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,…

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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…

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It occurs every time I complete a manuscript and send it out for comment.  I can’t explain it.  It just happens.  I tumble into something I call The Author’s Abyss, a sinkhole of self-doubt.  It’s recurring epiphany I have that, in plain language, reminds me I can’t write worth a shit. I realize the beloved…

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It wasn’t that I didn’t like GONE GIRL.  It was that GONE GIRL just never got going for me.  I plowed through about 40 or 50 pages of the novel and raised the white flag.  Not because the writing wasn’t good, quite the opposite.  It was exquisite.  Gillian Flynn can write circles around me and…

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There are no wolves in the southern Appalachians.  There probably haven’t been in over a century. They do, however, make a guest appearance in my most recent novel, Blizzard.  In the book, I think I adequately explain their presence.  What’s more interesting, perhaps, is how the animals made their way into the story in the…

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I got an email recently from the VP of my publishing company, Belle Bridge Books, detailing the marketing challenges faced by smaller presses, like Belle Bridge, and relatively unknown authors, like myself. The VP, Deborah  Smith (a New York Times best-selling author, BTW), harbors a great deal of wisdom and a laugh-out-loud sense of humor.  Her comments…

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Steve Berry is an international, mega-best selling thriller novelist.  According to his website, he’s sold 19 million books in 51 countries. Me? Another 18.9 million copies and I’ll be right there with him. I’ve met Steve several times, but let me make it clear, we aren’t necessarily BFF.  If we were to meet again, he…

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I preach it all the time in my critique group, so I don’t know why I have such a struggle doing it myself: grabbing the reader in the opening few paragraphs of my book; embedding him or her immediately in the drama. Eventually, I always get things sorted out, but I usually have to get “slapped…

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In a recent blog, I discussed the importance to a novice writer, one with aspirations of becoming professionally published, of not trying to learn the craft in isolation.  I strongly recommended interacting with other writers.  One of the most common ways of doing this is to become part of a critique group. There are some…

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There is an abundance of guidance available–books, blogs, hand-outs–that illuminate the steps or “rules” to becoming a successful writer.  Be warned, however, as NYT Best-Selling Author Steve Berry says, “The first rule is, there are no rules.” Similarly, there’s a plethora of material out there for novice writers, whether wannabe novelists or nonfiction authors, that…

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