Authors' Chat

The art of description – better too little than too much!

By Anna Belfrage  Whenever summer comes around, chances are I’ll be slouching in the shade reading a Lee Child novel. There is something very comforting about reading his books. Jack Reacher always survives, is always on the side of good, and the pace is fast and gripping. It is also a relief to read something outside my own genre, as the reading experience becomes more relaxed when I don’t go “Ooooo, that was an elegant insertion of historical detail” or “OMG: I wish I had written that!” or “That can’t be right, can it? A match in the 18th century?” (turns out it was – sort of). So I read Lee Child to relax – except I don’t, because Mr Child is an expert at succinct descriptions, a few word sufficing to paint a person, a location, a situation, and I read and reread, because seriously, to describe your characters is an art. As a writer, I have a very clear picture of what my protagonists look like – but the moment I turn them over to the public in a published book, I’m also inviting the readers to form their own images, and to do so I must describe…

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My Writing Space by Malcolm Noble

Here it is,  My writing space.  The desk in the corner of our tiny bookshop tucked away in the middle of England.  It's cramped, usually more cluttered than this and very vulnerable to interruptions.  But, hey, it's nice when readers pop in and catch me at work on my latest tale of crime and confusion. While I do put pen paper in the shop, the creative stuff has to happen outside for me,  (Rainy days are no good)  I compose most of the book in the little courtyard outside.  I like to learn about 650 words so that I can recite them cleanly,  Then, I'm indoors scribbling it down, in longhand, before I forget it. For more details about how I work, you may want to sneak at look at this video: YouTube B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree  Other posts my Malcolm: Lessons Learned from Radio, Christine’s Note of Life with a Mystery Writer, Talking to people is all you need to do, and Choice of Genre. 

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Freddy the Pig: My Childhood Friend by Dave Riese

Growing up in Arlington, Massachusetts during the 1950s, I was fortunate to have a large children’s library in the center of town. On Saturdays, my parents drove my sister and me to the library for story hour. I cannot remember if I was introduced to Freddy in a story on one of those Saturdays or if I found his books on the shelf and decided to take one home with me. I was seven years old. The Freddy the Pig books became my favorite series during my grammar school years. I read some Hardy Boys books, some Nancy Drew, and a few Bobbsey Twins, but they did not capture my imagination the way Freddy and his friends did. The first book I read was Freddy the Detective. Freddy is a fan of Sherlock Holmes (of whom I knew nothing at that age) and when a toy train goes missing, he takes on the job of solving the crime with Jinx the Cat. The books are filled with dozens of anthropomorphic barnyard citizens – Mrs. Wiggins the cow, Charles the rooster, Simon the rat, and many others – who help (or hinder) Freddy’s activities. Each chapter begins with a pen-and-ink drawing.…

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Not Just an Ordinary Day by Carrie Beckort

When I looked through the list of blog topics for the summer, the option “Create a day for yourself and recap it.” jumped out at me. Even though I’m home full-time, I don’t often make the time to do something fun for me. Not counting my 6-day-a-week workouts, I have a handful of regular activities that I do once a month.  I love that they provide me with something to look forward to each month, but I know I need to plan more time to do different things and/or pamper myself. I immediately knew when I would create this day for myself. My husband and daughter take a trip to King’s Island each year in early July, and I knew that would be the perfect time. That just left me with figuring out what to do . . . I started brainstorming, and several ideas came to mind. Visions of movie marathons, non-stop reading, manis and pedis all danced in my mind. The idea was that I would keep busy, all day, for the purpose of this blog post and one other very important reason. You see, I have Binge Eating Disorder (BED). It has been a very long and…

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The Thing About Titles By Helen Hollick

I’ve found that, sometimes, deciding on a title for your story can be harder than writing the whole thing. When my first novel was accepted by William Heinemann for publication, way back in 1993, I had called it The Kingmaking. It was about a man who became a king (King Arthur in fact) so it seemed suitable. We went through the long process of editing, copy editing, proof reading, cover design, etc then a few days before preparing to go to print I was told, ‘We’re not keen on the title. Can you think of something else?’ I couldn’t. ‘Can you think of anything?’ says I. They couldn’t. The Kingmaking it remains to this day. Counter that with my UK published Harold the King and A Hollow Crown. Both books (a duo about the events that led to the 1066 Battle of Hastings) were acquired by a US publisher who decided to change the titles. A Hollow Crown became The Forever Queen (which, I confess, I prefer) but Harold became I Am The Chosen King. Why? Because the publisher said ‘No one will know who Harold is.’ Fair enough – but does ‘I Am The Chosen King’ leave the reader…

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Advertising Budget

Books sales might prove to be slow. We know it is largely up to us to promote our work. True, if you have taken the route of publishing via a small Indie publisher, some promotion will be done for you. However, that will not be enough to propel your creation out there for everybody to see. Therefore, you are starting to search for other options. The problem might be, there are not enough funds available for a large advertisement campaign. Believe me when I say, there really is no need to spent a vast amount of money on one single promotion. I have done this about four times now, without the desired effect. Maybe, we should follow the good old English saying, ´Every mickle makes a mackle´´, or something very similar. Let´s say we could spare 50 Dollars a month and for a while, we are able to stick to it. Now we have set our budget and have to master the art of spending it wisely. Finding a way what works best for the book we plan to promote. Book promotions sites are excellent options, but we have to remember that the same book, using the same site, can only…

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How I Got My Indie Novel into the Library System

by Annie Daylon I had no idea that indie authors could apply to have books purchased by libraries. When the illustrator of my picture book dropped that gem of information my way, I delved into research. At my local library, I spoke with the community librarian who gave me the contact information for the acquisitions librarian. In my application email to acquisitions, I included: a brief bio; cover images of available titles (linked to Amazon); mini-synopses; website link; and contact info. When a couple of weeks passed with no response, I emailed again. Still no reply. Months later, I did a follow up. I phoned the acquisitions librarian who readily explained that she receives scads of email and that she had simply missed my request. She asked me to re-send my application email. I complied. Within a week, a purchase order showed up: two copies of one title—Of Sea and Seed. I was elated! Within a few weeks, my book was in the library system of the British Columbia Fraser Valley Regional Library. Does making an effort to be known by your local library enhance your chances of receiving a favorable response to your application? Possibly. In my case, after…

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That Grey Area of Copyright

By Helen Hollick I read an article the other day about a self-published ‘author’ (hmm, debatable term) who had produced dozens of new books in one year. Someone got suspicious and looked into the details. It turned out this ‘author’ had copied, almost word for word, other books just changing the characters’ names, sex, and altering the location. So Jane Brown became John Black, and London became New York. That in itself was fine, but when an original sentence of: ‘Jane looked out of her bedroom window at the grey, drizzly sky of a London afternoon and sighed,’ became: ‘John looked out of his bedroom window at the dull, drizzling sky of a New York afternoon and sighed,’ things are not so fine. (I made the example up by the way!) What is even more disturbing, it seems this particular person knew exactly what he/she was doing because they had been caught, and cautioned, before. Apart from this is damaging to the original author and nothing more than copyright theft, what did this person get out of it – beside raking in a few ill-gotten pennies? We are not talking big time best-seller here. But then of course, the best-sellers…

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An Author’s Angle on Date Night by Annie Whitehead

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree-To Be A Queen I’m going on a date with a handsome man called Alhelm, a real-life 10th century warrior and nobleman, who held lands in the northern area of the kingdom of Mercia. How do I know he’s handsome? Aethelflaed, from To Be A Queen, seems rather taken with him: “His blond hair, recently cut by the look of it, was sticking out at odd angles, where curls had been shorn, but not short enough to subdue them. His blue eyes were so pale that the pupils shone uncommonly black. A sprinkling of freckles spilled over both cheekbones and spread over his nose. He smiled at her … she felt an urge to smile back but also look away, at once a grown woman yet still a foolish child.” This is when she first meets him, and she is smitten. So I imagine someone who looks a little like this:    Although the reality is probably more like this:  But, I muse while I’m straightening my hair, how can we know what they looked like? The Mercians were the ‘Angle’ part of Anglo-Saxon; Pope Gregory, upon seeing some slaves in the market said they were “Not Angles,…

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Where do you like to take a day for yourself and read?

Tranquil places far from the demands of my keyboard are necessary escapes to keeping my imagination free to travel - anywhere. Less than an hour from our home on the Olympic Peninsula, I've found such an idyllic locale along the shore of Lake Crescent. Last week, my husband and I bundled up on a rainy morning to make the trip along the narrow 101 to the National Park Lodge for a much-needed getaway. After a tasty breakfast, we planted ourselves on two cushioned, wicker chairs in the lodge sunroom overlooking the lake. It wasn't hard to let imagination transport me into a cozy mystery novel in someone's Victorian lake house. With its worn wood floors and floor-to-ceiling windows, I had to work to pull my focus back to the Brandon Sanderson fantasy novel I'd brought with me. On this particular morning low clouds hovered above the water obscuring most of the mountains that border the twelve-mile-long lake. For awhile the view was less of a distraction so the world of the final empire drew me in. Soon the clouds lifted, revealing Storm King and Pyramid Peak. Tourists ambled out onto the wooden dock for selfies. The view and the aroma…

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