note: They are called magazines not clips, dammit. Do your research.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Reading: Nomad

This week I read Nomad by Matthew Mather.

Here is the description from Amazon:

Something big is coming… Big enough to destroy the entire solar system… And it’s heading straight for Earth. That’s what Dr. Ben Rollins, head of Harvard’s exoplanet research team, is told by NASA after being dragged out of bed in the middle of the night. His first instinct is to call his daughter, Jessica, who’s vacationing in Italy with his wife: something is coming, he tells them, a hundred times the mass of our sun.

We can’t see it, we don’t know what it is, but it’s there. They’re calling it Nomad, and the Earth may be destroyed in months. 

I liked the story. It had several subplots, lots of good science, good characters and lots of great locations!

--Good read. Recommended!

Saturday, October 8, 2016


This weekend I am attending Capclave 2016! Stop in and see me. I will be sitting on panels and signing books. This should be big fun!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Anna Chant

Anna Chant

Tell me about yourself, Anna?

I’m a freelance writer, tutor and mother of three from the English Riviera. I studied history at the University of Sheffield, giving me a lifelong passion for the subject. I have particularly fallen in love with the European Dark Ages – that fabulous period where legend and history collide. Earlier this year I published ‘Kenneth’s Queen’, a tale of the rise of power of Kenneth Mac Alpin, told from the point of view of the unknown woman who must have been at his side. The often unrecorded and uncelebrated women of the Dark Ages hold a real fascination for me and I aim to tell the stories of as many as possible!

Tell me about your current Book: 

The Girl from Brittia
When she finds herself cast aside, Princess Edlin of the Suff Anglii, Daughter of the Wolf of Wotan must lead an army overseas , or else her life may prove worthless.

Meet Procopius’s Island Girl, Britain’s greatest unsung heroine!

From the mysteries of the sixth century, discover a story that has it all – a beautiful, brave princess, several handsome princes, the wickedest of wicked step-mothers, an ambitious king, superstition, curses and environmental catastrophe!

The Girl from Brittia – As a high ranking Wolf Child of Wotan, Edlin sets high standards in her expectations of a husband. Her dismissal of all possible suitors has her family in despair.

A Varni Prince – Radigis and his family live in fear of their powerful Frank neighbours over the River Rhine. He is desperate to make an alliance that will keep his people safe.

When Edlin and Radigis meet on the shores of Suffolk, it is love at first sight and their future seems bright. But when Radigis returns home to prepare for his bride’s arrival, he finds sinister events are afoot. The might of the Frank King Theudebert and his beautiful sister Theodechilde force him into a heart breaking decision.

Back in Brittia, Edlin must survive disgrace and danger greater than she has ever known. And as disaster spreads across both lands, she reaches a fateful decision of her own. With the support of her devoted brother Wehha, she realises she must take drastic action to have any hope of the happiness she deserves.

What are you working on now?

I have just started on a timeline of another Dark Age Woman – a princess who marries often and takes a firm hand in shaping her own destiny.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

I do nearly all my writing on the family computer in my dining room. But I wrote part of The Girl from Brittia while on holiday in the place where a large part of the story is set – that was magical!

What is your favorite Website? I love reading the stories and forums on Unexplained Mysteries. I usually end up scaring myself witless!


Twitter: @anna_chant

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Quotes of the Week

The first draft of anything is shit.
—Ernest Hemingway

A good style should show no sign of effort. What is written should seem to be a happy accident.
—Somerset Maugham

Never confuse the size of your paycheck with the size of your talent.
—Marlon Brando

No one can write decently who is distrustful of the reader’s intelligence...
—E.B. White

I'll give you the whole secret of short story writing. Here it is. Rule 1: Write stories that please yourself. There is no Rule 2.
—O. Henry

Sometimes a flat-footed sentence is what serves, so you don’t get all writerly: “He opened the door.” There, it’s open.
—Amy Hempel

The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.
—Billy Wilder

Nothing teaches you as much about writing dialogue as listening to it.
—Judy Blume

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

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tuesday Tips: First Readers

I have heard a few new authors say, "My first draft is final draft." and later they wonder why the only person to buy their book was their Mom.

If your goal is to write a book that is commercially successful it has to have more than just good spelling, grammar and punctuation. All of those are important but there is more to it.

If you have the best story in the world and the spelling, grammar and punctuation is bad, it won't sell. If all those things are perfect and your story sucks it won't sell either.

A really good editor will fix technical issues but how do you fix the story? I use First Readers.

After I make the story as good as I can I send it off to my editor for her polish. Then I print a set of Red Pen Proofs. These copies go to my First Readers.

When I call them Red Pen Proofs that is a literal name. The First Readers mark them up. Make margin notes and give me advice on story, characters, plot, settings and everything and anything.  Then they return to proofs with notes. Some people call these people Beta Readers or Alpha Readers. I won't split hairs about defining these names of rolls.

When you work on a book for a long time, you get too close to it and may not see obvious issues. First Readers are a huge help.

How do you find them? That's the hardest part. I start with friends and family. Don't be offended if they can't help.

Friendship levels:
  • Friends help you move.
  • Real friends help you move bodies.
  • True friends will read your manuscript.
I also recommend finding readers in your writers group. It's best if they are fans of the genre you write. The more well-read they are, the easier it is to avoid tropes and obvious errors. You need people that will be brutally honest. Your mom will always say it's wonderful. After you have written a few books you may even be able to find a fan willing to give you honest feedback prior to publication. Listening to First Readers will make your story better. It's like reading reviews from the future and being able to fix the issues before you publish.

They will give you feedback. Be honest with yourself. You can take some advice and not other advice. Don't be so close and proud that the story suffers.

Make it easy for them to give you feedback. Sit with them over coffee and chat about it. If you can get them all together at once you can discuss it like a book club. I also think a questionnaire can help.

When it's done, I give them signed copies as a thank you.

--Listen to your First Readers. They are usually right.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Read: X

This week I read X by Sue Grafton.

Here is the description from Amazon:

X:  The number ten. An unknown quantity. A mistake. A cross. A kiss.

 The shortest entry in Webster’s Unabridged. Derived from Greek and Latin and commonly found in science, medicine, and religion. The most graphically dramatic letter. Notoriously tricky to pronounce: think xylophone.

The twenty-fourth letter in the English alphabet.

Sue Grafton’s X: Perhaps her darkest and most chilling novel, it features a remorseless serial killer who leaves no trace of his crimes. Once again breaking the rules and establishing new paths, Grafton wastes little time identifying this sociopath. The test is whether Kinsey can prove her case against him before she becomes his next victim.

--I enjoyed X but have the feeling the story is not over. Recommended.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Book Signing

Had an excellent time last night at the Great Writers Right Here event. I sold a lot of books, met some fellow authors, and I even met a few fans.

I think one of the reasons I sold so many books is because I accepted Credit Cards. It was easy to set up and use. Anyone can do it. The cash goes right into and back account you specify!  Click here if you want to set it up for your next book signing or yard sale!

I also sold a lot of Kindle and Audible books by having handy QR codes so visitors could easily find them!

-Fun stuff. Thanks to everyone that came out!