Emerging Writers: Guest Post #7 On selling out and tucked away gems

Posted by on Feb 6, 2013 in Guest Posts

Daniella Latham is a senior writer for a global corporation and has spent her career in the advertising industry. She holds a B.S. in Journalism and English Literature from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and is currently working on her first novel. Take it away Daniella. *** Selling-Out, v3 1/21/13 Who Cares About Selling-Out? If you’re reading this now, perhaps you’re sitting in your office or taking a glance during the 11pm news – but the chances are it’s a way to get your mind off of the day. Maybe there’s an undiscovered voice that shines through and piques some type of interest. As it naturally unfolds with readers, we explore the narratives that appeal to us, and they may be a bit more delicious when the general public hasn’t honed in yet. Suppose your favorite indie author “hit it big”, signed with one of the major houses and sold millions…would that change your opinion of their talent? And if they stayed with the non-traditional publishing route, would you place a higher value on their work? But the question is: what’s really considered “selling-out”, since talent is talent, right? What I’ve uncovered from a completely non-scientific poll of my fellow book enthusiasts is that it doesn’t make a difference as to whether it’s an independently published novel that’s only heralded by the most cynical of literary critics –or a traditional blockbuster that made the author undeniably, filthy rich, but a pariah in “those” circles. It only depends upon how the words made you feel – something, anything. To love or hate is the ultimate compliment. At least it evoked emotion. When we’ve become enveloped in the thoughts of the character or the story, the author isn’t selling-out. They’re making us believe in something other than what we know, than what we’re used to; it may be unconventional or uncomfortable, but it‘s real. Sure, the mass-produced books from mainstream authors will always exist and nothing can be done about it. Entertainment for the majority, the “beach reads”, no matter what you call them, they’re not disappearing anytime soon. On the flipside, those tucked-away gems that keep you wanting more and guessing – they’re out there too, waiting for your unveiling and analysis. It’s really a win from either angle. And if reading this during a spare moment made you briefly forget about the high mortgage, the stressful job and what the future will bring, these random words just may have done their job. I’m currently crafting a novel and work as a senior writer for a global organization. Latest article at indieauthor.com Author twitter feed: @CopyByDee +++++ Thanks Daniella for being our seventh guest post writer. Selling out is a tricky subject! Deciding what we write about is part convention, part desire to be published and part personal voice. Each of us makes our own choices about the balance we want to strike. My question for readers here is this, what are the hidden gems you would like others to read? Please...

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Emerging Writers: Guest Post #5 A Slow Cold Death – A mystery with scientific fraud & academic violence!

Posted by on Jan 30, 2013 in Guest Posts

Susy Gage is a successful academic who hasn’t waited until retirement to write fiction. Her books tell the story of science in the trenches, where only 1-2% of PhDs eventually get faculty jobs and the rest often linger as “unstable intermediates” (postdocs and worse) for decades. Those lucky enough to become assistant professors battle a winner-takes-all system where a few lions divide billions of federal funds and rarely ask the lambs what’s for dinner. A Slow Cold Death is available from Amazon here. What makes scientists lie, cheat, and sometimes even kill? The question has been asked by scholars, but never in fiction. My goal in writing A Slow Cold Death was to give everyone insight into modern big-ticket science and how it works–the difficulties of finding a job, the pressure to bring in funding, and the billions of dollars at stake. Scientific fraud has been in the news a lot lately, and its scope is only beginning to be appreciated. A recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that over 1000 biomedical papers have been retracted since 1973. It’s only getting worse; the rise in retraction rates has overtaken the rise in the number of papers being published (source: Nature). Massacres in academia also have an unfortunate tendency to pop up in physics departments. A remote inspiration for the book was the Iowa physics department killing of 1991, where a disgruntled graduate student killed several professors and students. The book’s main protagonist is Lori Barrow, a grown-up child wonder. Lori has been incubating in my mind for many years, and another of my goals in writing the book was to portray a real female genius. As a kid, I had issues with almost all sci-fi (even when I enjoyed the stories) because the women were either dumb as rocks, or allegedly “brilliant” but existed only to fall in love/lust with the hero. What is it really like to be a brilliant female physicist? Pretty sucky. Once you’ve received your PhD at a tender age, you’re expected to actually grow up. Lori has never really managed this, and at 33 is single, lonely, and pretty clueless about people. Another goal was to show the bureaucracy and often full-on humans rights abuses that take place in government labs. This was inspired by the Supreme Court case NASA v. Nelson (2011). The case was originally filed by federal contract employees working at the Jet Propulsion Lab, who were subject to sweeping background checks including factors like “carnal knowledge ” and “homosexuality”. The government claimed that the data would remain secret—but in December 2012 there was a security breach when a laptop containing background information data was stolen. Readers don’t need to know any science to enjoy the book, but all of the science described is real—some of it done in my own lab. The title comes from different models of the universe that are...

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Guest post: Nadine Maritz – Aspiring South African Vampire Fiction Author

Posted by on Dec 11, 2012 in Guest Posts

Q. Hi Nadine. Can we kick off the interview by discussing your current work in progress? A: Hi Laurence. Sure. I’ve been working on a trilogy of South African Vampire Fiction for about two years now. Q: What’s the title of your work? A: I’ve called it My Addiction for the past two years but I’m sure I’ll change the name to some degree once we’ve completed the editing process and all. Give it more of an African feel. Q: Where did the idea come from? A: I’m not really 100% sure. It’s as if I woke up one morning and just had all these things I wanted to do. I guess it’s because I hit the big 30. J I achieved a lot in that year. Q: What genre does your book fall under? A: I don’t like labelling them as a specific genre. I feel they fall well into Fantasy, Adventure and Romance. Of course, there’s Paranormal as we’re dealing with mythical creatures. I’d even say there’s some Thriller in there too. Q: How have modern day movies and published authors in the same genre influenced you? A: Well…I think since Twilight hit the market things have changed dramatically for any author in that specific genre. It flooded the market to such an extent that publishers and agents alike are very reluctant to accept anything related to vampires currently. It’s also changed life for everyone around us. These days you hear more and more about people who characterise themselves as vampires and wolves. It’s not just mythical folklore anymore. It’s around us, part of us. Q: How does that influence what you’re doing? A: It doesn’t influence my writing that much. When I write I set the part of myself aside that takes me into another world. I think as writers we are all given the gift of creating something from nothing. If we love what we write it’s a bargain; if the world around us likes it—it’s an honour. Q: Can you tell us briefly what your trilogy is about? A: To sum it up, it’s about a South African female vampire–Snare–who was created with a specificpurpose in mind. Unfortunately for her creators, they didn’t take into account her state of mind or her ultimate goal. It’s fast paced a bit psychotic and all about love. Q: What sets your trilogy apart from others? A. Well, my aim is to create a new breed of vampires and mythical creatures alike. The majority of it goes down in a somewhat post-apocalyptic Africa – which is already something different from what everyone knows. I feel Africa is a bit of untouched ground when it comes to mythical creatures so that would give it an edge. I hope. Q. If you never got published what would you take away from this whole experience A: I’d definitely take away a lot. I’ve met so many people, listened to so many stories, read so many tales that...

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Get Your Writing Noticed: Pace – what keeps us reading!

Posted by on Sep 18, 2012 in On Writing

. My last post was on theme, and it is critical, but even if you have a great theme you have to keep people reading. To do that your writing needs to have pace. So what is pace? Pace is movement. Pace is driving forward. Pace is action. If you spend too much time on exposition, back story and detail then you are going to lose pace. Getting the balance right is the tricky part with pace. Consider your genre and your style as you use the following techniques for adding pace to your manuscript. I once had the letters RUE above my laptop screen. They were put there to remind me to Resist the Urge to Explain. I used to explain who this person was in my stories, why that person did something and where the others were going later. Now I don’t. Explanations are boring. In the 21st century readers want action. They want novels that zip along. They don’t need to know what the characters had for breakfast. Another technique for keeping the pace moving is by having a real plot. Shakespeare did this. People get killed, people have fights, people make speeches to skulls. Something happens. You need to have a plot where something happens. I know there was a 20th century literary fashion for stories where nothing happens, but if you want a big readership something has to happen. The next technique is called in media res. This simply means starting in the middle of the action. Don’t start your story with a lot of exposition, backstory or filler about who your character is, where he came from or why she is there. Start with the gunshot that changes her life, or at the hospital where her mother is dying, or at the club where she sees her boyfriend dancing with her best friend. So we have three techniques for keeping the pace moving: RUE, plot and in media res. Stick to these and your story will have pace. This post is the fourth on a voyage exploring the world of getting your writing noticed. Here is a link to the previous post on theme, the most important part of writing IMO. And here is a link to the next post, on how to keep your reader turning the pages using emotion. Please leave feedback, make suggestions and engage. This series of posts needs you to get involved to make them fly. And please sign-up using the secure sign-up button above right to receive notifications in your inbox when post’s are released. If you would like to discuss this post or for me to review your writing and give brief feedback without charge (page 1 of your MS only please) contact me via the comments below or by email: lpobryan@gmail.com Here are some links to useful information for writers: socialmediaisdynamite.com for my blog on using social media...

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Get Your Writing Noticed: Writing fiction for the 21st century

Posted by on Jun 8, 2012 in On Writing

The first thing you have to do to get your fiction noticed is to write in a style that is up to date. I read a novel from a hundred years ago a while back and after page one I wanted to throw it away. The style was long-winded. Every sentence had thirty words. I could imagine the lives people lived back then, when the next interruption would be the bell for lunch, two hours from now. Readers these days live in a world of constant interruption. Media, mobiles and madness lure people away from books all the time. Our job as writers is to provide fiction that can be assimilated between other tasks. In order to achieve the goal of writing in an up to date style I suggest you consider the following four characteristics of compelling early 21st century fiction: Accuracy. Accuracy is now realistically attainable for fiction writers. We can find out how the Welsh valleys look in December, how hot Paris is in the Spring and listen to the sound of a wren whenever we want because of the internet. Flights of fancy are good, at times, but reality has a power that can be used for good effect. The truth is often stranger than fiction. Finding out that Paris is no warmer than London in Spring is the sort of information that leads to readers being able to place themselves in the city. Being Fantastic. Fantastic to me means being absurd, exotic and imaginative, to choose some of the long list of definition words in my dictionary for fantastic. Add a sparkle to your fiction. Yes, I know it’s interesting that Aunt Maud went to work in a shop for twenty years and Uncle Fred made her tea every night, but I want to see Aunt Maud going to work in a man’s  suit, with a flat cap, and learn that Uncle Fred was a circus midget with six brothers who shared his bedroom for six months of the year. Absurd, exotic and imaginative novels can be seen on the bookshelves of all good bookshops. Being Sensuous. To me being sensuous is about being passionate, in touch with our senses. We all know what being passionate is in the traditional sense, but I also think it is about having passion for your work, for your writing. Being in touch with your senses means being able to describe how something feels. Take raining for instance. We should be able to describe the taste of rainwater, the silky feel of it on our faces, the sound of it tapping with a million hammers at our windows and the tiny circles it makes in the puddles. That’s what makes writing jump of the page. And Gripping. With all the distractions around us, it is an essential element of 21st century writing to be gripping. Something must happen. There...

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