MY OWN LITTLE LITERARY FIEFDOM

An incentive to stick with weather thrillers: Heather Tesch (right), former morning anchor at The Weather Channel, didn’t show up when I launched PLAGUE, but she did when I introduced SUPERCELL!

A good friend of mine who is also an author and publisher recently suggested that traditional thrillers, à la Plague, were my real forte, as opposed to the “tight” sub-genre of weather thrillers in which he viewed me as being “trapped.”

His comments came in the wake of a couple of successes by Plague: being nominated as a finalist in EPIC’s eBook Awards suspense/thriller category, and having a pretty good run up Amazon’s Kindle best-seller list to #37 after a Daily Deal appearance.

How I Almost Blew It With BLIZZARD

images-1You’d think after three novels I’d know the “rules.”  (Actually, as NYT best-selling author Steve Berry likes to say about his ten rules of writing, the number one rule is “There are no rules.”)  So let’s just call them guidelines.

I actually do know the guidelines, but I managed to ignore one of the most important as I pounded out the first draft of Blizzard, my work-in-progress.

Something kept bothering me about my opening chapter.  I just couldn’t pin down what it was.  There were two scenes in the chapter, and I kept switching them back and forth.  Alas, neither one seemed like the kind that would “grab the reader by the throat and drag him or her over the threshold into the drama.”  (Paraphrased from author Elizabeth Sinclair.)

“YOU AREN’T DOING THAT AGAIN”–SOME THOUGHTS ON CHASING TORNADOES

My wife Chris and I are watching coverage of the Moore, Oklahoma, tornado, the devastating EF-5. It’s gripping, gut-wrenching, heart-rending stuff. After while, we can’t watch any more and turn off the TV.

Chris grasps my arm. “You aren’t doing that again,” she says.

“Doing what?” I ask, not making an immediate connection to any recent transgressions . . . which I seem to be able to perform at regular intervals whether I’m aware of them or not.

“Going on a tornado chase.”

Oh, that. Last spring I’d gone on a chase to gather background for the novel I was working on, Supercell.

A SHAMELESS PITCH FOR THE ANNUAL SOUTHEASTERN WRITERS WORKSHOP

It wasn’t an easy decision for me.

I had to burn a week’s vacation and shell out several hundred bucks just to mingle for five days with 75 people I’d never met before. While I’m not shy, I’m not by nature exceptionally outgoing. Thus, having to hang out with a bunch of folks I didn’t know was well outside my comfort zone.

Not only that. This was to be at a writing conference. The people there would be–GULP–real writers. I knew for certain I’d be exposed as the Great Pretender, a shameless charlatan. My work would be sliced and diced. I’d become the laughing stock of St. Simons Island.

DOESN’T WORK FOR ME—-SOME OBSERVATIONS ON THE WRITING PROCESS

The writing process is different for every author. There is no right or wrong way. No, that’s not entirely correct. The right way is whatever works for you.

There’s one school of thought that says the first draft of your book should be pounded out just as fast as you can get the thoughts from your brain onto paper . . . or into your computer. Don’t worry about mistakes, typos and clunky sentences. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to make changes and corrections later—-you know, second draft, third draft, ad infinitum. The key is to capture your ideas before they flee into the ether.

THE NEXT BIG THING

Happy New Year and welcome to the January 2nd NEXT BIG THING Blog Hop. Exciting, huh? But what the heck is it?

Basically, it provides a way for readers to discover authors new to them.  

On this stop of the Blog Hop, you’ll find a bit of information about me and my latest novel, Plague, as well as links to three other authors whose works you can explore.

By the way, although this is the same day my two-month virtual author tour kicks off, the NEXT BIG THING is entirely separate from that.

THE AUTHORING LIFE

For my non-Facebook friends, it’s time to bring you up to date on my authoring life.

First, my upcoming novel is now called Plague. It was born as The Koltsovo Legacy and went through three or four title changes before reaching the “carved in stone” stage. Plague.

Second, the release date for Plague is September 15. There’ll be an Atlanta Writers Club-sponsored launch party (book signing) at Peerless Book Store in Alpharetta, Georgia, that evening.

Third, my Website is currently in the process of being updated/upgraded. You should be able to view the new and improved model here by the middle of August.

WRITERS CONFERENCES … WHY?

Some of my friends, non-writers, knowing I’d just returned from the Southeastern Writers Association Workshop, asked me what goes on at such conferences.

First, I must explain, there are different types of conferences. Some, such as the one sponsored by the Southeastern Writers, focus on teaching the craftsmanship of writing. Many, like those held by the Atlanta Writers Club, are designed to put authors in touch with literary agents and publishers. Still others, usually bigger gatherings—-the Willamette Writers Conference, for instance—-are a combination of both, sometimes with film agents thrown into the mix.

IT’S A WONDER WE GOT ANYTHING DONE

I’ve just returned from the annual Southeastern Writers Workshop on St. Simons Island, Georgia. It—-and this is according to others, not just me—-is one of the greatest bargains in Writerdom.

It’s a four-day affair in a beautiful subtropical setting, a causeway’s drive from the mainland. What makes the conference unique is that its faculty is embedded with the students. To say it another way, the instructors, some with highly recognizable names in the field of literature, are not averse to breaking bread with we lesser lights in the province. We chat like old friends over meals, in hallways, over coffee, during a stroll across the campus.

DEAR JOHN…

To me, it was akin to getting a “Dear John” letter from an old girl friend long after I’d married someone else.

But here it came, a rejection letter (email) from a literary agent for Eyewall over a year after the novel had been published and more than two years since I’d contacted—-and long forgotten about—-the agent.