Articles

How I Write: Roll with the Flow

Posted on Updated on

We humans love to label things. Writers are no exception, either. Take writing habits, for example, we label writers as either those who diligently map out their stories, plotters, or those who just start writing and go with whatever comes, sort of writing by the ‘seat of the pants, or, pantsers.
The problem with this is that a lot of writers don’t fall neatly into either category. Take me, for instance. I usually start my books in one of the following ways:
1. I list the chapters, and the main action in each, knowing generally how I want the story to end. As I write, though, I will often change action, or add chapters as some interesting action or event is suggested by the flow of the story.
2. I know generally how I want the story to end, and I plan the first chapter or two, and then start writing, going with the flow.
You will notice a common thread here; I always go with the natural flow of the story. Certain things just seem to logically follow other things.
Take, for example, my current work in progress, another in my Al Pennyback mystery series, featuring a retired army officer turned private detective in the Washington, DC area. Al is on retainer to a law firm, but the work they give him doesn’t take up too much of his time, so he takes cases involving people who are being put upon by the system, or who have no one else to turn to. Al is something of a knight errant, or a samurai without a master—otherwise known as a Ronin—and, he is always on the side of the downtrodden. In the current story, A Deal to Die For, his client is a spoiled rich girl, who he dislikes at first, but takes the case because she’s being falsely accused of murder.
Generally, my plan for this one was for him to prove her innocence after several false starts and a lot of time spent following red herrings. I decided that this one would be really complex, with several of the things that push Al’s buttons, like the presence of militia, and some play on 9/11, with a possible terrorist in the mix for interest. I mapped out the first nineteen chapters and began writing. The murder has already happened two days before the story begins, and Al’s task is to find the killer.
He begins working his way through the initial list of potential suspects, eliminating them one by one through diligent detective work, until he’s left with what he thinks is the most likely bad guy—only, I decided that he would really hit a wall when he learns that the most likely suspect is not what he first thought he was, and his nemeses, the militia bad guys start to crank up the heat and put his life in danger.
Now, if the militia guys are the real killers, the story’s about over, so I decided that this was too pat. In chapter 19, I have Al’s client fearing she’s about to be arrested, and unidentified bad buys tailing Al all over town. The clock’s ticking, and the stakes are cranked up to the max. I’ve kind of decided who the real murder is already, and now I’m just sending Al down a few false trails, so that when the killer is finally unveiled, readers will be surprised.
I’m now in the home stretch, and I’m planning a few confrontation scenes and some real nail-biting action just before Al finally finds the key clue that tells him where to look.
That, in a nutshell, is how I write. I go with the flow, and if the flow seems to be veering away from the rough sketch map I started with, I simply draw a new map. That is neither plotting, nor pantsing, but a combination of the two, which, being human, I will call plantsing.
So, having shared that bit of trivia with you, I will go back to my plantsing, and see what sprouts. Happy reading, and a glorious New Year to one and all.

Advertisements

How to get me to review your book

Posted on

When I converted this blog from a catch-all for my mental meanderings to primarily a book review blog, with an emphasis on books by indie authors, I knew it would be a lot of work. It’s been a learning process, much as my own foray into indie publishing. I knew going in that once word got out that I did book reviews, I would receive numerous requests for reviews—and boy, was I ever right. I’m deluged with requests from authors to review their books to the tune of four or five every week. Some days, I get three or four requests.

Now, I’m a voracious reader, so I’m happy to accept books to read and review, but since I decided that one posted review per day is probably the most my readers will be willing to put up with, that does put a limit on what I’m able to do; that, and the fact that I do have other things to do. I have my own books to write, edit, format, and publish—oh, and market—a time-consuming job, believe me. In addition, I recently started a line of fashion design incorporating my photography; I’m collaborating with my wife on a collection of paintings, in preparation for an upcoming exhibition; I’m on the board of a few non-profits; I do a summer writing workshop; I like to get out occasionally to take pictures; and I speak and lecture frequently in the Washington, DC area. So, I am able to read only about two books per day at most, and then I have to block out time to write the reviews, which in addition to posting here, I post on Amazon and Goodreads—and on occasion on Barnes and Noble.

I buy some of the books I review, but only if I know the author and it’s a genre I like. If an unknown author wants me to review a book, he or she must provide me with a copy, either hard copy or e-book. And, of course, I cannot guarantee that I’ll write a review, or when I might get around to it. It’s first-come, first-serve.

Now, if you’re an indie author, and you’ve sent me a book to review, but you haven’t seen my review online, you’re probably wondering; what’s up? Please let me explain.

It might be that I’ve just not gotten around to it. All I can advise is, please be patient. If I haven’t decided not to review it, it will eventually appear. If, on the other hand, I decide not to review it, I’m afraid that’s the end of that, and for that, I apologize. In the early days of my reviewing, I often contacted the author and explained that I was not reviewing the book and why. That turned out to be a bad idea.

Usually, my reason for not reviewing a book is that it just doesn’t make it. It’s poorly written; bad grammar, poor editing, formatting or proofreading, or too many typos. When I told authors this, many would write back wanting specifics. Sorry, but that’s not gonna happen. Editing and proofreading is labor intensive, and it takes time (unpaid time) that I need to devote to my income generating activities. As a courtesy, if an author has asked me to review a book, and I can’t give it at least four stars, I won’t write the review. In fact, I usually don’t even finish reading the book, because I know it will be a waste of my time. It makes me sad to see an otherwise good story that is poorly written or edited. I’d like to be able to help such authors do a better job, but not as an unpaid editor. Nor, for that matter, do I even want to be a paid editor.

But, I am willing to dispense some free advice. If I haven’t reviewed your book in four months, you can safely assume that I will not review it, and the reason will be one of the things mentioned in the previous paragraph. At that point, do what I do when someone pans one of my books. Read it again, carefully, not as the author, but as if you’re a total stranger reading it for the first time. Read it objectively. Is your grammar off? Are there typos? Is the formatting different from other books (paragraphs not indented properly, spacing different)? Do you tend to purple prose or over-writing, or do you use excessive speech tags (he roared, whistled, groaned, etc.)? If so, rewrite, cut, add, or whatever you must to make it better. If, after doing this, you want to run it by me again, I’m always here, and I’ll happily add it to my queue—without any promises. What I cannot do is give you a line-by-line, page-by-page list of what’s wrong.

I read almost any genre, but there some I find hard to review. Stories that are just one sex scene after another, with little in the way of story to tie the scenes together; stories that make fun of handicaps, religion, gender, or ethnicity turn me off, as do stories that lack credibility, or just get facts wrong.

There you have it. Those are my review guidelines. Comply with them, and your book will eventually get reviewed. As an indie author myself, I know how important reviews are, and I have no wish to discourage struggling authors. As much as I can, I’m there for you, so keep writing and keep trying.

If you found this post helpful, feel free to leave a comment.

Free 7-Day Nonfiction Writing Challenge

Posted on

I’m participating in writing coach Shelley Hitz’s free 7-Day Nonfiction Writing Challenge, designed to help authors write and promote nonfiction works. Check it out here: http://www.writingweek.com/.

http://www.writingweek.com/

Introducing Author Candy Ann Little

Posted on Updated on

11800001_10155798517175462_4189171223639757440_n

The Unwilling Bride is a historical romance.

Set amid political unrest in 1789, Caitlin Gallagher finds herself in an arranged marriage. She hates the idea of marriage and loathes the man that is now her husband. With all the turmoil in her life, she starts to doubt her faith. Can Caitlin find faith in God and love in the arms of her enemy?

Dillon Cade’s quiet life is turned upside-down when he agrees to marry a young maiden to protect her. As he uses his newspaper to fight President Adams’ sedition acts and help Thomas Jefferson get elected, he must now also deal with an unwilling bride. Can Dillon tolerate her behavior long enough to win her trust?

Unforgiving Ghosts is a contemporary romance

Trying to deal with grief, Megan Black leaves her small farm in Illinois and moves to the quaint city of Santa Barbara, California. As she struggles with the memories of her past, she soon learns that you can’t run away from your problems. In fact, she’s just found more trouble! The tall and handsome, Steven Peterson is causing conflict in her heart. Can Megan find peace in God and faith to choose the right path? Or will chasing ghosts cause an unforgiving heart that only leads to destruction?

As the son of a billionaire, Steven Peterson is used to getting what he wants – usually without even trying. So he find it intriguing when the new cook for his family does everything she can to avoid him. However, his intrigue quickly turns into love. But Megan is hesitant to fall for a playboy. Can he prove that he’s a changed man and earn her trust? Will his true character shine through the shallowness when their love is tested?

Death By Broken Heart is a cozy mystery novella

Bailey Rhodes is used to running away from problems. When she returns to her hometown for a class reunion, and runs into her old boyfriend, Randy, she struggles to keep her emotions and past hurts hid deep in her heart.

When a local landlord is found at the bottom of the ledges, she doesn’t believe it’s an accident. Randy and his parents are prime suspects. In her pursuit to find the killer, she may lose her friends, and gain a broken heart in the process.

Can she solve the murder before her heart is broken again?

Show more

Show less

 

 

Murder of an Oil Heiress

The Texas sun isn’t the only thing that is scorching hot. Mallory Dillingham is beautiful, successful and primed to take over the family oil business when her father is ready to retire. However, that isn’t soon enough for the billionaire heiress. She wants it all. And, she wants it now. Mallory will stop at nothing to get what she wants including, seduction, lying and blackmail.

Joseph Barnes has stepped into Mallory’s slippery trap. Can he find a way out before his evil sister-in-law destroys his marriage to Sarah? As Mallory wages war on everyone, innocent people pay the price. Will the Dillingham family be able to survive the destruction caused by her devious plot?

Author Bio

Candy Ann Little grew up in a small town in Ohio. She spent twenty years in Michigan where she raised her two kids, was president of the PTA and ran two writing groups. She has recently relocated to Kentucky, where she can spend her “golden years” in warmer weather. Although her career began in tragedy- when her third child was stillborn- she has found a freedom and healing in writing words. She finds it therapeutic putting her thoughts into the words and action of her characters.

When Candy Ann Little isn’t busy writing, she enjoys helping with church and community activities, working with exchange students, reading, cooking and baking. She is the self published author of Christian romances: The Unwilling Bride and Unforgiving Ghosts. She has also written some mainstream mysteries: Murder of an Oil Heiress, published by Inknbean Press, and a cozy novella, Death By Broken Heart.

Media Contacts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/candyannlittle

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/candy.little.79

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4672789.Candy_Ann_Little

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/candyannlittle/

Blog Site: http://candylittle.wordpress.com/

Book Links

http://www.amazon.com/The-Unwilling-Bride-ebook/dp/B004LLJ1RW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1336758461&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.com/Death-Broken-Heart-Book-ebook/dp/B006K89U3O/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1347441797&sr=1-1&keywords=death+by+broken+heart

http://www.amazon.com/Unforgiving-Ghosts-ebook/dp/B009A0ABAK/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1359873265&sr=1-1&keywords=unforgiving+ghosts

http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Oil-Heiress-Candy-Little-ebook/dp/B00GM5918E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421284909&sr=8-1&keywords=murder+of+an+oil+heiress

13 Reasons You’re not as Successful an Author as you Should Be.

Posted on

A great video that addresses the reasons people fail as writers:

Danger Danger, Bang Bang — State Department Eyes Changes in Danger Pay

Posted on

Danger Danger, Bang Bang — State Department Eyes Changes in Danger Pay.

Another example of Washington-based green eyeshade types making decisions for people in the field.

Book Trailer Love Fest – Voting Starts Today

Posted on Updated on

Voting begins . . . NOW!

Book Trailer Love Fest 2

Show your support of over 30 authors including USA Today bestsellers by voting in the first ever Book Trailer Love Fest. Watch the trailers, vote in the polls, and share the contest with your friends! The voting is live from February 15th to February 22nd. Winner will be selected on the February 23rd. This is a fun, free contest made to support all authors! So hop on over to booktrailerlovefest.com and get your vote on!

Here is a list of authors participating in the contest:

USA TODAY Bestselling Authors:

DelSheree Gladden

Noree Cosper

Rainy Kaye

Angela Fristoe

Amazon Bestselling Authors:

Devorah Fox

Alesha Escobar

Emerald Barnes

Fiona Skye

Frank E. Bittinger

Award Winning Authors:

J. Andersen

Jennifer Chase

Also featuring these fabulous authors:

Charles Ray

Jennifer Fisch-Ferguson

Susan Laqueur

L. Bachman

J.R. Smith

Lindsey L. Loucks

Sessha Batto

Angelica Dawson

Yolanda Renee

Katherine Jean Pope

Jamie Marchant

Everett Robert

Charity Tober

Tam Linsey

W K Pomeroy

Jordan Mierek

Elle Boca

Isabella Tredway

Elle Jacklee

Support your favorite author by voting for his or her book trailer today. Remember, reading is FUNdamental, so read and enjoy!

The Ugly Truth About Book Sales

Posted on

The Ugly Truth About Book Sales. Essential advice to anyone who wants to write for the public market.

New Release – Prunella Smith: World Within Worlds

Posted on

Have you heard about reviewers who have endured attacks by disgruntled authors upset with their review, or about authors being hounded by other authors determined to destroy their credibility? Do you wonder how you might handle such a situation yourself?

Anyone interested in these topics and the issues they raise will find much to enjoy in AIA Publishing’s latest release Prunella Smith: Worlds Within Worlds, a metaphysical thriller. The book has an unusual structure in that it weaves together several strands of experience, tangible and intangible, that together create the rich tapestry of the central character’s life.

518UE92GeyL._AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-46,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

Description:

‘The barrier between the worlds shatters like the window. The beast is loose. My nightmare has become real. The guy has totally lost it. If he finds us here, we could die. No, I don’t doubt it; we will die.’

Author and editor Prunella Smith inhabits a multilayered reality. Physically, she lives in the Australian bush with her crazy cat Merlin. In her work world, she edits the love story of Kelee, a Magan Lord’s daughter, and in the cyber-world of social media, she’s subjected to slanderous attacks by a disgruntled author. To complicate matters further she sees things through the eyes of a Tibetan Yogi, has strange dreams and relives forgotten memories.

Separate worlds, interconnected and complementary, but can they help when Prunella becomes victim to a real life stalker and her sanity is threatened?

Worlds Within Worlds has a unique perspective on the nature of creativity. Its touch is light, its humour distinctive but it reaches deep into the nature of human experience.

Comments from readers:

 

“This is riveting stuff, part magical realism dreamscape, part taut psychological thriller, and I was literally on the edge of my seat when the final twist—and what a twist it is—came around. Phew, what a ride! I can honestly say it is the best book I have read this year.” Frank Kusy, author of Rupee Millionaires.

“This book will make you think. Considering the deluge of new works streaming from authors these days, that may be the highest praise a novel can receive.” Amy Spahn, literary critic.

“A fascinating insight into the mind of someone using meditative techniques to deal with stress.” Kevin Berry, Awesome Indies reviews.

About the Author

Tahlia Newland, author of six books, including the award-winning Diamond Peak Series (AIA Seal of Excellence in Fiction and BRAG Medallion for Outstanding Fiction), writes heart-warming and inspiring magical realism and contemporary fantasy. She is also an editor and the coordinator of Awesome Indies Books, a website that accredits and showcases quality independent fiction.

Tahlia began writing full time in 2008 after twenty years in the performing arts and a five-year stint as a creative and performing arts teacher in a High School. She has had extensive training in meditation and Buddhist philosophy and lives in an Australian rainforest south of Sydney with her husband and a cheeky Burmese cat, who features in most of her novels.

Purchase outlets

Ebook

Kindle Stores

Kobo

Barnes and Noble

Apple stores

Smashwords

The paperback will be available from all outlets in early December.