Friday, January 29, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 110

Man, January is passing too quickly!  Now this isn't something you'd normally hear me say, since I typically spend the winter desperately waiting for spring to return, but this year I have bigger fish to fry.  I'm trying to finish my damn book, so every day/week/month that passes without hitting that goal, or at least making a significant dent in it, leaves me irritable.

Okay, perhaps"anxious" might be a better word, since I'm not really an irritable kind of guy.  Still, my goal this weekend is to MAKE PROGRESS ON THE DAMN BOOK."  I have two crit group meetings scheduled for the beginning of February, so it's not like I don't have incentive.  Anyway, wish me luck.

Thanks and have a fantastic, productive weekend.


How to Talk with Publishers and Agents

Grow Reader Empathy By Showing Your Protagonist Feeling Vulnerable

Your NaNo Novel Is a Hot Mess! How to Edit Your Book

Quick-Tip Tuesday: The Power of Secrets

5 Tips for Getting Accepted by Bookbub

Understanding the Truth about Character Arcs

Self Publishing as a Lemonade Stand

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Why Won’t Zombies Die? by David P. King

Today it's my pleasure to have David P. King guest posting on one of his favorite subject -- zombies.  

Thanks for having me, Ken! Since releasing the first book in the My Zombie Summer series, The Undead Road, I’ve been asked a lot about zombies. The most frequently asked question? Why won’t zombies die? Or rather, how come they’ve been so popular for so long? Since the zombie is my favorite monster of all time, I may be able to shed a light on this gruesome phenomenon.

For one, when dealing with a zombie apocalypse, the variables are endless. You can have any character, in any location, dealing with zombies in every way imaginable. It doesn’t matter if the monster stays the same, it’s how people deal with the situation that makes it fresh and exciting.

Secondly, the storytelling has an instant investment value to its audience: no one is safe. It’s the ultimate what if? scenario. Anyone can go at any time, or may come back to pose a new threat. How would you deal with a friend or family member who’s about to eat you? Chilling, isn’t it?

Lastly, this scenario speaks volumes to human endurance and plays with our survival instincts. A long time ago, humans had to fight or flight all the time. With modern society the way it is now, we think we live in a safer world. Maybe the zombie craze keeps our instincts on their toes?

Zombies are scary, or funny, or even necessary, depending on the point of view. For this and many other reasons, I don’t see zombies going anywhere for a long time. And with the rate of their constant evolution, their longevity is practically cemented for the foreseeable future.

Thanks David, and if you guys enjoy zombies as much as he does, be sure to check out his latest book, The Undead Road: My Zombie Summer: Part One.  But don't wait too long, the ebook will only be on sale for 99 cents in the Kindle store between Jan 25-29th.  And don't forget to enter the contest located after the book blurb.

Title: The Undead Road: My Zombie Summer: Part One
Publisher: Dashboard Books / CreateSpace
Ebook Release: January 2st, 2016
Paperback: January 26th, 2016
Cover by Steven Novak
Edited by Reece Hanzon

Nothing brings the family together like a zombie apocalypse …

Fifteen-year-old Jeremy Barnes would rather watch a zombie movie than shoot a real one, but he has no choice if his family wants to survive the end of the world. Their plan? Drive across the infected United States to a cabin in the Colorado Rockies without a scratch, but their trip takes a complicated detour in the middle of Nebraska when they find Kaylynn, a girl who can handle a baseball bat better than Jeremy can hold a .45 Berretta. And when they stumble into a sanctuary, Jeremy soon learns that Kaylynn is stronger than she looks—a deadly secret lies inside her.

After the radio picks up a distress call from Kansas City about a possible cure, Jeremy’s parents go with a team to investigate. They never return. The only way to find their parents is for Jeremy and his sister Jewel to rely on a dangerous girl who might just turn on them at any moment.

Praise for The Undead Road:

"For me, zombie stories are never about the killing. They're about the survivors and how people deal with the apocalypse. To this undead end, David Powers King has come up with the most original spin on zombies I've ever read." - Michael Offutt, author of Slipstream and Oculus

Contest Details:

Visit and leave and comment and/or tweet about The Undead Road (at least once) for a chance to win a free ebook. One out of every 10 comments and tweets is a winner! Use the Twitter Button below to ensure the author will see your tweet. Thank you!

And don't miss David's other stops during his Undead Road blog tour:

Alex Cavanaugh         Jan 25th
Donna Hole                 Jan 25th
Chemist Ken               Jan 26th
Elana Johnson             Jan 26th
Nick Wilford               Jan 26th
Susan Gourley             Jan 27th
Tara Tyler                    Jan 27th
Kristin Smith               Jan 27th
Lidy Wilks                  Jan 28th
Elizabeth Seckman      Jan 28th
M.J. Fifield                 Jan 29th
Michael de Gesu         Jan 29th

About the Author:

David Powers King was born in beautiful downtown Burbank, California where his love for film inspired him to be a writer. He is the co-author of the YA fantasy novel WOVEN, published by Scholastic. An avid fan of science fiction and fantasy, David also has a soft spot for zombies and the paranormal. He currently lives deep in the mountain West with his wife and three children.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 109

Nothing much going on at our house this week.  The kids are prepping for the end of semester finals, and the wife and I are slowly beginning to pack away all the Christmas decorations that have been lying around the house for the past couple of weeks.  If only we could get winter out of the way this easily!

But best of all, I made progress on my story.  My CPs will be happy.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links.


How To Succeed at Building Platform Without Really Trying

7 Mistakes You’re Making With Your Author Blog And How To Fix Them

How to Subtly Boost Your Dialogue’s Power With Body Language

The Perils of Self-Publishing

Scene Structure and Character Arc

The Single Biggest Mistake Self-Published Authors Make
Hint: trad-pubbed authors need to worry about this too!

Midpoints: A Breakdown

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Whose POV Is It Anyway? The Character's Or Yours?

Being a beta-reader for some of my writer friends has been a fantastic way of improving my writing skills over the years. Not only do I learn how other authors use certain techniques, but when I find what I believe is a problem with their manuscripts, simply trying to explain why I believe there’s a problem is often just as beneficial to me. It forces me to collect my thoughts in ways I wouldn’t have done on my own.

For example, last year I was beta-reading a fantasy story and I realized the main character wasn’t being proactive enough. He just kind of drifted along with the story. It wasn’t that the story wasn’t moving forward, but the character wasn’t driving any of the action. Something would happen, and then he’d react, then something else would happen and he’d react again. It was almost as if the character was just waiting around to see where the story took him.

And as I was explaining my concerns to the author, it hit me that I was guilty of same thing in my writing. I wasn’t writing my character as if he were part of the story, I was writing him as if he were watching the story from the outside--as if he were sitting in the theater and experiencing the movie in the same way as the audience. In other words, I was having him act as if he were reading the story instead of living the story.

Now it’s fine for a character to be reactive (as opposed to being proactive) during the early parts of the story, especially when he doesn’t understand the world he’s just been thrust into, but by the midpoint reversal, the MC is definitely more proactive.

In hindsight, I guess my mistake wasn’t terribly surprising. I write my stories as if I’m watching them unfold at a movie, which is the way many authors do it, but I have to keeping reminding myself that the MC isn’t seeing the story from my POV.

It’s not good for your characters to be along for the ride. They should be driving the car.

Do you have problems keeping your characters out of your POV?


Friday, January 15, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 108

Nothing exciting happened say this week, other than settling into my new job.  A little reading, a little writing.  What more can a writer wish for?

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!



How (and Why) to Write a Logline For Your Story

5 Ways to Tell if a Subplot is Leading You Astray

Author Newsletters: 6 Tips for Smart Strategies

How To Find The Heart Of Your Character

What You Need to Know About Show, Don't Tell 
Because we can never hear enough about Showing and Telling.

How to Set Up a Website

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Advantages of Being a Slow Writer

I often lament the fact that I’m a slow writer. It can be a bit frustrating at times to hear how my writer friends are pumping out story after story, especially after I’ve just spent weeks grinding out a mere seven or eight pages for my monthly crit group. It’s not that I’m not happy for my friends, but sometimes I wonder if I’m missing out on some secret knowledge. I know I’m a faster writer than I was a year or two ago, but my satisfaction upon completing a scene is often dampened by the realization of how much time I spent writing it.

Turns out I’m one of those people who tend to look on the bright side of things, so I’m happy to say that there ARE benefits to being a slow writer. For one thing, I have lots (and LOTS) of time to rethink earlier chapters and dream up ways of making them better. And it’s not at all unusual for me to be reading a book on writing craft and come across some technique I realize can (and should) be applied to a chapter I wrote six months earlier.

But the biggest advantage to writing slowly comes when I’m struggling with a scene I just can’t seem to make work. Instead of beating my head against the manuscript for too long, I simply do the best I can and move on, because almost invariably, I’ll come across a scene in another author’s book that does exactly what I want my scene to do. It may take six months or more before it happens, but who cares? It will take me way longer than that to finish writing my story.

I don’t copy the scene word for word, of course, but it usually gives me a framework to build my scene around, and many times, that’s all I need to get over the hump.

Do any of you slow writers out there know of other advantages we possess?  I'd love to hear them.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 107

Okay, okay, I know these links were due yesterday, but I had trouble getting onto the internet, and I was busy preparing for this morning's presentation of story structure for my writing group.  Still, there was no way I was going to start 2016 by missing the first Friday Links of the year.

So enjoy the links and have a great weekend!  Happy New Year!


BTW, the presentation proceeded without a hitch.

The Call to Action: Some Strategies to Make It Big

Pardon Me, Passing Through: Describing Movement

Indie Publishing Paths: What’s Your Pricing Plan? Part Two

Three Acts: Three "Things' That Can Increase the Coherence of Your Conflict

Considering the Irrationality of Your Characters

Are There Really “Secrets” to Self-Publishing Success?

Most Common Mistakes Series, Pt. 47: Ineffective Setting Descriptions

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Insecure Writer and Starting 2016 With a Bang!

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

Today, I'm co-hosting the IWSG along with L.G. KeltnerDenise Covey, Sheri Larsen J.Q. Rose and Michelle Wallace.  Be sure to stop by their blogs and thank them.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month? 

For plenty of reasons.

I started a new job two days ago, I’m co-hosting this month’s IWSG bloghop, I volunteered to give a presentation on story structure to my local SCBWI group on Saturday, and I still don’t know if I have what it takes to be a real writer.

To be honest, I’m not all that worried about the job situation. I’ll be working on what sounds like a fun project, one that involves WAY more chemistry than my last couple of jobs. Woohoo!  But starting a new job with a new company with people you don't know is always stressful.

And while co-hosting for Alex is an awesome responsibility, I don't think there's any way I can screw it up.

The presentation is a bit more worrisome, especially since it's not finished yet, but I still have three more days to fix it up.  Heck, story structure makes so much sense to me, I could probably just stand up there and ramble on about the topic for hours.  I just wish writing stories was that easy.

As far as whether I'm a real writer, sometimes I wonder if I'm tough enough to be one. Writers are supposed to be cruel to their characters. Put them through hell, the experts say. Scar them emotionally. Hurt them physically. Make them unhappy for the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately, I usually find myself being too easy on them.  I allow them to solve their problems without breaking a sweat.  I remove their pain almost as soon as they begin experiencing it. I’ve gotten better at prolonging their torture, but I’m still not mean enough.

The question is: can I learn to be cruel enough in 2016?

How about you?  Think you're mean enough to your characters?  Then consider the following picture.

Courtesy of Reddit

Would you be dastardly enough to turn on the faucet? If so, then you're a true writer. Congratulations, I salute you.

But I'd prefer it if you didn't come anywhere near my house.