Guest Post: Author Jon Land

by Jon Land

You know, it’s funny.  I’m a screenwriter as well as a novelist and have always gleamed a lot of my inspiration for both mediums from great storytelling as portrayed on film.  And it’s great writing that makes for great storytelling.  I can’t count even count how many times I’ve watched The Godfather, Chinatown, The Usual Suspects.  I can recite lines from those films and countless others ad infinitum.  But not lately.  Nope, not hardly.

That’s because in a pop culture paradigm shift television, once the bastard stepchild of entertainment media, has easily surpassed film when it comes to the quality of the writing and, thus, storytelling.  I can’t explain when or why exactly this has occurred, other than to say the Hollywood film factory seems to require at least ten different screenwriters polishing or rewriting this, that and the other thing to the point where the integrity of the tale they’re telling is lost.  You just can’t have that many hands stirring the pot.  It doesn’t work.  Never did, never will, in stark contrast to television where the executive producer/head writer is the king.  Want proof?  Okay, here’s a look at where you can find it.

1)  BREAKING BAD:  Maybe the best written and told show in television history.  Dark and humanizing while it’s relentlessly suspenseful and character driven.  Bryan Cranston’s Walter White character is the show’s amoral center to spectacular results.  A now bad guy redeemed only by the endless parade of even worse bad guys with whom he’s forced to contend.  No television series has ever boasted so many classic episodes and pitch perfect writing.

2)  MAD MEN:  The cutthroat world of advertising has never been portrayed better and there has never been a show with such sharply defined and distinctive leads whose ambition is exceeded only by their self-loathing.  Don Draper offers a fresh side of a different coin from Walter White.  But what does it say where, for all his flaws, Don has evolved into the show’s moral conscience.  MAD MEN, with its spot on depiction of corporate greed and infighting, takes us back to the 60s to teach us about who we are today.

3)  HOMELAND:  Two seasons in, it just doesn’t get any better than this.  Clare Danes and Mandy Patinkin manage to extract Emmy-winning performances from every minute of screentime.  The show is a masterful character study as well as magnificent puzzle, giving the viewer credit for the kind of intelligence that stopped being a factor for the film industry even before the last turgid installment of TRANSFORMERS.  This is human drama done on a grand scale where we can actually feel the pain the characters are feeling.

4)  DEXTER:  All you need to now about two seasons ago was that the villain was played by Colin Hanks, who never would’ve worked a day in his life in front of the camera if not for his last name.  But the just included more recent season erased all memory of that, turning the tables on Dexter Morgan pretty much everywhere.  DEXTER challenges are own morality even as it pushes the limits of our tolerance and makes us accept a serial killer as hero.  It’s one thing to be really good; it’s quite another to be really good for this many seasons and to recover from a nearly disastrous one as well.

5)  JUSTIFIED:  The modern-day western motif done about as good as it gets.  The producers were smart enough to stay true to the voice of Elmore Leonard and hit a homerun by casting Timothy Olyphant as U.S. Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens.  Right from the series’ very first where Raylan pays a visit to a Miami thug he gave twenty-four hours to get out of town one minute past the deadline, we know we’re in for something special.  Packed with an outstanding supporting cast, season after season JUSTIFIED manages to string an entire season’s arc together while maintaining the independent nature of every episode.

6)  THE GOOD WIFE:  The epic disaster of Calinda’s husband not withstanding for the current season, this is the best scripted show on network television.  A perfect mix of courtroom tension, corporate politics and family issues.  I don’t know if there’s ever been a scripted drama that has worked on so many levels for so long while showing no signs of fatigue.  The show continually strikes a perfect balance, entertaining us wholly while making us think just enough.  Each episode ends with me counting down the days to the airing of the next one.

7)  THE WALKING DEAD:  Angst, pain, heartache, hope, hopelessness, struggle, heroism, tragedy—never has a television show pushed so many buttons from one minute and one scene to the next.  Characters, the ones who survive anyway, actually change and grow, although not necessarily for the better, against an ultra-violent backdrop that is definitely not for the squeamish.  We don’t just live with them in season, we breathe with them.  The sight of a pistol packing, twelve-year-old zombie killing machine in this year’s very first scene was all you needed to see to know we weren’t in Kansas anymore.

One final note:  As a thriller writer, I find it fascinating that each of these is essentially a thriller but in utterly different ways and approaches.  The great John D. McDonald, author of the Travis Magee series, was once asked to define what makes a great story.  His answer was simple:  Stuff happens to people you care about.  And about the great writing to be found on television today, truer words have never been spoken. 

About the author:

Jon Land is the critically acclaimed author of 32 books, including the bestselling series featuring Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong that includes Strong Enough To Die, Strong Justice, Strong at the Break, Strong Vengeance (July 2012), and Strong Rain Falling (August 2013). He has more recently brought his long-time series hero Blaine McCracken back to the page in Pandora’s Temple (November 2012). He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

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Mr. Land has graciously offered to giveaway one ebook set of his Blaine McCracken titles published through Open Road Media. These titles include: The Omega Command, The Alpha Deception, The Gamma Option, The Omicron Legion, and The Vengeance of the Tau.

To enter, please use the official Rafflecopter entry.

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Guest post: Author Cindy McDonald

Courageous Characters 
by Cindy McDonald

Wow! How much do we love those courageous characters? You know the alpha males and the gutsy heroines that seem to ooze nerves of steel from their very pores. As authors we send our characters into situations we would never, ever, not-in-a-million-years get into, and we ask them to do it with keen finesse and dashing good-looks—well, okay, maybe a little stubble on their chin. 

Ahhh, they are everything that we are not—and that is the beauty of it all.

I love to write in the evening, it is the quiet time of day, and my thoughts turn to my latest Unbridled adventure, and what dodgy debacle I will ask Mike, Shane, Punch, or Lugowski to walk into without hesitation. I finish cleaning up the dinner dishes, check to see what my husband is watching on TV, I pour myself a glass of wine, and then retire downstairs to my office, where my characters live inside my computer. They are waiting for me—sometimes in a panic, depending on what state of affairs I’ve left them in the last time we met. I click on the file, take a deep breath, a sip of the wine, re-read what I wrote the night before, and then I ask myself one question: what if?

Sometimes I could swear that I hear them groan when the what if tumbles from my lips, especially Mike West—his sense of humor doesn’t stretch very far, I’m afraid. Who can blame him? In the first book, I asked him to withstand electroshock treatments at the hands of a madman, walk into the fire to protect the women that he loves, and in this latest book, Dangerous Deception, he must come face-to-face with betrayal of an old reliable friend, and a notorious biker gang.

Ya gotta love Mike’s younger brother, Shane. The youngest West darts toward danger like a bee to honey. A bit on the hot-headed side, he’s also the playboy of the group, but he’s not been exempt from the wrath of my writing. His fierce loyalty to family put him in harms-way in, and in my newest book, Dangerous Deception, the question what if will test his strength and constitution to the limit—it will take all the courage that he can muster to survive at the hands of his malevolent  captor. 

Punch McMinn is an enormous man and enormously soft-hearted. He keeps a cool head when trouble comes to call and trouble never seems to be very far from Westwood Thoroughbred Farm, or the West clan. 

And then there’s Lugowski, Lieutenant Carl Lugowski, that is, he took a bullet for Ava in, but in Dangerous Deception it is Kate West that drags him into deep do-do that will take a whole lotta guts to get him and her out alive.

Truth be told we authors really don’t live that exciting or death defying life styles. Non-the-less at the end of our finger-tips we wield the sword of courage at our characters and expect…no demand that they come through. Is it because we wish that our lives were as exciting as theirs? Are we cowardly thrill-seekers? Truthfully, I must admit that I really don’t care. I’ve just poured myself a glass of chardonnay and my computer screen has just lit up my latest manuscript. Hmmm…what if.

About the author:

For twenty-six years my life whirled around a song and a dance: I was a professional dancer/choreographer for most of my adult life and never gave much thought to a writing career until 2005. Don’t ask me what happened, but suddenly I felt drawn to my computer to write about things I have experienced (greatly exaggerated upon of course) with my husband’s Thoroughbreds and the happenings at the racetrack.

Surprised? Why didn’t I write about my experiences with dance? Eh, believe it or not life at the racetrack is more…racy. The drama is outrageous—not that dancers don’t know how to create drama, believe me, they do but race trackers just seem to get more down and dirty with it which makes great story telling—great fiction.

I didn’t start out writing books, The Unbridled Series started out as a TV drama, and the Hollywood readers loved the show. The problem was we just couldn’t sell it. So one of the readers said to me, “Cindy, don’t be stupid. Turn your scripts into a book series.” and so I did!

In May of 2011 I took the big leap and exchanged my dancin’ shoes for a lap top—I retired from dance. It was a scary proposition, I was terrified, but I had the full support of my husband, Saint Bill. It has been a huge change for me. I went from dancing hard five hours a night to sitting in front of a computer. I still work-out and I take my dog, Harvey, for a daily run. I have to or I’d be as big as a house. Do I miss dance? Sometimes I do. I miss my students. I miss choreographing musicals, but I love my books and I love sharing them with you.

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Guest post: Author Michael Williams

On Difficulty by Michael Williams

Sometimes—not always, but sometimes—people object to Vine because of its “difficulty”. They claim obscure or abstruse words, long sentences, fragmented episodes. These are things that get in the way of the story, they claim. Things that disrupt the pleasure of reading.

Let me make my case.

Suppose you were at a diving event. Which would you rather see: a lithe young Australian doing a back one-and-a-half off a high board, or a dumpy, fifty-something Irishman such as myself attempt a cannonball from poolside? Not for the comedy, mind you. For the sheer athletic and aesthetic pleasure of a dive.
It’s what they call degree of difficulty. We are impressed by things exceptional, things that ordinary folks don’t or can’t do.

It’s why literature is more than writing, though we tend to forget it because of the very nature of the literary medium. Neither you nor I would expect to be playing a trumpet well enough to record if we first picked it up a month ago. But writing is regarded as different, because we all use language. Everyone can communicate with sentences, but to really write is to delight in the ways of communication, to juggle and manipulate them.

The story itself is part, not all, of fiction, I think. If it were simply story, if it were the writer’s job to get out of the way, there would be very little difference between how fiction and journalism are done. But with fiction it seems there is more emphasis on the way the story is told—on language or rhetoric. In fact, fiction that employs transparent prose and linear, causal narrative is really basically a holdover from the mid to late 19th century—writers like George Eliot, Gustave Flaubert, Stephen Crane. Writing before and after that relatively brief window of time is often writing that calls attention to itself, that is ruffle and rhetoric, back-pedaling  and leaping perilously from one circumstance to the next. Look at Tristram Shandy or The Pickwick Papers or Frankenstein on one side of that window, Lovecraft or Joyce or Garcia Marquez on the other. These are fictions that delight as much in how the story is told as in what is told.

So I will play with ways of telling. I will offer my readers a chance to work with the story I tell, to help me make that story by their involved and intelligent work with the words I give them. I hope that doing some work has its rewards, that the reader emerges, deepened and exercised, from something of mine that they’ve read. If they don’t, they don’t. If they choose not to undertake my offer, I understand: I respect that they want something else from the reading experience, and the two of us wave and walk our separate literary paths.

But it itself, difficulty is not a bad thing, I maintain. It is a choice, a tactic to reveal and challenge, not a posture or design to intimidate. Indeed, I think that difficult fiction can respect the reader more; in asking you to shoulder more of the burden than to sit back and be entertained, it is asking you to undertake something that can be a different, and sometimes a better adventure.

About the author:

Michael Williams was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Much of his childhood was spent in the south central part of the state, amid red dirt, tobacco farms, and murky legends of Confederate guerillas. He has spent a dozen years in various parts of the world, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, with stopovers in Ireland and England, and emerged from the experience surprisingly unscathed.

Upon returning to the Ohio River Valley, he has published a series of novels of increasing oddness,combinations of what he characterizes as “gothic/historical fiction/fantasy/sf/redneck magical realism” beginning with Weasel’s Luck (1988) and Galen Beknighted (1990), the critically acclaimed Arcady (1996) and Allamanda (1997), and, most recently, Trajan’s Arch (2010). His new novel Vine will be released this summer.

He lives in Corydon, Indiana with his wife, Rhonda, and a clowder of cats.

Connect with the author:      Facebook     |     Author’s Blog  

About the book:

Vine: An Urban Legend by Michael Williams
ISBN: 9781613181256 (paperback)
ASIN: B008G5WHHA (Kindle ebook)
Publication Date:  March 28, 2012
Publisher: BlackWyrm

Amateur theatre director Stephen Thorne plots a sensational production of a Greek tragedy in order to ruffle feathers in the small city where he lives. Accompanied by an eccentric and fly-by-night cast and crew, he prepares for opening night, unaware that as he unleashes the play, he has drawn the attention of ancient and powerful forces.

Michael Williams’ Vine weds Greek Tragedy and urban legend with dangerous intoxication, as the drama rushes to its dark and inevitable conclusion.

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Also available at:  Alibris  

Guest Post: Author Samuel Ben White

Reading Into Writing
by Samuel Ben White
Sitting in a high school English class, listening to the teacher tell us that some prominent author’s use of flowers (probably nasturtiums, as they seem to always be on the ragged edge of polite flowerdom), is actually a metaphor for the blight affecting the inner city of Tulsa following World War II.  The one question I wanted to ask was: “How do you know?”
As we explored (“explored” in the sense of “copied down verbatim notes on what the teacher said in preparation for regurgitating it back on a test”) the works of famous authors and writers like Shakespeare, Coleridge and Faulkner, the question kept coming to my mind, “How do we KNOW that’s what the author was shooting for?  Sure, that line about a squirrel hide being tacked to the barn door MIGHT represent the crucifixion of our Lord, or maybe the author just had an uncle who tacked squirrel hides to barn walls and that’s always stuck with him and this seemed like as good a place as any to insert it in a story.”
Those of us who attended school in the 80s had teachers who had grown up in the sixties, which meant that some of our explorations were going to be to dissect the words of popular songs.  Or, actually, songs that were popular when the teacher was in school, back “when rock-n-roll meant something!”  So we were given a list of songs and told to find and listen to, say, three of them and try to discern the meaning, the meta-meaning, and the societal impact of the song.
One of mine was “Riders on the Storm” by The Doors which, I am convinced, is one of the greatest songs ever written.  With his passion for Nietzsche and other bleak writers, Jim Morrison had crafted an almost perfect song for the short tragedy of his life.  Still, I was convinced then—and still am now—that not every line was fraught with meaning.  So few things in life are truly fraught, when you come down to it.  The song itself is meaningful—even fraught, if I may be so bold—but some of the individual lines were, I am convinced, there to serve one primary purpose: rhyme.  (Why, for instance, is “an actor out on loan” as bad as a “dog without a bone”?)
CS Lewis once wrote that he wished he had been clever enough to have put into his writings some of the things that people had found there.  As a writer, I have had a little inkling of what that feels like and have found it to be something of a double-edged sword.
It’s fun when someone writes in to say they appreciate the subtle way you worked some deep thought into your book (or article or blog or cartoon), especially if you put it there on purpose.  The two sides of the sword show themselves, first, on those occasions when someone appreciates something you hadn’t intended.  “Um, why, YES, I did intend for the kid playing in the road to be a foreshadowing of the collapse of Jeffersonian diplomacy.”  After which you run to a copy of your own book (in this case First Time: The Legend of Garison Fitch — find it at to see a] if there’s a kid playing in the road (check) and 2] was it really a deep moment or was it just a brief device intended to move the plot from point E to point F?  (Double-check, but where did he get that Jeffersonian thing?!?!)
The second and more frequently encountered side of the sword is where you, as the omniscient author, intentionally put something deep in the story but—as far you can tell—no one got it.  Did you bury it too deep, or under too many layers of metaphor?  Are the readers—heaven forbid—all dullards?  Or is the reason no one got it just that no one wanted it?
Then, some reader does.  Somebody in a town in West Virginia that you’ve never heard of writes you an email telling you “I got it” and then detailing that they truly did.  For that one moment, you feel that particular West Virginian is the smartest, the canniest, the most intuitive person in the world and you, for that same moment, are Shakespeare, Coleridge and Morrison all rolled into one and you dream of the day in the future when some high school teacher tries to tell the class about the masterful imagery you created.  And you’re so high on success that you don’t mind the thought that some of the kids in that futuristic class are going to ask disdainfully, “How does she know that?”

About the author:

Samuel Ben White (“Sam” to his friends) is the author of the national newspaper comic strip “Tuttle’s” (found at and the on-line comic book “Burt & the I.L.S.” (found at He is married and has two sons. He serves his community as both a minister at a small church and a chaplain with hospice. In addition to his time travel stories, Sam has also written and published detective novels, a western, three fantasy novels and four works of Christian fiction.

Connect to the author:   Website   |     Facebook     |     Twitter

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Guest post: Author Karen Azinger

By Karen Azinger
The author of The Silk & Steel Saga

Publicity…is it a science, or an art form, or just plain dumb luck? Whatever it is, if you’re an author, you need it, and you need it bad. 

Writing a great book just isn’t good enough. “If you build it, they will come” is a philosophy designed to crash and burn in the publishing industry. If readers don’t truly love your book, then a massive marketing campaign won’t save it. But if readers do love your books, you still have to work hard to spread the word and find new readers. It used to be that readers found books on bookstore shelves, but book stores are rapidly disappearing, and truth be told, indie authors were never really welcome in most book stores. Fortunately for indie authors, the internet is the new book store, but this raises a whole new set of challenges. By some estimates, Amazon has over 1.7 million titles, so how do you keep your book from being a proverbial needle in the cyber haystack? Smart publicity is the answer. These days authors need to find readers, not the other way around. 

Think about your target audience. Who reads your kind of books? Better yet, who loves your kind of books? Start with successful authors who write books similar to yours. Follow these authors on the internet to discover what they do for publicity. Study their readership and seek innovative ways to find them. Imitate success but also strive to be innovative, putting your own twist on your approach to publicity. 

Start early! The sooner you start promoting your book, the better. Authors need to build an audience before their book is published. This might sound like putting the cart before the horse, but major publishers promote their authors for over a year in advance. If it’s important for the majors then it’s doubly critical for indie publishers. For The Steel Queen, I started two years in advance with Facebook and then progressed to a website and other forms of social media. Be creative, be entertaining, and use the social network to spread the word.

A picture is still worth a thousand words. Eye-catching artwork, even when reduced to a postage-stamp size, is the very best publicity tool an indie author has. A cover is your calling card on Amazon, on Facebook, on your website, so make sure it’s a great one. Covers should look professional and they should reflect your genre with a single glance. Commission your cover as soon as possible so you have it for advance publicity.  

Word-of-mouth is still king when it comes to selling books, so encourage your readers to write and post reviews. The best gift a reader can give an author is a review, but indie publishers also need professional reviews. Search for book reviewers on-line and offer them a complimentary copy for an honest review. Unfortunately major publishers are flooding established reviewers with their books (proving how important reviews are). Indie publishers often need to discover new emerging reviewers. Once a review is posted, multiply its value by spreading links through the web.  

Giveaways are a great publicity tool. Like all publicity, the objective is to get more readers aware of your book. Authors should use giveaway programs with the broadest reach. I use Goodreads because they reach ten million readers with romance and fantasy as their top genres. They also let authors choose the countries eligible for the giveaway. It may mean more postage, but authors should select every country where their e-book is sold in order to get the most bang for their book. 

And last, but not least, keep writing. The more good books you publish, the greater your chance of success. Write a saga or a series and publish new books at regular intervals. Keep writing good books and your audience will multiply.

Publicity is tricky and it’s hard work, but it’s a necessary part of success. I call it “rolling the snowball”. I keep trying to add more readers and build momentum for my epic fantasy The Silk & Steel Saga, hoping that one day the snowball will take off and roll by itself. Best of luck to you!

About the author:

Karen L. Azinger has always loved fantasy fiction, and always hoped that someday she could give back to the genre a little of the joy that reading has always given her. Ten years ago on a hike in the Columbia River Gorge she realized she had enough original ideas to finally write an epic fantasy. She started writing and never stopped. The Steel Queen is her first book, born from that hike in the gorge. Before writing, Karen spent over twenty years as an international business strategist, eventually becoming a vice-president for one of the world’s largest natural resource companies. She’s worked on developing the first gem-quality diamond mine in Canada’s arctic, on coal seam gas power projects in Australia, and on petroleum projects around the world. Having lived in Australia for eight years she considers it to be her second home. She’s also lived in Canada and spent a lot of time in the Canadian arctic. She lives with her husband in Portland Oregon, in a house perched on the edge of the forest. The first four books of The Silk & Steel Saga have already been written and she is hard at work on the fifth and final book.

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The Books:

In a medieval world of forgotten magic, mortals are lured to the chessboard of the gods where an epic struggle of lives, loves and crowns hang in the balance, yet few understand the rules. In this game of power, the pawns of light and darkness will make the difference in the battle for the kingdoms of Erdhe: Katherine, ‘The Imp’: a young princess with the stout heart of a warrior will challenge the minions of a thousand-year-old evil. Liandra: The Spider Queen; who uses her beauty to beguile, her spies to foresee, and her gold to control, will need all of her skill and strength to fight a rebellion with her own blood at it’s heart. Steffan, the puppeteer, will corrupt the innocent and unwary with greed and desire, as he sets an entire kingdom ablaze.

 Heralded by a red comet, the Mordant is Reborn. A thousand years of evil hidden beneath a young man’s face, the Mordant returns in the guise of his oldest enemy. Keen to regain his full powers, he weaves his way north, sowing a trail of death and deceit. Kath and her companions leave the monastery, chasing an elusive shadow across the kingdoms of Erdhe, but the dark divide has already begun. Allies are set against allies, tearing the kingdoms asunder. A rebellion rises in Lanverness, threatening the queen’s life as well as her crown. Trapped within her own castle, the Spider Queen must out-wit the traitors led by her own blood, or surrender her kingdom to Darkness. Across the border, the Lord Raven builds a religion into a fanatical bonfire. A fiery frenzy grips Coronth, fanning the powers of the Flame Priest into a raging threat. The eternal battle of Light and Dark is joined, but few mortals understand the rules.

Destinies collide in the far north. Kath and her companions chase a trail of death across the steppes. The endless grassland seems benign, but they soon fall prey to an ambush of tricks and traps. Swords alone will not avail them, for the north is guarded by the foulest magic. The companions must rally, each of them tested in a crucible of choice. War drums thunder across the steppes. The Mordant ascends the Ebony Throne, loosing his hordes against the Octagon. The steppes become a bloody battlefield, with victory and loss on all sides. One age is ended but another begins. Born of blood and deceit, the new age threatens to be full of Darkness unless a few dare to make a difference.

While Kath and her companions chase the Mordant into the far north, the southern kingdoms erupt in Flames. The Lord Raven marches south, unleashing a holy war against Lanverness. Vastly outnumbered by a ruthless enemy, Queen Liandra spins desperate gambits in a dire struggle to save her kingdom. New alliances and new awakenings hatch deeper levels of intrigue. The Oracle Priestess and the Lord Raven form a tenuous alliance, while deep in the Southern Mountains the Kiralynn monks stir, revealing more than prophecy. Armies clash, battles rage, and cities fall, as lives, loves and crowns hang in the balance, but swords are not the only way to wage war. Treachery, deceit, assassins, and the power of seduction will face-off against steadfast courage, forgotten magic, and the power of truth. The Poison Priestess is the fourth book in this epic tale of Light versus Dark. 

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Guest post: Author Janiera Eldridge

Books Are Great to Write . . . After The First Few Chapters 
by Janiera Eldridge

Writing a book is never easy however, what a lot of people don’t know is that the hardest part of writing a book is braving the first few chapters. You’d think it would be the easiest part of writing a book. The ideas are fresh in your mind, the characters are fresh, there is a blank page just waiting to be filled! That is all good and well but the problem usually comes in when you start thinking about how you want to start your story.

Starting a new book is like going on a blind date. You might know a little about your new novel but you’re still nervous about how those first few times you spend with that novel is going to go. I always have a hard time trying to figure out what character I’m going to write about first. The first character to be introduced in a new novel is usually the character the author is going to spend the most time with. First impressions are everything so, whatever you say in the first few pages of your book about your main character will remain in the mind of the reader for the entire book. 

There’s also a lot of pressure to write an exciting opening for your novel. As a reader I know that the first few chapters of your novel are what determine if people want to continue reading your book or not. The first chapter is the most important because while it serves as a base for the entire novel it has to be exciting at the same time. I used to dread the first few lines of writing my book but there are some really cool and easy ticks you can use to draw a reader into your book:

  • Open your book with dialogue.
  • Open your book with a question.
  • Open your book with a shocking event.

I always feel better after writing the first few pages of my book. I don’t outline my books before I write them but some people say that can also help make the first few chapters less daunting. My books seem to write themselves so after the first few chapters the manuscript gains a rhythm of its own and it is smooth sailing from there. Until you have to come up with an acceptable ending which is an entirely new story all by itself! 

What are some techniques you’ve read in the opening lines of a novel that have pulled you in?

About the author:

Janiera Eldridge loves feeding her book addiction and putting all her crazy stories on paper. When she is not immersed in the world of fiction, she is working as an entertainment freelance writer.

Janiera also enjoys connecting with other authors and supporting their work on her book blog Books & Beauty.

Connect with her: 

Blog     |     Twitter     |     Facebook     |     Pinterest     |     Goodreads

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Guest Post: Author Natasha Deen

Enough is Enough – Natasha Deen

When I was a kid, they showed us the four food groups and said to be healthy, we had to eat from each category. I figured I had this knocked, especially the grain part. I loved bread, but then they came and said it couldn’t be white bread. To be healthy, it had to be brown.

I don’t like brown bread, but okay, I changed over.

Then they said my 60% loaves weren’t good enough, it should be 100%.

So I changed.

Then they said it that wasn’t good enough, it had to whole grain and just when I was getting used to the choppy texture, they said multi-grain…then sprouted grain.

At this point, I thought, enough is enough. If I keep going with this, pretty soon I’m going to be fighting the cows for the grass in the pasture. Sometimes I feel this way with the writing.

I get an idea, an intriguing “what if” and I start to write, but even as I put pen to paper (and later, keys to screen), I hear those voices, whispering, “Not good enough. It has to have a tighter plot, deeper characters.”

Never mind that it’s my first draft, never mind that my goal is just to get the ideas on the page, all I hear is “not good enough,” and I have to stop, to remind myself that writing, like life, is about the effort, not the outcome.

My first draft isn’t my last draft. There’ll be edits and deletions, rewrites and write agains, but that’s okay because that’s life, too. We try, we fail, we try harder. Forget about processed grain, whole wheat versus whole grain, and let the words flow, the sentences come. There’ll be time later to talk about good and better, but right now, it’s me and the page and the idea, and that’s good enough for me.

About the author:

There was only one thing Natasha wanted to be when she grew up: a superhero. Sadly, this goal was made moot when she realized that being a klutz was not, in fact, a super power, and her super-weakness for anything bright and shiny meant that a magpie with self-control could easily defeat her in a battle of wills.  So, she turned to writing as a way to unleash her inner superhero.  She doesn’t get to live on a secret space station orbiting the earth (and thank goodness because she gets motion sick on a merry-go-round), but she still get to wear leotards, a cape and say things like, “STAND ASIDE! THIS IS A JOB FOR WRITING-GIRL!” 

Visit her at, and find her on Facebook, Goodreads,  and Twitter 

Angel Maker, True Grime 2 by Natasha Deen
ISBN:  9780986741951
Publisher:  Blueberry Hill Press
Publication Date:  August 2012

About the book:

For the last two years, human Aponi Runningbear has been training to be part of Grime, the magical police division tasked with protecting humanity from SOAP terrorists. But things aren’t going well. She’s barely keeping up with her studies, failing the physical component, and her Generalized Anxiety Disorder is making her bad days even worse. When her team is given the chance to find a missing coworker and stop SOAP from producing a DNA-altering drug that’s killing humans, Aponi grabs hold of the chance to show she’s meant for Grime. But as the investigation heats up, she’s forced to deal with the tormentor from her past, dead bodies, and the certainty that SOAP’s going to win this battle. Humanity’s dying, Grime’s in trouble, and she’s failing…does a foster kid really have what it takes to save the world and herself?

Buy the book at:

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Guest Post: Author Abigail Keam


     Every author has to take that first step towards writing. Most do not realize that writing is only part of the journey towards a successful career. There are many other elements that you must conquer before you will be successful.

     What is meant by a successful career? Each writer must determine that for her/his self, but for me it is a good piece of writing that I am proud to put my John Hancock on and is subsequently followed by a paycheck.  

      How does one get ready? The tricks are the same as in any career path and being a writer is no different.

Get Rid Of Negativity In Your Life.

     Don’t worry about having doubts about your talent. Everyone does and it is a natural fear.  

     I am talking about people who are negative about your writing. Many of them are friends and family. Stop talking about your writing. Quit giving them ammo.  If they really get you down, just don’t hang around them anymore. Be around people who are positive and have a “can do” attitude about life.  

      I didn’t mention my first book to anyone until it was published. I did that to protect myself from any negative forces that might have distracted me from my goal.

Be Reasonable.

     You may be the greatest writer in the world, but that doesn’t mean readers are going to fall over when they read your material or that you even are published in the first place. There are many great writers, who are competing with each other for a publishing deal and shelf space in stores. Remember—writing is a business like any other business. It may be that your book is wonderful but not what is selling at the moment. That doesn’t mean it is not going to happen for you.  Keep your ego in check.

When A Door Closes, Go Around It.

      If you can’t find a publisher, then publish yourself. It is an investment in your future but you must work very hard to get a return on your dollar. Writing that book is only part of the adventure. Now you must build a devoted fan base by marketing your product, which is your book and yourself. Yes, you are part of the marketing package. Marketing your book can be a full time job in itself, but if you do it right, it will make selling your book easier.

I have given you the three most important steps towards a career in writing—positive thinking, keeping your ego in check and alternate solutions. Now go for it!         

About the author:

Abigail Keam is an award-winning author who writes the Josiah Reynolds mystery series about a beekeeper turned sleuth.

Death By A HoneyBee won the 2010 Gold Medal Award for Women’s Lit from Reader’s Favorite and was a Finalist of the USA BOOK NEWS-Best Books of 2011. 
Death By Drowning won the 2011 Gold Medal Award for Best Mystery Sleuth and also was placed on the USA BOOK NEWS-Best Books of 2011. Death by Bourbon is her newest book.

Ms. Keam is also an award-winning beekeeper who lives on the Kentucky River in a metal house with her husband and various critters.

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GUEST POST: Vincent Zandri

Libraries Get It
by Vincent Zandri
I’m week three into the re-release of five novels along with the release of two new novels: BLUE MOONLIGHT and THE DISAPPEARANCE OF GRACE. The former by a major, Thomas & Mercer of Amazon Publishing and the latter from an indie, StoneHouse Ink. While the “Blue” E-Book edition, especially Kindle, is being pushed in a major way, it’s also available in paper and audio, etc. For the time being however, “Grace” is available in E-Book only. In the meantime the new editions of my five previously published novels are moving like crazy. In E-Book primarily.

You see where I’m going with this…

In the past three weeks I’ve moved more units of my novels than I did in an entire first year with Delacorte. No lie. Much of that has to do with the tremendous author support I am lucky enough to enjoy from Amazon Publishing (They are so good, they even push my independent books, if you can imagine that…), but it also has a lot to do with the changing nature of publishing. E-Books have been and are now becoming the most popular way by which we read. The mass market paperback is quickly disappearing. So is the hardcover while the trade paperback takes over the roll of both.

This leaves me in a bit of a conundrum. I find myself wanting to do some in-person promotion of my books, aside from the stuff I do at several writerly book conferences every year (I never sell many books at these things anyway since they are attended primarily by other writers and all we do is have fun eating and drinking together). But approaching brick and mortar bookstores with the prospect of a book signing in support of paper being published by their major competitor is probably a road I want to avoid. And besides, book signings are always a gamble anyway. In short, they suck.

But there are other avenues to explore. Schools, universities, and hell, even book signings at coffee shops and my favorite, the local corner gin mill. And then there’s the holy grail of book venues: the library. I have always been a fan of libraries and the fact that no matter what happens in terms of the evolutionary/de-evolutionary business/retail aspect of writing, the library will always withstand the test of time. A place to store many volumes, both ancient and new, as well as a place to share and exchange ideas. From Socrates to Stephen King, the library has always been a refuge for the intellectual, for the hopeful, the creative, the thinker, and the dreamer.

That clearly in mind, I contacted the head rep for my local library system, the Albany Public Library and asked her about setting up an event much like the one we did for Moonlight Falls back in 2010. This one would be in Dec/Jan in conjunction with yet another new Thomas & Mercer novel, MURDER BY MOONLIGHT, a fictional take on the infamous Porco axe murder case which hit New York’s Capital region some years back. She was happy to hear from me for more than one reason. I played drums in her band a while ago, and we are friends. She was delighted to set up an event for “Murder.” But just as I was about to tell her how great the trade paperback version of “Murder” looked, she said, “We’re really pushing E-Books these days.”

I must admit, I was taken a bit back. Me, the king of E-Books.

Libraries pushing E-Books…What a concept.

That said, my library event will more than likely be about the E-Book version of my brand new book and it will take place inside the hallowed halls of an institution older than even the world’s most ancient cathedral. But then, E-Books are becoming far more popular than paper and libraries recognize this. Doesn’t mean they are about to give up their paper. Just means they are adapting. Can’t say the same thing about bookstores. But something tells me they’ll get it eventually. Hopefully before it’s too late.
About the author:

Vincent Zandri is the No. 1 international bestselling Amazon author of The Innocent, Godchild, The Remains, Moonlight Falls, Concrete Pearl, Moonlight Rises, Scream Catcher, Blue Moonlight and Murder by Moonlight. He is also the author of the Amazon bestselling digital shorts: Pathological, True Stories, and Moonlight Mafia. Harlan Coben has described The Innocent (formerly As Catch Can) as “…gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting,” while the New York Post called it “Sensational…Masterful…Brilliant!” Zandri’s list of publishers include Delacorte, Dell, StoneHouse Ink, StoneGate Ink, and Thomas & Mercer. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, Zandri’s work is translated into many languages including Dutch, Russian and Japanese. An adventurer, foreign correspondent, and freelance photojournalist for RT, Globalspec, IBTimes and more, he lives in Albany, New York. For more go to:

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Guest Post: Ron Gavalik of Grit City Publications & Emotobooks

Emotobooks: The Fusion of Written Fiction and Expressionistic Art
Ron Gavalik

Thank you to The Book Diva for allowing me to guest post.

As a writer and publisher, it’s always been a goal to bridge the gap between the cerebral gratifications of well-plotted fiction writing and the visual stimulation of illustrative art. The one day I had a mini-epiphany. Insert expressive, emotionally representative imagery in written stories, during moments of emotional consequence. By delivering a visual of what a character feels, the reader becomes more intensely immersed in the story.
Emotobooks are written fiction stories, not comics or graphic novels. The few emotional abstract images woven in the stories are the dream-like visuals each of us experience in the middle of the night.
The term Emotobook is a portmanteau word I conjured as a memorable label for the very first fiction medium for smartphones and tablets. For the first time, readers can now see actual representation of character emotions right on the page for a fun, interactive experience.
Stories are published as EmotoSerials or EmotoSingles. EmotoSerials are monthly-released, continuing stories, much like TV dramas or miniseries that continue until their climactic ends. EmotoSingles are individual experiences.
I launched Grit City Publications in July of 2011, with the first Emotobook series titled Grit City, a seven-part story about Dillon Galway, an idealistic freelance journalist, who scrapes out a living reporting on corruption. Since then, we’ve grown the Emotobooks Catalog into an array of fun genre fiction titles in Sci-Fi, Romance, Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller, and Horror.
Each Emotobook title consists of three creators: the author, editor, and illustrator. It’s our philosophy that three contributors on each Emotobook delivers a richer, more flavorful story. The creators even offer Autograph Cards and suggest mood settings, such as food, drink, and music. This way our fans can achieve a full-bodied experience.
Emotobooks accommodate a new audience, who desire a fast “full story experience” on smartphones, iPods, computers, or tablet readers in about 30 to 60 minutes. They can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.
Our editors are currently seeking the best genre fiction for the Emotobooks transformation. It’s required that fiction writers read our submission guidelines and the free handbook, How to Create Emotobooks, before submitting. Our publishing model is unique and we require long-term participation from authors for everyone’s success.
Now that you’ve been introduced to the Emotobooks Revolution, I hope you’ll join our Readers Cult and begin collecting the coolest titles. We even offer free Autograph Cards to our fans. What it really comes down to is we write, edit, and illustrate the best modern fiction for our fans. Without you, we wouldn’t be here. Thank you.
Ron Gavalik’s Bio:

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Ron Gavalik is a seasoned freelance journalist and fiction author of the successful Grit City thriller series. As Publisher for Grit City Publications, he oversees the Emotobooks Revolution. Ron holds an M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University and a B.S. in Marketing Communications from Point Park University. When not writing, you can find him in the outdoors of Southwestern Pennsylvania on his trail bike, hiking, or fishing.