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Book Reviews – II

br2If you look at my review site, braytonsbookbuzz.wordpress.com, you’ll see a list of requirements for review requests. Not many authors have followed the requirements, which, in one aspect is not showing respect for the person from whom you’re seeking help. Some have and even though I probably wouldn’t have accepted the book because I wasn’t interested, the request letter impressed me because it showed the person took time to include necessary information. So I took that book.

When I accept a review, I ask for a copy of the book (naturally) and because I have a Nook, I’ll ask for an epub file. If not, I can usually convert other files into epub. Not always, and sometimes the conversion messes with the formatting. I’ll also need the author to send me an image of the book’s cover as well as an image of him/herself if the person wants his/her face to be displayed. I’ll also provide a tentative time period for the review. Early July, sometime in April, etc. This allows me freedom to read at my leisure, but with an estimated time the review might be posted. I may have other books ahead of the latest request. I also try to have reviews in the queue scheduled for a couple months in advance.

I urge the prospective reviewee (is that a real word?) to read my requirements and a couple previous blogs in order to understand how I review. When I set out to be a book reviewer, I wanted to go more in depth into the craft of writing and not just praise the story. If something didn’t work, I wanted to let it be known. If there were errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, or continuity, I wanted readers to know. I wasn’t going to hold back. I wasn’t going to outright ‘trash’ the book, but would point out how, for me, the book or parts of it, didn’t work for me. Since I was going to read a lot of crap, I had to be tactful and not say it was crap, but to imply it with the errors I found and let the reader decide.

If you visit the site, you’ll notice I do not do the four or five star type of rating. I’ve also seen a four or five mushroom rating, or a numbered cupcake rating. Since I was in martial arts, I wanted something different. I felt the nine colored belt ranks would be interesting. This allowed me to have a bit more leeway on the level of crappiness (lol) the book was. I won’t repeat the descriptions of each belt rank as it relates to the review ranking, you can look for yourself. I believe I’ve stayed true to the ranking system with each book I review. Yes, there have been a number of White belt rankings which means, basically, the book should never have been published, probably not even have been written. There were so many errors or things wrong or aspects that didn’t work, it was a complete waste of my time, paper and ink. Many have fallen into the higher ranks of crappiness and the mid-rank levels where they books were pretty good, but not the best and I probably wouldn’t read another by that author. Most of the books fall into the Purple or Blue belt rankings which means they were enjoyable and I would read the author again. Those that reach Brown or above are excellent. It’s rare I give a book a Black belt, but look long enough, they’re listed. Bloodman and Pobi’s next book, Mannheim Rex both received the top rank. A few others, too. (I see Pobi has a few others published and I really want those. If I had them, I’d put them ahead of any other books to read. I think he’s that good.)

Next week, let me get into how I review books.

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Book Reviews – I

br1Years ago, I got it in my head to review books. I’d read a lot of books throughout the decades and have read many review sites. I figured I wasn’t busy enough so why not start another blog and start my own review posts. I signed up with an online magazine that sent me books to read. They had a simplified way of reviewing books and I followed their guideline. My reviews were published in about a dozen or so issues. I enjoyed the process and the books. Those they sent me to read were from popular authors or those who were up and coming popular.

bloodmanOne of my favorite stories about these reviews is I received a book written by a guy named Robert Pobi. The book is called Bloodman. I was hooked from the start. I loved the book. It was gritty and raw and intense and the author did a marvelous job of writing characters. I gave it a wonderful review and I tried to hold back from gushing too much. A month or so later I attended the Killer Nashville writers conference. After one of the seminars, I was sitting there and I noticed a guy I thought I recognized. After a moment I realized it was Robert Pobi. I waited for him to finish his conversation then introduced myself, and told him I was the one who reviewed his book for the magazine. He immediately hugged me. I was startled. He then told me the story that he didn’t read reviews but his agent told him he had to read mine because it was so good. He was so happy with it. He sent me a copy of his next book, which was also wonderful. I did have a few questions regarding the story, which he has yet to answer, but I still loved the book. Look him up and read his books.

boxAfter my stint with the magazine reviews, I found a website that accepted reviews. I could choose my books but there was a deadline to reviewing them. I liked this process but the deadline was a stickler. I didn’t want to be pressured. I did a number of reviews but soon dropped off. Then I signed onto a couple of blog sites where they, like the magazine, would send me boxes of books. I would read, review, and post. For a bit I thought it was great. I loved to read and I was having fun reviewing, and these blogs didn’t have deadlines. So, what could go wrong? Well, here’s the thing. If they send you a box of books, you’re obligated to read them. And that takes time. Plus, reading those books took me away from reading and enjoying my own books I had bought and they were starting to make quite a collection. Anyway, I kept at it. I did have the option of not reviewing if I didn’t like it or couldn’t get through a particular book.

After I made a temporary move to extreme southeast Iowa, I kept up with the reviews, but once I accepted a job in the Des Moines area, I ceased with both sites. However, by 2012 I was putting out my own blog of book reviews. Having my own site allowed me the freedom to expand on those positive reviews I’d given the books on other sites and be…not so positive. I could mention some things I thought didn’t work with the books I was reading. After I ceased reviewing for the sites, and after I was settled in, I signed up on a site where authors could request reviews. This allowed me the choice of accepting or rejecting a review. Since my name was at the top of the list, I was inundated with requests. After a time, the requests dropped off and today while I still receive requests, they’re not as numerous. Which is fine by me.

The problem I had was that since this site was a venue for authors to request reviews, I received most of the requests from self-published authors. I am not dissing all self-published books, but a LOT of them are pure crap. And I read a LOT of crap. These days, I’m a bit more discerning on what I accept and I don’t get as much crap. Which is fine by me.

Since I’m not reviewing a lot of books from authors who request one from me, I am reviewing a lot of books I own.

So, what is my process for reviewing books? I have a couple types of reviews. One I will always do for those books I accept for a requested review and I will use that and a shorter version for my own books, depending on how lazy I am. Lol.

Next week, I’ll continue on my review site.

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Interview Questions??? – IX

Inteview 5bOther marketing ploys I’ve utilized:

Library events: Several around the area. Oskaloosa, Pella, Knoxville, Keosauqua, Centerville, Grinnell, Winterset. Many didn’t respond and most didn’t garner any sales or much attendance. After I moved to Carlisle, I approached the small library in town, but they were looking more for authors who had material geared for children. I walked out not understanding how an author who lived in town was rejected by the town library. I have done the Ankeny library but for a writers group and that was a good one. Not in the sales, but in attendance and discussion.

Book and other craft fairs: Countless. Ankeny, Des Moines, Boone, Carlisle, Cedar Rapids, Burlington. It’s a hit or miss on those with mostly misses. There are good and bad things about each of them, but I think the major issue is the event promotion. If nobody knows about it, nobody is going to show.

Bookstores: Been to a few. Burlington By The Book was a nice store because the owner is a cool guy. Not sure how many sales I had, but I enjoyed being there. The Oskaloosa bookstore was a bust the two times I was there. Nobody showed up for the book discussion (the reasoning was that many came to the one held at the library) and the second time I was shoved at the head of an aisle with a display table a foot high. No sign, no promotion. I’ll add the coffee shop next door who scheduled me for a discussion but didn’t promote it and on the date scheduled, somebody forgot that Iowa Public Television was there filming a show and I was going to be an interruption. The next week, again, wasn’t promoted and I sat there for a while feeling crappy that I had patrons move off the stage and ended up going home without saying a word.

Asking for Reviews: Not too successful. I mentioned in the last blog that someone suggested asking friends for reviews from friends. So, I asked him and he refused. I asked other friends who also refused. When Alpha was republished, I asked other authors and they turned me down. Really? I reviewed some of their books and talk with them during events, and buy their books, but they can’t help me? What’s the deal? That disappointed me a lot. In the same vein, when Alpha was published with Oak Tree, I had a list of book reviewers. I’m not sure of the actual number, but there were only a couple acceptances but no follow up or else if they did review it I don’t know where the review was posted. Waste of time.

I want to help authors as much as I can. I conduct interviews and promote them. I accept books for review. I’ll support other authors by attending their events when I can, buying their books when I find one I think I might enjoy. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a reciprocal action.

Anyway, those are some of the marketing things I’ve tried. I know it’s a bit disheartening to see that most of them weren’t very successful, but I keep trying.

Maybe someday…

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Interview Questions??? – VIII

Interview 5aHow do you market your books?

When I was accepted by Echelon Press for publication of Beta and Night Shadows, I was required to have at least two things: a blog and a marketing plan where I would be promoting my books before and after publication. The blog was relatively easy. I used to be on Blogger.com but switched to WordPress when Blogger changed its appearance and I didn’t want to deal with the new look.

At the time I listed some ideas for promotion: inquiring for radio and television interviews; newspaper press releases; talks at libraries and college writing courses. I don’t know if I included author events and book signings, but after a time I became involved in those, too. I also asked a publicists type person his advice. He suggested one way to get reviews was to ask friends to give a review. Offer a free book if they would read and review.

I’ve done all of the above and more. Except for some minimal success, all have failed. I’m serious. Hardly any impact and few book sales.

Let me count the ways.

Blogs: I don’t know if blog posts equal sales. I have been faithful for ten years of putting something up on a weekly basis. I think one of the main problems was I didn’t have a branding idea. That’s why last December, I decided to tailor the posts or to focus the topics to my writing and my fitness. Will it change anything? I don’t know.

Radio interviews: I’ve had a few. Grinnell, Albia, Des Moines. I enjoy them but I don’t know if they garnered any sales or even interest. I’ll still do them because I enjoy them, but I wonder how much of an audience they have.

Television interviews: None

Newspaper press releases: None. I blanketed area papers with the release of my books with no response. In fact, the cool paper in Iowa city wouldn’t touch me unless I’d had some cred already established.

Discussions at colleges: William Penn in Oskaloosa. That’s it. I tried Central and was snubbed. I tried Grinnell College and was given a major snub. At the time eBooks were just coming into fashion but unless I was already established, with a few awards to present, Grinnell wasn’t going to consider me. Their quote was, “Ebooks don’t count.”

With that non-inspiring note, I’ll continue next week.

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Interview Questions??? – VII

Interview 4bThere are other challenges and obstacles and at the time I’m writing this blog-several weeks before posting-I’m dealing with some of these.

Writing: Yes, the simple act of writing the story. I’m struggling with what others might call writer’s block. I have about four projects I’d like to tackle and when I pick up one to think about, maybe scribble a few lines (and when I say scribble, I mean that literally), it doesn’t seem to go anywhere. My mindset isn’t tuned to the story. I’m not coming up with ideas. My mood isn’t set to writing. I’ve learned not to force things because I’ll just end up either nowhere or major rewrites later. My solution is to wait. In time, something will click, the problem will resolve itself. I’ll think of something just before going to sleep or I’ll hear or see something that sparks the fire.

Editing: This is not as bad as I originally thought. No, I don’t like editing, but not because of the work. It’s the time involved. A couple years ago, I spent two days going through one story, Delta, but it was constant work. Hours upon hours of nothing but looking at the computer screen. Last year, I did the same thing to Gamma, and I didn’t get everything accomplished. I spent many weekends, a few hours at a time, getting through the notes taken and smoothing out the story. And yet, I’m still writing extra scenes. I am not a professional editor, but I can catch a lot of things. Most of the time the critique groups catch the bumps and the awkward sentence structure or a concept not understood. So, while editing is an obstacle, time to complete the editing process is the real concern.

Marketing: I’d like to deal with specific plans in a future blog because it’s another question I receive. However, I can touch upon it here. Marketing, finding venues and outlets and events to promote the books is something that is very challenging. I’ve tried a lot of things and most things have failed or else I had minimal success. Again, I’ll get into details in another post, but I would like to emphasize that at least one idea offered-by a publicist type person-didn’t work because when I turned around and made the offer, he turned it down. As did other people and other authors. So, marketing is tough. I have lost money on driving to events, registration costs, and time spent that could be better utilized.

The Next Story: I suppose this could be related to the Writing aspect or else it circles back to it. What’s next? The challenge is to not have nothing in progress, or to not have an idea percolating or being developed.

So, those are the answers to the question of writing challenges. Again, I’m not sure how much readers/fans care about those challenges, or if they do, I’m not aware of the amount of care expressed. Also, again, not criticizing, just offering a speculation.

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Interview Questions??? – VI

Interview 4aWhat is your biggest challenge or obstacle to overcome in your writing?

This is a common question and a tricky one because there are multiple answers. I don’t think there is one major, looming obstacle that overshadows everything and weighs down on me to the point where I want to give up, or scream, “Enough!!!” (Which I would never scream, because that’s an action, not a tag line and I would never use that many exclamation points)

Okay, there is one obstacle slightly bigger than the other. Well, a bit larger. The question could be reworded to ask: What is your biggest obstacle to getting published? Writing? Editing? Yes, to both questions, but the biggest obstacle to getting published is finding a publisher. The publishers are the problem. Queries, synopses, bios, and the dreaded rejection letter or the more often no-response. And there are the two instances when the responses came a year after I’m published and it’s still a no-thank-you.

I recently read an article about rejection letters and though interesting, it didn’t tell me much more than I already knew and didn’t provide much of a solution to them. They are what they are. I’ve complained about them; how unfair I think they are. The agent/publisher wants X and my story fits their requirements. They’re looking for my type of story. Days/weeks/months later, I receive the “This isn’t the story for me.” letter and I cannot believe it. “This is what you said you wanted! What’s the deal?” I don’t understand it, but can’t change it.

I may be spitting in the wind, but there is a point where I think I’m right about the unfairness. The prime example is the publisher who claimed to read through the material with thoroughness and give it considerable thought. I sent a query letter to that person at 9:45 one evening. At 10:15 I opened my email software and there was a rejection letter from that publisher. Really? Less than 30 minutes and you’re telling me no? How much ‘consideration’ did you really give my story? I think we all know the answer.

So, I’m throwing out queries to publishers and agents who may answer too quickly, or may not answer at all. I understand the slush pile. I understand how many submissions these people receive. I wish there was a more efficient way of dealing with them.

Next week, I’ll dive into some other challenges.

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Interview Questions??? – V

Interview 3bOnce I have the outline, I start with chapter one and move along. I have found that I enjoy writing longhand then typing what I’ve written. It acts as my first edit. I can think faster than I write and will think of phrases and words and upcoming scenes to write while I’m making progress through a chapter. Otherwise, I can type faster than I think, so I’m stopping to think of the next sentence. Sometimes, I will skip scenes or write a summary on what I want in the scene because I need more research or need to visit a location to get a feel for the place as well as descriptions. Or I need to talk with people to obtain more information.

Many times, I will discover some problem with the outline or the story needs an extra scene or two or a character shows up or I want to add a certain anecdote I’ve heard. The main thrust of the story hasn’t changed, but certain parts can be tinkered with. A good example of this is Zeta, which I’m reading to critique groups. I had finished the main story but discovered that it encompassed only around 50,000 words. Way too short. So, I added a second story. While Mallory deals with the events in Burlington, her office manager and friend, Darren, has his own adventures in Des Moines. I think it will work because it gives a background to Darren and tells his story a bit more. The two stories merge near the end when Mallory returns to Des Moines and there are pieces of each that continue to the end.

I try to have a flexible outline, one that can bend and twist as necessary. If I am locked into something rigid, then I have no place to move if a certain scene or the entire story doesn’t work. As I’m writing I’ll read chapters to the writers’ groups and receive feedback. Once that is done, I will go back and make the simple grammar/spelling/punctuation corrections. Then I’ll start on the bigger issues that usually deal with the flow of the story, continuity, questions raised by listeners. Once those matters are dealt with, I will read it through again to check things, then usually it sits for a while before it gets another read through. Meanwhile, by this time, I’m looking for publishers, putting out queries.

That’s how I write. So far, it works for me. I’d like the process to move faster, but I’m not a full-time writer able to spend hours every day locked in my room with a computer.

Maybe one day…

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Around The Globe with Cameron K. Moore

IMG_7870Yep, that’s right folks, another double posting day. And it’s fitting that i’m working my way through a series of blogs on interview questions…and I have an interview. I hop in the transporter and pick up this week’s featured author in Australia to discover he wants to go just down the coastline to Noosa Beach. He says it’s the best beach in the world and I have to give it a high mark. Sun, trees and people talking in a cool accent. lol.

Anyway, on with the interview. I have a feeling this make take a while.

______________________________________

1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

I am a husband, a father to two young sons, and an avid book reader. I love browsing for books in old-fashioned bookstores and more recently online where I find it easier to track down early novels from authors I love. I live in Highett, which is a small suburb near the bay in Melbourne, Australia where I can indulge my passion for the ocean.

If I am not buried in a book I want to be body-surfing. Being Australian, I have grown up in the surf. Main beach Noosa which I mentioned above, is my favourite. My wife is American which also means frequent trips to Hawaii where our extended family can meet halfway and I can explore more beaches.

I also have a strong interest in science and emerging technologies. I have a science degree and worked for nearly a decade with Australia’s largest scientific research organisation where I was involved in a variety of fascinating projects and was fortunate enough to meet some brilliant individuals.

Melbourne is an eclectic, vibrant city and I am certainly not the most fascinating person in it. However I do have an interesting background in science which I try to bring to my stories. I am also a keen traveler and have explored some fascinating, extremely remote parts of the world. I have explored Australia and backpacked through Europe, South America and Alaska. I kept journals during those trips which were actually the first things I had ever written. I still have them, hidden away in the bottom of a bookshelf.

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

People would be surprised not that I am an author, but for how long I have wanted to be an author. It is a secret I have kept for a long time. Even close friends only found out about my passion for writing when my book Dark Cure was published. I kept quiet about it initially because it seemed an unrealistic dream. I was also busy building a professional career where my focus was expected to be on achieving corporate goals, not on writing.

Keeping quiet about my writing was something I grew accustomed to and it has been a big adjustment in mindset for me to be as open about it as I am now. But it has certainly been a positive one and now I love talking about it to anyone who will listen.

3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as a rock star?

I have never been able to sing which killed any dreams of being a rock star. But my urge to write was a natural transition from my passion for reading. For as long as I can remember I have loved reading a wide variety of books. As a child I read anything I could get my hands on such as the Willard Price adventure series, every Enid Blyton story, the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Doctor Whobasically anything that fired my imagination.

I grew up in Australia, where a family vacation usually meant a long car ride. Sometimes we would spend days in the car before we arrived at our destination. I usually passed that time glued to a book, when not arguing with my two sisters! When I ran out of my own books to read, my dad would lend me one of his Wilbur Smith, Robert Ludlum or Jeffrey Archer novels. When I finished those, I would stare out the window daydreaming, making up my own stories.

Those long car rides, nose buried in a book, were what I believe inspired me to one day want to write my own.

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

Tough question! There are so many with whom I would love to share dinner and pick their brains on their writing process and how they launched their writing careers. First seated at the table would be Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, co-authors of the Agent Pendergast series and one of my all-time favourite books, Relic. These guys are ingenious and daring in how they throw themselves into their research for their books. I saw on their very entertaining website that they were once escorted by police from Hart Island in New York, a restricted location used as the city’s potter’s field. They used a boat to sneak in under cover of darkness to explore. They seem interesting characters whose wit comes through in their books and I’m sure they would have some great stories to tell.

Next would be James Rollins. I have a passion for books that weave science with gripping action and adventure of the style he writes. He also managed to juggle being a vet while an aspiring author, a journey I would enjoy talking to him about.

Obviously with my style of writing I would have the late great Michael Crichton seated at the head of the table. All of his books are on my all-time favourite list and he is one of the inspirations behind my own writing.

Gillian Flynn, Lisa See, Nelson DeMille and Frederick Forsyth are must-have additions to the table simply because I love their books.

Finally I would invite Adrian McKinty. When I am not writing thrillers I like to read mysteries and he is the author of some terrific locked-room mysteries. He is another whose cleverness and wit comes through in his books and would bring some fascinating stories about growing up in Northern Ireland, a background reflected in his Sean Duffy novels.

dark cure5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a four hour layover at the airport, why would your book(s) be great company?

I think my book, Dark Cure, is a great beach or airport read with its fast-paced action and fascinating setting. Immediate feedback from readers was that they couldn’t put my book down. The most humbling review I have received describes it as ‘First Bloodmeets Michael Crichton.

Dark Cure is an action thriller about Karl Shepherd, an ageing former U.S. Ranger and his search for a cure for his daughter’s rare medical condition. This has led him to a remote biomedical research facility in the Amazon rainforest where a team of scientists has discovered a drug that might save her. But before he can celebrate they discover a rival drug company wants their miracle cure. Their intent: to use the cure to create an army of cognitively enhanced super-soldiers, launching a new age of genetic warfaresoldiers now closing in fast with orders to steal the cure and kill everyone at the research facility. The scientistssurvival depends entirely on Shepherd’s military training. But confronting him is the most technologically advanced military force ever assembled, led by a ruthlessly efficient mercenary.

I loved writing this book. The idea for it came to me while I was in the Amazon rainforest indulging my passion for travel. The sheer remoteness and claustrophobic nature of the rainforest really struck me while living there and I hope come through in the story. It subsequently involved extensive research which is something else I enjoy as it builds on my background and career in science.

6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.

I developed the plot for Dark Cure while living in the Amazon rainforest with a team of naturalists. It was one of those ‘what if’ moments which form the basis of my stories. In this case, we were so far from any help that I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if something went wrong. We were too isolated to get help from the outside world. We were on our own and would have to solve any problem ourselves. But how would such a group cooperate? Would it be a ‘The Coral Island’ scenario, or more ‘Lord of the Flies’? Personally I find Lord of the Flies more interesting so that was the path my story took.

Once I have the essence of what the story will be about, I spend a lot of time profiling my characters. What are their motivations, what goals are they striving to achieve, what are their mannerisms, strengths and flaws. How will they react in certain circumstances? I want to get to know them so well that they take on a life of their own during writing. I then adopt the ‘ROW’ process―Research, Outline, Write.

I like to visit a place before I include it as a location in my story. I find the feelings I experience in a particular location help get me into the mindset of my characters and what they are feeling. The Amazon rainforest for example has its own powerful presence and was virtually a character in its own right in Dark Cure.

I speak to experts as much as possible when researching the science I bring to my stories. As I mentioned, I worked for a large scientific research organisation. I wrote Dark Cure while working there and was able to speak to many brilliant scientists to further my own research. This helped inform the science and technology contained within Dark Cure.

When I have finished with my research, I try to make my outline as extensive and detailed as possible. This is where I identify and eliminate weaknesses in plot and character. This is a crucial, time consuming part of writing for me. I continually do a lot of research into how successful authors outline. I found a great website that contains the outlines for books such as Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Dan Brown and James Patterson have also given great interviews on this part of their writing process which have helped inform how I do mine.

When my outline is finished and it is time to write, my schedule is simple―do it whenever I have the chance. If I am on a roll and the words are flowing, then I keep going for as long as I can for you never know when a drought may set in bringing with it the dreaded writer’s block.

Each day, when I sit down to write, the first thing I do is re-read what I wrote the previous day. This forms part of my editing process and gets me back into the tone of the story and mood of my characters. I edit my own work after completing the first draft of a manuscript. I then put the manuscript away for about six weeks and try not to think of it. When I pick it up after that extended break, I read it in as few sittings as I can. This is when I identify areas that need more work, including any potential plot or character weaknesses. I also do a more extensive edit.

After this reread and edit, it is time to pass it on to beta readers. In my case that is a circle of people I trust to provide honest, objective feedback and aren’t afraid to provide constructive criticism.

Then it is back to more rewriting and editing. Dark Cure involved several rewrites before the plot was focused enough. Finally, after this point, I will send it out for professional editing. After which I will polish the story until finally I am satisfied it is ready.

7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

Go for a walk! That has always been my go to method for teasing out a story. Let your mind wander and sift through all the possibilities of where the story might head. And keep a note pad and pen by your bed because you never know when a great idea will strike.

But that is my method and doesn’t work for everyone. We all have different creative ‘spaces’ that help the creative juices flow. I suggest visiting the websites and reading some of the many excellent books on writing by established authors that are out there, where they talk about their own process and inspirations. On Writing by Stephen King is one of the best.

8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

My philosophy of life is simple: get out and experience it. Put the phone down. Take a break from social media. Explore real places, near and far, speak to real people and make your own mind up on things that matter. And most of all―enjoy it. It’s short.

9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

I am currently writing my second novel, also an action thriller, this time set in a secret underground biomedical research facility. This book has been more research intensive than Dark Cure but I am about halfway through it now and loving every word.

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

cameron k mooreI can be found on Facebook and Instagram. My website cameronkmooreauthor.com will be up and running shortly. Thank you very much Stephen. It has been a pleasure participating in your Around the Globe With series!

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Interview Questions??? – IV

Interview 3aWhat is your method of writing a story?

I don’t know how much interest fans have about how I write or if they do it’s surface interest only. Most interested are other writers because they’re trying to find their way around. This is where we get into the plotter/pantser discussion. Does one outline or just sit down with a few opening sentences and start writing and let the story take the author where it goes?

I read an article concerning Rex Stout and his method. Family would see him walking outside, around the house or the yard, plotting out his next Nero Wolfe story. Then he would come in write one draft and except for minor changes, that would be it. I mentioned Jeffrey Deaver in a previous blog and he told of how he spends a couple months outlining his books. Maybe 160 pages worth. When it comes to the actual writing, most of it is done. All he’s doing is filling in the spaces.

I have heard writers who sit down and write with no apparent plan, but I believe one of two things happen. Either the story falls apart and goes nowhere because there isn’t a plan or an outline develops along the way. At some point, a direction, an outline, a timeline of events should come into play.

I’m not criticizing either method. If it works for you, go for it. I just have the mindset that pantsers don’t seem to get far without a plan. I have mentioned in previous interviews that it is like walking through a cave without a flashlight. You may have matches but striking one every so often doesn’t show you much and soon you’re wandering in the darkness again. However, if you find the light in the end and come out with a cool story, that’s alright.

I don’t work that way. Before I knew what character profiles were, I wrote one for Mallory Petersen. It seemed logical to me to put down some information I could use to develop her personality. When I set out to create a story I will spend a few days jotting down a timeline of events and scenes, figuring out the story, thinking of locales and characters, forming the story into something believable and entertaining.

I have found the biggest challenge is time. How to fill up the hours in the story. I once started reading a book for review about a murder mystery. Two cops go to the scene of the murder and do some usual things then leave. The next chapter is the next day. What? At that point I stopped reading because that didn’t make sense. It wasn’t believable that nothing else happened in the investigation the rest of the day.

So, I struggle with filling up the hours. For all of the Mallory Petersen books I’ve written both published and yet to be, I have found a pattern and it’s one I’m don’t mind, but not sure how to break, if I even wanted to. Most of the main story takes place within two or three days or even one day. For Gamma, which is in the rewrite phase and where I’m adding in extra scenes to fill out the time-and the word count, ahem!-the main story takes place in one day. With this and the others, we reach the climactic part of the story and the aftermath takes place days or weeks later. For Delta, I eat up two weeks in a few chapters, but it works.

Next week, I’ll continue with this train of thought on this method of writing interview question.

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Interview Questions??? – III

interview 2Where do you get your ideas from?

Let’s be serious here, eventually, doesn’t EVERY author get that question from someone at some time in his/her life? Of course, he does. The majority of the answers will be the same: from real life.

Where else are we going to get ideas? Sure, writers create a fictional story, put characters in larger than life situations, but doesn’t the seed or the spark usually come from real life experiences?

I remember attending the Killer Nashville conference when the featured guest was Jeffrey Deaver. He was telling how The Burning Wire came to be. He was having his place rewired and became involved in a discussion with the electrician. The guy was explaining some of his work and how dangerous certain parts of the job could be. Deaver then dived right in, fascinated, and started asking more question. Thus, the discussion sparked one of his novels.

I can’t think of any other answer to that question. I can think of an entire plot, but many of the scenes come from real places I’ve visited or anecdotes I’ve heard. I’ve mentioned how when doing research for Beta I met several people who, because of their personality, made it into the book. Ditto with other novels I’ve written. The irritating Coke machine I mentioned in the Origin blog series became Senior Year Soda which was the longest short story in the Death of the Demon Machine anthology. That story was written, edited, and polished up in less than a month, and I think it’s one of my better shorts. Bits and pieces of the story-not all of them-were taken from real life and from stories I’d heard people tell.

I have visited the area where Mallory and Lawrence are held captive in Delta (coming soon to a bookstore near you, I hope). I found it by accident while exploring the outskirts of Des Moines. There is a scene in that same novel where Mallory is tailing a cheater and encounters an elderly woman who has no compunction about commenting on Mallory’s, uh, physical characteristics. This was based on a real person, a relative of a writer friend.

Years ago, I wrote a short story set in a bar where a mysterious individual enters and soon havoc ensues. I started that story while waiting for my parents’ flight to come in. There used to be a bar just north of the airport and I went in there to sit and write and this story took shape. Sometime later, after joining the Barnes & Noble critique group, I met a romance writer and she and I collaborated on the short story. At the time, she wanted a change made to the fate of one of the characters and I agreed. To this day, I can go back and read that story and I cannot tell which of us wrote what part. I thought the story really well written and I may have to dig it out and submit it somewhere. The bar is no longer on McKinley, but it is in the Petersen stories. It became The Red Tomatoe, owned by Edward Brougham III.

Real life experiences, real places I have visited, funny stories told to me by others. They are all fodder for scenes or plots or a cool character in a book.

So, before you ask an author, “Where do you get your ideas?” be aware that YOU may end up in a future story just for asking that question.

Just saying…

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