#Book #Review: Plan Your #Novel Like A Pro: And Have Fun Doing It!

 

*Please note – I received a free copy of this book by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

 

Having been a writer for a number of years, finishing a novel is still a Herculean challenge.  I don’t consider myself as a true plotter nor am I a true pantser.  I suppose I’m somewhere in between.  The challenge that always stopped me from finishing a book is not figuring out its plot, but with the characters.  I can work with one or two characters, but when I start to juggle more than three, I hit a mental block every time which keeps me from reaching the end of the story.

Then, I read this book.

Filled with applicable writing exercises geared to help the writer create the core blueprint for the book, I came away energized and well, hopeful.  Hopeful in that I now believe I have the tools in hand to help me complete the current manuscript I’m writing.

Through this book, Beth and Ezra Barany share tools and exercises on developing real characters that readers can relate to as well as creating plots and subplots that will keep them glued to each and every page.  They also give tips and ways to effectively create a world for your story that seems real and complex. And these are only the tip of the iceberg!

There are hundreds if not thousands of how-to-write-a-book manuals, but this one actually gives you specific step-by-step techniques that you won’t see in most of them.

So, if you’re struggling to finish that novel then this book is for you!

 

(You will find this book over at Amazon )

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My #Publishing Dilemma

Photo Credit: Pixabay Free Images

I love writing stories and poetry, and one of my dreams is to be a published author.

However…

I retired from the workforce in January 2015 (five days before my 44th birthday) due to my worsening eyesight (coupled with moderate hearing loss), and now live on Social Security benefits as well as my husband’s salary.

Although I consider myself as a writer, I feel like I’m a faceless woman with no true status or identity of any kind.

Why is that?

I desire to write books and have them traditionally published; but, since I’m on Social Security, I’m not allowed to make any money. So, this puts me in a frustrating dilemma.  How do I go about realizing my dream now?

Writing is NOT a hobby for me.  It’s my passion and my life.  Would not making money off my writing put me in the “hobbyist” realm?  Gosh,  I hope not.

What to do?

I could self-publish but if I put my books on “permafree” would people want to “buy” and read them?  Would my books be considered as “inferior” just because they’re for “free”?

On the other hand, being in this predicament is somewhat liberating as I find I have more range to do things differently than many authors.  So perhaps this really isn’t such a terrible thing after all.

Hmm…

Author Interview: Huck Krueger

Today I have a special guest with us-author of several Science Fiction novels, Huck Krueger!

If you were to introduce yourself to a group of strangers, what would you say? 
I’ve told people that I’m a pilot and a writer. But since I put my plane away and don’t know if I’ll ever fly it again, I might say, “Hi. I’m Huck. I’m a writer and a former pilot.” Or I might leave out the word, ‘former,’ for now.

 

Tell us what first drew you to writing. 
Like most kids, I had fantasies, and I enacted them in my play. In my teen years, I still had those fantasies, though I didn’t play any of them out with toys or action figures. I started drawing cartoons and comics. But I knew I didn’t have any special skill at it and never assumed I’d sell any of my comic stories. Many of those comic stories and booklets are sitting in a box in my basement.From sixth grade through junior high, I was fortunate enough to have teachers who were enthusiastic about writing, and they had taught me the concepts of English grammar and writing basics. Then I ‘saw’ the ‘window’ to write my fantasies out in stead of trying to draw inept comics.I’ve thought that if I ever publish a big-time seller, I’ll dedicated it (my first book anyway) to my junior high English teachers.

 

What do you write?
I’m interested in science, especially astrophysics and aerospace.  So I write Science Fiction mostly, though I’ve dabbled in romance, contemporary and wartime settings. My science fiction is most often involving space travel or life on other planets. I don’t care for the pure fantasy involving the supernatural or spirits, or worlds and creatures that likely wouldn’t exist.

I read a lot of history too, but I shy away from writing stories in that genre because I worry about being historically inaccurate. With sci-fi there’s usually more suspension of belief. I can be ‘way out there,’ and feel comfortable that no one will definitively prove that what I write can’t happen.

 

You’ve just released a book (or two) this year, correct?  Can you tell us some about it (them)? Where can we find your books? 
My latest novels are a series about four crew-members who fly an Astral Research Vessel, or ARV, throughout the galaxy to study stars and nebulae. The crew consists of two men and two women. My main character, Miles Wendel, is the pilot of their ship. Tana Vargas is their engineer and bio scientist. Li Keung is their astrophysicist who mans their science equipment. And Cassie Nystrom is their captain.

Their ship is ‘sustained’ by force fields and is often invisible. Only the objects and equipment they access or touch become visible. If someone wants privacy, say in his or her quarters, then the walls will appear, usually throughout the living compartment of their ship.

Their ship is capable of ‘bypassing the speed of light’ by what I’ve termed, ‘Hyper Sub-dimensional Transition (HST),’ which means they enter alternate dimensions of space/time and fly a ‘shorter’ distance to their destinations.

Of course, at their destinations, they encounter adverse situations. In each of the four stories I’ve conceived so far, they’ve encountered extraterrestrials as well as ‘external conditions’ which complicate their struggles.

I’ve published the first two books in this series which I call, Voyages of the Altair. I named their ship Altair after the star in the Aquila constellation. Its name means ‘Flying Eagle.’ I thought it was appropriate.  Each book has a main title, and so far, I’ve titled them after the star or nebula where the plot takes place.

The first book is WR104, which I published in June, 2017. On their maiden voyage we find them near the unstable blue star, identified by astronomers as WR104. The second book is M42, which I published in November, 2017. The crew is assigned to fly through and study the famous Orion Nebula (M42). I’ve finished the first draft of the third story, Eta Carina, and I’m currently writing the fourth, with a working title of, M54.

Information about these books and links to purchase them, along with my other books, can be found at my website, huckkruegerauthor.com. One can also find them via Amazon. Nook and Kindle versions are available.

 

What seems to be the recurring theme(s) in your stories? 
Space travel and extraterrestrials are what I write about most, because they give me so much ‘room’ to create and work out ideas. I like to note that most of my aliens are not evil aliens out to destroy humanity or Earth. They have their faults, but I often have them interact and cooperate with my human characters.

 

How do you get into the minds of your characters? How do you come up with various settings? 
I usually use the ‘closely attached’ third-person point of view, and usually choose one main character to do it in each story. To clarify, the story is shown through the view of one person–only things he/she knows is told. Though, I try to imagine what each character thinks, sees and feels, so I can have them interact in a believable fashion. Sometimes while writing, as an excuse to get up and move around, I’ll physically act out a scene to get the concept and figure out how characters would respond.

Many of my story ideas have come from a topic in science I happen to be studying at the time. I try to construct a story with that aspect of science involved.  I came up with one story after I read about Jupiter and its moons and the forces at play between them. In the story I explain the basics of Jupiter’s ‘plasma torus’ and how it affects the electromagnetic fields around the four moons. Then I ‘stretched’ the science and went beyond to create a plot for the main two characters.

Another idea came from combining two news stories. Back when the influenza virus was ravishing through the world, I had that story rolling through the back of my mind when I read about UFO abductions.  I combined the two into a plot of aliens abducting someone and mistakenly allowing their victim to contract one of their diseases. After they set him/her free, the disease spread rapidly. The result was a pandemic that wiped out hundreds of millions. I created a story about an astronaut woman whose family had died from the disease.

In my new series, Voyages of the Altair, I’ve been reading about dark matter and dark energy, and worked the plots around the idea of living beings made of dark matter and energy.

 

How valuable is being in a writing group for you? 
It turns out that the writing groups have been very valuable. Since the late 1990s, I had let my story writing go dormant. I had only dabbled with poetry and some articles and essays from that time until the local retired fire chief invited me to check out the local writers’ group in November, 2006. That group identifies itself as the Lake Region Writers’ Group. There was another group that met in Willow City, called the Prairie Rose Writers.

They ‘prompted’ me to rekindle my story writing. While I worked on an old story and wrote new ones, the Prairie Rose group, who had collaborated with our group on an anthology, ‘recruited’ me to assemble and publish the work.  After learning the processes of self-publishing, I decided to ‘join the ranks’ of the other two in our group who had self-published their own works. After learning about what I did to publish the anthology, one of the Prairie Rose writers has now self-published one or two books.

 

When you’re not writing, where would we usually find you?
Outside of my job, which is custodial and maintenance at the local college, I’m often at my computer studying a science or history subject, or communicating with someone, or just entertaining myself. Otherwise I might be working in my shop in the garage or doing some chores or repairs around the house, and in the summer times I often worked on or flew my ultralight plane.

 

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest obstacles facing writers today? 
Writers today still face the usual problems any writer has such as writer’s block or deciding how to compose an article or story. In the business realm of literary jobs and publishing one’s work, I don’t know how much competition one faced in the past. But now-a-days writers will find a lot of competition.  The major traditional book publishers and major magazines receive tens of thousands of submissions in a year. Getting noticed will often be through luck.

An ‘outlet’ for many writers has been via the internet, which includes blogs and self-publishing. Writers of blogs, ezine articles/stories, self-published books, or other digital compositions can get their ‘foot in the door,’ if their piece catches the eye of a major publisher. Publishers sometime notice when a piece gets thousands or millions of views or sales. They might approach the author(s) and offer a proposal.

 

Any additional comments or advice you’d like to add for our readers?
Off hand I can’t think of any advice or tips that haven’t already been mentioned or posted somewhere.

 

 

 


 

About the author…

Huck lives in Devils Lake, N.D. with his wife, Linnea. He graduated Cando High in 1982, and in 1989 received a B.A. with a major in English, a minor in Computer Science, and a concentration in German from MSU-Minot.  You can find his science fiction titles atKindle and Nook.

 

Book Review: To Trick a Hacker by India Kells

 

 

To Trick a Hacker is a Romance Suspense book written by the gifted storyteller India Kells.   It follows heroine Dylan Harris a loner who’s hiding within the fringe of society working as a hacker for a secret organization called Purgatory.   With a tumultuous and traumatizing past she’s trying to hide from, she finds herself hunted by an unknown assailant who seemingly have ties to her painful past.

In comes Owen Sorenson, a gorgeous former Navy Seal, sent by Purgatory to protect her from further harm which she reluctantly accepts.   Each battling scars of various kinds, they at first formed an uneasy team as they set out in search of a killer that soon grows into a passionate and emotional relationship.   A relationship which gets tested time and time again threatening to send either one over the edge and into darkness.  It’s a romance forged in pain and loneliness as they each face their personal demons from the past which keep returning to haunt them.  Sprinkle in a killer bent on turning Dylan to the dark side by threatening all who she cares for and you have a riveting story that will keep you turning the pages till the very end.

To Trick a Hacker ultimately is a story about family, love, second chances, and sacrifices.

India Kells’ writing style can be liken to Sherrilyn Kenyon and Sara Mackenzie, and I definitely look forward to reading many more of her books!

 

You can find India Kells at the following places:

http://www.indiakells.com

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Don’t Be Anxious To Be Rejected by C Hope Clark

c hope clark

 

Hello everyone!  I have a very special guest here today to talk to us about something we all struggle with as writers.  Please welcome C Hope Clark, author of two mystery series & editor for FundsforWriters!

 

I get these whims to literally cook up something remarkably different. Like a pot roast that adds cola, or a Christmas cookie with real lavender flowers in the icing. I even tried spaghetti cooked in a Bundt pan, with the sauce afterwards filling the hole and drizzled all over the top. It looked weird and tasted okay, but the jokes about it continued from my sister for years.

Truth is, I’m a darn good cook now. My sister hasn’t tasted much of my cooking in a decade or two, but my family and neighbors have come to appreciate what my kitchen produces, especially since much of it comes fresh from a garden, the chicken coop, and years of trial and error.

One thing I have learned, however, is that I don’t want to try out a new recipe for a special event (or test it on my sister). I could be remembered for the potential fiasco instead of my prowess.

The same goes for releasing your writing to the cold, cruel world. In our excitement to become published and start that portfolio of our accomplishments, we forget what can happen if the release crashes and burns. I baked that spaghetti dish probably thirty years ago, but my sister reminded me of it just last week. I also self-published a plain, basic little book in 2001 that I wish I never had. In spite of my attempts to forget those mistakes, they continue to pop up from time to time.

All too often we are remembered for our mistakes instead of our accomplishments. It’s a nasty reality, but oh so true.

A friend in one of my writing groups just sent her last chapter through the online group for critique. It took her months to submit, receive feedback, and edit. I watched her work just blossom over that time period as she found her footing and her voice. After the last chapter, I asked her if she was ready to send it through the group again.

The disappointment rang clear. She’d hoped to start contacting agents. I suggested she think twice about that choice. In sending the book back through for critique again, not only would the other writers look at it with a harsher eye in seeking more advanced ways to improve the work, but she would in the process grow phenomenally in her talent. Instead of analyzing basic storytelling, she and others could now study more intricacies of dialogue, voice, flow and syntax.

She was so primed to be published, and my response was this:

Don’t be anxious to be rejected.

She told me that sentence stopped her in her tracks. In querying too soon, she was indeed rushing into rejection. She was running into making a bad first impression on people she greatly needed to impress. She was attempting a new recipe in front of very important people, hoping they would like it . . . instead of practicing and rewriting long enough to know the recipe is a good one before laying it on the table.

 

BIO:

Hope Clark has written six novels in two series, with her latest being Echoes of Edisto, released August 2016, the third in the Edisto Island Mysteries. Mystery continues to excite her as both reader and writer, and she hopes to continue as both for years to come. Hope is also founder of FundsforWriters, chosen by Writer’s Digest Magazine for its 101 Best Websites for Writers.

http://www.chopeclark.com / http://www.fundsforwriters.com

 

echoes of edisto

 

Which Kind of a Writer Are You?

george r r martin

“I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows. And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.” -George R. R. Martin

Writer/Author Debate (Results)

The responses have been steady since I posted the poll that asked the question on whether “writer” is the same as “author.”  So far, most readers agreed that “writer” is NOT the same as “author:”

Facebook responses:

Mary McDonald: “I think that’s one of those debates that will continue through time. I think most see publishing being the point of transition from writer to author.”

Mark Carver: “I’ve always understood the key difference being that an author has published work.”

Stephanie J. Pajonas: “I say I’m an author. It’s my job writing books and publishing them. Writer is more generalized to me. I’m that as well, too.”

 

Blog responses:

Tiegan Dakin: “My definition of a writer is anyone who performs any literary creating, i.e poetry, fiction, nonfiction, etc.

I always saw authors as people whose works had been published online or in print, whether that be in literary magazines or their own novels.”

RYCJ: “A writer can be a writer without publishing his or her work.

An author on the other hand is published… whether he or she “authored” a letter to a friend or Congress, or wrote and published a full length book.”

Laurie Buchanan: “I agree with the other two responders (Tiegan and RYCJ): A writer is someone whose work is yet unpublished. An author is someone whose writing is published.”

It appear that many deem that in order to be considered an author, one must have been published.  What vary among these responses are what items (poetry, stories, books, etc.) that are published that would determine one’s status as writer/author.  Any further thoughts on these?

 

Alex for Shaw offered the most extensive response that was different from the rest:

“Writer and author are very similar nouns in their common usage, but writer is a broad term that covers anybody who assembles words. Author usually refers to a writer, but one who is identified with their body of work (however large or small). The implication is that what an author writes has visibility beyond their private sphere.

There are some forms of writing where “author” is not the usual term, such as journalism: one usually refers to the writer of an article, editorial, column or feature rather than the author. With literature “author” is much more common, especially for a creator of prose. With poetry or dramatic works the more specialized “poet”, “playwright”, “dramatist” or “screenwriter” are often used, leaving “author” primarily as the term for novelists.

Finally, “writer” is descriptive of what the person does. It derives from the verb, from the action (just like the word “scribe”). “Author” in contrast is synonymous with “creator”, hence phrases like “author of one’s own misfortune” to describe someone who has gotten themselves into trouble. While “writer” deals exclusively with the mechanical acts of putting pen to paper (or an equivalent: finger to keyboard), “author” refers to the creative aspect, the invention.”

Personally, I’m still digesting this particular one.  Anyone agree with her insight on the topic?

New responses:

From pipermac5 (aka Steve) as of 12/29/2015:

“I am a writer, a blogger, and somewhat of a wordsmith, but I wouldn’t claim the title of “author”. My writings are online and available to all who wish to read them, but none have been “published” as printed-material.”

From bdaiken as of 9/5/2016:

“I think it’s about self perception to some extent. I used to describe myself as a designer who also writes. I would now describe myself as an author who does the occasional design job. Less about how much money you make from each venture, more about where the focus of your life lies.”

 

 

*I humbly thank all those who have responded so far. Keep checking back here for new responses as they are added over time!

 

 

Writer Vs. Author (Poll)

Saw this topic  on a Linkedin discussion forum, and the various answers intrigued me.  What are your thoughts?

I like to open a call for my fellow readers who would like to debate on this particular topic.  State your opinion and back it up, and I will post it on this blog for people to respond.  If you’d like to participate, use the Contact page to send me a message, or simply leave a comment below.

 

 

Plot vs. Characters by K.M. Weiland

For our last discussion about plot vs. characters, let’s welcome K.M. Weiland!
battle
Plot and character don’t exist in a vacuum. We could make several arguments for why one or the other is slightly more important. But, honestly, whatever answer we may come up with (and we’re likely to each come up with different answers) is academic.
Here’s the truth: to create a powerful story, we can’t afford to neglect either plot or character. Instead of having them wage war against one another, we need them to work together.
A perfectly structured plot will never live up to its potential without an equally solid character arc.
A compelling character arc will never be able to hold up its own weight without a properly structured plot.
No need to pick one over the other. When we understand how plot and character can (and should) work in perfect harmony, we get the best of both worlds. And so do our readers.
K.M. Weiland-“I’m a fighter, a writer, a child of God. I write historical and speculative fiction and mentor authors.”  Want to know more?  Please visit her website! Almeria western show in Mini Hollywood
Have any thoughts you like to add?  We love to hear them!

 

Plot vs. Characters by Craig Hart

Let’s welcome author Craig Hart this week for the on-going discussion about plot vs. characters.  What you will read below comes from his book, The Writer’s Tune-up Manual, in the section called “Thou Spelunker.”

writing

Thou Spelunker

spe・lunk・er noun \spi-y ləŋ-kər, y spē-y \ : one who makes a hobby of exploring and studying caves. (Merriam-Webster)

 

In this instance, the “cave” is your plot and the spelunker is you. The argument could be made that your readers are also spelunkers, but you have to go there first and lay down the bread crumb trail so the rest of us can find our way in and out.

Like an iceberg, the majority of a cave is out of the natural line of sight. It’s hidden from view. And yet, it is what makes an iceberg an iceberg or a cave a cave. Without this secret portion, an iceberg would be an ice cube and a cave would be a pothole. Not very interesting, are they?

Applied to your plot, this means that most of it is hidden, out of plain sight, but yet guides the story and impacts the reader. This happens in the way of motivation, backstory, and subplot. None of these should take over a story and yet without them no story is worth reading.

When I was younger I read a book by a much more experienced writer who said that plot is a verb. In other words, action was the key to plot. I get what he was saying. As it turns out, however, plot is more complicated. Stringing together action scenes will never result in a gripping tale. It doesn’t matter how many sharks are closing in on the stranded swimmer if I don’t care about the swimmer or their fate.

It might sound like this is more about character than plot. And, in a way, this is true. But as I have since learned, plot is character. Your plot will never be any better than the characters who populate it. Learning to connect the two is the key.

 

Craig Hart-writer, editor of The Rusty Nail literary magazine, publisher for Sweatshoppe Publications, and author of The Writer’s Tune-up Manual.  To learn more about Craig and his work, visit his website!craigHartBook

 

 

Next week, K. M. Weiland will be visiting with us!

 

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