Wednesday, February 8, 2017

MacKenna Sags Book Progress

It's been a while since I posted anything on my books. No I haven't given up, just haven't posted in a while. The series is about 20,000 words from completion

Book One, Dreams and Deceptions, hit the market two years ago. 

Book Two, Plots and Prophecies,  has been out for a year.

Book Three Prophecy's Diversion is at the editor and should hit the market later this year. 

Book Four, The Beguilement Ruse  (working title) I will finish reading it to my critique group next week, then off to my beta readers. 

Book Five, Aeonian Solution  (Again a working Title) is about 60% complete. This book will wrap up the series. I have come up with a last minute twists, and I'm working on flushing out the details

I also have a one off romance titled Almost A Whisper. The manuscript is with my publisher and should be out in about 18 months.

All the research and backstory for the MacKenna Saga left me with hundreds of  files on my PC  and a glimmer of an idea for another series. I've titled this one, Lives of Futures Past. This will the history of Kalen's and Mayla's family's over a 2500 year period. 

The first book I've already written. Titled Lives of Futures Past: Tyree and Marisol, I still have to run it by my publisher. 

So, that's where I'm at for now. Thanks for reading my blog. If you like any of the articles, please join and follow me. 
Facebook: Kalen MacKenna
Twitter: @mackennasaga
on the web @

Friday, February 3, 2017

A thought about (Politician) Lawyers

I'm not a political type person, but I received links to these three articles on the same day and I pasted them together. I do find it interesting that lawyers flock to the Dems. The party of, "Let Make A Law"

God save your majesty!

I thank you, good people—there shall be no money; all shall eat
and drink on my score, and I will apparel them all in one livery,
that they may agree like brothers, and worship me their lord.

The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.

Nay, that I mean to do.

Henry The Sixth, Part 2 Act 4, scene 2, 71–78

This sentence, “kill all the lawyers”, has had a much more memorable impact on the public psyche than the character who says it. In fact, this is one of the few memorable lines from the entire three-part Henry the Sixth cycle that Shakespeare wrote. While Cade envisions a kind of social revolution, Dick's idea of a utopia is to remove all the lawyers. Cade supports this by saying that lawyers simply shuffle parchments back and forth in a systematic effort to ruin the common people. This sentiment is rooted in a very calculated appeal to the citizens's desire to be left alone.
—Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor

Yes,  President Trump.... please read the following to understand why this 'win' is a great thing for America and for each of you and your loved ones!
It will reshape the Culture for the next 20 years or more.
Ps: We still need Term Limits!
Remember that both Clintons and the Obamas have all lost their licenses to practice law.


This is very interesting! I never thought about it this way.

The Lawyers' Party, By Bruce Walker

The Democratic Party has become the Lawyers Party.
Barack Obama is a lawyer.  Michelle Obama is a lawyer.
Hillary Clinton is a lawyer.  Bill Clinton is a lawyer.
John Edwards is a lawyer.  Elizabeth Edwards was a lawyer.

Every Democrat nominee since 1984 went to law school (although Gore did not graduate).

Every Democrat vice presidential nominee since 1976, except for Lloyd Bentsen, went to law school.

Look at leaders of the Democrat Party in Congress:
Harry Reid is a lawyer.  Nancy Pelosi is a lawyer.

The Republican Party is different.
President Bush is a businessman.
Vice President Cheney is a businessman.
Newt Gingrich was a history professor.
Tom Delay was an exterminator. Dick Armey was an economist.
Once House Minority Leader Boehner was a plastic manufacturer.
The former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is a heart surgeon.

Who was the last Republican president who was a lawyer? Gerald Ford, who left office 31 years ago and who barely won the Republican nomination as a sitting president, running against Ronald Reagan in 1976.

The Republican Party is made up of real people doing real work, who are often the targets of lawyers.

The Democrat Party is made up of lawyers. Democrats mock and scorn men who create wealth, like Bush and Cheney, or who heal the sick, like Frist, or who immerse themselves in history, like Gingrich. The Lawyers Party sees these sorts of people, who provide goods and services that people want, as the enemies of America .. And, so we have seen the procession of official enemies, in the eyes of the Lawyers Party, grow.

Against whom do Hillary and Obama rail?....
Pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, hospitals, manufacturers, fast food restaurant chains, large retail businesses, bankers, and anyone producing anything of value in our nation. This is the natural consequence of viewing everything through the eyes of lawyers. Lawyers solve problems by successfully representing their clients, in this case the American people. Lawyers seek to have new laws passed, they seek to win lawsuits, they press appellate courts to overturn precedent, and lawyers always parse language to favor their side.

Confined to the narrow practice of law, that is fine. But it is an awful way to govern a great nation. When politicians as lawyers begin to view some Americans as clients and other Americans as opposing parties, then the role of the legal system in our life becomes all-consuming. Some Americans become adverse parties of our very government. We are not all litigants in some vast social class-action suit. We are citizens of a republic that promises us a great deal of freedom from laws, from courts, and from lawyers.

Today, we are drowning in laws; we are contorted by judicial decisions; we are driven to distraction by omnipresent lawyers in all parts of our once private lives. America has a place for laws and lawyers, but that place is modest and reasonable, not vast and unchecked. When the most important decision for our next president is whom he will appoint to the Supreme Court, the role of lawyers and the law in America is too big.

When House Democrats sue America in order to hamstring our efforts to learn what our enemies are planning to do to us, then the role of litigation in America has become crushing.

Perhaps Americans will understand that change cannot be brought to our nation by those lawyers who already largely dictate American society and business. Perhaps Americans will see that hope does not come from the mouths of lawyers but from personal dreams nourished by hard work. Perhaps Americans will embrace the truth that more lawyers with more power will only make our problems worse.

The United States has 5% of the world’s population and 66% of the world’s lawyers! Tort (Legal) reform legislation has been introduced in congress several times in the last several years to limit punitive damages in ridiculous lawsuits such as spilling hot coffee on yourself and suing the establishment that sold it to you and also to limit punitive damages in huge medical malpractice lawsuits. This legislation has continually been blocked from even being voted on by the Democrat Party. When you see that 97%of the political contributions from the American Trial Lawyers Association go to the Democrat Party, then you realize who is responsible for our medical and product costs being so high!

The Lawyers' Party, By Bruce Walker

Tips and Traps for Effective Character Development. Part II

Traps and Tips for Effective Character Development. Part II

Continuing my post from last time here are five tips to help develop characters to draw your audience into your novel.

Character Development Tips

The Devil Is In The Details. Some writers have a tendency to throw too much at the reader all at once—to give a full physical description, tell the life story, and reveal the innermost thoughts of a character as soon as he or she is introduced. But that’s not necessarily the best approach. Think about a character you’re introducing as someone the reader is meeting for the first time. When you are introduced to a person for first time, you do take in that person’s physical appearance, but only on a fairly perfunctory level. Think about the people you met today, you don’t remember very much about them except that she had dark hair, and he wasn’t very tall. You don’t remember every detail about what they’re wearing, because you didn’t notice. If one of the people you met  was wearing a Princess Leia costume, or was dressed as Captain Kirk you would remember a lot about that person, and it would certainly be worth including in a story. So we don’t notice everything at once when we meet a new person. We do, however, notice a few details that can give us some idea of that person’s personality and life situation. Is the character well dressed? Does he or she bite their nails? It makes it easier to stay consistent too, because you have a fully developed idea of the character’s personality right from the start. The slow reveal is the best. You don’t tell the reader your character has a phobia, instead that fear comes out when he or she comes face-to-face with what they fear.

Observe Human Behavior. Another way to develop characters is to observe human behavior. You can base characters on real people you don’t know. Sit at a mall, I like the food court, and take notes. People watching is best done where multitudes congregate. You can observe them when they st thier best and worst. Pay close attention to how they talk, their mannerisms, hand gestures, what they wear, their attitudes and body language. You can pull all that into your stories. Combining gestures and habits from one or more people is another good way to build your characters.

Everybody Has A History: Our experiences determine who we are today. Life  shapes us and molds us. Even if you don’t reveal your characters’ pasts to your readers, you should know about them, at least for your primary characters. You should have complete biographies for your main characters in mind (better yet written down) so you understand what drives them. Why is this important? Because if you don’t understand a character, your readers won’t either. An example of an effective character history, is Captain Quint’s back story in the movie Jaws. In one scene, Quint, Chief Brody, and Matt Hooper, are in the cabin of Quint’s fishing boat, and they start comparing old scars. Quint has a tattoo that was removed, and Brody asks him about it. In response, Quint tells the other characters a horrific story about many of his friends on the USS Indianapolis (true WWII story by the way) being eaten by sharks, and all of a sudden it’s easy to understand Quint and his hatred for sharks. Can you imagine Jaws without Quint’s back story?

Don’t Neglect Secondary Characters. Sidekicks can be some of the most likeable and interesting characters in the story. Often, they are the readers’ favorites. One example of this is Pippin Took, from Lord Of The Rings. Pippin acts before he thinks about the consequences of what he’s about to do. That leads him into great peril, yet at the same time his brashness propels his character into a driving force of the story. Well developed secondary characters can, and will, enrich your book. They’re like the supporting instruments in a symphony. Secondary characters can be a gold mine of wit and charm, and every one serves a purpose. Some add color or assist in world building, and some act as foils for the main characters. Foils are characters who can’t stand your hero or heroine. They do nothing but gripe about them behind their backs. They can be great fun. Make sure you know a lot about your secondary characters even if you don’t end up revealing all of it to the reader.

Detail Your Villain: Pay close attention to your villain, without whom the story would not exist. Often, I hear authors tell me that the villain is their favorite character, the one they love to write about. Bad guys can be very tough to do well, and it can be even tougher to get readers to empathize with them. Whenever you write a villain, keep in mind that he or she needs to be just as well developed as your main characters. Instead of being flawed, however—because obviously all villains are flawed—the villain should be imperfectly bad. In other words, the villains should have redeeming characteristics where our heroes have flaws. In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkin’s use of Gollum is a great example. While we can empathize with Gollum, even feel sorry for him, sometimes, we have hope for him, and wish he could be redeemed. And then we loathe him, and despise him, and because he’s so annoying, we wish somebody would just cut his throat. Gollum is a character who is definitely ruled by evil most of the time, but he also a victim, an unwitting pawn of the ring’s power, so we can empathize with him. He is a great antagonist. These can be among the most difficult of all characters to create but also some of the most satisfying.

So there you have it, five traps and five tips. Whether you write good characters or poor ones will determine whether your readers stay with you to the end of the hero’s journey or abandon him or her after your first book. If the characters fail, the story fails. Hopefully this post will help you avoid that, but if it does happen, pick yourself up, write the next book, and develop more complex and complete characters. Remember, always look ahead, but learn from the past.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tips and Traps for Effective Character Development. Part I

Traps and Tips for Character Development
Richard Draude

As fiction writers, we all have the same goal—transporting our readers inside the pages of our novel so they feel like a part of the story. Your characters are that vehicle for transporting your readers to the world you’ve created. Characters aren’t just a way of transporting the readers; they drive the story. In fact, I’ve learned to listen to them when they argue with me.

So as fiction writers, how do we develop, memorable, effective, characters? We can start with deciding what differentiates an effective character from an ineffective one. Most writers like to read, so you can probably think of characters that are particularly memorable for you and also some that you didn’t feel any connection with. Let’s look at traps that lead to ineffective characters. They are all connected, because one often leads to another, and some writers are guilty of all five: they create characters that are one dimensional, they’re stereotypical, they’re too perfect, they’re inconsistent, or they’re just plain dull.

Traps and Tips for Effective Character Development. Part I

Characters Development Traps

One-dimensional: Writers create a one-dimensional character when they don’t devote enough time to developing a character. These characters are flat, don’t seem real. Bear in mind not every character deserves or merits equal development. Every novel has its main and secondary characters. Unless you intendt to write the sequel to War and Peace, you can’t develop each and every one of the secondary characters.

One-dimensional characters are fine if that character’s role is not important. But if your character has a significant impact on your story, then by all means take the time to flesh out your character and developed his or her strengths, weaknesses, habits and foibles. For example, you have a character in your novel who is a detective, and he’s married to a woman who is described as a Southern housewife. She may be described physically, but if all we know about her past, her personality, and her motivations is that she’s a Southern housewife, that’s not very much to go on. We only know that she can cook fried chicken and chitlins. A character like that is going to fade from the stage of our memories quickly. One way or another, we’re not going to care what happens to her.

Stereotypical: Because they’re not unique, stereotypical characters are uninteresting. It’s important to note here that being stereotypical is not the same thing as being consistent. Your characters should behave in ways that are consistent with how you’ve developed them, but that’s not the same thing as being stereotypical. What would you think of a fantasy novel where all elves are haughty and all dwarfs are gruff, and they hate each other? Or a story where all the rich people in your stories are shallow, greedy, and uncaring? Or of the wealthy women are tall and extravagantly dressed, and they’ve all had plastic surgery? It’s when a character breaks free of the stereotype that he or she becomes believable and memorable. These are stereotypes. But a novel where the Elves are pot smoking hippies or the munchkins are cannibals would pull you in and make you keep reading. Real people don’t act according to stereotypes in every respect. Every one is unique in some way. You don’t want your readers to think, Didn’t I just see that character in so-and-so’s work. Only now he’s got another name and brown hair? You want your characters to be unique and therefore memorable.

All-too-Perfect: These characters tend to make reader’s eyes roll. If you’re doing a parody it’s okay to have a character who is perfect in every way. But in real life perfection doesn’t exist, so it shouldn’t exist in your writing. It’s hard to empathize with a perfect person, because none of us is perfect. Everyone, no matter how noble, is flawed in some way. For example, an effective character might be someone who is heroic in almost every way—he’s a good fighter, he’s nice to look at, he rides well and shoots well, and he’s brave and compassionate—but he’s totally indecisive, so if he has to take command in a battle, everyone’s going to die. It’s much easier for readers to relate to someone with a flaw, because they can say, “Yes, that’s just like my buddy, Jeff. He’s a great guy, but he can’t make up his mind to save his life.”

There’s also a particular kind of too-perfect character you could refer to as the Betty Jane or Gary Plain characters. They’re the kind of character that is the  writer’s idealized version of himself or herself. This character comes from humble beginnings, achieves impossible goals, ends up saving the galaxy, and then dies in the arms of the King after having become the first female knight of the realm. How is any reader going to relate to that except you, the author? This is an author living out his or her fantasies. Every writer does that to some extent, but Betty Jane is the extreme version of that kind of wish fulfillment. You need to be conscious and careful of your character.

Inconsistency In Your Characters: Nothing is more jarring and pulls your readers out of your story faster than an inconsistent character. You take the time to developed a character with certain traits. Readers will expect your hero or heroin to behave in accordance with his or her motivations and personality as you defined them. If that character behaves in a way that doesn’t make sense, your readers will notice it every time. Consistency applies to everything from small things, such as a character’s eye color, to big things like the character’s manner of speaking and important choices they make. If a character has blue eyes in chapter one, she’d better not have green eyes in chapter five. Unless you have a good reason why your hero or heroin speaks like an aristocrat one minute and uses street slang the next, its going to take the reader right out of the story. Or if a character slaughters a bunch of innocent children and then goes into a monologue about the evils of child abuse, that’s inconsistent. The fictional characters you create must feel like real people to the reader. If you don’t have a firm picture of them in your mind, they’re going to become shaky on the page. You should be able to see them and hear them speak and watch them go through their actions. And because you know them that well, they will be consistent, they will tell you when you’re stepping out of bounds for them. Do this and you won’t fall into that trap.

Just Plain Dull Characters. Of course, some characters are supposed to be dull, but in that case they’re usually foils for more interesting characters or events. If you think you might have a dull character in your book, the first thing you should ask is whether you need that character at all. Why is that character there? What is his or her role in the story? If you can’t come up with an answer, then that character is just stage dressing. Some stage dressing is allowed, but if you don’t even need the character for stage dressing, maybe it’s time to do away with that character completely. Another option is to make a dull character come alive by adding some unique traits. Perhaps your drab character has a secret fantasy life or an intriguing hobby, indicating that he or she is much more interesting than appears on the surface. That sort of thing will give a character life.

Okay, so now you’ve avoided these five traps. Now your characters are three-dimensional, unique, flawed, consistent, and interesting. My next post will be on tips that can make them even better.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Book Two Plots and Prophecies

Book two of my MacKenna Saga Plots and Prophecies hit the market for both Printer and E books. Early reviews a good. .
Both book Dreams and Deceptions and Plots and prophecies are available on Amazon Print and for the Kindle

Book Three Prophecies Diversion is back from my beta readers and is on its way to the editior. Reviews for my readers is full of praise. The best so far said one reader and full of action said another

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Active voice versus Passive voice.

“Nothing drives me up a wall quicker than people writing in passive voice. How do you teach people to differentiate between passive and active voice and to avoid passive voice?”

The first step is to help people understand the difference between active and passive voice. Most writers believe they should avoid the passive voice, but few can define it or recognize it.

So, the first question, Active Voice how do you define it?

In an active sentence, the subject is doing the action. A straightforward example is the sentence "Al loves Michelle." Al is the subject, and he is doing the action: he loves Michelle, the object of the sentence.

The Marvin Gaye song “I Heard It through the Grapevine” is another example of active voice. The subject of the sentence "I" is the one who is doing the action. "I" is hearing "it," the object of the sentence.

What Is Passive Voice?

In passive voice, the target of the action gets promoted to the subject position. Instead of saying, "Al loves Michelle," the sentence would read, "Michelle is loved by Al." The subject of the sentence becomes Michelle, but she isn't doing anything. Rather, she is just the recipient of Al's love. The focus of the sentence has changed from Al to Michelle.

“It was heard by me through the grapevine,” is how to make the title of the Marvin Gaye song passive. You would say not such a catchy title, and you would be right.

Many people believe all sentences containing a form of the verb “to be” are in passive voice, but that isn't true. For example, in the sentence "I am holding a pen" is active voice, but it uses the verb “am,” which is a form of “to be.” The passive form of that sentence is "The pen is being held by me."

Notice that the subject, the pen, isn't doing anything in that sentence. It's not taking an action; it's passive. One clue that your sentence is passive is that the subject isn't taking a direct action.

Is Passive Voice Always Wrong?  Passive voice isn't wrong, but it's often a poor way to present your thoughts.

It is important to remember, passive sentences aren't incorrect, though often they are not the best way to phrase your thoughts. Passive voice can be awkward and at times it’s vague. Passive voice is usually wordy. Replacing a passive sentences with an active one, will tighten your writing by

When you put sentences in passive voice, it's easy to leave out the person or thing doing the action. For example, "Michelle is loved," is passive. The problem with that sentence is that you don't know who loves Michelle.

Ronald Reagan said, “Mistakes were made.” when he referred to the Iran-Contra scandal. Politicians are famous for useing passive voice. It a convenient way obscure the idea of who is taking the action. Other examples of passive voice for political reasons include, “Shots were fired,” and “Bombs were dropped.” Pay close attention and listen for examples of passive voice, when you watch the TV news reports or listen to radio news.

Also, a reader named Priscilla commented that businesses at time will use passive voice. It sounds better to write, "Your electricity will be shut off," than "We, the electric company, will be shutting off your power."

Crime Reports: Is Passive Voice OK?

Sometimes passive voice does have its advantages. For example, if you don’t know who is taking the action, then the person can’t named. It can be quite common, especially with crime reports. For example, a security guard submitting his report will write "The store was robbed," this is because, if the thief isn’t captured right away, then nobody knows the robber identity when the report is files.

Can Passive Voice Work in Fiction Writing?

Passive voice is also sometimes useful in fiction writing. For example, if you were writing a mystery novel and you wanted to highlight missing cookies because they are central to the story, passive voice is the best option. It would make more sense to write, "The cookies were stolen," instead of "Somebody stole the cookies."

The difference is subtle, but in the passive sentence “My candies were stolen,” the focus is on the cookies. In active voice, “Somebody stole my candies,” focuses the attention would be on the unknown thief.

Passive voice can be helpful if you want to create a sense of mystery in your sentence, which is also a reason that it's not usually a good choice when you're writing nonfiction and you want your writing to be clear.

Passive Voice is Recommended for Science Writing?

Exception for passive are scientists. They are encouraged to write in passive voice. It lends a sense of objectivity to their writing. Passive voice takes them, their actions, and opinions out of the experimental results. I find it odd. It feels to as if they are trying to hide that real people did the experiments.

Passive voice has its place. In fiction it’s place is in dialogue. People speak in passive voice. “I already went to the store.” or  “She was here and hour ago.” The use of any “to be” verbs, was, were, had, etc, will render a sentence passive in most cases. In your exposition or narrative, passive voice should and must be avoided. Keep your narrative in active voice and the scenes as seen through your main character’s eyes. (POV) This moves your story along and keeps your audience involved. Passive voice slows down your narrative and can take your reader out of the story.

It can turn into author intrusion. (The author telling the reader what he or she thinks the reader needs to know.) That’s a subject for my next blog,

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Quote

Second star to the right and straight on 'til morning. ” -- J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Neverland is a real place. As children, whether sleeping or awake, we instinctively know the way and go there whenever it suits us. The portal to that marvelous world is available every day, through the pictures we love, games we play, the stories we read, or are read to us, and the tales we tell one another.

That gateway never really closes, but life dictates we grow up. As we do, we lose the ability to see the way back, or seeing it, tragically most refuse to reenter that blessed realm. Fortunate for the world, there are those who stand with one foot on each side of, the rift, bridging the way for all.

For all those who wish to return, one has but to listen to the good songs of the minstrels, hear the rhyming words of the poet, study the lives of champions past or present, or read the flights of fancy from those minds and hearts who still dwell in Neverland.

If you still find your way barred, there is another gate, a back door so-to-speak. You unlock it through the pure imagination of children, be they your own, your nieces and nephews, or grandchildren and so on. Open your heart, tamper not with their innocence, and they can, for brief moments, transport you there, and fill your soul with wonder.           --Richard R Draude

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The MacKenna Saga Plots and Probhecies

Book two of the Plots and Prophecies went into print on March 15th of this year. On April 15th the E Book went live on  the Smashworsds website.and on Kindle.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Do As We Say, Not As We Do

Attending the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference this past April made the Do As We Say, Not As We Do of the modern publishing industry very evident. Right now you’re scratching your head, wondering, What’s he talking about?
I’ll explain after I say this. Yes I am a writer and the first version of my novel was, at best, horrible and rejected numerous times. My current publisher took on the story, but required a complete rewrite. My editor beat me over the head with the rules you’ll find in the next few paragraphs. I will be expected to adhere to these standards in every book I write, going forward. No, this is not a ‘hit piece’ in retaliation for past rejections. We all get them, it’s part of the process. This blog comes in response to what is presented as the Publishing Standard versus what we see in print from established authors.
Throughout time writing styles and requirements have changed. How an author presents a story to his or her readers is determined by the publishing industry and varies from publishing house to publishing house. In the late seventies publishers required their authors to stop Telling their story, and let the reader live it through the characters’ eyes. Show, Don’t Tell,  is what all authors are expected to adhere to today.
At every writer’s conference you’ll attend, the people presenting the classes are, for the most part, agents, editors, or an acquisitions editor. They will stand in front of a group of eager writers and present material searching for the best road to publication.
Of the many tips offered these stood out to me: 1.Write in Active Voice   2. Have a Fixed POV (Point Of View)    3. No Author Intrusion (Stay out of your story)   4. Show, Don’t Tell   5. Limited Use of Adverbs. (Limited to use in dialogue not in exposition.) Some of these concepts are foreign to new writers. They take copious notes, read anything they can find on the subjects. At home they are determined to write their story or rewrite their existing novel to the accepted standards.
Later, after a lot of hard work, a writer will submit their work to a publishers. Five or six months later they receive a curt rejection note with no explanation.  They then start over submitting their novel to another publisher or agent, only to wait another five or six months to get rejected. An added note, many of the manuscripts submitted in any given year are terrible at best and warrant a rejection. Some, however, are never really given a fair shake. Legally Blonde is a good example. Turned down by most publishers as too frivolous, it became a self-published novel. The author, through perseverance,  brought it to the attention of Hollywood, and became a film with a sequel.
So where does publishers Do As We Say, Not As We Do, come in? Go to any book store and pick up a book written by an established author with a following, with a copyright/first print date after 2001 up to the present. Once you understand the concept of Write in Active VoiceHave a Fixed POVNo Author IntrusionShow, Don’t Tell, and Limited Use of Adverbs, you will see how the rules fall away for the publishers’ money makers.
Take for example the novel Frozen Heat, by Richard Castle, ghost written by an unknown author.
I too am a huge Castle TV show fan, but I have to disagree with many of the reviewers. I looked forward to reading any of the Niki Heat novels. I picked up Frozen Heat, read the first chapter and a half, and close the book. Whoever the writer is, may be sticking to the show’s formula, but the complete overuse of adverbs kept throwing me out of the story.
“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Stephen King.
While I can read and enjoy novels written before publishers made a big deal of the "Show, Don't Tell." standard, and limited use of adverbs. This book falls way short of either of those standards. Publishers reject a new writer's manuscript if it contains lot of tell and uses too many adverbs, yet in the first 13 pages the 15 adverbs used, are unnecessary. (I'm not counting the ones used in dialogue. Those are fine.) For example, on page 4 line 8, the ride in the elevator. "-. . . is back against the wall then SUDDENLY hers.” The use of the word 'suddenly' is ambiguous.
Anton Chekhov said, “Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
How did Niki's back wind up against the elevator wall? Did she pulled Rook in front of her, or did Rook twist her into that position for more control? Those actions would have painted a much better picture of the scene. On the same page, line 16. "He appeared at the door COMPLETLY naked." Use of the word 'completely' is redundant. If you're naked, you're without any cloths. Your nakedness is complete. This continues throughout the book. For me what was an anticipated read turned into a big disappointment.
One more noteworthy misuse of adverbs. On page 12, 2nd paragraph 5th line. "SLOWLY, METHODICALLY she ran the beam of her flashlight from right to left along the bottom edge of the case." Starting a sentence with an adverb is bad enough. Two in a row, please! Whoever the writer is, go take a creative writing class and reread the quotes above by Stephen King and Anton Chekhov. I gave this book one star because I had to give it something.
This is what Twain had to say about adverbs. 
“I am dead to adverbs; they cannot excite me. To misplace an adverb is a thing which I am able to do with frozen indifference; it can never give me a pang. ... There are subtleties which I cannot master at all--they confuse me, they mean absolutely nothing to me--and this adverb plague is one of them. ... Yes, there are things which we cannot learn, and there is no use in fretting about it. I cannot learn adverbs; and what is more I won't.”

Pick up any established writer, say Patterson for example, and you will find violation of many, if not all, of the above standards. Why? Once an author is established, he or she becomes lazy. Their publishers require them to crank out a number of novels per year. Publishers want to get another book out for cash flow and profits, so the editors let a lot go, if they edit at all. Because the author has an audience, their fans are going to buy and read a new book simply because it’s their favorite author.
When a book falls short of a publishers own self-proclaimed standards, fans and the so-called major reviewers should complain.  By offering bad reviews, we tell publishers  their established authors should have to conform to the same rules publishers expect new writes to follow. We of the reading public would be treated to stories with more depth and impact, instead of publishers’ hypocrisy along with author and editor laziness. If publishers will live up to their own standards, the bottom line will follow.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Your Book Cover

The popular idiom is "Don’t judge a book by its cover," might be true in an idealistic sense, but it usually refers to judging people by their appearance.

There is a reality for publishers and the book industry in general. For the vast majority of readers the cover of a book is a deciding factor in not only whether or not they should buy the book, but if they will enjoy it as well.

There are literally millions of books for a reader to choose from, Your cover is the first "sales pitch" so to speak. If it doesn’t catch a buyer’s eye, their imagination, or their attention, he or she will pass it over in favor of a book with more appeal on either side.

Text and Font If the title is not clear enough to read from a distance, or when it becomes a thumbnail image online, then a great sounding title will be lost on a potential customer. Your font is critical. If it’s sloppy, illegible, unappealing, or just unprofessional, such as the overly-used, you could even say abused fonts of, Comic Sans or Papyrus, it will immediately turn off most readers.

Not only is your cover a billboard for the book, it is in a sense, the first page of your story. The graphic chosen can communicate, at a quick glance, the style and mood of the tale inside. A dark cover, with lots of shadow, can suggest a danger or even horror. A bright white cover with clouds could suggest a motivational text book. Why is this important. It speaks to the emotions of the reader, engaging them on a deeper level, and thus potentially not only securing a book sale. A sale sets the stage for whether or not any reader will like the book in the first place.

A cover can also create preconceptions in a reader’s mind about what the characters or the setting look like. It is debatable whether or not this is a good thing, as the cover design may not match the author or reader’s ideas, but it could act as a visual aid where necessary. Romance and erotica obviously make good use of this fact with appealing models on the front cover, enticing readers as much as they might entice each other as characters in the story.

A reader first assurance that the book is of a high quality, is a well-designed cover. The cover can scare away a customer or lure them in. Bad covers, with pixelated images, watermarks clearly visible, text badly formatted or aligned, and so forth, suggest to the reader that the interior of the book will be equally sloppy.

A poorly designed cover, creates preconceptions in the mind of the reader, setting them in "critical" mode instead of "enjoyment" mode. With their attention already drawn to errors and sloppiness, they will more easily spot mistakes in the text, and might even go looking for them. They are also likely to be less forgiving of typos than they would of what appears to be a more professional work.

The importance of cover design Big publishers to come up with different covers for different markets, catering to the unique culture of each region. Design principles are not the same the whole world over, leading to, for example, simpler designs on many UK covers, with more frequent use of negative space, and more detailed designs on US covers that cram in more imagery, potentially speaking to different cultural perceptions of "value for money."

Thanks to different meanings of words in different countries, titles on covers can also change. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, is a classic example of this. The book was renamed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the United States. The word "Philosopher" does not have the same connotations with magic here as it does in the England. The artwork also changed, helping reinforce the magical themes of the book. The font itself became much more mystical, ending up being the form was not only for the books, but employed for the movies as well.

Great cover designs needs to draw the reader’s attention, engage them on an emotional level, suggest the tone and style of the work, and showcase the quality of the book itself, all the while taking into consideration the potential cultural expectations of the reader. This is a monumental task, without doubt, but one that could be a deciding factor in making a book a best-seller.