Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Meditate Before You Write

Meditation is essential t to prepare a karate ninja for a major event. It helps them clear their mind of outside distractions, calm their nerves, and get everything under control. For a writer, it is no different. I am to a point where I have finished up one novel, have another ready to go to press, and have two new novels that are about five pages in. I think it's a good time for me to slow down and take some of my own advice. The following is some tidbits of wisdom I gave as a guest blogger on another site last year:

Before you even put a single word on the page, you need to think it out first. I don’t mean out-lining, though that is important in some form or another, (and is a subject for another day). I literally mean meditating. Find a pleasant location, away from distractions, and let your mind romp through the tall grass of your imagination. And then let your thoughts make frequent jaunts into that corner of your brain that houses who you are. More specifically, your philosophy on life. Let those values infiltrate your imagination and weave themselves into your story.

Now you are ready to write that first page, whether it be as an outline if you are the outlining type, or as the beginning of your story if you are a “pantster.” (Writing by the seat of your pants).

But beware of the tendency new authors might have to be heavy-handed, and try to put a “message” into your story. That will turn off readers faster than having no plot.

This is where effective meditation comes into play. As you contemplate the values that are important to you, let them stir your emotions; let them establish a foothold in your everyday thoughts and actions. That way, when you write they will naturally express themselves in your stories’ characters. Meditate often to allow this to occur. And then when you write, rather than creating candy for your readers brain, you create meat and potatoes. Not that candy is bad—once in a while. But you’ll have your readers hungry for your books if you can provide them something that leaves them with a satisfying feeling when they are done.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Tristi Pinkston's new book, My Name is Frankie

I'd like to spread the word about Tristi Pinkston's new book. She co-authored it with a man who has overcome 47 years of alcoholism and has now just received his eight-year chip from AA. My Name is Frankie is a real look into the life of an alcoholic, but also his miraculous rehabilitation. I would encourage you to check it out at http://frankiemaio.blogspot.com/ and if you feel so inclined, spread the word via Facebook or whatever other means you have at your disposal? Everyone who is an addict or knows an addict should read this book. Here's the link, and I appreciate your help in spreading the word.

Author, Tristi Pinkston

Tristi is more than just a friend, she is also the editor of my book, Promises, and I'm currently working with her on the final revisions of my new book, Literary Loom--which is scheduled for release in April.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Son of Liberty: review and lesson learned by me

I was pulled in by the premise of this novelette: A young boy's fight for freedom in a post-apocalyptic world. Fraley's writing immediately immersed me in 17 year-old Alex's fears and dire circumstances. Corrupt leaders and spiraling moral conscience of the country--reminiscent of current real-day life--had led to civil war. Biological and nuclear warfare had left the country in shambles. Alex becomes involved in a group of patriots who's mantra includes helping the down-trodden. I loved the connection Alex makes to the actual Sons of Liberty that existed during the revolutionary War.

My only disappointment with the novelette was it's seemingly abrupt end--I wasn't ready for it to be finished.  I was just feeling at home with the story, ready to hunker in for 200 more pages. At first I thought a sequel must be just around the corner and this novelette was just a clever marketing tool to introduce a series. When I asked the author Daron Fraley about it, he responded, "You must not read many short stories do you?" He was correct--I've read zero short stories.

No wonder I was disappointed. I was expecting the same thing out of this short story as I do in a full length novel, i.e. plot development and character development, both in a nice tall arc with plenty of conflict and a satisfying resolution in the end. Daron wrote:

Short stories by nature don't have the character development, or the sub-plots, or conflict/climax, that would be present in a full length novel.

They typically have a theme, and make a particular point to the reader, but that's it. So feeling like you were hanging a bit is not unnatural.

The point of the story is:
1. Destruction of America
2. What different people do to deal with it
3. Alex's own fears, and what he does to show his true character: Specifically giving the knife to the family (charity/love), and trying to save both the flag, the lodge, and John's life (courage)
4. Most important: No matter how hard your life is, a glorious resurrection awaits all those who earn it.

If you didn't get that from the story, then that is my fault as a writer.

Well, I did get that from his story. Son of Liberty is a well crafted short story/novelette. If you are a fan of short stories and history/patriotism, I highly recommend this novelette by Daron Fraley.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Inevitable, a new romantic suspense novel by Tamara Hart Heiner

Visions of death plague Jayne, who thinks watching her boyfriend die is the worst that could happen to her. But when she witnesses a murder, Jayne finds herself caught up in a dangerous world of intrigue and suspense.

As it turns out, she is not the only one doing the stalking. The killer is on to her, and all of her visions of the dying don't reveal how her life will end. Somehow, she must stop the murderer before he arranges Jayne's
own inevitable death.


Tamara Hart Heiner's new book, Inevitable, is sure to please readers who love a good romantic suspense novel. Tamara is a fellow writer and friend whose work I've always enjoyed. This book is on my to-read list because I know I won't be disappointed. I would encourage you to put it on your list as well for Tamara has a flair for story and making her characters come alive.

Purchase links:
Barnes and Noble

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Am I Contributing to the Death of an Institution?

I retrieved the untouched Sunday paper from the recycle bin today and read it during breakfast. I haven't read the newspaper for ages. The only reason we take it is because I felt sorry for the lady trying to sell subscriptions. I only purchased the weekend edition, but I still rarely read it. So why this time? I had an itch to look for something in the classified section. I dug and dug through the paper, looking for that big thick entire section of classified ads that I remember from years ago, but was only able to find this piddly 4 page section of ads. That was it, four pages to list everything from jobs to jockstraps for sale.

 Though I can't say my findings were shocking, it was disappointing. I suppose I want every good thing to stay the same as they were in my younger days. Times are changing. I must face the truth: newspapers are dying--at least those printed on dingy gray paper.

An unidentified Chicago Sun Times columnist did say, "Newspapers aren't dying; our readers are." Statistic state that the average age of a daily newspaper reader is 55. That's how old I am. So what can I expect if even I, an old time newspaper reader finds it so much easier to get my news and surf the want ads on-line. I just hope the new age of newspaper professionals will find a way to keep writing great articles, keep those politicians honest, and keep food on the table, because I know I don't pay for the news on-line. Do you?