Posts Tagged ‘self-publishing’

Book Signing

December 2, 2017


Nevis at Sunset.

Last October, I attended the 10th Annual Rochester Writers’ Fall Conference. As always, I got a lot out of it. The host, Michael Dwyer, can be counted on to put together a good assortment of presentations for the day.

I meet a lot of interesting people, too. Ambitious indie-authors who, like me, want to learn everything they can in order to get their book to the next level. Their collective enthusiasm is always contagious, and I often learn as much from other participants as I do from presenters.

We’ve all experienced a combination of no-motivation days, beautiful sentences, writing blocks, sudden inspiration, painful editing days, re-writes, boosts of self-confidence and bouts of insecurity. Hanging out with fellow authors – people who truly get you – is fortifying.

There are many opportunities to get inspired, and even to get a keener sense of your own writing projects. By the end of a writers’ conference, attendees inevitably experience an endorphin high. Capitalizing on this state of excitement is crucial.

You will probably not feel more stoked than you do on the way home from a writers’ conference. Let that work for you. While some people feel light-headed from all the information, I say do something about it immediately! It will feel productive to have taken a first step, and even the smallest adjustment could create momentum.

Some of the ideas at a conference will strike a chord with you, others will not be right for your projects. Take the time to figure out what feels right. Allow yourself to get excited about small victories. That way you are enjoying the journey and staying engaged, instead of feeling burned-out or overwhelmed.

I used the good feeling to re-visit my website and make some much-needed adjustments!

However, to tell the truth, my batteries needed recharging and I waited a month to do it … taking some time to really think about it during a much-needed vacation with my eldest son and his family.


Birthplace of Alexander Hamilton on Nevis.

That’s exactly what I did on the beautiful Caribbean island of Nevis. I had a successful book-signing just before we left, and I have another one scheduled with other local authors at the Orion Township Library on Saturday, December 9 (from 1:00-4:00). During my time off, I uncharacteristically did no writing at all.

It worked. My writing block is gone and ideas abound.

Hopefully, it will be a fast and glorious road now to my next book, taking one step at a time.

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You’re invited to visit my website, 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.

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Visit my web site to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” by The Authors Show.

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

How Do You Define Horror?

October 28, 2017

Human skull
Photo courtesy Pixabay.

Is it any wonder Halloween comes at this time of year? Falling leaves, wind, sudden chills, early darkness. It’s obviously the season for such things as witches and ghosts.

I write all the time, but as All Hallows Eve approaches again, I find myself pondering a new book to follow my award-winning horror novel BLOOD LAKE. Gotta be something in the air.

If you’ve ever wanted to write a horror story, too, remember the word comes from the Latin horrere, meaning to tremble or shudder. According to the Oxford English Dictionary horror means an intense feeling of fear, shock or disgust.

The best horror stories share several elements in common:

    1. They explore ‘malevolent’ or ‘wicked’ characters or deeds.
    2. They arouse feelings of fear, shock or disgust, as well as the sense of the uncanny. Things are not what they seem. There is a heightened sense of the unknown and/or mysterious.
    3. Horror stories convey intense emotion, mood, tone and environments. Together, these elements produce the sense that everything is charged with ominous possibility.
    4. They contain scary and/or shocking plot twists and story-reveals. In horror stories, ghosts and werewolves are always very, very real.
    5. They immerse readers in the macabre. Horror tends to deal with morbid situations, from repetitive cycles of violence to death-related uncanny scenarios.

So, how do you write a horror story like Stephen King?

Good question. Start with these tips:

Use a Strong, Pervasive Tone
How you describe settings, character movement and actions creates an overarching tone in all fiction. If you do it right your writing can have readers’ spines tingling before a single character has spoken, or made a terrible decision.

You can also create an ominous tone through indirect means. For instance, when objects that should be stationary move. Or when the viewpoint character is disoriented, or a peculiar character seems to materialize out of nowhere.

You should work at creating consistent mood and tone no matter what kind of fiction you want to write, but if you want to write a scary novel, your focus should be on ways you can make actions and descriptions work together to establish an uneasy atmosphere.

Give Wicked Characters Credible Motivations
When you write a horror novel, it shouldn’t read as though a malevolent force is sitting at a bus stop, waiting to infiltrate your unsuspecting characters’ world.

You need to give every malevolent character a strong, clear motivation. Revealing exactly what the motivation is can be part of the mystery that sustains your story and keeps readers guessing why unsettling things keep happening.

If there’s a malevolent force in your horror novel, make their motivation similar in magnitude to the character’s actions. Readers will scoff if the creepy doll in your novel goes on a murderous rampage simply because somebody took out its batteries.

Use the Core Elements of Tragedy
Horror is best when it’s about tragedy in its most theatrical form. Tragedy is born through character flaws, bad choices, or grave missteps. In horror stories we get scared because, as readers, we see the signs foolhardy characters don’t.

In other words, to write a credible horror novel, you must show that the horror-filled situation is dependent on a network of character choices, past or present. At its heart, horror fiction reminds us that cause-and-effect is real, even in the fantastical realm of storytelling.

Tap Into Common Human Fears
Making readers scared creates tension and increases the pace of your story. Even so, there should be a reason for making them fearful. A terrifying situation should be central to the plot, and should be driven by some cause (even if the reader can only guess what the precise cause is).

If the point of horror writing is to arouse fear, shock or disgust, think of the things of which people are most commonly afraid.

For instance, here are some of the most common fears people have. Most relate to physical and/or mortal danger, but you can also draw on other common fears, such as humiliation, inadequacy or failure.

    Fear of animals (rabid dogs, snakes, sharks)
    Fear of flying
    Fear of the dark – one of the most fundamental fears
    Fear of heights
    Fear of other people, and their often unknown intentions
    Fear of ugly or disorienting environments

Think of how common fears can be evoked in your horror fiction. A less precise fear (such as the fear of certain spaces) will let you tell the horror story you want with fewer specified must-haves.

Terror vs Horror: Learn the Difference
To learn how to write horror novels, it’s useful to understand the difference between the two. Both have their place in horror writing.

Terror describes a state of feeling. Oxford Dictionaries simply define it as ‘extreme fear’. Horror, however, also suggests elements of disgust and surprise, or shock. Thus, the word ‘horror’ describes not only extreme fear but also revulsion and a sense of surprise.

Horror writers understand the difference between terror and horror. For Stephen King, terror is a feeling the author tries to evoke in the reader, before resorting to shock tactics such as surprising them with the extreme or unpleasant.

“I’ll try to terrify you first, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll horrify you, and if I can’t make it there, I’ll try to gross you out. I’m not proud.”

King’s quote suggests that if you can create terror in the reader before there’s even a gross-out moment or sickly reveal in your horror novel, you’re winning.

I succeeded once with BLOOD LAKE. I’m going to try to do it again.

Are you game to try?

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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. Look for them. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

On Saturday, October 21, 2017, I attended the Tenth Annual Rochester Writers’ Fall Conference at Oakland University. Once again, it was a spectacular day. I strongly encourage you to attend the next one, if you can.

On Sunday, October 22, 2017, I was invited to participate in the Books & Authors Event at the eclectic lifestyle store, Leon & Lulu, in Clawson, Michigan. There should be another one in the spring, and I hope to see you there.

As a four-year student of Monteith College, the former honors college at Wayne State University, I was invited to attend a special celebration and recognition ceremony on Tuesday, October 24, 2017, honoring Monteith’s contributions to the WSU scholarly legacy. It was an interesting night. I’m glad I went.

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You’re invited to visit my website, 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.

**********

Visit my web site to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” by The Authors Show.

**********

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

How Do You Make Your Story Stronger?

September 30, 2017

Photo courtesy Shutterstock.

Plot vs Character
The plot-versus-character debate is nothing new. Most indie writers struggle with it. I’ve never been one to work from a plot outline, but I’m also among the first to admit that a man sitting alone with his thoughts is a not a story.

It may be an interesting, colorful character study, but it’s not a story. Story is the intersection of character and plot.

Your premise and plot twists might keep the reader turning pages, but you also need a character (sometimes several of them) to be a window into the action. Readers might pick up a book because of the premise, but they only remember it because of the characters.

Your protagonists set the tone for the conflict by the way they develop and change. As the author, you do this by making each of your characters want something that lets you send them on a journey.

That journey is your story.

The protagonist’s desire is what sets it in motion, and the change he undergoes in pursuit of his goal sustains the momentum.

Make Your Characters Come to Life
There are four components to consider in order to make your fictional characters come to life and feel real to your readers:

  Appearance – this includes descriptions of how they look & act … or seem to … to an observer.

  Actions – this is not only things your character does, but also those things he/she chooses not to do.

  Thoughts – anything the protagonist might think or feel.

  Dialogue – any conversation at all that your characters might have with someone else.

Some writers rely on some of these elements more than others, and I use them all. I like to write in the first-person, but before I type a word I prepare detailed character studies for each individual in my story … complete with an idea of family history, education level, religious background, and occasionally even dialect.

Then I pose a “what if” question. When I begin to write, it’s based on how I think each character will respond to it. That way, each character tells his own story.

Sometimes they even surprise me with the things they do.

As a writer, that can be disconcerting at times … but when you get it sorted out, it’s often magic to a reader, as each character becomes more than mere words on a page.

In fact, if you do it right, your characters are seen as real people.

I’ve been told that about my characters, and I think it’s one of the best compliments a fiction writer can get.

An Important Thing to Remember
However, it’s simply not enough just to have a well-developed character as protagonist. That character needs to be shown to want something. That goal … whatever you decide to make it … is really what he means to change or preserve in himself, or the world around him … and it drives the story.

As you approach the climax of your tale, you should find you have developed your protagonist’s deepest motivations. You should also have included the motivations of supporting characters.

The type of supporting characters that appear could be best friends, sidekicks, mentors, love interests or villains. Some become complimentary … others create obstacles. A few might even represent more than one type … but they each affect the protagonist’s journey.

As you develop them, keep in mind how you can use their peculiarities to raise the stakes of the journey. While this might seem to have infinite possibilities, there are only four possible endings.

If he is still pursuing the desire he expressed at the beginning, your protagonist either gets what he wants (a happy ending), or he doesn’t (a tragic ending).

If, on the other hand, the character’s desire has changed, the ending will need to adjust accordingly. He might not reach his original goal … but that’s all right, because it’s not what he really wanted anyway.

Sometimes, however, the character does get what he was after, but it turns out to be less than he expected. Sort of a “be careful what you wish for” ending.

While both character and plot need to intertwine to create a compelling story, I’m a firm believer that it’s your characters who are a novel’s heart and soul.

So, breathe some life into those characters … and, by all means, keep on writing.

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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. Look for them. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, I plan to attend the Freelance Writers’ Marketplace Group at the Barnes & Noble store in Rochester Hills.

On Saturday, October 21, 2017, I will attend the Tenth Annual Rochester Writers’ Fall Conference at Oakland University.

On Sunday, October 22, 2017, I’ve been invited, along with a host of other local authors, to participate in the Books & Authors Event at the eclectic lifestyle store, Leon & Lulu, in Clawson, Michigan. If you’re in southeast Michigan about that time, I hope to see you there.

As a four-year student of Monteith College, the former honors college at Wayne State University, I have been invited to attend a special celebration and recognition ceremony on Tuesday, October 24, 2017, honoring Montieth’s contributions to the WSU scholarly legacy.

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If you haven't voted yet, please read my essay and vote for me as one of The Authors’ Show’s “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading.” Voting ends October 31, 2017.

**********

You’re invited to visit my website, 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.

**********

Visit my web site to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” by The Authors Show.

**********

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


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