Tag Archives: Guest Post

Author Chat: Debbie Moyes

Today I’m pleased to chat with author Debbie Moyes and introduce you to her latest books.

INSPIRATION copy

  • When and why did you become a writer, what inspired you? What makes you stand out from the rest? What Inspired you to write these two books?

A year ago, I watched an episode of 60 minutes about an entertainment time capsule in the midwest, and a story line popped into my head that absolutely refused to leave. I couldn’t function anymore, so I decided to write it down, and before I knew it, the story-line had turned into a book. Then that book turned into a sequel, then into a third novel. 

  • What draws you to your current genre? Or what’s the coolest thing about your genre?

As far as my genre, I have always been a science fiction nerd. I grew up watching Star Trek and find anything science-related to be so fascinating and entertaining. Naturally, that’s where my mind goes when I think of stories. I love the innocence of young love and adventure, and also tend not to use things like swearing, drinking, immorality, etc. Which naturally draws me to Young Adult. I absolutely love clean YA books. 

WYS copy

  • What’s your secret, how did you get from first drafts to publication so quickly? Maybe we could adopt some of your habits.

People ask me how I wrote books so quickly. First of all, I treated it as a full time job, giving up television and staying up until my eyes couldn’t stay open any more. The story gets out quickly for me, because I see it literally as a movie in my mind, everything the characters do and say, and then I simply write down what I see. Editing is the hardest part, going through a million times, having others edit for me, etc. It’s a longer process, but it’s worth it, because seeing your work in print/ebook is awesome!

  • Tell us about your cover designs!

My covers are amazing. I knew I couldn’t have people on the cover, and I knew it couldn’t look too “Science Fiction-ish,” considering that a large part of the book is on the planet instead of space, and is much more adventure sci fi than hard sci fi. I love how the covers for both book one and two tie together really well–there’s no doubt that you can tell they’re in the same series. Both covers give off the feel I was looking for. 

  • Tell us how you hit #1 on Amazon, how did you market your books? We could use some pointers.

As far as getting to #1 on Amazon, I used basic marketing techniques. I did the advertising thing on Facebook, and told people that if they were kind enough to mention the book, to NOT say that they knew me in any way. It sounds more legit to hear someone say they read a good book, than to hear that their friend/sister/cousin wrote a book and everyone should check it out. I brought out the sequel quickly after the first book, in the hopes that readers would want to go straight to book two, instead of having to wait and then forgetting about the series completely. I also used the kindle select free days to my advantage. When the book was scheduled to go free, I signed up on several different book promotion sites and applied for my book to be featured as a free book with them. They were all free, although there’s many options for paid promotion. The days that it was free, it was being shown on various sites, as well as twitter. When people downloaded it for free, the hope it that it would then draw them in to buy the sequel. 

  • What are some helpful tips you could give to aspiring writers?

Advice I could give to any other writers would be to use others. Get many people to read your work and honestly critique it. Change things that don’t work, even if you love them dearly. And absolutely don’t stop writing, ever! Getting success with your writing is slow going, but don’t stop trying. 

WAYB copy

  • What journey will we experience with your story, what will we come away with?

Something I love about my series is that it’s clean. Way too many books, even Young Adult, are full of swearing, sex, drugs, etc. I love when a book has an awesome story without having to include those things and wanted to make mine that way. There’s a twist in the story that I find fascinating– it makes you look at our world and the universe in general in a different way. My stories also touch on the subject of morality and compromising values for the greater good. Is it justified? Or is it still wrong?

  • What can we expect from you next and when?

I have the third book in the World 4 Series coming out in October 2016, and another YA series in the works. I put out “hidden chapters” (parts of the story that didn’t make it into the actual novel) onto my website www.debbiemoyesauthor.com, as well as updates and random ramblings. I can’t stop writing!

line orange

Get Your Copies Today!

Click to Purchase

Ad Final

line orange

Hello! Im melting in the desert of Arizona while taking care of my four kids. Science fiction has always been a love of mine, as well as adventure and of course, anything Young Adult. I started writing World 4 as a kind of secret hobby, which then exploded into a full-on series and my new, awesome passion. I love stories that can transport you to a different place and introduce new ideas. I love these characters, and want so badly for everyone to know their story!

131577-whitewashed-star-patterned-icon-social-media-logos-facebook-logo131578-whitewashed-star-patterned-icon-social-media-logos-facebook-logo131647-whitewashed-star-patterned-icon-social-media-logos-twitter-bird3

line orange

IDMR copy

Craig Boyack – Guest Post: Short Story Writing

Guest Blog Template copy

I really appreciate the invitation, and the topic challenge. I never really put much thought into how I came to write short form stuff. It kind of evolved, but reflecting upon that, hopefully, leads me to a good article.

Once upon a time, I wanted to write a novel. I picked up my iPad and started typing away with no idea what I was doing. I had no idea what the rules were, or that they even existed. Looking back, it was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my writing career.

The final product sucked, but I didn’t know that at the time. I kind of wandered from one cool idea to the next without much of a game plan. What I wound up with was quite a bit like a television series. The same characters engaged in tiny vignettes that were kind of cool. Archaeologist might look at those one day and decide they were my first short stories. (They certainly weren’t a novel.)

I’ve always loved short form stuff, and in many ways prefer it to a novel length work. Time is a big factor for me, and I really dig a story I can complete in one session. Prior to that first “practice” novel, I read lots of Poe, O’Henry, and magazines. I enjoy some of the ones dedicated to short stories, like Hitchock’s, Ellery Queen, and others. It never really occurred to me to write my own.

From magazines, I wound my way into comics. I think this is a wonderful way to tell a story, and there are some great graphic novels out there these days.

My Blog, Entertaining Stories, had been live for about a year when October rolled around. I wanted to do something on my blog that felt like Halloween. I enjoy reading a kind of micro-fiction called Creepy Pasta. I thought I might try my hand at that.

I did some snooping around, and someone has a website by that name. I probably have no legal worries, but didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes either. Who knows, that person might someday prove to be an ally in my self publishing journey. I came up with the name Macabre Macaroni instead.

I posted a complete story per week during October, and my blog stats spiked. One of them was the most popular post I ever made for a long time, and it’s still in my top ten. I decided the short form still had fans somewhere out there, and did a bit of digging.

Traditional publishing shunned the short form. Oh sure, some of the biggest name authors can get away with a book of short stories, but for the rest of us it’s pretty limited. Amazon changed all that for us. These days, novellas, novelettes, short stories, and even poetry are making a comeback.

Guest Blog Template Author Quote copy

I’m a big believer in challenging myself, and include a personal challenge in all of my novels. It might be unnoticed by the reader, but it forces me to grow and improve. I approached short stories with that mindset. I’ll never know if I can write one until I write one.

I scoped out my competition, and many of them offered a single short story for 99¢. Others were writing a series, and offering a prequel for 99¢. I decided to offer a book full of short stories, and micro-fiction, for 99¢. It seems like a better deal, and it sells pretty well for me.

I searched for the rules once again, and there aren’t many. Sites offer up word count for the various lengths, but none of them seem to agree. Therefore; I reject their reality and substitute my own. I break it down this way:

  • Flash Fiction = one paragraph
  • Micro Fiction = a decent blog post. 1000 words, pushing my luck at 1500
  • Short story = 5000 to 30,000 words
  • Novella = 30,000 to 80,000 words
  • Novel = 80,000 words and up

It used to bother me that there are holes in my list. It also bothered me that novelette didn’t find a home. Today, I really don’t care. The actual story is more important than the pigeonhole it goes in. As a self publisher, I don’t have to conform to a bunch of categories that different websites define differently anyway.

My short form tales are also proving grounds for me. I called the first book The Experimental Notebook for a reason. Short form allows me to experiment with new things. I recently wrote one that I’m pretty excited about as a big monologue. It would never work as a novel, but I think it’s a great short story. I also wrote my first epistolary style story as a short story.

At some point, I’m going to put out a second Experimental Notebook. The first one sells well, and I’ve gotten some wonderful reviews. It can also be looked at as a gateway drug into my novels. Someone might take a 99¢ chance, and decide one of my novels might be fun.

I write speculative fiction, and for me the fences are pretty far apart. My stuff varies from paranormal to science fiction, and the occasional fantasy. This gives me plenty of room to keep things fresh, and the short form stuff does the same.


I hope I’ve encouraged some of you to take a chance on short form. As writers, you can try new things without dedicating months to a project to see if it works. Now you can use those cool ideas that won’t carry an entire novel. As readers, you can enjoy a complete story on your commuter bus, or coffee break.

If you’d like to check out some of mine, you can read The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack here: http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B014S2BA4U

Cover Art

A speculative selection of micro-fiction and short stories. These were designed to be short reads for your commute, coffee break, and other times when readers are pressed for time. This book contains a bit of science fiction, some fantasy, and paranormal stories. 

I’m excited to see short fiction returning in popularity. I hope you will enjoy these stories as much as I did.

 

 

Connect with Me

Follow my blog:

screenshot-coldhandboyack.wordpress.com 2016-04-28 16-16-07

Check out my novels here:

available-on-amazon-button-300x109

My Social Media Links:

twitter   GoodReads-Icon (1)    fb


 

Powerful Writing Techniques

canstockphoto4420590

By

Take a moment, close your eyes, and recall a story that truly engaged you as a reader – one whose world and characters became completely real for you. Got one?

Now, take off your reader hat and don your analytical writer hat to think about what makes that story so captivating. What writing techniques did the author use to bring the story to life? Was it the wrenching appeal to your emotions, the vivid and brutal action scenes, or the high stakes facing a character? Mastering these and other storytelling methods is the key to writing your own engaging tale.

Just as a lion is the product of all the zebras it has eaten, a writer is the product of all the books he or she has read. Reading the works of skilled writers is a fabulous way to hone your craft and learn how to effectively employ the writing tactics that help you create your own captivating story.

Here are five great examples of writing techniques that bring the story to life for readers, as demonstrated by five accomplished writers.

1. Invoke multiple senses

When you experience a situation, you pick up more than just its sights. By describing sounds, scents, tastes and sensations, you’ll immerse readers in your story’s world.

The following scene from Saladin Ahmed’s “Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela” does a wonderful job of pulling the reader into the story by using senses other than sight.

Her voice is more beautiful than any woman’s. And there is the powerful smell of jasmine and clove. A nightingale sings perfumed words at me while my mind’s eye burns with horrors that would make the Almighty turn away.

If fear did not hold your tongue, you would ask what I am. Men have called my people by many names—ghoul, demon. Does a word matter so very much? What I am, learned one, is Abdel Jameela’s wife.

For long moments I don’t speak. If I don’t speak, this nightmare will end. I will wake in Baghdad, or Beit Zujaaj. But I don’t wake.

She speaks again, and I cover my ears, though the sound is beauty itself.

The words you hear come not from my mouth, and you do not hear them with your ears. I ask you to listen with your mind and your heart. We will die, my husband and I, if you will not lend us your skill. Have you, learned one, never needed to be something other that what you are?

Cinnamon scent and the sound of an oasis wind come to me.

2. Create intriguing, complex characters

Readers want characters with whom they can sympathize (Harry Potter) or revile (Tywin Lannister) – or both. They want to get to know the characters and learn more about their experiences in the story.

In the following excerpt from “The Children of the Shark God,” Peter S. Beagle introduces us to the protagonist quickly, but in a way that makes us care about what happens to her.

Mirali’s parents were already aging when she was born, and had long since given up the hope of ever having a child — indeed, her name meant “the long-desired one.” Her father had been crippled when the mast of his boat snapped during a storm and crushed his leg, falling on him, and if it had not been for their daughter the old couple’s lives would have been hard indeed. Mirali could not go out with the fishing fleet herself, of course — as she greatly wished to do, having loved the sea from her earliest memory — but she did every kind of work for any number of island families, whether cleaning houses, marketing, minding young children, or even assisting the midwife when a birthing was difficult or there were simply too many babies coming at the same time. She was equally known as a seamstress, and also as a cook for special feasts; nor was there anyone who could mend a pandanus-leaf thatching as quickly as she, though this is generally man’s work. No drop of rain ever penetrated any pandanus roof that came under Mirali’s hands.

Nor did she complain of her labors, for she was very proud of being able to care for her mother and father as a son would have done. Because of this, she was much admired and respected in the village, and young men came courting just as though she were a great beauty. Which she was not, being small and somewhat square-made, with straight brows — considered unlucky by most — and hips that gave no promise of a large family. But she had kind eyes, deep-set under those regrettable brows, and hair as black and thick as that of any woman on the island. Many, indeed, envied her; but of that Mirali knew nothing. She had no time for envy herself, nor for young men, either.

As authors, we must give readers insight into what makes our protagonists tick. What motivates them? What are their aspirations? In this passage, we learn that Mirali, while not conventionally beautiful, is a kind soul who works hard for her parents and is appreciated by her community. And the key? We quickly start to become invested in what happens to her.

3. Evoke strong emotions

In this scene from “Frost Child” by Gillian Philip, it takes the reader a moment to realize what the child witch is feeding her newly-tamed water horse — and that moment allows the strong emotion of horror to set in.

“He’s very beautiful,” I smiled. “Make sure he’s fully tame before you bring him near the dun.”

“Of course I will. Thank you, Griogair!” She bent her head to the kelpie again, crooning, and reached for her pouch, drawing out a small chunk of meat. The creature shifted its head to take it delicately from her hand, gulping it down before taking her second offering. She stroked it as she fed it, caressing its cheekbone, its neck, its gills.

I don’t know why the first shiver of cold certainty rippled across my skin; perhaps it was her contentment, the utter obliteration of her grief; perhaps it was the realisation that she and her little bow had graduated to bigger game. The chunks of flesh she fed it were torn from something far larger than a pigeon, and as the kelpie nickered, peeling back its upper lip to sniff for more treats, I saw tiny threads of woven fabric caught on its canine teeth.

By revealing a previously undetected detail that helps readers understand the implications, the author causes them to wince and recoil — and wonder what happens next. Of course, we have many emotion-evoking arrows in our writing quivers — humor, love, determination, anger, and so on. These strong emotions keep the reader engrossed in the story and curious about the characters’ futures.

4. Use rich character voice

The voice chosen by the author has a profound impact in how readers interpret the story and view the characters. In the following excerpt from “The Adventures of Lightning Merriemouse-Jones” by Nancy and Belle Holder, the voice and sentence length quickly convey the time period and lighter tone of this comic horror story.

To begin at the beginning:

That would be instructive, but rather dull; and so we will tell you, Gentle Reader, that the intrepid Miss Merriemouse-Jones was born in 1880, a wee pup to parents who had no idea that she was destined for greatness. Protective and loving, they encouraged her to find her happiness in the environs of home — running the squeaky wheel in the nursery cage, gnawing upon whatever might sharpen her pearlescent teeth, and wrinkling her tiny pink nose most adorably when vexed.

During her girlhood, Lightning was seldom vexed. She lived agreeably in her parents’ well-appointed and fashionable abode, a hole in the wall located in the chamber of the human daughter of the house, one Maria Louisa Summerfield, whose mother was a tempestuous Spanish painter of some repute, and whose father owned a bank.

The longer sentences, combined with the choice of words like “environs,” “pearlescent,” “vexed,” “abode,” and “repute,” place the reader in a Victorian setting even without the reference to 1880. The narrator’s voice also clearly sets a tone of felicity and humor.

Just as the narrator has a distinct voice, characters should have their own unique voices to help readers distinguish one from another and to convey aspects of their personalities. Voice is a terrific tool to help readers get to know and appreciate your characters.

5. Pull the reader into the action

Of course, interesting characters and engaging dialog are important, but writing gripping action scenes is a skill all its own. Jim Butcher has mastered this skill, as shown in this excerpt from “Even Hand”:

The fomor’s creatures exploded into the hallway on a storm of frenzied roars. I couldn’t make out many details. They seemed to have been put together on the chassis of a gorilla. Their heads were squashed, ugly-looking things, with wide-gaping mouths full of shark-like teeth. The sounds they made were deep, with a frenzied edge of madness, and they piled into the corridor in a wave of massive muscle.

“Steady,” I murmured.

The creatures lurched as they moved, like cheap toys that had not been assembled properly, but they were fast, for all of that. More and more of them flooded into the hallway, and their charge was gaining mass and momentum.

“Steady,” I murmured.

Hendricks grunted. There were no words in it, but he meant, I know.

The wave of fomorian beings got close enough that I could see the patches of mold clumping their fur, and tendrils of mildew growing upon their exposed skin.

“Fire,” I said.

Hendricks and I opened up.

The new military AA-12 automatic shotguns are not the hunting weapons I first handled in my patriotically delusional youth. They are fully automatic weapons with large circular drums that rather resembled the old Tommy guns made iconic by my business predecessors in Chicago.

One pulls the trigger and shell after shell slams through the weapon. A steel target hit by bursts from an AA-12 very rapidly comes to resemble a screen door.

And we had two of them.

The slaughter was indescribable. It swept like a great broom down that hallway, tearing and shredding flesh, splattering blood on the walls and painting them most of the way to the ceiling. Behind me, Gard stood ready with a heavy-caliber big-game rifle, calmly gunning down any creature that seemed to be reluctant to die before it could reach our defensive point. We piled the bodies so deep that the corpses formed a barrier to our weapons.

A well-written action scene thrusts the reader smack into the middle of the story. It’s another way to evoke emotion and empathy for characters.

Though the protagonist in this story is actually a crime lord — not a character many of us would normally root for — you’re on his side, aren’t you? The writer’s skillful action writing has you imagining yourself behind the defensive barrier, wielding a shotgun, and praying the torrent of lead will prevent the demonic onslaught from reaching you.

Readers want to be taken on a journey to another place and time, with characters they care about and whose company they enjoy. Help your readers feel like they have a stake in your story’s outcome by using these writing techniques to bring your characters and settings to life.


If you enjoyed these excerpts, find the full stories in the new dark fantasy anthology “Beyond the Pale”

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=theindautadv-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0989448738&asins=0989448738&linkId=0c8c4de05d8e7d8530938ce1b2c273e5&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true


As a writer, which books or authors do you read specifically to learn from their techniques and writing skills?

Book Cover Design

Source: http://thewritelife.com/5-powerful-writing-techniques/

Images:  (c) Can Stock Photo

The Art of a Short Story

HOW AND WHY I WROTE FOR POSTERITY

Guest Post by author John Lynn

         If I hadn’t accepted the invitation from a critique group, I would have never written a short story.  While I was forewarned in a novel-writing course that most of us neophytes were not novelists, I pressed on, boring the poor souls around me with long literary pieces destined for the trash bin.  This was not to say that I would never write a novel; rather, now was not the time.  Then came the question, how does one tell a story in two thousand words?  The answer: Let the subconscious do the walking, the pen do the talking.  I sat down to write Mirage, not knowing I was about to do so.  My mind wandered as my pen walked across the page.  From deep in my consciousness a story, good enough to win something, appeared.  I was in shock.

     The genesis of For Posterity came from a much different place, the heart.  Over the course of two years, I had written many short stories, winning congratulations on many of them.  One of the stories was titled: Generations.  I thought of the title; who might read this story, and the other short tales, after I had passed?  Rather than submitting the stories to magazines, I decided to enclose the ensemble of stories between a cover, For Posterity.  

     I had utilized the virtual world (Dreamstime) for a book cover before, but these stories were too close to my soul.  Meeting the right artist who had already painted my cover was a pure stroke of luck – and good networking.  M. Allsion produced the book cover and graphite pencil sketches to precede each tale.  The final pencil sketch closes the book and decorates the back cover as well.

     With the assistance of a tech-minded reader, I posted For Posterity.   I had promoted two longer works online and found little interest after the first couple of months.  Here’s the kicker: I’m about to post another short novel: El Camino Real.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself.  With M. Allison’s art and my wisdom scribbled between the covers, I wanted For Posterity in my hands to tout on the road.  I utilized a printing service to produce fifty copies.  Between giveaways and surprising sales they were gone almost immediately.  Thus, back to the printer for a larger volume of books.  Now, I walk the beautiful trails of Sedona and Carmel with my backpack filled; what better way to nature walk across gorgeous countryside?  My advice to other Indie writers, no matter how many sales one envisions online, have an ample supply of copies in hand.  You are by far the best and often the only salesperson capable of selling your product.

Connect with John on Facebook 

email: jbaelynn@att.net


“For Posterity” is available on Amazon

Cover Artist: M. Allison

MAllisonartist.com
(713)-240-4221

allison@mallisonartist.com
www.mallisonfineart.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

 

3 Reasons Novel Writing is Like Building a Start Up

by

I met someone recently who runs his own start up. It’s a super niche technical business, so when he started talking about it (albeit passionately), I expected everything to go completely over my head.

A lot of it did.

But as my friend began to talk less about gadgets and more about the daunting experience of starting a business, I found myself suddenly able to relate. That’s when I realized it- writing a novel is basically like building a start up.

start up

Here’s why:

1. Whether Building a Start Up or Writing a Novel, No One Really Gets What You’re Doing

My friend is creating some GPS gadget (sorry friend), and the innovation lies in something very technical. He said he tries to explain his vision to friends and family, and while they are supportive, they really have no idea what he’s trying to do. There are apparently only 3 people in the world who get it.

This experience is exactly like writing a novel. Sure, people understand the concept of novel writing and maybe even your basic premise, but you (and maybe your editor) are the only ones who get what you’re trying to do. You know the message you’re trying to convey. The nuances. The weeds.

2. Building a Start Up and Writing a Novel Both Require An Appreciation for Innovation and Creativity

My start up friend talked about the creators of Uber the way I talk about J.K. Rowling. He went on and on about the innovation of the company and other pioneers because he was struck by their creativity. He was moved by both the simple and complex, so long as it was creative.

As novelist, I could relate to that. Seeing such innovation in others makes you want to find that creativity/innovation in yourself. It’s inspiring.

3. Writing a Novel, Like Building a Start-Up, Requires a Significant Investment

My friend was the first person to invest in his start up. He quit his job and dedicated 100% of his time to the company. Then, he convinced others to invest (and believe) in his ideas, skills, and strategy as well.

Writing a novel also requires a significant investment. The first investment is from yourself- it’s definitely a time commitment and probably a financial commitment as well (i.e., for classes, conferences, editors, etc.).

By asking people to buy and read your book, you’re requesting that they invest their time and money into your ideas and skills—and your characters.So novelists, next time you meet an entrepreneur, make sure you tell them, “I get it.”

What about you? Do you think writing a book is like building a start up? Let me know what you think in thecomments. 

PRACTICE

Take fifteen minutes to write about an innovator or writer who inspires you. How can you relate to them? What can you learn from them to help you become a better writer? Don’t forget to share in the comment section! 


About Monica M. Clark

Monica is a lawyer trying to knock out her first novel. She lives in D.C. but is still a New Yorker. You can follow her on her blog or on Twitter(@monicamclark).


This post was previously published on The Write Practice