Tag Archives: Writer

What a writer should never throw away-no matter what

The following is a story that takes place in the 19th century and you are to guess what it has to do with a murder mystery I am writing set in 1927. I was doing some research for my novel and ran across the story in a file cabinet at a museum.

The story goes that an Indian woman and a white man hired a wagon and driver at a livery stable. They had the driver take them to a specific location that is outside of town. The driver noted that they carried two bags of tools. The white man told the driver to return at four in the afternoon to pick them up. This the driver did. He noticed when he returned the two bags of tools were gone, but the Indian girl and white man each had a heavy suitcase with them. It was thought the Indian girl knew about some treasure that was somewhere nearby where they were dropped off and she got the white man to help her. Neither were known in the town and neither were seen again. So what does this have to do with a murder mystery set in 1927?

Nothing. At least on the surface.

But a writer should not dismiss anything, no matter how remote it is to your story. I kept the story in my notes, then in writing a chapter I realized how I could use  it. My murder mystery began, interestingly enough, where the Indian girl and white man were dropped off. It was Ford’s Prairie. In my mystery a woman’s head was found on top of a grave leaning on the tombstone at the Ford’s Prairie cemetery.

So I had a local from the community relate this old tale from the 1800’s to my amateur detective. The reason is that it could be a red herring, to make the reader think the two stories might be related. Then again there just might be a connection. Doesn’t matter. The point is never ignore what you find while researching. It may seem unrelated to what you are working on, but you might be able to use it. As a researcher you are mining for nuggets and what you think is fool’s gold could be more useful than you think.

This e-novel has already been researched and is found on that Amazon place, not the jungle; that is another story.

coyotemoon_silentmurder

 

 

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The different madness of actors and writers

Actors and writers are the yin and yang of creativity. Neither are normal, nobody in the creative arts is normal; normal people get normal jobs, have normal families, and do normal things. Creative people are neurotic, they see things normal people see, but don’t think about until writers and actors remind them, then if the norm agree with what the creators see, they applaud, if they don’t agree, the reviews are bad.

Actors, like writers are introverted, but they approach creativity from a different angle. Actors need to be in the limelight, to have that klieg light shine upon them, hiding behind a character (one the writer creates), to escape who they are, be something they would like to be, at least for that play, movie, or TV show. No normal person wants to play dress up with makeup and prance around on a stage or movie set. It is said, even by many actors, that acting is unmanly, embarrassing in a way. Most actors prefer the stage because at the end of the play they hear applause. They get that immediate reaction; they like me-wait, no-they love me, I am accepted. My acting experience is limited. I remember only the panic attack before going on, and the laughter (it was intended). I remember little else. I didn’t like the feeling. It was not my element. 

The introverted writer, like the actor, hides his true self, not behind a character, but behind the words themselves. The writer is in the story somewhere, maybe everywhere, maybe here and there, behind or underneath the words; he is there lurking around. But he is far removed from the spotlight; allergic to lime, he is far from the immediacy of the audience, safe at his desk.

Both actors and writers are storytellers. The actor tells the story of his character, how he views things, by word, deed, or action. The writer tells his story using all the characters, seeing the whole, while the actor seeing primarily his role in the story. Both are drawn to ‘the word’ as actors look at the words they will speak and decide how to interpret the words, how the words will be used, revealed, spoken; the writer simply the architect builds layers of action, thought, conflict, and ideas though there is nothing really ‘simple’ about it.

 It could be said that actors take a bigger risk by being center stage, baring their soul to the audience, and while there is some truth to that, if the play or film doesn’t work they can blame the writer. Writers have nobody to blame.

 

coyotemoon_silentmurder

Here are some words to examine.

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What I would like to do but can’t

As a writer I would love to do two things. One is to thank the people who took time out of their very, very, very,  busy lives to give good reviews of my books on Amazon. The second is to castigate those who wasted their time on a bad review. But I can do neither.

A number of years ago I wrote an article summarizing the draft picks of an NFL team on a sports website. One person commented that I was full of s… among other choice remarks. So I commented on his comment that he can disagree all he wants, but that his language did not help his point of view. Naturally many took his side, not mine. As someone wrote, “You can’t win.” Lesson learned. It was my first encounter with an Internet troll.

I decided to write this article after going on to my Amazon page and reading a four star review (my second) for the first book I wrote, one that is close to me for many reasons. The review was well written, well thought out, and it made me feel great. And I did not know this person in case you are wondering.

But I have also had a bad review on another book, a one star review. I did not mind that so much except he gave away the ending. Clearly he has no conscious. That being said, he took the ending literally. He may be right-if you believe the story of the person in question. The person could have been lying. Or could have been telling the truth. But the story is more than who did what and why. Some people get it and some don’t.

The point is one can not thank those who give you a good review, as much as you want to, nor can you rip those who hate your story, as much as you want to. You just have to go on writing and publishing and hope for the best. Nor can you ask Amazon why a four star review of a book disappeared. They will just blame those tricky, sneaky algorithms. I think that lost review bothers me more than the one star review.

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Improve your writing by not thinking

Thinking is not good for writers. Thinking means analyzing what you are doing, dissecting your sentence, your paragraph, your page. Is everything you want to say there? Is it said the correct way? And are you following all the rules those creative books say you should do? Does doing this numb the mind? If you want to improve your writing, then stop thinking and just write. And here is why.

In his book “Zen in the Art of Writing” Ray Bradbury says,  “. . . the more swiftly you write, the more honest you are. In hesitation is thought. In delay comes the effort for a style; instead of leaping upon truth which is the only style worth deadfalling or tiger-trapping.”

I don’t know what Bradbury means by ‘deadfalling or ‘tiger-trapping’, but I understand what he is talking about.

Style can not be calculated. Style is how you write and that reflects who you are; a writers style comes out of his being. Don’t be who you are not. It is impossible for me to write a tragedy, a serious drama, a heart warming love story, or an inspiring story. The reason is that my sense of humor, good or bad, always finds its way into the story. I can’t help myself. That is why the titles of my first two e-novels begins with the word “‘Loonies.” It is part of my world view that there is something loony about humanity, with how we think, our actions, and so on. Whether we recognize it or not we are kind of funny in a weird way.

So I write without thinking. I write with what is coming out of my head, entering my characters mouths’ giving me the opportunity to blame them for their actions or inactions. Consider these two phrases; “He who hesitates is lost?” and “To thine own self be true?” They apply to writing. Don’t think, just let you mind flow and be who you are. I write what I write in the way I write because that is who I am. It will work for you as well. So go trap a tiger.

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How not to sell your book

I have read much about how indie writers should not sell their books and I agree that many of the methods some writers use are crass.

One should not make a direct appeal to blog followers by promoting their book. God forbid they might actually enjoy your story. So I will henceforth not make direct appeals. (Though of course if you want to visit my Amazon page-a link is provided below. Or if you want to visit my website, that link is also provided below). 

Nor will I cater to your sensitivity to animal cruelty, despite the fact I have a cat that was rescued from an abusive owner. Yes I give her, of the sadly soulful eyes, treats and yes I frequently pet her softly as she sits in my lap purring loudly with contentment. She follows me everywhere, as does my devoted spaniel, another rescue, who limps behind me with the cat shouldering the spaniel so she will not fall over. No, I can not prey on your heart.

Nor do I wish to use my disarming news of my doctor’s assessment that I have six months to live because of incurable athletes foot.  I have gotten three second opinions and they all agree neither surgery or amputation will amend the problem. I will await my fate with quiet dignity. Though what fate my teary eyed cat and, for all intent, a three legged dog, will meet without resources gained from the sale of my books, is unknown. No, I will not, do not wish, to ever sell books that way.

Nor do I desire to use my service as a Vietnam War veteran, a victim of agent orange and  that war stress syndrome thing, whatever it is called. Despite my having saved dozens of South Vietnamese children from mass murder, an action that won me a prestigious medal, no I can not use that to sell books either. (Mainly because I flunked my physical and was unable to serve my country). 

Nor will I offer free books for positive reviews, nor will I pay for reviews.

No, I can do nothing of the sort. I will do only what is left to do. And that is nothing, but just sit and twiddle my thumbs. (Both of which were broken by neighborhood bully).

Don’t go to my Amazon page. ttp://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38

Nor to my website. http://terrynelson.net/

 

 

 

 

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Are these reasons why your book was rejected by publishers

Every writer get rejected. You either continue to submit queries or you quit. The third choice is to go Indie and self publish either in print or in digital e-books.

In a recent blog from Anne B. Allen and Ruth Harris some reasons I had not thought of were given. Agents want to make money, but first and foremost I think they want to make publishers happy by getting them the type of books they want, whether you story is well written or not.

But anyway here is the link to her blog. It is worth the read. The ten reasons come from an editor by the way. Reasons 4, 5, 7 and 9 are my favorites. You just never know.

http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2015/02/the-10-real-reasons-your-book-was.html

 

 

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You can’t help who you are-even in your writing

There is a desire within myself to be a more literary writer, whether D.H. Lawrence, John Steinbeck, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Phillip Roth, John Updike, or any of a hundred or so others. There are great writers in each generation, so many to choose from. But it is not my nature. I can’t write that way, trying to do so would end in failure.

Just as Stephen King and Dean Koontz can not help but write the stories they do, neither can I.

Two reviews I have had on Amazon both refer to my Hollywood noir style in Loonies in Hollywood, an e-novel about the murder of silent film director William Desmond Taylor. It is a fictional account of a true story and my character, Chet Koski, solves the murder . . .sort of. (I know I am ending a sentence with a preposition, something we have been told not to do, but that rule is disappearing, the reason being it makes no sense-not ending the sentence with a preposition, but the rule itself.

But I digress; and it is fun to do at times, so there.

Back to the point. In my two e-novels I inject the stories with humor because I see the looniness of situations, of people, of life. It is not ridicule, but you can look at life and all the bad things and let it drag you down, or you can see the silliness at times. Just as they say ‘You are what you eat,’  so it is true that you are what you write.

Even in my collection of short stories that is in the horror genre, one reviewer said they are Twilight-Zone stories, and I can not help myself ; I must inject humor in some of the stories. Notice I said some. There are stories without humor, so I can do it. But then again they are not literature. If I could write a short story it would be “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner. It is one of the best short stories written.

So I am stuck being me, am stuck eating what I eat, and stuck writing what I write. I am a prisoner to myself. I am loony and I can live with it. My advice to other writers is to write who you are. After all, you can’t help being you, so relish who you are.

My Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38

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