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We’ve all experienced it in the world of relationships, first, second, or third hand; the person who distances their self from those around them. A fear of intimacy, of others getting to know them, or perhaps of revealing their deepest darkest secrets? These are possible reasons.

In your stories, you want to reveal your characters’ deepest secrets. You want the reader to uncover the story’s darkest hidden agendas. In time.

While closely guarding those, doling out hints in tantalizing little teases, you don’t want your reader to feel pushed away. It is not a bad relationship where the other party is treated like an outsider.

Distancing the readers distances them from the story and the characters. They need to feel connected to them to really care about them.

The language you use writing the story needs to invite the reader in to share the experience. Don’t put up a wall of distance, pushing the reader away, with your choice of words.

While I revisit my old friends, The McAllister Clan (they are of Celtic descent, a small tidbit revealed in one of the books), I am rediscovering things I learned through endless hours spent writing, editing, researching, editing, researching writing, editing, reading, editing, researching editing, and yes, more editing.

Third person feelings, describing the characters’ feelings as an outside observer narrating them, gives the reader a sense of distance from the feelings.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Every writing method has its place and time. But, when you want your reader drawn deeply into your character’s psyche, too much can leave the reader feeling like an outside observer too.

Writers: We learn and improve, but we don’t always see the ways we have improved until we take that in depth look back at our old selves.

Editing bits:

An unexplained coldness seeps through Michael’s veins and he felt the sudden urge to pee.

Changed to: An unexplained coldness seeps through Michael’s veins and he has the sudden urge to urinate.

– two words changed. One to draw the reader into the immediacy of the moment, the other because it’s a more mature word option and that’s the target audience.

She felt relief at the sight of him, the emotion reflecting in her expression.

Changed to: She is relieved at the sight of him, the emotion reflecting in her expression.

– two words changed to bring the reader into the character’s emotions and share them.
Writing is an adventure of continual learning and I’ve learned a few things along the way. Together, we can bring new worlds of discovery to new readers.

The McAllister Series will return better than before.

  • Where the Bodies Are
  • The McAllister Farm
  • Hunting Michael Underwood
  • Killing David McAllister (new – coming)

In the meantime, you can enjoy these:

  • The Gypsy Queen (new release)
  • Garden Grove

The Gypsy Queen:

Travis discovers his newest get rich quick scheme in an abandoned riverboat. Dreaming of the wealth and glamour she will bring, he becomes obsessed with rebuilding her.

Darius sees only rot, decay, and their ruination in the old boat. Travis’s best friend and unwilling business partner, Darius is unwilling to abandon Travis to his fate. He is committed to seeing it through, regardless of the costs to himself.

Struggling to rebuild her together, they are pitted against everyone from the Shipbuilders’ Union to the even more ruthless local casino boss, who desires to possess the Gypsy Queen himself.

As Travis and Darius’s lives become further intertwined with the Gypsy Queen, the strange accidents surrounding the boat escalate. Under the Gypsy Queen’s spell, Travis is oblivious to the sense of dread that fills those who enter the boat as she awakens with a hunger for blood. The Gypsy Queen’s dark past will not be forgotten.

Garden Grove

Garden Grove Meadows, “Where families come to live.” A new housing development promises a better future in a growing bedroom community. A project that seems to be the eye of a storm of strange events. Plagued with vandalism, the work crew poisoned, altered blueprints, and human remains intentionally planted for the crew to find.

Who is trying to stop the development?

Includes short story Old Mill Road

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Writing is about stringing words together to tell a story.

Good writing is about doing that in a way that speaks to the heart of the reader, drawing them in, and not letting go.

If you need the truth of it, it’s the massive hours spent editing that make your story come alive.

This is where you have to put on all your hats.

You edit the general story, scenes, and flow of the story itself. Pick apart the details, add and remove them, and research little things that seem unimportant but are important to the reader who knows more about it than you.

You edit for grammar and sentence structure, wondering if you could pass a fifth grade English Language Arts test.

You become a copy editor, seeking every wayward character, backwards quotation mark, and researching the proper usage of the “. . .” Character.

Most importantly is the careful picking apart and nitpicking of the little details in your choice of words.

There is something to be said for the words you use. Careful choice of words changes the meaning and tone.

Here (excerpt from Where the Bodies Are below), I changed “with” to “to”. Because, when people are gathered, eager for news, they are not really talking with someone. With implies a shared moment, not the shallow moment they are in. They would be talking to each other. Talking at each other. Any response is irrelevant unless it feeds the yearning for more juicy gossip.

“The normally empty foyer is filled with people, most of them talking animatedly or looking around eagerly for someone to talk animatedly to.”

Where the Bodies Are and the subsequent books in the series are currently in transition, being revised and edited to return better and bolder.

As a writer, you never stop seeking to improve your craft. And, what you wrote years ago is not going to meet the quality of your writing today. Given the chance, I am taking the McAllister series and putting that improved skill to work, improving on the flow and feel of these stories.

Watch for the rerelease of Where the Bodies Are.

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I’ve been with the same publisher for some years now.  Through thick and thin, and a rebranding from Second Wind Publishing to Indigo Sea Press.  They took a chance on me, a complete unknown with no experience in the world of writing and publishing.

They edited and formatted my books, while I continued to focus on writing and marketing.

Now, as the publisher is revisiting another major change with a restructuring of their business model, I found myself again with the choice of what to do now.

As an author, there is only one way to go with your writing, and that is to improve.  It doesn’t matter how good you are, there is always room to improve on yourself.

Research is key to opening the world of writing.  Researching little details in your stories to make them pop more, pulling the readers in with those tidbits and keeping them real.  Researching writing, editing, and the publishing world in whole and in parts.

The old saying “practice makes perfect” never gets old, even for someone like me who believes there is no such thing as true perfect.  It doesn’t matter how many times I edit a piece; I will always find something to change. Even if it is written by a well-known famous author, and it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with it.  I’ve just spent so many hours editing that my mind automatically looks for things to change and attempts to improve on whether it needs improving or not.  Art is subjective and writing is an art form, making its valuation subject to the views of each individual.

A great deal of practicing writing is, of course, a given.  Your writing talent is in a state of constant flux as you improve.  Your voice evolves.  My writing now is different from that first published book.  And from the second.  I find my voice is different with the different feel of my stories.  If I lose passion for a story, the story loses its luster and the voice falls flat.

 

So what to do when your publisher is changing their business model and you have the choice to opt in or out?  To each the choice is their own.

For me, I chose to take advantage of the opportunity to revisit old friends.  Freshen up and perhaps rewrite sections of my books. Make them better, since my writing is better.

I know, it’s not always best to keep worrying at that old bone when you need to focus on writing, editing, and sharing with the world new stories.  And I have more stories in various stages from an inkling of an idea to a full first draft than I can probably write in this lifetime.

But, they can be better.  I’ve found a new voice since writing them.  And, I’ve cringed at a few minor things during my re-exploration of these stories.

So, soon the McAllister series will vanish.  Where the Bodies Are, the McAllister Farm, and Hunting Michael Underwood.  But they will re-emerge.  Better.  Fresher.  And I must continue working to finish the final chapter, Killing David McAllister, for in all stories someone important must die.

 

But not Nathan.  Nathan lives on.  Nathan will have his own story and it will reveal the dark and twisted world of a mind even more troubled than a serial killer lost in a blurred reality between past and present with a compulsion driven by a dark secret locked in a fractured mind.

 

So, watch for the re-emergence of the McAllister series, freshened and improved with new covers.

Hunting_Michael_Unde_Cover_for_Kindle

where the bodies are

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

 

Garden Grove Cover - Amazon ebook - front cover

 

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Garden Grove, a bit of a quirky and fun to write story.  The scene at the end came from an actual dream I had. A dream about the story.  There is always something in the woods, isn’t there?

 

 

 

The Gypsy Queen

 

And my newest just released, The Gypsy Queen.  This is a story I wrote years ago, and finally focused on editing that first draft to complete it.  Her dark past will not be forgotten.  And, I am already being pressed by a fellow book lover to write a sequel to this one.  I love the art for this cover.  This is an artist I definitely will use again.

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The Gypsy Queen

Coming Soon, a paranormal drama

Help.  I’m stuck.  I don’t know what to write.  My writing sucks.  How do I write better?  I hate my writing.  Nobody likes my writing.

“Help me write better.”  It is the clarion call of the writer.  It does not matter what form or words it takes.  The plea is the same and every writer has at least thought it at some point.  Many published authors still do.  How do I improve; make the reader love my story? How do I matter in the book world?

In the big picture, none of us truly matter.  Not really.  The world will go on and the reading world will fall in love with books and authors even if any one of the most famous author names never existed.

It is in the smaller picture that the author becomes something more.

It is that small moment, the brief smile on the reader’s face, the emotions they are moved to until they move on, that is what the author exists for.

We touch the lives of others in a way no one else can.  They are drawn into the worlds we create for them alone.  They feel what we tell them to feel.  Yearn for what we urge them to yearn for.  We make them laugh and cry, filling them with joy, fear, or sorrow at our whims.

How do you do this?

 

Feed your imagination.

Each moment feeds your imagination.  When you cannot put words to paper, observe how the world around you reacts to itself.  Everything is connected.  Every look, word, walk, thought… each thing matters.

Every moment touches the next and the one before.  A stranger’s mood is affected by the angry scowl or bright smile of another passing by them.

Emotions around you can be felt, as though their very scent fills the air to infect anyone near.  And perhaps it does on a level we are not aware of.

 

Allow no excuses.

“I can’t write because…”

Poppycock.  I love that word.  It’s an old out-of-use term from before my time.

Merriam-Webster defines the word as “Empty talk or writing: nonsense.”

It comes from the Dutch word pappekak, which translates to “soft dung”.

 

You make excuses because you don’t want to write.  Stop it.

  • I can’t write because I’m stuck at this place in my book.
  • I can’t write because if I write something else it will ruin what I am writing.
  • I can’t write because I can’t feel it.
  • I can’t write because I have writers’ block.

 

The list of excuses is endless and writers’ block is a self-induced syndrome of the mind.

 

You write.  Write always.

It doesn’t matter what you write.  Just write something.  No, not the grocery list.  Now you are just being silly.

There are limitless resources out there for word prompts or story prompts. If you don’t know what to write, use them.

Pick an item.  Any item in the room.  Imagine a story where it is the centerpiece of that story.  That item is the only witness to the events unfolding around it and has no voice to share what has seen except through you.

I started one with a simple single red mitten.  It ended with kidnapping and cannibalism, the single red mitten a metaphor for blood, abandonment, and loss.  Go figure.

A simple tin cup becomes a story of famine, survival, and both the terrible things people do and the goodness they hide within.

When an idea hits you, a thought for a scene, an image for a character or event, write it. It does not matter if it is for your story in progress or not.  Just write it.

There are two ways to improve your writing, just as there is to improve any other talent.  Learning and practicing.  You don’t learn to play an instrument without practice.  Only with practice can someone become a good artist.  In writing that means learning by reading good quality stories and practicing writing your own.

The more you practice writing, the better you will be.  So, write.  Always.  Write.  Write every day or as close to it as you can.

 

What you write matters.

There is no doubt about it. And if you hated playing Hot Cross Buns in music class, you are not alone.  But those few lines of music serve a purpose to teach you something important about how the song is composed.  And as lame as the song sounds, that repetition is the basis for what you will learn later.

The same goes for writing practice.

Just like those short music verses, writing short brings the point home.

Nothing teaches you to say more with less than flash fiction.  While the definition of flash fiction could be described as a story of 1000 words or less, the flash fiction E-zines take it who a whole new level where the challenge of shorter is better becomes the norm.  Flash fiction itself falls into categories from the longer stories of 1000 words or less stories, to shorter variations of micro fiction or postcard fiction.

Can you write a compelling story with relatable characters and defined plot in less than 500 words?  In less than 300?  Can you meet the 99 word challenge?

 

Short stories are the J. R. R. Tolkien of flash fiction.  Because it’s short, typically 1,000 to 7,500 words, you need to use a lot of what you learn writing flash fiction to write a compelling full-bodied short story.  Because, at over 1000 words, your readers will expect a complete story with all the elements and arcs of a novel-length story.

 

It is with the practice in the shorter stories that you will become ready to write a full-length novel that does not lag and lose your readers’ interest.

 

If the idea of writing a full-length novel scares you, start small and work into longer stories.  The more you practice, the easier it becomes.  Myself, I over write.  If my goal is 100,000 words, I will write 130,000.  Once I edit that down to 100,000, the story has become much more gripping, the reader flowing with the story without all the word clutter that always finds its way into earlier drafts.

 

Don’t be in a hurry to publish everything you write.

When that moment comes that an opportunity is there to submit a story, you don’t want to be dashing off a last minute story.  As painful as it might be, keep unpublished stories to yourself in a variety of lengths just for that reason.  If you are always writing, exploring new stories, new story matter, new genre variations, that won’t be a problem.

You will also be a much better writer for all those stories you explore.

 

The message is simple.  Write.  Always.  Write.

 

L.V. Gaudet, author of

The McAllister Series:

Where the Bodies Are

where the bodies areAre you ready to step into the twisted mind of a killer? What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions?

A young woman is found discarded with the trash, left for dead. More bodies begin to appear, left where they are sure to be found and cause a media frenzy.

The killer’s reality blurs between past and present with a compulsion driven by a dark secret locked in a fractured mind. Overcome by a blind rage that leaves him wallowing in remorse with the bodies of victim after victim, he is desperate to stop killing.

The search for the killer will lead to his dark secret buried in the past, something much larger than a man on a killing spree.

 

The McAllister Farm

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]Take a step back into time to meet the boy who will create the killer and learn the secret behind the bodies in Where the Bodies Are.

William McAllister is a private and reclusive man who does not like to have attention drawn on his family. His family history is as dark as the secret hiding in the woods.

Just as he begins to bring his troubled son into the family business, a serial killer starts preying on local young women. The McAllisters quickly find themselves drawn into the spotlight when the town decides William McAllister is the killer.

The attention is a threat to both William McAllister’s profession and his family. He has no choice but to find the killer himself.

He might not like what he learns.

 

Hunting Michael Underwood

Hunting_Michael_Unde_Cover_for_KindleThe third book in the series, Hunting Michael Underwood follows on the heels of book one, Where the Bodies Are, bringing the reader back to the present after a diversion to the past in The McAllister Farm. Hunting Michael Underwood brings these two stories and their characters together as the search for the killer continues.

Step deeper into the twisted mind of a killer as he slips further into madness.

Michael Underwood has vanished and everyone is searching for him. Detective Jim McNelly is determined to not stop until he finds him. Working with the detective, Lawrence Hawkworth is still chasing the bigger story he knows is behind the bodies. Jason McAllister knows he must stop the killer he created before he goes too far. He may be the only one who can stop him.

Unable to let go of his barely remembered past and the search for his sister, the killer goes looking for Jason McAllister’s past, and his family.

 

Killing David McAllister

Killing David McAllister (Coming)

Sometimes the only way to stop a monster is to kill it.  He has gone by many names, but he was raised as David  McAllister, and finding what he is looking for is not enough to quiet the darkness inside him.

 

 

Other Books:

Garden Grove

Garden Grove Cover - Amazon ebook - front coverWho wants to stop construction at the new Garden Grove residential development? Everyone, it seems. Garden Grove is a hotbed of complications from costly mistakes and petty vandalism to sabotage and the poisoning of the work crew.

While the construction crew struggles to stay on schedule, they face growing problems and, with them, a growing sense of unease.

A group of local housewives drawn into the growing mystery uncovers a secret that brings Garden Grove deeper into a new mystery connecting all the suspects.

When all attempts to have the site shut down permanently fail, two long time local elderly residents step up their own efforts. Each with their own family secrets, the pair of quirky old birds are pitted against each other and their longstanding family feud is brought to the boiling point.

The mystery deepens with the discovery of old human remains that have their own dark past recently planted at the jobsite.

 

The Gypsy Queen (coming soon)

The Gypsy Queen1952

When a young man with an enthusiasm for get rich quick schemes discovers an old abandoned paddle wheel river steam boat, he has dreams of the riches and glamour she will bring.

His best friend and unwilling business partner sees only rot, decay, and their ruination in the old boat.

Struggling to rebuild her, they are pitted against everyone from the Shipbuilders’ Union to the local casino boss. Meanwhile, strange accidents and a sense of dread falls on those who enter the boat as she awakens with a hunger for her ounce of blood.

The Gypsy Queen’s dark past will not be forgotten.

 

For the middle years grades check out:

The Latchkey Kids

The_Latchkey_Kids_Cover_for_KindleWhat would you do if you came home from school alone and heard noises in the basement?

Five kids, twelve and thirteen years old and on their own before and after school, each faces their own struggle. A broken home, illness, crushes, bullying, depression, absent parents, suicidal thoughts, broken friendships, and fear of being only a kid and home alone.

There is also the strange noises houses make when they are quiet and you are alone, particularly the noises in the basement.  Something is down there.

Madison, Andrew, Kylie, Anna, and Dylan are brought together by circumstances that feel overwhelmingly out of their control.  The temptation of exploring an old abandoned brick building, loneliness, and fleeing an attempted abduction, each is drawn to the old abandoned building for different reasons.

There, they will fight for their lives, where the monsters in the basement nest.

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One of the problems with an author’s need to self promote is the need for those promotional efforts to come across as professional.

Having it look like your ten year old did your promotional material is probably not good. Then again, maybe your ten year old is better at it than you are.

If you want professional looking promotional material you need good quality photos and photo editing.

The first rule is to watch the copyrights for every picture you use in your promotional materials. As a writer you would not like to be plagiarized. Neither do artist’s and photographers.

Canvas.com is a good source of single use photos around $1 USD. It’s more for expanded rights.

If you are manipulating the photos or art, you need a photo editing program.

This is where I get stuck.

After realizing photo editing does not mean drawing on your screen with colored Sharpie and uttering a little swear, comes the knowledge that sooner or later I need to upgrade the program I have. I think it’s older than flip phones. Yes, I’m definitely pretty sure.

Cost is a huge factor. So is being user friendly. I don’t have the money to blow on something expensive, or to commit to a monthly subscription for a product I will use sporadically.

I don’t have the patience either to fight with it while putting Roxy dog aka The Big Dumb Bunny outside every three minutes.

I also don’t actually have a promotions budget, a software budget, or even a Sharpie budget for that matter. Cost of living expenses and all that tend to get in the way of little things like that.

If you are like me with a very small disposable income that gets sucked into the vortex of young teen children, you need to find the most cost effective (aka cheapest) way of doing everything.

So, here is a link to an article that says these photo editing programs are not super expensive.

We will see.

http://www.toptenreviews.com/software/multimedia/best-photo-editing-software/

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One of the big questions in book formatting is what font is best. And, what works for the printed book may not necessarily work for electronic media.

Like everything to do with writing and publishing, there is no definitive answer. The best advice anyone can give you is to research and make your own informed decision.

This is just one of the many suggestions out there:

http://www.indesignskills.com/inspiration/fonts-for-books/

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“Travis blinks. He rubs his eyes and closes them, silently praying for the world to come back to him. A part of him deep inside is afraid that admitting that fear will make it true that the world is gone.” -The Gypsy Queen

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