SWITCHING GENRES—AN AUTHOR’S NO-NO . . . SO WHY AM I DOING IT?

The B-24 Sandman over the refineries of Ploesti, Romania, August 1, 1943 (photo: USAAF).

The conventional wisdom in the world of writing is that it may be unwise for an author, once he’s established himself (or herself) as a writer in a particular genre, to switch genres. 

So why, then, am I switching genres?

BLUNT TALK ABOUT SUPERCELL

Tornado that hit Moore OK May 3, 1999, killing 36 people. Photo: Julianna Keeping, newsok.com.

I wasn’t aware of it until my publisher, BelleBooks, pointed it out, but May 4th is National Weather Observers Day.  And maybe BelleBooks wasn’t aware of it until I mentioned it, but the month of May marks the climatological peak of tornado season (see graphic below).  On average, more twisters rip across the U. S. in May than in any other month.

B-24s AND LUFTWAFFE PILOTS

One of two airworthy B-24s remaining in U. S. This one is “Diamond Lil.” The other is named “Witchcraft.”

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog, mainly because I feel the the media universe has become super-saturated with them.  Same thing with author newsletters and books in general.  So I’ll understand if only a few people ever read this.

But I thought I’d blather briefly about what I’ve begun working on while novel #6, aka FIREWIND, searches for an amiable acquisitions editor.

BUZZ BERNARD IS A TERRIBLE WRITER

The first time I received a negative review of one of my novels I felt as if I’d been gut-punched.

I tiny wave of nausea surged through me.  That was over six years and five novels ago.  Since then, I’ve learned to roll with the punches.  Thumbs-down evaluations of my works, I’ve come to understand, are part of the business.  As the cliché goes, they come with the territory.

BIG WORDS VS. LITTLE ONES

One of the beta-readers for my forthcoming novel, FIREWIND, took me to task (which is what I expect beta-readers to do) for using several “big” or “obscure” words when more common words would have sufficed.  He pointed out, correctly, that readers get annoyed if they have to constantly refer to a dictionary.  In truth, novelists are taught from the get-go to avoid complex words when simpler ones work.

HIRING A PUBLICIST–A GOOD OR BAD IDEA?

Here’s a link to a guest blog I wrote for Southern Writers Magazine discussing the pros and cons of hiring a book publicist.

PRESUMPTUOUS?

As I touted the Southeastern Writers Association annual workshop (June 16-20 on St. Simons Island, Georgia) to a fellow writer recently, he interrupted me by saying he thought it “presumptuous” to assume that a professional author could “teach” writing to someone.

That took me aback, but in way, I suppose he was correct.  I’ve listened to enough writers over the years to know that no single author has all the answers.  In the end, each of us who has become professionally published has learned the craft by “putting our butt in a chair and fingers on a keyboard”—to repeat what one of our 2017 workshop instructors, Debra Dixon, has often said.  Writing, for most of us, is a trade learned by doing.  And doing and doing.

I JUST KNEW SOMETHING BAD WAS GOING ON IN THERE

It’s kinda cool when someone remembers specific scenes from the books you’ve written . . . even if that someone is your brother.

My brother Rick and I were chatting a few weeks ago about novels and movies, and he brought up a particular scene he remembered from Plague.

“That building with no windows,” he said.  “I just knew something bad was going on in there, but I didn’t wanna know what.  I was sure it was gonna be something I didn’t wanna hear about.  But I kept reading.” 

COULDA BEEN WORSE

ss-161008-matthew-path-destruction-mbe-1146p_402276f383eddbfd2046e4afe8a2df5a-nbcnews-ux-1024-900As disruptive as Hurricane Matthew was for St. Simons Island, Georgia, my favorite spot on the Atlantic Coast, it was not a worst-case, Eyewall-type scenario.

Matthew, most importantly (and obviously) was not a Category 5 monster.  But there was also a bit of luck that factored into things not being worse: the hurricane jogged slightly to the right, farther away from the coast, as it churned past St. Simons and Brunswick.  It also swirled by the island near low tide, substantially mitigating the effects of storm surge flooding.  Once past the Golden Isles, Matthew jiggyed back toward South Carolina.  So, yes, there was a smidgen of luck that hovered over SSI.

LIVING ON THE FAULT LINE

image.vam.synacor.com.edgesuiteI believe there are two different ways Cascadia, my newest novel, is being read.  It’s dependent, I think, upon where the readers live.

When I do a presentation on Cascadia in the Southeast, where I reside, I’ve discovered I need to do a little extra.  I have to set the stage for the drama, because most people outside the Pacific Northwest don’t understand the existential threat this thing featured in the novel, the Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ), poses.  They aren’t knowledgable about the acute danger that lurks in Washington and Oregon, as well as in southern British Columbia and northern California.