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Archive for the ‘Words on Writing’ Category

Jeff Russell The Girl Who Watched Over DreamsLife for Kat (Doctor Katrina Hammond) is not turning out the way she envisioned.  Despite her misgivings, she agrees that her mother going into E.D.E.N.’s perpetual sleep program is the best choice for her mother, who is suffering from chronic rheumatoid arthritis.

Engulfed with sorrow over her loss of her mother, plagued by doubts about the program, and uncertain about the science and the quality of life her mother will have in a forever dream state, Kat agrees to take a job at E.D.E.N. This, at least, allows her to be near her mother and watch over her.

Soon after taking the job at EDEN, Kat is approached by a reporter, Morgan Brewer, who is investigating EDEN.  Distrusting his role as a reporter and suspicious his interest is only a pretense to get information from her to use against her employer; she unwillingly turns to him when she has no other options.

It doesn’t take Kat long to become suspicious that EDEN is not the idyllic sanctuary promised for the faceless residents of their perpetual sleep program.  There is something darker happening behind the scenes of EDEN, and Kat’s inability to let it go pulls her deeper into that secret.

Jeff Russell creates a believable character in Kat, a recent graduate doctor of Neuroscience.  She is grounded by her newness to the field, filled with enough self-doubt to add to the challenges she faces, and likeable.  As she presses on with her clandestine investigations over her suspicions, she is pulled in opposing directions.  She doubts her own suspicions, becomes newly suspicious of her employer, convinces herself EDEN really is helping, and becomes disturbed again by her discoveries at EDEN.

Jeff Russell does not overburden his medical thriller with technical descriptions, keeping the story flowing and compelling.  I read this story in less time than I usually do, laying back and putting off the things I really should be doing so I could keep reading.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

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strange thing 2

A strange thing happened on the way to the blog.  I received an email out of the blue from someone I’ve never heard of.  That’s not so strange in itself; I get enough spam to feed a spambot until it vomits flowery poetry.

 

What was strange is that it was a request for an interview.  This wasn’t the usual, “Let’s fill out interview questions and share them on each other’s blogs to cross promote ourselves,” interview request.  This was a straight up, “I want to interview you.”

It surprised me.  The first thing I did was check the email address it came from.  It looked legitimate.  Then I skimmed (that’s what my eleven year old called it) her online.  I Googled, found and checked profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn, investigating if the person looks legitimate.  She looked legitimate.

uh oh

It was time for the, “Oh, uh, wow?” moment.  Me?  Why me?  Out of all the authors out there?

Now I had to know.  I’m not a cat, so hopefully curiosity won’t bring me to my swift demise.

I asked others on one of the author groups what they thought.

I contacted the young lady requesting the interview to ask those two big questions: Why me? – and – How did you happen to find me?

Honestly, I didn’t think I would be all that findable without specifically looking for me.

Her answers were simple.  I’m an author and she got my information from the local writers’ guild, which I’m a member of.

 

terrorThen I had a moment of terror.  I’ve never had a real interview.  I almost did once on a blog radio show, but it fell through due to technical issues.  We, the interviewers and my fellow intervewee, spanned states and countries.  Something went wrong and we couldn’t call in.  The blog show failed after too, so there was no redo.

Why does that even matter?  Because, I was in very near to a state of panic.  An actual talking interview with people I have to answer on the spot.  I can’t come back hours later when I think of something that I think sounds clever.

And now I’m panicking again at the thought of a face-to-face interview.  I would have to try to be clever on the spot.  I can’t do that.  I can write, the words coming effortlessly and fluidly, and sounding marvelous.  I can’t bloody talk.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I sound like a complete moron when I talk.  The words in my head just don’t come out the same way through my mouth.  My brain freezes, I jumble, stumble, and stutter.  I couldn’t do a speech with my eyes glued to the cue cards I’m reading mechanically from.

 

leave your comfort zoneTo truly live, you have to step out of your safety zone.  I decided to swallow my anxiety and give it the old college try.

It made it easier that I wasn’t doing it for myself.  I can’t count the times I opted not to do something because it was just for me.  I’m not used to doing things just for me.

The young woman interviewing me is from McMaster University. She won funding for a research project exploring the connection between Canadian literature and identity.  I was a stop on her trek across Canada interviewing authors about their craft and sense of identity as Canadians.

I went to the interview hoping that I would be of help, but still with that nagging doubt pulling on me like a toddler sized imp trying to whisper in my ear, “Why you?”

I survived the interview and she didn’t look ill listening to my jabbering.  I have to say, the best part of the interview was the end when I gave her a copy of my latest published book, The McAllister Farm.  She was actually excited I gave it to her.
impAfter the interview, that same nasty little imp kept tugging on my shirt hem and whispering my doubts.  Why me?  There are a lot of authors out there, ones people actually heard of and know; authors who sold a lot book books and made bestseller lists, and everything.  Telling me, “You don’t even feel like a real author.”

 

magic quill

What does it take to make you feel like an author?  Of course, the simplest answer should be, “You wrote a book,” or, “You published a book.”  If only life were so simple for everyone.

 

In all the years I spent writing, I’ve always had that nagging doubt.  I’m nobody.  Unknown.  Just some person with a story in her head (okay many stories) that need to get out.  I’m not James Patterson or Stephen King.  I don’t go by the moniker Dean Koontz or any other name anyone would recognize and say, “Hey, that’s an author!”

I always had the doubt, expecting anyone at any time to say I’m wasting my time, I’m not a “real” author, or that my writing stinks like the rancid breath of the partially desiccated reanimated corpse of a komodo dragon with a dead skunk stuck in its mouth.

Even after my first book, Where the Bodies Are, was published, doubts remain.  It’s only one book, after all.  But, it can’t be all that bad if someone else found it worthy of publication, right?  I still didn’t feel like a “real” author; which is probably odd, since I would without question think of anyone else who published a single book as a “real” author.

Now I have a couple of books published, with Indigo Sea Press picking up not only Where the Bodies Are, but also my latest book, The McAllister Farm.

With published books I now have to count on more than one finger, I still don’t feel authorey; and yes, I did just make up that word.

intangible personTo me, an author has always been that intangible person on the other side of the book.  The magic behind the story.  Funny, I don’t look or feel magic.  Not mystical in any way.  I’m just me.

If I had ten published books, I would probably feel the same way.  I’m just me.  Someone asked me to autograph my book she bought and it felt really weird.  I very recently sold a few books to a few people I know and they asked me to sign them.  It felt just as strange, awkward really, in a, “This is a joke, right?” kind of way.  And these were all people I’ve known for years.  I might get sucked into an abyss of weirdness in the floor if an actual stranger wanted me to sign a book.

I’m not sure what it will take before I feel like a “real author”.  At what point this will happen, if ever.

I asked my eleven year old what would make her feel like a “real author”.  Her answer: “If my books sold; lots.  A lot of them.”

I asked my thirteen year old the same question. Her answer: “When a lot of people buy my books and are asking for them, and when I’m making a good profit.  And, when I’m a New York Times bestseller, because all my books are New York Times bestsellers.”

pose question.jpg

I pose the question to you, and this is all about YOU, not for you to try to convince me that I’m a “real” author.

 

Authors: What made or would make you feel like a “real author”?

Readers: What defines a “real author” for you, as opposed to thinking, “Yeah, whatever, so you wrote a book, but you aren’t a real author”?

 

Let the game begin.

Can you handle a little darkness?

L.V. Gaudet is the author of the McAllister Series and Garden Grove.

Tormented by his inability to stop killing, the killer is taunted by his need to find the one thing he must find …

where the bodies are

Learn the secret … behind the bodies and how the man who created the killer became who he is …

McAllister Farm cover 052316_edited-1 - front cover.jpg

The third book will bring these two stories together for a dramatic climax… but no story truly ends.

 

Sabotage, vandalism, poisoned work crew, buried bones, and two strange old people … why is someone trying to stop the new housing development?

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

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email vomitWe all want to wow people into following us. Whether you are a published author, a professional reviewer (aka you write reviews on various products either for monetary compensation or in exchange for free stuff, with the expectation of getting some form of compensation for ever review), some form of professional or quasi-professional, or just blogging for kicks, it’s the reason you blog. It’s the reason I blog. Otherwise, we’d all just be giving out TMI and posting pics of our pets and suppers on Facebook and not bothering to write blogs.

 

want more followersProducing good and interesting content is the way to go. The blogosphere is the boxing ring and we are doing the dance off, yelling “PICK ME! PICK ME!”

Successful blogging means not just getting your articles read, but gaining followers and keeping them. It is writing articles they want, and sharing articles that will interest your followers.

 

Whatever the content you share, you need to do it often enough that your followers don’t forget you exist. When that happens, you sink into the black abyss of the web.  You don’t want to go there, because I’ve heard ugly rumors of what resides there. Yes, ugly.

Things like this.spider monster

It is a dark and terrifying place. Cold too, very cold. Or is that the chill of fear dripping down your spine?

 

Finding interesting content to share means following others. Successful blogging also works on a quid pro quo, only without the expectation of always getting something in return. No, it’s not squids gone pro. If you don’t know what quid quo pro means, you can Google it. Basically, it means you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.

In blogging, you follow others, who may or may not follow you back. You share their content because you liked it or think your readers might. You follow rules of decorum. In other words, play nice.

 

blah blah blah

But, every now and then, you encounter the over-sharer.  This is the blog world’s equivalent of the Facebooker who spams your feed with so many posts of their kids, their pets, their meals, what they did, are doing, and are about to do, Oh, very large hammer.jpgand what they are doing now, and now, yeah you get it … until you find yourself so sickened by their posts that you want to put your own eyes out, cancel your FB account, and put your computer out of its misery with a very large hammer. (Wow, that is one heck of a run on sentence, just like those annoying posts without end. OMG, there was a period in there but it still never really ended, did it?)

 

The blogger over-sharer will put up a mass of posts, their own or shared; at this point it really doesn’t matter. The thing is, unlike FB, when a blogger posts a vomit of blog posts and you do not have your notifications turned off, each and every post will ping your email inbox.

Yes, each and every one. So, you can turn off notifications and not know when one of the sites you follow posts an interesting blog, sending them to the bloggo black hole and likely forgetting to check and follow them (because you are so darned busy and these things just happen).

Or, you are subjected to having your email inbox spammed. Bloggers who spam you with 36 blog posts, each pinging your email inbox individually, because you made the mistake of following them, just aren’t getting it.

vomit

Now, when I get 36 bog posts from the same blogger spamming my email inbox, they have effectively vomited in my inbox. Yes, I had 36 one day, all at once, an incessant ping ping ping ringing and pinging. I had to shut my phone off and count the toll later.

 

 

Delete and unfollow. Yes, Virginia, there is such thing as too much.

 

unfollow
You need to strike a balance in your blogging.

balance

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THE WIND GUARDIAN CoverI received a free copy of this book in exchange for reviewing it.  It took a bit of time to get through this book with trying to read it over the busy and highly distracting Christmas season.  The terrorist action plot is not my favorite genre, but I have no regrets in taking the time to read The Wind Guardian.  This is an honest and unbiased review.

The Wind Guardian is the first Frank Scozzari book I have read.  If you are looking for a terrorist threat action story that is driven by the characters and does not get lost in the details then you will enjoy this book.

This story is set in the comfort of a United States nuclear power facility where years of living comfortably safe leaves bored security officers with a lackadaisical attitude towards their jobs and the painstaking planning and work that goes into the security of the plant.  Despite the best efforts of their supervisor, John Harkin, to keep his security officers alert and performing diligently to their by-the-book routine, some of his staff continually take a careless approach to their jobs, sneaking off for illicit rendezvous and naps.  The reason for their jobs, threat of terrorist attack, is a world away for our characters.

In The Wind Guardian, Frank Scozzari brings the self-absorbed lives of two characters, newly enamored lovers and co-workers, Cameron and Grace crashing down in a seeming unstoppable catastrophe.  Other developments are in play while Cameron communes with nature in the “bone yard”, a protected archeological and burial site of the native Chumash, who he came to feel an affinity with, and Grace and he focus on trying to find ways to communicate on the shared open radio channel and meet up on the job.  The pair makes the most unlikely of heroes, and are thrust in the center of events by their own selfish choices to put their mindless lust and an obsession with each other worthy of teenagers over their duties.

While Frank Scozzari pauses in the action to fill the reader in on the workings of the nuclear facility and the bureaucracy, planning, routine, and weapons behind keeping it safe, he does it expertly without bogging down the story in the details.  If anything, the tedium of guarding the plant and all the details that ago into it is a good set up for what is coming.  The obvious tedium of the characters jobs and their lack of interest in performing them makes the events that unfold, and how easily, more believable.

Frank Scozzari brings home in a realistic way just how easily the safety we take for granted can be taken away.

The Wind Guardian by Frank Scozzari is available through various online retailers.

 

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job experienceAt first glance, they may not seem to have anything to do with each other, the slogging away through job postings, sending out resumes, hoping for some slight recognition in the form of an interview that may or may not get you anywhere, let alone get you a job, and trying to plug your book.

 

When you think about it, they really are not all that different.

Both are selling yourself, who you are, and what you have to offer.

 

one in a crowdYou are an unknown entity, one small piece of paper in a sea of mail.  A single job posting can elicit hundreds of responses from hopefuls.  In the same way, your book is only one in a sea of books vying for the reader’s attention.  Worse, you are not competing against hundreds, but against thousands of hits that may show in a search before yours.

 

While it is easier for the professional to brand themselves, many professions being close-knit groups where everyone knows pretty much who everyone else is, publishing is more like the mainstream office flunky.  You are literally one in millions.

 

brandingBranding yourself and getting your name and image out there in local circles definitely can help.  Make your name itch their scalp with a sense of familiarity.  I heard that name.  It’s familiar.  It makes you harder to ignore.

 

But how do you do that?

 

I sent out news releases for my new release, Garden Grove, to every local news outlet.  One – only one – posted it.  And they got my gender wrong.  But that’s okay, because apparently books of this genre from male authors tend to sell better, but that is a topic for another day.

 

you are not famousApparently, if you are not already a well-known celebrity author, most news agencies won’t touch your new release.  Like the big publishing houses, they know big names sell.  Unknowns don’t.  So, now the challenge is to get past that.  After all, nobody will ever buy or read your book if they don’t know it exists.

 

Any skills you’ve learned in life in selling yourself or anything else, whether is the job hunt circuit or through your daily job, you can use that knowledge to help you sell yourself and your books.

how will your book get noticed.jpg


First, you have to get their attention
.  Why, out of the faceless stack of emails, letters, and other media, should they bother looking at yours? Don’t get buried, get noticed.  When there are literally millions of published books, hundreds coming out daily, on every site, how do you get the reader, or the person filtering through those news releases, to notice YOU?

 

get into their heads.jpgInsinuate yourself into their heads.  Plug yourself wherever and whenever you can.  Make your pen name go from the great white unknown of white noise to something that rings a vague sense of familiarity.  A sense of familiarity brings the world together.  When a reader is scanning a list of books, when nothing special about the covers pop out, what catches their attention?  The feeling of the familiar.  Familiar is safe.  Familiar is home.  Familiar is friends and family.

 

 

who are youThen, you have to make them know who you are.  Brand not just your pen name, but your photo as well.  Whatever that photo may be, whether it is you or not, that is your brand.  That is what becomes familiar.  Like the logo of so many products and stores, once it becomes familiar it is instantly recognizable and the human brain will target it in a lineup of unfamiliar images.

 

branding3What is branding?  In simple terms, branding is making something familiar; making it consistently familiar.  When someone sees it, they know exactly what it is about.  Branding is making it reliably about something meaningful.

 

When you see or hear the name Stephen King, you know exactly what it is about.  You know immediately, this is not a car or brand of chocolates.  You are not wondering if the book cover will be fanciful imagery of a scantily clad love-struck young woman mooning over a buff man in a field of flowers.  You know immediately who this author is and what he is about. You expect demonic clowns peering out at you from sewers, possessed cars, and anything else that may titillate your fears.  That is branding.

 

Find those little ways to get you and your book to show up, even if only randomly.  Advertising can be expensive.  So can trying to get yourself into local events.  In addition, there is the cost of printing up a bunch of books to give away or have on hand.  As a newbie author, you likely don’t have that kind of money to commit.

 

Randomly placed posters might be one way.  Get out and talk to random strangers.  Heck, maybe even show up for those fundraising used book sales where you can talk to people and maybe give away a few free autographed copies.  It may not do anything at all for you, but it may get a few people talking about you.

 

word of mouthThe best sales gimmick is word of mouth.  When I heard non-book readers talking about Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and all the negative hype about it, and how they needed to read it to find out what all the fuss is about, I knew immediately that his people nailed it.  They nailed making the word of mouth advertising work.  Instant hit.

 

But the hardest part of getting anyone to notice you and your book is to get anyone to notice you and your book.  There are as many ideas out there on how to do this as there are people trying to do it.  Some will work, some won’t.  None will work every time or for everyone.  It’s a bit of a crapshoot.  But you will try because it’ the only way to sell books.  Obscurity sells nothing.

 

 

i am addicted to youMost importantly, give them a reason to love you.  Your writing must be quality, and your editing even better.  Without a quality product, you are nothing.  The junky dollar store stuff that looks cheap, and is of poor quality, is quickly forgotten or tossed out.  But whether something cost a dollar or twenty, if it is quality that is what stands out.  People remember good quality.  They brag about it.  They are impressed and want others to be too.  They come back looking for more.

 

 

Garden Grove Cover-FinalGarden Grove can be downloaded in multiple ebook formats FREE on Smashwords using coupon code YV67F until Dec 31/15.

 

Reviews left on your favorite online retailer are very much appreciated.

 

 

Can you handle a little darkness in your life?

  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/587705

 

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Paladin Book 1 The Evil Within the Woods.jpgBefore I get into the review, I received a free copy of this book from the author to review.  That said, this is an unbiased review.  I only review books I have actually read, and only give an honest review.

 

If you read Fitzgerald’s other book UnAlive and are expecting a similar read, you will be disappointed.  Kevin Fitzgerald’s UnAlive is a zombie apocalypse adult genre.  Paladin is a middle year’s animal tale gentle thriller.

 

Similar to stories like Watership Down and the Secret of NIHM, Paladin is written from the point of view of the animal characters, specifically the rabbit whose story is central to the plot.  Unlike the other stories, however, the human characters of Paladin are active characters in the story, rather than being some vague aspect of the animals’ world.  This adds a depth to the story in that you are bound not just by the fate of the rabbit, but also the fates of the people who saved him.

 

Paladin starts with the rabbits of the “warenne” sensing a coming change and danger.  I won’t give away what happens, but a catastrophe does happen, bringing the story from the introduction of the wild rabbits to the meat of the story.  This, the first book of the Paladin series, is Paladin’s story, a young rabbit of the “warenne”.

 

Paladin finds himself a home with a boy, Joshua, and his father, Theo.  Their pleasant life does not stay that way for long.  Theo’s onetime employee, Lou Lyons, has other plans for Theo’s business, and a self-invented grudge to avenge, putting Paladin in the center of his revenge.

 

Paladin is a children’s story.  I would place it around middle year’s grades.  The drama surrounding Paladin will appeal to kids who still like stories about animals, but this story is more than about an animal with a human-like sentience.  You are also drawn into the lives of the human characters, whose own drama Paladin is the center of.  In the end, you are left waiting for book two to find out what comes next as Paladin is thrown into the next chapter of his adventure.

 

Paladin Book 1: The Evil Within the Woods by Kevin J. Fitzgerald is self-published and is available on Amazon.

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christmas stress.jpg

 

With the day of merriment and cheer bearing down on us, ‘tis the season of the greatest of frustrations.  A year of living frugally is gleefully thrown out the window and you spend like someone just gave you a million dollars to spend in only ten days or you die…

 

Okay, about as gleeful as one can be pushing their way through a mindless throng of shoppers in a daze at a mall that is more of a standing room only carnival of stress with the ambiance of an over-filled cattle chute.  Add to that the calendar days zooming by, and the urgent need to buy a bunch of stuff for people whom you have absolutely no idea what to buy for.  Christmas cards sit by the wayside, un-carded.  Baking needs to be baked.  Cleaning, decorating, and planning.  A glut of festivities swirl around you, planned and announced, with the ever-present “secret Santa” gift and donations.  And all of this is done around your already busy normal daily life of working full time, groceries, meals, cleaning and laundry, and time for family.

 

christmas shoppingOne trip to the mall at Christmas leaves you feeling like one of the characters in the current season of Walking Dead.  christmas zomie.jpg

jack baurAnd dodging your way through the gamut of festivities and get-togethers is reminiscent of Jack Bauer endlessly racing through a season of 24, minus the bombs, torturing for information, and the impending end of the world is only the feeling caused by the rush of the season racing by.

 

 

 

christmas leave it to beaver supper.jpgAnd then there are the good, the bad, and the ugly of family dynamics at this festive season.  Family that maybe do not see each other for months or even years are pushed together, willingly or not.  Not everyone is lucky enough to have a functional family.  Families run the gamut from loving, caring, and respectful to the savagely emotionally vicious.christmas family fight.jpg

 

Among the joy and happiness Christmas is supposed to bring, are the boatloads of stress and frustrations.  Whether your family and life are functional or dysfunctional, it is an inevitable part of the season, and one that can start months ahead.

 

Mix into that, the need to continue with your writing, editing, blogging, promoting, and general writer stuff.  You hope to cash in on the Christmas shopping flood and sell some copies of your books.

 

Of course, a good portion of the frustration and adversity of Christmas is mostly self-induced, worrying over the right decorations, the right gifts, the meal and gatherings turning out just right.

 

But writers are no shrinking violets when it comes to seeking out and embracing adversity.  By necessity, it’s the way writers need to be.

 

stormIf there is one thing writers might be said to thrive on, it is adversity.  Why?  Because adversity is what writing a compelling story is about.  You throw adversity at your most beloved characters, your most reviled, your protagonists and antagonists both.  Adversity drives the story.  Adversity gives your characters reason to go above and beyond the normal, to change to become something they were not before.

 

Adversity comes in many forms.  Physical or emotional obstacles, self-created and unduly imposed by outside forces.  The intentional, unavoidable, and recklessly accidental.  Human, animal, plant, mineral, weather, it’s all fair game.

 

As a writer, you study and observe adversity; in the news, in the lives around you, and in movies and books.  What causes it, how it affects victims, witnesses, and those who cause it.  How it changes them.  How can you use this to manipulate your characters, to manipulate your readers to love or hate the characters as you want them to?

 

And now, as we enter into the last week of the Christmas season, feeling the stress and frustration of the last minute mall trips, building all the adversity of the season into our stories for the love of our readers, wishing we were not so busy and that we have more time instead of tossing together a quick and mediocre blog post in tiny bursts between all the other stuff, and, wow, this sentence is run on…

 

… I give to you the gift of a little more adversity.

 

Garden Grove can be downloaded in multiple ebook formats FREE on Smashwords using coupon code YV67F until Dec 31/15.

 

Can you handle a little darkness in your life?

 

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/587705

Garden Grove Cover-Final

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