My Books

Buy one of my books... Available above at Amazon. Also available at SmashWords, Barnes & Noble and iTunes

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Infographic: Libraries Are Forever


Receive Special Offers, Discounts and FREE books!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Scrivener #10 - Creating Character Points Of View using Metadata

This is the tenth in a series of blog posts based on my experience with Scrivener - A Swiss Army Knife of a tool for writers. The complete series can be found HERE.

What? Points Of View? Metadata? What the heck are you talking about?

Scrivener comes with something called metadata which can be tailored to suit any project you are working on. Let me give you an example by way of a screenshot:

On the right hand side of the Scrivener screen (if "Inspector" is turned on), you will see something that resembles the shot above. It's a copy of the "index card" you are currently working on. Notice half-way down there's a label that says "General Meta-Data." I have configured my project metadata to show "Point Of View" and "SceneType."

What does this mean? Well, quite simply it means that whenever I come to write a scene (index card) in my story I know which character's point of view I am writing it from. This stops me from getting confused and mixing my viewpoints mid-scene. I also pick which type of scene I am writing so that I can take a look at all my plot points / scenes (index cards) together and make sure I have enough action scenes / fight scenes / etc. sprinkled liberally within.

But how do I do this? Under the "Project" menu in Scrivener there is an option named "Meta-Data Settings." Click that. You should now see an option box that looks similar to below:

Can you see what I've done? I've changed the default Label Title to "Point Of View" and then inserted all my characters into the list, each with a different color assigned (the colors can be used to identify characters in other views). Similarly I've customized the Status tab as follows:

So, going back to our original image at the top of the post, I can now identify every scene / plot point (index card) with a Point Of View and a SceneType. Furthermore, those metadata can be used to visually identify different characters and scene types. Take a look at the screenshot below:

Now I never get confused when I'm writing particular scenes using particular characters, interacting in particular ways. Oh, how I love Scrivener!

If you're still confused, send me an email or leave a comment and I'll try to explain in more depth. In the meantime, enjoy scrivener.

Receive Special Offers, Discounts and FREE books!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Writing Update: 2/24/13

Yay! I've managed to spend a whole week writing. At approximately 1,400 words a day it all starts to add up. This blog post is being published on a Sunday, but I'm writing it on a Thursday (I schedule most of my blog posts in advance - it's the only way!), and last evening I finished Chapter 6 of my novella, NotDone. Hopefully by the time you read this I'll have finished Chapter 9. That will be approximately 13,000 words in the bag, or about a third of the book. I like it when I get into a book and the words start to flow a little faster. I always find the first few days the most difficult. Usually a few chapters into the book it starts to take a life of its own and new ideas come to mind and the story takes on a few new directions I hadn't thought would materialize. Still, that's why we write!

As you probably already know, I plan and write all my novels using Scrivener (which I have written about many times before). Above you can see a miniaturized screenshot of some of my plot points and also a character relationship table (which is important in this complex political sci-fi book).

Anyway, enough for today. I'll be writing another update next weekend. Until then, it's onward and upward with NotDone.

Receive Special Offers, Discounts and FREE books!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Author Interview: Brad Cameron

Today I am pleased to present to you all the 52nd in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the fake English accent speaking Brad Cameron and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Brad:  Music is an essential part of my writing. My Pandora radio stations are packed with everything from smooth jazz to classic rock. Generally I tend to favor the music that is purely instrumental. Lyrics can often be distracting. However, when I’m in the mood, Sade can often lure me into a frenzied state of creativity. Next to my humming speakers there’s always a drink, something cool, but not always. Often a hot cup of coffee, even in the evening hours, will help to entice the muses.

Paul:  What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Brad:  YA literature captures my attention most. I’m a big fan of Robert Comier, though his themes can be a little dark at times. Nevertheless, as far as inspiration goes, I often find myself turning to Stephen King. His use of description and masterful storytelling encourages me. I can’t help but believe that with enough exposure to his writing that I may someday emulate his creativity and put out some writing that people will be talking about and reading for years to come.

Paul:  If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Brad:  I think they would see very simple, unadorned scenes that take shape well before my fingers ever touch a keyboard. They would, without a doubt, find themselves edging toward unconsciousness because I do most of my imaginings just before I nod off at night. The cool thing is, I don’t forget the scenes I imagined the night before. When the new day dawns, I remember the ideas clearly. Later, in the evening, I transfer those thoughts onto my word processor.

Paul:  What is a typical day for you?
Brad:  I know that I would love to say that my typical day is a regimented writing schedule, interspersed with moments of exercise, research and pleasure reading. However, the truth is that I am, like many new writers, still working a day job. Currently I teach middle school Humanities to a very large and noisy group of 8th graders. My day is filled with lesson planning, parent/teacher meetings, and dealing with student behavior issues - both the good and the bad. It’s not until I get home at night that I begin my writing. After dinner I often head upstairs to my comfortable home office. The music comes on and I try my best to listen to the voice of the muse, remembering my imaginings from the night before. I write for 2-3 hours before the night finally ends.

Paul:  Do you have a favorite character in each of your series, aside from the lead? If so, which one and why?
Brad:  Zeke Proper, of course, is the main character in my series, along with his little brother Devon, but the character that often makes me smile as I imagine him and try to develop his character is the boys’ grandfather, John Proper. John reminds me of my own grandfather who passed away many years ago. John is the personification of freshly turned gardens with rich black dirt, the calm of the open ocean, the smoke from autumn leaves burning in an old barrel. He is the archetypical man who toils in the backyard, nets fish from the sea, and harvests fresh vegetables from a well-tended garden. He is the one who rakes a neighbors leaves without being asked; he is the reader of good books. John is the true companion of a loving wife whose hand he holds with his own calloused hands. That is why I love my character John Proper.

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?
Brad:  My experience has taught me that being a writer is great, but without an awesome editor you are nothing. The first work I published was awful. I thought I could do it all on my own, but as a writer you don’t see the mistakes, you only see what should be there. Having your best friend or your wife read it doesn’t help either. They’ll only tell you what you want to hear. They don’t want to hurt your feelings. So find an editor who’ll be straight up. Find someone who’ll tell you it sucks when it really does. A little embarrassment and frustration early on is much better than years of regret every time you open your own book.

Paul:  How do you find the time to write?
Brad:  Finding time to write is really not a problem. My problem is often finding the motivation to write. Because I work teaching kids all day in middle school, I discover that by the evening I’m exhausted. The lure of a soft couch and a television is often hard to pull away from. But I’ve found that if I force myself up to my office, close the door, get the music rolling, and start tapping away, even if it’s not quite the scene I’d initially imagined, that the time suddenly passes very quickly. And, before I know it, 3 hours have slipped by and I have five to six hundred words that I can be proud of.

Paul:  What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Brad:  When I read my work after I’ve written a lengthy portion, I will often read out loud and with an English accent. For some reason it makes it sound better. From time to time I will peek outside my office door just to make sure no one is listening.

Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Brad:  I mentioned earlier that most of my creativity comes on at night, just as I’m dozing off. Those images are often very simple scenes without a lot of fluff to go with them. When I finally sit down to write I begin with the scene and then just let the story take over. It’s amazing the direction the story will lead you if you just let it. I know that there are a lot of writers who use storyboards, outlines, etc., but I’ve never found them helpful. I believe the story wants to tell itself and develop, and it will, if you’re patient and you allow it.

Paul:  Do you have to do much research for your stories?
Brad:  Research plays a very big part in my writing. It’s important for me to be as accurate as I can with respect to the Norse myths. In my YA series, characters from Norse Mythology come to life in the present. In my research I’ve discovered that the early Norse people had a tough existence, their deities reflected much of that life. I’ve tried my best to be true to that theme, describing the gods as they might have been imagined by the early Norse.

Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it and what inspired you to write this book.
Brad:  My most recent novel, The Serpent’s Ship, Book Two in the Zeke Proper Chronicles, was published in the summer of 2012. It’s a continuation of the adventures Zeke and his family go through in Odin’s Light. With this second book I found myself taking more chances with my characters, putting them in situations that even made me feel a little uncomfortable. There were times when I literally had to step back and say, “whoa, can I really allow this character to go through this?” But allowing my characters to take more chances and experience some rather painful events became somewhat cathartic for me. In the end I was very pleased with the outcome and especially pleased when I’d hear from a fan who would ultimately say, “I can’t believe that happened. I never saw it coming.”

Paul:  What do you do when you're not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
Brad:  I live in a very beautiful part of the world, the Pacific Northwest, and when I’m not writing and the weather cooperates, I like to spend time riding the hilly landscape either on my road bike or on my motorcycle. It calms me and I find that I never tire of the scenery. Exercise is also an important part of my daily routine. I find that it actually energizes me and keeps my mind clear and more creative.

Paul:  That was wonderful, Brad. I wish you every success for the future.

About Brad Cameron: Brad Cameron is from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and currently resides in the Pacific Northwest. He is a middle school Humanities and Language Arts teacher who has been inspired to write Young Adult Fantasy through his countless hours of teaching and reading to students. He is an avid follower of all things mythological. When not writing, Brad spends his time in the outdoors either on his bicycle or motorcycle touring the stunning countryside near his home. Brad is currently working on book three in The Zeke Proper Chronicles, The Gates of Asgard, due out in the Summer of 2013

Brad's Blog: Zeke Proper Chronicles
Brad on Twitter: @camgang817
Brad on Facebook: Zeke Proper Chronicles
Brad's latest book: The Serpent's Ship (Amazon)

Receive Special Offers, Discounts and FREE books!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Infographic: America's Fresh Food Movement


Receive Special Offers, Discounts and FREE books!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sony Vaio 13.3" Touchscreen Windows 8 Ultrabook Review

I’ve really got used to having a touchscreen on my phone and Kindle Fire, but as an author I also really appreciate a proper keyboard. So with that in mind, when it came time to choose a new PC, I decided to plump for the new touchscreen Windows 8 ultrabook from Sony.

My experience started off in rather a bad way, with my first ultrabook lasting a mere two hours before it gave out, never to reboot again. However, the Amazon returns and replacement service was excellent and the very next day I had another ultrabook at my door. This one, it seems, is going to last longer than the first. I’ve now had it a full 5 days and I’ve run it through its paces and set everything up on it. I’m using it to write my latest book and also to do all those lovely touchy windows 8 things on the wonderfully clear 13.3” 1366 x 768 touchscreen. My first impressions are that this PC is a gem.

Things I like:
1.  Speed of restart from sleep – no more waiting and waiting to start using it. You simply close the lid when you’re done and then reopen it when you want to continue. It takes about 2 seconds to be ready to use.
2. The ability to switch between the touchscreen, touchpad and keyboard – once you learn all the gestures and shortcuts it’s a really quick user experience.
3. The zippiness of it – my previous PC was a three year-old desktop. This ultrabook seems about 6 generations faster.
4. Windows 8 apps – Netflix, Angry Birds, Skype, CNN News and a plethora of other apps run just like they do on an iPad or Kindle fire.
5. It just works – I know, you expect it to work, but sometimes new things can be a little weird.

So far there is nothing I dislike about it (apart from a lack of some Windows 8 apps – but more and more are arriving each day).

I could go on about the battery life, the ports, the keyboard and everything else but you can read the specs online. The bottom line is would I recommend this PC? Wholeheartedly YES!

I look forward to writing my new manuscripts using Scrivener (and more on that coming soon too!) on my new ultrabook. I am an author in pig heaven.

Receive Special Offers, Discounts and FREE books!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ryann - A Selection Of 4 And 5 Star Reviews

I've been very fortunate recently to receive new 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon for my fantasy novella, Ryann, which is available as a FREE download! To download the book, just click THIS LINK. Enjoy!

"I expected to zip through this book for young readers without getting caught up. I reckoned without the storytelling mastery of Paul Dorset. Ryann is a survivor, subjected to horrific abuse and growing strong and determined. Her adventures are compelling and believable. I did read the book on one sitting and then gasped. The ending left me wanting the next book. That's good writing." (Amazon Reviewer)
- - -
"Ryann, a novella by Paul Dorset, is a short but nicely complicated story of servitude and capacity for good and evil to co-exist. I want more of this series since I want to learn what the author has planned for Ryann.

Some violence in this novel is delivered softly by the author and is left to the imagination of the reader as to how it actually plays out. The tale of the son and father at odds with each other is even more complicated when we learn the family secret.

Happily awaiting more from this series." (Amazon Reviewer)
- - -

As always, a BIG thank you to my readers. I never solicit reviews and I am grateful for every one!

TITLE: Ryann
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Living during a time when children were sold as indentured servants, Ryann must find a way to buy her freedom before the bullying son of her lord and master exacts a deathly vengeance upon her. The castle at Walthern is inhabited by lords and soldiers, potion-makers and sclavas; all trying to eke out an existence in an unforgiving country laid waste by battle. With only a tattered yellow nightdress, two dark brown dresses, and a small assortment of odds and ends, what chance does Ryann have of beating the odds?

"...Ryann is no ordinary urchin. Paul Dorset creates a character of substance, and one to cheer for, along with a story to make a reader want to applaud. I read this story over the weekend and will leave you with this: Read the story, because any more of my ramblings will cause spoiler alerts, and I don't want that for this talented author. What I DO want is the sequel!..." (Amazon Reviewer)

Receive Special Offers, Discounts and FREE books!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Writing Update - 02/17/13

Well, the road to recovery has begun! It's been over six months since I've strung a couple of days together and written, but the good news is that I'm now back on track.

Chapters one and two have been committed to paper and today I press on with chapter three. I've got a total of 56 chapters to write (two 28 chapter novellas) over the next couple of months and I'm actually looking forward to it. The chapters generally get easier as the book progresses and it finds its pace and character. No doubt I'll have to re-visit chapter one at some point and make a few tweaks to it!

What am I writing? Like I've written about previously, this time around it's a sci-fi novel - something I've wanted to do for a very long time. What's it about? Well, that's something I'm not going to give too much away about for now. Just know that it's sort of post-apocalyptic with a large sprinkling of politics and double-dealing involved. I hope it's going to be a winner. Over the next few updates I'll post some raw manuscript samples, but in the meantime head out to the website and be prepared... The time is coming!

More updates next weekend!

Receive Special Offers, Discounts and FREE books!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Author Interview: Randall St. Germain

Today I am pleased to present to you all the 51st (notice I've gone numerical now!) in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the menthol shaving-cream-covered Randall St. Germain and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Randall:  Writing well and productively starts the evening before with not eating late and getting a proper sleep. I like to wake up early, but not start writing until I feel creative. If my head is in a fog, it’s best if I do some other work. When I get tired, I’ll take a break. Sometimes, I’ll go outside for some fresh air, and maybe pull some dandelions out of the lawn. Other times, I just need to rest my eyes and mind. Lying down and closing my eyes, possibly with some light music and a blindfold, is the best to rejuvenate.
Paul:  What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Randall:  I read or listen to mostly nonfiction books, including travelogues, biographies, and self-improvement. I’ve always admired Bill Bryson, and just finished a brilliant book, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I like humor too, and enjoy listening to Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, among others. For books on writing, I believe all writers should read Stephen King’s aptly titled On Writing.
Paul:  If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Randall:  Hmmm... that’s pretty scary. Let me think... a crankshaft, a fountain pen, barbed wire, bunny rabbits with wings, and lots of diet cola floating around.
Paul:  What is a typical day for you? 
Randall:  A typical day is waking up early, checking emails, messages, and tweets. Get to work on my blog, writing, emails, workshops, seminars, while working on my day job which I sadly still have and need. I like to go to the gym or out for walks a few times a week also. In the summer, I enjoy getting out one day a week for a good hike.
Paul:  Do you have a favorite character in each of your series, aside from the lead? If so, which one and why? 
Randall:  My book features the Camino de Santiago, and I feel I play a secondary role to the pilgrimage.
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? 
Randall:  This is my first book so I haven’t been publishing for long. I’ll say that of all of my many, many mistakes, I think my worst was not having much of a platform and no promotion set up when my paperback was released. I just put it out there, and not much happened. It was a year later when my Kindle version was released that I had even a little buzz. I recommend everyone to think about their platform well before their book is released. Make connections and solicit reviewers early. Don’t wait for six months like I did. Also, I need to learn not to be so impatient.
Paul:  How do you find the time to write?
Randall:  It’s not only finding time to write, it’s finding time during my most creative time that is important. It takes planning, and cooperation from those around you. I mentioned a good sleep is important, especially as I get older, as well as good nutrition and removing all distractions, if possible. I get distracted easy and try not to multi-task. The goal is to have the clearest, most productive mind that one possesses. I do the best with what I have.
Paul:  What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Randall:  When I need to wake myself up at some point during the day, one of my methods is to put menthol shaving cream over certain parts of my body. I would prefer not to talk about it. Maybe, we should just move on.
Paul:  If you are self-published, what led to you going your own way?
Randall:  I remember going to a writer’s conference before I began my book. A woman stood up during one of the panels, and asked the publisher on stage why her manuscript hadn’t been looked at for 18 months. The publisher said they were so backlogged with manuscripts, that he didn’t know when he would get to it. Of course, that was only to review her book and nothing was guaranteed. I also knew someone who contacted an agent and was told about the same time frame to review her manuscript. I couldn’t imagine waiting that long. I could be dead in 18 months; hell I could be dead in 18 days. I also met someone who had been shopping her book for 20 years, and felt a little sorry for her. I believe my experience with the music industry also influenced my decision. If I didn’t have inside contacts, there was no way I was going to get even listened to by a major publisher. I just worked on my book until it was published, and then thought about the next steps.
Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Randall:  My book is a travelogue of a pilgrimage so I guess you can say that once I decided to write a book, I walked with it. I’m sorry. Seriously, my book is an honest recount of my journey and I hope the reader appreciates that. I took the reader right across the French Way of the Camino de Santiago.
Paul:  Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Randall:  I self-edited probably more than I should have, but I wanted my journey told in the manner that I saw, and not in someone else’s eyes. My editor helped a lot with punctuation and grammar. She also told me when she thought I went overboard with my attempted humor.
Paul:  Do you have to do much research for your stories?
Randall:  I wanted to keep the history portion of the book light. Historical reference books on the Camino de Santiago have been published for centuries. It wasn’t my intention or desire to write another one. Much of my research involved dating and naming buildings and other monuments along the Camino. I know I have one mistake in my book where I wrongly identified a vegetable. I’m truly a city boy.
Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it
Randall:  My recent book is actually my only book. It’s entitled Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, and recounts my journey across Spain on the famous pilgrimage, the 500 mile French Way of the Camino de Santiago. I wrote my book hoping the reader finds it entertaining and funny, while gaining a better understanding about what it’s like to walk the pilgrimage. When people find it inspiring, it makes me feel very happy.
Paul:  What inspired you to write this book?
Randall:  My walk and book are dedicated to my late mother. She encouraged me to go, before she passed away. As for the actual idea for writing the book, let me just say, when you’re walking by yourself for much of the time, up to 14 hours a day, there are many ideas that go through your mind. My idea happened to be a book although, I wish it was something more lucrative, such as a billion-dollar software or internet company. Why couldn’t I think of Pinterest?
Paul:  Do you also write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Randall:  I don’t write poetry, but I’m a songwriter. I have a catalog of songs that I hope to incorporate into my publishing company one day. If there is anyone out there who is, or knows, a talented young singer, please contact me. Otherwise, I have ideas for books that are fiction, but they won’t be written any time soon. My next book will continue my journey from when Camino de Santiago In 20 Days was first published, through my second pilgrimage, the 530 mile Camino Del Norte.
Paul:  Do you have any pieces of work that will never see the light of day?
Randall:  My high school journals. I still have them and nobody will ever get to see them. I also have some very poor songwriter demos.
Paul:  Do you enter competitions? Are there any you could recommend?
Randall:  The last competition I entered was for baking cookies, but I think you mean competitions regarding writing. Sorry, I have never entered one. I like to think just publishing a book in a world with so many books, many of which are free, is enough of a competition.
Paul:  How much marketing do you do for your published works or for your ‘brand’?
Randall:  Early on, I did little marketing at all. In fact, I didn’t know what to do. I decided to build up my brand through blogging and social media. It was difficult at first, learning Wordpress and blogging, and continuing through the early days with very few visitors to my website. It’s better now, although I strive to become a much better writer, not only on my blog, but for my next book. I have dozens of emails and could spend a considerable amount of money on advertising and PR programs. I haven’t participated in any yet, but if something makes sense from a business standpoint, then I’ll consider it. That’s probably a question I should ask you for advice. I also have to be comfortable with each level of promotion. I’m still learning and do the best I can.
Paul:  What’s your favorite / least favorite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Randall:  My favorite aspect is when I write something that makes me chuckle or even laugh aloud. The least favorite aspect are the days, or parts of days, when I’m staring at my computer but can’t think of any words. What has surprised me? I learned a lot about myself while writing. It was very similar to walking the Camino. I touched upon it earlier with having a better understanding of your mind and body, and to take advantage when I’m at my best. On the Camino, it was walking well when I felt my best. With writing, it’s writing to the best of my ability when I feel creative. I never did fully understand the correlation until my book was finished, and I could think more about it. I’m exploring the topic further right now.
Paul:  What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
Randall:  I enjoy hiking, going for walks, photography, nature, sunsets, and monster truck driving. Okay, I’m kidding about monster truck driving. I do have a party trick but I prefer not to discuss it here. I am very shy.
Paul:  Well thanks, Randall, that was great. I wish you lots of success with your book.

About Randall St. Germain: Randall St. Germain is the author of Camino de Santiago In 20 Days. which recounts his 20 day walking journey across Spain on the 500 mile French Way of the Camino de Santiago. This past summer, he completed his third Camino, the 530 mile Camino Del Norte. Randall blogs at his website, Camino My Way, where there are over 70 posts, and 1,000 photos from his journeys. He enjoys photography, writing, reading, nature, hiking, long-distance walking, and sometimes, relaxing.

Randall's Blog: Camino My Way
Randall on Twitter: @CaminoMyWay
Randall on Facebook: Camino De Santiago
Randall's latest book: Camino de Santiago in 20 Days (Amazon)

Receive Special Offers, Discounts and FREE books!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Writing Update

Fate moves in mysterious ways from time to time. As I've written about before, my mind hasn't been in the game properly with regards to writing. But now I think I've got it together. I've spent the past few days fleshing out my sci-fi thriller, NotDone, and it's almost ready to go.

It looks like the main characters are fleshed out, the plot has almost come together, and the backstory is done. So now it just leaves the actual writing to complete! Just a few more days and D-day will arrive.

And, as I always do, I'll be keeping you all up to date with my latest adventure. I'm aiming for a June release of the first book, but more on that later. Until then, stay tuned...

Receive Special Offers, Discounts and FREE books!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Author Interview: T.W. Grim

Today I am pleased to present to you all the fiftieth in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the mysterious and macabre T.W. Grim, and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals? 
T.W.:  It has to be at night. I hate writing in the daytime. I need to be free of the ambient presence of day-to-day life - lawnmowers and kids playing out in the street, traffic and sunshine and s**t like that. I write about horrific things; it's easier to imagine them in the dark.

Paul:  If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see? 
T.W.:  It's a nasty, creepy, and darkly hilarious place in there. They'd see madmen and monsters, comical mishaps and all kinds of murder. Did I mention madmen and monsters? Lots of them.

Paul:  How do you find the time to write? 
T.W.:  By not getting any sleep. I average four hours a night, most of the time. I work a lot, because self-publishing horror fiction is pretty much NOT a viable way to make a living for most of us. Then I have to attend to life-stuff, like grocery shopping and taking the kid places that you take kids to. As I already mentioned, I write at night, so... I've gotten used to not sleeping, and I try hard to not lash out in an exhausted rage at the world around me, ha.

Paul:  What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers? 
T.W.:  My actual identity? I publish with a pen name because my style tends to be, ah, somewhat combatively unpleasant and over-the-top violent. I'd prefer my real name to be associated only with my music "career" (laughs cynically.)

Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it? 
T.W.:  I might have an idea how a story will end when I start it, but most of what happens in between is a big question mark until I get there. Maybe I'm lazy? I dunno... most of the time, the story just sort of seems to write itself. Isn't imagination grand?

Paul:  If you are self-published, what led to you going your own way? 
T.W.:  I never once even considered trying to send a manuscript off to a bunch of stick-up-your-a** publishing houses. As a former punk rocker, I have a really strong do-it-yourself aesthetic. I've put out four albums in my time, and they were all independently produced. I'm a control freak, and I really, REALLY don't like having my creative juices f***ed with.

For me, it comes down to this: are you going to sit around complacently and wait for someone else to do it for you, or are you going to get up off of your duff and make it happen yourself?

Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it. 
T.W.:  Currently, I only have one book published; an unassuming little tale about the end of human civilization entitled 99 Brief Scenes From the End of the World. The story follows a few random individuals as they try to flee from the effects of an extra-terrestrial communication. It's extremely violent, as any good zombie-type book should be, and I don't bother much with coddling the reader on the icky details. So far, it's doing quite well critically, much better than I had ever hoped for.

Currently, I'm working on an anthology of short stories, called Tripping Over Twilight. I aim to have that ready by December 2012, with any luck.

Paul:  What inspired you to write this book? 
T.W.:  Reading about the SETI Institute. I'm not sure that attempting to contact alien intelligence is a good thing ... what if they aren't very nice?

Paul:  Do you have any pieces of work that will never see the light of day? 
T.W.:  Sure I do. I've written some really abysmal sacks of horse c**p in my time, damn right I have, aha. Sometimes I just push the envelope too far, and the story gets lost in an onslaught of gore and mayhem; at this point, it's time to abandon ship, and (regretfully) I do.

Paul:  How much marketing do you do for your published works or for your 'brand'? 
T.W.:  Not nearly enough. I'm just too busy, and I'm still learning about the world of self-publishing. I need an agent something awful.

Paul:  What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why? 
T.W.:  I'll read anything, as long as it's brisk and holds my attention. I lean more towards horror and dark fiction, or non-fiction that deals with off-beat topics. I like Stephen King's earlier books a lot, and I hold them in high esteem. Other names that I could spout off in a litany are Ketchum, Layman, Koontz, Michael Slade, Thomas Harris ... Most of my favorites come from the golden era of horror in the Eighties, probably because I was just getting into adult-oriented literature at the time and horror was big. I loved all things horror, and I still do.

Paul:  What do you do when you're not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks? 
I study Karate and Ju-Jitsu. I like target shooting in the woods. There's the band thing, too - I'm currently trying to put a new band together for live shows (more countless hours spent driving on a dreary highway to some sketchy gig, sigh), and I'll be recording a new album soon. Then, of course, there's the day-to-day drudgery of work to deal with.

As for party tricks, I've been known to make intoxicating substances disappear. Does this count?

Paul:  Well thanks, T.W.. I Hope you find what you're searching for out there in this big, bad world.

About T.W. Grim: T.W. Grim was born in the mid-Seventies to a farming family in Southwestern Ontario. He has spent his time on this planet working blue-collar jobs, playing guitar in independent bands, and gathering the life experience needed to become a (hopefully) great name in horror fiction someday. Grim draws his inspiration from the creepy rural setting where he was raised, and enjoys finding the ominous overtones that lurk behind the mundane rituals of everyday life.

T.W.'s Blog: Story Time With T.W. Grim
T.W. on Twitter: @TWGrim
T.W. on Facebook: T.W. Grim
T.W.'s latest book: 99 Brief Scenes From The End Of The World (Amazon)

Receive Special Offers, Discounts and FREE books!

Monday, February 4, 2013

The 10 Hour Project Manager

Over and over again, I am surprised at how well my book on Project Management continues to sell. So if you are looking to buy a gift for someone who is a Project Manager or someone who wants to become a Project Manager, this could be just what you're looking for. The 10 Hour Project Manager sells for $5.99 as a downloadable ebook from all the major bookstores (also available in paperback).

Read an excerpt form the book below and then check it outA lifetime of experience for the price of a beer!

CHAPTER 4: Juggle the balls or play the chess game?

Click Me!
Back in Chapter One I discussed how many project managers talk about ‘juggling balls’ as a way to explain how they run their projects. Personally I have a big problem with this. I’ve seen jugglers. They are amazing people. They pick up all sorts of objects, throw them up in the air, catch them, throw another, all the while moving and watching and praying that nothing will fall to the ground. Now don’t get me wrong, I admire jugglers. I just wouldn’t want them running any projects. You see, one of the impressions I’m always left with after seeing a juggler is that they’re out there for the ‘wow’ factor. How many objects they can keep up in the air at any one time. The more, the merrier. The more they have, the more they feel they will impress you. But it’s a game you can never win. To continue to impress you have to keep juggling more and more things and make the possible seem so close to impossible. Wait a minute, isn’t that how a lot of project managers appear to be? We’ve all seen them, laptops and bluster, scurrying from meeting to meeting, never a moment to spare. In the office before 8am and turning the lights off after 7pm. They must have really difficult projects to run!

Consider, on the other hand the world’s greatest chess players, the picture of serenity, water or coffee by their side, a quiet pensive look on their faces and concentration on all the things that are happening around them. They are even conscious about the time they take for things, pressing a button on a clock to signify the handover of participation in the event to someone else.

Now I’m not suggesting that either juggling or chess playing performed at the highest level is easy. And I’m not suggesting that both performers don’t practice for many hours to achieve what they do. But I will admit, jugglers do look damn impressive compared to chess players!

But let’s take a step back from these analogies and examine some of the parts behind the vision. Juggling involves becoming close with the objects you are juggling, getting to know them intimately and then controlling their every individual movement, never letting your guard down for a moment, even when objects aren’t quite in the exact place you had expected them to be. Chess, on the other hand, requires an understanding of the pieces at your disposal, understanding how they do and don’t work together, and how they can work together for you to achieve an end result against a somewhat unpredictable opponent. Like juggling, you can never let your guard down in case some of the pieces get out of place on the board.

There are lots of other analogies I could make, but hopefully you’re starting to get the picture by now. Juggling is ultimately about how many individual objects you can keep up in the air at any one moment and chess is about how you can tactically achieve an objective with a fixed set of pieces. Stated this way, why do any project managers ever talk about juggling balls? What has juggling got to do with successfully completing a project objective?

There’s another huge difference between juggling and chess playing that I alluded to in the last paragraph and that is how close you get to all the individual pieces. The juggler keeps everything up in the air, every problem and every issue. Every passing comment by a project member has to be juggled and kept moving. The chess player, on the other hand, understands who is responsible for each of the problems, issues, passing comment, and tracks with that person, not letting it interrupt the big picture.

I’m a chess player, and I’m proud of it!...

Read more about this book HERE or pick up a copy directly at Amazon. For the price of a beer you're going to get lessons that will last you a lifetime...

"This book is filled with genuine, practical insights from an expert in the field of project management. The author describes a project management approach that you can apply to any type of project, whether you are a new or seasoned project manager. Read this book if you desire to be a project manager who adds value to your team and organization."

"If you are looking to do a great job as a PM and still have a life, get this book. It is written by a very practical project manager for individuals who would like to be more effective and practical in their role as PM. How do I know this? I worked with him for several years on long term international projects with large multinational team. This book accurately reflects what he preached and practiced on the projects and hence my recommendation. I did not decide to write this recommendation as a favor to the author but as a favor to individuals, who can use a really practical guide to managing project and have a life. This author with his approach made it possible for all the team members to have a real work-life balance even on the road. Under him, our team excelled in every area imaginable on a project. I am glad that he decided to put his thoughts into writing so others can benefit from his approach. This would also be a great book for someone starting out as a Project Manager, as well."

Receive Special Offers, Discounts and FREE books!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Author Interview: Katrina Avant

Today I am pleased to present to you all the forty-ninth in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the shy and introverted Katrina Avant, and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Katrina:  I try to make sure everything else is done before I start writing. I put my phone on silent and clear my mind of anything that doesn’t pertain to my characters of plot.

Paul:  What types of books do you read? Who are your favorite authors?
Katrina:  I read all types of books, from nonfiction to fiction and from mysteries to horror. My favorite author is Stephen King, the master of macabre.

Paul: If someone had the power to step into your creative mind, what would they see?
Katrina:  They would see characters and situations created from my personal conflict and growth.

Paul:  How do you find the time to write?
Katrina:  I make time to write. I have a full-time job, so after I get home, I carve out a few hours of writing time each day that may take me well into the next morning. Writing usually consumes my weekends until I have completed a book.

Paul:  What is the one thing that you how that I do not tell the readers?
Katrina:  By nature, I am shy, introverted. Writing enables me to create an alter-ego in order to put my creative self in print.

Paul:  If you are self-published, what lead you to go your own way?
Katrina:  I had done some research and found how difficult it was to be published by the traditional publishing houses. The process seemed long and tedious and in some instances impossible. I had stories to tell and I knew people wanted to read them, so self-publishing seemed the best way.

Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Katrina:  I get ideas and run with them. Plotting stifles my creativity, because somehow I feel obligated to stick with the plot. While running with an idea leaves possibilities open to roam free.

Paul:  Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is fully formed?
Katrina:  I do a lot of editing. When I write, I do so without any corrections, because I don’t want to lose the ideas or the flow. I go back later, chapter by chapter correcting and molding ideas and characters.

Paul:  Do you have to do much research for your stories?
Katrina:  So far, I haven’t had to do a lot of research for my stories. Most of the plots and character personalities are from experiences, be it personal or observed. Each of my characters have bits and pieces of my life experiences and fantasies.

Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little bit about it.
Katrina:  My most recent book is a suspenseful mystery, entitled: Give Me More Than Words. The story centers on lies and deceptions, within relationships. Justin Graham, a character introduced in a previous novel, finds himself living his life inside a scotch bottle, after agreeing to a marriage, which is built equally on deception and greed. Not able to stomach any more, he realizes he has to leave his wealthy, controlling wife. When he finally gets the nerve to leave, he thinks he is free from the drama, until the first attempt on his life.

Paul:  How much marketing do you do for your published works or for your ‘brand’?
Katrina:  I market in some way, shape, form or fashion every day. I use social media, my blog, paid advertisements; anything and anyway I can think of, to get Katrina’s works in front of people.

Paul:  What’s your favorite / least favorite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Katrina:  My favorite aspect of writing is my ability to pound out chapter after chapter when I go into what I call my zone. I am able to pin-point where I am going with my characters when I can do this. My least favorite is that I don’t seem to have enough time to write. Because I have a full time job, I am only able to write when time permits. I'm hoping this will change very soon. The biggest surprise for me was that a lot of my support has come from strangers. People who I thought would have supported me did not.

Paul:  What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
Katrina:  When I am not writing, I am reading other authors. I have been reading since I was four years old and that is my greatest and beloved hobby.

Paul:  Thank you, Katrina. I wish you every success for the future.

About Katrina Avant: Katrina Avant, a former hair stylist, is a native of eastern Arkansas. Her works are created from her traveling adventures, meeting unique people and her own personal experiences and deepest fantasies.

Katrina's Blog: Katrina's Works
Katrina on Twitter: @CaiteeCat
Katrina on Facebook: Katrina's Works
Katrina's latest book: Give Me More Than Words (Amazon)

Receive Special Offers, Discounts and FREE books!