indieBRAG Blog

There is a story around every corner

  By Elisabeth Marrion My head is spinning, I spot a story on every corner I turn. What shall I do? The first three instalments of my Unbroken Bonds series were an easy choice once I had started the first book. I knew their stories needed to be told. To be honest, I did not plan on writing a trilogy in four parts. You heard right. Four. Well, other writers have done it, so why not?  BUT the big question is will book four have the same impact as the first three since the narrative is set in a different time? It was not my idea. To be honest, it was my husband, David’s, who, sadly, is no longer with me. Upon finishing book three, Cuckoo Clock-New York, David casually asked, “what is happening to Thomas?” What is happening to Thomas, indeed? I started book four at that point, and we discussed the chapters I was writing. Unfortunately, the project was put on hold as David’s health deteriorated, and I have not picked it up again. Instead, I kept busy translating Liverpool Connection into German. Previously, I had written several short stories. One almost became a novella, and I am…

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Inspiring My Children To Read by N.D. Richman

    My first book was inspired by a desire to pass on the love of reading to my children. My son, Michael, and I went on a walk one day, and because he had little interest in reading I asked him what kind of plot he’d enjoy and what type of characters would excite him.  The concept and characters behind Brother, Bullies and Bad Guys were created by a ten year old child, and from there the novel became a family project between myself and my four children – Christopher, Michael, Thomas and Katherine.  They helped me with the plot, the situations, and ideas such as the astrological reference to Gemini.  And, they lent me their names and wee bits of their personalities to complete the characters. Many of the situations within the story came from my childhood (except for the really bad ones), and I’ll leave the reader to guess which ones but I will say that yes, even the bear stemmed from a real incident in my childhood. Brothers, Bullies and Bad Guys would be a dust covered manuscript in my basement if it wasn’t for an editor friend who convinced me it had to be published. …

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Meet my writer’s genie, the most distracting Ms Inspiration by Anna Belfrage

                Anna Belfrage   Sometimes, people ask me where all the ideas for my writing come from. That’s easy. I am afflicted – or blessed – by a vivid imagination and a most demanding muse, my very own Ms Inspiration. Lately, Ms Inspiration has not been much help. Not so that she doesn't spout ideas – she most certainly does, especially around three o'clock in the morning – but her attention span is the size of a newt’s, which means none of the ideas go much beyond an image or two. It's very annoying to have her leapfrog from a (great) idea for a story set in the 14th century to a vague daydream about becoming a hammer thrower and winning the Olympic gold. (This is the aftermath of having watched too much sports lately. Ms Inspiration has sadly concluded that I can neither ice skate, run nor do handstands, so throwing something is the single option that remains.) Mostly though, Ms Inspiration is presently suffering from indecisiveness. What she touts as a plausible idea on Monday is a dead duck on Tuesday, and the fabulous love scene she painted for me on…

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“Lessons Learned from Radio”

                      I recently heard my first play produced on the radio, an experience as nerve racking as the publication of my first book some twelve years ago.  The project taught me so many lessons which I will apply to my novel writing that I thought I could usefully share them here. Before I submitted my proposal, I was lucky that a retired professional theatre producer visited my bookshop and complained that he was asked to read so many well written plays that remained uncrafted.  He emphasised the distinction between a play-writer and a playwright, implying a craftsmanship comparable with cartwrights and wheelwrights. I began to think of a sculptor who starts with a fully shaped form and posture, be it angry or meek, overpowering or tear-jerking, and then works on every inch of the detail.  My visitor, who left without knowing that I had ever put pen to paper, reminded me that the audience has no second chances.  Readers may choose when,  where and  even the mood in which to open a book;  they may reread a section, take time to consider it, put it aside for later or even…

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OH, OUR HEARTBREAKING RELATIONSHIP WITH REVIEWS

Lorainne Devon Wilke   “A performance marred by embarrassingly banal in-between song patter.” A sentence never to be forgotten. Not decades after it was written, not with hundreds of other (more complimentary) sentences since; not even with a lifetime of new experiences to create a buffer. Because that sentence was part of a milestone: my first bad review, penned by a critic for a premiere music magazine at my very first Los Angeles gig. Harsh. I never forgot it. And I’ve attempted to be neither embarrassing nor banal in anything I’ve said since! Let’s face it: bad reviews suck. We can get hundreds of good ones, countless accolades and acknowledgments, but regardless of the applause that accompanies our endeavors, we tend to hold onto the words that pierce our creative skin, hurt our fragile sensibilities; shake our sense of who we are as artists.  But, frankly, even with their potential for destruction, we need them. We want them. We seek them out; promote, push, and pander for them. In fact, the accrual of feedback-by-review has now become a demand. We’re told one must get reviews for any chance at marketing success. Independent artists are instructed to go after them with…

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Behind the Scenes: An Interview with the Other Half

          KRISTEN TABER Authors tend to be a solitary bunch. What can I say? We like to talk to people in our heads. But those of us on the self-publishing journey also recognize that we work in tandem with so many people outside the worlds we create. We source editors and artists, work closely with beta readers and bloggers, and rely on friends and family to help with the publishing process or get through the initial writing stages. When I finish my books, I make sure to acknowledge those who helped my manuscripts become novels, but the biggest thank you belongs to my husband, Joe. He does a lot that goes without proper recognition and since interviews generally focus on authors, I thought it would be fun to change that and get his bookish take on the world. What types of books do you like to read? What book are you currently reading? I typically read non-fiction books, on business, self-improvement, or technology topics. Currently, I am reading The Challenger Customer by Brent Adamson, a fascinating book about positioning a sale within a complex organization. Do you prefer eBooks or physical books and why? I love eBooks!…

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What inspires the story ideas and characters of Alan Bray

ALAN BRAY   I appreciate the chance to write about this. It’s one of the most difficult and important questions I can imagine. I certainly don’t claim to have any original techniques but I can describe how I use some of the time-honored ones. I will wake up in the early morning with a story idea, or more specifically, a character in a situation. It’s coming from dreams, I suppose. There’s that moment when I wake up and become aware of being in the bed and the light, and a strong memory will be there too. Sometimes it’s a development on a story I’m working on, sometimes it’s something entirely new. I don’t usually rush to write the idea down as it will stay with me through morning coffee, getting my daughter to the bus stop, and breakfast. I usually begin a story with one of these images of a person doing something—as opposed to first developing a plot. I know that some experts advise outlining stories before starting to write. If writers can devise a plot first and then develop characters and scenes, I admire them. My God, it would save so much time! I’ve tried to do it,…

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WHAT SPARKS THE SPARK? By Helen Hollick

So where do ideas for a story come from? An event you witness? An overheard conversation? A dream? Or is there, perhaps, a parallel world of Imagination where a characters reside, their exploits and adventures leaking into our Universe via a sort of telepathic mind-link? Far-fetched? Yes maybe, but ask any author where a certain powerful scene originated from and I bet they’ll answer, “I don’t know, it just came.” There are scenes in my books that I have no recollection of writing – and I occasionally find my male protagonists suddenly immersed in dangerous scrapes,  and then relying on me to get them out of it (thanks guys). And what about the stories that, before you know it, have gone off at a completely different tangent to the one you’d planned out? Writing a novel is a bit like going off into uncharted waters. You know your starting point, you know the end point (probably), and have a vague idea of a mid-way encounter. The rest is a bit like they used to put on the old maps to indicate unexplored territory: “Here Be Dragons” (In some cases for fantasy writers – literally! One of my novels, Harold The…

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Welcome to the exciting new world of indieBRAG!

I am very excited to announce the re-launch of our indieBRAG website along with our new proprietary book evaluation process. It has taken us six months to develop the process, which was longer than we expected. However, I am confident that the benefits it offers to self-published authors, both here in the United States and around the English-speaking world, as well as to members of our global reader team, will make the wait well worth it for everyone involved. As I have alluded to in the last several editions of my newsletter, the new book evaluation process will enable our readers to provide a candid assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of each book they read for us, both those they recommend for a B.R.A.G. Medallion®, and those they do not. This will be done via a simple and quick, user-friendly book report that our readers will fill out on-line. Their reports will then be combined with those completed by the other readers who read the same book, and the results will be provided on an anonymous basis to each author who has submitted a book for our consideration. In so doing, indieBRAG will be able to give indie authors…

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Blurb-Craft 101

AMBER FOXX It’s harder than writing the whole book! How many authors have said that about the back cover blurb? I know I have. At some level it can feel more challenging to get those few words right than it did to get the entire novel in satisfactory shape. It’s a different kind of writing. If you’re a plotter, you might write the blurb along with your outline and find it easier than a “pantser” or a hybrid plotter/pantser will. Those of us who work that way don’t know how the story works out until we’re done, so we usually have to create this short, tempting piece of reader bait after we have spent months to years immersed in the depths of the story. That adds to the challenge, because we have to step back from the details of the plot. Some of the least effective blurbs are like synopses. A good blurb A: Makes readers want to know what happens in the story. B: Helps readers decide if it’s the kind of book they like. The instigating incident for your plot belongs in the blurb. What sets the ball rolling? Like much of what goes in this description, it’s…

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