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Nov. 17th, 2008

Review of Them's Fightin' Words



by Clem Daems
 

A must read for any author or aspiring author whether its a short story, novella or novel. Them's Fightin' Words by Teel James Glenn, provides a comprehensive way to look at action. And although the book's emphasis is on fighting scenes, the insights are equally applicable to any kind of action--rescuing a drowning man, a fireman searching a burning building, a person confronting a vicious dog, etc.

Glenn takes the reader through an insightful look at what can only be described as the craft of writing a fighting sequence. Through excerpts of past masters, he looks at how to plan the scene, consider its purpose in the context of the overall story, and how the emotions of the characters provide an insight into their motives and personalities.

He also considers issues easily overlooked, such as the level of the technology, cultural restrictions, political and religious structures, clothes (yes clothes), and the physical skills and personal prejudices of the characters. Together they integrate the action with the character and the environment into an inseparable gestalt.

And if that weren't enough, the book is complete with exercises, and suggested books to read, movies to see, and websites to visit.

After reading Them's Fightin' Words, you will never look at an action scene the same again.

Clem Daems
Sifu, Praying Mantis Kung Fu
Author of the soon to be released Talons of the Raptor Clan

Aug. 5th, 2008

Joan's Writers Tips

Here are some writer's tips that I submitted and that were published

Learn a New Word Each Day

To increase your vocabulary and make yourself a better writer, learn a new word every day. Purchase a word-a-day calendar. Log onto Merriam-Webster Online (http://m-w.com) or Dictionary.com (http://dictionary.com) each morning or subscribe to Wordsmith.com (http://wordsmith.org/awad/sub.html). They will e-mail you a new word each day. Read the word and the meaning a couple of times until you become familiar with it. You will be surprised how many of these previously unknown words come to mind while you are writing. Another bonus - all three have free word games to play, another way to learn new words.

Create Consistent Characters

When writing a complex story with lots of characters, I make a database in Access to help maintain the consistency of my characters and their traits. This can also be done as a spreadsheet in Excel or with a simple table inserted into your favorite word processing program.

I label the columns: First Name, Last Name, Height/Weight, Hair/Eye Color, Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities. These don't have to be specific. You may want to put "tall and well built" for a character in the Height/Weight category instead of being exact. Use traits that may set them apart from other people in the story, i.e., skilled with a knife, uses fire magic, is a shape changer, romantic nature, schizophrenic killer, or even coward.

I also do this for places. In my case it's important because I'm writing a fantasy and building my own world. Consistency demands that we know which country has the castle with the marble floors showing that country's history or what room in the castle holds the tapestry depicting all the major characters signing a peace treaty.

Include anything that you write concerning a particular character or place that makes them unique. This will help keep your story consistent.

Story-boarding for Writers

Do you have trouble writing an outline? We all know that every story needs a main conflict and a resolution and then more conflicts and resolutions. Take some index cards and start writing, one thought on each card.

The Princess gets kidnapped.

Someone must rescue her.

Who will rescue her? You don't know yet?
Okay, go to another conflict.

The person who will eventually rescue her leaves the castle and is beset by a robber in the forest.

The same person gets caught in a storm and gets lost.

Oh. You figured out that the good prince rescues the princess.
Write that down.

And on and on as thoughts come to you. It doesn't matter if they are conflicts or resolutions. Just write them down, one on each card.

Lay the cards out on a table and start putting them in the order you think they will go.

Now you have a partial outline for your story. The cards are your property, and you can change the order or even the ideas as you want and need.

Happy writing. Let's start that outline.

Jul. 30th, 2008

Check out this week's top 10 Epress-Online books at Fictionwise:


Check out this week's top 10 Epress-Online books at Fictionwise:

1. Mid-Length [43314 words]The Boy and the Warrior by Julia Macdonell [Fantasy/Historical Fiction]
2. Mid-Length [46006 words]The Sense-ible Writer by Nadene R. Carter [Self Improvement/General Nonfiction]
3. Long [57377 words]The Magic & the Mundane: A Guide to the Writer's Journey by P. June Diehl [Self Improvement/General Nonfiction]
4. Long [91454 words]Benning's War [A Novel of the American Revolution] by Jeffrey M. Keenan [Historical Fiction/Romance]
5. Long [92531 words]Needle by L. L. Whitaker [Science Fiction]
6. Long [57569 words]Sister Warrior [World of Altiva Series Book 4] by Teel James Glenn [Fantasy/Dark Fantasy]
7. Long [121576 words]A Lesser Form of Patriotism by G.G Stokes, Jr [Historical Fiction]
8. Long [58880 words]Pumping Your Muse by Donna Sundblad [Self Improvement/General Nonfiction]
9. Long [89473 words]Echoes of Silence by Nadene R. Carter [Historical Fiction/Young Adult]
10. Long [68440 words]Return to UKOO by Don Hurst [Fantasy/Young Adult] 

Jul. 23rd, 2008

Book Trailers by guest blogger S. L. Connors author of Dancing on the Edge


Book trailers are fast becoming the next hot commodity for emarketing books. Like movie trailers, they provide prospective readers a glimpse of your book and even offer wonderful and free venues to air them. Namely, YouTube(http://www.youtube.com/) and Preview The Book(http://www.previewthebook.com/) as well as placing them on your blogs and websites.

But, I don't know the first thing about creating a book trailer, you admit rather dejectedly. I didn't know anything either about the process, but I've found ways around my lack of computer savvy. Here's how I created my book trailer which you can view below on the 'Introduction' post of this blog.

I had absolutely no experience on the subject until about a year ago when I wanted to revive my crime suspense novel, Dancing on the Edge, I'd released, December, 2006 under another pen name, S.L. Connors, that had not gotten much PR. One, it was my first published novel, and two, I was greener than Spring grass:)

I fell upon a peer author who created and produced trailers and was gracious enough to work with me on mine for a nominal--and I must add--a reasonable fee. She tutored me on the ins and outs and worked me through the below steps. All of which helped me when it came to my current release, Curse of the Marhime.

1. Consider carefully the theme and mood of your book.
2. Go to stock photo sites and peruse photos that would work to describe your story and even represent your characters. The stock photos sites I use are http://www1.istockphoto.com/ and http://dreamstime.com/. These sites do charge as little as $1 per photo but are royalty free. Membership is free and it's easy to register. There are free stock photo sites out there, but I prefer the knowledge that I have definite rights to the photos.

3. Go to stock music sites and choose music you feel would work with the mood and theme as well. This is more grueling than searching pictures but well worth the work it entails to pull the perfect music for you trailer. I use http://www.sounddogs.com/. Again there are free music downloading sites but I choose to be sure of my rights.

4. Now you've selected photos and music, you'll need to write a script. Curse of the Marhime runs two minutes so my script had to reflect this. You can begin with a one minute trailer, as well. A word of advise, I would not go over the two minute mark because they tend to become boring and readers may lose interest. I actually wrote more than necessary but my producer(Allie Boniface) took the script tags that worked best with the photos. I created my script and pictures around the events as they unfold within the book, so it was easy to write. Sort of like outlining the story.

5. Production. This step is lost to me so I turned it all over to my producer. She put the trailer together and then sent me a preview. Curse of the Marhime trailer was perfect on the first viewing and needed no revision process!

I am thrilled with its outcome and am confident that it will entice readers to rush out and purchase my book.

6. Get that trailer out there! Prior to having your release date, you can load the trailer on YouTube and, of course, your own blog/website to get exposure. Once your have a release date, you will want to load it on Preview the Book a very popular site for readers to check out upcoming book releases. And all are free! What could be better? Your publisher will probably have a venue of exposure for you trailer as well, so don't forget to ask.

I hope this information is helpful and I would like to take a moment to direct you to a very talented woman and author, Allie Boniface, if you would like help creating your book trailer. She will work with you or do it all. Fees depend on the level of work and research she does on each project. Please see contact information below: http://www.allieboniface.com/ To sample Allie's work, please visit her YouTube page: http://youtube.com/user/AllieB1970

Jun. 20th, 2008

More Advice from the Editor

During my years at ePress-online, Inc., I have seen quite a bit of bad writing (with typos, poor grammar, etc.) passing for finished manuscripts. These get rejected. Some people ignore, just gloss over or don’t understand the guidelines. Once I explain it to them and they resubmit in the correct format, they have viable novels, which I can then ask the readers to look at. Most publishers don’t give directions. They just toss the manuscript or delete the file from their email without a backwards glance.

 

One gentleman sent his submission in .doc format and said he didn’t have access to .rtf. That is one stipulation that our editor is adamant about. It has to be in .rtf format because of the different word processing programs editors’ use.

 

He kept insisting his word processor program didn’t have Rich Text Format. I explained that most word processors did except Microsoft Works. Instead of telling me he didn’t know what Rich Text Format was, he just insisted that his didn’t have it and that he had Microsoft Word.

 

The real problem wasn’t that his word processor didn’t accommodate .rtf but that he had no idea what I was talking about and was either too proud or too embarrassed to ask. Of course, when I realized this, I gently explained to him how to save it in the correct format, and we received the manuscript within two days.

 

If there is something an author doesn’t understand it is much better to ask. The only way we can help is if we know exactly what the problem is. If you don’t know or don’t understand directions, say so! The only silly question is the one that isn’t asked. It would have saved a lot of time and effort on his behalf and mine if he had just said, “What is Rich Text Format and how do I use it?”

 

I can’t stress enough the importance of reading, understanding and following each publisher’s guidelines. They do differ from one to another. Some want it in the body of an email, others as an attachment and still others want a hard copy. Some want you to query first and others don’t. Most do want .rtf format for sending through e-mail but not all of them do. When not sending it in an email, the publishers may require certain fonts, margins, etc. Some want the manuscript formatted in a certain way while others would rather format it themselves.

 

I enjoy my job and want to succeed at it both as an Acquisitions Coordinator and an Editor. Please make my job and the jobs of others trying to make it in this industry easier by following the guidelines. If you don’t, they may ask you something unthinkable—like “Please follow our submission guidelines before resubmitting or worse yet, they may just delete the email and never even acknowledge that they received it or throw your paper manuscript in the trash without ever looking at it.

 

If you want to be published, be sure to read all of the guidelines. Print them out and make a checklist to ensure that you are following everything exactly the way that particular publisher, magazine or e-zine wants you to.

 

Good luck in your endeavor to get published. The next time you glance at a publisher's guidelines, whether a struggling start-up small press or a big publisher of mass market books, remember this column and think about how you are presenting your work. Is it the best it can be and is it within the guidelines of that particular publisher? In order to be considered a professional writer whose work is worth looking at, make sure that it is.

Jun. 19th, 2008

INTRODUCTION AND ADVICE FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK


 Let me introduce myself. My name is Joan McNulty Pulver and I work for ePress-online, Inc. as a Senior Fantasy Editor. When I first started work, ePress-online was just taking off and receiving submissions.  Margaret I. Carr, Editor in Chief and Publisher was looking for some key personnel on a volunteer basis from among the writers and facilitators at Writers’ Village University. Being a lifetime member of that online community, I asked her what positions she needed to fill.  I never in my wildest dreams thought ePress-online would take over my life.

 

Imagine getting your first job in the publishing industry. You have some experience as a columnist and short story writer and you apply for the entry-level position of Acquisitions Coordinator. You receive an email from the Editor in Chief offering you the position and describing your duties.

 

“WOW!” you think. “This is truly my dream job. As first reader, I get to look at all these great manuscripts before anyone else even knows they exist. Then I send a response to the writers telling them that their manuscript is being sent to the readers for consideration. How great is that?”

 

My job consisted of reading all the mail that came into the office for queries and submissions. I checked these daily. I used a list of our submission guidelines, looking for compliancy and handled the different problems that may arise.

The guidelines for ePress-online, as with most publishers, are fundamental and straightforward. They are clearly readable and understandable on our website.

 

Please make sure your manuscript is free of typos and misspellings and is as grammatically correct as possible. Be sure have a cover sheet with your name, the title of the book, your email address, an alternate email address, your postal mailing address and an estimated word count.

We accept manuscripts for novels of 50,000 – 120,000 words.  Submit electronically - make sure your file is saved in .rtf and send it as an attachment to
Submissions@ePress-online.com.  Please direct all comments and questions to Info@epress-online.com. (These email addresses have changed since then.)

 

My first day on the job I opened the Info (information and questions only) email address.

 

I had 2 emails. One was a submission in .doc format. The other was an advertisement. I deleted the ad as spam, and I e-mailed the author of the submission asking him to please read our complete guidelines, save his manuscript in .rtf format and resubmit to the correct address.

 

Then I opened the Submissions email box. I found a submission that was written by a person whose native language wasn’t English but who professed to have a good grasp of the English language. I opened the manuscript and was amazed at what I found. I wrote the author a rejection letter stating that there were too many spelling and grammatical errors to even consider.

 

So, what happened to all the great manuscripts I would get to read? We eventually started receiving promising manuscripts.  The first one accepted after I started was Return to UKOO by Don Hurst.  It is a humorous young adult fantasy. Donna Sundblad, who came on board the same time I did, asked if I would be willing to help her edit it.  That was when I was promoted to Assistant Editor. Unfortunately, we did not have anyone to fill my other position so I took on both roles.

 

It's important to note that my boss is sympathetic to all would-be published authors. Some publishers just discard manuscripts that do not follow the guidelines. Not mine, though, which is good. She believes in responding to each author who submits, even if only to ask that the author to please check the submission guidelines and resubmit thecorrect format.  For this reason, please endeavor to follow the guidelines of each publisher. They can differ greatly, but one thing is certain for all publishers, whether print or electronic: their guidelines are there for a reason, and they expect them to be followed.

Jun. 17th, 2008

Meet G. G. Stokes, Jr. author of A Lesser Form of Patriotism

 
Gerald Stokes is a teacher in a rural Georgia high school. He received both a BA in History and an MA in Social Science from Piedmont College, located in Demorest, Georgia. In previous lives he served as a Machinist Mate First Class onboard the nuclear submarine USS Simon Bolivar (SSBN 641), and as a Captain in the US Army and the Georgia Army National Guard. The Other Side of Patriotism is his first published novel. 

Come back tomorrow for a taste of A Lesser Form of Patriotism

Jun. 4th, 2008

Excerpt from Dancing on the Edge by S. L. Connors - Part II

 
Maronetti took off running with Derek right behind him. Callie ran in the opposite direction, dodging people and property scattered about the beach. She circled around the cafe to the north, betting Maronetti would head for the service alley half a block north that ran between beachside businesses and emptied onto A1A, otherwise known as Ocean Drive.

Heart pounding in her chest and adrenalin racing through her veins, Callie’s sneakered feet bit easily into the sand. This was the part of the job she loved best. The paperwork and reports could be tedious, even boring at times, but the chase was worth everything. It was electric. It got her juices flowing.

Once out of the sand, Callie hit the street in an all out sprint. Turning west, she cut up A1A toward the alley. At the mouth of the alley, she slammed herself against the building, back to the wall. Gun pointed to the ground and held securely in both hands, she peeked around the corner and quickly pulled her head back.

Nothing.

"Shit."

Silence.

Then she heard the echo of leather slapping asphalt from the opposite end of the alley. Maronetti.

Poised and ready, she gauged her timing before stepping into the mouth of the alley. Gun ready at shoulder height, legs spread apart, she yelled, "Hit the ground, asshole!"

Derek closed in from the other end; Maronetti had nowhere to go but down. He obliged.

"Place your hands, fingers locked, on top of your head," Callie said to the prone Maronetti.

"Good job, Callie," Derek said while he cuffed and frisked Maronetti. "Whew! Lookee here." He pulled a bulky legal-sized envelope from Maronetti’s waistband. Derek let out a low whistle. "Wonder where this came from? Do you always travel with this much cash?"

Maronetti said nothing.

Callie laughed. "Hmm, I can’t imagine. You got any ideas, Maronetti? Hey, Derek, maybe he just doesn’t trust the banking system." Glancing at the suspect, she couldn’t resist. "You’re lucky you didn’t lose that during your afternoon run."

The subject kept his silence.

Derek grasped the cuffs and pulled Maronetti to his feet. "Let’s go."

"Stan, Trudy? Have you got the other two subjects and the briefcase?" she queried into the miniature mic.

"Under control," Trudy’s voice confirmed. "You got Maronetti?"

"Affirmative. We’re heading back."

* * * *

Both men were handcuffed, sitting on the ground, and Trudy had possession of the briefcase when Callie and Derek returned with Maronetti. Stan called for the cars to move in to pick up the suspects.

By the time the vehicles arrived, a group of curious onlookers had gathered to gawk at the men as they were each loaded into different patrol cars to eliminate any chance of them talking to one another.

"All right everyone, get about your business! Show’s over," Trudy called, shooing people back.

"Did anyone get that briefcase open?" Derek asked as he secured Maronetti in the waiting van.

"Yeah, I did a Valtox test and we’ve got pure powder," Trudy answered.

"Whooee, got us a nice bust here, eh? Not bad for a couple hours on the beach."

"Oh, yeah," Callie said. "Cap’s going to be happy with this one."

"Guess we all meet back at the station and file reports. Paperwork, my fav!" Stan complained with an accentuated grunt.

"I hear ya," Derek chimed in.

"That’s right, Stanley, make a good bust and you get punished with hours of filling out reports not to mention interrogating the subjects, huh?" Trudy grinned.

"C’mon you pathetic bunch of whiners. Let’s go." Callie smiled moving toward her SUV.

Jun. 1st, 2008

Soon to be Released - A Lesser Form of Patriotism

 
This U.S. historical novel provides a unique view of the American Revolutionary War. A Lesser Form of Patriotism is told from the perspective of the British and those Loyalists Americans who fought for King George III. They believed in their cause as fervently as did those Americans who fought to free themselves from English rule.

A point of fact: the winning side of a conflict writes the history. This author and historical researcher provides a touching account of a little-know part of our history. The story allows the reader to experience the struggle of these soldiers and their families as they try to keep families safe while fighting for a cause in which they believe.
Heather McGrath heathermcgrathdesign.com is the cover artist for the "WOW" cover of this book.

Update
: This just in from Gerald Stokes, author of A Lesser Form of Patriotism. "Guess what the Georgia Dept. of Transportation just found as it was preparing to expand a bridge. Long Swamp Village. The site will be undergoing excavation for the next few months."
By way of explanation: Long Swamp Villiage is one of the main staging areas where these historical events took place.

 

May. 28th, 2008

Coming Soon - Sister Warrior by Teel James Glenn

 
Sister Warrior - A New Novel of Altiva by Teel James Glenn

Return to the fantastic world of crystal-smiths and warp wizards, the world of Altiva. In Death at Dragonthroat Ku'zn, blue furred warrior woman of the Z'n, who along with her brother was sold into slavery to save her tribe, gained her freedom. Now she begins a journey to free her brother in the strange city of Orania.

It is a quest that will separate her from those she loves and force her to confront her darkest fears and inner doubts.

She'll battle monsters, duel assassins, combat religious zealots and fight to save a friend from himself. Along the way she just might find love and discover the true meaning of family before it is too late...

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