Goodbye February!

RayBradburyOnWriting

February 29th has arrived, the month almost over, and my birthday is six days behind me. I’ve finally come up for air after spending the entire month working on wips (works in progress) adding new chapters to the second book in my Celtic murder mystery series, fresh stories in new worlds for my second book of short stories, additional poems for publication, all the while juggling life’s daily (and necessary) interruptions.

Where has the time gone?

Who cares, I’m writing!

A Cup Of Tea And A Book

Cup of Tea and a Book

Not so sure about the ‘well-balanced life’ thing but I’ve managed to ingest a large amount of tea and coffee while pounding out several thousand words this week on three of my wips including 3,000+ words on the second book in my Runevision Mystery Series. I’ll call the past week a success then and am looking forward to this week as I attempt to catch up on email and additional things of little interest to others before sitting back down and writing more. Besides being glued to the computer (alternating between both staring blankly and typing furiously) I’m reading a new book by Anthony Horowitz, ‘Moriarty’.

Creating A Lovable Villain

VaderSelfieStick

Check out the blog writersinthestorm for some wonderful tips in a short, well-written article about creating a lovable villain by award-winning author Shannon Donnelly (Under The Kissing Bough) as she speaks of “villains we love to hate and how to keep them from becoming a cardboard stereotype whose every action is predictable and boring.”

“Nothing marks a writer as a beginner as clearly as the cliché bad guy.

This is the bad guy who is ugly inside and out with no redeeming qualities—this is the “boo-hiss” melodrama mustache twirling villain. And this is an easy fix in any story.

What’s that easy fix? Lots of things can help, but here are five quick fixes:

5 Quick Fixes to Make Readers Love Your Villains” –Shannon Donnelly

The article is definitely worth the read and I found myself thinking of one of my villains as I read Shannon’s advice.

I won’t say the assassin in “The Mystery of the Death Hearth” is exactly a lovable creature. Parzifal is, after all, a person who makes a living by killing. But he does have depth; that is to say as the story progresses, more is revealed about his background, his parents, his past and the horrid conditions among the less-than-honorable slave owners that helped create his inevitable destiny as a professional killer. He also has present-day motives that go beyond the daily, murderous tasks given him by criminal bosses. Parzifal has plans, high hopes for a new life, and a mental image of possibilities beyond his current circumstances having nothing at all to do with underworld crime. Does he manage to accomplish those personal goals? Can he successfully break away and fulfill his dreams? No spoilers here but I almost found myself rooting for this man even though he can and does make my protagonist’s life miserable to the brink of death.

I encourage a visit to writersinthestorm and read the rest of the Shannon’s article. Very interesting and informative.

Your next villain will appreciate it, too.

“What’s Your Book About?”

WoOChickFlic

If you’re published you will get multiple opportunities to present your book pitch. Be ready. It’s inevitable and something any author desiring sales should compose, practice, and be ready to recite in an instant.

During my book sales and signings, I have people walk up to my booth, pick up a copy of one of my works. They’ll turn it over, peruse the back cover, flip quickly through the pages before asking, “What’s the book about?”

I doubt L. Frank Baum ever mentioned his Wizard Of Oz in any form was about two women trying to kill each other over shoes, but I admit the short, humorous statement grabbed my attention. And that’s what your book pitch should do, albeit not quite so short. But it should hook your potential readers and book purchasers. But how to do that?

Joel Friedlander has some very helpful advice on this subject. I’ve re-posted a portion but I encourage anyone to visit Joel’s post for more on constructing your book pitch. Here’s just a portion of what Joel has to say on the subject:

Imagine for a moment that you’ve hopped into an elevator on your way somewhere. You’re carrying the proof of your book that just arrived from the printer. A gentleman sharing the elevator notices your book and says, “Hey, that looks interesting. What’s it about?”

What’s your response? Do you fumble, start in one direction then go in another? Do you find yourself just getting started when the elevator reaches the floor where this fellow has to get off? Have you made the most of this opportunity?

As an author, you will be asked many times what your book is about. Sometimes these inquiries are idle elevator chatter, but sometimes you’ll be asked the question by people crucial to your book’s success.

At a trade show, for example, you might get asked the same question and have about the same amount of time to answer. Talking to a bookstore buyer falls into the same category.

Those first 30 seconds are critical.

Will your pitch draw people in, make them curious about your book, and let them know right away whether or not it’s for them?

Your book pitch has to accomplish a number of things at the same time, and do them quickly and efficiently.

It has to give a good idea of the book’s genre, main hook or distinctive angle and why it’s different, exciting, or ground-breaking in some way.

Consider that all this information must be delivered in 40 to 60 seconds, and you can see why crafting a great pitch is a bit of an art form.

The sole purpose of a pitch is to create interest in your book. It has to make people want to know more.

 

Learn more by visiting Joel’s post “Why Your Book Pitch Matters (Even If You’re Self-Published)” 

 

Creative Blogger Award

creative-blogger

A writer whose work I greatly admire nominated me for this award. As readers of this blog know, my creative pursuits run the gamut from painting and sculpting to poetry, short stories, and novels. I tend to take my time and linger over the written word, which is just another way of saying I’m not the fastest reader or writer on the block. In contrast, milliethomthe blogger who nominated me, is a frequent contributor to Word of the Week and Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. I’d hardly call her “aspiring” as she’s published two seriously excellent books already. I reviewed her first book Shadow of the Raven in April (see that here)  and am currently reading her second book Pit Of Vipers. Her books are available on Amazon.

So, with thanks to milliethom for honoring me this way, I’ll share five facts about myself, and then nominate 15 bloggers whose blogs I enjoy.

1. Like the blogger who nominated me, I’m no fan of television shows, especially those of the American variety. On the other hand, I have a DVD collection of  British mysteries. At the light end of the scale there’s the Lovejoy Mysteries. When I want to study plot development, characterization, etc. I watch Poirot with David Suchet, Miss Marple (both Joan Hickson and Geraldine McEwan), and the Midsomer Murders time and again. I also enjoy Foyle’s War—exceptionally well written with characters you can love, villains you can loathe, and strong stories set against the backdrop of historical WWII Britain.

2. I grew up in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and spent a lot of time out in the woods—even when I didn’t want to be there. That was certainly the case one frigid December day while hunting deer with my father and grandfather. We’d had no luck despite being on the stand for a chance to make a kill; my grandfather’s dogs had already run past chasing deer—likely as far as Oklahoma and who knows where else, but it wasn’t anywhere near us. Wet, cold, and hungry (a common state of affairs), we tried to get a fire started as the snow fell. We managed a few sparks, a lot of smoke, and eventually a few flames. We’d resigned ourselves to making camp without fire when my grandfather took a long pull from a jug of moonshine, and spat it over the tiny fire, sending blue flames roaring up into the air. Moonshine. White lightning, some call it, and with good reason. Hot beans in a can cooked over that fire tasted better that day than any other I’ve had since.

3. One of my favorite places in the world is the library. From the tiniest community library I’ve visited (saluting St. Paul, Arkansas, population 163 at the last census) to the great libraries of the Smithsonian Institution (2 million volumes and counting), I could happily spend my days lost among the books. One of my more memorable library experiences came when I spent all my life (okay, twelve months) at a remote air base 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle. I kept a list: 365 days, 350 books.

4. I come from a long line of storytellers and stone carvers. Visit the cemeteries around my hometown and you’ll see their work—tombstones expertly crafted by generations. As a young boy I walked past Cotner Monuments on a near-daily basis, and perhaps it was that which set me on a path of stone carving in my own way as part of my art career. I took up hammer and chisel to create garden decorations, mixed-media sculptures, and even some museum work.

5. I’m passing along my passion for books. My granddaughter loves libraries as much as I do, and she reads a book at least once a week (and often more). She’s got talent, too, and is already creating stories of her own.

Now For My Nominees:

  1. http://mctuggle.com
  2. https://nancyhartney.wordpress.com/
  3. http://ozarkmountainhiker.com/
  4. http://suddenlytheyalldied.com/
  5. https://jeanreinhardt.wordpress.com/
  6. http://dogmysteries.com
  7. https://bobbushell.wordpress.com/
  8. http://daveastoronliterature.com/
  9. https://terriblywrite.wordpress.com/
  10. http://robertokaji.com/
  11. https://esmeraldamac.wordpress.com/
  12. https://jeanneowensauthor.wordpress.com/
  13. https://barsetshirediaries.wordpress.com/
  14. http://leannecolephotography.com/
  15. http://mythsofthemirror.com/

For my fifteen nominees: If you wish to participate in this exercise (it is optional) here are the guidelines:

  1. Acknowledge and thank the blogger who nominated you with name and URL (that’s me)
  2. Disclose 5 facts about yourself
  3. Further nominate 15 bloggers

Visit milliethom’s post for additional information if needed. If I’ve nominated anyone whose blog is award-free, please accept my apologies in advance.

I enjoy each of the blogs I’ve nominated, and hope you have time to visit some or all of them!

20 Of The Best Articles On Writing

Reblogged from Chris over at the story reading ape blog

20 of the Best Articles on Writing – Real Eye Openers

by Hazel Longuet

It always astounds me just how much information there is to help writers and how much we need to know to succeed in this field. That’s one of the main reasons I compile this top 20 listing, of the best articles on writing, self-publishing and book promotion, every week. I trawl through the internet on my own search for knowledge and share what I find with all my writing friends and followers and their reaction distils it down further to the very best of the week. And, that my friends, is what I delight in sharing with you…saving you the bother of sifting the gold from the dirt.

Hazel is a novice writer trying to finish her first novel. She’s learning on the job and has shared some of her findings on writing. Read the entire interesting and informative post by visiting Hazel’s blog.