Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tip O'Day #253 - From Real Life to Fiction

Guest blogger Kathy Rowe on fiction “torn from the headlines.”

I agree with the recent guest post on Wredheaded Writer about taking true life events and turning them into fiction. Actually I take it a bit farther. In my Dragonslayers Saga, I take real world events and turn them into a coulda-shoulda-woulda type of story taking place on a governmental scale. What would happen if a new, deadly explosive was discovered that bomb dogs and other testing devices couldn't detect? How would terrorists exploit this technology? How much damage could they do on our home soil? How could the government stop them? That’s the premise for Mind Games.

On a closer note, many of my characters suffer from PTSD. That's normal for a group of fighting men (and one woman), but I approach it from an intimate perspective - my husband is retired Special Forces and suffers badly from PTSD so I work that into my characters in a very personal way. My goal is to help civilians understand what veterans go through, and that they will never be the same. That is a recurring theme in Battle Rhythm.

To learn more about Kathy, check out her blog here.
Dixon says: Before I started daily blog entries on January 11, 2011 (1-11-11!!), I had a handful of followers & not much of a plan. I thought it would be interesting to share the knowledge of some of the fine writers – both seasoned pros & newbies – that I’ve met online, so over 75% of posts have been guest comments from other authors, editors, reviewers and readers. Now that my first e-book, The Assassins Club, has been published, I plan more posts about what I learned during its creation. Also, I’ve found that “excerpt exchanges” with other authors are a kick. However, guest post will still be in the majority. I think we have a lot to learn from one another.
Happy New Years!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Tip O'Day #252 - The Likeable Hero

Guest blogger Bob Stewart on “every novel ever written.”

It was the first day of a college creative writing class. The professor wrote the following sentence on the blackboard: “A likeable character battles against great odds to achieve a worthwhile goal.”

He turned to face the class. “That is the one sentence description of every novel ever written.”

Over the years I’ve measured many of literature’s great stories against this one-sentence description, even novels and motion pictures built on characters with major flaws, but who possess an indomitable spirit. Great stories pretty much hold up to this writing truth and I try to infuse my own writing with that element. No character has a more indomitable spirit than the literary classic, The Count of Monte Cristo, a tale of a hapless son of the sea who spent years in a dungeon planning his revenge after he was betrayed by his best friend over a woman.

I’m sure you have your favorites. I can’t resist the impulse to challenge you to read my favorite book, The Watchers by Dean Koontz. It is a love story on many levels – man for woman, woman for man, animal for humanity – about a failed scientific experiment. Very flawed characters here – a man on the verge of suicide, a woman who is a virtual recluse – and a dog that’s one of the most likeable characters you’ll ever meet. The three join forces to achieve the worthwhile goal – love.

The character of the dog may be one of the prime influences in the creation of one of my novels, Alias Thomas A. Katt, written in first person from the cat’s POV. The cat switches bodies with his mistress’ boyfriend only to discover the boyfriend is a serial killer. I call it “feline noir.” The cat’s major flaw? A fear of becoming too human.

To learn more about Bob, check out www.writerbobstewart.com/
Dixon say: Bob contradicts my post yesterday, when I wrote that a book featuring an unsympathetic antihero can just as valid as the “likeable hero” paradigm. That’s okay – there are many opinions on what makes a good novel, and who’s to say what’s right or wrong? If you have a thought on this or another subject and would like to try a guest post, send your submission to me at montananovels@yahoo – Happy New Years to all!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tip O'Day #251 - Sympathetic Protagonist Needed?

Dixon challenges the notion that you need a sympathetic protagonist.

Experts often tell the writer that a protagonist must be likeable – somebody the reader can empathize and sympathize with. Well, that’s nonsense.

Agatha Christie’s most famous creation, the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, was creepy, snobbish, bombastic and self-centered, taking delight in tormenting his assistant. Even Christie called him “insufferable.” In John Grisham’s novel The Brotherhood, which involves a group of blackmailers operating from within prison walls, there’s not a sympathetic character in the book. The people being blackmailed are even scummier than the convicts. For another example, think about The Godfather. For a time, Michael Corleone seems admirable, since he resists entering the family crime business; then he kills a crooked cop to avenge the shooting of his father, so that’s understandable, right? Eventually, he turns out just as corrupt as his father, even killing family members. Lovable characters in this novel? None I can recall.

My recently-published novel The Assassins Club concerns two serial killers. One is a complete wacko, a disorganized schitzo controlled by the voices in his head. The other is Tyler Goode, a young man in his mid-20s who accidentally becomes a killer when he’s cornered by the town bully, and then kills again when he’s stalked by the bully’s younger brother. He feels like he’s performing a community service, “taking out the trash” and rebalancing the scales between good and evil.

When Ty continues to kill – it’s become a habit he can’t shake – why should the reader continue to turn pages.? He’s a murderer who deserves whatever justice will eventually befall him. Except I want to explore his psyche further, and I’d like to have the reader come along for the ride. So I tried a couple strategies. First, I gave him a dead family – two doting parents, and a wonderful brother and sister – who are wiped out in a hit-and-run accident. Ty feels the world is out of kilter because of these good souls being removed while evil seems to flourish wherever he looks. Second, I portrayed him as shy and insecure, and then I gave him a sweet, trusting girl as his romantic interest. He feels guilty about continually hiding his secret life from her. He feels protective of her, not wanting his hobby to endanger her. He feels fulfilled for the first time in his life.

Hopefully my strategies make this antihero human enough that a reader will tag along for curiosity, to see what happens to the young man with an unusual pastime and a loving girlfriend he must hide it from. My critique group thinks it works. Maybe you will as well.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tip O'Day #250 - "Precise & Effortless"

Guest blogger Curtis Oddo on choreographed writing – sort of.

The best books I have read, such as The Three Musketeers, have story lines that read like a well-choreographed dance. Precise, effortless, synchronized movements with no wasted energy, very creative, and a killer finale that makes people cheer for more. I actually think about that – dance choreography – when I write. It takes a lot of effort to work out all the details in a plot intensive story, but it is worth it.

I tried to do that for my first book, The Crimson Battle Axe, and will try very hard to do the same with the second book, based upon the same characters.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tip O'Day #249 - Boost Your Chances

Guest blogger Marlene Samuels on how she improved her chances of getting published.

I created a very precise "elevator summary" about my book. Imagine you enter an elevator at the same time as an agent or editor. You have to be able to describe your book and engage that person in 2-3 sentences, before those elevator doors open up again!

My other efforts include taking classes at more professional writing conferences, carrying my business cards, collecting cards from anyone who may possibly to put me in contact with someone, and reading advice columns by agents. My other big effort - one that really requires self discipline that I still struggle with - is writing something every day and then going back a week later and reading what I wrote. That process has really improved my self-editing skills.

To learn more about Marlene, check out her blog.
By the way, it took awhile for the text and cover to marry up, but Dixon’s first e-book THE ASSASSINS CLUB is now up on Kindle for $2.99 - amazon reviews would be welcome.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Novel Excerpt Exchange #2 – Michael Haskins

I was invited to participate in an “excerpt exchange” by some nice folks at FB group Suspense/Thriller Writers. This is the 2nd of these. I’d invite followers of this blog to give me some feedback – love these exchanges, hate ‘em, couldn’t care less – what? Following is a 1,000-word selection from STAIRWAY TO THE BOTTOM by Michael Haskins – Chapter One:

If I hadn’t gone to watch the comedy showcase at the Key West Fringe Theater, I wouldn’t have silenced my cell phone. If I hadn’t silenced my cell, I would have answered Dick Walsh’s first call at 1:10 A.M., and then things might not have gone so badly. If is a damn big word for only having two letters.

I unplugged the cell from its charger in the morning and the lighted screen reminded me it was on silent mode and that I had five messages. Each of Dick’s messages was more frantic and pleading than the last. He needed help, but didn’t say for what. By the third message, he was cussing but still wanted me to call and that was at 3:15. He didn’t sound drunk, like most three in the morning callers do, he sounded scared. The fifth and final message came at 5:36. He had calmed down, asked me to come by his house as soon as possible and gave me the address. His composed voice assured me I would understand the problem after I arrived and he would be in touch later.

“Mick, I need you to believe me, it isn’t what it looks like. Please help me,” his message ended with a quiet plea.

I dressed quickly in last night’s clothing and swallowed cold water from a bottle out of the cooler. Before I got into my Jeep and drove to Dick’s house on Von Phister Street, I called his cell but it went to voice mail and I left a message. We were playing phone tag.

Von Phister is a narrow, tree-lined street in a quiet neighborhood of old and new houses. Dick’s was an old two-story house with a large gumbo-limbo tree in front and two more in back. He actually had a decent-size backyard, something that is at a premium in Key West.

The house was dark. It was almost six-thirty, about an hour since his last call. The sky was a light gray with a reddish-purple sunrise pushing the dawn westward. Only a large yellow tomcat crossed my path on the empty street. I parked in front and noticed Dick’s scooter was gone. I went up the steps to the wraparound porch, rang the bell, and then knocked. Nothing. I looked into the living room window. Nothing. I knocked again and when no one answered, I tried the door. It was unlocked so I went in.

The stench that greeted me in the hallway was familiar. The smell of death was strong and that told me somewhere in the house, death was very recent. Death, if left alone long enough cloaks all other odors, especially in the tropics – violent death even more so.

I called Dick’s name but no one answered. I walked into the living room and it looked lived in – a big screen TV, stereo with CDs stacked next to it, a sectional sofa set. A hallway led to a kitchen, small dining room, and bathroom. The stairway on the right went upstairs to the bedrooms.

Dick used the dining room as his office – medium-sized desk that was too big for the room, a computer, a printer, and a two-drawer file. I walked through into the kitchen. There was a table for two off to the side, dirty dishes in the sink and a woman’s body on the floor.

She lay face down and a large part of her head was gone. Pieces of shattered skull, along with parts of her brain and blood, tarnished the otherwise clean kitchen wall. Blood and human waste soaked the tile floor and stained her clothing. The stench of death filled the kitchen. I didn’t bother looking for a pulse.

An automatic with a silencer attached lay on the floor, her arm stretched out toward it as if reaching for the gun that had a small stream of brownish blood curled up next to it.

I ran upstairs to check the two bedrooms, calling Dick’s name. Both rooms were neat and the beds made. Nothing broken or seemingly out of place. Dick’s closet looked full with only a couple of empty hangers in the mix. The guestroom closet was empty.

Dick shot this woman, I thought as I looked down at her body. Whose gun was it on the floor? I didn’t touch anything, though I wanted to. My curiosity was getting the best of me.

I’m Liam Murphy, a semi-retired journalist and fulltime sail bum, some say. Key West has been my home for almost eighteen years. Before that, I lived in Southern California and reported on Central American civil wars and when they ended I covered the drug wars for a weekly news magazine so a dead body wasn’t something that frightened me it intrigued me. In Key West, I’ve made friends with all kinds of characters, including the chief of police, Richard Dowley. We have a two-sided relationship. One side is Richard the cop, the other is Richard the friend. He considers me a friend but always thinks of me as a journalist. He says I only have one side. I called him on my cell, sure of catching him at home, and knew I’d be talking to his cop side. I told him where I was and what I’d found.

“What are you doing at that nut’s house?” I could hear him banging around in the kitchen.

When I explained about the messages and Dick’s plea, he sighed loudly enough for me to hear on the phone. “Don’t touch anything and I’ll call it in,” he said. “Best thing is go outside and wait for the first unit, and I’ll make it there too.”

“Okay, Richard, but tell the ambulance it doesn’t have to hurry,” I said and he hung up without replying.

Outside, I sat and waited, thinking of Dick’s last message telling me it wasn’t what it looked like. It looked like murder.

My own first novel, THE ASSASSINS CLUB, has been uploaded to both Kindle and Nook, and should be available for purchase later today. (The cover art on Kindle doesn't show up yet - be sure to wait, so you don't miss the awesome cover.) Priced at $2.99 which is a little more than 3 cents per thousand words – my accountant says I’m crazy! - Dixon

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas, Writers & Readers

Merry Christmas, one and all! The lyrics below are by my friend Kathy Dunnehoff, one of the driving forces behind the Authors of the Flathead, and the author of THE DO-OVER and more recently PLAN ON IT, which was released just a few days ago.
Sing this to “White Christmas.”

Write Christmas

I'm dreaming of a write Christmas,
the one I hope's right down the road.
Where the scenes I hammer and readers clamor
to rush my Kindle book download.

I'm dreaming of a write Christmas
with every novel that I plot.
May the book be funny and hot,
and may all the comma errs be caught.

I'm dreaming of a write Christmas.
I've worked the keyboard all year round,
where my neck would seize up, my fingers freeze up,
my head would spin around and pound.

I'm dreaming of a write Christmas
I made my list in case he might…
May St. Nick bring a manuscript tonight,
'cause I've heard those elves can really write.

Dixon’s first novel, THE ASSASSINS CLUB, has been uploaded to both Kindle and Nook, and will be available for purchase as soon as a human being sets down the eggnog long enough to push the appropriate button. Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tip O'Day #248 - "Don't Give Up"

Guest blogger Kathy Bertone on traditional publishing.

I am going to swim against today’s tide and tell you yet-to-be-published authors, not to give up on traditional publishers. I have heard too many writers say that they can’t, no one hears them, it’s too hard, the odds are stacked against them, etc. That is not necessarily the case. Don’t be discouraged - be bold.

I wrote a one-page query for my book, The Art of the Visit which I emailed to those literary agents that I researched, knew would be interested in non-fiction, and would accept an electronic query. Of course I got rejections, but I did not give up. Finally, in my inbox, there were the words I longed to hear, “Hi Kathy, yes, I have an interest in your idea. Would love to see your manuscript…”

Don’t get me wrong – self-publishing can be a good thing for those who know how to do it. But if you have a good idea and can write, don’t give up, don’t have fear, and don’t be discouraged. You never know what might happen until you go for it. But do your research first. There are ‘rules’ that you must adhere to. And it may be worth your time and effort.

For more info about Kathy, check out her website: www.theartofthevisit.com
Thanks for all the guest bloggers, both published and unpublished, who have shared their knowledge and opinions this year. Dixon's first published novel, The Assassins Club, will be available as e-book on both Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook later today, or possibly Christmas Day.
Have a wonderful Christmas Eve.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tip O'Day #247 - Get Pubbed the Inca Way

Guest blogger Barbara Chepaitis on a sure-fire way to get published.
Getting published is easy. All you have to do is propitiate the right gods. With a blood offering. Preferably someone else's.
Dixon says: "Disclaimer – don’t try this at home!"
Learn more about Barbara at http://www.wildreads.com/

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Novel Excerpt Exchange - Karen Vaughan

Some of the folks at the FB Suspense/Thriller Writers group are doing an excerpt exchange, and I was invited to participate. An excerpt from my novel, The Assassins Club (which will be released in JUST FOUR DAYS!!!) will appear in Karen Vaughan's blog. Below is about 1,100 words from Dead Comic Standing by Karen Vaughan.

An up-and-coming comic was just exiting The Laff Attak. The comedian usually left through the alley after his sets, usually two per night, 30 minutes per set. Like other wannabes, he worked two clubs per week whilst working part time at an upscale Coffee Emporium. This guy didn’t want to spend the rest of his career as a part-time Barista /Comic. Oh no, this dude had plans, he was going to be the Robin Williams for the next generation. Well, skip the 'Na-noo-Na-noo' bullshit that Robin had to tout, in his early years.

In the meantime, bills had to be paid and the comic had a wife to support as well. Debbie worked as an insurance adjuster for a huge HMO management company. She technically supported him and his “hobby”. At least it was a marginally paying hobby. The young man walked around the corner down another alley, a supposed short cut on his way home. He feared nothing, although he would never have let Deb do this, day or night. Her argument was why should he? Did he think he was “Iron man” or something? The young dude lit up another smoke, a filthy habit and Deb hated it. Another reason she thought he might die young. She just didn’t get the part about a good smoke, after coming off stage. Comics had to be the worst chronic smokers. He had to do it here because once he stepped into the house, no more ciggies. He might as well smoke now ‘cause Deb wouldn’t let him smoke after sex. Smoking brought him back from the adrenaline high of being ‘on’. No matter what shit hit you throughout your day, you hit the stage running with a smile, ready to show the crowd the time of their miserable lives. He stood in the shadows taking a few pulls on the Camel, dropped it and ground it into the asphalt with the other discarded cigarette butts. Debbie, as much as he loved her, had her phobias. She was convinced that some guy would jump out of the shadows and knife him to death, when, in reality, the worst killers came wrapped in cellophane and cardboard.

The next step he took into the alley was his last. A hand holding a butcher knife came out of nowhere. If this weren’t the end for real, he would have found a place in his act for the scenario. He felt the knife blade plunge into his stomach, and he went down on his knees, and then fell onto his back.

“Fuck man, if you want my wallet, just ask.” Dave was gasping for air.

“It’s not about the money, asshole. I just didn’t know how else to tell you……”

“What?” Dave croaked weakly.

The stranger grabbed the hilt of the knife, and yanked it out of his victims gut.

He looked straight at him and said, “YOU JUST AIN’T FUNNY!”

Then the killer slit the young man's throat.

* * *

The room was packed. People were lined up at the bar three deep, and all the tables were full. Jeffrey Beals, the owner and operator of Comic F/X was looking forward to a good night. His headliner, Phil Vetters was a real crowd pleaser for sure. He was more concerned about Shelley, the new girl starting tonight. She auditioned well, and Jeff had no doubt that she had talent. However, Shelley clearly admitted that her club experience was limited and most of her experience had been in an auditorium setting, doing comedy for educational purposes. This worried Jeff. Shelley was a small girl, and guys tended to eat people like that up, especially after a few stiff drinks. Great prey for hecklers and perverts.

Jeff tried to keep society’s baser elements out of the club. However, some just seemed to slip through the cracks. They walk in seeming quite civilized but once a female comic hit the stage, all vestiges of humanity escaped through their assholes.

Comic F/X was full of yuppies out for a few laughs. The club was a brightly lit establishment. There was no smoking allowed and there was a three drink minimum rule. The basic premise was to serve up good drinks and provide quality entertainment. Jeff wanted people to come back time after time, to see the rising stars of tomorrow. He hoped Shell was one of them. Jeff had heard she came from a tough neighbourhood, a white girl surrounded by Hispanics and African-Americans. It was everyone for themselves and one had to develop a thick skin and a strong backbone.

Shell was doing her initial sound check on stage. “Hear the one about…..”

“Never mind the jokes sweetie, just show us yer titties.”

“Hey guy what’s your name?”

“Who wants to know?” Shelley shielded her eyes from the spotlight to see the person who had addressed her and spotted a large man sitting at a center table. Oh god no, why couldn’t hecklers be gorgeous? Why were they always butt friggin’ ugly as well as obnoxious? So if she had to put up with this moron, she might as well have fun with him. Maybe the toad would get the message and back off.

“Well pal, I just don’t open my shirt for just anyone. I like to be on a first name basis with my voyeurs, if ya know what I mean?”

“If I tell ya will ya take it off?”

“I don’t know, by the looks of you, you seem to have a bigger rack than I do.”

“You Little Bitch!”

The guy was steaming as the audience watched her dismantle his ego one line at time.

“Whoa boy, you better put on your big boy pants to use language like that, you wanna take your potty mouth and go to the washroom?”

Jeff was watching the impromptu exchange, and decided that Shelley could handle herself. Gord-o was a dog, but Shelley was having an easy time having him neutered. If Gord-o had gotten out of hand, Jeff would have had him thrown out on his ass.

“Very funny girlie—God gave you a sense of humor –‘cause you just can’t please the boys. Gord-o can teach you what you need to know.”

“Well Gord-o, what you can teach me won’t take more than two minutes.”

“Au Contraire, sweetie, I could have you yelling Gord-Oh by morning.” Gord-O was giving back what she gave him.

“No doubt, loser, it would take you that long to get it up!”

The audience was enjoying the impromptu exchange between Shelley and Gord. There was a lot of laughing and clapping. Gord-o was starting to look the fool. Something he hated, especially at the hands of a chick. “You freakin’ cow! No one makes me look like an ass, and gets away with it!”

“Gordie, my dear, you don’t need my help to look like an ass. You’re doing a good enough job on your own.”

The purchase link at amazon.com for either paperback or e-book is http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Comic-Standing-ebook/dp/B005PIYMNI/ref=ntt_at_ep_edition_2_1?ie=UTF8&m=AZC9TZ4UC9CFC

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tip O'Day #246 - Don't You Love NaNo?

Guest blogger Eileen Hamer on that dreaded first draft.

Some writers sneer at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) but for me it's a way to get that God-awful first draft done. Without the NaNo time constraints, I just piddle around writing when the inspiration strikes, which isn't often enough. I've written drafts of four novels in my Chicago Stories series as NaNo novels. They were all pretty awful, but serve as the framework for longer and I hope better novels. Of course, I'm one of those perverts who actually enjoy revising and editing.

My first novel, Chicago Stories: West of Western, will go up on Kindle soon (just waiting for the cover). Wounded Ex-Marine and Darkpool agent Seraphy Pelligrini has come home to Chicago to start a new life as an architect. When she finds an abandoned drapery workshop in a marginal neighborhood to rehab into a studio and loft, she doesn't know she's on the border between two street gangs. Her windows are broken, death threats painted on her garage, a dead body left on her doorstep and things only get worse.

I started West of Western as a NaNo novel, deciding the last day of October to try it. With so little time, I had to choose a location I knew well, so I wrote about the neighborhood I'd lived in for ten years. I sat down that first day and just started writing. I never knew what the next day would bring. When the month was over, I had the basis of a story I'd never have found otherwise. That was four years ago and the draft has been completely rewritten and revised since then, but nothing was as hard as getting out that first draft!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tip O'Day #245 - Dream Up the Truth

Guest blogger John DeDakis responds to YOU SHOULD WRITE A BOOK.

Most writers are motivated to write because of things that have happened to them. And the first instinct is to write it as a non-fiction autobiography because the experiences are so vivid and personally profound. Often, well-meaning friends who've heard you recount portions of the story exclaim, "You should write a book!" But they don't realize just how hard that actually is.

One reason it's harder than most people think is that if you're writing non-fiction, your editor will need to know more of the facts and context of any given story than you - from your narrow and limited point of view - actually know. So, as you try to write FACTUALLY, you'll discover that you don't know nearly as many facts as you thought you did.

Of course you can set out to find those missing details, but, as a journalist, I can tell you that the process is time-consuming, expensive, and fraught with all kinds of difficulties. And perhaps the biggest difficulty is that if you're writing things that are unflattering about a person, you could get sued for defamation of character. Even though what you're writing is true, if the person's not a public figure, you could lose a lot of money defending yourself in court.

It ain't worth it.

Not only that, but publishers are less likely to want to make your story into a book because you're not well known, making it harder for them to sell the story of a nobody to the general public. Publishing is, after all, a business.

So.......? Here's what I suggest: Use those personal stories as a way to inspire your imagination. Change some of the details of the events and characters so that the real people won't recognize themselves, then build a story that still conveys the deeper "truth" you want to communicate. If you have a vivid imagination you'd be on firmer ground going in that direction. That's because you get to "dream up" the facts, something an editor of non-fiction won't let you get away with.

That's how I dreamed up my first novel "Fast Track." The book got its start because of two traumatic experiences in my life: a car/train collision I witnessed as a kid, and my sister's suicide. But, instead of recounting what happened in the style of a just-the-facts-ma'am journalist, I made up an entirely different story - a mystery/thriller - that still highlights themes and truths surrounding sudden death and suicide. I used my imagination to create a story that would resonate with people who don't know anything about me personally.

If you're able to camouflage the true events that happened to you and create a compelling story that still conveys a deeper "truth," you may be able to write not just one book, but ten, simply by using what happened to you as your creative muse.

John DeDakis is a senior copy writer on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." John is the author of two mystery-suspense novels ("Fast Track" and "Bluff"). He's currently at work on novel #3 - "Troubled Water." Visit his website at www.johndedakis.com

Monday, December 19, 2011

Tip O'Day #244 - Looking for Feedback

Guest blogger M.K. Graff on what works for one writer.
I write mysteries and so tend to read them 90% of the time, with a heavy concentration on UK authors as my one series is set there. I've found that a good writers group with a handful of people who KNOW how to critique can be invaluable.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tip O'Day #243 - Judge by the Cover

Guest blogger Kaleb Zeringue on capturing a book’s mood in the book cover.

As an independent cover artist, I’m often asked about the process I use to choose colors to represent moods or themes in a book. It starts with learning a little about the book. I collaborate with the author to discover the overall theme or idea and then I go to the drawing board.

Color is a quintessential part of design in all design processes. Color governs the way we receive a piece. It’s amazing because as humans we subconsciously associate colors with moods. For example, we associate yellow with joy, intellect, and energy. So if I am presented with a book that has some or all of these undertones in its story, such as the cover I did for Renee Andrew’s Cake Icing, Butt Budder and Tea Lids, I will use colors with a lot of yellow in them to trigger a certain response from viewers before they even pick up the book.

I think it’s important for the mood of readers to match the book’s mood before they start reading so they can fully connect with the story and so the book can have that lasting effect every author desires. That is the cover’s purpose.

Learn more about Kaleb at http://www.wix.com/z4designs/z4designs
Book covers are crucial in buying decisions, it would seem, so more frequent posts on that subject are planned. Would love to hear from other designers.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tip O'Day #242 - Scams

Guest blogger Rose Blackthorn on being scammed.
I fell into that trap of submitting to an agent who referred me to a “book doctor” stating that after professional editing they would be pleased to represent my manuscript. The editor charged me an exorbitant amount, and after making the suggested changes I resubmitted to the agent, who now was no longer interested.
Dixon says: Thanks for sharing, Rose, and hopefully you've prevented other writers from falling for this scam. There are many honest and helpful literary agents, book editors, and book doctors - but how to ferret out the unethical ones? I'd suggest using the 'Preditors and Editors' website before signing either a contract or a check.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tip O'Day #241 - Can You Handle 10,000 Hours?

Guest blogger Tim Greaton reminds us that writers write.

Many famous authors are credited with having said, “Writer’s write…” and that is the truth of it. To sit down and begin a journey of words is the very heart of our craft. Talking about writing, thinking about writing, or even planning a writing project have little to do with the actual process of stringing words in a progression that is hoped to entertain or enlighten a reader. The late Jack Bickham used to say that the most important quality in any writer is the ability to sit down and refuse to get up until a certain number of words have been written. Ernest Hemmingway said, and I may be paraphrasing, “Write as well as you can and finish what you start.”

Clearly the message comes back to, “Writers write.” I recently saw a documentary suggesting that most successful athletes and musicians in our world today have achieved such great heights because they have practiced their chosen professions more than any of their peers, usually for a minimum of ten thousand hours. I believe that. It is also my belief that writers who strive to pass that same ten thousand-hour litmus test will ultimately find themselves among the finest writers of their generation. So I encourage anyone with a dream of making a dent in the literary world to…pull up a chair, grab your proverbial pen and simply begin.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tip O'Day #240 - Feel the Music

Guest blogger Bill Talcott is influenced by music.

On occasion I'll have someone ask me how I come up with my ideas for the fiction I write. Quite often I can only tell them I am influenced by the music I am listening to at the time. My book The Mission started out as an idea that developed while listening to the soundtrack for the movie, Blade Runner. I had finished my first attempt at a story and decided to hold off doing the editing on it to write a short tale. I originally called the story 'The Undead'. It was intended to be 20-30 pages of fan fiction, taking place within the world of an online game. The Blade Runner music kept bringing up feelings that practically wrote the story for me. Some 30 pages into it and not even close to an ending, I made the decision to kill off a character and suddenly my short story became more than it was intended to be.

Tracks 8, Memories of Green, and 10, Damask Rose of the Blade Runner soundtrack by Vangelis guided me through much of the writing process. There were other pieces by the group Audio Slave from their first CD that were a big influence. And then there was blues artist, RL Burnside and his Go To Jail. There were many others that made me feel something for the story as well. After finishing and making necessary changes in the story I eventually had The Mission, a short novel that I decided to publish as an e-book.

Music continues to play a big part in what I am currently writing and the ideas that I have for future stories. Who knows, something you are listening to right now may have influenced something you've recently read.

To learn more about Bill, check out http://billtalcottsblog.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tip O'Day #239 - Rejection

Matt Hilton on Rejection. (This excerpt is from “Col Bury’s New Crime Fiction” blog of Feb 9, 2009. He interviewed Matt Hilton, author of the Joe Hunter thriller series, and the subject of rejection came up.)

Like all writers I’ve suffered the dreaded rejection slip on so many occasions I can’t remember. Between writing Aggro, and my deal for Dead Men’s Dust coming to fruition, everything I ever wrote – apart from a few articles for magazines - was rejected for one reason or another.

I came very close on a few occasions, and it was the advice that I was given that spurred me to keep on writing. Rejection can be depressing, but you have to look beyond the ‘thanks but no thanks’ message and pick up on any advice contained in the rejection letter. I took each rejection as a step along the road to publication, and after each I’d go back to my work and see what it was that wasn’t acceptable to the publisher and try to put it right next time round.

Expect rejection and you won’t be disappointed, so when the acceptance comes it is a great surprise. If you lay all your hopes in one place – or one step of the process – it can pull you down if you’re knocked back. But don’t give up, keep trying. If you’ve got the drive and the talent, someone will pick you up.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tip O'Day #238 - The Write Spice

Guest blogger Gayle George Gross on how to spice up your writing, and try something different with your story line.

Create a snappy interaction between characters, allowing their personalities to show by adding dialogue to the story. Watch the conversation dry up as the characters begin mulling over past transgressions. Preserve the mood with a flash of lust and passion. Find a natural setting for the characters to relax and draw on their inner strengths. Extract the hidden strengths from their strong character, overcoming the coarse words of a sour adversary. Don’t let them mince words when someone deserves to be put in their place. Provide an opportunity for them to ground themselves with friends and loved ones. Cut to the chase and let them know how you really feel about them before they’re roasted by a challenger. Mild or sweet, hot or sassy, love them with your whole heart and soul, even the nuts.

There’s a great newsletter that provides a new word a day for your vocabulary. http://wordsmith.org/awad/index.html adds to the spice collection on your shelf.

When you've maximized the right flavor and are ready for a taste-test visit http://www.10daybookclub.com/ We know there's a masterpiece waiting to be sampled. We look forward to serving you.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tip O'Day #237 - More of How Readers Choose

I asked some friends how they pick books to read or purchase.

Lynna Dee - I usually go for any mystery. I also have certain favorite authors. I will give new authors a chance. Dislikes: I hate books with too much information that has nothing to do with the story.

Marta Moran-Bishop - I will read just about anything, as long as it is well written or gives me insight into a time, place, era, or imaginary world. When picking a book to read, I look for content and the style of the writer. It is very important for me to be able to believe in the characters. If I can't then I lose interest.

Anthony Newman - Many times, one of my friends will tell me that they just read this great book. I'll get it on the Kindle and give it a go. If it's good, I will get more books by that author. It also is nice that I can get sample chapters to read and then purchase the entire novel. I haven't been disappointed yet.

Terry Parrish - Reading for me is an addiction. If I could afford it I would buy every book that appealed to me, in many genres. When choosing between two books, I’ll choose the one I want to read the most, and then get the other one the next time. I also won't read the first books until they’ve all been published.

Eleanor Anders - For personal reading, I depend on the back cover description. Does it hook me? Am I already invested in the story just from the back cover? It both of these answers are yes, I buy!

Nanci Nelson Rogers - In a book store, I am first attracted to a book by its cover, and then the title. A cleverly chosen title can often sell the book by itself. Then I read the synopsis, and decide if this is a book I want to read. Online, my approach is a little different. If the title is not intriguing, I am not going to click to that next page to see anything else. Then, the synopsis has to be written so I just have to know more.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saying for Writers #108 - Woodberry

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) Inspire You to Write:
"Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure." - George Edward Woodberry

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tip O'Day #236 - Watch Those Bad Words!

Guest blogger Deb Peters wonders why Self-Publishing is a bad word.

First, big-name publishing companies do not consider writers published unless they got in print through the traditional route. Secondly, some companies who help authors self-publish do not even read the books they print; traditional publishers know that. Because of these two facts, all self-publishing companies get a bad rep.

There are two firms that I know of that read every word in your manuscript, no matter how long it is. I also know that there are self-published authors (like myself) who hire editors to help make their manuscript into the best book possible.

Another thing that traditional publishing presses do not take into consideration is that many famous authors were first self-published. If anyone wants a list, go to this site: http://www.simonteakettle.com/famousauthors.htm

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tip O'Day #235 - Powerful Verbs

Guest blogger Deborah Epperson on putting more power in your prose.

If you’ve been a writer longer than five minutes, you’ve heard the maxim, “Show, don’t tell.” To show actions, feelings, and relationships, we use verbs. Weak verbs are a writer’s kryptonite. Active verbs energize your writing. For example, “Sue wept when her cat died” is more powerful than “Sue was sad when her cat died.” The verb wept adds drama and emotion.

Action verbs also grab your reader’s attention. For example, “John staggered toward the door” is stronger, more precise, and paints a more vivid picture than “John walked unsteadily toward the door.”

While strong, action verbs add vitality and energy to your writing, there are times when passive verbs are useful, such as when you want to slow down the action, reduce the tension, or extend the narrative.

Finally, you should pick verbs that can stand alone and make your writing more concise. Ensure your readers receive a clear image of what you intend to communicate. By simply changing the verb, you can change the reader’s experience and expectations. Consider the difference between “The carriage dashed through the streets” and “The carriage rambled through the streets.”

To learn more about Deborah, the author of Breaking TWIG, check out https://ddepperson.wordpress.com

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tip O'Day #234 - Self-Pub Next Time?

Guest blogger Marta Moran-Bishop on plans for her next book.
Having gone the route of traditional publishing with my last book Wee Three: A Mother's Love in Verse, and gave up so much control of what I would like to do, I am seriously considering self-publishing my newest book.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tip O'Day #233 - Seize Every Chance

Guest blogger Marlene Samuels on getting published through a fluke.

Until recently, my writing has been academic and this type of book, especially PhD dissertations, have an easier time finding publication, however usually very limited runs with an academic press. Self-publishing has become a more realistic option for writers who aren’t always able to secure an agent. The success of self-published books has been advanced by increased access to internet-based public relations. The up-side: buzz is easier to obtain and more accessible. The bad news: each day, that medium is becoming more competitive.

My first non-academic book, The Seamstress: A Memoir of Survival, was published first by a conventional press. That was a fluke and done without an agent, a perfect example of meeting someone, who knows someone, who knows someone at a publisher. So you can and should tell anyone who will listen that you've written a book – only if you really have finished it or are almost finished. You should follow up with anyone who tells you they "know someone at a publisher" or has a friend whose uncle works at a literary agency, etc. I almost let my opportunity drop since I didn’t want to 1) seem like a pest, 2) waste my time with possible frauds, and 3) risk having someone read and then hate my work.

To learn more about Marlene, check out her blog at www.marlenesamuels.blogspot.com

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tip O'Day #232 - "Get Lenin"

Guest blogger Robert Craven on the travails of historical fiction.

I still pinch myself. It took Get Lenin five years to grow from an idea to the novel. It started as a dream, then became a journey. Along the way I grew. As with all journeys, it had rough parts as well as smooth parts. The final destination remains unknown.

The idea started when I read a book review about Lenin’s Embalmers, revealing that Lenin’s mausoleum was shipped out of Moscow to the Ural mountains during the German advance in 1941. The first thought that came into my head was “What would happen if...”

Get Lenin finished as a novella clocking in at a modest 26,000 words as a straight adventure, then I started to pitch it. The subject matter of a stranded German unit in Russia during WWII was always going to have limited appeal. As the rejections clogged up the in-box, my wife pointed out that the main female character (Eva Molenaar) was quite unsympathetic. I went back and developed Eva from an innocent caught in the wrong place at the wrong time to an assured heroine. During the course of the pitches, I posted to the peer-review site authonomy.com. From there I found Night Publishing.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Saying for Writers #107 - Safire

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) Inspire You to Write:
"Do not put statements in the negative form. And don't start sentences with a conjunction. If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do. Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is. Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague." - William Safire

Friday, December 2, 2011

Tip O'Day #231 - Robots in SciFi (Part II)

Guest blogger Gary Starta continues on sentient machines.

The idea of robots is really not that extreme or fantastical. For the most part, they are already here. Will it be all right to use them for servitude? Most every science fiction story of the last half century portrays them in that manner. Think of Bicentennial Man. But in that movie, the robot evolves so it actually becomes human. Still, the robot is portrayed as a servant, although its owner treats it with respect.

Will humanity treat robots with respect once they grow in number? People who perceive them as mere machines such as a computer will probably dismiss the idea of expending emotion on objects. But others may feel compelled to interact with androids as if they were human, even if they don’t possess self awareness or are unable to feel genuine emotion.

In my novel Gods of the Machines, two androids find love in a future where they have yet to attain the full rights of humans, yet are accepted by some as sexual partners of humans. As androids inch closer to a new status within society, it becomes absurd that these beings aren’t considered humans. They are just another kind of human; instead of biological, they are artificial. But both can love.
Find more about Gods of the Machines (and maybe win a book) at www.garystarta.net

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tip O'Day 230 - Robots in SciFi (Part I)

Guest blogger Gary Starta on sentient machines.

My inspiration to write the novel, Gods of the Machines, basically comes down to one word of inspiration: sentient. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines sentient as “feeling or sensation as distinguished from perception or thought.” The ability to feel defines our consciousness as humans. It is what distinguishes us from other devices capable of thought or calculation, i.e. computers. And although that line of separation, the inability of your laptop to feel emotion, is pretty thick at the moment, there may come a time when that line will either be blurred or crossed. Maybe you are skeptical that robots or perhaps, androids – beings that resemble humans – will ever exist in the way we see them in movies such as I, Robot. But there are signs that technology is advancing and that robotics is becoming more and more integrated into our everyday life.

The latest cutting-edge cell phone operating system is called Android (Droid for short). Although a phone is a long way from a walking, talking android, it seems to show the very idea of such technology is seeping into the consumer consciousness. In Japan, actual android/robots have been created! They have skin made of silicon, and sensors allow them to react. They appear to blink and even breathe! But what they don’t possess is sentience. And because they don’t, I believe these creations will be ripe for exploitation. Robots are already in use in battlefields. Androids such as the life-like creations in Japan may be used for servitude as well, perhaps as nursing aides.
Gary's comments will continue on Dec 2, including the premise of Gods of the Machines.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tip O'Day #229 - Write in Scenes

Guest blogger Colleen Cross on borrowing a screenwriting technique.

Like many writers, I start new books with a general idea, a rough chapter outline, and a vague idea of the ending. At the start it's fresh and exciting, and I'm sure I'll knock out a first draft in no time at all. Then, just as we reach double-digit chapters, disaster strikes. My characters hijack the story. Or, even worse, they go on strike, and steer me off the highway and onto that no-exit road called Writer's Block Hell.

How can they do this to me?

Thankfully, I read some screenwriting books. Syd Field's Four Screenplays and Blake Snyder's Save the Cat! offer great advice for screenwriters, and novelists can benefit too.

One idea made all the difference; I started to write in scenes. Modern stories are based on a three act story structure: the beginning, the middle and the end. I determine the three most important scenes for each act, and then write them. Now I've got nine scenes which form the main plot and provide the theme. I don't worry about what happens before or after these scenes, or exactly what order they appear in. I can fill those in later with smaller connecting scenes. I save each scene in a separate Word file, and then I knit them into my novel's first draft.

My characters haven't mutinied on me since I started using this method. They seem happier, and while I still give them free rein, they don't take over my story, or stop it. Writing in scenes is a little messier, but it frees me to be more creative.

Visit Colleen's website and blog at http://colleencross.com and read more about Exit Strategy, Book 1 in the Katerina Carter suspense series.
Dixon says: I had coffee with writing friend (and Amazon Top 50 reviewer) Roxanne McHenry the other day. She is excited about the first draft of her dark YA novel, which consists of a series of unconnected scenes. When she gets further along, she'll worry about whether the scenes are in the right order, and how to hook them together. An interesting approach - I'm not sure I'd have the courage to try it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tip O'Day #228 - Keep 70%...For What?

Guest blogger Sue Owen on self-publishing versus traditional publishing.
It used to be that a publisher did everything from cover to back page including all advertising and setting up personal appearances, etc. Now, they are too busy reading and publishing books and don’t have time for all that, so it is up to authors to promote their own materials. For that you are paying up to 70% commission. So take that 70% and publish it yourself for a 3% commission. Why waste time, energy and funds to do something yourself, that you end up doing yourself anyway. To learn more about Sue, check out her blog at bySueOwen.blogspot.com
I receive and share comments on both sides of the “e-book vs tree-book” debate, and "self-pub vs big pub." Anne Patrick had strong arguments in favor of traditional publishing last week. In today’s post, Sue Owen doesn’t buy that viewpoint.
What’s your opinion?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tip O'Day #227 - Your To-Do List

Guest blogger Cynthia J. Faryon on some nonwriting things that can help you get published.
Become known in your community by volunteering and include this in your bio. Read back copies of magazines or read books published by publishing companies so you know what they are interested in. Send your manuscript out to sample readers with a questionnaire and include the comments in your submission.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tip O'Day #226 - Yet More "Why I Write"

Five more responses to “What Makes You Write?” Let’s do this again sometime.

Clair Saint - Word smithing, articulation that is really important to describe the feeling so the other can completely and totally visualize and/or feel what the writer is describing to touch and stimulate.

Marlene Samuels - I select books for a range of very specific reasons: they're in my field; they're by best-selling authors; they're classics that I didn’t quite understand when I was required to read them; or they're a huge intellectual challenge to me.

Matthew Schott - I have to tell their stories or they will be lost forever. Everyone is a main character; it’s just those who get thrown into unusual situations whose stories becomes books.

Jane Vogley - It's my passion. I enjoy creating stories that entertain people, move them, and make them think. And I write because I'm not so good at other artistic mediums, can't draw or paint to save my life...lol

Claudette Walker - A flame that burns hotter than Dante's Inferno. The unending passion to explore this world as it is during my time and leave an unforgettable trail, she lived...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tip O'Day 225 - Why You Write 2.0

Five more friends respond to the question, "Why Do You Write?"

Heather Long - Because if I don't write I daydream all day and don't get paid for it.

Ellie Mack - I think everyone would benefit from more laughter, and a lighthearted look at life. Otherwise it's just too depressing. Since I don't want to do stand-up comedy, I write. The wit and wisdom combined gives a certain 'slant' that not everyone sees. That's what I feel that I offer to others - a wry view that brings a few laughs, a half full in a world of half empties.

Sue Owen - I have no idea what makes a person write. It’s not an easy life. It’s lonely and scary. You pour your heart into a work that takes you forever to finish. But really it’s never finished; you just reach a point where you just can’t look at it anymore so you publish it. Then people read it and tell you how this or that could have been done differently, all with good intentions. Why would anyone do that to themselves?

Deb Peters - I do not feel like anything or anyone makes me write. I have a very vivid imagination and years of life experiences. If I have inspired one person to be happy with their lives or do something to change it to make them happy, then I have accomplished my goal.

Marsheila Rockwell - No one else is writing the stories I want to read.

My thriller Assassin's Club: Preservation will be out on Kindle at Christmas - look for it!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tip O'Day #224 - What Makes You Write?

I recently asked my FB friends, “What makes you write?” Here’s five answers, with more to come:

Linda Lavonne Barton - The voices screaming in my head wanting to tell their stories. LOL

Sarah Bewley - I write plays because I literally have voices in my head, and I figure I'll put them to use. (grin)

Michael Boehm - The characters. They're there in my head, doing things and having conversations. They won't leave me alone unless I write it all down.

Shirl Henke - I began writing because I had stories in my head and had to put them to paper. Once I became published, I had deadlines on my mind. Now that I'm e-pubbing my backlist before writing any more new books, I feel the very strong urge to stop and begin with the new stories once again.

John Hohn - It gives my life purpose.

I put these in alphabetical order by last name. Interesting how the same theme runs through the first four.
I'll post more replies from my friends over the next week. If you have a thought you're burning to share, email me at montananovels@yahoo.com or add a comment below.
After Christmas, look for Assassin's Club: Preservation on Kindle, with wider distribution to follow.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tip O'Day #223 - Thanks for Evolution

Guest blogger Anne Patrick on getting published.

I think with the evolution of e-books, it's becoming easier to get published, but you still need to carefully research the publishers you submit to. Indie authors are having some success. Personally, I prefer the traditional route. I'm currently published with small independent publishers and have been very happy with them. I have good editors, awesome cover artists, and the royalties aren't too shabby. If a person does go the indie route, investing in a good professional editor is a must.

The most important thing...don't give up. Believe in yourself, stick with it, and it'll happen.

To learn more about Anne Patrick, check out http://www.annepatrick.weebly.com/

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tip O'Day #222 - Tree Book vs E-book

Guest blogger Gary Williams on the appeal of e-publishing (Part 2 of 3).

I’ve heard some people say that they will never read an e-book. They love the feel and smell of a tangible book. I must agree, there is something comforting, almost romantic, about turning the pages of a bound book, the scent of the paper. But the fact is, we are a society of convenience and immediacy. As people get comfortable with the technology, which is about as user friendly as you can get, more and more will convert.

Talk to anyone who is a regular e-device user and you’ll find that they’re hooked. Both my parents are in their 80s. Each owns a Kindle. My father is on pace to read more novels this year than I’ve read in my entire life, and he hasn’t set foot in a brick-and-mortar book store for years.

Gary Williams co-writes with Vicky Knerly. Their debut thriller, Death in the Beginning, was released electronically on November 21st, two days ago.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tip O'Day #221 - E-books a perfect fit?

Guest blogger Gary Williams on the appeal of e-publishing (Part 2 of 3).

Why are e-books the perfect fit for both writers and readers?

- The purchase price of e-books is considerably lower than either paperback or hardback books in most cases. Many are sold for $5.00 or lower. First-time authors often sell their books for $.99 or even give them away. Why? To gain an audience. It’s all about marketing. Get a reader base, and money will be made on the volumes and/or future releases.

- Due to the minimal overhead for e-book publishers, e-publishing your manuscript often requires very little investment by the author. In many cases, no investment is needed since the publisher shares in the profits. Once the electronic version is uploaded by publishers, they incur virtually no overhead costs. It’s a win/win for both author and publisher.

- The convenience by which readers can purchase novels via e-reader devices such as Kindle and Nook lends itself to impulse buying. A reader can shop, buy a novel, and be reading it within a matter of minutes. For some devices and applications, readers can download a book anywhere there’s a wireless connection. Combine the convenience with the low price, and it’s not hard to imagine that readers will take chances on unknown authors. So what if they spend $1.99 on a book that turns out not to be to their liking? They’ll just download another one. And what of readers who have just finished a book and want to find others by the same author? Minutes later, they could be enjoying the next story.

Gary Williams co-writes with Vicky Knerly. Their debut thriller, Death in the Beginning, was released electronically yesterday, November 21st.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tip O'Day #220 - e-pub trends

Guest blogger Gary Williams on the appeal of e-publishing (Part 1 of 3).

The publishing industry took a turn a few years ago with the introduction of e-publishing. From a fledgling start where it faced considerable opposition, e-books are becoming prevalent at a time when the economy is in most need of inexpensive entertainment.

Five years ago Nooks and Kindles were luxuries for the serious, well-to-do readers. Few people made the hefty investment, which carried a price tag in excess of $400. But like the original pocket calculators that came out in the late 1960’s and costs over $400 and now can be bought for $10, the price of electronic readers has begun to plummet. Kindle is now advertising a version for under $100. Cell phone reader apps are also very inexpensive, and in some cases free.

Do people really read e-books? According to the American Association of Publishers, purchases of e-books have soared over the last year. E-books sales in August 2010 compared to August 2011 were up 116%, while adult paperback sales were down almost 6% and adult hardback down 11% for that same month. As a matter of fact, every category of books suffered a decline in this period with the exception of e-books and audiobooks. And while e-books still only represent 17.6% of total book sales in August 2011, that’s a tremendous leap from the 7.8% the same month a year before. At this rate of growth, they will soon overtake the sale of all other book mediums combined.

Gary Williams co-writes with Vicky Knerly. Their debut thriller, Death in the Beginning, was released electronically on November 21st. Wait a minute – that’s today! Best wishes, you two.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saying for Writers #106 - Gracián

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) Inspire You to Write:
“A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the other one.” - Baltasar Gracián

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tip O'Day #219 - "Picture It"

Guest blogger John Klawitter on visual imagery in e-books.

We’re all aware our audience increasingly devours everything from novels to e-zines on small, hand-held screens. And now it seems e-books are moving beyond words and in the direction of visual imagery. With formats like Kindle, Smashwords and CreateSpace we can add images in the text of our work.

Fifteen years ago, when I wrote Headslap, a sports bio about the life and times of Deacon Jones, the publisher grudgingly included a group of pictures in one section in the center of the book. That used to be the way they did it, an awkward section not all that convenient to refer to. Today you can sprinkle photos and drawings throughout your book at little or no extra cost. But that’s just one current step in the trend.

Today’s writers are linking to video imagery within the body of the text. I myself am working on a how-to book meant to inspire writers who want to venture into storytelling videos, and I’m imbedding links to YouTube and Vimeo to give readers the opportunity to experience short video examples of exactly what I’m talking about.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tip O'Day #218 - Critique This!

Your genial blog host Dixon Rice on critique groups.

My local critique group is terrific. They catch spelling errors and grammar mistakes. They notice continuity problems, POV violations, tense problems, and subject-verb disagreement. Most important, they ask annoying questions.

In my WIP, two deputies in a rural Montana sheriff’s department have a hobby. They kill criminals when they can’t get a conviction in court. So I have them researching cold cases, staking out suspects, interviewing witnesses, and other extracurricular activities. You know, acting like detectives, even though they are just patrol officers.

Two nights ago at our biweekly critique session, Jake asked me, “When do these guys work?” Well, darn. He had spotted a problem that many crime fiction readers would immediately notice. My deputies were not getting calls about domestic assaults or car accidents. They were not giving speeding tickets. They were not transporting felons, reporting their locations and odometer readings to the dispatcher, filling out forms or testifying in court.

I can fix this oversight, but I never would have realized it existed if not for Jake and his annoying question. That, my friends, is why Jake and I started our critique group, and why I keep coming back for regularly-scheduled ego adjustments.

This Christmas, look for Dixon’s first published novel, THE ASSASSIN’S CLUB: PRESERVATION.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tip O'Day #217 - Judge a Book by its Cover

Guest blogger Sue Owen on book covers.

Time and again, authors overlook the importance of the book cover. First impressions are very important. Does it make sense to spend years writing and revising a book, only to slap any old cover on it and call it good? What a huge waste of time. The creative decisions about your cover are just as important as the creative decisions about what to put between the covers.

A good cover has to be attention-getting as well as reflecting the story and the personality of the user. To have a drawn cover for a children’s book is good because the readers you are trying to attract will be interested in that. But to put that same type of cover on a murder mystery….you won’t sell it no matter how good the story is.

To learn more about Sue, check out her blog at bySueOwen.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tip O'Day #216 - How to Begin

Guest blogger Gary Ponzo on starting your story.

There was a time when people would ride their horse for days to travel a hundred miles. A trip to China and back could take months. Back then writers could take 3-4 chapters to develop their characters, revealing their idiosyncrasies, their flaws, their motives. Those days are long gone. Our lifestyle has changed so much, waiting for a light to turn green could easily mutate into road rage. While Twitter, Facebook and texting have caused our attention spans to shorten, our children's brains are actually being developed to handle the fast pace.

So readers no longer have the patience for long introductions. Certain literary fiction might have some immunity to the modern, frantic pace, but if you're writing any type of commercial fiction, you'd better upload the tension.

How do you do it? With great care - not tricks or gimmicks like the protagonist waking from a nightmare as he's about to be slaughtered. What will work, however, is anything with tension. And I don't mean it has to be a freight train bearing down on our hero. It could be as simple as a missed phone call the protagonist desperately wanted to hear. Use intrigue to lead us to the next line, then make sure the next line leads us into more questions. Resist the temptation to answer everything too fast. That's what keeps the reader reading.

Lee Child's first Jack Reacher novel, KILLING FLOOR, began with "I was arrested in Eno's Diner." Of course it begs the question, why was he arrested? Why does he seem so casual about it? My favorite opening line came from an old Jules Shear song, "I've never seen the weapon, but I know the prints are mine." Isn't that a great opening? I've tried for years to use that line, but never found the story to go with it. Maybe I never will. But one thing is for sure, I'll probably never open with something that doesn't cause the reader to ask, "Why is she in that predicament?"

Hopefully, neither will you.

BTW, here’s the opening line from Gary’s second novel, A TOUCH OF REVENGE: “The bullet left the sniper’s rifle at 3,000 feet per second.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tip O'Day #215 - Feeling Passion?

Guest blogger Laura Schultz is passionate...about writing and reviewing.

I have always been passionate about writing poetry as I was able to address the human condition as well as muddle through my own as a child. Besides poetry, I enjoy writing in a myriad of genres such as self-help and true crime. My passion has always been to facilitate growth and change, and to inspire others to transcend their struggles. I endeavor to use my background as a psychotherapist in my writing for those reasons.

After reading and reviewing books for the past few years for the NY Journal of Books, I developed a great respect for authors. I was able to learn the delicate balance between elevating a good story and pointing out some of its weak points. Reviewing is the best of both worlds and has greatly improved my writing because of learning from others.

I got to know Laura through the FB group Writers Etc. She is a co-administrator there but a more accurate job title might be Guiding Spirit. She is tremendously helpful and supportive, and can offer interesting psychological insights into what makes your characters tick.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tip O'Day #214 - Feeling Rejected?

Guest blogger J.E. Seymour on dejection over rejection.

I read a complaint from a writer the other day. He was whining about how it took a year to write his novel and then an agent rejected it. One agent. He even got helpful feedback from said agent.

It took me years to write my first published novel. It took me years to get it published. My very first novel was picked up by an agent fourteen years ago, but she dumped me after thirteen rejections from publishers. I finished another book, got another agent, dumped him after six months of inaction. Wrote another book. Got 86 rejections from agents. Got numerous rejections from small presses before finally selling it to Mainly Murder Press. This is not a game for the easily discouraged.

If you want to write, be prepared to stick to it. And don’t give up after one rejection. Just keep writing a better book.

J.E. Seymour’s first novel, Lead Poisoning was released by Mainly Murder Press in 2010 and she has short stories in four different anthologies. J.E. is the markets coordinator for the Short Mystery Fiction Society. To learn more, check out http://jeseymour.com

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Quote for Authors #105 - Wilde

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) Inspire You to Write:
“Books are never finished, they are merely abandoned." - Oscar Wilde

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tip O'Day #213 - Soul Satisfaction

Guest blogger Alyse Michele Gardner on putting yourself in your work.
When it comes to writing, I think that a lot of what you write should come from your soul. You should put as much of yourself into the piece of work as you possibly can, yet try not to be redundant. You can have similar things, and approach the same thing from different aspects, but don't write the same thing over and over again. However, what I stress the most is the factor of the soul.
To learn more about Alyse, she blogs at http://alysemgardner.blogspot.com/
Dixon says: A former member of my critique group was fond of making a statement, and then repeating the same concept in different words, and often giving it to us one more time. I found that approach annoyingly repetitive, but also insulting to me as a reader. “I don’t trust you to get it the first time, so let me try again.”
If you find yourself being repetitive, choose the most powerful version – the one from the soul – and slash the rest.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tip O'Day #212 - Write for Films

Guest blogger Carl Paolino II on all you need to know about screenwriting.
To sell a screenplay you need an agent who believes in your work and pushes it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tip O'Day #211 - Write for Readers 2.0

Following up yesterday’s post, here is more of what readers look for.

Gerald Sessions: I read mostly fiction. (Not a writer.) Some books I buy because I like the author. Sometime the cover is the clincher; other times, the blurb telling about the story.

Jane Vogley - I go for the obscure, books that don't have mainstream appeal or marketing. As a screenwriter, sometimes I only have time to read when I'm working on an adaptation or doing research for a movie. For example, right now my dining room table is covered in every book known to man about Raoul Wallenberg, because I'm writing a script about him. I'm also working on a spec script based on a book called Swamplandia so I'll have to start reading that soon.

So what makes you pick up a book by an unknown author, and give it a try?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tip O'Day #210 - Write for Readers

Two Opinions on What Readers Look For.

Madison Woods: I hate to admit it, but first I do look at the cover. Good art attracts me because I am a creative type and look for style/colors/layout I like. After that I'll open the book to a random page and read. If the author's style of writing appeals to me, I'll keep reading at random spots throughout the book. If the content inside doesn't appeal, it doesn't matter what the blurb on the back says. Things that make me put it back right away are things like clumsy dialogue, drifting POV's, obvious syntax errors, and poor grammar (where the grammar isn't part of the voice).

Judith Anne Horner: I mostly read mysteries or romantic suspense written by well-known authors or by authors I’m acquainted with, either in person or online. I generally read a review about a mystery/romance novel in a magazine or online. I’ve also been reading a lot of works by Indie Authors. Some of it is really good; some of it isn’t so good. I don’t think that a lot Indie Authors employ an “outside editor.” Also, the formatting tends to be really messed up on some e-books. I find that I lose interest in novels that have more than three POVs and ones that seem to have an endless cast of characters. I also tend to skip over sections with too much telling and too little showing. And I think it’s a little strange when the first-person POV protagonist addresses the reader.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Saying for Writers #104 - "Being a Writer"

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) Inspire You to Write:
"Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life." - Lawrence Kasdan

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tip O'Day #209 - "Why Not Me?"

Guest blogger Valerie Douglas on the success of others.

You've worked hard as a writer, honed your book, edited it, tried the traditional route and endured the rejection slips. For moral support you've joined writer's groups and cheered each other on for weeks or months. Then the day comes, the big announcement - a contract offer. Only... it's not you.

Maybe their book is merely good, or maybe it's GREAT, or you think it's garbage. It doesn't matter, because a part of you wishes... it was you. Maybe they handle it well, accepting that it's a mix of hard work and sheer luck, or maybe they don't. That doesn't matter either.

Graciously, you offer congratulations. Yet there's that little niggling touch of envy inside you. You may even ask yourself, "Why not me?"

That's okay. It's normal, to feel that way. As a wise man once said, it's not what happens to you that matters, but what you do with it. Another said, the test of someone's character is in how they handle a friend's success. So allow yourself to wallow for a few minutes, then pick yourself up, glue yourself to your favorite chair, and get back to writing. The success of others proves that it can be done, with a lot of hard work...and a little luck.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Tip O'Day #208 - Make Your Readers Want to Stay

Guest blogger Mike Nettleton presents “Short Attention Span Theatre.”

After 25 plus years of writing and editing for other writers and 6 published novels, I’ve come to one major conclusion: you need to grab your reader’s attention at the beginning of your story. Too many writers spend the first chapter setting the scene and introducing us to the protagonist. Then, usually somewhere late in the second or third chapter, they provide the event that is the true beginning of the story.

The perfect example of somebody who knows how to hit the ground running with a story is Lee Child and his Jack Reacher books. Within the first three paragraphs, Child has you on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next. This concept is especially important in genre books, but even for a literary novel, you should get your characters moving and reacting to events.

Since I mostly write mystery and detective fiction, the murder is a favorite place to start. Here’s how I began Shotgun Start:

She huddled against the wall, hearing a playback of her father’s voice in her head. “Do not point a weapon at something you do not intend to kill.”
“Loud and clear, Daddy dearest,” she murmured, running her fingers along the chill barrels of the shotgun lying across her lap. “One dead man, coming up.” Nausea tugged at her stomach even as she smiled at her own sick sense of humor.

My guess is most readers will stick around to find out who dies and why. Remember, the best way for our readers to get to know a character is through actions and reactions.

Check out Mike’s website at www.deadlyduomysteries.com or read a sample chapter of Shotgun Start at http://www.amazon.com/Shotgun-Start-Neal-Mystery-ebook/dp/B005QCXY0K

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tip O'Day #207 - How Do YOU Measure Success?

Guest blogger John J. Hohn on success as a writer.

Finishing my novel, DEADLY PORTFOLIO: A KILLING IN HEDGE FUNDS, represented the achievement of a lifetime goal for me. It has been artistically successful and sells consistently although not in high volume. I may have sold 500 copies since it was published nearly a year ago.

I learned a lot from my publishing venture--both about the book selling business and about writing. I don't care for all the online promo stuff that seems to be required. I think that a lot of writers are writing a lot of writers and we are all spinning our wheels in looking for the magic bullet or whatever. An entire industry has grown up around helping writers publish and sell. It has been very good for the publicists, the publishers, the consultants, and how-to authors, but I don't see much of it coming to anything very spectacular for the individual writers. A great deal of luck is needed. It is still a lottery.

I am underway with my next effort but I have set my sights differently. I want to print perhaps 100 copies, distribute them to fans, reviewers, friends and family, and then move on. I turn 73 on my next birthday so the drive to sell 10,000 copies is not as important as getting the next book written. If I were 35, it would be an entirely different matter.

You can check out John’s website at jjhohn.com

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tip O'Day #206 - Keep it Simple, Writers

Guest blogger Judith Anne Horner keeps it simple.

My comments on writing are not terribly original, but here’s a couple:

1) Aspiring authors should write. They should write something every day (e.g., a few paragraphs of a major project or simply a comment on someone else’s blog or Facebook post).

2) If one writing project seems stalled, work on another project for a while.

Judith’s blogs are www.westwordarizona.blogspot.com and www.westwordarizona.com

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tip O'Day #205 - Why Barbara Self-Publishes

Guest blogger Barbara Bixon wonders about listings on Writer’s Market.

I love writing. It's my passion but it's frustrating as hell.

I write comedy. When I send out chapters of my books, the agents scribble notes telling me how much they loved the book, characters, they couldn't put it down, but they reject it saying they don't handle comedy. Yet Writer's Market lists them as wanting humor. It's enough to drive you nuts. I've just gotten so sick and tired of the games that I self-published my books. They came out great and I have 26 book talks lined up for the next few months. I'm finally happy to see my books in print. Don't care whether I make a fortune.

Why bother writing if you can't share your stories?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tip O'Day #204 - Why Sue Self-Publishes

Guest blogger Sue Julsen on self-publishing.

Getting published is hard, especially in this economy. Traditional publishers don't want to take a chance on someone new or someone who isn't "connected" in good or bad times. They seem to want a sure thing so they can get richer while the author struggles to survive on the small amount they get from a traditional publisher.

Self-publishing is the way to go, unless you want your manuscript to collect dust for years and years in a drawer waiting for a publisher to accept you or to find an agent who might or might not help you. New writers have to be very careful when looking for a place to self-publish. There are lots of legit-sounding scams, so I won't go with any publisher until I check it out on Predators & Editors and Writer's Beware. I also like to find someone who has used a certain publisher and has good (or bad) things to say before I make a final decision.

This is Sues’s second guest post. Learn more about her at Goodreads blog http://www.goodreads.com/suejulsen or the link to her first book http://www.outskirtspress.com/bittermemories/

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tip O'Day #203 - "The Dead File"

Guest blogger Madison Woods on publishing stories that previously appeared in your own blog.

Earlier this year I learned a valuable lesson. I have a 'dead file' where I put the short stories that didn't gel for some reason. A couple years ago I posted one of these stories to my blog in weekly segments to get feedback from readers. Did a little rewriting on it but still wasn't satisfied so I put it back in the dead file and forgot about it.

This past summer I found out about a new magazine that was going to pay professional rates (5-6 cents/word). Browsing through my dead file brought me back to that story I'd given up on. I realized what was wrong with it and made changes that revived it and made it sale worthy. The magazine bought it. Contracts signed.

Then one day, I found the posts on my blog. Oh boy. I knew I had to tell the editor that the story had been 'published' on my blog. A writer friend of mine, K.d. McCrite, had warned about this but I didn't listen. Some editors wouldn't care because it's not likely any of the magazine's readers would have read the story on my blog. This editor did care, and it cost me the sale.

Madison blogs at http://www.MadisonWoods.wordpress.com/

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tip O'Day #202 - "The Undead"

Guest blogger Glenn Gamble says “Print is Not Dead.”

Although it’s not my preferred method of publication, the print medium is not dead. I’ve seen statistics that e-books account for less than 15% of all book sales despite their phenomenal growth. I haven’t done in-depth research on my own, but the fact remains that I’m leaving 85% of sales on the table. “Why?” you might ask.

As many mid-list authors have discovered, e-books are more cost-effective and less expensive than print. I had previously self-published a book in 2009, but then didn’t publish one for the next two years due to the expense of a print run. Discouraged by the results of my first attempt at self-publishing, I stopped publishing period. My sales didn’t justify the costs and I had neither the time nor money to do the needed legwork. Another author suggested publishing on Kindle, but I dismissed the idea because Amazon only paid a 35% royalty.

Two years later, that same author is making a nice living selling her books on Kindle, and I… I’m starting over because I didn’t share her foresight on the Kindle Revolution. However, missing out on this opportunity has reinvigorated me. Since May of this year, I have released three books - four in a few days - and I’m currently working on a prequel to the Jim Money series. I didn’t have such drive two years ago, but I’m hungry now and looking forward to getting my work out to readers. Kindle provides the easiest and most cost-effective way for me to publish my work. This is why I choose to miss out on 85% of print sales.

Glenn’s books are available on Amazon Kindle http://www.amazon.com/Glenn-Gamble/e/B002BMGSVK and Barnes and Noble Nook http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Glenn-Gamble?keyword=Glenn+Gamble&store=allproducts and Smashwords http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/glenngamble and most recently in the iBookstore.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tip O'Day #201 - Research (and Be Nice)

Guest blogger Daisy Dunn on the reason for her success.

I decided last November to follow my passion and try to have a novel published this year. I researched the industry tirelessly for two months. I studied publishing houses, submission guidelines, what's hot in the market, how to write a query letter and the dreaded synopsis, etc. On January 1st of this year, I started writing. I finished it at the beginning of April and submitted it. A week later I received my first acceptance letter. I continued to write novels, novellas and short stories and I now have six books in total coming out this year from two different publishing houses.

My advice from this amazing experience is to research the market before submitting. Another suggestion is be nice at all times. It's amazing how much help and advice I've been given from people in the industry (editors, publishers, established authors) because I've been nice. My editor, for instance, has taken me under her wing and not only are we now friends, but I consider her my mentor. That’s my experience in the publishing world so far - very positive (and very lucky!!)

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Check out Daisy’s (adult) blog at www.daisydunn.blogspot.com

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tip O'Day #200 - Just the Right Facts, Ma'am

Guest blogger Leslie Budewitz – local attorney, research pro, published author, and a friend of mine - on getting the facts right.

As writers, we build our fictional worlds one detail at a time. If we get too many of those details wrong–whether in the foundation or the frosting–our readers’ ability to live in that world for a few hours crumbles. Still, you can kill yourself–and your story– trying to get everything right. What should you check and what can you let go?

- Check out facts related to major plot elements. If your villain intends to kill his wife with an overdose of insulin, make sure you know it can be done–and how.

- Focus on the dog, not the fleas. Don’t worry about whether a captain or a lieutenant would take charge of the investigation. But make sure you get the basic procedures right.

- Verify widely known facts outside your experience. If you’ve never been on a jury, talk with your neighbor who has. What surprised or upset her about the process? Was she intrigued–or bored? What were courthouse security measures? Where did she park? Did the bailiff bring donuts?

- Don’t risk a mistake in things easily confirmed. If you’ve never seen a purple Subaru, chances are they weren’t made.

- We often make mistakes in the things we think we know. If it matters to the story, check it out–or leave it out.

- Historicals attract readers who love history. And some readers love to tell writers where they goofed. Does that mean you can’t write about 14th century England because you weren’t born until 1970, or that you need an MA in the period? No. You need reliable references and a passion for the details that set the scene and bring the characters to life.

- Read your manuscript with your reader’s hat on. What might the typical reader question? Ask your critique partners to note anything that creases their brow.

- Accept that you’ll make mistakes. Don’t let that fear paralyze you.

Getting it right matters. But getting it written comes first.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of Books, Crooks and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure (Quill Driver Books, October 2011). To learn more, visit www.lawandfiction.com

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tip O'Day #199 - Don't Stop Submitting

Guest blogger Catherine Cavendish on the perils of self-publishing

It has probably never been harder to get a publisher or agent but, conversely, it has never been easier to self-publish. There are many avenues to choose from. It can be genuine self-publishing where you literally do everything yourself and become your own publisher, or choosing to go straight to e-book with Kindle or others, or selecting print on demand (POD). You can always choose to pay shedloads of money to a vanity publisher - and end up with a garage load of books to sell.

These days all writers need to be their own marketers, but a real publisher will provide a much bigger shop window than most of us can provide for ourselves. If you go it alone, you will have to generate all the buzz yourself, and that in itself is a full-time job. You won't have much time left to write your second novel.

We have all read the 'amazing success stories' from authors whose self-pubbed books have been picked up by leading publishers and gone on to make them fortunes. Or the author who has done it all by herself and become her own bestseller. These success stories are rarely, if ever, exactly what they seem. When you dig a little deeper, you find that the author is already well known in some other field, has an uncle in a leading publishing house, has a great deal of money to shell out in marketing campaigns, and so on. And, let's face it, of the thousands of writers now bypassing traditional publishing routes, not many sell more than a few copies.

A few years ago, I went down the POD route myself. I sold a few books but I wouldn't do it again. I now know what a difference a professional editor makes and my writing is much tighter than it used to be because I have learned so much from her. I know how frustrating and depressing it is to get those rejection slips but I urge you to think very carefully before embarking on self-publishing. Try joining a writing community such as where you will find serious writers and writing professionals supporting each other, helping each other and becoming successful. Follow their advice and your writing will improve, plus you will add valuable contacts to your writer’s network. A number of us have gained publishing contracts as a result of information and help supplied on Litopia.

Don't give up. Keep on writing. Work at perfecting your craft. Don't stop submitting to agents and publishers. It worked for me. And I keep on learning more every day. Good luck!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tip ODay #198 - "You Can't Do THAT!"

Guest blogger Anna Alexa on helpful advice.
Throughout your life, people will tell you how to write. They will make a point to show you what you can’t do. Your job as a writer is to do those very things and show the world how your techniques work and why. Few things are concrete if you take the time to dive into them, and even those you can’t pass through, are likely to bend with enough force. The only way to make a career out of writing is to be a constant innovator - move people’s feelings the way a parent late in picking up a child weaves through traffic.
To learn more about Anna, check out: scribblesofastoryteller.com
Dixon says: What should we do with you-can't-do-that-if-you-want-to-get-published advice? (1) Ask for it in writing, and save up for a huge New Years Day bonfire. (2) Save them for your biographer. (I wonder if Grisham saved the rejections he got for his first novel from pretty much every NYC publisher?) (3) Wallpaper your den, or wherever you write. Any more ideas?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tip O'Day #197 - Believe in Yourself & Get Published

Guest blogger Shah Sight on getting published.

I never lost hope of getting published, and always believed in myself and in my work. I got many rejections from publishers but they never affected me in a negative way. If there was anyone in the whole world of writing to have given up on writing, it should have been me, because I dared to write in a different language, which I had much less knowledge about, concerning the war in Afghanistan, a most difficult subject.

Now, I am published by a very good, small publisher, and I am very happy because they did not alter any of the important things. They just polished the work and it reads fantastically good. You may want to check my book, The Interpreter, and see it for yourself.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tip O'Day for Authors #196

Guest blogger James Fouche on the writing life.

For the longest time my wife struggled intensely with the fact that she was married to someone who goes into a coffee shop and sits there for seven hours straight, then strolls out with two thousand words for the day. She couldn’t understand how easily things could distract me from completing a scene or why I had to be in a specific mood to tackle a specific scene. She couldn’t picture my ramblings and she couldn’t detach herself enough from life to imagine my fiction.

It’s only when she finally read my first novel, when she finished that last page and looked up at me with tears in her eyes, that my apparent madness became apparent ability. She finally understood what writing was all about, that seven years of slaving on a project could result in an end product, much like a farmer’s goods are finally packaged and sold at markets.

Authors live for depth and purpose. We tend to do a thorough research and our reasoning could be intense. This is our work. We reason, we analyze, we deliberate and we write it all down. How often have authors stumbled upon economic and business solutions or resolved political disputes by merely writing about them?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tip O'Day for Authors #195

Guest blogger Robert Walker says to write “hands on.”

To open a scene, it is a great idea to focus on a character's hands. You can pull back at any time but open with the camera eye on a character's hands and what this person is involved in. Gets you right into action immediately on sentence one, page one.

Robert has an author’s how-to entitled DEAD ON WRITING as both a POD and Kindle.
Dixon says: This sounds like screenwriting advice, but it’s also effective for novels or short stories. You can start small and expand (earthworm, to Robin, to cat, to coyote, to man looking through a rifle scope) or start grandiose and scale down (satellite shot of earth, to Great Lakes, to isolated peninsula, to treetop view of wolf watching a deer, to deer drinking from a stream, to face of a corpse floating beneath the surface).

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tip O'Day for Authors #194

Guest blogger Clifford Garstang asks “What are the stakes?”

A writer should never lose sight of what's at stake for his characters, and for beginning writers that's a common oversight. When I'm teaching creative writing, I'll often see perfectly interesting settings, with fresh characters, but because there's nothing at stake, the story goes nowhere. It's a "slice of life," the student might say in defense, and there's nothing wrong with that as a building block toward something larger.

To keep most readers' interest, even a character-driven story needs the tension that is created through conflict. And what is conflict but frustrated desire? If the writer knows what is at stake for the protagonist, that will make it possible to place obstacles in his or her way. If that obstacle is the desire of another character, so much the better!

Clifford, the author of In an Uncharted Country, blogs at http://perpetualfolly.blogspot.com

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tip O'Day for Authors #193

Guest blogger Karen Mueller Bryson says to write for your most important audience.

Remember that all criticism is subjective. Most writers want readers to love their work but not everyone will. There is a reason for the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Even J.K. Rowling, who has sold hundreds of millions of books, has critics. Harry Potter was rejected by a number of publishers before it was sold.

The most important thing is to believe in yourself and your work. Take the criticism that rings true and reject the rest. You won’t be able to please everyone but you can please yourself. No one else is going to care more about your work than you do, so you’d better make sure your writing pleases you.

Karen is an optioned screenwriter, produced playwright, and published author. To learn more about her, check out http://www.ahorsewithnoname.com/

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tip O'Day for Authors #192

Guest blogger Rebecca Fyfe has concise advice.
I think it is really important for writers to believe in themselves and in their ability to write. Nothing holds you back more than the fear of not being good enough.
Dixon says: Books have been written containing less wisdom than these two sentences.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tip O'Day for Authors #191

Guest blogger Matthew Carter on the writer’s long and winding road.

In college, I tried different styles, searching for one I could go with, but none seemed to mesh with who I was. After trial and error and plenty of frustration, I was able to find what fit me best. My professor was right there with me and encouraged me to become the best writer I could be.

Whether it be finding your own style, editing your work, bringing it to publishers, or dealing with poor reviews, perseverance is a key to writing that all authors should be made aware of.

It took five years to pen my first novel and it took time to find a publisher. Writing can be a long arduous process, frustrating at times. The important thing is to keep a level head no matter what frustrations may occur around the writer.

Matthew’s book website is www.liquidsoulsessence.com