indieBRAG Blog

10 Things I’ve Learned About Writing

By Seeley James B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree   When I started writing Sabel Security Thrillers four years ago, I thought I knew what I was doing. I hired editors, proof readers, cover artists, etc, and worked on my first book, The Geneva Decision, until it was ready for prime time. I put it out there and waited for the acclaim. Crickets. So, I examined my career and deconstructed successful indie careers looking for the best path to fit my skills and personality. My goal was, and still is, to write the most compelling political thrillers on book shelves today. My first book, post-launch assessment was: long way to go. I envied writers like Russell Blake, Melissa Foster, Joanna Penn, Mark Dawson and so many others who wrote lots of focused books (a small number of characters, few locations, and a single-goal plot). My books sprawl across continents with a cast as big--but not as prone to death and dismemberment--as Game of Thrones. My books are complex and take longer to write because I often get lost halfway through my first draft. In the early days, I spent more time patching plot holes and combining surplus characters than writing the first draft.…

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I WISH I’D… BY HELEN HOLLICK

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree I guess all authors wish they had written ‘that’ novel – the one that has made Oscar status Blockbuster movie legend. The novel that hits number one in the bestseller charts and stays there … and stays there… and stays there… Or do we? Yes, of course we all want to do well, the basic facts of paying off the mortgage or being able to afford to get the car fixed is a prime motive – but the reality is, out of the thousands upon thousands of books published worldwide every year very few of them reach the heady height of Literary Stardom. Do I wish I’d written Gone With The Wind, or Fifty Shades of Grey or Harry Potter? To be honest? No, not really. What I do wish is that I had possessed the knowledge and experience I have now twenty-plus years ago. My first novel, part one of the Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy was The Kingmaking.  Writing it, I probably made all the mistakes an author is not meant to make: tell not show, too many adjectives and adverbs, point-of-view (head-hopping) changes… but were these issues that often get slammed in Amazon’s Comments sections nowadays…

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Cover Crush: Of Sea and Seed by Annie Daylon

I have said this before and I will say again. I am not a cover designer but I do have an artist’s eye and can agree that cover design plays an important role in the overall presentation of the book and gladly admit I judge a book by its cover. Overall presentation is important to pull a reader in. When I read a story I want to be completely immersed. A grand cover helps that along. Imagery and all-if you will. Today’s cover crush is a story that recently was awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion. What an evocative cover! Not only that, the title alone can draw a reader in to find out more of the story.  Let’s take a look at the book description:  OF SEA AND SEED launches The Kerrigan Chronicles, the story of three generations staggered by love, betrayal, war, and the effects of a tsunami that ravages the Burin Peninsula of Newfoundland in 1929. Family matriarch, storyteller, and ghost—Kathleen Kerrigan—confesses that heaven does not open its gates to women of her ilk. In her afterlife she is adrift, doomed, like some ancient mariner, to atone for mortal sin by telling repeatedly the story of her downfall. With the lyrical…

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Settings the Writer Cannot Afford to Visit

Brand Stoker never visited Transylvania. He based Castle Dracula on the ruined Abbey above Whitby.  Of course, the geography helped: Yorkshire is more or less on the same latitude as Romania, it exhibits similar bleak and capricious weather. There are no Carpathian peaks near Whitby but the abbey is perched on a respectable cliff and if there are no wolf infested forests, at least there some dark woods with similar pines and beeches. The smells of the natural world, especially in the 1890s, may not have been that different from Eastern Europe. But imagine if Stoker had lived all his life in Queensland.  He might have had to write some of the novel in an ice house to describe the physical sensations of almost freezing to death.  To portray the Transylvanian forests and Carpathian Mountains, he might have had to visit the European Masters in Brisbane’s art gallery. His biggest problem would have been the sun. Because Queensland is closer to the equator, the natural light is intense and a huge leap of imagination would be required to describe the dour skies above Castle Dracula. On the plus side, Queensland would have possessed at least one source of inspiration for…

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Christine’s Note of Life with a Mystery Writer

  I'm Christine and we've been married for forty years.  Malcolm Noble didn't write his first book until 2003 which means I've only been married to a writer for thirteen years.  It feels much longer! My main role is to explain to Malcolm that some of his ideas are bad ideas.  (He has a rude word for this which we needn't mention.)  When he gave up his proper job and began to write much more, I took charge of the address book.  Not because I wanted to help.  It was because Malcolm hasn't a clue about keeping things in order so it was easier for me to have the address book than to help sort out the mess when it went wrong.  This has led to me being more involved with press contacts and his regular readers. Another way that I help is by working out the exact word he is looking for.  This can be frustrating because his clues are often of little use.  (You should try solving one of his crossword puzzles.)  The example I always think of is - the word for walking slowly around a house.  (I'll give the answer later on.)  There are a couple…

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Free Book Giveaway with J.L. Oakley

Never a dull moment in a writer's life. I'm happy to announce that indieBRAG Medallion Honoree Timber Rose is going free starting on April 14. The recipient of the 2015 WILLA Silver Award and a 2014 Chaucer award category win, my historical novel was named the February “back list” pick by the Pulpwood Queens Book Club February, the largest book club in the world with 600 chapters. Having that medallion on front cover surely must have made the novel to stand out in the pile of books. The promotion will run until April 17th. Available here. On April 9th I launched my new historical novel, The Jøssing Affair. Set in Norway during WW II, it tells the story of a lone intelligence agent sent to a fishing village to set up a line to receive arms and agents from the Shetland Islands. Posing as a deaf person, his mission is complicated when he is attracted to the widow of an old family friend accused of betraying her husband. She has secrets of her own too. Available here.  

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Cover Crush: Blue Mercy by Orna Ross

Will you identify with mother or with daughter? When Mercy Mulcahy was 40 years old, she was accused of killing her elderly and tyrannical father. Now, at the end of her life, she has written a book about what really happened on that fateful night of Christmas Eve, 1989. The tragic and beautiful Mercy has devoted her life to protecting Star, especially from the father whose behavior so blighted her own life. Yet Star vehemently resists reading her manuscript. Why? What is Mercy hiding? Was her father’s death, as many believe, an assisted suicide? Or something even more sinister? In this book, nothing is what it seems on the surface and everywhere there are emotional twists and surprises. (“Breathtaking, and I mean literally — actual gasps will happen” said one reader review). Set in Ireland and California, Blue Mercy is a compelling novel that combines lyrical description with a page-turning style to create an enthralling tale of love, loss and the ever-present possibility of redemption. Thoughts on the cover Right away my eye was drawn to this cover. Before even reading the description my mind automatically though “oh, there is going to be darkness and mystery within these pages!” and,…

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Blogging Advice from Stephanie

Have a catchy name for your blog -mine is Layered Pages Blog 3 times a week or more. Variety is key. Have guests appear on your blog often. Hold book giveaways. Be sure to provide images with your posts. Be sure to add tags and categories to each posts. Those help draw more attention to your blog through search engines. Have a bio about yourself people can read and picture of yourself helps too. Share your posts often on different platforms. Such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google + and so on. Enjoy the experience!

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Is it worth the effort to actually get your book on these shelves?

  Doesn’t it seem like a dream come true to get your book into a book store such as Barnes and Noble?  Ah, to see your book flying off the shelves in a “real” book store….. a store with thousands of books; hundreds in your genre; many traditionally published by the big guys; all languishing, sad and unnoticed. How do you feel about this?  Is it worth the effort to actually get you book on these shelves?  I wonder.  It is a fact that the big publishers are making a great deal of money- reportedly more than ever and even less to the authors than previously.  The world hasn’t turned exclusively to the online retailers yet.  There are still those readers who want to hold a book –even if the price between a print books and ebook can be extreme.  The usual cry is “what is better selling 2 books at $30 each or 20 at $3.  I would say the 20 books because the more readers you have the better chance you have of establishing the much desired word-of-mouth needed to make your book a best seller (not necessarily a big money maker).  I believe the success of a…

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Cover Crush: A Rip in the Veil by Anna Belfrage

“Cover Crush” is an idea conceived by Erin at Flashlight Commentary and made into a fun series at indieBRAG featuring B.R.A.G. Medallion-winning books and their fabulous cover images. Of course, some of my fellow interviewers and I wanted in on the action, so you’ll see the series appear here periodically as well as over at indieBRAG and interviewers’ blogs, too, such as at A Bookaholic Swede, Layered Pages and 2 Kids and Tired Books. Now I’m no professional artist, but as Erin says of herself, I am a consumer and like many people (whether they admit it or not!), my initial attraction to a book often begins with the cover image. I know what I like and if I see something that somehow links to an interest—a jacket design with lotus or peonies, for example, triggering an idea that the volume might have a Persian theme—I’m more likely to further investigate. Naturally not everyone will reach for the same titles, nor will we all agree upon what the images convey. Sometimes we don't even come to our choices in the same manner. Even a recommended work or one whose blurb initially caught my attention doesn’t escape scrutiny of its cover, for I occasionally gaze at it, seeing in its features the…

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