Thursday, November 29, 2012

Is your story in time or out-of-step?

I watched a film the other night that was, by all accounts, a remarkably close adaptation of a book written by a very famous historical novelist who shall, in the interests of not incurring a libel action, remain nameless.

Why I mention it here is that, of its many plot holes, the worst (in my very humble opinion) were the numerous and very blatant ones relating to the passage of time. I don't mean the silly anachronisms such as seeing a plane flying over while watching Heathcliff doing his Jack Torrance impersonation (read The Shining) or the inevitable nerdy IMDB comment such as 'in the bathroom scene, the tube of toothpaste in the jar referred to a brand that didn't appear until 3 years later’. No, what I'm referring to is the way in which time is concertinaed for one party and then stretched for another.

A simple example. Let's look at the opposite of the well-known film, Home Alone which concentrated on the antics of the child left behind after his family flew to France for vacation. Suppose, instead, we remake the film about the holiday and ignore the child’s perspective. After an hour and a half of Francophonic antics, the family returns home to find the forgotten child sitting on the sofa watching telly. The End.

Wait! What does the kid do for a couple of weeks? How does he cope? What does he eat? What if Social Services or the Police find out he's there on his own?

This is a pretty obvious case but it does happen as proven by my film from the other night. Story forks (where principal characters go off and do different things for a significant period of time) make for interesting reading – they’re a valuable device for widening a book’s backdrop. However, they must be handled properly and the only way to avoid falling into a time-warp is to carefully consider every character and their situations. Can you account for what happens to them during the period of the fork?

I faced a similar situation in my novel, The Road. The book spans 9 years and has a number of principal characters, each of whom has their own perspective and experiences during this period. I didn't want to get into the situation where there were contradictions in my story so I put all the main data onto a spreadsheet. The far left-hand column contained the names of the characters and the subsequent columns the years and their seasons - one column per season.

I then went through and wrote the chapter numbers where a particularly character appeared in the appropriate cells. At the end, I had a map of the book which showed the progression of the protagonists through the 9-year period. Perhaps not surprisingly, there were a few minor anomalies. I went back, rewrote the affected chapters and then updated my timeline. At the end, I had a complex tale that spanned nearly a decade but which I knew with complete confidence would hold water if challenged.

There's a definite argument for either creating such a spreadsheet as you write or even in advance of typing the first word. Personally I find that trying to pre-empt the book cramps my style and I'd far rather 'get things down' than get bogged down with trying to avoid reinventing the Tardis. That’s just my preference.

Ultimately you should leave the plot holes to Hollywood (they do them so well). Your book needs to be perfect so take time out to create that timeline.

Clive West is co-owner of indie publisher Any Subject Books and you can see more about them on their website or on Facebook. He has written a full-length novel called The Road and also a collection of short stories called Hobson's Choice. Both are available in Kindle format and the anthology is also published in paperback format.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Clive West Book Tour Dates

As many of you may have noticed, we have a new contributing author here at All Things Writing----Mr. Clive West! His Thursday blog posts have been informative and insightful about the world of writing.  Here is a little more about him:

Clive West was born in the West Country of England in the early 60's. He was educated at a traditional English public school before going on to university to study civil engineering. Over the years, he has worked as a civil engineer, tutor of maths and science, schools quiz-master, employment agency boss, and writer.

His work includes a collection of short stories with twists called Hobson's Choice (also available in print), a full-length novel called 'The Road' about the consequences of corruption on ordinary people and an accessible job hunting interview guide (based on his years of experience as the boss of an employment agency).

He has also written a book about lymphedema. This is a disfiguring, life-threatening and incurable disease he now suffers from and which his experience shows that most fellow patients have (like him) been abandoned by their respective health services.

Clive now lives in a rebuilt farmhouse in the Umbrian region of Italy along with Damaris, his writer wife of 22 years and their three rescue dogs. Apart from his fictional work, Clive also writes commercial non-fiction on a variety of topics but especially relating to business and employment. He and Damaris run an indie publishers called Any Subject Books Ltd –

You can also follow Any Subject Books on Facebook –

Clive is now disabled but, aside from his writing, he also enjoys playing the keyboard, listening to music and reading.

Contact details:

I've recently started reading Clive's novel, The Road and so far, I am loving it. One of the things I'm excited to promote on this blog is Clive's upcoming book tour through Virtual Book Cafe. Here is the link to that website so that you can check out his tour stops and other musings on writing.

Virtual Book Tour Cafe

Monday, November 26, 2012

Wisteria by Bisi Leyton---A Review

As I munched away on my Turduken this Thanksgiving, I started reading the novel, Wisteria which is making a stop today as part of a tour for Innovative Online Book Tours. I thought it was an appropriate read for this time of year, as it is a zombie book and the zombies are called biters. As I chewed away on the turkey leg, I couldn't help but see the irony there. What follows is my review of Wisteria. Enjoy!--Mary Ann

Book Title: Wisteria
Author Name: Bisi Leyton
Author Location (for press releases) London , England
Name of series and book number in series: Wisteria Series Book 1
Total Book in the Series: 3 so far
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Date of Publication: Aug 2012
ISBN: Paperback: 9781291114898
Number of pages: 275
Word Count: 90,000
Formats available: PDF and Mobi/prc
Cover Artist: Olivia Smith

Here is the blurb:

Sixteen year old Wisteria Kuti has two options—track the infected around the Isle of Smythe or leave the only known safe haven and face a world infested with flesh eating biters. But even with well-armed trackers, things go wrong and Wisteria ends up alone facing certain death, until she is rescued by the mysterious Bach. Uninfected, Bach is able to survive among the hordes of living dead.
Eighteen year old Bach, from a race known as The Family, has no interest in human affairs. He was sent here to complete his Great Walk and return home as a man—as a Sen Son. The Family regard humans as Dirt People, but Bach is drawn to this Terran girl, whom he has never seen before, but somehow knows.
Hunted by flesh eaters, cannibals, and the mysterious blood thirsty group called Red Phoenix, Wisteria and Bach make their way back to the Isle of Smythe, a community built on secrets and lies.

I felt like this author had a marvelous idea that was exciting and fun to read. She had some character development going with Wisteria who comes off as being a nice mixture of strength under pressure and vulnerability when it comes to the heart. I also really liked the idea of the alien race looking down on us as our planet is being destroyed by zombies due to the Nero virus. The end of the book hints at all sorts of possibilities as to the origin of the virus and the possible implications of it for Wisteria's family.

So lots of good ideas here....


This book needed a good edit. There were lots of beginning writer mistakes which needed to be corrected. At times, the writing felt rushed, and at other times, very slow. The dialogue, in particular, was often frustrating for me because it was stilted and mechanical. I also think pieces of the story should have been introduced earlier and that the world of The Family/Bach should have been clearer. I think there is a great storyline with that particular group, too, but as it was written, I had trouble understanding who they were and why they were important. Bach comes off as a robot with PMS: one minute he's all worked up over Wisteria and two lines later, he's cold as ice. When that happens once or twice, a reader chalks it up as an odd character trait, but when it happens in every scene....well, then it's overused and makes the reader not like the character, which is too bad since he's supposed to be the hero and love interest of the story.

Sound a bit harsh? It is, I admit. But this writer has so much potential! All it would take to be truly great with this story and its sequels, is to make a few tweaks in the editing department. I would still recommend checking this book out and seeing what you think for yourself!

Here is the Kindle Buy Link: WISTERIA KINDLE

Below is the author info and the links to her book, along with an excerpt.

Author bio:

Bisi Leyton was born in East London in 1978. She grew up in London, Nigeria and the States, listening to the stories life and love from aunts, cousins and big sisters.

She lives in London, but has worked around Europe including France, Germany, Ireland, Belgium and the Czech Republic. She has a fondness for reading graphic novels.

* Facebook page:
* Current Blog:
* Old Blog:
* Twitter: @bisileyton
* Goodreads:

Wisteria Excerpt:


As she walked back to the ridge of the roof, Bach’s heart went with her. Someone had tried to hurt her. Tried to damage what belonged to him, and who he belonged to.

He started to feel dizzy from the volumes of strangle weed planted in the front of her house.

“Thank you so much for coming and for the guitar. It’s perfect.” She gave it back to him.

“No, it is yours, Wisteria.” He refused to take it. “Do you not like it?”

“No, I love it. It’s so beautiful.”

“Then keep it.” He kissed her neck. Knowing—hoping—his touch would soothe her pain, but he hadn’t come here to comfort her.

“Bach.” She used her instrument as a shield as she moved away from him. “It’s a bad idea. You won’t understand.”

“You are right. I do not get why you would refuse something you apparently love,” he whispered while rubbing her forearms and taking in her scent.

“If I accept your kindness, then I’ll have to face the consequences. I don’t know if I can face those.”

“You cannot face accepting my kindness, or is it accepting me that you cannot face?”


“Tell me that you do not feel the same,” he whispered. “That the moment you first saw me that I did not get inside your head. Tell me that you do not think about me all of the time when we are not together?”

The dark-eyed girl did not answer.

Wishing he could will her to speak, he pressed her against his chest. Briefly, he noticed a black spot at the base of her neck, where he had kissed her, and then it was gone. “Okay, Wisteria. Then tell me that you want me to leave, and that you do not care if you never ever see me again.” He felt like someone else was speaking for him, once again. The questions became pointless as he found himself still planting kisses along her neck and the sides of her face.

“I can’t tell you that, Bach,” she replied softly, her voice breaking. “Because it’s not true.” She wrapped her arms around him and held him tightly.

Desperately wanting to kiss her luscious-looking lips, he leaned into her.

Wisteria reached up to him, tugging his head down as she stood on the very tips of her toes, seemingly just as eager to taste his lips.

“Wisteria, I cannot.” He broke away before it happened. “I do not want this.”

* * * * *

Wrapping her arms around herself, she moved away from him. Once again, humiliated and feeling foolish. “Goodnight, Bach!” She strode angrily to the side of the roof in order to climb down.

He grabbed her and held her back

The guy came here just to tease her, yet again! Didn’t he know he was hurting her? Didn’t he care? “I’m tired of all this nonsense. I’m actually tired and need some sleep. I’m done with this. All of this!” She should’ve left the roof when she saw him appear. “Let go, so I can go.”

“Wisteria, it is not that.” Exhaling heavily, he released her. “My people could kill you if they knew I wanted you.”

This wasn’t at all what she’d expected him to say. “What?”

“I am in love with you. I do not know why, but I am. And it is selfish, because I just want you for myself.” Sadness filled his eyes as he spoke.

“Why would they do that to me?”

“Because you are human and because we see humans as Terran, or dirt people.”

“And you believe that too? So why are you here, living among us, if we’re so disgusting?”

“You are not disgusting. You are beautiful.” Rubbing his temples, he seemed troubled and bewildered. “I came to Terra as a rite of passage. To be considered a man, to take a journey and experience the wild.”

“The wild?”

“I chose Terra, or Earth, because I came here as a child. Your people treated me so badly in the past. When I learned about the Nero disease, I wanted to see your world.” He paused. “You were right when you said there was something wrong with me.”

“Bach, it cannot be that bad.” Stepping up to him, she stroked her fingers along his biceps.

The sweet motion made him smile at her, but he still looked distressed.

“Like about Garfield, you let him live with you. And now you’re here with me.”

“You are not like the rest.”

“Neither are you. You’re not so cold and cruel like Enric or patronizing like Felip. They think they’re better than us. You just hate people because you’re a jerk, Bach.”

“Ha.” Bach laughed. “A jerk?”

“You’re a big jerk.” As the final word rolled from her lips, he kissed her.

She was stunned for a second. His lips tasted like a strange, tantalizing spice.

He squeezed her against his larger frame and rested his right hand on the small of her back.

She fidgeted, unsure about what to do with her hands. She tried to kiss him back, but she struggled because she was so short.





Thursday, November 22, 2012

Compiling a commercial writing bid

If you're getting into commercial writing as a way of making money, you won't get far unless you have a strategy regarding the compiling of your bids. Don’t worry, though, because I've got some suggestions that will boost your chances of being successful. I'm making one assumption and that is you've already signed up with one of the main freelancer sites.

Before we begin, I need you to completely accept that the PRIMARY objective is to win work, not reduce the time you spend putting bids together (although I will help you avoid wasting time).

My first rule is that all jobs are not created equal – some are fantastic, some are mediocre and some are <insert expletive of your choice>. Having used the freelancer website’s screening facility, go through each of the projects that you feel able to take on and make an assessment of:
  • How much the job interests you
  • What the total payment's likely to be
  • The track record of the client
  • Whether there's likely to be more work from the client
If you want to be mathematical, set up a scoring system but here's what I'm looking for:

How much the job interests you

You want job satisfaction and you'll be alone with this writing for a long time.

What the total payment's likely to be

It takes just as much time and effort getting started on a small job as a big one and most clients won't expect to pay you for this set up cost. Consequently you get a better return on your initial time investment if it's a bigger project.

The track record of the client

See how many invoices they've paid, how much they add up to and how long they made the freelancers wait. Look at their disputes record. Do they have a 'tame' writer? If so, why aren't they using them? Is your price just a stick to beat the regular guy with? What reviews have they given out and what did the jobs relate to?

Whether there's likely to be more work

If you can get to be that tame freelancer, you’ll be in the enviable position of being able to negotiate future work or even just get it 'on the nod'.

Having established the above, stream the bids into 3 categories along the following lines:
  1. Professional client, good track record, interesting job, good return.
  2. New client, OK job, reasonable return.
  3. New client, not very appealing job, moderate to low return.
Tackle all the 'A' jobs then the 'B' ones and only do the 'C' ones if you've time and if the number of bids you are limited to by the freelancer website permits. If you're heavily restricted in this respect, don't waste bids on Category C jobs.

It's very important to learn that it's far better to send out half a dozen properly targeted bids than a hundred or more 'one size fits all' quotes. If the client has to make guesses about you, they just won't bother. It's very simple.

Now the bid itself.

If you were to pretend to be a client (I'd never suggest such a thing) and put up an imaginary job, you'd get a number of responses, most of which would be:
  • Badly written
  • Generic (i.e. they're just a copy and paste affair)
  • Irrelevant
  • Confusing regarding the price
Would you choose someone who does that?

Consequently, you need to make sure that your bid:
  • Comes well written, is grammar and spelling checked, is lucid and properly set out.
  • Demonstrates to the client that you have actually read and understood what will be required.
  • Establishes that you are capable of carrying out the project to a good standard.
  • States the price in an unequivocal manner.
This may seem obvious but, in the heat of the moment, it's so easy to forget. Create a checklist, just like pilots use when they're taking off, and stick to it religiously
The bid needs to answer the following questions:
  • Who are you?
  • Why do you believe you are capable of doing the job to a high standard?
  • What do you charge?
  • Can you prove what you say?
Obviously each of these needs to be carefully thought through. For example, if you're bidding to write a non-fiction book, your knowledge of the subject matter is paramount. On the other hand, if it's fiction, then describing your writing experience is going to be more likely to succeed.

Always address the job. Even in the most clear-cut of bids, find some snippet of the project briefing that you can mention in your tender just to prove that you've read the job description. Most of your competitors will only have scan-read it at best so this simple act immediately makes you stand out from the crowd.

Isolate the client's core requirement and state how you have the experience and knowledge to tackle it. Leave them in no doubt that they’d be in good hands if they chose you.

By targeting your quote you can leave out irrelevant rates. Thus, if the bid is for editing, why include your hourly rate for cover design? If your bid is accepted, it IS a good idea to include your other rates on the contract that you will be required to draw up however don't confuse the client with all this now - stick to just quoting for what they've asked.

If you can, send 3 to 6 samples of your work. Make sure that these are as relevant as possible and that each bears your name - ideally as a footer and as a watermark <Format, Background, Printed Watermark in Word>. You should then turn the samples into pdf's before sending. Unless you are acquainted with a client, for all you know, they could be just collecting writing samples that they can use themselves.

Beware of sending a former client copies of items you wrote for them because that might be deemed breach of their copyright or distribution rights and you may be putting your head in a noose.

And the best way of assessing your bid (apart from the price)? Pretend you're the client and your bid has just come through by email – if the price was right, would you give you the job?

Clive West spent 16 years as an estimator in the highly-competitive construction industry. In that time, he literally submitted thousands of tenders and drew up countless hundreds of contracts. Since then, he has gone on to become a very successful and sought-after commercial writer.

He is also co-owner of indie publisher Any Subject Books and you can see more about them on their website or on Facebook.

Click on the link to see a complete list of the books published by Any Subject Books Ltd.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

3 Reasons A Book Giveaway Can Help the Indie Author

Someone asked me why book giveaways are important. After all, aren't I losing money by giving away free copies? Sure, I am. But on the other hand, I could be gaining something even more valuable--readers and fans. It's basically the same concept writers are using to present their books for free in Kindle's Top 100 Free list. Here are several reasons writers participate in giveaways.

1. Giveaways create fans--it's all about the readers! A great way to begin building your fan base is by getting your name out there. There are so many ways to do this, but giving a reader a free copy of your book is one of the best. You're putting the your words directly into their hands and hoping they like it, will want more, and spread the word to their friends!

2. It helps generate reviews. Ever wonder how writers get reviews? We don't all have a NY Times critic in our back pocket! Many of us have to rely on readers posting their thoughts about the work on the web or places like Goodreads. It's another way to get the word out.

3. Giveaways can actually boost sales. If a reader likes your work, it's possible they'll want to check out what else you 've written and this time pay for it!

I think giveaways also help you show your fans and readers that you care, that you get that times are tough, and they don't want to spend money on something they may or may not like. It shows confidence in your work, too, displaying that you feel it's good enough to draw people in and perhaps influence them to check out your other novels.

I've done several giveaways and been pleased with the results every time. I especially like it when people are so excited about winning that they take the time to email me and let me know what they want their signed copy to say. It really is fun for me, too.

Have you done book giveaways? What have the results been for you? What worked? What didn't?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Black Friday Freebies

As Black Friday approaches, I get a little tingle in my toes. My brain starts mapping out the best way to get through the mall and my husband starts hiding my debit card.

Okay, maybe Black Friday brings out the worst in me. I do come from a family of dedicated Black Friday shoppers though. We've been doing this for years and have our own strategy about how to get the best deals and more importantly, the best freebies. Sadly, in recent years, the freebie thing has trickled away.

I guess the shops are on to us.

As a little Thanksgiving treat, I wanted to let you know that some things are still free on Black Friday. For example, I will be offering my book, Bayou Myth, for the free at Amazon both Friday and Saturday of this week.

I'll also be posting a little story close to my heart that is all about the Black Friday mythos and one family's dedication to it called Stealing Jesus. That will be on Friday's blog post here at All Things Writing. I hope you enjoy it!

Happy Thanksgiving! Eat lots of turkey on Thursday!

Friday, November 16, 2012

How Dark Will You Walk by Matthew Bryant

We welcome back Matthew Bryant to All Things Writing!

A buddy and I were discussing movies the other day, mostly about Disney buying out LucasFilms and taking over the Star Wars franchise, but then it sidetracked to one of my favorite subjects, horror.  Surprisingly enough, we both agreed on which movie scared us the most when we were growing up – Event Horizon.

The amusing thing is that typically, I wouldn't credit science fiction as being an effective mixture with horror.  It's too unbelievable.  But Event Horizon did something right, something all writers and film-makers strive for.  It pushed the grungy envelope just far enough to the sweet spot, that razor's edge of balance that puts the audience outside of their comfort zone without disgusting them (Yes, I'm looking at YOU, Human Centipede)

Every writer's familiar with the timeless advice that you write best what you know.  This is true, which is what makes horror such a tricky subject.  Anybody can throw on a mask and leap from the shadows, making their sibling, parent, spouse or child squeal in terror for a moment, but making a full-grown adult pull their covers over their head and twitch at every creak of a settling house takes practice.

Any jerk can write about chopping up babies or severing limbs, describe a creature as big and nasty, even throw in a bit of mucus and dripping blood as icing on the cake, but where does the real fear come in?  The answer is this: distorting the known.

There are things we as civilized people don't want to think about.  What do you do when the passenger door of your car swings open while you're stuck at a red light and a strange man slides in, closing the door behind him?  Why are all of your windows open when you wake up shivering at 3am?  Who could have come in and spilled knives all across the kitchen floor... and are there any missing?  These are questions that protagonists should be asked.  Sure you can show them the gore, throw dead babies at them until they're beaten into a concussion, but wouldn't you rather have your readers putting the book down to check all the door locks before rushing back to see what happens next?

Back to Event Horizon, sure it took place on a space ship that (spoiler alert) had literally been through hell and back, but that wasn't the scary part.  The scariness was the boy who willingly opened the air lock and released himself to deep space because he was so terrified.  Sam Neil's hallucinations remembering his wife's suicide as she joins him in the tub before the images drive him completely bonkers.  Anybody else freeze-frame the ship's log to see people strung up by hooks or tearing out their own eyes?  Yup, disturbing!  But somehow it seems less grotesque than super-gluing a skinhead to the seat of a car and forcing him to detach himself from his own flesh to pull a lever. 

So to my fellow horror writers – please remember, your duty as a writer is to make your audience squirm, heighten their senses with adrenaline, not send them screaming to the nearest porcelain god to relieve a stomach-load of their favorite lounge-time snacks in prayer-like offering.


Matthew Bryant is the author of the recently released thriller, Towers.  He lives in Dallas with his wife and three children and works as an English/Math tutor in the evenings.  For more information, visit him at or follow him on Twitter - @MattBryantDFW.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ghostwriting for would-be wraiths, banshees and poltergeists

No more spectral jokes - promise.

Go to any of the numerous freelancer sites and you'll find plenty of jobs advertising 'ghostwriter required'. This service can be quite lucrative and it’s certainly a definite step up from living on a combination of air and hope. That said, ghostwriting jobs are not without their share of 'issues' and I'd like to look at some of those now.

Just to be clear, ghostwriting is the act of turning someone else's ideas (which may be a complete plot, a partially-written book or a simple idea) into a 'finished quality' piece of writing for which the ghostwriter receives no credit or acknowledgement beyond the payment of their agreed fees. From a ghostwriter's perspective, the job is without risk - they get paid even if the book bombs - but, if the book goes on to become a bestseller, there's no kudos either.

Don't consider ghostwriting if you can't accept that because otherwise it will seriously get you down.

The first thing to understand is that it(usually) costs nothing for people to post their jobs. This invariably means that every dreamer who's ever romanticized about being an author will be putting forward their ideas in the hope that they can turn their vision into a bestseller. With so many of these people clogging up the freelance sites, it's easy to waste lots of time putting in bid after bid and then never hearing a word back.

You can, however, save time and give yourself a better chance of being successful by a little judicious screening. Here are some things to look out for.


This is the act of turning someone else’s work into another ‘original’ by replacing proper nouns, adverbs and verbs to make the new book seem different. Two things to consider here – can your morals stand the notion that you are plagiarizing another author and, since the client is placing minimal importance on the talent of a writer, can you accept that the remuneration is likely to be very, very low? And I mean LOW.


Incoherent ideas

A client needs to have figured out the finished book’s length and its subject matter in order to have arrived at a realistic budget figure. If the project briefing then leaves you in doubt as to what you will be engaged to write about, you will almost certainly end up spending hours on SKYPE attempting fruitlessly (probably) to extract this information from the client. Later, if and when it goes wrong, you’ll be the resident villain of the piece and you may struggle to get paid.


My story needs telling

It’s fair to say a large number of published autobiographies are only on sale because the ‘author’ is a famous personality, and it’s also true that being famous does not guarantee your story is a ‘good read’. Stories of the famous are, however, definitely commercial since people always want to read about the lives of the stars. In the likely event that your particular customer isn’t one of the glitterati, does their autobiography inspire you? Is there enough material to fill a book? Don’t forget that your work will involve dragging lots of details out of your client – work that they probably won’t expect to be charged for.


I’ve written something which needs polishing

This sort of client probably requires you to act as an editor but you’ll also be expected to fill in the missing pieces, sort out the plot holes, make the dialogue more realistic etc. It’s quite difficult picking up a story like this and it will involve a number of readings through before you start, along with considerable note-taking. You need to allow for this when quoting. Again, it’s quite likely that the client won’t expect to pay.

Obviously there are some people who’ve got a good idea for a story but don’t have the confidence, time or experience to write it themselves. These are the best jobs to go for but, before you put in a bid, look and see what they’ve given as an expected budget (most freelancer sites require clients to have a stab at the final bill figure). A typical novel that has been written by a native English-speaking ghostwriter will cost between $2,000 and $3,000. Thus, if the budget is ‘$500 or under’, there’s a good chance that either they don’t have any idea of final cost (and thus probably won’t go ahead with it) or that they’re only interested in getting the content written at the cheapest price possible and without regard for its quality.

Ghostwriting is an excellent way of making money and keeping your hand in but it’s easy to waste time on bad clients or thankless jobs. As you’ll see in my next blog, you can grapeshot every job you come across or you can ignore the lower grade jobs and concentrate on the better ones.

Clive West is co-owner of indie publisher Any Subject Books and you can see more about them on their website or on Facebook. For details of their book submission criteria, see their writers wanted page.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Richard Asner and The Erroneous Talibani

Today we welcome Richard Asner who is chatting about his new book, The Erroneous Talibani. Thanks for stopping by!
My latest book introduces a new protagonist. Roman Hawk gained his name early in life after his Iranian parents were killed in a horrible automobile accident. At the age of eighteen, Roman enters Notre Dame University on a football scholarship.

    After graduation, Roman spends eight years with the country’s FBI before being recruited by the CIA. His first assignment sends him to Moscow to recover confidential records of a new army rifle that fires smart bullets acquired by a mafia kingpin only known as the Chairman. While in Moscow, Roman discovers that the Chairman is involved with General Giorgio Levshinsky in the secret construction of a suitcase nuclear weapon for Iran.

    One month before Yom Kippur, Mossad Director Aaron Levy receives a letter saying that at one minute after midnight on their Day of Atonement, a nuclear blast will take place somewhere in Israel.

    The rest of the story concerns Roman chasing after the shipment of this nuclear weapon through Iran on its way to Israel assisted by Mossad agent, Rina Kol. In the end, they lose track of the weapon. The story’s climax occurs at midnight with sixty seconds before the scheduled nuclear explosion.

Author Bio:

    Richard Asner describes himself as having led a “very fruitful life,” and it would be impossible to dispute him. A veteran of the U.S. Marines, which he joined at 17, he went on to graduate from the Naval Academy, like his hero Greg Damet. He then spent eight years as a naval aviator teaching midshipmen at

Northwestern University during the last three years of his flying career.

    Mr.Asner moved his focus to engineering and spent thirty years working in that field in the Chicago area before retiring. His primary enthusiasm is working out in his health club, but the keyboard will continue to compete with the weight room as a focus for his energy.

Book Links!

Erroneous Talibani Kindle Link
Erroneous Talibani Paperback Amazon

Monday, November 12, 2012

Religion and YA Fiction: Does it matter?

Like many writers, I've developed a small circle of trusted readers that I allow to read my work before I even consider submitting or publishing it. Notice I said readers. Not writers. I'm actually leery sometimes of letting fellow writers do a critique because they often can't turn off their writer hats. Letting someone who just reads and doesn't write, is a good way for me to get a sense of how the whole "picture" is looking. After that, then I let the writer friends hack away at all the technical stuff!

One of my readers asked me a question that prompted today's blog topic: Does religion matter to young adults? Does it matter how you portray it in young adult fiction?

I think it does matter, and I think you have to approach it with an open mind. The reason why the reader asked is because my YA novel, Bayou Myths, is about the religion of voodoo. There are lots of misconceptions on the subject, (thank you, Hollywood) but it is a religion based on Haitian and Catholic beliefs. It probably isn't something that most teens and young adults have a lot of real world contact with which is why I tried to approach it with respect. No sense in furthering the misconceptions!

Religion is an interesting aspect of YA fiction because a character's beliefs can tell a great deal about their upbringing, their family, and their views of the world. It's an intriguing aspect of character building that lots of authors forget to include because it may not seem relevant. Don't dismiss it too quickly, though. Young adults are often battling with the "Who am I?" and "Does God exist?" questions. It's part of growing up, and their search for answers can lead in many directions which influence who they become as adults. When they read about characters going through similar worries or concerns, they identify and want to know more.

I think that we have seen such a huge trend in the vampire/zombie/ghosts genre because YA readers love that stuff and for them, it never gets old. Vampires, immortals, creatures that can't die by conventional means--that's the sort of thing that taps into the YA unconscious mind. What happens when we die? Where do we go? You can almost hearing them pondering those thoughts as the pick up the book from the shelf!  And since there is always another set of YA audiences being born every minute, vampires, zombies, and ghosts will never fall out of fashion.

As a YA writer, this may mean putting aside your own religious beliefs or views in order to be open to your character's development. If a religion plays an important role in your novel as it does in mine, research it--especially if isn't a religion you practice. I would never write a scene about Catholicism without knowing the background. Nor would I try to create a Muslim character without knowing more about their traditions.

So what are your thoughts on religion in YA? Share with the class, please!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The whole truth

... and nothing but the truth? Well, not exactly.

Let's look at dispelling an old myth once and for all - that fiction and non-fiction have virtually nothing in common. If that's how you perceive factual material then you are not moving with the times. We've come a long way from the dry old textbooks that us older authors were brought up with.

Swapping my author's hat to that of a publisher (and no, that's not a dunce's cap, either), I'm going to tell you what I look for in a non-fiction submission. For ease of working, I assess non-fiction books in 3 key areas which, together, tell me if a title has commercial merit or not.

To illustrate what I mean, I'm going to consider a book which has to do with growing cucumbers but what I'm going to say applies equally to any non-fiction title.

The storyline

Just as a work of fiction has to have a story, so too does a non-fiction book. What I mean by that is that you have to have a defined start and finish point. It doesn't matter how 'big' or 'small' this area is as long as it hangs together. Thus, you could choose to write about growing cucumbers from seed to picking or just concentrate on a smaller area of the process such as from sowing to planting out or treating diseases (from identification to elimination). It's very easy to try to be all things to everyone but don't even think about it because your book will quickly lose its focu

The target market

Assuming you're writing a book for commercial reasons, what you’re hoping for is that someone out there will want to part with cash in order to acquire the knowledge that your book promises. There also has to be enough 'someones' to make it all worthwhile. Accordingly, you need to think carefully about who these people might be. How about 'Growing cucumbers for people with no gardens', 'Growing cucumbers organically' or 'Growing cucumbers in a cold climate'?

The angle

There are going to be so many similar books that there needs to be something which makes yours particularly appealing. While it's going to be nigh on impossible to come up with a truly original presentation idea, you do need to think about what will make your book stand out from the rest. Decide at the outset whether it's going to be aimed at those with no knowledge whatsoever, people who dabble, or those with a high level of experience in your subject matter. Having done this, you should now be clear about the educational level of the language you will be using, the types and frequency of illustrations, and the degree of explanation which you will furnish.

Naturally, you need to bring all 3 elements together in order to produce a book which has a reasonable shelf-life and appropriate numerical appeal.

And that's nothing but the truth.

Clive West is co-owner of indie publisher Any Subject Books and you can see more about them on their website or on Facebook. For details of their book submission criteria, see their writers wanted page.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Holding on to Childhood Writings---Angela Scott

Today I'm delighted to have Angela Scott as a guest blogger at All Things Writing. She is currently touring with her book, Desert Rice, and we are lucky to be one of her stops. Please check out her book info!--- Mary Ann

The first novel I ever wrote was actually a soap opera. No joke.


I've always loved to write. From the time I was a little kid I was constantly making up stories, and whenever we were given an assignment to write a story in class, while the other kids groaned about it, I was already yanking out my pencil and paper and jotting down ideas.


But I remember being in 5th or 6th grade and one summer I was discussing with good friend of mine, Brandy, about how bad one of the soap operas on TV was. We lived through the era in which our mothers watched a lot of soap operas and so we'd catch an episode or two. One of the plot lines was SO over the top that we giggled about it and thought it seemed so dumb. Yet our mothers loved it! They couldn't get enough.


That got us thinking: why not create our own soap opera. Yeah! We could totally write one ourselves and submit it to networks. That was our plan.


So, we grabbed lined paper, came up with a bunch of characters—a doctor, a single father, a cheating husband, a sexy lady, a female lawyer, etc…—and started writing. She picked her characters and I picked mine. Whenever one of my characters had something to say to one of hers, I would write it down and hand over the notebook to her and she'd respond.


It was SO cool. We spent the summer, lying in our backyards, sun tanning (yeah, back before we knew a lot about sun damage and skin cancer) and would pass the notebook back and forth. We even had stage direction and everything.


We did this for the entire summer (I know, for some of you you're thinking, boy that's a sucky summer, but I loved it). We had twists and turns and MURDER!!! Lots of murder. We also had romance too. Lots of romance—elementary school type romance. The kind of romance in which French kissing was about as far as things went, because eewww gross J


By the end of summer, we had well over 400 pages of soap opera script, but school started and we never did submit that pencil and pen written script to anyone. I held onto it for years, not wanting to part with it, until I became a teenager and thought the whole thing was stupid and threw it away.


I could smack myself now.


I so wish I would have held onto it. Not because it was masterful or good in anyway, but because it was such an awesome memory to have. It would have been fun to read back through it some twenty plus years later.


That's why now, I hold onto everything. Every poem, every short story, every rough draft. It's a reminder of how far I've come, and I never want to forget that.

Author BIO:
Angela Scott hears voices. Tiny fictional people sit on her shoulders and whisper their stories in her ear. Instead of medicating herself, she decided to pick up a pen, write down everything those voices tell me, and turn it into a book. She's not crazy. She's an author. For the most part, she writes contemporary Young Adult novels. However, through a writing exercise that spiraled out of control, she found herself writing about zombies terrorizing the Wild Wild West--and loving it. Her zombies don't sparkle, and they definitely don't cuddle. At least, she wouldn't suggest it. She lives on the benches of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains with two lovely children, one teenager, and a very patient husband. She graduated from Utah State University with a B.A. degree in English, not because of her love for the written word, but because it was the only major that didn't require math. She can't spell, and grammar is her arch nemesis. But they gave her the degree, and there are no take backs. 



Samantha Jean Haggert is a beautiful twelve-year-old girl—but no one knows it. All they see is an awkward boy in a baseball cap and baggy pants. Sam’s not thrilled with the idea of hiding her identity, but it’s all part of her older brother’s plan to keep Sam safe from male attention and hidden from the law. Fifteen-year-old Jacob will stop at nothing to protect his sister, including concealing the death of the one person who should have protected them in the first place—their mother.

Sam and Jacob try to outrun their past by stealing the family car and traveling from West Virginia to Arizona, but the adult world proves mighty difficult to navigate, especially for two kids on their own. Trusting adults has never been an option; no adult has ever given them a good reason. But when Sam meets “Jesus”—who smells an awful lot like a horse—in the park, life takes a different turn. He saved her once, and may be willing to save Sam and her brother again, if only they admit what took place that fateful day in West Virginia. The problem? Sam doesn’t remember, and Jacob isn’t talking.

To purchase Desert Rice, click on the links below:

Desert Rice Paperback Amazon
Desert Rice Kindle Amazon
Barnes and Noble