Tag Archives: writing

Writing and Marketing – Which is More Important?

Living the Dream Back in the days when I only had two novels to my credit, and I wasn’t even sure if I would ever write a third, things were easy. If I felt like writing, I wrote. It wasn’t a problem because there was little else competing for my time. Water Hazard

How quickly things change.

Here we are only five years later and oh, what I wouldn’t give for those good old times.

Somewhere along the way I became a juggler.

juggling time

It was easy at first…like juggling two tennis balls. Keeping both of them in the air was a piece of cake, and if one of them happened to slip away it would usually bounce right back to me.

Somewhere along the way the two tennis balls turned into three or four or five…and they aren’t tennis balls anymore, they’ve become eggs, so now it’s a little more important to keep them off the floor.

I’m speaking metaphorically of course, to illustrate what it feels like to be me sometimes.

When I only had two books, I also had an abundance of spare time because I wasn’t really concerned with marketing.

After my third novel was released I began to realize that these wonderfully, magnificent works of literary magic were not going to sell themselves. So I began hitting the social media marketing scene – heavily. I began promoting myself on facebook, twitter, this blog, pinterest, LinkedIn, Google + and Goodreads (links provided for your convenience). There are probably others, but I can’t remember at the moment.

My social media presence grew slowly…at first it was just posting a few cool pictures, sharing a blog post and tweeting a couple of promos over the course of a week.

Easy-peasy, right?

Yeah…it was.

Nowadays keeping up with my social media marketing has become a monster that must be fed constantly. Things get really interesting when you start adding book signings and networking events – forget about the full-time job, the part-time gig at the radio station, and the social life.

What can a poor boy do? (I certainly can’t sing in a rock-and-roll band)

I’ve learned that being a writer is more than just mastering the craft…it’s also about mastering time-management.

Like the old fishing conundrum – fish or cut bait.


You’re out there on your boat, trying to catch dinner and you drift into a big school of potentially delicious filets…but you’re running out of bait.

Your head swivels back and forth between the chunk of frozen bait on the deck and the boiling ocean as dinner swims by.

You need to get your hook in the water if you want to catch a fish, but a bare hook is useless.

Writing and marketing…either one, without the other, is a waste of time (unless you’re one of the delusional few who claim that you write for the love of it). You need to write a book in order to have something to market, but if you waste too much time marketing you don’t get the book written.

Isn’t that a Catch-22? (One of the classic novels I’ve never read)

I don’t know how I ended up with such a lopsided ratio, but in recent weeks I’ve been forced to readjust my priorities to something a bit more manageable if I expect to release a new book this year.

Usually by this time of year I’m getting ready to pass off a manuscript to my beta readers…right now my current MS, Full Circle, is hovering around 13,000 words. A far sight short of its anticipated 90,000. So you know what that means…it means it’s time to cut bait…or fish…whichever is the metaphorical equivalent of get busy writing.


As always – thank you for reading


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Tips for Writing Dialogue

Talk is cheap.

It’s one of the great truisms in life. It’s also the name of a really good album by Keith Richards (he of the Rolling Stones) but that’s a discussion for another day.  talk is cheap

When it comes to writing novels, however, talk is where the money’s at.

Whether you’re writing sci-fi, romance or horror – if your dialogue doesn’t ring true you may find people talking about your work in ways that aren’t very flattering.

I began reading recreationally while I was in college (way back when), prior to that I avoided books like the plague because the books assigned to me in high school English Lit class held very little appeal to me (shameful behavior which I talk about here).

While I was in college I accidentally began reading Stephen King’s The Dead Zone. His descriptions of small town life reminded me of my own upbringing (I guess a small town in Maine and one in Rhode Island have lots in common) so the story captured my interest, but the dialogue was the thing that grabbed me.

I remember thinking “Wow! You can write books like this?”

King was only the tip of the iceberg, though. Eventually I stumbled onto Elmore Leonard’s Get Shorty and that was all she wrote for me – my love of reading was immediately catapulted into a desire to write.

One of the predominant themes running through my list of favorite authors is the ability to craft realistic dialogue.

Leonard, King, Koontz, Dorsey, Hiassen, Evanovich and Grisham to name a few.

Dialogue, in my opinion, can make or break a story.

boring dialogue

Actually, let me revise that statement.

Good dialogue will not save a poorly written story…but bad dialogue will certainly ruin a well written one.

I’ve never spoken to any of the authors listed above about their methods, but I can reverse engineer just about anything – and through reverse engineering I’ve figured out a few simple tricks for writing dialogue…


Know your characters and know how they would talk

Elmore Leonard’s characters are not the cream of society. Most of them are urban criminals who tend to have very little use for proper English and even less use for a moral compass, so their speech, as one might imagine, is filled with contractions, slang and cursing. It also violates practically every rule of grammar ever written – and probably a few that haven’t been written yet.

get shorty

Grammar violations notwithstanding…when you read an Elmore Leonard novel it’s the dialogue of the characters that keeps the story moving and keeps you turning pages. Elmore never needed to waste words describing extraneous crap, because his dialogue put you in the story so deeply you could see, hear, smell, touch and taste everything.

In stark contrast to Elmore’s revolving door of degenerates…take John Grisham’s Harvard educated lawyers and white collar criminals. Their speech is representative of their social standing and upbringing, which make his stories ring true.

write goodly

Now if you were to insert Leonard’s dialogue, as well written as it is, into a Grisham novel – well, let’s just say that Tom Cruise would have had one less movie on his resume.

Make sure each character has their own way

Listen to people when they talk – it’s the best way to learn how to write dialogue – and you don’t have to listen very long to see that each of us has our own little idiosyncrasies.

Me, personally…I tend to use the phrase what-not fairly often. I used to work with a guy who, for some strange reason, began many of his sentences with the word anyways.

Think of your characters as individuals with their own speech habits. Maybe one of them mispronounces a word (or words), another might have a habit of using the wrong word in an effort to make his vocabulary sound impressive.

Paying attention to such small details will make your characters seem more like real people, which will help your reader become more invested in them, and, in turn, your book…and what-not.

Keeping it real can be done without getting too real

You want your written dialogue to sound as though it was transcribed from an actual conversation, but, there are limits to how much of that conversation you want to record.

When most people talk they subconsciously insert fillers into their sentences—such as: like, uh, & you know.

I think most of us hear these things so often that our brains tend to block them out. We hear them, but we process the sentence as though they weren’t there.

Even though these fillers are a natural part of our everyday speech, they would be extremely unnatural, and really annoying, in written dialogue.

So, uh…leave them, like, out.

Regional dialects, slang terms and cursing can be overdone

If your novel is set in the south, it can be very tempting to throw in a bunch of y’alls or have your character say things like fixin to. While it may be geographically correct, too much of it will annoy your readers.

yoda says

The same applies to slang. Naturally, a little bit of slang will definitely make your dialogue ring true, but there is a fine line between a little bit and too much. Overdo it and your readers will start skimming over it.

Cursing and foul language is a similar situation, but, in my opinion, a much more difficult one to gauge. Not only do you have to try to use the right amount to sound genuine and still avoid being annoying, but you also have to worry about offending people. This is where you have to think about what your character would say, as well as how much your audience will tolerate before they throw your book into the recycle bin.

Remember that your reader can’t see ‘tone of voice’

If you subscribe to the anti-adverb school of writing, you’ll find yourself facing another dialogue challenge…conveying the character’s tone of voice. Vocal inflections, smirks, smiles, frowns, grins and other indicators of the intent behind our speech can’t be conveyed in written dialogue, and you’ll be drummed out of the writer’s union if you over-use attributions like he said facetiously. There’s only one way to solve this particular conundrum…sharpening your character development skills. Craft your characters skillfully and your readers will know them well enough to interpret the unspoken meaning behind their words.

Pay attention to the calendar

I was talking to an editor recently. The topic of dialogue in novels came up (covert research on my part for this post!) and she told me about her biggest pet peeve…make sure your dialogue is historically appropriate!

I’m sure none of you need to be told that if your novel takes place in the Victorian age or colonial America you need to be historically accurate, after all it would have seemed a little out of place if Rhett Butler had said “Check it, bitch, I don’t give a fat rat’s ass.”

But there’s more to it than just covering the big chunks of history. Here in America slang phrases come and go faster than iPhones, so what is accurate today could be painfully outdated a year from now.

The editor I mentioned told me she had been working on a novel written from the point-of-view of a teenage girl. The problem was that the author (a baby-boomer) failed in her attempt to capture the lingo of a modern day teenager; instead the dialogue all sounded like it was straight out of the sixties.

Moral of the story…in addition to using jargon sparingly, make sure it’s accurate for the time period of your book, whether it’s last week, last year or the last century.

Unless your character is a robot, don’t make him/her speak like one

This last one is sort of a mop-up, catch-all tip. It incorporates a few of the previously mentioned ones, but deals with real-talk.

As I said earlier, listen to people talk.

Nobody says: “I am going to go to the store. Would you like me to purchase something for you?”


They say: “I’m going to the store. Want anything?”

Contractions may be a lazy way of speaking but we all use them…all the time.

When it comes to dialogue, the contraction is your friend…

Instead of I am, he would, she will and they are – use I’m, he’d, she’ll and they’re…because that’s how people talk.

There you have it…my nickel’s worth of free advice.

I hope it’s useful to you – and if you have any tips for writing dialogue please feel free to share them in the comments section.

As always – thank you for reading


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It’s a Mystery to Me – or – Dying for the Same Old Thing

50s tv adEven though television appeared on the scene in the 50s,  it didn’t become a household word until the mid-60s. By 1970 it was a major factor in the daily lives of Americans, and once cable TV became the norm in the mid-80s, the average American household was no longer content with just one boob-tube…most had at least two (I personally know a couple who have a television in every room of their home…including both bathrooms).

Before I get to my point I’d like to lay a few statistics on you courtesy of the A.C. Nielsen Company…

  • The average American watches more than 4 hours of TV per day
  • 66% of American homes have 3 or more TVs
  • By the time a child reaches 18 years of age they will have witnessed 40,000 murders on TV
  • 53.8% of TV programing is devoted to crime, disaster and war
  • 59% of Americans can name The 3 Stooges, but only 17% can name at least 3 Supreme Court Justices

So, I think we can agree that TV is a dominant force in America – not that you needed me to tell you that.

3 Stooges

Believe it or not, to a writer, television can be very educational. There is a lot of good writing on the tube…and lots of bad (really bad) writing as well.

If you analyze programs or movies from a writing perspective you’ll quickly see how formulaic almost all of them are. For example…next time you’re watching a sitcom with a laugh-track pay attention to when the audience laughs. It’s usually after every third spoken line.

Anyway…let me get to my point.

A few months ago somebody suggested that I watch a new program called Forever.


My strategy with such recommendations is to set my DVR to record the show and then watch the first episode when I have nothing better to do (in case it’s a dud).

This past weekend I finally got around to watching the pilot episode and I enjoyed it.

It’s a detective show with a twist – the medical examiner assisting the lead detective is immortal. That’s right…immortal, as in he can never die.

It’s a pretty unusual take on the detective-solving-a-murder show – and that’s what I’d like to talk about today.

I’ve been watching TV since the mid-60s.

I don’t consider myself a TV-a-holic, but I do admit to having a strong attachment to the idiot-box, which means I’ve seen more than my share of programs.

So, as I watched another episode of Forever last night I realized that the murder-mystery is probably the most common genre on TV.

Hollywood’s scribes have thrown countless variations-on-the-theme at us, but in the end it still comes down to a who-dun-it.

It used to be that murders were solved by cops, a la Friday & Gannon, Starsky & Hutch or Cagney & Lacey.

Hawaii Five-0It wasn’t long before somebody realized the tired old plot line needed some freshness…something different. That must have been when the crime scenes were moved to exotic locations with shows like Hawaii Five-O, The Glades and Miami Vice.

The next trick was to start varying the personalities of the cops. They gave us detectives with attitude (Kojak), detectives with laundry issues (Columbo) even ex-detectives with O.C.D. (Monk)..

The husband and wife team was popular for a while…McMillan & Wife, Heart to Heart.

We even had cops posing as teenagers in high school on (the original) 21 Jump Street, for all you Johnny Depp fans. Monk

Once they discovered the Private Investigator it was like a whole new world opened up.

Spenser for Hire, Remington Steele and Moonlighting all offered their own eccentricities, setting them apart from the run-of-the-mill.

We’ve seen people from all walks of life investigating homicides.

  • Priests
  • Insurance Agents
  • Actors
  • Fake Psychics and Ex-Models
  • Reformed Criminals
  • Former Cops, Soldiers and Spies
  • Doctors, Medical Examiners and Crime Scene Techs

and my favorite, of course

  • Writers

Do you suppose Hollywood wants us to think that cops are incapable of solving crime on their own?

The real question I have is: Are we, the TV watching public, so obsessed with the murder-mystery that we’ll watch it in any incarnation?

The television gods have thrown so many cop shows at us we all know our Miranda Rights by heart and many of us know how to avoid leaving evidence at a crime scene.

I’m not complaining, I’m just curious about our fascination with this particular type of programming.

It’s a chicken/egg thing.

Do we watch them because they make them—or—do they make them because we watch them?

It also brings to mind the age-old question; does life imitate art or vice-versa?

Oscar Wilde

I guess you could say…it’s a mystery.

As always – thank you for reading


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My Thoughts About Marketing for Independent Authors

My friend Becky and I seem to have this running “discussion” about marketing our books. She recently shared her thoughts on the matter in this blog post, to which I added a brief comment.

Then I decided a more lengthy response was in order…so here we are.

My Thoughts About Marketing for Independent Authors

Step 1; Write the book

Seems pretty self-explanatory and definitely obvious so we won’t go into any detail about it, other than to say if you ever want sell a book, it’s the only place to start (plagiarism notwithstanding).

Step 2; Sell the book

This is where many authors drop the ball.

In fact, when I released my first novel, Living the Dream, way back in the day, I made the very mistake(s) I’m about to tell you to avoid – so pay attention, because I’m speaking from experience.

First, let’s start with some assumptions;

Assumption number 1 – you didn’t write your novel for fun.

This is not to say you didn’t have fun writing it, I’m sure you did (editing – that’s a different story!). No, what I mean is that your ultimate goal was to sell books.

I wrote a blog post about this very topic a while ago (Do We Write for Love or Money?)

There may be some who are insulted by the concept of producing any form of art for money, but as Dr. Samuel Johnson said ““No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”

Let’s face it, you spent months, maybe years, writing that book…did you do all that work just so it could take up space on your hard drive? If so, you can stop reading and go do something else…there’s nothing for you here.

Assumption number 2 – you don’t have a publicist or a PR firm at your disposal.

I once entertained the thought of hiring a publicist – until he told me how much his services would cost. I don’t remember the exact amount, but it was far too expensive…especially when he wouldn’t promise me any results. I was of the opinion that if you’re going to charge me hundreds of dollars to increase my sales, you should at least promise me tangible results, or, at the very least, work on strict commission.

He didn’t share that attitude.

Assumption number 3 – you get tired of people asking you if you’re making money yet, and you’re even more tired of telling them that you aren’t.

This can be very annoying, and somewhat demoralizing for independent authors. When people learn that you write books the conversation usually goes from “Wow, you’re an author? That’s cool!” to “Are you making any money?” pretty quickly.

Not that they’re trying to be rude or inconsiderate, they’re usually just curious.

And of course we try to find creative ways to answer, like “I’m not getting rich, but it’s getting better.


The take-away from this is that you need to sell your book.

I’m no expert. I can’t tell you that doing this, that or the other thing will result in a sudden influx of cash. If I could, I’d be writing this from my yacht. What I can offer are a few tips of what NOT to do and a couple of suggestions that might help you a little bit.

First – some do’s:


  • Be aggressive. How aggressive is up to you. I like to strike a balance that is not too passive, but not obnoxiously aggressive either. I’m still experimenting.
  • Be supportive of other authors. The independent author community is huge, and growing every day. Mutual support helps all of us. If you can’t buy books by other authors, at least help promote them – they will usually reciprocate.
  • Utilize social media. Things like Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, Instagram, blogging, etc are FREE and provide access to millions of people. Take advantage of it (again, I’m still experimenting with different methods, but it works). (Side note: some people seem to get offended by “paid promotions” on facebook – but I use them. Once or twice a month I create a “buy my book” post and pay to promote it. I never pay more than $10 and it reaches a few thousand extra people. In my mind…it’s $10 well spent. Of course you can spend hundreds if you want…I don’t want.)
  • Block out time for marketing. Writing time is precious for all of us, especially if you have a day job, but it’s critical to save time for your due diligence. Believe it or not, I probably spend 2 hours on marketing for every hour I spend writing…maybe more.
  • Steal ideas. That’s right, I said it. If you see another author doing something to sell books that you think might work for you, it’s okay for you to do it too. Hey, there’s more than one commercial during the Super Bowl, right?
  • Monitor your sales on Amazon. If you don’t know how to do this…find out. It’s easy and it’s the only way to figure out what is working and what isn’t.
  • If something isn’t working, stop doing it. Pretty simple. Try a new promo idea…run with it for a week or two, while monitoring your sales numbers. If you don’t see results, move on.
  • Remember – the only stupid idea is one you don’t try. Getting your book cover tattooed on your butt and posting the picture on Pinterest may seem idiotic, but you’ll never know until you try.


And now the don’ts:


  • Sit around waiting for your book to sell itself. Believe me, it won’t. Books are notoriously lazy.
  • Assume that what you’re doing is enough. Unless you are interviewing chauffeurs and body guards…keep pushing.
  • Do the same thing over and over. Marketing is a continually evolving endeavor – that’s why you don’t see the same TV commercials for Coke and Pepsi today that you saw when you were a kid (unless you’re 11).
  • Listen to the naysayers. There are people who will tell you that marketing is a waste of time. Ask them how many books they’re selling.
  • Be afraid. Remember the old saying…If you want something you’ve never had, you have to be willing to do something you’ve never done. Maybe you’re shy and don’t want to get out there and sell yourself. Too bad – nobody is going to do it for you.
  • Be aloof. I don’t want to hear any of that “I’m an artist, not a salesman” crap. If you’ve ever gone on a job interview you were selling yourself – this is no different. Well, maybe a little different…but you went on that interview because you needed a job. Think of marketing the same way.
  • Pretend you don’t care if nobody reads your book. You do. If you didn’t you wouldn’t have finished it…or even started it for that matter. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to share your work with the world…warm up to that concept.
  • Believe me. Don’t take my word for any of this…find an author who sells a lot of books and ask them if I’m right or wrong (if I’m wrong, please let me know).
  • Give up. There is an audience for every book…keep going until you find yours.


I think that’s about all I have.

As I’ve said many, many times…I am no expert, but I have learned a few things in the past 5 years. Hopefully I can save you some time by imparting these nuggets to you.

Conversely – if you have any tips for me – lay them on me—I am definitely not too proud to listen to your advice.


Oh – one more thing…my newest book, Eyewitness Blues is now available in paperback and digital formats…buy it! (too pushy?)


As always – thank you for reading


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Every Writer for Him/Herself

Reading the blogs of other writers is something that most writers do – call it professional courtesy, an act of reciprocity or the opportunity to learn something from a peer – it’s part of the job.

When I first started reading the blogs of other writers it sometimes left me feeling a little confused.


Regardless of the topic (editing, publishing, marketing, style, habits, tips, techniques, etc.) it seemed that each blog was giving me different information. At first I wondered who I should believe. Writer “A” picks his editor according to price while writer “B” picks hers based on qualifications, and writer “C” doesn’t use an editor.

So who is right?

It took me a while to figure it out, but the answer is “D” – All of the above.

all of the above

When it comes to writing, the only right way to do it is your way.

Okay…settle down…before you call me an idiot – let me finish…

When I say “your way is the right way” – it is not without qualification, and of course this caveat is strictly my opinion.

Quite simply, before you choose your methods and develop your habits you’ve got to ask yourself one question…

(How many of you were thinking “Do I feel lucky”?)


…well as cool as it is to quote Clint – that isn’t the question.

The question is – “Why are you writing?”

Is your goal to produce a cute children’s story that will only be read by your grandchild?

Do you want to eclipse JK Rowling in the “rags-to-riches” category?

Or are you looking for a Nobel Prize in Literature?

nobel prize

Before you answer – remember that your answer will determine your methods.

It’s sort of like me with golf.

I own a set of golf clubs…and I play once or twice a year…and, quite bluntly, I suck at it.

I’m sure I could improve if I practiced more or maybe took a few lessons, but I have no desire to be better. I’m happy with my golf game, such that it is.

Now if beating my brothers was important to me, I’d have to take appropriate measures to improve my game, but it isn’t, so I don’t.

golfing stooges

I don’t mind that my brothers can destroy me on a golf course, and my brothers don’t seem to care that I can write books while they can’t.

So it’s all good.

Back to you and your methods…if you’re writing for fun, it’s okay if you don’t use an editor, or market your books aggressively or pay $500 for a cover design.

On the other hand, if you envision yourself sipping wine, and calling your agent from your yacht to discuss the terms of your big Hollywood movie deal – you may want to rethink your strategy.

It’s this simple – you will never get more out of writing than you are willing to put into it.

This is why I rarely offer advice on my blog. My methods are just that…my methods. They seem to be working for me…for now…

…your results may vary.


As always – thank you for reading


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Announcing the “Second Quasi-Annual Blindogg Books Short Story Contest”!!!

Last year at this time, when Unfinished Business was in the hands of my beta readers, I announced the “First Quasi-Annual Blindogg Books Short Story Contest”. The contest was very successful and I came away with two great stories, which were included in final release of Unfinished Business.

Here we are, a year later (almost to the day) and my newest work is now in the hands of the betas, so that means only one thing…it’s time for the “Second Quasi-Annual Blindogg Books Short Story Contest”.

The contest is pretty simple…I’m looking for two short stories to include in my next book (which has yet to be titled – so we’ll use the working title Protect This for now).

Let’s go over the need to knows:

  • The contest is open to anybody.
  • Stories must be between 1,500 and 4,000 words.
  • Stories can be in any genre (except porn, erotica, etc).
  • There are two categories – one winner will be selected from each category

Category one; Theme – the theme of Protect This is “Wanting a better life” so the short story in the theme category will follow that theme.

Category two; Fan fiction – stories in this category can use any theme, but must involve at least three of my regular characters (Ike, Brewski, Didi, Ralph).

  • Entries must be received before midnight March 10, 2014
  • I will pick five favorites from each category and post them on my blog by March 10 for voting
  • Voting will end at midnight March 31, 2014
  • Prizes:

First prize: The winning story in each category will be published in Protect This (the new novel) and each winning author will receive a free, signed copy of the finished book

Second prize: The authors of the stories with the second highest vote total will receive a free, signed copy of the finished book

  • In order to enter the contest, authors must “like” my facebook fan page (https://www.facebook.com/BlindoggBooks)
  • All entries remain the property of the author – however, authors grant me permission to print the stories, along with author’s name, as I see fit for promotional purposes. Winning authors grant permission for their stories to be published in Protect This as well
  • All submissions must be the original work of the contestant and may not have been previously published
  • Entries must be submitted as an attachment in an email to blindoggbooks@gmail.com

And there it is…if you have any questions please leave them in the form of a comment below so that everybody can see the answer (gotta keep it fair!)


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Another First Draft Finished…but it’s not The End

Yesterday, for the seventh time in five years, I typed an authors favorite two words…

the end

I’m speaking symbolically of course…I’ve never actually typed those words at the end of a novel. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen them in a book, but I did finish the first draft of my latest, as of yet untitled, novel.

The irony is that, now that the first draft is finished, it’s not the end at all…it’s really only the beginning.

There’s still a lot of work to do before it is ready for you. In the next few days I will distribute copies to my beta-readers and wait for their feedback.

Beta readers are the unsung heroes of the book-writing world, and I’m lucky to have some really good ones.

None of them worry about hurting my feelings and each of them has contributed something that has improved my work in the past.

Like any author worth their salt, I am extremely grateful for them, and any input they offer is always taken very seriously. That’s not to say I act on all of it, but I definitely pay attention.

A few of my betas have been with me since the beginning, and a couple of them have only done one book. Along the way there have been some people who thought they wanted to be a beta, but unfortunately they didn’t understand the job description, so I had to keep looking until I found suitable replacements.

Didn’t understand the job description? How is that possible? Read the book and tell the author what you think…right?

It doesn’t sound like a complicated task, and in fact it isn’t…once the ground rules are clearly defined and understood.

When an author asks for beta readers, they aren’t asking for somebody to read a draft and tell them it’s the best thing they’ve ever read. We aren’t delusional; we all know what Hemingway said…

first draft

No, what we are asking for is someone to read a first draft and punch holes in it.

Big holes.

We don’t want to hear about missing commas or spelling mistakes…that’s part of the editing process.

A beta reader’s primary responsibility is to tell the author what they didn’t like about the book.

  • Things that didn’t make sense in the story.
  • Characters that weren’t believable
  • Dialogue that didn’t ring true
  • Anything that made them stop and say well that just ain’t right

The author is asking you to rip the story to shreds. Even if it’s just as simple as saying The story just didn’t grab me.

So, for the next two or three weeks my book will be in the hands of  people who are tasked with picking it apart, so I can put it back together before I send it to the editor…who will then proceed to pick it apart some more.

All of this is done in hopes that you, the reader, won’t know how bad the first draft really was.

 not the end


As always – thank you for reading


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Do We Write for Love or Money?

Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) was a British poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. He is generally regarded as the greatest man-of-letters in English history.Dr Johnson

In Johnson’s biography, written by James Boswell in 1791, Dr. Johnson is quoted as saying “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”

An author friend of mine named Tony Walker shared that quote with me back in 2009. At the time I hadn’t published my first novel yet and I wasn’t sure if I should be insulted or not. I respected Tony both as a writer and as a person, so I felt obligated to at least consider the possibility.

Four years and seven novels later I have had time to give it some serious thought and I’m still not totally convinced of the statement’s accuracy.

If I accept it as true, it sort of makes me feel shallow and greedy – but, if I deny it applies to me, does that make me a blockhead?

Worse is when I expand the concept to artists, musicians and the rest of the creative ones out there. Is the concept of Art for Art’s Sake just pie-in-the-sky thinking?

art for arts sake

Perhaps, in our 21st century society it would be easy to say that we are creating for money because our world…our culture forces us to choose a vocation in order to survive and we are merely doing that which comes to us naturally.

Okay – but Dr. Johnson said this in the 18th century. Back in the days of wooden ships and iron men—when writing a novel was practically a lifetime endeavor, and hardly a get-rich-quick plan.

Let’s, for a minute, assume that what Dr. Johnson said is true…

Is it bad?

Is it wrong to do something you love in the hopes of getting paid?

Are you betraying your art and yourself by admitting you want to be rich and famous?

And – possibly worst of all – are you lying if you say you aren’t in it for the do-re-mi?words into dollars

Let’s try looking at it from another angle…let’s pretend we aren’t talking about writing (or painting or music). Let’s say, for the purposes of this discussion, that we are talking about roofing, podiatry or real estate sales. All fine professions, but does anybody ever say “I want to climb a 24 foot ladder carrying an 80 lb bundle of shingles in the scorching sun because I love doing it?”

I know I never said that…I’ve shingled many-a-roof and I only did it for one reason – it paid.

Probably not a completely fair comparison, but my point is this: At some point in our lives we make a conscious choice to write, and I know from experience that when I sat down and typed the first words of Living the Dream…it wasn’t long before I started wondering if I could get paid for it.

Right now, I have a full-time job. Writing is my second job, but if you gave me the option of being able to write full-time and make the same amount of money I make at my job…the very next thing I would write would be my two-week-notice. I’m not even talking about JK Rowling money…I’m just talking about being able to pay the bills.

My good friend and fellow author Armand Rosamilia has no job other than writing. He has been writing full-time for almost two years and he illustrates both sides of the argument.

He obviously writes for the payday, because if he doesn’t get paid, he doesn’t eat…but he also loves doing it or he never would have left a job he had held for 15 years to write. I asked him for his thoughts on this topic and he said;

“Being able to write full-time without the safety net of a job or a spouse who supports me (or an inheritance or all the stripper money I’ve made over the years) is both exhilarating and scary at the same time. If I don’t sell a story I don’t get paid. So, with that in mind, I do have to look at the big picture. It would be great to just haphazardly write whatever struck me. But I’d be crazy to not try to also write what will sell, and the previous projects that do well are the ones that get the sequels first.”

I don’t know how much money he made as a stripper, but I hope he makes more writing.

what do you do

My friend David Royall is retired and has (basically) no need for additional income. His writing is, at least for the moment, a hobby. He had this to say;

“To write something entertaining is a challenge for me. My novel is entertaining ME, so far. I look at it as a collection of babble that has no redeeming social value, so I wouldn’t ask anyone to pay for it, yet.”

Some might say his use of the word “yet” is a Freudian admission that he would someday like to get money for it, but from what I know of him, it’s unlikely. I believe he is genuine in his indifference toward financial gain.

Another published author friend, Becky Pourchot, is a stay-at-home mom with three children and a working husband, so for her, the money is not necessary, but it is important;

“I write because I love it…but that’s the obvious part. The money validates me as a writer. It is the essential element that makes me more than a little wife who likes to type on her laptop. I am driven to make money…not out of hunger but out of pride.”

The fourth person I spoke to is a single woman, living on a fixed income. Mary Beth is 62 years old and has dreamed of writing a book since she was a teenager. She has a more organic opinion;

“I am doing what I love and I believe the Universe will work out the details of helping me make a living following my dream.”

In the end I can only speak for myself, and I am not ashamed to admit that while I love writing, I can’t say that I would keep doing it if there was no chance of ever getting paid. Maybe I would, I don’t know, but it would probably go way down on the priority scale.

I didn’t write this post in hopes of finding an answer, because I already know mine. I am curious about yours, though.

Do you write (or create) solely for the love of it? If you were told you would never make a dime, would you still do it?

In closing, I thought I’d share this nugget…

“I’d have stopped writing years ago if it were for the money.” ~Paulo Coelho


As always – thank you for reading


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No Rest for the Weary

I’ve got a bit of a writing hangover…

I began writing Unfinished Business in early 2010. Its completion was delayed by the 3 books I wrote in the meantime (No Good Deed, Backseat to Justice and Pump It Up) and threatened by a couple of new ideas, which I had to force myself to put on the back burner. I also had a few struggles with plot lines and such.

Nevertheless, after 3 years Unfinished Business is…well…finished.

Unfinished Business will be released in June, 2013

Unfinished Business is finally…finished

I’m very proud of it, it is already getting extremely positive feedback and I’ve been asked a few times about a sequel. I hate sequels, but it might be necessary – again (click here to read about my last sequel).

With all that being said…I would really like to kick back, take the rest of the summer off and not worry about another book (or books). I’d like to just hang out and have nothing more pressing to do than watch the Red Sox.

Unfortunately, that’s not happening.

I’ve got a new book in the works and I want to finish the first draft before Christmas so it will be ready for release next spring. It’ll be a fun story about a perpetual loser who feels his only chance at having a good life is the witness protection program…unfortunately, he hasn’t witnessed anything.

I also have an idea for another novel, an epic story compared to all my others.

I have a co-writing project with Armand Rosamilia to do, the sequel to our novella Dying Days: The Siege of European Village.

cover2On top of those I have a few other book ideas I need to at least start before I forget them – and then there’s the ever present Full Circle.

All of this while I still have to promote Unfinished Business at various events and signings.

So, for me, there will be no break in the action. Like drinking too much on Sunday night…when Monday morning rolls around you have to suck it up, have a few Tylenols for breakfast and get your ass to work.

I will jump back into the fire…right after I enjoy the 4th of July Holiday!

It’s one day, and besides…I wouldn’t get any work done with all those fireworks going off and the smell of cookouts filling the air.

Happy Birthday America!


As always – thank you for reading.


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