Posted in authors, authos, books, consumers, Indie, poetry, publishing, short stories, writers

Professor and Indie Author, Gary McLouth talks about becoming a writer

Author Pics Gary Mc Louth

Welcome Gary.  When did you know you were a writer, and how did you develop your writing?

Tricky question, Joanne. From early childhood, I was drawn to stories told by my grandmother. She told stories about her youth, her music, her jobs, her family, her travels and her travails. She had a way of making drama out of the mundane. Her voice lilted in tones of suspension.  As I got older, my interest is listening grew into an interest in telling. Since the heavy-duty emphasis from my parents leaned on truth and honesty at all costs, I was forced to learn the ways of performance, projection, nuance.

I love to talk, and to entertain. Writing, however, is something else, and I’ve been challenged by it most of my life. How to tell a story on a page, when you, imagine the audience, hear the voice(s) fighting for a say, sit alone in a room and drum your fingers on the keyboard. It helps to take classes, attend workshops and conferences, read aloud to peers and read everything: newspapers, magazines, short story collections, novels, how-to manuals, bumper stickers and warning labels on prescription drug bottles. I appreciate the courses and workshops I’ve participated in, because they’ve provided what I need most. Focus and Deadlines.

Do you always write in the same genre?

I consider writing to be writing, so I write, and have written, in many genres. I guess poetry is my basic connection between my experience and imagination, and my writing. I don’t tend to think in sentences. Images, phrases, voices. I write a lot without the self-proclamation of “I’m writing.” Notes on student papers, poems, short stories, agendas for meetings, speeches for others as well as myself, and so on. But, yes, I have aspirations to write good literary fiction, and I do work that on paper and in my head. It’s ongoing.

Do you have a special time or place you like to write?

Now, that could lead to some pretty good story-telling! My favorite place to write: Blue Mountain Lake in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. My special time to write: Night Time.

Okay, the trouble with those conditions is time and place, and reality. I love being in the mountains, and I love staying up late. I have written a lot in those venues. The only problem is that the Adirondacks are a long way from wherever I might be, and late nights may stoke my memories but not much else. The solution, if that’s what takes, is adaptability and versatility. I practice writing any place, any time. I’ve trained myself to write scripts in my head as I walk. I remind myself that all time is usable, if I think it is.

I try to carry a few tools for writing at all times. You’d be surprised how many pieces of this and that swirl around us. Recycle litter into copy.

Why did you decide to become an Indie publisher, and would you recommend going the Indie route to other writers?

Hmm. Why, indeed. The traditional submission route worked for me when I had a full-time job that allowed me to hire a submission agency. The agency performed the market research and details of the copying, letter writing, mailing and archiving. All I had to do was supply the poems and stories. I started years ago, sending out poems and stories to magazines and journals that I wanted to appear in, and without any additional criteria, that made each submission a long shot. Now, I have no submission agent. I still have lots of manuscript copy lying around, and I feel even less desire to query editors and lick stamps than ever before. Get the drift here?

I studied/researched the self-publishing business for a long time before deciding to get involved. Founding West Main Productions, LLC, made me an official publisher, and I produced two collections of stories: Natural Causes (2008), and Do No Harm (2011). Working with The Troy Bookmakers of Troy, NY, I was able to make all production and marketing decisions for each book. The stories for the first book have been previously published in juried publications, as has one story in the second book. That assuages the “is this really acceptable work in the eyes of the gate keepers” worry.

Did I see that life was getting shorter, my publication time longer, and my dreams of literary stardom dimmer? Technology and confidence will lead you to Indie publishing.  Traditional publishing isn’t going away, but the Indie option is respected, and it’s really about the same thing as the traditional route: finding an audience for your work. Both avenues lead to the same place, and only a few of us pull up in front of the Pulitzer Prize stage, regardless of the route.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

A favorite author turns out to be one I trust to take me in and teach me, entertain me, show me light, swat me upside the head, nauseate me, love and respect me. A few favorites: William Kennedy, John Gardner, Denis Johnson, Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood, Louise Erdrich, Cormac McCarthy, Richard Ford, Ray Carver, Sue Miller, Philip Roth. Many poets—James Wright, Tony Hoagland, Anne Sexton, William Carlos Williams, Walt Whitman, June Jordan, Jim Gustafson, et al.

Why do you write?

A much tougher question than it first appears to be. It’s like ‘fooling around and falling in love’. The more I do, the more I do. As I’ve grown older, I’ve lost people, places, jobs, sports and things, but reading and writing, not. Instead of limiting my idea of myself as a writer by genre, I’ve continued an early tendency to try new writing challenges while maintaining solid connections with my secret sharer, my conscience. Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes help me stay the course. I need the help. Thank you, Joanne, for this opportunity to think about these things.

Thanks so much Gary.  Here is a little about his life as an author.

Gary McLouth has published short stories in The Red Rock Review, The Cimarron Review, ELM, Studio One, Limestone, Minnetonka Review, The Baltimore Review and others. Poetry has appeared in Adirondack Life, Blueline, Emerson of Harvard, The International Poetry Review, Buckle &, and others.

http://www.amazon.com/Gary-McLouth/e/B00JGC7AII/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3?qid=1427644836&sr=1-3

Do No Harm book cover  Natural Causes

Natural Causes and other stories published by West Main Productions, and Gary’s second collection of short fiction, Do No Harm are available on Amazon.com in standard print or eBook format. Gary has co-authored Men and Abortion with Arthur B. Shostak, edited A Man Named Nebraska, Guilty Without Trial, and a number of other book-length manuscripts. TV scripts supporting shows on Culture TV, “Media Matters” on the Ion TV network. Gary co-founded Todays Authors, a studio talk show recorded for broadcast on its own You Tube channel as well as TV aired as a public affairs offering in Albany, Syracuse and Buffalo, NY.

Gary is the President of the Gulf Coast Writers Association, a member of the Sanibel Writers Group #3, a participant in the Poetry Alliance, a featured poet in the Art Poems Project and a reader in programs sponsored by Big Arts on Sanibel Island. Other associations have included: The New York State Writers Institute; The Foundation for Mental Health; Poets & Writers; the Association of (college) Writing Programs.

Gary earned a Doctor of Arts in English at SUNY Albany where he won the President’s Distinguished Dissertation Award for Death and Other Frustrations. A Professor Emeritus at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. He has been an adjunct English professor at Florida Southwestern State College (formerly Edison State College) in Fort Myers since January, 2011.

Professional experience as an arts administrator, college administrator, speech writer, MC for non-profits, writing consultant and independent video producer contribute to Gary’s ability to serve the various needs of potential clients.

Posted in authors, books, challenge, conflict, fiction, mystery, paranormal, romance

Writing Mystery novels, with a twist

Patty Brant

Patty Brant

Hmm . . . It’s a little difficult for me to categorize my genre – maybe I’m too close to it. I have now published two books – Bitter Secrets and its sequel Full Circle – which I feel are mainly mysteries, incorporating a smidgeon of romance and the paranormal.

Not sure if I have a real “method” for writing, but this is how I’ve worked it out so far.

The concept of Bitter Secrets began with three words that just popped into my head – “I see faces.” That triggered weeks of mental development – who were these people . . . where were they . . . what was their story?

I settled on the most basic characters and a rudimentary story line when the first couple paragraphs formed in my mind. I liked what I had and decided it was time to start writing it down.

For years the thought of writing a book would sort of drift through my head, followed immediately by “Shoot! You need to know something to write a book!” And that was the end of that.

So, this time, I called a friend – an excellent author I knew who has since passed away. I knew she would help keep me on task and that was exactly what she did. Bless her heart, she never let me down. She’d read my latest effort, make suggestions and generally be my cheerleader.

I’m a natural born foot dragger, so I’m sure it wasn’t easy for her.

Anyway, I know you’re always told to make an outline first, and I’ve tried that. Trouble is, I change my mind too much. I rearrange. I think of something I like better than what I have and there goes my outline!

So, I’ve pretty much decided that my “process” is no process. (Not very helpful, is it?) I think lot about the story I’m working on. Do a little research when I need to so I can develop authentic background, then start to write. Mostly by that time it just begins to flow.

My biggest stumbling blocks to this point  – besides my propensity to drag my feet and let other things get in the way – have been writing about traumatic incidents that I have not experienced personally. I know you’re always told to write about what you know and that’s good advice, I’m sure. But you can’t possibly experience everything personally.

For instance, in Bitter Secrets I came to a place in my story where a young girl was about to be raped. It was 1927, the girl was 15 and alone with her favorite uncle in an isolated farmhouse. He was drunk and there was no one there to help her. The story was flowing, my fingers were racing across the keyboard almost ahead of my mind. The scene was unfolding pretty much by itself. I kept thinking as I typed, “This can’t happen. I can’t write this.”

Bitter Secrets Patty Brant     Full Circle Patty Brant

So I forced myself to stop writing and just think. I was very reluctant to write about this very sensitive subject. After all, I have never been in that position and I was very concerned that, if I didn’t get it right, it would be like a slap in the face to the thousands and thousands of young girls and women who have.

Who was I to write about this kind of horror? How could I write a realistic scene and do it with objectivity yet sensitivity?

I had to reaffirm that I truly wanted to be an author, that I wanted to write stories that are realistic, with emotional depth but not “soap opera drama.” I was not at all sure I could do that without somehow disabusing real victims.

I did some soul searching and finally decided that an author can’t possibly know everything.

As a reporter for many years, I have done many interviews with experts and various victims. I decided I have to rely on what is MY personal experience and on my understanding of human nature. If I was going to be a serious author, I’d have to step off the cliff and just do it.

So I started typing again and let it flow – all the while checking myself to be as sensitive as I could. I think the “process” has worked pretty well for me.

I came across the same problem when writing about one of my characters who is a Viet Nam veteran in a wheelchair and one who is an old black man. – two characters I truly admire. (Is that even possible? Can you admire “people” who aren’t real!?

Well, I guess it is for me. I’ve actually come to tears thinking about another one of my characters whose life had been a living hell for 40 years. I like characters who meet immense challenges with human strength and frailty.

For me that’s a tall order. I guess doing justice to their stories – even if they aren’t “real” – is my challenge.

Thanks Patty, for the great post. Readers, click below to order your own copies of Bitter Secreats and Full Circle.

Bitter Secrets 

Full Circle

Posted in authors, books, faction, history, military, non-fiction, novels

FACT BASED FICTION “FACTION”

Per Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia:

Faction is a literary genre, which utilizes fictional characters, and plot lines that must remain within the constraints of current reality. The authors tend to take current and recent-past events, and postulate what is likely or very possible to happen due to these events, utilizing current technology.

In this way faction differs from fiction, which does not have constraints to stay within reality, non-fiction novels, which take actual past persons and events and fictionalize their story….

                              *                        *                        *       

 By Vince D’Angelo

My time with the U.S. Navy in the Pacific provided many interesting experiences.  Since none involved combat or other heroics, I found little reason to share them. A houseguest’s curiosity about my military service compelled me to discuss those experiences. My guest found my anecdotes intriguing and suggested I write about them. After a few hastily constructed chapters, my guest commented, while still engaging, it read too much like a documentary. To me, the events were the facts and I couldn’t change them. Or, could I?

I recalled a book discussion on television where an author said his novel was based on actual events but fictionalized.  Asked if the novel was considered fiction or non-fiction, the author answered, “Faction”.  I heard the term used again in other literary discussions.

Thus, I embarked on writing a novel based on my experiences in the navy. I completed the manuscript; the process was easy since all I needed to do was to recall events. It met with praise…from family and friends and the former houseguest.  I titled it, Tales from the Pacific.

I was inspired to continue writing. So I cannibalized one of the chapters and expanded it into a novella titled, No-Name Island.

I decided to write another novel, this one based on my shore leave in Hong Kong, China; a British Crown Colony at the time. I was very much taken with the exotic Far East city.  It was the most memorable experience of my naval career and the inspiration for the new novel, Out of Hong Kong.

*                          *                          *      

BOOK COVER Vince De'Angleo

No-Name Island: Post World War II, a six-man navy detachment is sent on a highly classified mission to map a remote, uninhabited tropical island. Instead, they find a leper colony manned by a mysterious medical staff. Also, a hidden encampment of men and women survivors of an accidentally sunk Japanese hospital ship, who are not aware the war is over. Unlikely scenarios for romance? Not quite.

Out of Hong Kong Vince D'Angelo

Out of Hong Kong: A young navy officer on shore leave in Hong Kong unintentionally finds himself in a brothel. The girl assigned to him is a ‘first time’ teenaged virgin desperately attempting to earn quick money to free her parents enslaved by mainland communists. His attempt to save her from becoming a prostitute puts both their lives in danger. They fall in love but are forcibly separated. He goes back to his ship not knowing what has happened to her. He returns to Hong Kong numerous times over the years, attempting to find her.

Thanks to Vince D’Angleo for his input on writing “Faction.”

Authors: Do you write faction? How do you market it?  What have been your experiences.

Readers: Do you like reading faction – fact based novels? Why or why not?

We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment.

Posted in authors, books, characters, names

The Writer’s Block Tip #5 by Jason Rekulak

writerw block

Create a new character from scratch by beginning with the name first. Write as much as you know about him or her, and let the character carry you into a story.

Barbara Kingsolver achieved international success with novels like The Bean Trees, Animal Dreams, and The Poisonwood Bible.  At readings and lectures, she is frequently asked where she finds the names for her characters (who often have distinctive monikers like Turtle, Lloyd, Oreanna, Rose-Johnny, Newt Hardbine and Annawake Fourkiller.)  Kingsolver explains, “I give almost as much thought to the naming of my principal characters as I did with my children.”

In fact, the names of Halimeda and Cosima Noline (the two sisters in Animal Dreams) came straight out of “Name That Baby” book that Kingsolver references while developing her characters. These books are inexpensive and invaluable references for the fiction writer, because they’re loaded with useful information about the origins and derivations of common names. More importantly, they also contain hundreds of uncommon names – great names like Tamonoa and Cormac and Octovia – that will help lend your character a sense of individuality.   ………… by Jason Rekulak

baby name book

I my last novel, the name of my character actually helped create the title of my book, “Town Without Mercy.” My main character’s name was Mercedes, but called Mercy for short.  If you haven’t read it yet, I am not giving any spoilers.

Tell me about YOUR new character or one you recently named. How did you decide on that name?

 

 

 

Posted in authors, editing, fiction, readers, writer's block, writers

The Writer’s Block Tip #4 by Jason Rekulak

writerw block

Tell the story of a job interview that goes badly.

The more your character wants the job, the better the story will be. ……….       Jason Rekulak

job interview Tip #

 

Oh boy.  I can tell of an interview gone bad.

I had worked in a different state selling real estate for over ten years, but after a move to a new state, and knowing that it takes years to build a client base in real estate in a new town, it was time for a change. I didn’t have two years to build my client base. So I decided I needed a salaried job that would offer me some stability. The only thing I could find related  to real estate – sort of – it was renting commercial space in the buildings this company owned. I figured “sales is sales,” so how hard would selling rental space be? But when the interview turned to experience and the talk turned to net leases and triple net, I was lost. But desperate as I was, I plundered ahead, nodding my head and digging myself deeper by the minute. I am not a liar, but I found myself twisting the truth to get the job. It was obvious that I was not being believed. I am the worst liar, and even more so when I am nervous or desperate.  I left that interview defeated and lost. What was I to do?  But miracles of miracles, I got a call back. He was going to hire me. He implied he knew how inexperienced I was in commercial leasing (that was an understatement) but he admired my tenacity and determination and thought I could use that same aggressiveness to find tenants throughout the city for his spaces. I got the job. (Note: I did very well at it but hated commercial leasing – I went back to residential sales.)

Now it’s your turn. What interview did you botch? Did you still get the job?

 

Posted in authors, books, editing

Using Extended Metaphors in Your Writing — Part Two

Using Extended Metaphors in Your Writing — Part Two.

I would love comments from readers on this. As much as I love the metaphor and the example of the “recurring music” problem in the car, as I read this, all I could think of was,

“It doesn’t move the story along. An editor would cut it if I tried to do that.”

Your thoughts?

Posted in authors, books, characters, editing, novels, outline, pantser, planner, readers, short stories, technology, writer's block, writers, writing

The Writer’s Block Tip#3 by Jason Rekulak

writerw block

To outline  or not to outline  by Jason Rekulak

Outliners are most common among thriller and mystery writers, for obvious reasons. Jeffery Deaver (The Bone Collector) claims that the surprising plot twists of his suspense novels wouldn’t be possible unless he plotted out all of the details in advance; he usually spends eight months researching and writing the outline, and four months writing the manuscript itself.

But non-genre writers use outlines too. John Barth wrote: “I don’t see how anybody starts a novel without knowing how its going to end. I usually make detailed outlines; how many chapters it will be and so forth.”

On the other side of the fence are writers who prefer a more organic approach to their craft; Aldous Huxley wrote, “I know very dimply when I start what’s going to happen. I just have a very general idea, and then the thing develops as I write.”

If you are suffering from writer’s block, try changing your approach. Make a detailed outline of the story – or plunge headfirst into the opening paragraph without any idea where you are going. Either way, the change in routine may be surprisingly effective.

 

Readers, are you a planner (outliner) or a pantser (fly by the seat)?  Personally, I am a basic outliner, but I allow my characters to lead the story, which sometimes takes it into unplanned territory. One funny experience I had while deep in the writing of my 2nd novel, Town Without Mercy, the dialogue between the two protagonists seem to write itself. When I was done, I laughed out loud, saying “That is not what I had in my outline at all.” But the story was better for it.

What have your experiences been in stepping out of your routine? Surprising outcomes?

Posted in authors, fire, writer's block, writers, writing

The Writer’s Block Tip#2 by Jason Rekulak

Here is Jason’s tip #2

writerw block

“Describe your first brush with danger.”  Jason Rekulak

child and matches

Thank you Jason.

 

Readers, what about you? My first brush with danger was when I set the latrine on fire at Girl Scout Camp when I had the kerosene lantern turned up too high. Interesting that Jason’s picture and my “brush with danger” both included fire.

 

Posted in authors, books, characters, fiction, friend, friends, humor, mystery, novels, readers, romance, series, writers, writing

Romantic comedy in The Roche Hotel

Misty Baker image

Mysti Parker (pseudonym) is a wife, mom, author, and shameless chocoholic. She is the author of the Tallenmere standalone fantasy romance series. Her other writings have appeared in the anthologies Hearts of Tomorrow, Christmas Lites, Christmas Lites II, The Darwin Murders, Tasteful Murders and EveryDayFiction.

Other writing pursuits include serving as a class mentor in Writers Village University’s seven week online course, F2K. She finished her first historical romance this spring and has one children’s book (Quentin’s Problem) soon to be published, with one more waiting for illustrations, and many more stewing in her head.

When she’s not writing fiction, Mysti works as a freelance editor and copywriter. She also reviews books for SQ Magazine, an online specfic publication, and is the proud owner of Unwritten, a blog voted #3 for eCollegeFinder’s Top Writing Blogs award. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband and three children.

Mysti’s Blog:  Subscribe to my blog, Unwritten 

Visit my webpage: www.mystiparker.com (in construction)

Mysti’s Facebook: LIKE my fan page on Facebook! 

Twitter:  Follow me on Twitter @MystiParker

http://www.amazon.com/Roche-Hotel-Season-One-ebook/dp/B00NYCMIZQ

 

Mysti, for the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

You’d find The Roche Hotel in the romantic comedy section, if there is such a thing. It’s also serial fiction, made up of connecting flash-fiction length stories rather like a sitcom. Is there a serial romantic comedy shelf in the bookstore? I wonder if they would mind if I built one…

Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher?

I started out being published with a small press—Melange Books. I love Nancy and the crew and I’ve seen several small presses that are doing great. I’ll definitely not be avoiding them in the future. I have tried the agent/big press thing. Had the agent—didn’t get me a deal in close to a year and a half, so I’m here to tell you that agents don’t necessarily mean you’ll get a publishing contract. Therefore, I’m taking advantage of self-publishing with The Roche Hotel and other projects. I like being in control of when it goes out, my cover art, how it’s promoted, and getting all the royalties myself.

Are you a pantser or a planner?

Pantser! Though I’m trying real hard to be a better planner. I’ll never be a stickler because it’s fun when my characters surprise me, but a little structure doesn’t hurt! Shameless plug alert—I wrote a recent article about that very thing: http://mystiparker.blogspot.com/2014/09/story-planning-for-pantsers.html

Complete this sentence….. Something/someone who helped me improve my writing is……. learning to give and get feedback from fellow writers at Critique Circle and Writers Village University.

What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

The Roche Hotel Cover Misty Baker

 

Here’s the blurby goodness:

After her husband ditches her for a blonde actress wannabe, Jane Seymour needs a job that pays the rent. The struggling Roche Hotel needs a miracle. With the former owner’s wife butting her nose into the renovations and new owners who are in way over their heads, Jane may be the answer to their prayers. Sure, she can handle The Roche Hotel’s quirky staff. But, can this skittish divorcee keep it all together when handsome Henry the Donut Guy makes his first delivery? This collection of serial fiction stories is a Tudorific romantic comedy that will leave you laughing out loud and hungry for more.

Thank you Mysti. Jane Seymour?  As in the actress?  The Roche Hotel sounds very interesting. Kind of serial  romantic, comedy, mystery. A touch of everything. It should reach a large audience.  When I first starting writing ficton commercially, I had a terrific online critique group, including Leona Pence that you probably know through F2K. WVU, Writers Village University has been a wonderful source for new and experienced authors.   I highly recommend it to other authors.