Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

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

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Quote for Writers #167 - William Carlos Williams

167. A Quote which Might (or Might Not) Inspire You to Write:

“I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it.” — William Carlos Williams

Dixon says: Most authors I know don't write for fame, or fortune, or to attract groupies. They write because they must. Period.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Tip O'Day #457 - For Sale: Pure Unadulterated Crap

Guest blogger Robert N. Stephenson on “The Difficulty with Editing.”

In this fast-paced age of publishing and self-publishing, the first and most important aspect of writing seems to have vanished from the whole publishing process - editing, and I mean real editing, not the formatting you do yourself before you post the files to Createspace and Amazon.

The down side of almost all self-published books is that they are poorly edited. They often validate the impression that all self-published books are cheap and a waste of money.

Sometimes authors pays substantial fees to editors for their suggestions, but them ignore or argue against those comments. Yes, you are the author. You have all the rights in the world regarding how your book is presented, rightly or wrongly. It is true that you can reject all advice, based on what you determine to be art, or your artistic voice.

But, and this is a major but, if an expert suggests a change to make the story better, or to fix a flaw in the plot, maybe it’s best to follow some, if not all of that advice. After all, you are trying to sell your work to readers who expect value for their money. If you disappoint readers with shoddy editing and a poor story, they will not read more of your work and will often tell others not to bother. What's more, they will spread the view that ALL self-published books are rubbish. I will be quick to add that traditional publishing sometimes delivers stinkers because writers ignore editorial advice and stick to their artistic guns. However, the hit-and-miss rate of legacy publishers is quite a bit lower than among self-publishers - which is currently about 80% rubbish.

Why so high? As indicated, there has been next to no editing involved in the creation of these books (both fiction and nonfiction). For some strange reason, new writers often think they are the next JK Rowling and know everything there is to know about being famous. Yet they know absolutely nothing about being a professional writer and working damn hard to tell not only a good story, but a story that will move someone to say, “Yes, I was glad I purchased that.” It has been said in many forums that places like Amazon are overflowing with poorly edited crap.

Yep, pure unadulterated crap.

What is the cure? Dig into your pockets and pay an editor to get your book to a state of professional quality. The reason traditional publishers actually sell books is because they invest in the books they publish. If you believe in your work, surely you too can invest in yourself. After all, you are asking readers to invest in buying your book.

Robert N. Stephenson’s latest book is Uttuku, available at Kindle here. His work has appeared in many languages and he has received honors such as the Black Dog Award for nonfiction and the Aurealis Award for short science fiction. He teaches writing at several Australia colleges.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tip O'Day #456 - The Voice Behind the Book

Guest blogger Kellie Kamryn on the challenges of narrating an audio book.

When I first began my writing career, I was fortunate to be asked to guest on this Wredheaded Writer blog, and I’m very pleased to be back. Thank you, Dixon!

Since that time, I’ve written and published twelve romances ranging from very erotic to sensuous and sweet, plus a story featured in a holiday anthology. I’m also a narrator of audio books for Romance Divine and The Killion Group, as well as for freelance clients.

Narrating is a lot of work. I absolutely adore my jobs, but as all authors know, writing a book isn’t simply typing words into the computer. Figuring out your process, plotting, grammar, following sentence structure rules, and polishing a manuscript all take focus and determination, not to mention being your own sales staff, which is a whole other process.

The same can be said of narrating. A publisher invited me to narrate a book I had written, and since I enjoy a challenge, I accepted. The learning curve was HUGE! Narrating is not just about reading a book. Proper pronunciation, enunciation, inflection, drama, along with use of software and equipment set-up are all part of the job. Over the past two years, I’ve learned the production end of things, and how time consuming that is as well.

I never discourage anyone from learning something new, so if you are serious about voice acting, ask questions of other professionals. Take acting classes, as I did, to learn more about the art of voice acting, vocal hygiene, and warm-ups to keep your voice in shape. Auditioning for other voice acting jobs taught me that I had more to learn about the industry. While I plan to keep on learning, for now I’ve got a full roster of audio books, along with my own writing to keep me busy.

Just as in writing, where not every publisher or agent will like your work, don’t take it personally when someone doesn’t feel your voice is right for their piece. Ask all the questions you want, but at the end of the day, remember that you are responsible for your career.

Following is a blurb for the re-release of erotic romance Pleasure Island, available in audio and eBook:<

Chelsea Hunter didn’t come to the resort looking for sex. Jake Davis intends to change her mind. Will they be able to turn up the heat, or will their visit to Pleasure Island leave them cold?

After finalizing her divorce, Chelsea Hunter came to the resort island of Paradise for some peace and quiet so she could figure out what her next step would be. She hadn’t expected to find herself at an exotic hotel dedicated to pleasures of the flesh. Too bad she doesn’t want sex.

Jake Davis is back in Paradise after visiting a year ago when his own marriage fell apart. This time his fantasy is to guide a woman through her sexual journey. He hadn’t counted on being paired with the only woman in Paradise who prefers privacy over pleasure! Will Jake be able to discover what Chelsea truly needs, or will their journey to Paradise remain unfulfilled?

Comment on this blog post for a chance to win one of Kellie’s backlist in audio or eBook (depending on available format). You can check out her website at www.kelliekamryn.com or her novel Pleasure Island on Kindle here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tip O'Day #455 - The Scary Part about Horror Films

Guest blogger Michael Laimo on how to land a movie deal.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been involved in getting two of my novels filmed as NBC/Chiller original films. The number one question I am being asked right now is, “How did you do it?”

In a nutshell, I pretty much tell everyone, “I got lucky.” There’s a lot of truth to that. To be honest, I also like to think that I told the right story, and hooked up with the right producer at the right time. Yes, there was a bit of luck, but there were many other factors involved in this success.

It all started with an email from Synthetic Cinema’s executive producer, Andrew Gernhard. It was a basic ‘hello’ letter asking me if my novel Deep in the Darkness was available for option. At the time, it had been optioned three times, and was in the middle of a one-year agreement with independent filmmaker Jeven Dovey. Some of you know that Mr. Dovey had filmed my short story 1-800-Suicide, and was looking to film a feature. He loved Deep in the Darkness, and gave it a stab. Since I could not give Mr. Gernhard the rights to that, I asked if he’d be interested in either The Demonologist, or Dead Souls. I’d also asked him how he came across my work, and he told me someone in his crew recommended me. (Thank you Jason!). Andrew optioned three of my books, and pitched them to Chiller, who at the time was just getting into original films.

Then I waited. And waited. Almost a year passed before I heard back. Chiller decided to go with Steve Niles’ Remains. I had been the runner up with Dead Souls. It was a great honor to have been in the running, but I was equally disappointed.

But…Chiller still liked the story in Dead Souls and the option was renewed. A year later, I discovered (months after Chiller gave Dead Souls the green light), that it would become a Chiller original film. As a matter of fact, mere weeks after being told the good news, I was on set filming my cameo. In the meantime, the option lapsed on Deep in the Darkness, and I went to Synthetic Cinema to see if there was still interest. Apparently there was, because while on the Dead Souls set, I was told that DITD was in the running. That was a GREAT week!

Fast forward to the night of the Dead Souls premiere — I had about 30 close friends and family at my home, all geared up to watch the movie. A text came in from Andrew Gernhard telling me that DITD had been green lit. Another spectacular night! So now, it’s a year after the filming of DITD, and I await all the post-production goodies, like the film’s poster, the trailer, etc. It will be a fun ride leading up to DITD’s premiere in May 2014, this time in theaters.

Many of you have asked…will there be more? The answer to that is MAYBE. There are some irons in the fire, but nothing set in stone yet. In the meantime, pick up a copy of Dead Souls on DVD, or read Deep in the Darkness while you wait for the film’s release.

As a reviewer of one of Michael Laimo's books put it, his writing is not the place to find rainbows and unicorns. Learn more about this horror author at www.laimo.com.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tip O'Day #454 - It Sounds Easy Because It Is.

Guest blogger Hayden Chance on "Five Habits That Will Murder Your Chances of Ever Finishing a Novel."

Writing is like catching fireflies in a jar. If you don’t grab the spark when the opportunity arises, the sunrise will come and the magic will all be gone. No shit. It’s really true. Every idea has a shelf life and if you don’t use it before its expiration date, your writing will do the same thing milk does when it’s been sitting on the counter for several days. It will sour and stink and no one will want anything to do with it. That means if you want to write a novel, you’ve got to get it done when the creative impulse strikes, and then get it out there for people to read. This sounds simple, and really it is, but writers like to develop all sorts of convoluted habits that complicate simplicity.

When people find out I’ve written seven books, six of them novels, invariably I get asked the same question: “How the hell do you write one novel, much less six?” I say the same thing every time: Process. A process is something that has steps, creates success and can be repeated over and over again. I have a definite process I employ every time I write a book, but since there’s not enough space in this brief blog entry to outline that process, I’ll give you these five poisons that are sure derail any novel writing process you choose to use:

One: Journaling constantly. If you continuously journal every thought, hope and feeling you ever have, you’re a diarist. That’s fine if you’re writing just for yourself or as a coping mechanism; however, if you want to write novels, then write novels. Not about how your favorite Adele song enhances your orgasms. Not about how that turkey sandwich you ate last week made you too tired to pick up the kids from school, so they had to hitch a ride with the creepy dude three houses down who smells like fish, and who’s wife disappeared mysteriously three months ago, even though someone still comes out of their house late at night wearing her dresses… (OK, maybe you do wanna write that last thing down. It might be good to give to the cops later.)

Without fail, when people ask me why they can’t finish creating a novel, and I ask them, “Are you writing?” They respond: “Um…well, I’m journaling a lot.” It’s great to have a diary. It’s just that if you’re not some sort of nympho like Ana├»s Nin, no one but you is likely to ever want to read it.

Two: Talking about writing, rather than writing. For God’s sake, if you’re gonna tell everyone about what you someday hope to write, at least record the freaking conversations. The more you’re talking about writing, the less you are actually writing. Writing’s like making love. It’s your job to bring that reader to the heights of ecstasy. Put your energy into making that happen ON PAPER FOR YOUR AUDIENCE. Don’t be some cheap literary whore in random conversations with everyone you know. (For one thing, you will bore them all and they will hate you like taxes.) You don’t want to shoot your wad in conversational foreplay before you’ve even unbuttoned your jeans. Save some energy for the actual fictional act. Otherwise you’ll be snoring in self satisfaction while your audience is lying next to you, worked up, unsatisfied, and thinking of how they might poison your omelet in the morning without leaving any evidence.

Three: Constantly “work-shopping” everything. Lack of confidence kills your authority. Trust your own voice, your experience and your ability to tell a story. If you don’t believe in your work, no one else will. Getting someone to read your work for clarity is fine. Hitting workshops like a junky riding a twelve-step circuit damages your ability to determine your self-worth as a writer.

Four: Taking too long to finish. The longer you take to finish a novel, the further you go from the original creative impulse. You will change. Your views will change. The continuity, clarity and integrity of your story will suffer. Your audience will know it.

Five: Endless rewrites. Write it. Rewrite it. Get it the hell out there. Endless rewrites are just fear of success.

Hayden Chance is the bestselling author of the Urban Fantasies Taboo, Forbidden, Year of the Bull and the Amazon bestseller, Anatomy of a Wish. His latest sci-fi novel, Dream Oblivion, recently hit #1 on the Amazon’s Hot New Releases. You can check out his latest work here.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Tip O'Day #453 - The Bird is the Word

Guest blogger, author, life coach, and Toastmasters friend Sherri Gerek on humming right along.

A favorite quote of mine comes courtesy of Albert Einstein: “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.“ I took this to heart these past couple of years as I meandered along an unseen path while writing my first book, The Hummingbird Way, Putting Hover, Zip, and Zoom to Work in your Life. I used my experiences with nature to draw correlations to human nature, often asking myself, what can I learn here? What might this mean to someone else?

After nearly thirty years in the corporate environment leading and developing employees in the travel and hospitality industry, I felt confident that what I had learned about communications and relationships could benefit others. I just had to find a way to share that knowledge, especially what makes us successful, and what it takes to foster good relations. As I transitioned away from the corporate environment to open my own coaching practice, I started the book. What I didn’t know then was that I needed a process for writing.

I smile thinking back to my initial approach. Let’s see, it’s Wednesday…I’ll write a couple of chapters today, and at this rate I will finish the book in a month. Now, you are likely reading this while wearing a knowing smile and thinking…this is not going to work that way. Right you are. When the end of the first week rolled around, there I was…staring at my computer still searching for the right words. In reality, I had the words but my internal editor was having a field day with my internal writer, which stymied the creative process. Why do editors do this to us writers? The difficulty getting started came down to my internal editor picking things apart, which resulted in my internal writer shutting down.

That’s it – writer on strike!

Once I realized what was happening, it was an easy fix. I had to find a new job for my internal editor, and I quickly assigned her to my monthly magazine column. Letting go of editing opened up this writer’s imagination. I began carrying a notebook with me because often the best inspirations bubbled up when I was far from the computer. Later, I would transfer ideas to sticky notes which I posted on giant story boards. Before beginning to write each day I would review the boards. Whatever happened to inspire me that day, I wrote about.

Not a month, but nearly a year later, I had finished the manuscript, cultivated a love for writing, and decided to create a series of books with themes drawn from lessons in nature. My internal editor and internal writer buried the hatchet and formed a great partnership. In fact, they are currently in discussions about the outline for the next book. It should be a real hoot! (Spoiler alert - there I go giving away the theme.)

Sherri Gerek is an author, speaker, certified professional life coach, and veteran sales and marketing director. Sherri wrote The Hummingbird Way to help guide other busy people, whether top executives or newbies starting to climb the ladder. You can learn more at Sherri’s website or on Amazon. Also, The Hummingbird Way was recently awarded 5 stars by Readers’ Favorite website.