Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cutting back-story is never easy

I’m back to working on my mystery novel after taking a few months off to get my act together around here so I’m ready to move.  There aren’t any bites on the house yet, but you never know when that will happen, and believe me, you can accumulate a lot of crap over the years.  This is especially true if you’re like me and have explored many art mediums in your life.  I have several “businesses” in my garage.

Anyway, back to the novel.  First, I’m ashamed of myself because I didn’t continuously work on this book, although I do realize I have more of a critical eye after letting it sit a while and then reading it again.  I can see some things to change, but it’s hard to be brutal and take out a lot.  I tend to let the back-story carry me away at times, I guess, probably much like the rest of you.  I think you do need some in there, but not too much.  Finding the happy middle ground is the hard part.

I’m thankful to have two gals reading this for me and helping me along the way with their perspective as they read the story.  I can’t tell you how much of a difference a new set of eyes can make.

I’m done with the second rewrite of my first chapter.  I was able to delete half of it, if you can imagine that.  I know the rest of it will be in as bad of shape too as the first chapter.  This book is sixty-one chapters long, but of course, that will probably end up considerably shorter once it’s finished.

My advice is to be brutal when you’re doing this.  Ask if the passages make your story better and if it advances the story.  Be honest with yourself.  Keep in the back of your mind that you have to keep the reader interested.  If you can’t part with all the hours of work you put in writing all that back-story in the first place, but you know you have to cut it out to better your story, remember you can paste it into a separate file if it makes you feel better about it.  That way it’s just separate and still saved on your computer somewhere.

I have no idea how long it will take to go through this whole story, but I look at everything as a learning experience. 

This first mystery book was my NaNo project for 2012.  I wrote the sequel as my NaNo project for 2013 and I’m intending on doing the next book in this trilogy series as my NaNo project for 2014 in November, unless I’m moving and can’t write my 1667 words a day.

Of course, none of this stuff is edited and ready to publish yet, but it will be one day.  I guess I have big plans for these books and I don’t give up, so eventually they’ll be out there, even if it’s only for me.

You writers should never give up either.  Write for yourself if nothing else, but write.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Author Marketing on Kindle Unlimited

In my opinion, this is a very good article for self-published authors about using the new kindle unlimited program to market their books.  This guy has done a detailed study of this new program Amazon put into effect in July of this year.  I think it’s well worth the read if you have your books available as kindles on Amazon.

This program allows readers to pay a monthly fee of $9.99 and read as many books as they like.  The catch here is that they have to read 10% of the book in order for the author to receive payment for that book.  This should concern any author a great deal, especially if you have long books enrolled in this program.  If the books are long, they had better be page-turners.  Of course, we all want to write books that keep the reader on the edge of his/her seat, but I feel all books ebb and flow with tension and slower areas.  I’ve read very few that are filled with apprehension from cover to cover.

It makes more sense, as this article suggests, to keep the books short, only enroll the first book in this program if you have a series, and to use it for the genres that attract the most readers.

Please click here to read the full article.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Review for My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni

An Interesting story
4 stars

Tracy Crosswhite becomes obsessed with finding out who really murdered her sister, Sarah.  She doesn’t believe Edmund House is the killer, even though there’s a trial and conviction.

Tracy becomes a Seattle homicide detective, making it her life’s work to get the bad guys because she blames herself for Sarah’s death.  As she works getting justice for victims over the next twenty years, she gathers facts about her sister’s case.

This book starts out slow, but midway through it picks up the pace and there are several surprises, many unknown facts are discovered, and there’s a great ending.  The beginning is about the childhood of the girls, their friends, and Sarah’s death as a teen.

When Sarah’s remains are finally found, it throws the small town of Cedar Grove back into chaos as everyone remembers the day she disappeared twenty years earlier and the ensuing trial.  Tracy reunites with some of her childhood friends at Sarah’s funeral.  One, Dan O’Leary, is a lawyer who takes all the files she’s collected over the years and, at her urging, goes over the facts.  Between the two of them and the facts, they decide the wrong man is in prison and start a process to get him released.  This opens up another assortment of problems and surprises that will change the way Tracy has seen things all her life.

This book has a little romance, a lot of suspense and is gruesome in places, but not more than you’d expect from a murder mystery.  There’s good character description and some devious citizens, which add to the story.  The reader will discover that things aren’t always as simple as they seem.

I could also picture the blizzard that takes over the town at the worst possible moment.  There are good depictions all through this book.

The only part that puzzled me about this story was a couple of chapters toward the end when the dead sister is talking.  Somehow, I think it would have seemed more natural if perhaps Tracy was thinking about what her sister would have done in the situation.  It just seemed strange to me that the sister who has been gone for twenty years would be stepping in to tell her part of the story.  That’s why I’m giving it four stars.

Nevertheless, this was still a good book and I’d like to read something else by this author.