Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Book Readings: Act Well Your Part

Whether you are reading to a large audience or simply to a few fellow readers, there are some worthwhile tips in making a good show. I recently participated in an author event at Bookfellows/Mystery and Imagination in Glendale, California where I read from my novel, The Dark Before Dawn.  I had my checklist in hand: books (got to bring those), camera (must record the event for posterity and websites), video camera (for posterity and possible audio blurbs); friend to man the camera or fellow reader who will do you a favor, business cards (you never know who you're gonna meet); Trade review sheets (again, you never know who you're gonna meet); and a giveaway.  Giveaways are fun and people like them. There are various websites such as iprint.com that will create for you custom bookmarks or personalized post-it notes.  These “gimmicks” are easy to carry and promote you and your title. People may not buy your book, but they’ll take the freebie and it will remind them of you later on.  The other thing you should bring with you to a book reading is some acting talent.  You don’t want your audience to equate your reading with something as tedious as watching paint dry. So for goodness sake, don’t just read. You know your characters well.  Try to breathe some life into their dialogue. Remember the passion you felt for the story when you were writing it and share that enthusiasm by “getting into character.” Now, too much passion or dramatic flair is, in my opinion, ridiculous. You want them to focus on the story, not you.  Good vocal skills, however, are always going to be a plus. So put some bang in your book reading and let your inner actor shine.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fact within Fiction

Why get your facts are straight when writing fiction?  It depends on how much you want to cheat your readers.  I picked up a romance novel a while back and read how one of the characters gunned the engine of his car… in the 1600’s.  I have not picked up a romance novel since.  Okay, I know that readers of certain genres could care less about factual information.  Readers of romance novels, in particular, are going to concentrate on the steamier sections of the book.  When I wrote my novel, The Dark Before Dawn, I took great pains to make sure that the psychological and police procedural elements rang true to life.  This way, if the reader were interested, he or she could learn something from the book, and be entertained at the same time.   For instance, I recently interviewed one of our Sheriff’s Department officers and learned that if a murder mystery takes place on the West Coast, law enforcement officials refer to a suspect as “suspect.”  If your book takes place on the East Coast, using the word “perpetrator” is perfectly acceptable.  “UNSUB” belongs to the realm of television shows.   Writers are told that they should write about what they know.  I’d like to add to that.  Writers should also write what they have a passion for.  I love picking the brains of therapists to gather information on psychology.  Is it strange that I enjoy chatting with detectives from Homicide Bureaus?    The passion writers have for their work will become apparent in their work if they keep it real.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Community of Writers

It’s a cold world out there sometimes and in the field of writing – downright frigid sometimes.   Creative artists hit brick walls much of the time (rejections, criticisms, etc.) but there is a narrow passage through that wall which is very refreshing. It’s called the writer’s community.   Most writers I’ve encountered online are eager to support their fellow authors. I was rather surprised at this.  Maybe it was because of that certain Hollywood, California writer’s group I was in for five minutes.  After being invited in by the semi-famous moderator, whom I met at a conference and who liked my writing, I attended my first and only meeting.  I think I was at the whine and cheese table when a “fellow writer” came up to me and said, “Don’t get too comfortable.  We compete highly for the moderator’s attention and just because you join, doesn’t mean you’re going to get read. In fact, you probably won’t.”
Wow, them’s fightin’ words. Only I wasn’t up for a fight. I simply wanted to join a community of writers. That was my first experience in such a group. I said goodbye to the moderator, who was the only one that seemed sorry to see me go.   Fast forward a few years, and I’m online, searching for help through cyberspace.  I come across authors like Seth Harwood of Crimewav.com and Sunny Frazier who don’t have a problem giving out good advice that’s not tainted with ego.  Most people are just that: people; humans behind the blog.  I find it a strange phenomenon and somewhat super cool that you can actually feel warmth behind the computer screen.  My advice if you are a lost writer?  Reach out to the incredibly vast network of support out there.  Don’t be afraid to ask folks “how they do it.”  Someone may just take your hand and help you punch a few bricks out of that brick wall.