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Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Today I am pleased to publish my 13th guest blog post. You too can have a post published on my blog. Just read the guidelines HERE. In the meantime, enjoy...

By: Karen Einsel

Motivation is a funny thing. Here you are 25,000 words into your latest novel and Bam! You hit a brick wall. You become speechless, or maybe wordless. Your muse is playing with the dust bunnies under the bed and you think you have writer’s block. But what if it isn’t? What if the words are there but you just cannot seem to get your motivation revved up to move forward. This happens to everyone from time to time, in all lifestyles, no matter what your job is. Therefore, I have come up with a few ideas to help you find your motivation and get back on track.

Goals: we all set them and, like New Year’s resolutions, sometimes they are unrealistic. The problem with unrealistic goals is that if we don’t achieve them, we slip into a funk, and then it’s even harder to find the motivation to move forward. Set mini goals. Take baby steps. Instead of saying, you will write 5,000 words today, say you’ll write for just 10 minutes, but don’t set that as your goal everyday. Mix it up. Ten minutes today, a sentence tomorrow, and a paragraph the next day.

Your best time:  We all have a certain time of day when we are at our best. I’m a morning person. If I haven’t accomplished anything by noon, the rest of my day is shot. However, if I have accomplished things, my motivation carries over way into the evening. Find your best time. Whether it is after everyone goes to bed or at 3 a.m. it doesn’t matter, as long as it works for you.
Listen to music:  If there is certain music that you associate with your story, crank it up! If not, find songs that make you feel good. Feeling good keeps motivation up!

Research: You say your novel is not historical so why should you do research? The first book in Chris’ Journey takes place in the 70’s and one reader asked me, “Why are they having financial problems?” Well that was one thing I didn’t feel was relevant to the story, but evidently someone feels it is. Even if you just research what kind of clothes they wear, or the cars they drive, do some research.

Work on your cover:  Even if you are planning to hire a cover designer, you should have some ideas about how your cover will look. Search for photos of how you envision your characters or settings ( and
are good ones to try). Go out and take photographs that could be used for the background. Clouds and scenic photos are great for those, and you get some fresh air.

Challenge yourself:  Ray Bradbury said, and I quote, “Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.” I haven’t quite mastered this, but I have been trying. Google Ray Bradbury, he has many great writing tips to help keep you motivated! Another way to challenge yourself is to write outside your normal genre. If you write romance, try writing a short mystery story or a child’s picture book.

Last but not least…

Take a break:  I know you have a deadline, but writing is hard work. You need some down time. Get up and go for a walk, take a nap, lift weights, or… What you do really doesn’t matter, but your body and mind will thank you.

Well those are some of my ideas. What do you do to keep your motivation up or jumpstart it when it feels that you don’t have any?

About Karen: The idea of being a writer never crossed Karen’s mind, but after closing her gift shop in 2011 she found herself with too much time on her hands, and a story in her head. Taking pen and paper in hand she found a whole new world open up to her and she’s enjoying it immensely.

Karen's Blog: karensdifferentcorners
Karen on Facebook:
Karen on Twitter: @K_Einsel

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Writing Update: 07/28/13

I didn't do any writing this week! That is, if you don't count writing blog posts (5), some plot points for my upcoming Xannu book, and a few ideas for the next Ryann book. Oh, and I sent out copies of UnDone to beta readers. And read 1.5 Xannu books (only 1.5 to go). A quiet week all in all!

So, with one week to go in July, and a busy August planned, it's time to take a deep breath and get ready for the next project. Talking of projects, how's your writing going? Do you need some help? Then why not consider downloading a copy of my book, How To Write & Self-Publish Your First Novel? It could be just the thing for you.

How To Write & Self-Publish Your First Novel

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

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!

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

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Author Interview: Jack Thompson

Today I am pleased to present to you all the 81st in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the wife-playing, brick-laying, Jack Thompson, and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Jack:  Any writing I do must start with a cup of coffee. I like to get a running start, so I usually read through what I’ve already written until my fingers start moving on the keyboard.

Paul:  What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Jack:  I have what I would consider eclectic taste in books. I like reading Stephen King, Dr. Seuss, Homer, Mark Twain, Jonathan Swift, and Elmore Leonard. The reality of the characters and how well they communicate to me is most important. Suspense and some surprises also help keep me interested.

Paul:  If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Jack:  A lot of clutter. It’s filled with all sorts of characters, scenery, places and ideas. They’d probably immediately hire a housekeeper to clean it up.

Paul:  Do you have a favorite character in each of your series, aside from the lead? If so, which one and why?
Jack:  One of my favorite characters is “Vinny,” Livinia Moore, introduced in The Color of Greed, Book 1 in the Raja Williams Series. She started as the computer hacker sidekick to Raja Williams but has become my favorite character in the books. She’s a strong, smart, beautiful and fiercely independent woman.

Paul:  How do you find the time to write?
Jack:  You don’t find the time to write, you have to make the time to write. If you think, “Someday when I have the time, I’ll write that great book I always wanted to,” you won’t. You have to make it a priority. I find that sitting down in front of the keyboard and not getting up until I write a certain number of words helps.

Paul:  What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Jack:  Don’t tell them how sometimes in the middle of a book I get so frustrated if a story doesn’t seem to be going where I want it to go, that I tell my wife I’m throwing the whole book away, giving up writing and starting a new career as a brick layer. Tell them instead that the words flow from my lips in grand Shakespearean fashion.

Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Jack:  I run when I can and plot when I have to.

Paul:  Do you have to do much research for your stories?
Jack:  Depending on what I’m writing, there might be no research or a lot. I don’t find research necessary, but I find it very helpful to inspire plot ideas and characters. Besides, I learn a lot of interesting things about the world.

Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it.
Jack:  My most recent book is the third in the Raja Williams mystery detective series, entitled Swimming Upstream. It takes place near Mt. Rainier in Washington State and in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Like any good detective mystery, there are dead bodies and plenty of evil doers.

Paul:  What inspired you to write this book?
Jack:  Reader demand for more of Raja Williams, and Vinny had a hand in it. (I’ve also fallen in love with the characters.) My interest in the global conflict between corporate successes and environmental protection also played a part in inspiring the story.

Paul:  Do you also write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Jack:  Yes. I published a book of poetry and a number of science fiction short stories. I also published some children’s fairy tales and stories under the pen name Fun London.

Paul:  What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?

Jack:  I love playing with my Rhodesian Ridgeback/Lab mix and my wife, not necessarily in that order.

Paul:  Thanks, Jack, that was great. I wish you every success for the future.

About Jack Thompson: Jack Thompson is a professional writer, finding voices in a number of different genres. So far he has written a wide variety, including children's stories, fairy tales, science fiction, paranormal romance, political thrillers and mystery detective stories. He's even written a book of poetry. As an avid reader he has enjoyed an even wider variety from classic Greek literature to modern horror.

According to Jack, whether reading or writing, what makes a story great is how well it communicates to the reader. Whether presenting him with a hero he wishes he could be or a villain he chooses to hate, the characters must relate to the reader on a personal level. A reader will leave a good story in an improved condition. He may have learned something new about the world or himself, or simply been well entertained. That's why Jack writes.

Jack's Blog: Jack Thompson
Jack on Twitter: @jack_writes
Jack on Facebook: Jack Thompson
Jack's latest book: The Color Of Greed (Amazon)

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Friday, July 26, 2013

About A Week Ago I Quit

Today I am pleased to publish my 12th guest blog post. You too can have a post published on my blog. Just read the guidelines HERE. In the meantime, enjoy...

About a week ago, I quit
By: Charmain Brackett

I threw in the towel and gave up on the dream. I announced to the Facebook world that I was done with novel writing – kaput, finis, over. It was back to the reality of the newspaper grind and time to forget all of this science fiction and fantasy. I’d played on the other side. It was fun, but now, it was over. I was tired of tweeting, Facebooking, blogging and announcing to the world about my efforts.

And it felt so good. The pressure of trying to create a fourth novel in my Key Guardian Journals’ series and one-up myself was over. My brain was free. I could breathe.

However, in that brief span of 12 hours or less when I tossed the idea of writing another book, a new idea came into my head. My characters appeared and almost begged me to tell their story. I saw it from start to finish all at once. I’ve never had that happen. My three novels, The Key of Elyon, Elyon’s Cipher and Elyon’s Light, are all young adult with science fiction and fantasy themes but without sparkly vampires or dragons. I don’t plan out my novels from beginning to end. I hated writing outlines in school. If I had to turn an outline in with a paper, I wrote the outline after the fact.  It was hard to predict what I’d write because research often played a key role in developing a paper. It’s the same with newspaper features I’ve written over the past 25 years. An idea forms, but other factors influence the end product. I often finish with something totally different than what I envisioned at the beginning. Why would writing a book be any different?    

I didn’t know where I was headed with the trilogy, and along the way, plot twists developed that even I didn’t see coming. I disciplined myself to write every day until I finished it.  “Words on the page every day” has been my Facebook status so much in the past 18 months that other writers I’m friends with quote and tag me in their statuses.

Now I have a complete work stuck in my head, and I’m trying to get the words on the page as fast as they come.

And it’s different from the rest. This book seems to be tailored for a different segment of my readers. My target audience is young adult for the Key Guardian Journals, but I’ve discovered I have many fans who are middle-aged women. They’ve usually read the books before giving them to their children or grandchildren who also seem to like them. What did they like? Many of them liked the themes of second chances and a renewed hope.

My work in progress deals with those themes as well. I’m crossing to a different genre for this one, but I’ve never been able to stick with one story type. In a typical newspaper week, I could be writing a story about an event at a local school, focusing on the latest fashion trends or interviewing the Grammy-award winner coming in to perform at the local arena. Variety is important for my creative brain. So maybe I’ll find a pen name. I’ve actually used one of those before. I may have to resurrect her.

Where this leads I can’t tell. I do know that I’ve put more words on the page in the first week with this one than I did with my three previous. They flow, and I’m going with it. People always tell you not to quit, but maybe letting go of something for a short period of time isn’t such a bad idea after all.

About Charmain Brackett: Charmain Zimmerman Brackett grew up in a picturesque Southern neighborhood filled with front porches and retirees. Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nancy Drew and Mina Harker were some of her closest companions in her childhood and teen-ge years. In college, her love of literature, language and writing led her to pursue a degree in English. She has spent the past 25 years writing for several newspapers and magazines in the Augusta, Ga. area. In 2008, a story in a series she wrote on returning wounded warriors received second place at the Department of the Army level in the Keith L. Ware journalism competition. She has written three novels, The Key of Elyon, Elyon's Cipher and Elyon's Light.

Charmain's facebook author page is and her website/blog is She can be found on Twitter @CZBrackett.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Infographic: Online Tracking 101


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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

#8 - Thinking Of A Title (HOWNTWAN)

This is the eighth article in the semi-comedic series, How Not To Write A Novel (HOWNTWAN). The first article in the series can be found here: What's Your Story About? Keep reading during the next couple months for the rest of the series.

8. Thinking Of A Title

“Hey, what’s you book called, by the way?”
“First Blood.”
“And it’s on Amazon?”
But don’t expect to find it.
I searched First Blood on Amazon Kindle today and I found 161 results. I just hope you can remember the name of that author, or you’ll never find her book.
Choosing the correct title for your book may not seem a very important task, but it can make a huge difference to your sales. Here’s another scenario:
“Hey, what’s your book called, by the way?”
“Jermaine’s Legacy.”
“And it’s on…”
And again, don’t expect to find it. German’s Legacy, Charming Legacy, and The Main Legacy, all yielded results, but not the correct one.
And then there are the authors that go for something so unique, you’ll never find their book either. Examples are (all real): Palimpsest, Kydona, and Aurora Abroad.
Amazon lists over two million books in its Kindle store. That’s a lot of books. So, if you’re looking to stand out, and at the same time be found, you’d better think long and hard about the correct book title.
The choice of a title alone will not consign you to keeping your day job, but it can have an effect on the visibility of your book. I’m not going to make this a long article, I’ll use the extra words in another essay, later in this book. All I will say is this:
1/ Keep it as short as possible - Long titles look very small in thumbnails
2/ Keep it punchy - remember you’re competing against two million titles, so make it memorable
3/ Keep it different - First Blood. Enough said
4/ Keep it genre-appropriate - Her Midnight Ride, may not attract the correct audience for a book about taxi-cabs

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Writing Update Special - Reflections On My Process (Including Scrivener)

Back in April of this year, I wrote two articles about my plotting process (Planning A Novel - Ryann's Brother and Writing Update 4/21/13). Now I've finished writing my latest manuscript, I thought it would be a good idea to write a reflective post on what worked. You never know, it may even be something that help someone!

As many of you are aware, I use Scrivener to help me write my novels. I love Scrivener! Before its advent, I used Microsoft Word and, although Word produced pretty documents, it was difficult to keep thoughts and structure together once I got beyond about 30,000 words. I'm not going to write all about Scrivener here, as I've done that before, but if you're interested, you can read my experiences, hints, and tips HERE.

Anyway, back to the plot! (And an apt word that is, too.) One of the major things I did differently this time around was to use a timeline for my novel. After having set down my 200 or so plot points, I created a timeline of the novel that listed what/where each major character was doing at a particular point in time. I created it in Excel, with the first column detailing the months, and the first row detailing the names of the characters. Then I filled it like a grid (see sample below).

I'd read it would help in keeping me on track with my storyline and also minimize plot / story breaks. And guess what? It worked. It worked so well, I opened it up on many occasions as I was writing. I could quickly check when things had happened, who was where, and also I could move pieces around as necessary. Combined with Scrivener's ability to move plot points wherever I wanted, the timeline became a wonderful tool. So much so, in fact, that it even changed the way I use Scrivener.

Previously, I had color-coded all plot points in Scrivener to show who was the major POV character in the scene, and also to show where it took place. I didn't need to do that any more. The timeline served that function, allowing me to write more quickly. So, addition of timeline: Huge win!

There are a few other things I love about Scrivener that I use time and time again. Let me go over a few of them.

I use Character Sheets for all my major characters. This enables me to bring up a picture and description of any character, alongside (split screen) whatever scene I'm writing, whenever I want. I can then refer to this, and make modifications, if I want, on the fly. Also, I can add character traits, notes, etc. about the character so that the Character Sheet becomes a complete reference. I can also include the names of minor, but associated, characters to the major Character Sheets. So far, for Ryann's Brother, I have 16 major characters I am keeping track of - too much to try and remember. I also keep a Character Relationship diagram. This details who is married to who, who the children are, which cousin is really the child of x, etc. Books always have complex relationships and this chart helps me remember what is what.

Then there are the places and things. I keep references sheets on religion, history, animals, magics, etc. They all need to be referenced from time to time. And finally I keep reference sheets on places (with pictures).

Scrivener, to me, is a writing environment. It's a thousand things more than a word processor. Now that I use it on a daily basis, I couldn't imagine ever going back to Word. So, you ask, don't you ever use Word any more? Yes - I do. For formatting the final output. That's it!

Ryann's Brother is the thirteenth book I've written. At long last, I'm beginning to get a process together that really works for me. It takes time, and what works for me may not work for you. But, after 864,000 published (including Ryann's Brother) words, I think I can speak with a little bit of experience. Planning things out in advance will give you every chance of becoming successful, and the early word on my totally rough draft of Ryann's Brother is that this is my best book to date!

PS. Many people ask me how I turn books out so quickly (on track for writing 5 novels this year). Quite simply - I don't! If I didn't have a day job, I could turn them out in weeks! But I do believe the secret to successful writing, is good planning. Planning allows me to write at around 1300-1500 words an hour. Most Indie Authors consider 500-1000 words a day as a success. I have had the occasional day when I've been able to devote most of it to writing, and I've turned out 6000-7000 words. Now that's what I call a good day!

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Monday, July 22, 2013

#7 - How Long Should My Novel Be? (HOWNTWAN)

This is the seventh article in the semi-comedic series, How Not To Write A Novel (HOWNTWAN). The first article in the series can be found here: What's Your Story About? Keep reading during the next couple months for the rest of the series.

7. How Long Should My Novel Be?

I’ve heard it all before:
A) As long as it needs to be
B) Write until you write ‘The End’
C) Write until you finish the story
D) I don’t pay any attention to word counts; I write what I want
Welcome to the wonderful world of keeping your day job! Not paying attention to word count when you’re an unknown author, is just asking for failure. Did you know, for example, that JK Rowling’s first few Harry Potter books were around 75,000 to 80,000 words? This was so, as an unknown author, she had more chance of getting her books published. Of course, once she was well known, and had a loyal readership, she could break the rules and start writing 165,000 to 250,000 word books!
To be clear, I am not saying that 80,000 words is what you should be aiming at. A lot depends on the audience and genre. But you do need to know what is expected for your age group and genre. It could be 30,000 words, and it could be 125,000. One thing’s for sure though, the word count is not going to be as long as it needs to be.
The reason for having a particular word count is all about helping the reader understand you and your book; to give it a better chance of getting read. A reader of fantasy sagas is not going to buy a 40,000 word book. That would be like a teaser for them; they will be expecting somewhere in the region of 125,000 to 200,000 words.
So far in this series of essays we have covered a lot of topics, and haven’t even discussed writing the actual book. Everything has been about things to consider before writing. The reason for this is so you can set yourself up for success. If you can get everything lined up before you start writing, you will have an easier time at the finish getting a lot of favorable reviews. And this means if you need to write an 80,000 word novel, you’re going to have to come in somewhere around 75,000 to 85,000 words. If you’re over or under this total, you’re going to have to make some adjustments to the completed manuscript.
It’s a little like these essays. I set out to write thirty essays, each one around 600 words (550 to 650 words approx). I figured that 600 words is about the right amount of space to get my individual point across, without being overly simple, or descriptively boring.
Word count may seem like a totally irrelevant thing to consider, but if you’re writing mainstream fiction, you must pay attention.
I want to end this article with a little guide to help in writing your story. Each page in a traditional paperback is about 250 to 300 words. This means an 80,000 word story will be somewhere between 265 to 320 pages long. Each plot point or story element in a book will probably cover between 1 and 4 pages (250 to 1,200 words). Further extrapolating this, you are going to need around 70 to 300 plot points or story elements (call it 200 to be on the safe side). I’ve mentioned this magic number (200) elsewhere in my essays, and no doubt I’ll come back to it again in the future. Ultimately, if you have enough interesting things happening in a novel, and you write about each thing concisely and don't go overboard with the description, you’ll get the word count right for the type of novel you’re writing. If the novel is too short, there’s not enough happening, and if the novel is too long, you’ve probably written a lot of boring passages.
Hey, but what do I know? Just ignore my advice and keep doing what you’re doing. After all, you really do enjoy your day job, don’t you?

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Writing Update: 07/21/13

So, what have I been doing this week? Not a lot of writing! But, I have been doing a lot of other things. As I mentioned in last week's post, I've been doing first edits on my upcoming novella, UnDone, the second in the NotDone series. This week I get to send the book out to my beta readers.

The other thing I've been doing, of course, is writing blog posts. And several of these posts are for my new series How Not To Write A Novel (HOWNTWAN). If you haven't read any of these yet, take a look.

Then finally, I've started reading my complete Xannu series, in preparation to wring the fourth and final novel, Xannu - The Mayhem. I have to get through 3 hrs of reading every night for 12 days. I think that's a bigger task than actually writing!

And that's about it until August 1st, when the writing starts again in earnest. So, it's nice to have a little bit of a slowdown and to let my creative mind recharge. I have to switch gears and finish off a series whose last book was written over two years ago. But this will be a huge achievement for me - a four book, 500,000 word series. Sounds good, doesn't it? So how about heading over to my website and reading a little about Xannu and maybe even buying the first in the series? It's only $0.99.

Until next week...

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Author Interview: David Lender

Today I am pleased to present to you all the 80th in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the music-loving, pitbull-sitting, David Lender, and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals?
David:  I move around a lot when I write. I used a mini cassette recorder almost exclusively to write business correspondence, presentations, etc. in my former career as an investment banker, and that's carried over into my writing. I dictate into a digital mini cassette recorder and transcribe it via Dragon Naturally Speaking software. I used to have a writing studio in an attic room in our home, but abandoned it. I felt isolated up there, couldn’t move around as much as I like to and couldn't interact during the day with my wife, my stepson and our pitbull, Styles. So we put a writing desk in the living room behind the sofa and I hang out there to make notes, outline, get organized, edit on the computer, etc. But when I write I carry my mini-cassette recorder around the house most of the time.

Paul:  What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
David:  I read mostly thrillers, and some classic literature. F. Scott Fitzgerald is my favorite author, and The Great Gatsby is my favorite novel. I read it every few years. I also really admire his novel, Tender is the Night and many of his short stories. I've never found a writer who can perfectly put together a phrase like Fitzgerald, and who manages to convey the emotions of his characters with such poignancy and irony. Thriller writers I admire are Frederick Forsyth — The Day of the Jackal may be the best thriller ever written — Graham Greene — I just re-read Our Man in Havana and The Third Man again—John LeCarre, Robert Ludlum, Thomas Harris, Ken Follett, and Tom Clancy (his older stuff). Elmore Leonard is my favorite contemporary writer. No one does dialogue like him, and no one mixes edgy humor and attitude with suspense as he does.

Paul:  If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
David:  They’d probably find it fairly organized. I get an idea and develop it methodically in thinking through a novel. I work with a structure, building emotional peaks and valleys throughout the story. I let my characters run with things during scenes, but I plan scenes out before I write them, so even that process is reasonably organized.

Paul:  How do you find the time to write?
David:  I'm a retired investment banker, so I no longer have a day job, which leaves me as much or as little time to write as I please. Even without a day job, life intervenes. I spend a lot of time taking care of things around the house, managing our finances, and researching on the computer. Styles also frequently interrupts me when he insists on playing ball. Some days I write for only a few hours, some not at all, but when I get hot, I'll work almost non-stop all day.

Paul:  What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
David:  That I welcome distractions as a means of practicing work avoidance, particularly when writing first drafts of anything, which are the toughest for me. Styles is a great random interrupter. He has a bed underneath my desk, which he uses, but when he's fed up with waiting he’ll jump up into my lap (he’s allowed to), grab one of my hands and pull me, then go fetch one of his balls.

Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
David:  I am an outliner. My first editor taught me to do detailed character biographies followed by a detailed scene-by-scene outline of my novel. I've softened from the rigor of such a detailed outline as I write more, but I never write anything without knowing where I'm going, and particularly how it's going to end. I also use some screenwriting techniques to work with key touch-points in structuring my story. And before I write a scene, I'll always scribble down key elements of the conflict and tension I want to build between the characters within it, often scratching out elements of the dialogue like a tennis match, back and forth, before I start writing. I'm probably the antithesis of the organic writer.

Paul:  Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
David:  I can’t imagine writing a first draft of anything and not rewriting, then rewriting, to get it the way I want it. The old adage that "writing is re-writing" is certainly true of me. That being said, sometimes I'll write a long sequence of dialogue back and forth between characters in a scene, particularly characters I've gotten to know very well late in the book, that seems so natural and flows so easily that I don't want to touch it. But I usually do.

Paul:  Do you have to do much research for your stories?
David:  I do substantial research even for stories in which I am able to draw on my experience from over 25 years in investment banking, for example, my novels Bull Street and The Gravy Train, set on Wall Street. I believe that relevant details can help bring a story to life.

Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it
David:  My most recent novel, Arab Summer, released in January, is part of the Sasha Del Mira series. When the Muslim terrorist group, al-Mujari, murders Sasha’s husband, the former CIA agent comes out of retirement to avenge his death by tracking down the al-Mujari’s leader before he can launch an Arab Spring uprising intent on a bloody coup of the Saudi government. She knows her target well; Saif Ibn Mohammed al-Aziz was once her ally — and lover.

Paul:  What inspired you to write this book?
David:  I was inspired to write Arab Summer because of the favorable response from readers to the character of Sasha from my first novel in the series, Trojan Horse. As a result of that I wrote Sasha Returns, a short story, last year, and still kept hearing from readers asking for more Sasha stories. I guess they’re responding to a strong female protagonist who’s both true to her emotions and takes no prisoners when she’s wronged — and has the brains, martial arts skills and weapons expertise to back it up.

Paul:  Do you also write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
David:  I’ve recently written some short stories, which was how I started writing in grammar school. I hadn’t written one since college until about a year ago, and decided to give one a try after reading some autobiographical pieces by F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose short stories I love. In one piece he wrote that he’d written a 7,000 word short story over a weekend, then sent it off to one of the magazines that regularly published them. That spurred me to write a short story again. It took me a lot longer than a weekend, though, but I had fun writing Rudiger and will write a follow-up to that story with the same characters.

Paul:  What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?

David:  When I'm not writing I'm doing things around the house, taking care of the day-to-day aspects of life, playing with Styles, hanging out with my wife or going to the gym. For the last five months I've been overseeing the rebuilding of our detached garage, which got flattened by a 100-year-old oak tree during hurricane Sandy. It's been an incredible distraction, although on some days it’s fun at the same time. I enjoy listening to music. I have great stereo equipment — I’m not an iPod guy — in our home and our weekend house, with tastes ranging from classical to classic rock and current artists. The Beatles, David Bowie, Mark Knopfler and Mozart are favorites. I also enjoy a good red wine and have a well-stocked cellar at our weekend house in Pennsylvania.

Paul:  That was most interesting, David. I wish you every success for the future.

About David Lender: David Lender is a former investment banker who spent twenty-five years on Wall Street. After earning his MBA at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, he went on to work in mergers and acquisitions for Merrill Lynch, Rothschild and Bank of America. His first three novels—Trojan Horse, The Gravy Train, and Bull Street—turned Lender into an e-book sensation. He lives in northern New Jersey with his family and a pitbull named Styles.

David's Blog: David Lender
David on Twitter: @davidtlender
David on Facebook: David Lender
David's latest book: Arab Summer (Sasha Del Mira) (Amazon)

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