Merry Christmas to All Who Recognize it!

It’s been a while, too long, since I’ve posted. Life has been busy! So how is it that I find time on Christmas Eve of all times?

Simple, I drove 8 hours to be with my family, but having a 70-pound puppy who chews on walls when she’d alone, I’m dog-watching in the far room while some of the family works and some are looking for things to watch.

Puppy is currently napping, but would quickly awaken should I leave, so I’ve been ruminating on an interesting thought. You see, this year is the last for our youngest daughter; she’s getting married in a 10 days, so my wife, two daughters, and son have been sharing my daughter’s house to plan for the wedding while taking a nod toward Christmas. It’s close quarters, and everyone’s character is on high display.

The interesting thought is how rarely I see holidays in novels that aren’t centered on holidays. Sure, you expect Christmas to be in “Here Comes Christmas” but not in “The Skipping Dead.”

Yet holidays often find us under pressure, a perfect way to reveal character.

Olaf lost some weight. Frosty is looking more trim. Must be stress from the holidays!

If your story takes place in summer, maybe include a chapter or two on the 4th of July. Valentines Day heats up some hearts and stills others. How does your Irish character respond to St. Patrick’s Day? Your Latina to Cinco de Mayo? How does your alcoholic character respond to holidays?

I don’t read a lot of romances, but I suspect they will often showcase a holiday or two to give their characters insight into each other.

If only as a character study that doesn’t make it into the novel, how do your paper friends and foes respond to holidays?

Ah, a wet nose and red tongue are interrupting me. I best sign off with a Merry Christmas (or winter holiday of your choice) and Happy New Year!

Who Do YOu Write Like?

I sat in on a webinar selling their “Who Do You Write Like” service that is, frankly, expensive for what they do. Especially when there are free sites who offer something similar. Yes, you need to do some legwork that the paid service do automatically, but it isn’t difficult.

“Who Do I Write Like” https://iwl.me is a free site where you paste your sample and they give you an author who you write like.

17 Things Only Moms of Twins Understand - Twin Baby Facts
Similar, not identical. Which are you?

Do NOT paste your whole story in here. Just a multi-paragraph excerpt. Try a few from different parts of your book(s) to get a wider range. The repeat authors are the ones you write like the most.

I dropped in excerpts from three of my books and came up with:

* Arthur C. Clarke (OK)

* Stephen King (Whoo-hooo!)

* Bram Stoker (???)

*Anne Rice (huh)

Truthfully, I can see this. I like Sci-Fi, so Clarke and 2001 a Space Odyssey is good company. I like to dig into fanciful technology. King writes about regular people in extraordinary circumstance, so that’s good. Stoker and Rice are wildcards, but they build tension much the same way I do.

But so what? Don’t you want a unique voice?

Yes, you do, and you have, but similar does not mean identical. Their readers will likely enjoy your books.

Again, so what?

Ah, that’s where the leg work comes in. Scour their book reviews and look for key words to use in your ads and descriptions. Drop their names in blog posts and social media posts “Do you like Stephen King? Then you’ll LOVE xxxxx.”

Or you can get wild and send your author style-sake a copy of your book. You never know what can come from that. 🙂

I’d guess the paid service has a larger bank of books to compare it to, but IWL seems to work well enough.

Check it out!

The Dog Days of Summer

When all this Covid stuff hit, the absence of our dear, departed dogs was too much and we went in search of a puppy. It was an adventure I won’t get into here, but for the first time we had a girl and a big dog. Well, not big yet. She was 14 pounds with long, skinny legs and a narrow head and body.

Because of Covid, we were with her every day, fed her well, and while we were definitely aware she was growing, it wasn’t wasn’t until Hurricane Sally gave us the blessing of our grown kids coming home from Pensacola for the weekend, with their two Jack Russel’s — their two very tiny Jack Russels — that we realized how big McKinley had become.

The Jacks been puppies in our home and were six or so months when they moved North with my daughter. At the time, they seemed like average size dogs. We’d had a small mutt, a chi, and whatever Thunder was at various times, all topping out around 17 pounds.

She is much prettier than the mountain she’s named after!

McKinley is now 45 pounds with another 20 pounds to gain. The Jacks could run under her without touching her belly (if they got along enough to do so. Jacks are a terror around big, boisterous, happy dogs unaware of their own size. For good reason; they have spindly bones my girl could crush in her eager rush to play.

When we first got her, she couldn’t reach her paws up to the table. Now she can and towers over the table looking for grub.

Yes, this is a writer’s blog, and yes there is a point.

If you write your story just a little bit everyday, your little story will take on size and dimension that amazes you. Some days you may write a paragraph; some days a chapter or more. The key is to write a bit every day. You’ll find when you sit to write for a few minutes, those minutes also take on size and dimension, and suddenly they’re hours. But even if not, a little bit will still accumulate.

My first novel was supposed to be a 15,000 to 20,000 word Dime Store novel. I wrote on a state-of-the-art computer at the time. Word was a DOS program and didn’t include a wordcount or even page count. When I finally finished the novel, it was 150,000 words. I had no idea! I began printing (on a dot-matrix printer) and it took three days to finish. One of these days, I’ll dust that novel off and rewrite it to a more manageable 60 – 80k manuscript.

The point is, a little over time becomes a lot. I’m the first to say with all I have going on right now that I don’t have time to write. I don’t have time to write for hours, but I do have time to write for 30 minutes or so.

Can’t you?

Punctuation Matters

There’s a big lather about young folks finding the period offensive. The truth is, that’s for texting, and we old people text paragraphs while youngin’s text sentence fragments at a time, making end punctuation unnecessary.

It’s like the paragraph indent. The purpose of the indent is to visually indicate the start of a new paragraph . What this means is that the first paragraph of a chapter, section, or paper does not need to be indented because there is nothing preceding from which to set it apart. With that logic, if you text one sentence (or fragment) at a time, the end punctuation isn’t necessary.

The COMMA is far more important in my mind. The meme goes around:

“Let’s eat grandpa.”

“Let’s eat, grandpa.”

That comma is a matter of life and death to grandpa.

Let’s face it, the comma is far harder to master than periods. When do you use them, when don’ t you?

I found what I hope was a typo in the Reader’s Digest from the Life in the United States feature. “My husband, Rey, was…”

Made me wonder if this lady was from Utah.

It is proper for my wife to write, “My brother Tim is my twin.” It is not proper for me to write, “My sister Debbie is the oldest.” Lynette has one brother; I have three sisters. The comma indicates more than one. The absence of the comma means there is only one. So Rey, I guess, is one of two or more husbands the author has.

My favorite comma drops an m but is pronounced the same. The comet’s coma is the envelope around the nucleus of the comet.

What is a Comet? (with pictures)
This may not be punctuation, but it’s cool!

Publish Outside The Box!

When Amazon democratized publishing, they did a lot more than just turning publishing on its ear, they threw out the box for anyone ready to put some thought into it.

The traditional publishing world created a box around books. They had to be this size, this number of pages, all text, and even limited formatting to ensure offset printing efficiency.

Today, your job is to figure out how your passion can be published.

I’m blessed to have many friends who are wizards with pens, brushes, and styluses. Others with cameras. Funny thing about fine artists, they all have some IP floating around in them. IP, for the uninitiated, is Intellectual Property. Ideas that are all their own. Maybe they are ideal for movies, cartoons, merchandising, radio shows, and other media channels, and I agree.

They are also grist for books.

Wait, wait, when you hear the word “books” are you thinking 200 pages of text? Maybe you’re thinking of traditional picture books.

The truth is, the medium is ripe for reinvention. I’ll be the first to admit that Amazon doesn’t enable 3D popups, but art and words have been going together in some form or another forever. Memes are a new form of words and graphics. Who says comic books have to be 6 – 9 panels per page? Who says they have to only use word balloons?

I’m not a graphic artist, I’m not the one to define what those new designs should be, but I’d ask my artistic friends not to limit themselves.

Amazing Art wallpaper | 1680x1050 | #15211
If they can create a lion with lasers, you can create something equally amazing!

I know a young woman who doodles the most amazing art while she listens to a sermon. The art is drawn from the sermon, which is drawn from the Bible. I’d love to see her share those doodles (you and I would call them high art) with a paragraph or two about what they mean. It isn’t narrative, it might be a wonderful twist on a devotional, or maybe an amazing snapshot of a young artist’s mind.

Do you love to cook? What’s your twist on a cookbook? Going on a trip? What’s your take on a craft book for the kids?

A last thought for my friends sitting on strong IP; there’s nothing new under the sun (hard to believe after I’m preaching on the new, but even that’s based on what’s come before, just without the same limits). It just takes one published media piece to cement your copyright on the IP. You need to do it before someone else is too close to your idea.

Prevail Press is your gateway to publishing!

A unique publisher who is Author-Centric and Reader-Sensitive