Posts Tagged ‘award-winning author’

Are You a Plotter or a Pantser?

June 17, 2016

swing in skyThe joy of winging it.

If you’re a writer, you understand when I mention one of the big discussions making the rounds in writing groups recently revolves around the way an author goes about putting down his thoughts. It boils down to an easy question.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Personally, I think the question is kind of funny. Well, not the question so much, as the choice of words to describe it. Plotter or pantser. It puts a smile on my face whenever I hear it.

Simply put, a plotter is someone who plans out their story before they write it. They figure out openings, strategic middle and closings before they write a word. I think it goes without saying that plotters are famous for thinking through the structure of their work before writing … usually in outline form.

A pantser, on the other hand, is someone who obviously, “flies by the seat of their pants” … meaning they likely don’t plan anything.

In all honesty, I believe you need to be a little of each to be a decent writer. Even if you’re a die-hard plotter … no one can outline down to the sentence level. And honest plotters will admit that some of their best ideas have come during their “seat-flying” bouts.

I Like Being a Writer
A special thing happens to many people when they write. I know it’s true, because it happens to me. The rush as the creative juices flow is like little else you experience. But is the rush diminished if you plot out your details in advance? On the other hand, are you doomed to failure without a road map?

I don’t think so … no matter which way you choose to go about it.

I’m far more of a pantser. Unless it’s a technical article, I hate making outlines. In writing fiction I detest it in much the same way I used to hate diagramming sentences in freshman English (sorry Miss Kujala).

Pantsers like me are notorious for writing as they go along. It’s the method I enjoy because I actually like it when the characters surprise me and tell me what’s going to happen.

Plotters fail miserably at pantsing. They compare it to playing a game of solitaire with a deck of fifty-one … they think it’s unwinnable, and they eventually just run out of steam.

Serious pantsers, on the other hand, will suggest the very idea of a book requiring a rigid structure that must be conceived beforehand is akin to a fish needing a plane ticket to cross the river.

So, Which One is Right?
When it comes time to do the hard work of writing a book, which way do you choose? The debate all boils down to the one thing that I think really matters if you’re a serious writer: how do you get your creative juices flowing?

At the extremes, plotters favor the feel of the outlining stage, while pantsers delight in the detailed writing stage. To me, it’s all a matter of knowing where the highest frequency of those eureka moments you’re seeking will fall.

In other words, working to your strengths.

Perhaps it’s just me, but pantsers seem to thrill at the freedom to go in whichever direction the wind blows. They seem to delight in not knowing the ending of book when they start. Like me, they love trying to figure it all out as they create.

To my way of thinking, this method keeps my writing fresh and enjoyable at the best of times … and bearable at the worst. On the other hand, if required to outline first, pantsers often feel like I do … like they’ve been forced into herding cats.

For plotters, the reverse can be true. Knowledge of the beginning, middle and end of a plot makes it easier for them. It’s after the plot points are put together they find it hard … or downright tedious … to fill in the details.

I think it’s obvious … plotters and pantsers find the joy of writing in different places.

I like thinking as I go. I’ve had other writers tell me they admire my ability to create a story out of rarefied, un-outlined air … to which I convey the common message of pantsers on how we create … we’re telling ourselves the story as much as we are telling the reader.

The Secret of Success
But I’ll let you in on a little secret. The two sides of the coin are often more similar than people make them out to be. As a writer, you’ve got to rely on your skills in both if you’re ever going to succeed.

Successful pantsers intuitively create a solid structure to their books to match the best plotter and … like I do when I begin a story … start with a lot of the crucial character details defined. Plotters, on the other hand, frequently admit to a love of “seat-of-the-pants-writing” to improve the details of their stories.

Knowing where your personal strengths lie will help. But only by having both a great plot and beautifully expressed details – down to the individual words you choose – are you ever likely to finish a book worth reading.

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My books have all garnered some terrific reviews, and you can see the ones I have available by using the Amazon link below. My latest, BLOOD LAKE, was just published. Look for it. You might like it.

buy now amazon

You’re invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or
like my Book of Face page. You can find me on Goodreads, or follow
some of my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

**********

Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

Why Make an Audio Book?

June 4, 2016

audio books listener
Audio Books Are In.

I’m pleased to announce that during the few extra minutes I’ve gained by cutting back a bit on writing, I’ve been considering producing audio versions of my books, and my first novel, REICHOLD STREET, is my logical first choice.

What’s taken me so long? Good question.

Well, it all began more than 50 years ago…

When I was a junior in high school back in the halcyon days of 1965, I was flush with cash from my summer job of pumping gas, washing windshields, stocking racks and fixing flats at the Jefferson-Lakewood Sunoco (check your oil today, sir?).

Once you get over your surprise at a gas station that actually provided service, I can tell you I was eager to spend my whole $1.40-an-hour paycheck (15 whole cents over minimum wage) on two things … my girlfriend (now my wife) and music.

45-rpm vinyl records were still my preference, followed by 8-track tapes and then cassettes. I never thought about CD’s, because CD’s wouldn’t be invented for another 17 years, and streaming was still somewhere you caught fish.

While I admit I did own a pair of bell-bottom pants and one tie-dyed shirt bright enough to be seen from space, my style at the time (much like today) tended more toward Polo shirts and jeans.

What can I say? It’s comfortable.

And my musical affectation in ’65 was definitely early rock and blues, with a little Motown thrown in (also much like today).

Classic stuff, like Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs (Wooly Bully), The McCoys (Hang on Sloopy), the Supremes (Back in My Arms Again), the Four Tops (I Can’t Help Myself), Lovin’ Spoonful (Do You Believe in Magic), the Beach Boys (California Girls), and the little-known at that time Detroit rocker Bob Seger (Heavy Music).

There was also the newer stuff coming out of the UK, like the Beatles (Ticket to Ride), the Animals (We Gotta Get Out of This Place), the Kinks (Tired of Waiting for You), the Yardbirds (Heart Full of Soul), the Dave Clark Five (I Like It Like That), and my personal favorite, the Rolling Stones (Satisfaction).

If you were a young man with gas-pumping money burning a hole in your bell-bottoms (after you transferred it from the crummy blue uniform you wore at work) you eventually bought these records.

They had powerful lyrics. Songs to play in your car, if you were lucky enough to have a car radio that played tapes; songs to dance to or sing along with. Great rock and roll.

Unfortunately, the only one I ever got to see perform live was Bob Seger* … only because he hadn’t made it big anywhere yet, and was struggling through the local rock scene.

Years passed. I made my way through college, grateful for a draft deferment while Vietnam was getting hot, and then spent years working in advertising agencies, writing things once in a while, telling myself I was going to hit it big in some creative endeavor someday.

More years passed. I got married, had three sons, sold a short story or two, and worked every day. Gained weight. My eldest son got married and I discovered Seger has a home down the street from his in-laws (but I’ve never met him again).

Fast forward to 2008.

I retired (early). That was a good thing, actually. I left GM in April and by the end of the year the company that was once the largest corporation in the world went bankrupt (although I don’t think my leaving had anything to do with it).

With nothing else to do, I thought I’d try my hand again at writing fiction. Why not? It was something I’d always wanted to try. I’d sold a few stories in those 30 years, after all. After a rocky start looking for an agent and publisher, I discovered indie-publishing … but I’ve already told you about that.

Then it occurred to me (I don’t know why it took so long) … many people don’t actually read anymore … they prefer to listen. So, I thought I should check out Amazon’s audio platform, ACX, because it makes sense. It certainly seemed likely I could make extra money selling audio versions of my books, too.

I looked up ACX once … then promptly forgot about it. Not sure why. Getting old, I guess.

Now, after some prompting from my wife and son (the youngest one with the recording studio), I’ve decided to go ahead and record the stories myself. When that’s done, I’ll probably go back to ACX to upload them to Amazon.

So, what was the music stuff above all about?

Life is funny, isn’t it? Actually, everything I just told you was true, and the music I listed was the music of the time in which REICHOLD STREET was set … but it had little to do with my decision to make audio books.

You took the time to read it though … which means you might be interested in an audio book version … for which I thank you.

Unless, of course, you were just here listening to the music links like I did … which is a very real possibility.

———-
*That isn’t entirely true. I almost forgot taking my soon-to-be wife and sister-in-law in 1969 to see Herman’s Hermits at the Elmwood Casino in Windsor.

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My books have all garnered some terrific reviews, and you can see the ones I have available by using the Amazon link below. My latest, BLOOD LAKE, was just published. Look for it. You might like it.

buy now amazon

You’re invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or
like my Book of Face page. You can find me on Goodreads, or follow
some of my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

**********

Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

Why Do Book Signings?

July 27, 2015

boston-public-library-85885_640Boston Public Library (photo courtesy Pixabay)

I think it’s a safe bet to say most authors will be offered an opportunity to do a book-signing at some point in time. It can be quite flattering to be asked … until you realize what it really entails:

Long hours of sitting on a hard chair, usually behind a folding table with a small stack of your book(s) planted in the middle, waiting for people to come by and buy a copy for you to sign.

Often you’re part of a larger contingent of authors, all of whom are trying to do the same thing … get people to buy their books.

I’ve done quite a few of them now, and the experience of each one has been a little different. Perhaps the worst one was at a small, independent bookstore during a veritable blizzard.

I was the only one of several invited authors to show up (why I risked it in that weather I really don’t know), and the shop owner and I had a lot of time to talk … since no other patron walked through the door that whole day.

At least that one I could blame on the weather.

Sterlingfest

sterling heights library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I attended another book-signing last Saturday at the Sterling Heights (Michigan) Library, in one of the area cities about 35-40 minutes from my house, that has to count as one of my most disappointing.

It was taking place during a community event called Sterlingfest that included rides, food and artists of all sorts selling their creative wares in tented booths outside the building complex.

It seemed like a natural. The weather cooperated nicely (unless you don’t like hot and muggy). I arrived early and the parking lot was already packed and there was lots of foot traffic outside.

I joined at least a dozen other local authors who were setting up their tables inside the library. I thought this would be a really good day. But, as the hours wore on, the traffic coming into the library was spotty, at best … and I soon discovered why.

Poor Planning
There was absolutely no mention of a local Michigan author book-signing in the official program for the event.

Worse … the only sign that said anything at all about an author book-signing was a tiny hand-scrawled thing inside the lobby of the library that no one could see from the outside.

Hell … you could barely see it inside!

Finally, after selling only two books in 5-1/2 hours (and one of those to another author), I packed-up early and went home (at least half the other authors had already beaten me to the door).

A poorly administered event … omigod, yes. A total waste … no.

I had the chance to meet, talk and exchange ideas with a whole lot of neat fellow authors. Even met a delightful library volunteer named Terry who, although her hands were tied by a lack of authority, did as much she could to try to help make the event successful.

Hopefully, the library administration learns something from this fiasco. I know I did. Find another venue and never come back to this one.

The Official Book Trailer for “Street Light”

New reviews are in for my latest novel, “Street Light.” One is from Top Book Reviewers and the other is posted by Readers Favorite. I’ll let them speak for themselves.

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My books have garnered some terrific reviews. You can see the stories I have available by using the Amazon link below.

buy now amazon

You’re also invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or like my Book of Face page. You can also follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

**********

Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.


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