Four Writing Resources

It’s March 1, St. David’s day, patron saint of Wales. Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant. Here in Kawartha Lakes it’s a bit warmer than it has been. -6C rather than -25C, but we’re going to get a bit more snow. But it’s the first of March with twenty more days until Spring arrives, we hope.March, 2014March, 2013March, 2013March, 2013

Wild Turkeys at Elora, March, 2014Wild Turkeys at Elora, March, 2014(photo Anne Simpson)

And yet Spring still came each year.

I attended a workshop at University of Guelph on Friday, March 20, to hear Barbara Kyle talk about the writing process. She is a generous teacher and at the end of the workshop session gave each of us access to a tutorial series online that she recorded some years ago. It is an excellent review of everything from Style to Getting Published. I’ve been listening to one tutorial a day before beginning the day’s work of revision. Invaluable.

If you haven’t heard her speak or visited her website, I recommend it. Barbara Kyle.

Writing resources can be anything from excellent teachers to books on grammar, from programmes like Scrivener to a friend who’s willing to read revisions. Over the years, I’ve found all of these and more.

1. Writescape

2. Barbara Kyle

3. Writers Digest

4. Scrivener and Scapple at Literature and Latte.

And then there’s marketing. I’m still searching for reviewers and will send copies either e-book or trade paperback on request.

Check out my booklaunch page for information about The Child on the Terrace.

Marketing and Revising: Ways and Means and Help

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Setenil de Las Bodegas, Spain, setting for The Child on the Terrace

I spent most of this week learning about marketing. Earlier, I received a series of e-mails from Nick Stephenson, writer and teacher of marketing about “Your First 10K readers“. He supplied 3 videos on the subject. Well worth the time spent, if only for the insight into how Amazon and other on-line retailers find books, but also for the methods of applying that insight to one’s own books. I haven’t applied his method as yet, mostly because, as I have a publishing contract, choosing such things as category and key words isn’t up to me. However, I shall put together a plan and suggest it to the publisher, Cambridge Books.

Laurence O’Bryan at Books Go Social offers a great service, connecting authors with each other and customers.

I’m revising my next book, working title Saving Fillide. One bit of advice that keeps popping up is to “kill your darlings”. and I did just that, moving the opening of the book to the third chapter. It has made for a more suspenseful opening, but in the process, I lost some back story and one subplot that needs to go back in but in a different place and manner.

Barbara Kyle, at a Turning Leaves, a Writescape retreat, suggested a book by her agent, Al Zuckerman, called Writing the Blockbuster Novel and it is immeasurably helpful in revision. I’m attending a workshop Barbara is giving on Friday, Feb. 20th at the University of Guelph Writers’ Workshop on Crafting the Bestseller; Your first 50 Pages and know I will learn more. She is an excellent teacher.

The Child on the Terrace is now available on major e-book sites. Connect through the link to my book launch page.Winters_Child_RT_jpgSM copy2

Author interview with Max E. Stone

Author Max E. Stone has just released an exciting thriller, One Minute There, book 3 of his William/Bennett/Johnson New England  series.

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RUN…

Two torturous months came and went

Detective Bennett refuses to give up on finding his daughter

Even as the authorities of New England and beyond, trailing the blood in the girl’s wake, devised a ruthless manhunt to bring her back

Well aware of the young woman’s fragile state, Bennett is determined to locate her first

And terrified to learn that he and the officers aren’t the only ones looking…

FOR YOUR LIFE…

Tucked in a hideaway past America’s borders, courtesy of her only trusted connect as of late, Melissa is sure she’s safe.
That is until the hammering knocks at her door threaten her world, her sanity…

And her life.

THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY OUT…

Max answered a few of my questions about his writing life.

How do you choose your setting?

The setting comes from the places I visit and eventually fall in love with. New England, which happened to be the origin for the Warren-Bennett-Johnson series, was one of those places. If I go to a city or a country and love it, I work it into the story.

What does the setting contribute to the suspense?

Once I select the setting, I look at the places that I have physically explored and then see if I can add my own brand of suspense to them. Sometimes, I will ask others who live in the location about the history of certain landmarks as well. Other times, I do the research on my own and create the suspense.

Do you do site-specific research?

Depending on the story, yes. If I like a certain landmark for my story, I research it more and then talk to others who live there to get an accurate feel of the place.

Detailed planner?

After I figure out what the story is going to be about, I just write whatever comes to mind and then plan out the chapters as I go along.

Do you pull details of setting or characterization from your own life or your imagination?
I try to add both my imagination and real life details to any setting I use, giving the fiction that added bonus of realism. As far as characterization, I definitely use elements of me. That’s how I make my characters into people that my readers can see themselves in or identify with in some way.

Thanks so much, Max, and best of luck with One Minute There.

You can find copies of One Minute There by following the links.

 

Max E. Stone

New book: The Child on the Terrace

At last, the advance reading copies of The Child on the Terrace are available, in print for now, at Amazon.com and writewordsinc.com. Comments, reviews welcome.
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Anne McPhail, retired pediatrician, shattered by her experience in Bermuda, rents a tiny house in Setenil, Spain, hoping to reconcile what she learned about herself and Thomas after the gunfire in that dark room on the island.

But she sees a child on the terrace of the local cafe who doesn’t seem to belong to her minders and then Ari, the Mossad agent who saved Anne’s life, seeks her out with a plan to rescue the child from kidnappers. Should she trust him? Three days later, she is on the run with Ari and the little girl, with killers Esti and Sergio on their trail. She glimpses a man she thinks is Thomas. Is he, too in Spain?

And why? How far will Anne go to save Naomi?

From Spain to France to Italy, this is Anne’s most dangerous journey.

 

Watch on Thursday for my interview with author Max. E. Stone about his new book, One Minute There.

 

16 ways to market a novel.

A beautiful Sunday morning here in Southern Ontario, cold but with a robins-egg blue sky and a touch of fresh snow, patterned with long shadows by the rising sun.

The work for this winter is two-fold: marketing The Child on the Terrace and rewriting Saving Fillide. Last week I reviewed a critique of the first twenty pages of Saving Fillide by an editor, Lindsay Guzzardo, of The Editorial Company. Included in her recommendations was advice that I read Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King, which I had some years ago and Syd Field’s Screenplay, The Foundations of Screenwriting.

Screenwriting? No, I’m not writing a movie or television script, but Field’s book is an excellent source of advice about plotting.

Marketing. Marketing wasn’t a part of the writing career that I gave much thought to in 1998 when I scribbled the beginning of Murderous Roots but since then I’ve spent many hours thinking about it, designing web sites and book launch pages, researching promotional sites and twitter services. The list of people who would be happy to take money for alerting the world of the internet to a new book is endless. A list of sites I’ve looked at and think worthwhile to consider include:

1. Enchanted Book Promotions. This service provides everything from a one day book launch package to a full promotional service with blog tours of many lengths.

2. AskDavid. This tweeting service and book review site is inexpensive, easy to use and delivers.

3. BooksgoSocial Lawrence O’Bryan’s business includes promotion, book reviews, an author page and a very active Facebook page for authors to connect with other authors.

4. 1888PressRelease: Another paid service that I’ve used twice before. Packages vary in add-ons. You can pick which package has the most potential value for your writing business.

5. Booklaunch.io A site that allows you to design a book landing page with all the required elements, including video trailers and links to many online booksellers imbedded in the page. Click to see mine for No Motive for Murder.

Book review sites:

6. The Book Report Book review site on radio.

7. The New Kindle Book Review This site has a book contest as well as reviews.

8. Dealsharingaunt Book reviews, contests and giveaways.

Other Suggestions:

9. Authors you know. Ask for review.

10. Authors you have an introduction to. Can’t hurt to ask politely.

11. Local Media:

Newspapers, radio stations, television stations.

Other ways to market

12. The authors pages at Crime Writers of Canada, The Writers Union of Canada, Canadian Authors Association.

13. Email your friends.

14. Mailchimp: Mailchimp is a service which allows you to set up an email sign-up page, develop a marketing letter and send it off in a marketing campaign.

15. Email librarians in the neighbourhood that a new book is available.

16. Book contests: I’m looking at a number of contests and lists of contests to send The Child on the Terrace to this year.

US Book News

Epic’s  awards for e-books.

Ippys awards for books from independents, self-published, small presses.

Bath Novel Award

Exeter novel prize.

So that’s it so far. But the most important is word of mouth, so don’t forget Facebook, Goodreads, Wattpad, tell your friends, tell your aunt, tell your coworkers, tell the checkout girls at the grocery store. Take those speaking engagements, go to the book clubs. Blog. And sometime in there find time to work on the next book.

 

 

 

 

 

Editors and Writers

Autocrit, an online editing service which I use because it is useful in many areas of revision, offered a deal before Christmas: for $99US, editorial comment on the first 20 pages of a manuscript by The Editorial Department. Renni Brown, who wrote Self Editing for Fiction Writers, is one of the founders of the company.

The editor assigned to me, Lindsay Guzzaro, is a well-respected editor and author. She identified what worked and what didn’t in the first 20 pages.

Now I have to decide whether I can use her comments to improve not just the first 20 pages, but the remainder of the manuscript. She did recommend I read Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, which I did some years ago and will do again, and Syd Field, The Fundamentals of Screenwriting, not because I am writing a script, but for his teaching about plot and dialogue.

I’m part way through Field’s book, and I must say he is an excellent teacher and I am finding the book relevant to my work.

When I finish reading, I’ll begin the task for 2015, which is a rewrite of the manuscript, bearing in mind advice from Lindsay Guzzaro,  teachers Ruth E. Walker and Gwynn Scheltema of Writescape, as well as teaching from Barbara Kyle at a recent retreat. Too much advice? Perhaps, but I see a way forward now.

Also reading Between Gods, by Alison Pick, an intimate biography of a woman’s search for her Jewish identity.

Finished reading The Best Laid Plans, by Terry Fallis, a hilarious political comedy. A recommended read for political junkies.

 

Book Review: A Siege of Bitterns

From Dundurn Press:

Inspector Domenic Jejeune’s success has made him a poster boy for the U.K. police service. The problem is Jejeune doesn’t really want to be a detective at all; he much prefers watching birds.

Recently reassigned to the small Norfolk town of Saltmarsh, located in the heart of Britain’s premier birding country, Jejeune’s two worlds collide when he investigates the grisly murder of a prominent ecological activist. His ambitious police superintendent foresees a blaze of welcome publicity, but she begins to have her doubts when Jejeune’s most promising theory involves a feud over birdwatching lists. A second murder only complicates matters.

To unravel this mystery, Jejeune must deal with unwelcome public acclaim, the mistrust of colleagues, and his own insecurities. In the case of the Saltmarsh birder murders, the victims may not be the only casuA Siege of Bitternsalties.

 

 

It took me a few chapters before I became interested in this book, although I enjoyed the bird lore and descriptions of the Norfolk marshes. His hero? Not so much. I felt as estranged as his sergeant from this taciturn man whose interior dialogue was the only clue to his personality. Sergeant Maik now, I felt comfortable and connected with almost at once.

However the complex plot and the layers of Jejeune’s character reeled me in and I was caught as thoroughly as by P. D. James.

Burrows isn’t up there with her yet, but I look forward to his next.

About the birding: Burrows includes lots of lore about birds in Norfolk, all interesting to me as one of my daily joys is watching the changing population at the backyard feeders. This watching is not birding which seems to involve sitting around in uncomfortable, cold shelters with powerful binoculars or haring off at the first tweet about the sighting of a rare bird to add to one’s life list. But it also includes environmental advocacy and attempts at protecting the habitat.