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Friday, August 31, 2012

Unicorns (Melrose Part Two) - A Sneak Peek

Just a few more days until I release the second part of my Melrose (16+ YA) Urban Paranormal Thriller, entitled Unicorns.

On Monday (Labor Day in the USA) the book goes on sale at all the usual places for $2.99 (ebook) and $12.95 (as a paperback). I love the excitement of the last few days before a launch.

Today I thought I would share with you an excerpt from the book - the opening few paragraphs. Enjoy!


Beau watched from a distance as the coffin was slowly lowered into the grave. A light mist rolled off the bay and threatened to swallow the small group of mourners. Beau buttoned his jacket and absentmindedly looked skyward, daring the promised rain to fall.
“I’m glad you made the journey,” Ted said, reaching out his hand to Beau. “It was important.”
“I didn’t need asking twice.” Beau shook Ted’s hand. “The man was an icon, a legend.”
Ted nodded and put his arm around Beau’s back. “Let’s take a short walk. We can rejoin the others a little later.”
The two joined a pathway that ran through the cemetery and slowly walked away from the grave, toward the cover of the trees.
“How have you been?” asked Ted.
“I’ve been trying to keep my head down and not think about things too much. The last few weeks have been a little trying for me.”
Ted nodded. “Well you know you only have yourself to blame, don’t you?”
Beau mumbled an agreement and kept walking. “You don’t have to remind me. It was a really stupid thing to do. I don’t know what I was thinking.”
“At least the woman is recovering.”
“Thank God for small mercies.” Beau stopped walking and turned to face Ted. “Look, I’ve learned my lesson. I won’t be doing that sort of thing again. I’ll play by the rules from now on. I promise.”
Ted smiled. “Of course you will, Beau. Of course you will.”
Beau started walking again. “You don’t believe me?”
“It’s not as simple as that. You know it’s not. There’s something about the gift we have. Something that drives us forward. It is a difficult master to control. Abstinence is the only way.” Ted laughed. “Of course we cannot all manage abstinence and I’m not insisting you do. But hopefully you are now a little more aware of the consequences?”
“Yes, painfully so. I nearly killed one of the members of my own team. I don’t know what I was thinking. Or rather, I do. Look, it won’t happen again.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Beau. Just try and keep your feelings and desires under control. You don’t want to end up dead ahead of your time.” Ted stopped walking and turned around. “Let’s make our way back to the others.”



A single kiss can get a girl killed. But what if he's the most irresistible man you've ever met? What would you do? 
Unicorns continues the Melrose tale and finds other members of Beau’s office looking to cement their place as powerful players in this paranormal tale of corporate intrigue, greed, betrayal, love and death. 
There are many factions at work and who can tell the good from the evil? Maybe Lucy can as she attempts to come to terms with the devastating injury of her best friend and the deaths of others. Through everything Lucy struggles to find the man of her dreams, wherever he is. But her hunt for love will unknowingly expose her to the worst of society. Will she survive it all, or will she, like so many others, become another body in Melrose’s already full mortuary?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Plotting Another Book In An Epic Fantasy Series

Writing epic fantasy sagas is a little different than writing your average thriller (if there is such a thing). Plotting out 4+ books is a very large task.

When I set out to write a five book YA epic fantasy series I had absolutely no idea just what the work entailed. I had never written a full-scale novel before, let alone a series. Sure I had read a lot of series, but writing one, well that was a different story. But hey, it couldn't be that difficult, could it?

Three books into my series and about to embark on writing the fourth, I can tell you I have learned so much. I feel like the enlightened student who originally told his master he knew it all, only to be humbled many years later. I have the utmost respect for any author who manages to write an epic series. So, why is it so difficult you ask? Surely you just write some stuff, and then some more stuff. And so on. Oh, if only...

The thing about an epic series is that it needs to have a message that gets delivered over the course of a number of books. Also, each book needs to tell a story and be a part of the whole. Writing a story that is perhaps 750,000 words in length, as opposed to a standard (?) 250,000 word trilogy, is a huge challenge.

I started out with a (naively) straightforward overall plot that involved a journey and a battle. That ought to be enough to carry five books! Yeah, right. Not even one book really, even though I had jotted down several plot-lines that would be revealed in later books. I eventually got through with the first book and thought, wow, amazing. Actually, it was pretty amazing. I had managed to write a 125,000 word novel - not too shabby.

Book two was an interesting challenge as all of a sudden I had to flesh my characters out and decide a little more where things were going. Book two became a difficult book to write. Whereas I had written book one in three months, book two took me nearly two years! But eventually it was done and I was very happy with the result. During the writing of book two, a lot of the over-arching concepts of the epic series started to become clearer to me.

So, onto book three. I took a gap of nearly six years before writing the third book in the series, concentrating on completing some other writing projects and generally fulfilling several other activities. When I came to plot book three I had a renewed vigor and a much better understanding of what was required of me. I completed book three within a three month period and then let it sit and rest for a year before I came back to re-edit it. The maturity of my writing and plot ideas hit me anew. I really was very pleased with the end result.

And so onto book four. I am currently plotting out the fourth book in the series, ready to start writing in a couple of weeks time. I started by looking back at my original plan for the series, but there were so few of the original ideas I could take that I have had to more or less start from scratch. At least I now know where the series is going. My five book epic fantasy series now has a message and a journey. I know what I want to achieve and almost know how to achieve it. The series has taken on a direction I never originally imagined, but that isn't important as the series is stronger for it. What is more, the writing of the series has made me a better author. I plan to write the last two books in the series back to back - I'm already excited to finish it and move onto my next large project.

So, that's about it for my ramble today. Plotting an epic fantasy series is a very difficult thing and I'll be the first person to admit it. Keeping all the characters in check and consistent, moving the story along, keeping the action flowing, stopping the story-line from getting too confusing. These are all considerations. But the biggest consideration of all is just what am I trying to achieve? If I manage that then I will be a happy man. And so far I am smiling all over my face.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Infographic: Job Interview Must Knows

What You Wish You
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Monday, August 27, 2012

One More Week: Unicorns (Melrose Part Two)

Yes, it's just one more week until the launch of my much anticipated follow-up to New Blood, which was the first part in my Melrose 16+ YA Urban Paranormal Thriller Series.

Unicorns continues the story where New Blood left off. From the back cover:

A single kiss can get a girl killed. But what if he's the most irresistible man you've ever met? What would you do? 
Unicorns continues the Melrose tale and finds other members of Beau’s office looking to cement their place as powerful players in this paranormal tale of corporate intrigue, greed, betrayal, love and death. 
There are many factions at work and who can tell the good from the evil? Maybe Lucy can as she attempts to come to terms with the devastating injury of her best friend and the deaths of others. Through everything Lucy struggles to find the man of her dreams, wherever he is. But her hunt for love will unknowingly expose her to the worst of society. Will she survive it all, or will she, like so many others, become another body in Melrose’s already full mortuary?

Not up to speed yet? Well why not use the next week to read New Blood? It's available for $2.99 as an ebook from all the usual places. Check it out on my author website.

PS. Did I tell you it is my birthday today? :-)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday #12

On the theme of Six Sentence Sunday, here are six sentences from my debut novel, Xannu - The Prophecy. The book is the first in a Young Adult Fantasy series, The Southern Lands, and is available from all the usual places for only $0.99 as an ebook and $12.99 as a paperback.

As the sun rose in the east it cast a yellow glow across the magical vista of F’Al. In the distance Selene could see the tall round towers of the High Church reaching almost to the clouds. Atop the highest peak a light shone out. It was the O’Finn, the magical light, the light that must never be extinguished. It glowed morning, noon and night, always bright in the sky, never dimming, a constant. All was well...



Xannu - The Prophecy

Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Pages: 408

For fans of Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and The Narnia Chronicles, the first installment in a thrilling epic fantasy series…

Would you wake up in a hot sweat if you lived your night’s dreams as a soldier battling un-earthly creatures, witnessing powerful magic and fighting to save your own life on a daily basis?


English schoolboy Terry West does. Frequently. After digging up some rune coins near a roman road, he has been living in another world inhabited by warlocks, seductresses, priests and prophecy. There Terry is a soldier, Teern Truthbringer, who has been tasked with finding the Xannu - 'he who will lead the people into deliverance.'

If only it wasn’t real; but it is. Very real. When it all began it was even enjoyable, but now Terry’s life is getting very complicated. Somehow he involved his best friend Joe and although it had seemed a good idea at the time, the consequences had been dire. Then there is Susan, the leggy sister of klutzy school-friend Brian. Why does she keep sending him messages?

Terry is struggling to balance the two lives he leads and every day he is losing his grip on reality just a little bit more. He’s been forced to kill enemies; his companion, the magical woman Maria, is scaring him half to death with her abilities; and his parents are on his back about his school work.

How will he balance the two lives he leads, solve two sets of problems, and understand the lessons he receives from both? Only time will tell. But time is something Terry doesn't have too much of, as everything is unfolding in ways he could never have imagined!
“Listen to the teachings of a wise man. You may not understand all he says but you will surely have nourishment for the future. Be positive and plan for success. Failure to plan is to plan for failure. Worry not at what came before but only prepare yourselves for that which is ahead.” (Pika’Al 10:1-5, The Scriptures of Al’Zaneed)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Author Interview: Samuel Ben White

Today I am pleased to present to you all the twelfth in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the time-traveling Samuel Ben White and our conversation went something like this:

Paul: I like to start by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Samuel: Not hard and fast. I generally like to have some instrumental music going when I write (songs with lyrics tend to confuse the words in my head). But I write at any time of the day or night, when the mood takes me.

Paul: What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Samuel: I’m not attached to any particular genre as far as reading. I tend to find an author I like (often at the recommendation of a friend) and then read everything I can find by him or her. My favorites are Louis L’Amour, Agatha Christie and CS Lewis, but I also enjoy Tony Hillerman, Dick Francis, JRR Tolkien, PG Wodehouse and many more.

Paul: If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Samuel: A fire drill at the state mental hospital. Besides working a full-time job, I write novels and a newspaper column as well as a bi-weekly comic strip for another newspaper and I just finished a series of eight comic books for an online comic book company. My mind is always going in several directions, which is good for the cartoons, but I really have to stop and focus to write.

Paul: What is a typical day for you?
Samuel: I wish I knew!

Paul: Do you have a favorite character in each of your series, aside from the lead? If so, which one and why?
Samuel: In the Garison Fitch series (time travel, alternate history), I really love the two female leads: Sarah and Heather. I like Sarah’s independence in a day when women — especially women of questionable background — were not afforded too many opportunities. Heather, on the other hand, was born with a silver spoon but would really like to be “just one of the gals”, yet can’t help but be the woman her family trained her to be—pilot, lawyer, leader.

In the Bat Garrett series (detective stories) if I can’t pick the lead I again gravitate to the female lead, in this case Jody. Most of all, though, I like the dynamic between she and Bat. They are both pretty flawed people, but when they work together they are a formidable team. In the Edward & Marianne series (post-apocalyptic fantasy), I would have to pick Marcus. He’s mysterious, he’s enigmatic, he engenders fierce emotions in everyone he meets. From a writing standpoint, though, there was the dilemma of how to make a guy who is essentially perfect interesting. In this case, I tried to keep him built up (as far as the other characters’ opinions of him) but his overall role small enough that the reader is wanting to know more about him rather than feeling like he has taken over the story.

Paul: In all the years you've been publishing your work, what is the biggest mistake you made that you could share so others can avoid making it?
Samuel: I tried two different “vanity publishers”. One of them was a pleasant experience and the other one was less so. In both cases, though, the publishers really did nothing to sell my books (despite certain promises in their advertising). I would ask any author: if you’re going to go this route, can you/will you sell the books yourself?  If you’re willing to do all the work then maybe vanity press/self-publishing is the way for you to get your book out there.

Paul: How do you find the time to write?
Samuel: Due to my work, I am writing every day. So I work on my fiction writing in little snippets here and there throughout the day. But then, once a book “wells up inside me” I eventually reach the point where I’m writing for hours a day (and squeezing work and life in around the edges). I’ll go like that for weeks until the story is told and then it’s like the tornado has stopped and nothing will get it going again.  I slip back into my regular life and write a bit here and there until the next storm hits.

Paul: What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Samuel: The ending of my book.

Paul: If you are self-published, what led to you going your own way?
Samuel: After uncountable tries at being published by a traditional publisher, I took the self-publishing route out of a desire to a] finally get my work out there where someone could read it; b] be in control of my work (I had had one experience with a small publisher who was just getting started but what they wanted to do with my story would have made it unrecognizable); and c] after so many rejection slips I was thinking, “What have I got to lose?”

Paul: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Samuel: I generally have a starting point and I know what the ending will be, but I run with it in between to get there. In several cases I’ve started with one key idea — or even a completely thought-out scene — and built from there. Usually, those scenes aren’t the opening scene.  I have to write for a while to get there, then by that time I have a good idea where the ultimate story will go. I still have a couple scenes floating around in my head that I have never been able to build a story around, but I will someday!

Paul: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Samuel: Lots and lots of editing. If you were look at my first draft and compare it to the final draft, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there’s less than 10% difference, but those little differences are crucial (to me, anyway). Much of it is just basic spelling and grammar, but a sentence here and there get changed and they, in turn, change the whole story. For instance, in my novel “The Nice Guy” I originally had someone say something in jest. As I edited, though, I decided to have her say the exact same words, but rewrote the passage around it to deliver the line in anger. It made the scene much more powerful and helped to establish the character more fully.

Paul: Do you have to do much research for your stories?
Samuel: Not directly, but all of my stories are set in places I have been, and about topics I know something about. My stories are very people driven and I try to make the characters real. That often starts by beginning with a type that’s close to someone I know. As I get deeper into the story the character becomes less and less like the real person, but sometimes when I get stuck I’ll ask myself how I think the real person would act in that situation. Eventually, the character that the reader will see is a composite of one or two real people and a lot of my imagination.

Paul: What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it
Samuel: TimeKeeperS, due out in fall 2012. Private detective Bat Garrett wakes up one morning with the wrong wife. Instead of the woman he’s been married to for thirty-plus years, he’s married to his high school sweetheart, and can remember being married to her for several years after the death of the wife he remembers going to bed with. As he bounces back and forth between two realities, he discovers that the moment things changed was five years before when his grandson was killed in a car wreck. It’s Bat’s desire that the reality where his grandson doesn’t die is the “real” one, but his overriding drive is to bring himself back to a single reality. Some of his friends (and one of his wives) are supportive, but many of his friends and relatives just think he’s crazy. Finally, Bat enlists one of his least favorite people —Garison Fitch — to help him set time right, only to discover that there is someone else out there actively fiddling with time, someone who may not be working toward the same end as Bat.

My most-recently published books are A Star Falls on Oklahoma (May 2012) and Last at Bat (June 2012). Star Falls is a Christian novel about a young starlet who drops off the grid for a while and then can’t decide whether she wants to go back to the bright lights or not. Last at Bat is the fourth book in the Bat Garrett series (and final book in this arc) and wraps up the story of how Bat met Jody, how they were set-up by the government, and how they both managed to grow up against their own will.

Paul: What inspired you to write this book?
Samuel: I love time travel stories, just because we all have something in our life we wish we could go back and do differently. Of course, if we could change history, might we also make things worse?

Also, I wanted to revisit the characters of Bat Garrett and Garison Fitch (and Jody & Sarah & Heather & et. al.) and see what had become of them. Writing about them years later in their lives (and mine) was like visiting with very old and dear friends and catching up.

Paul: Do you also write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Samuel: I have tried short stories, but have never been satisfied with the results. My novel Overstreet started out as a couple short-stories but by the time I had finished it, it was a 400 page epic novel of the old west.

Paul: Do you have any pieces of work that will never see the light of day?
Samuel: At least one. I wrote a murder mystery set in Mayberry — with Andy and Barney and all the rest — and I think it’s a good story and captures the spirit of the show but, alas, those characters are copyrighted. I have a couple other novels that might or might not see the light of day. In both cases, I like the characters I created but am not sure the story I placed them in is strong enough.

Paul: How much marketing do you do for your published works or for your 'brand'?
Samuel: Still learning, and trying to learn more. Almost all my advertising right now is word-of-mouth and social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Paul: What's your favorite / least favorite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Samuel: My favorite part is creating characters and worlds, most of which I would like to live in, at least for a while. My least favorite is the struggle of getting read. I have been pleasantly surprised by how much to heart some readers will take a character or situation. “No, he wouldn’t do that!” or “I’m so glad she finally got the job!” It’s wonderful when it seems like people are as emotionally invested in these characters as I am.

Paul: What do you do when you're not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
Samuel: The above-mentioned cartooning, as well as ministering at a small church and volunteering with hospice. Also, my family and I love to play board games, as well as snow ski—when we can afford it.

Paul: Many thanks for spending time to speak with me, Samuel. I wish you the very best for the future.

About Samuel Ben White: Samuel Ben White (“Sam” to his friends) is the author of several novels of time travel and adventure. He is also the artist, author and distributor of the newspaper comic strip “Tuttle’s” (found at www.tuttles.net) and the online comic book “Burt & the I.L.S.” (found at www.destinyhelix.com). He is married, has two sons and lives in Texas.

Samuel's Author Site: Garison Fitch
Samuel on Twitter: @GarisonFitch
Samuel on Facebook: Garison Fitch
Samuel's latest book: First Time (The Legend of Garison Fitch) (Amazon)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Reality Check: The Life of a Writer

Today I am pleased to publish my second guest blog post. You too can have a blog post published on my blog. Just read the guidelines HERE. In the meantime, enjoy...

Reality Check: The Life of a Writer
By: Delinda McCann

About two years ago someone told me that I live the life a half million other people fantasize about. I live on a small farm and I write. If my life is others’ fantasy, perhaps they need to know about reality.

Sitting at my computer and drifting into a fantasy world where I make up stories is rather pleasant. I get obsessive about this part of writing and forget to eat.  Really, I forget to cook, which is a bit hard on my poor hubby who is a terrible cook.

Once the story line is complete the hell begins. It is time to rewrite, edit and proof read. Why oh why, cannot I manage to tell a story without using passive voice? I need to go through and change all my “It was…” statements to something more interesting. I confess, sometimes I just give up and leave the passive voice alone because it sounds natural even if it isn’t exciting.

My second great question is why does my best writing happen with a scene that does not advance the plot or illuminate the characters? Many writers have written about the heartbreak of cutting out brilliant writing because it is not needed in the story. I still lament the loss of a scene where a group of young men encounter a herd of cows, and, being young men, they engage in a lively discussion of teats. 

After each rewrite, I must engage in the tedious task of going back and making certain that the changes have not destroyed something like subject-verb agreement and that all the characters still have their proper introduction. The story must remain internally consistent while great chunks of elegant prose are dumped into the trash. Often during the editing process, I become enchanted with the story again and lose hours of work-time just sitting and reading then I need to go back and start over editing where I left off.

Once the story is ready to meet the great big world it faces the horror of the publishing industry--enough said on that topic.

Once the precious novel is published proofed again and on the bookshelves or ready for the e-reader, the writer returns to the beginning and begins to market.  Actually the marketing begins before the final release of the book. At this point someone who enjoys living in a fantasy world and writing is supposed to go out and ask people to buy her book. The author who refuses to market faces the possibility that nobody will never, forever, and ever purchase his book.

Actually saying, “Buy my book” is not very effective. We need to network to market. This is another tough spot. Fortunately I like to interact with others. The idea is to help another author who then hopefully will help us. Right now I have a couple reviews to write up for other authors. I need to spend hours on twitter, interacting and promoting other authors. I love interacting with people who face the same challenges I face and live with the same anxiety about marketing their book. 

At the end of the day, writing is like most other jobs. Writers have good days and bad days. Sometimes the work is exciting. Most of the time the work is tedious or routine. We encounter situations outside our comfort zone. Most of the people we meet along the way are wonderful, but we still have to put up with the occasional jerk. However, there is that moment, when launching my written thoughts into the world, that is something like spreading my arms and soaring with eagles.

About Delinda McCann: I am a baby boomer who grew up to be a social-psychologist. Early in my career I started working with the working poor. This is where I developed my passion for working with the problems associated with poverty. Of course no trip through the world of the impoverished can be completed without learning about the issues related to disabilities, aging and mental health.

I married the first man I met when I moved away from home to go to college at Washington State University. We raised four daughters. We have two birth daughters and two foster daughters.

It was our youngest foster daughter who led us on a merry romp through the world of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Our foster daughter led me to become a specialist and advocate in the field of disabilities related to prenatal exposure. This area has been the focus of my work for the past twenty years.

My advocacy on FASD brought me to the attention of the ministries of health in some emerging African nations. I played an educational role via e-mail with these countries for several years. I was again fascinated with the world of poverty and how people manage not only to overcome adversity, but to be happy and find love and fulfillment in their lives.

My interests outside of work include organic gardening. I have a small, roadside flower stand where I sell organic cut flowers for about eight months of the year. In addition to gardening, I play the piano, poorly, and sing in my church choir.

I started my first fiction work in the winter of 2010 when I got my second cancer diagnosis. I was still sick from my first cancer and a related stroke. I decided that instead of sitting in my chair feeling sorry for myself, I would write, bringing my vast knowledge into a fictional world in an engaging manner.

In addition to Lies That Bind, which was my first work of fiction, I have published numerous professional articles on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, Autism, mental health issues, adoption and foster care. I have two works in progress M'TK Sewer Rat, which is President Jake's autobiography telling how a boy from the slums grew up to be president. Something About Maudy is the story of a widowed United Methodist Ministers's struggle to save a dying church and find the courage to love a man again.

Twitter: @CalicoGardens
Website: DelindaMcCann.com
Amazon: Lies That Bind

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Four Star Review: Xannu - The Portal

My recently launched third book in The Southern Lands YA Fantasy series, Xannu - The Portal, just received a wonderful four star review on Amazon. Check it out. Maybe this is a series you'd like to read...

Xannu - The Portal is the third book of Paul Dorset's Southern Lands saga. All of the characters from the previous books are back with some stepping up into larger roles and some fading away a bit. I was glad to see Joe re-emerge as a character as he is a favorite of mine. I won't get into the plot very much as I don't want to release any spoilers on the book. That being said I feel that this book lives up to the amount of build that took place in the second novel. 
The story continues to build on an epic level as Matthius reveals himself as the Xannu and all the factions that want a piece of him plot to control him. While life in the Southern Lands is certainly getting more interesting for Teern, Terry is not having a picnic at home himself. In order to do what he can to help friends he is getting in trouble with his parents and finds himself in a situation that he has no idea how to handle. 
The book has a wide open ending leaving me eager to see the next installment. Although I'm not a big fan of cliffhanger endings I respect them as a literary tool and Paul does it well. Once again I will be looking forward to the next chapter in this saga, hopefully it won't be too long of a wait.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Melrose Part Two: Unicorns

I am excited to announce the upcoming release of Part Two of my Melrose series. Unicorns follows on from New Blood, my exciting YA 16+ Urban Paranormal Thriller.

The book is due for release on September 3rd (which is Labor Day in America). There will be further announcements during the next couple of weeks but for now, here's a sneak preview of the cover.

If you haven't already checked out the first part of the story, click HERE to read New Blood (Melrose Part One).

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday #11


On the theme of Six Sentence Sunday, here are the opening sentences from my FREE chapbook, Teern Truthbringer, which serves as an introduction to my YA Fantasy series, The Southern Lands.


“Teern,” his father called out, throwing the young man a sword as he turned toward him. “Teern, catch!”
Teern reached out and grabbed the hilt of the sword, quickly moving his hands into position. “What is it?”
“Kriks,” his father replied. “Coming down the hill and headed this way. We need to be ready.”


For fans of Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and The Narnia Chronicles, the prequel to a thrilling epic fantasy series…

A teenage farm lad experiences trials and tribulations over the course of a three day period that will change his life forever.

“Sometimes it is necessary to take that which is given to you, even when it seems not to your advantage. For everything has its part to play; its place in things.” (Pika'Al 10:10-11, The Scriptures of Al'Zaneed)

Teern Truthbringer is available for a FREE download HERE (or click picture opposite).

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Author Interview: Jorge Salgado-Reyes

Today I am pleased to present to you all the eleventh in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the aspiring novelist Jorge Salgado-Reyes and our conversation went something like this:


Paul: I like to start by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Jorge: I don’t really have any. I just sit down on my sofa and place the laptop on my lap. I open up Scrivener and start typing. I usually read the prior chapter first.

Paul: What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Jorge: I read science fiction (a small amount of science fantasy), cyberpunk and thrillers. My favorite authors are Robert Anson Heinlein, John Connolly, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Richard (K) Morgan, William Gibson, Arthur C Clarke, Phillip Jose Farmer, C J Cherryh. There are many more authors that I love but these jump out at me. They are all without question, at the top of their game. Their stories are involved and totally believable.

Paul: If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Jorge: I honestly don’t know. I try and write in a linear fashion. Although I have plotted my novel and I know the ending in a vague kind of way, I don’t know how I’m going to get there.

Paul: What is a typical day for you? 
Jorge: I wake up, shower, dress, coffee. 
Morning - Step into my office (work from home), answer emails and turn on social media (facebook, twitter, Indie Authors Press forum), deal with post. Man the phone and return any calls that need returning. Assign any jobs that have come in overnight. Drink lots of coffee and dance the social media dance.
Afternoon - Prepare all the surveillance gear for any jobs that need doing. Do any jobs that need doing (process serving, surveillance etc), write a blog article for the biz.
Evening (7pm-2am) - Swim 1000 meters, make dinner, write 1000k words (target), write a blog article, dance the social media dance.

Paul: How do you find the time to write?
Jorge: I try and structure my time to write in the evenings.  I normally stay awake till at least 2am and wake up at 8am every morning unless I’m working at night.

Paul: What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Jorge: I don’t have any secrets (except the ones that are secret and therefore no one knows them hehehe).

Paul: If you are self-published, what led to you going your own way?
Jorge: I started looking at the whole publishing industry and it seems self-evident that a revolution is underway. I want to remain in complete control over my career and feel that the only person who can do the right things is myself. I decided to create a publishing company for myself and a (very) few other people called Indie Authors Press (www.salgado-reyes.com). This company has the appropriate links with POD printers and publishers like Amazon Kindle and Createspace. I can publish a hardback, paperback or eBook just as fast and with the same quality as a traditional publisher.

Paul: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Jorge: I do a bit of both. I get an idea and then I flesh it out through plotting.

Paul: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Jorge: I do lots of editing. My writing is not perfect although I strive to improve all the time.

Paul: Do you have to do much research for your stories?
Jorge: I research what inventors are working on in terms of the internet, computing and gadgets that can be surgically implanted in people. I am trying to predict the future of technology and how we will be using it. I have to extensively research the law (UK) and PI techniques for my forthcoming books, British Process Servers Guide (out August 2012), The Zen of shoplifting (out 2013) and The Zen of Sleuthing (out 2014).

Paul: What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it
Jorge: I am currently working on The Smoke in Death’s Eye, this is a cyberpunk/thriller of a novel, geographically set in “the smoke” (e.g. London) about a 150 years in a dystopian future. The protagonist is a private investigator whose agency is tasked with investigating a serial killer. The novel starts with the serial killer stalking and interrogating his victim (who dies as a result of the interrogation) in a derelict building in a suburb of south London. This victim is not the killer's first, with the killings going back for decades. I will leave the rest for the reader to discover.

Paul: What inspired you to write this book?
Jorge: Believe it or not, it started as a vivid dream. I woke up in my bedroom with my girlfriend leaving for the day. For some reason, it was in Kings Cross, London and it was in the future. I suddenly felt scared for her and ran out after her but she was gone. In my dream I started to look for her and many years later, I was still looking.

Paul: Do you also write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Jorge: I write bad poetry from time to time. Check out Dragon’s Dance. I am writing some professional books on the world of the private investigator. I mentioned them earlier in this interview.

Paul: How much marketing do you do for your published works or 
for your ‘brand’?
Jorge: I blog, tweet, facebook and hang out on my forum. I call it the social media dance.

Paul: What’s your favorite / least favorite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Jorge: My favorite is reading. I love to read and reading is research so it’s all good. My least favorite is writing articles and blogs. I often have nothing to say.

Paul: What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
Jorge: I swim every day. I’m also a keen photographer.

Paul: Well, thanks, Jorge. I wish you every success for the future.


About Jorge Salgado-Reyes: Jorge moved to the UK at age seven from Chile, where he was born. He is tri-lingual, having lived in the UK and Mozambique, speaking fluent English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Jorge came up through the ranks in various high street retail stores until he became a Security Manager for a leading high street book seller and then various roles as a Senior Retail Loss Prevention Investigator at a national level.

In April 2006, after seventeen years in retail fraud investigations, he started his own private investigator agency, Allied Detectives & Salgado Investigations specialising in corporate investigations, surveillance, process serving and tracing. Jorge is a founder member of e-LEGAL | Gathering, an online discussion forum for private investigators. Jorge has a Edexcel BTEC Advanced Private Investigation Level 3 Diploma and a BTEC award in Investigative Interviewing. He is currently serving on WAPI's Governing Council in Electronic Media, after having served as General Secretary for a year, and is a member of the Federation of Small Businesses.

Jorge has also co-authored a guide called British Process Servers Guide. Jorge is currently working on his novel The Smoke in Death’s Eye and is planning a series of books,The Zen of Shoplifting & The Zen of Sleuthing. He also enjoys writing poetry (his works can be found in the poetry section of his writing forum www.salgado-reyes.com) and is an amateur photographer.


Jorge's Author Site: Jorge Salgado-Reyes
Jorge on Twitter: @J_SalgadoReyes

Thursday, August 16, 2012

FREE Chapbook - Teern Truthbringer

Last week I released a FREE chapbook, Teern Truthbringer, a 6,500 word introduction to my Southern Lands YA fantasy series. Did you read it yet? What are you waiting for? Click the link HERE or click on the picture on the left.

So why did I write this chapbook? Quite simply as a marketing tool. Do you meet people who ask what you write about, or are unsure whether they want to buy a book from you? Well a chapbook is a great freebie to give away to these people. Write a short story, print it out and give it to your friends. If they like the style of your writing, they'll probably buy your books!

P.S. You can even include it in mailings you send out.

So, take a read. What have you got to lose?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

97% Of Writers Don't Finish Their Book

Yay! I'm in the 3%. How about you?

That was a pretty staggering statistic. Out of every 1,000 people that set out to write a book, only 30 actually finish. And if you then add on top of that the fact that only 20% of people who write a book actually publish it, this means only 6 people get published. I'm feeling even better now. Actually I'm feeling a little guilty. I have 10 books published. Does this mean I've ruined the dreams of 9,940 other people?

So how about you? Where do you fall in this statistic? Are you a wannabe, an unpublished author, or one of the 6 in 1,000? Let me know...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Needing A Break

There comes a time when your body says 'enough.' That time has come!

The past year has been a non-stop effort to write books, get them published, maintain a blog, build a fan-base, and market and sell books. Oh, and that is while working a full-time job. So, I've decided to take a little break, or at least slow things down a little until the end of this month.

I'm sure you will excuse me, but sometimes needs must. Take care and I'll be back at full capacity again soon.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday #10


On the theme of Six Sentence Sunday, here are a few sentences from my book, How To Write & Self-Publish Your First Novel. The book is a self-help book and is available from all the usual places for only $3.99 as an ebook and $8.99 as a paperback.

A lot of first time authors write their debut novel in the first person. So I’ll start by recommending straight away, don’t do it! Writing a complete and engaging novel in the first person is one of the most difficult things to undertake in writing and very few authors that do it are successful.
Why do writers do it then? Quite simply because it’s what they are most familiar with. We spend our entire lives living in the first person (I’m assuming!) and therefore when we write it’s easiest to do it in the first person (just like I’m doing here)...


How To Write & Self-Publish Your First Novel

Age Group: All Ages
Genre: Reference / Self-Help
Pages: 125


INTRODUCTION
Writing and publishing your first novel is tough. It usually takes a long time. Years for most people. It can be soul destroying too. You finally complete your manuscript; you send off samples to agents and publishers, and anxiously watch the mail for the responses. Then they come in, one at a time, rejection after rejection.

How do I know this? I’ve been there. Does this mean I was a bad writer? No, but I could have used some help in those early days. Sure, I had purchased a few books on writing and I had tried to pay attention to the advice they gave, but there were so many of them and sometimes advice seemed to conflict other advice. It was way too much to take in.

But I persevered with my writing and now I have been writing for several years and I have completed several novels and other books, and my writing is a lot better. My early novels could still do with some major re-editing (which they will be finally getting this summer), but my later works, oh wow I can spot the differences!

So, a few months ago I decided I would go the self-publishing route to getting my books out there in the big world. Things are changing in the book markets and so many people now have Kindles and Nooks and iPads and other electronic book readers. I thought to myself, why not do it myself? I know I can write; I have that confidence. Enough complete strangers have told me they like what I write, so why shouldn’t I join that list of published authors? And why should I have to wait for some agent or publisher to take a chance on an unknown author before I get published? So I did it, and now I have the story to tell and the method you can use to generate your own success.

This ebook is a series of essays solely concerned with improving your writing skills and getting your first novel successfully self-published. It is written in a way that you can keep dipping into it, and keep coming back to parts of it, time and time again. It is concise and to the point and it is written from experience; thousands of hours of experience. Every essay in this book is relevant and has a purpose. Every essay will give you pause for thought.

Can I turn you into a bestselling author? No – only you can do that. But I can set you on a path to success. I can give you clear guidelines about what not to do, and how to do things better. And I can tell you exactly how to self-publish that novel. This ebook takes your novel from the beginning and leads you along a path of self-discovery. When you have finished reading you will be Writing for Success and be someone who has a better chance than most every other wannabe author out there of becoming the next Tom Clancy, JK Rowling, Stephen King, or whoever else is your writing hero.

Good luck!


CONTENTS
1. Don't Start the Story at the Beginning
2. Become a Successful Writer in 2,000 Hours
3. Poems and Short Stories
4. Creating a Good Plot
5. How Long Should a First Novel Be?
6. Writing in the First Person
7. Writing in the Third Person
8. Dialog Versus Narrative – Show Versus Tell
9. Writing Your First Novel: Words & Routine
10. Conflict and Its Importance
11. Plot Pace
12. Creating Believable and Well Rounded Characters
13. Writing Dialog – Or ‘He Said, She Said’
14. Creating a Page Turner
15. Letting the Book 'Cook'
16. Self-Editing Your Novel
17. The Process of Pre-Reads
18. Creating a World of Fantasy
19. How to Write & Self-Publish a Novel: The End-To-End Process Checklist
20. Creating a Writing Environment without Interruptions
21. Reading to Write
22. Encouraging All Would Be Authors
23. The Self-Publishing Process - The COMPLETE A-Z Instructions
24. Marketing Your Novel - The Relevance of Social Media, ARCs and Book Bloggers

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Author Interview: Wayne Zurl

Today I am pleased to present to you all the tenth in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the hopeless romantic Wayne Zurl and our conversation went something like this:

Paul: I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals? 
Wayne: Not really. I write when the spirit moves me and I have time to devote to it. For a guy who spent most of his adult life around military or para-military routine and order, I’m pretty undisciplined as a writer. I sit in a wingback chair with a lined pad and pen and go at it.

Paul: What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Wayne: Most of the time, I read mysteries or historical fiction. I like series writers. Here’s a few of my favorites and what I admire most about them: Robert B. Parker taught me lots about telling a story in the fewest possible words. I like his minimalist style and try to emulate it. James Lee Burke can write descriptions of people and places like few others. Sometimes he’s absolutely poetic. Bernard Cornwell is a master of historical fiction and writes action scenes so effectively I often need a martini after one of his battles. That other guy from Long Island who writes mysteries, Nelson DeMille, provides his main character, Detective John Corey, with endless, high quality smartass dialogue. That’s very realistic in a cop book. And there’s the father of hard-boiled detective fiction, Raymond Chandler, who wrote some of the best metaphors ever printed.

Paul: If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see? 
Wayne: Probably a lot of contradiction. In spite of what I said in question 1, I think you’d see a bit of obsessive / compulsive personality; a touch of post-traumatic stress; the potential to be lazy; the need for a home and security, but the desire to always see new places; the desire for tranquility (I’m tired of living in conflict and under pressure); the fear of being seen making a mistake, but the courage to take chances; and a lot of good natured sarcasm and dark humor. All these things seem to rear their heads in my books and stories. I hope there are no shrinks listening.

Paul: What is a typical day for you? 
Wayne: I’m retired from the real working world, but I still like to get up early — 6 o’clock or thereabouts. After breakfast, I tackle the hateful chore of Facebook and Twitter and whatever book promotions I have to deal with. Since it’s summer, I do any outside work before the heat of the day. If I have errands to run, I like to get them out of the way early. Then writing, interviews, guest post articles, or whatever. Around 5 o’clock my wife and I start to prepare dinner — we’re not frozen food people. Around 8 p.m., we watch TV — usually something from Netflix.

Paul: Do you have a favorite character in each of your series, aside from the lead? If so, which one and why? 
Wayne: My main character is Sam Jenkins, a retired New York detective who found a second career as a Tennessee police chief. I have two candidates for top second fiddle: Sam’s wife, Kate. She’s sharp, good-looking, and after spending two thirds of her life with a tough guy, can handle him quite well. When Sam’s at a loss for a good idea on how to solve a tough case, Kate miraculously pulls a suggestion out of her sack of common sense solutions. The other is Sergeant Bettye Lambert, Sam’s admin officer, desk sergeant, and occasional partner when he’s solving murders or other felonies that make sleepy little Prospect, TN look like it has a crime rate greater than Detroit. Some people have called Bettye Sam’s workplace spouse. She too is sharp and good-looking, but Bettye is not a street cop, rather, one of those officers who always get the jobs done and becomes indispensable to a guy who’s trying to run a police department and find time to go on the road and play detective. Because she’s so competent, (and attractive) Sam allows her to take liberties another cop might not get away with. You’ll often hear him say, “Jeez, Betts, you sound like my mother.”

Paul: In all the years you’ve been publishing your work, what is the biggest mistake you made that you could share so others can avoid making it? 
Wayne: When I began writing my first novel, A New Prospect, I knew nothing about 21st century publishing. I had been reading older novels and began writing in the style familiar to me. When I hired a retired editor turned “book doctor” to help spruce up the manuscript, he wrote back saying, “I like the way you write. You’ve got a good voice and this would have been a hit back in 1985, but in 2006, it won’t fly.” He taught me what publishers were looking for and made me jump through hoops to reconstruct the book. I’m glad he did; the book won four awards at national contests. So, my advice: Read new, traditionally published novels in the genre you’re interested in and structure your story in a way publishers accept.

Paul: How do you find the time to write? 
Wayne: Without other vocational obligations, all I need is mental discipline and a little spare time. In reality, when an idea hits me, I get my compulsive traits into high gear and start writing. Sometimes I neglect other necessities to get my thoughts on paper. If anyone asks why (read anyone as my wife) I say, “At my age I have to write things down or I’ll forget them.”

Paul: What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Wayne: For a guy who spent his entire life governed by tangible evidence and had only bad things to say about people with tunnel vision, he’s a hopeless romantic, constantly looking for a peaceful life.

Paul: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Wayne: Outlines and plotting is too much like work. I often get an inspiration out of the blue for a good story. Generally, they’re based on an old case I worked, supervised, or just knew a lot about. Sometimes, they come from something more contemporary. When an idea hits, I just run with it.

Paul: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Wayne: I see that my technical ability has improved over the last six years, but I’m a pain in the neck and no matter how many times I read my work, I find something I want to change. I’m glad I now have a professional editor to tell me what I’ve written is okay and to knock off the tweaking.

Paul: Do you have to do much research for your stories? 
Wayne: I do very little research. As I mentioned, most of my stories are based on actual incidents and police procedures I know from experience. My protagonist is a dinosaur like me and he does things the old-fashioned way. If I need up-to-the-minute information on what’s forensically correct in 2012, I call a friend who’s a crime scene investigator here in Tennessee.

Paul: What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it and also what inspired you to write this book? 
Wayne: A Leprechaun’s Lament is based on, hands down, the most bizarre case I ever got involved with. I would have made it my debut novel, but wondered if people would believe it really could happen. I’m supposed to say, “Any similarity between this story and actual fact is purely coincidental.” But that’s bunk. Just get liberal with your suspension of disbelief. This book is based on fact — except the beautiful Irish girl. I invented her… because I like beautiful girls. Here’s the summary from the dust jacket:
A stipulation of the Patriot Act gave Chief Sam Jenkins an easy job; investigate all the civilians working for the Prospect Police Department. But what looked like a routine chore to the gritty ex-New York detective, turned into a nightmare. Preliminary inquiries reveal a middle-aged employee didn’t exist prior to 1975.
Murray McGuire spent the second half of his life repairing office equipment for the small city of Prospect, Tennessee, but the police can’t find a trace of the first half.
After uncovering nothing but dead ends during the background investigation and frustrations running at flood level, Jenkins finds his subject lying face down in a Smoky Mountain creek bed — murdered assassination-style.
By calling in favors from old friends and new acquaintances, the chief enlists help from a local FBI agent, a deputy director of the CIA, British intelligence services, and the Irish Garda to learn the man’s real identity and uncover the trail of an international killer seeking revenge in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Paul: Do you also write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Wayne: I couldn’t write a good poem if someone held a gun to my head. For ten years I wrote non-fiction magazine articles, but turned to fiction when I began having a hard time coming up with interesting new ideas on the French & Indian War. In addition to three full-length novels already with a publisher, I’ve sold fourteen Sam Jenkins novelettes (approximately 10,000 words each) that have been or will shortly be produced as audio books and simultaneously published as eBooks. I enjoy writing the shorter books.

Paul: Do you have any pieces of work that will never see the light of day? 
Wayne: Years ago, I started writing a novel about the Vietnam War. After a half-dozen chapters, I saw that the language was so off-color, I’d be embarrassed to have my aunt read it. I decided that to sanitize it would take away the authenticity I wanted, so, I scrapped the idea.

Paul: Do you enter competitions? Are there any you could recommend? 
Wayne: I’m not a competitive guy, but I did enter a couple contests at my publisher’s suggestion. And I’m glad I did. In 2011, A New Prospect was named Best Mystery at the Indie Book Awards. In 2012, it was selected as 1st Runner-up from all commercial fiction at the Eric Hoffer Book Awards. It also was nominated and became a finalist for A New Horizon Award and a Montaigne Medal in 2012.

Paul: How much marketing do you do for your published works or for your ‘brand’? 
Wayne: By necessity, I do something daily to keep my name fresh in people’s minds. Much of what I do — more than 50%, is to promote other authors. I hope those I help, will reciprocate. Unfortunately, I hate marketing, but I realize it’s a necessity. Writing is fun. Self-promotion is too much like work.

Paul: What’s your favorite / least favorite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Wayne: My favorite thing is seeing a finished product I’m happy with. Getting a hard copy in my hot little hands is just icing on the cake. See that, two clich├ęs in only one sentence? Now that I no longer have to write traditional query letters, internet marketing is my least favorite. I’m surprised so many authors don’t like traditional “meet the public” book signings at brick and mortar bookshops. I have fun with those.

Paul: What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
Wayne: Party tricks? Sure, people gather around and watch me make single-malt scotch disappear. Aside from that, my wife and I like to travel — we go everywhere. With travel, comes photography. I learned how to do it fairly well taking pictures of crime scenes and dead bodies. Compared to that, landscape and nature photography is a snap. Recently we’ve started fishing again. I hadn’t done that in more than thirty years.

Thanks, John for inviting me to spend some time on your blog. And thanks to everyone who’s stopped by and read my scribbling. Best to you all.

About Wayne Zurl: Wayne Zurl grew up on Long Island and retired after twenty years with the Suffolk County Police Department, one of the largest municipal law enforcement agencies in New York and the nation. For thirteen of those years he served as a section commander supervising investigators. He is a graduate of SUNY, Empire State College and served on active duty in the US Army during the Vietnam War and later in the reserves. Zurl left New York to live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with his wife, Barbara.

Wayne's Author Site: Wayne Zurl
Wayne on Twitter: @waynezurl
Wayne on Facebook: Wayne Zurl
Wayne's latest book: A Leprechaun's Lament (Amazon)