Friday, June 23, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 172

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It's been a while since I've missed so many Wednesday posts in a row. I apologize to those of you who've stopped by looking for something new. Unfortunately, too many things are going on at home or at work. When June arrived, I thought I'd have tons of time what with the kids being done with school (meaning they no longer needed my help on homework) and the weather turning nice, but free time has yet to surface. This is the busiest I've been all year. So again, my apologies. 

I guarantee that I will have a post next Wednesday. This is not bravado, or an attempt at holding myself accountable. The post that was scheduled for this past Wednesday is 80% done, so it won't take much to finish it by next week. 

Enjoy the links and have a great weekend! 

ChemistKen 



What’s in Your Tagline?
Not your story's tagline, but your website's. Make sure the people who stop by your website know what you're all about. 


Creating Effective Transitions

Keep It Fresh: 10 Ways To Show Your Character’s Emotions

How to Handle Conflicting Critiques

Junowrimo: Act II, Part Two

JUNOWRIMO: Midpoint

The Blueprint for Writing a Novel from the First Five Pages to the End




Friday, June 16, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 171

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Very little writing news to report this week.  My wife kept me busy on a building project every night this week, so there was no time for my usual Wednesday post.  Heck, even this post is rather late.

I plan to enjoy this weekend.

Enjoy the links and have a great weekend! 

ChemistKen 


Social Media Content: Feeding the Beast

Junowrimo: Key Elements of Act II, Part 1

Negative Reviews (and Why I Don’t Read Them)

Junowrimo Day 10: Are you stuck? Do you have a PLAN?

The Art of the Chapter

What’s in Your Tagline?

How to Immediately Improve Your Query Letter’s Effectiveness



Friday, June 9, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 170

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Last night I attended one of my monthly crit group sessions and received feedback on my latest submission. There were a few minor suggestions, easily fixed, but one member of the group commented that he wanted more tension in the scene. 

I sighed to myself. Seems as though every time I write a sequel scene, I'm told I need to add more tension. 

A sequel scene is the scene that comes after a big dramatic (possibly full of action) scene. It's a time for the character to reflect upon what she's just been through and a chance for the reader to catch his/her breath before the next big scene. It's supposed to be a quieter scene, but apparently I make them too quiet. Either that or I've trained my group to expect something big to happen in every chapter. 

So tonight I'll be kicking back with some wine and figuring out a way to put my protagonist into even more jeopardy. After all, the reader is always right, aren't they? 

Enjoy the links and have a great weekend! 

ChemistKen 


How Writing Short Fiction Can Enhance Your Novel (and Your Career)

Building a Mailing List through Reader Magnets

SHOULD You Create Your Own Book Cover?

Amazon Has A Fake Book Problem

5 Critical Mistakes of Author Collaborations And How to Avoid Them

Outlining a Murder Mystery

The Legal Side of Writing for Anthologies



Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Insecure Writer and Quitting


Today is June's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me an Insecure Writer this month?

The usual suspects. Nothing worth mentioning.

So this month I'll settle for answering the question of the month.

Did you ever say "I quit?" If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

The simple answer is that I’ve never said “I quit.”  It’s not as if I haven’t had  reason to say it.  I’m an excruciatingly slow writer.  Writing doesn’t come as naturally to me as it does for most of you.  Every word can be a struggle.  I estimate that I’m only half way through my story, and during the years I’ve spent writing it, some of you have managed to put out trilogies. (Damn that Alex)  Heck, even one of my former online crit members has managed to publish a book.

https://www.amazon.com/Resistance-Divided-Elements-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01M6AXXKA
Resistance


So yes, I’ve thought about quitting.  But for some reason, no matter how badly I feel about my writing, no matter how down I am, no matter how many doubts I have, those feelings never last more than a day.  All I have to do is go to bed and when I wake up the next morning, the doubts are gone.   On some levels, my ability to ignore reality is almost frightening.  But it keeps me going.

I have no idea if anyone will care for my simplistic writing style, or my story, or my characters.  But to be honest, it doesn't really matter.  I’m going to finish this story no matter what, and when I do, I’ll move on to the next one. I like the story, and that’s all that matters. Hopefully a few people will like it enough to buy it.


I’ll never quit being a writer. It's just not an option for me.

ChemistKen

P.S.  Thank goodness I have a day job!


Friday, June 2, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 169

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I don't know about you, but I'm anxiously awaiting the middle of June. Because by the time we hit the third week of June, two major milestones will have passed. 

1. All my flowers will have been planted and mulched. I'm into gardening because of the bright colors, not from any sort of intrinsically good feeling about being one with nature. As far as I'm concerned, once everything is planted, the flowers are on their own. Sure, I'll fertilize them occasionally, if I remember, but that's about it. Once we hit the middle of June, I ain't touching another shovel, rake, or clod of dirt until fall arrives. 

2. School will have ended. Thank God! I spend more time helping my kids with their homework, or yelling at them for not having done their homework, than I do working on my own story, or planting flowers, or conversing with my wife. I expect my writing progress to leap forward starting in two weeks. 

Enjoy the links and have a great weekend! 

ChemistKen 


Business Musings: Brand Identity (Branding/Discoverability)

Indie Publishing Paths: What’s Your Next Step?

Villains & Villainesses: Architects of Story

How to Write a Sizzling, Scintillating Synopsis

Why Writing Rules (Usually) Don’t Work, But Writing Guidelines Do

When tweeters attack: why do readers send authors their bad reviews?

How Not to Start Your Novel: 6 First Page No-Nos



Friday, May 26, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 168

https://pixabay.com/en/users/josemanuelbotana-958941/

Not much happened this week. My wife's surgery went well, as did my crit group meeting. The only thing that could make this week any better would be if my son actually did his homework without us having to remind him every thirty minutes. Sigh. 

Today is the start of Memorial Day weekend here in the States, which marks the start of flower planting season here in Michigan. I have a dozen flats of annuals sitting in the backyard, all ready for a binge of planting. We'll see if my back is too sore to write later on in the day. 

I enjoyed reading your guesses as to what happened to my wife's wrist last week, but I wonder why many of them  included me in the scenarios. I wasn't even there at the time. No, really, I swear. 

Enjoy the links and have a great weekend! 

ChemistKen 

P.S.  If you missed Wednesday's post about Jacqui Murray's new book, Twenty-Four Days, be sure to check it out



How to Take Advantage of Your 4 Most Important Characters

Author Platform Building: How to Create a Valuable Email List For Your Book

How To Copyright A Book: A Comprehensive Guide

Why Identifying Your Reading Audience Age Is Crucial

Producing Your Books in Audio Part Two: Auditions

Self-Publishing Resources: For Fun and Profit

5 Qs Authors Don’t Ask but Should When an Agent Offers Rep



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"Twenty Four Days" by Jacqui Murray


Today I'm happy to be part of the book tour for Twenty-Four Days, the new book by Jacqui Murray. If you're into high-tech thrillers, you'll want to check it out.

I asked Jacqui if the tech in this book was really possible and this was her response:

Absolutely. It takes real laws of physics—science in general—and extrapolates intelligently on those to what could be if there was time and money. It follows the model of what is commonly referred to as Star Trek Science. But in the case of Twenty-four Days science, you don’t have to wait centuries. It’ll probably be around in a matter of decades.

So check out the book info and the included excerpt below.

Good luck, Jacqui! 


Twenty-four Days:

A former SEAL, a brilliant scientist, a love-besotted nerd, and a quirky AI have twenty-four days to stop a terrorist attack. The problems: They don't know what it is, where it is, or who's involved.

Excerpt from the book:

Monday, August 7th
HMNB Devonport England
Until last month, Eyad Obeid considered himself a devout Muslim. He prayed five times a day, proclaimed God’s glory in every conversation, and performed the required ablutions when confronted with uncleanliness. When his brother was executed by Israeli gunman five years ago, Obeid swore retribution. No nobler purpose could he imagine for his worthless life than dying for Allah.
But instead of a suicide vest and the promise of seventy-two virgins, the village imam enrolled him in college to learn nuclear physics, thermodynamics, chemistry, and math so complex its sole application was theoretical. Much to Obeid’s surprise, he thrived on the cerebral smorgasbord. In fact, with little effort, he attained all the skills required by the Imam.
By the time he earned his Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics, he had learned two lessons. First, he was much smarter than most people around him, and second, the western world was not what he had been told.
Now, just weeks after graduation, Eyad Obeid approached the dingy Devonport pub on the frigid southern shore of England and wondered how to explain to the man responsible for giving Eyad Obeid this amazing future that he would fulfill his obligation, but then, wanted out.
He squared his shoulders and entered the pub.
His stomach lurched. Rather than his mentor Salah Mahmud al-Zahrawi, he found the Kenyan and his three henchmen. He had first met these thugs in San Diego California where he learned to run a nuclear submarine under the friendly tutelage of British submariners. When Obeid finished his studies, the Kenyan slaughtered the Brits. No warning. No discussion, just slash, slice and everyone died.
As did Obeid’s belief in the purity of Allah.
The nuclear physicist jammed his hands into his pockets, hunched his shoulders, and approached the table. The Kenyan had never introduced himself and Eyad Obeid lacked the courage to ask.
“I was expecting Salah al-Zahrawi,” Obeid offered as he slipped into the booth.
The Kenyan stared past Obeid, eyes as desolate as the Iranian desert, thick sloping shoulders still, ebony skin glistening under the fluorescent lights. Danger radiated from him like the hum of a power plant. He had three new fight scars since their last encounter, like angry welts but otherwise, he looked rested, clearly losing no sleep over the slaughter of innocents.
“You have one more job before you are released.” In a quiet, toneless voice, the man without a soul explained the new plan, finishing with, “If you fail, you die.”
Obeid was stunned. His gut said Run! He risked his future—his life—staying a moment longer with this crazed zealot, but Obeid did little more than croak a strangled, “If I succeed, I will also die!” His University friends called it a Sophie’s Choice.
The Kenyan shrugged. “But less painfully.”
Obeid twitched as heat washed his face. As he sought an appropriate response, the waitress arrived with tea. She poured a cup for each of them, chattering to no one in particular about how she had forgotten her blarmy slicker because her boyfriend kept her up the whole bloody night, di’n he, and she was frightfully knackered. No one responded.
“Shall I tell you the specials on offer?”
The Kenyan slowly ratcheted his head toward her. “Go.”
The waitress backed away, almost knocking over another server and his steaming tray of eggs, bacon, black pudding, and baked beans.  “Well, aren’t we in a bloody mood,” and she left.
The Kenyan did not seem to notice, his flat dead eyes back on Obeid. The physicist squirmed. He was but one man. His only hope was to quietly warn the authorities.  He folded his hands into his lap to hide their shaking.
Insha Allah, I will help. What do you require?”
“Do you remember the training you received from the Parishers?”
The British submariners you butchered? Obeid nodded.
“You must ensure the sailors perform their duties after we hijack the sub.”
With no further explanation, the Kenyan tossed a fistful of notes onto the table and left. As Obeid hurried after him, he surreptitiously thumbed a message into his phone and pushed send.
There was no signal.
The Kenyan parked in the crew lot outside Her Majesty’s Devonport Plymouth Naval Base. Obeid changed into a uniform and emerged from the car carrying a loaded gun in a prayer rug. Maa shaa Allah.
The storm broke and quickly turned the parking lot slick and shiny. Obeid shivered despite the heavy pea coat with the warm fur-lined collar. How did the British stand the weather? When this ended, he would never again leave the sparkling sun and cloudless skies of his beloved Iran.
“Eyad!” It was Tariq Khosrov, with two other friends from Obeid’s graduate program, all with PhDs in nuclear physics. Tariq was one of the smartest boys Obeid had ever met and the most na├»ve. “Are we going to steal a nuclear submarine?”
Obeid hissed, “Quiet!” and the Kenyan nudged him toward the base’s thick metal gates. They had been designed to stop an AK-47 or a firebomb, even an RPG, but not the weapon Salah al-Zahrawi would use. Faithful Muslims who worked for naval personnel had replaced pictures of the dead San Diego Parishers with Obeid and the rest of the hijackers. By the time the Royal Navy realized something was wrong, HMS Triumph would be gone and missing.
“Next!”
The man in front of Obeid passed his ID to the bored security. He checked the man’s face, his computer screen, and waved him through.
It was Obeid’s turn.  “ID, please.”
Obeid’s chest tightened as the stern-looking sentry, blonde hair trimmed close to his scalp, collar turned up against the wind, fingers like thick sausages on powerful hands, turned a flint-eyed glare to Obeid. The nuclear physicist froze and the guard’s boredom became suspicion. He read the name stitched on the right breast of Obeid’s uniform. “Haim is it?”
He looked Obeid up and down, as though to determine if the name matched the slight figure in front of him with wire-rimmed glasses and the thatch of black hair dripping rain down his forehead. True, he couldn’t tell Obeid’s stomach lacked the six-pack of muscles the real Haim had been so proud of, but he could see Obeid’s slender hands and they were those of a scientist, not a sailor. Surely, the guard would say something.
Obeid fumbled, almost dropping the ID before shoving it forward.
“Anything to declare?” The guard’s gaze flicked to the prayer rug.
Sweat broke out under Obeid’s arms. Should he tell the guard there was an AK-47 in his prayer rug or would he shoot before listening to Obeid’s explanation? No, better to deal with the problem onboard. Besides, the Kenyans claimed they were simply leveraging demands against Britain backed by the threat posed by the sub’s weapons. They would never use them.
He bit his lip hard, tasting blood, and forced anger into his voice. “You suspect me because I am Muslim? Do you want to examine my prayer rug?” His voice dripped with righteous indignation as he had practiced and he extended the tightly-bound bundle, taking care to keep the ends turned away from the soldier. “Maybe I am carrying an A… K.” He purposely stumbled over the name.
The sentry flushed and stepped back as though burned.
“Now I didn’t mean that mate, did I? O’ course you’re fine,” and waved Obeid through.
Across the yard, limned against the grey sky, towered the domed shape of the HMS Triumph, its deck slick with rain, sail glistening in the early morning light. The warheads it carried could reach the vast majority of the planet but the bustling sailors, some in oil-stained uniforms, others nattily dressed in white with jaunty officer caps, greeted each other, oblivious to the danger approaching them in the uniform of shipmates.
What had he done?
“Keep going,” the scar-faced Kenyan hissed between clenched teeth.
Obeid balled his fists to stop their shaking and forced his steps to be slow and measured as if in no rush to start what would be a three-month deployment.
When the group reached the Triumph, they were greeted by a cherub-faced seaman. “You the Parisher blokes?” He stuck his hand out. “Name’s McEwen. We’re the Second crew. First came down with food poisoning.” He chuckled, eyes crinkling with merriment, brows like gray steel wool. “Brill, you think? Who wants to play hide and seek with a Diesel?”
McEwen poked the Kenyan in jovial familiarity while Obeid combed through his training for what a ‘diesel’ might be.
“Enough yakking. Get sorted, blokes. We leave in an hour.”



What customers are saying about this series:
J Murray’s long anticipated thriller, To Hunt a Sub, is a satisfying read from a fresh voice in the genre, and well worth the wait. The time devoted to research paid off, providing a much-appreciated authenticity to the sciency aspects of the plot. The author also departs from the formulaic pacing and heroics of contemporary commercialized thrillers. Instead, the moderately paced narrative is a seduction, rather than a sledgehammer. The author takes time rendering relatable characters with imaginatively cool names like Zeke Rowe, and Kalian Delamagente. The scenes are vividly depicted, and the plot not only contains exquisitely treacherous twists and turns, but incorporates the fascinating study of early hominids, and one ancestral female in particular who becomes an essential character. The narrative might have benefited from language with a crisper, sharper edge, but that is purely my personal taste and preference and takes nothing away from the overall satisfaction of this novel.


One thing I enjoyed about this read is the technical reality Murray created for both the scientific and military aspects of the book. I completely believed the naval and investigatory hierarchy and protocols, as well as the operation inside the sub. I was fascinated by her explanation of Otto's capabilities, the security efforts Kali employs to protect her data, and how she used Otto's data to help Rowe.


The research and technical details she included in this book had me in complete awe. A cybervirus is crippling submarines--and as subs sunk to the bottom of the ocean, I found myself having a hard time breathing. It's up to Zeke and Kali to save the entire country using their brains. If you love thrillers, this is definitely one you can't miss!



Book information:
Title and author: Twenty-four Days by J. Murray
Genre: Thriller, military thriller
Available at: Kindle USKindle UKKindle Canada



Author bio:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipmanhttps://i0.wp.com/ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?zoom=1.5&t=askatectea-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0978780086, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and  Twenty-four DaysShe is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.
..
Quote from author:
What sets this series apart from other thrillers is the edgy science used to build the drama, the creative thinking that unravels the deadly plot, and the Naval battle that relies on not just fire power but problem solving to outwit the enemy.
Social Media contacts:
http://twitter.com/worddreams
http://facebook.com/kali.delamagente
http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher



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