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Meet #RRBC Spotlight Author Karl Morgan @karljmorgan

It is always an honor to host fellow authors here on The Indie SpotToday, it is my pleasure to introduce to you Rave Reviews Book Club’s July Spotlight Author Karl Morgan. Take it away, Karl. . .

Lessons I have learned about the writing process

It is hard, sort of.

For me, writing comes in spurts of inspiration. When the muse is sitting beside me, ideas pour from my mind through my fingers and onto the screen in front of me. At times, I beg my fingers to type as quickly as the thoughts coursing through my cerebral cortex. By the time my muse takes a nap, hours may have passed and I feel wonderful and excited for what comes next. My second sci-fi novel comes to mind. It is entitled The Second Predaxian War. The rough draft for that 60,000 word story was written in four weeks. Those are the good times.

Good times are not that common. Carl Prescott and the Sleeping One is illustrative. While I do not remember how long the rough draft took, six months passed between the day I started and the day I sent it to my editor for review. The book was somewhat longer than the earlier example, but not six times longer. There were other reasons for the longer period, such as my employment situation, working to publish earlier novels, etc.

The only advice I would offer on the process is to not reread your story until the rough draft is complete. The two best days in an author’s life are the publication date and the day the rough draft is complete. On that day, you are an author. You have written a book. Starting over and trying to fix problems is a death knell. You may decide massive rewrites are needed, or worst of all, you may decide the whole book sucks. In effect, you are denying your right to be an author. Do not do that. There is plenty of time, I mean really a lot of time, to fix it once the words “the end” are typed at the bottom of the last page.

Write for the reader, not yourself.

Some time ago, I read a book by a well-known author about the writing process. He warned writers about telling their own story, especially in memoir form. There are two exceptions to that. One, if you are a famous celebrity (film, TV, music, politics), millions will buy your book to learn about your every habit. Two, if you have been through some terrible times due to illness, war, and the like, others in the same position may flock to your story to find solace in their own lives. For the rest of us, we have to entertain our readers. While we will make the story our own by incorporating our beliefs and convictions, the reader must have an incentive to read it. Being a guy, I like fast-paced action stories, which is exactly what I prefer to write as well. In essence, we are screenplay writers, actors, directors, and producers all rolled into one. Write something to make people glad for the experience of turning each page.

Do not give up.

Yes, I have written quite a few stories, and yes, I wish more books were sold. One thing I have learned about myself is that storytelling is my passion. I hope one day to be able to focus on marketing more. That may have to wait until I give up my day job. At my age, that is not too far away. With the online tools now available to writers, all I pay for is editing and cover illustration. That means I am free to do what I love for a long time to come. That pleases me immensely. If you feel the same as I do about writing, please realized how blessed we are to share our words with the world.

 

Expanding the Laws of Physics in Carl Prescott and the Demon Queen

First let me state that I firmly believe the laws of physics. As I have noted before, I am an avid fan of books on cosmology, quantum mechanics, and astrophysics. The ones I read are designed for the regular reader. I once tried to read a book by noted physicist Roger Penrose, but immediately got lost. It turns out that book was a series of his university lectures for post-graduate physics students. Yikes! Small wonder I was overwhelmed.

As I considered the plot for this novel, I realized I needed an over-the-top problem that would require supernatural efforts to avoid. Ultimately, I decided that the Demon Queen would try to destroy the universe in order to get rid of her seemingly uncaring father, Lucifer, and Carl Prescott, the man she had been married to many times, but was not available to her in his current life. If she succeeded with her plan, a new universe would be born where she would be God.

To date, no one has been able to look back beyond the Big Bang, so I had to create my own laws to govern what happened. Perhaps my solution was not realistic, but it is a fantasy after all.

In the Carl Prescott universe (not unlike our own), it is believed space will continue to expand more and more rapidly. Eventually, the galaxies will run out of material to form new stars. All the stars will eventually die, resulting in an almost infinitely large, dark, and lifeless Big Freeze. While that is depressing, we can take comfort knowing that will take many, many billions of years. Also, our sun will die long before that, so none of us will be around to witness it.

In Carl’s universe, when all life is extinguished, God will summon all the matter and energy back into another singularity, and bang, a new universe is formed. This cycle continues as long as God wants it to. Of course, in Carl physics, a new God is in charge of the next universe, which is Sylvia’s plan.

That is the challenge that faces Carl and his friends in his second adventure. To succeed, he will need his friends, along with significant help from God, Death, and Lucifer. Along his journey, he will visit Heaven and Hell as well as the Crossroads of Existence. He will venture into the precedent universe and discover his destiny at the end of the Rope Bridge. Ultimately, he will have to enter the gravity wave to save the world as well as the Demon Queen.

 

CARL PRESCOTT AND THE DEMON QUEEN

Carl Prescott may have saved the world from the Beast, but the duties of the Invisible Hand never end. The story begins when a medieval castle is discovered hidden beneath the Thorndike Institution. While the professors search for clues, our hero is summoned to Hell to meet the demon Sylvia. She once ruled a satanic kingdom in Eastern Europe from that castle, and will do so again.

There is much more to this beautiful woman than evil intentions. To stop her plan, Carl must first understand why she is so focused on him. To learn the truth, he must face God, Satan, and Death. In this nonstop action-packed adventure, he must stand at the Crossroads of Existence and cross the Rope Bridge to meet his destiny.

If he succeeds, life can return to normal. If not, the galaxy and every soul therein will be devoured by a voracious black hole, which even God will be powerless to stop.

 

Author Bio:

Karl Morgan has a lifelong fascination with stories in the science fiction and fantasy genres, whether it was the Tom Swift novels by Victor Appleton he read as a young boy, or television like Lost in Space and Star Trek, and especially films like Star Wars, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. All of those tales put the protagonist in terrible situations where the odds are against them and, yet, somehow they prevail. The reader/viewer is always left with a sense that something greater than ourselves is watching over us.

In his new Carl Prescott young adult fantasy series, the journey continues as our hero faces terrible danger and odds to help his friends and family. At the end, he will learn new things that will change his perspective on life.

Karl lives in the San Diego area with his best, four-legged friend, his toy poodle Chachis.

 

Follow Karl online:

Twitter

Facebook

Website

Welcome to the SEASONS Blog Tour @ErnestineRose25 #4WillsPub #RRBC

Today on The Indie Spot I am pleased to host Ernestine Rose, author of Seasons: My Journey through Grief. Please join me in welcoming her to my blog by leaving a comment.

Take it away, Ernestine. . .

Struggles of an Indie Writer

You have no idea how many people tell me that they want to write a book and they don’t know where to start. Some say they have a story to tell, but they are not confident about their writing skill; they were never good in English. Still others see themselves as authors, but really don’t have any idea how to organize and write a book. Neither of these is a challenge to me.

As a retired English teacher, my command of spelling, grammar and usage is immaculate. In college I’d spend weeks researching my topics, then stay up one night or two, actually writing the paper. Other than correcting a few typos, I did very little revising. I was just that good. And this was before word processors and computers. I had a manual type writer so corrections were hard and often messy. Still, I earned A’s in most of my English classes and carried this skill on to grad school.

The challenge in writing, for me, was never getting the paper started; it was bringing it to a close. I could ramble on for pages and often wound up cutting half my writing to meet the ten-page assignment I’d been given. I’m both fluid and fluent, so I thought becoming an author after I retired from teaching would be perfect for me.

Now that I’m working on my fifth book, I can tell any prospective writer that the real challenge isn’t writing the book; it’s selling it. With the technology we have now, almost anyone with a creative mind and ability to persuade can turn out a decent book. Your grammar and spelling challenges can be met with the latest correctional tools. The formatting issues can be simplified by Amazon or outsourced to someone who is better at it. In my case, I just went on to the next book when I hit a wall in formatting. When I finally got it right, I published three books within one week: 7 Tips for a Successful Marriage, Raising the Roses, and Tales from the Family Tree.

While I didn’t expect to make thousands with these first books, I had no idea how difficult it would be to sell them. At first, I followed the Kindle program that claimed I’d make a name for myself if I gave my first books away for free, and in the long run, I’d profit more from this huge shared campaign they had for their books on loan program. What I learned (the hard way), was that the people who’d buy my books were not part of the paid loan program, so I was just giving my books away for nothing. I made a few dollars every month, but most of the people I knew already had my books, so here was the question. After your friends and family buy your books, what’s next?

I read (a lot) about marketing and selling books. I bought DVD’s, watched webinars and took copious notes. I conducted sales on Kindle Direct Publishing campaigns as well as Book Goodies and joined an online book promotion group, Rave Reviews Book Club. I joined over two hundred Facebook groups, from African-American and urban fiction readers, to Christian non-fiction and romance. (My fourth book was Monday Morning Blues, because I always enjoyed a good love story.) I’d post to different groups, hoping to reach a different audience of readers. I carried my list of groups, updated daily, in my agenda, and recorded notes by each name of when and what I could post there. Some of them would actually get angry and maybe drop me if I promoted my book on the wrong day. I even invested in Mass Planner, one of many available auto-posters, so I could just schedule my posts ahead of time and choose the groups I wanted to target. When my computer wouldn’t cooperate, I learned to do this on my cell phone, and lo and behold, the groups were already there! It was just a matter of me selecting a group and going through four or five steps to post my ad, then repeating the process with another group. I had to remember which groups I’d posted to that day, because if I posted more than once, they’d really get mad. But eventually, whether using Mass Planner or my phone, I started getting temporary bans from Facebook because I was posting too much. That meant I couldn’t post any promos for four or five days, ruining my scheduled sale, then it was back to the grind again.

This time, as I’m preparing my fifth book, I want things to be different. I’ve revamped my website and I’m working on rebuilding my brand. I’m looking at the advantages and disadvantages of working with a publisher versus continuing to self-publish, or at least investing in some of the tasks, like formatting and book covers, that are not my strong suit. This time, I want to increase my distribution beyond Amazon, and reach a wider audience. I want to add audiobooks, and gain access to more creative marketing. I’d like to build my reputation as a speaker as well, about my books and about my journey. I want to help those people who lack the confidence or organizational skill to get started.

So for those of you that have wanted to write for a while, know that the journey is not easy. My last two book conferences confirmed the trend that high-dollar advances from the Big Five publishers are no longer happening unless you’re a celebrity or an author with a well-proven track record. Other publishers will do what you need for a wide range of fees. Still, if the desire is in you to write, by all means follow it. Follow your heart and your dreams, and be the writer that you know you can be.

 

Author Bio:  Ernestine Rose grew up on the west side of Chicago during the turbulent 50’s and 60’s. Adopted by an older couple, she spent a great deal of time as a child reading and participating in dance and drama club activities in school. Bradley University and the University of Dallas prepared her for a successful career as a teacher of English, speech and theater in Peoria and Fort Worth, where she earned numerous educator awards.

As a retired public school teacher and mother of four sons, she made her debut as an author with the publication of three books: 7 Tips for A Successful Marriage, Raising the Roses, and Tales from the Family Tree, all in 2012.  She later produced a romance novel, Monday Morning Blues. Her most recent work reflects her experience as a caretaker and widow, Seasons: My Journey through Grief. Inspired by Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, her focus in both writing and theater is on the power of language, love, and family. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.

 

BONUS!!! The Author is also hosting a giveaway during each day of her blog tour. Simply comment on each stop to be entered. You can win a copy of one of her e-books or even a $10 Amazon Gift Card!! (There will be a total of 13 giveaways!!)

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.  Thanks for supporting this author and his work!

A Big Welcome to Mary Adler, #RRBC Spotlight Author for January!

I am truly honored to host the first #RRBC Spotlight Author of 2019. Please welcome writer Mary Adler to The Indie Spot. Take it away, Mary. . .

 

WORKING SMART: PART ONE

 

CHARACTER BIBLE

There are so many things for a writer to worry about when writing a novel. Plot, dialogue, characterization, conflict, style. Do all the characters names start with the same initial? Were Jimmy’s eyes blue or brown?

To make the most of the time spent toiling at the computer, many authors create time-saving aids to make the book building process go more smoothly. I do several things as I write my first draft.

Character Descriptions: I don’t write long backstories for my characters, but I do note their physical characteristics, speech peculiarities, and other specific details about them including their birth dates and affiliations in a character bible. I also pin up photos from magazines when I find someone who looks the way I think my character should look. For example, this is a photo of a model who represents Paola Buonarotti.

And this is a photo of Oliver’s German shepherd, Harley.

I always know what color my characters’ eyes are, who is related to whom, and who hates fish.

It is also useful to keep a record – perhaps in a spreadsheet – of the first time a character appears or is mentioned. It may seem unnecessary, but when you begin revisions and start moving events around in the manuscript, it is helpful to have a record of what happens when and who was where.

Names: For some reason, I am drawn to names that begin with “L”. So, my first book has Luca and Lucy and Louis. To me, they are completely dissimilar names. (I am not so sure that the reader makes that distinction.) As I wrote the second book, I was more careful and kept a tally under the letters of the alphabet. (For their fans, Luca, Lucy, and Louis are still there.)

If you are looking for names that were popular in a given time period, you can find them easily on-line. Mary was the most popular girl’s name from 1800 until 1961. In 2011 it was 112th.  (When I hear the name Mary, I assume the person is of a certain age – like me! According to The Atlantic, modern parents want their children to have names that underline their individuality. Hmmm.)

Follow Mary online:

Twitter – @MAAdlerwrites

Facebook – https://maryadlerwrites.com/

Author Bio:

Mary Adler was an attorney and dean at CWRU School of Medicine. She escaped the ivory tower for the much gentler world of World War II and the adventures of homicide detective Oliver Wright and his German shepherd, Harley. She lives with her family in Sebastopol, California, where she creates garden habitats for birds and bees and butterflies. She is active in dog rescue and does canine scent work with her brilliant dogs — the brains of the team — and loves all things Italian.

Shadowed by Death

Connecting With Readers

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As writers, most of us are thrilled to read reviews of our work posted on sites like Amazon and Koobug. Unsolicited, these words can spur sales of our books. They can also let us know where we lack in this craft we’ve chosen.

Then there are those messages that are of the personal nature, not intended for anybody but the author. I receive these every so often in the message box of my Goodreads account. These come from readers who were touched by something I’ve written or were reminded of some lost memory stirred back into their conscience by one of my short stories.

“Thanks for the message in your story,” they may write. “It brought back an event from my younger days—an event I’d long forgotten.” We never truly forget, though. It may slip from our thoughts but it’s always there, tucked away until the moment it’s challenged to reappear.

The thing is, I don’t set out to weave messages or lessons into my work. I write to entertain. But even so, messages appear. I believe these are out of our hands. Our egos tell us we are just creating. But there is somebody somewhere who has experienced what we’ve written.

I recently wrote a short story called Remaining Ruth, in which a teenaged girl cuts herself with a razor blade, in the privacy of her bathroom, just to have that one thing her parents can’t take away from her.

The messages were almost immediate: “I, too, was a cutter.” “I knew a girl just like Ruth.” “I didn’t cut myself but I did develop an eating disorder.”  “My sister did this for years.” This particular story touched a nerve with so many readers, though that wasn’t my intention.

My novel, Jazz Baby, has prompted many such comments as well. Talk centers around the race relations within the story; Emily’s sexuality; the struggles Emily faced to achieve her dreams; women’s rights issues. I was asked by one reader why I chose to not use the N-word in the story—after all, it is set in 1925 Mississippi and New Orleans. The truth of the matter is: that wasn’t a conscious decision. I hadn’t even really thought of it until the reader brought it up. I suppose there may have been a desire to avoid the stereotypical racist clichés. The very real racism of the deep south of early twentieth-century America is indeed present within the story; I just found more creative ways to express it without resorting to what’s been written a million times in a million other stories.

And somebody found a message in that unintentional deletion.

Not every message need be heavy, either. After I wrote an essay about a childhood incident entitled Bigfoot Was My Father, I received many wonderful stories from readers wanting to share some silly moment their own fathers provided. I am honored and humbled that so many people consider me worthy of their memories.

As authors, we create worlds and characters that wouldn’t exist without us. It’s what we do. We convince ourselves of a story’s originality, of its uniqueness. But there will always be somebody somewhere who will be reminded of a long lost moment in time. It may not be spelled out in exact detail, but it’s there. It may be the metaphor you used to describe the loss of a loved one or the silly joke your main character’s love interest tells while trying to woo the girl. It will remind somebody of something. And that’s a blessing. It means you’ve written a piece in which others find a connection. It means your story matters to another human being.

There’s a verse in the Bible that says: There is nothing new under the sun; that which has been will happen again.

I believe that. We just tell it in our own personal way.

The Chicken or the Egg? A Writer’s Dilemma.

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What comes first: the title or the story? Until recently I figured this to be a silly question. You know, a rhetorical thing meant to mock the foolish. Of course the story comes first, Goofus! Nobody writes a story based on a title.

Or do they?

I discovered recently that there are authors who do indeed come up with a title first, adding the story afterward. I happened to be snooping around in a writers’ chat room the other day; you know, one of those internet sites where people group together to discuss whatever may be the topic. Anyway, the question was asked: When do you come up with the title, before or after the story is written?

Okay, so call me old fashioned. I’ve always written the story before deciding on a title. It just makes sense to me. I write a story, get the rewrites out of the way, develop a feel for the content, and decide on what to call the work. I’ve never considered starting with a title and crafting a tale according to it. That very idea seems so foreign to my way of thinking.

But here’s the kicker: nearly half of those commenting on that thread claim to start with a title first. How does this work? I mean, do these authors sit around dreaming up titles to turn into stories? I can see this as a practical means in the case of a low-budget film.

“Hey Bob,” Danny said, speaking over the drone of silliness filling the room. “I have a great idea for a movie called Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.” The title is self-explanatory. There’s little need to plot out something so ridiculous. Just write the script and surely somebody in Hollywood will green light the project.

Books and short stories are different, though. Novels take time in plotting, outlining, and writing. Certainly the title wouldn’t reveal itself until everything is in place, right?

The title for my debut novel Jazz Baby didn’t come about until the week I sent the manuscript to the publisher. Even then it came down to a pair of titles—the loser being the moniker In the Time of Jazz.

The way I see it, until the story is written, nobody, not even the author, fully realizes the personality of the work. Once the story is finished, the plot and all those characters—the story’s personality—shines through, giving the author a clear understanding of what the story is truly about. This is why so many people get nicknames in life. Personality traits that weren’t recognizable at birth take time to show up.

But the thing is, starting with the title apparently works for some authors. So who am I to disparage another writer’s means to an end? Just write. That’s what we authors do, isn’t it? It’s the end result that counts.

And just for the record, the title of my work-in-progress, The Secret Collector, came about at the fifth chapter. Certainly not the beginning, sure, but not the end either.

Just write. A productive writer is a happy writer.

Why Do We Write?

Why do we write? It’s a simple enough question. The answer, well, that’s not quite as cut and dried. Every writer has his or her own reason for putting pen to paper in an effort to entertain, educate, or just let off a little steam.

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I’ve been writing since about the age of eight. It’s just something I’ve always enjoyed. My motivations have changed over the years. Early on I wrote with the notion that I’d be the only one reading my work. I’d put down on paper some grand idea I’d find wandering through my head, an event from the day, or maybe a song or a poem. There has always been a need for me to create with word combinations belonging only to me.

In my teen years, for the first time, I wrote knowing that others would read my words. These writings took the form of record and concert reviews published in my high school’s newspaper. I went to a large school, with a student body of nearly 2500 members. People began to give me feedback, advice, compliments. I absorbed it all like a sponge. I felt a calling on my life; a calling to write.

To this day I am not able to make a living with this craft. And that’s fine; I didn’t take up my pen for financial gain. If and when it comes, that will be the clichéd icing on the proverbial cake!

I still enjoy writing. Whether it’s a novel, short stories, book reviews, or blog articles—like this one here—writing is my passion. I also find pleasure in writing communications to friends; letters that I’ll compose using pen and paper, stamp and envelope. I just don’t write every day the way I once did. Mood is my major motivating factor these days. Do I feel like writing something today? If I do, what form will it take? That’s just me, though.

Some writers must create each every day. Many even establish a daily word count. The day is a complete loss if they’ve not sprinkled a thousand words across their keyboard. It’s all selective depending on the individual.

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Ann Frank needed to write. This girl’s existence consisted inside four walls of a silent room that became her family’s prison for many years. She wrote every day, detailing a life most human beings could never imagine. Writing is all Ann Frank had to keep her connected to the world—as dark as her world became.

Harper Lee didn’t need to write. Oh, sure, early on she wrote short stories, essays, and articles. But then she wrote a novel called To Kill A Mockingbird and basically walked away from the craft. Her sister claims the author knew she’d never again approach the level of success Mockingbird achieved—no matter the caliber of book number two. So why bother? Rumor has it there’s an incomplete book with the Harper Lee name attached to it. We’ll probably never have a chance to read it, though.

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J. D. Salinger, though he ceased publishing his work after the mid-1960s, continued to write, taking a few hours each and every morning, creating stories only he had opportunity to enjoy. Upon his death, it was revealed that several of Salinger’s unreleased manuscripts would be published. The man loved writing but hated the attention his work drew from across the world.

Some people have never written anything outside of personal letters to friends and family. That doesn’t make them any less a writer than those with books or short stories on their resumes.

Everybody has their own reasons for writing—regardless if they publish or not.

Why do I write? I write because I have a passion to write—just not every day.

Why do you write?