GUEST POST: Reflections in a whisky sour

Written By Matt Kruze

Hello everyone.  Today I’m delighted to introduce all of you to the talented and humorous mystery/crime thriller author…my friend, Mr. Matt Kruze.  Take it away, Matt…

Anybody who follows my blog will know that I’m into two things:

The pursuit of a decent cocktail, and the art of show-not-tell in writing.

Come to think of it…there are a few other contributions on there not related to the above. Take two: anybody who follows my blog will probably draw the conclusion that I a) have not yet tamed it and b) do not feed it enough.

But, the fact remains: I do like simple, spirit-driven cocktails and I am bent on getting more ‘show’ into my writing. The seed for the latter was sown some time ago by an agent whom I’d approached for representation under my other writing persona; yes, alongside my efforts as an independent writer, I am also treading the boards of traditional publishing.

You know the story: send off a few pages/chapters of your manuscript, add an author bio and a hopefully-enticing query, then await the responses. Sometimes it’s nothing, others it’s thanks but no thanks, and then just occasionally you hear the equivalent of an agent’s ‘hmmm.’ In other words, they want to see more.

This happened to me a couple of months ago, so I got all excited and fired across the whole novel, as requested. Great, I thought: the book only gets better as it goes on, the story more compelling. If she liked the first fifty pages, she’s going to love the other couple of hundred.

Well, she did. But not enough. It’s too expositional, she said. The story was good, it just wasn’t conveyed in the way she would have liked. She told me to show it, not tell it.

This of course is old news to writers. We all get that, right? You don’t say, ‘It was hot.’ You say, ‘He blinked sweat from his eyes, pushed his damp hair back from his forehead.’ Or something like that. But as much as we understand the need to paint a picture, it can sometimes prove tricky to put brush to canvass. At least I think so.

What I found though was the need to question yourself – or those around you. In fact you have to interrogate everyone and everything with a vehemence that would make the Gestapo blush. Let me explain…

When my children come home from school, among their priorities is food. ‘Is there anything for a snack?’ If you have kids, you’ll be familiar with this one. And right there you have a golden opportunity to develop your show-not-tell skills. Because children give it to you like it is, without dressing it up at all. They convey feelings we’re all familiar with. So use that to your advantage and once you’ve issued your usual, somewhat acerbic, response of, ‘Oh yes I’m fine thank you, how are you?’ ask them why they want sustenance. They’ll say because they’re hungry. (Actually they’ll probably tell you they’re dying). Then ask them how they know they’re hungry. Once they’ve got through telling you they just are, eventually you’ll get to the root of the matter. And if they exaggerate, so much the better. Suddenly they’re not telling you they’re hungry any more; they’re conveying a vacuous feeling in their stomach, or the growling of digestive juices, or dizziness. Keep interrogating them and they’ll come out with far better ways of showing the sensation of hunger than you could have conceived in hours of staring at your keyboard. Suddenly your protagonist, staggering through the desert, isn’t hungry; he is faint, nauseous from the burbling in the hollow bowl of his stomach. And it doesn’t stop there: you can do the same for all the emotions and human sensations that are a part of our everyday life: How do you know you’re scared? How do you know you’re tired? Keep interrogating, and when there’s no one around you to interrogate, turn your attention inwards. Introspection works too.

Next year, I’m off to the States with my wife and children. We’re doing a tour of the west coast, and then finishing up in Canada. I’m excited about this almost to the point of fever pitch. But…how do I know I’m excited? I asked myself several times over, in the hope that I would come up with something that really painted a picture, but my conscious kept returning the same results: I’m excited because I think about the trip all the time. Or because I keep talking about it to anyone who’ll listen. These were okay, and in a story they would have read better than, ‘He was excited,’ but they weren’t inspirational in the realm of show-not-tell. So I took a step back, cerebrally speaking, and paused to draw breath. Think, man. How do you know you’re excited. How does your family know? And then it came to me. My desktop wallpaper is an image of the Vdara hotel, our destination for three nights in Las Vegas. Now that, literally as well as figuratively, is a picture! How much more potent is that? Instead of, ‘He was excited about next year’s holiday,’ we have something like: ‘He smiled at his desktop background – the glistening, towering façade of the Vdara hotel, Las Vegas. 212 days to go…’

Show-not-tell is everywhere, and it’s an easy concept. The difficulty lies in seeing the wood for the trees; you are surrounded by life, and all the sights and sounds that create empathy in your readers. You just have to keep interrogating yourself and the world you live in to stand any chance of spotting the signs.

Oh and if any of you have lost interest in my show-not-tell mission, I’m also keen to explore the virtues of adding egg-white to a whisky sour. Better with, or without…now that is a matter to ponder.

Matt Kruze is the author of mystery/crime thriller ‘Pursuit’ and short story conspiracy thriller ‘The Villager’, both of which are currently available on Smashwords:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/347946

How One Writer Hopes to Shape a Better World for All of Us…One Word at a Time

Author Danica Cornell Discusses the Layers of Social Responsibility Inherent Within the Science Fiction Genre and Why She Believes Her DARK STAR Series is an Idea Whose Time Has Come

Guest post by Danica Cornell at romance author Jan Romes’ blog:

http://jantheromancewriter.blogspot.com/2013/12/shaping-better-world-by-danica-cornell_9.html

Before we embark on what I hope will be a fruitful and spirited discussion, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Danica Cornell, and for those of you who don’t know me, I’m the author of the forthcoming DARK STAR Science Fiction/Fantasy Series soon to be published by Cool Geek Books.

 

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Coming soon…DARK STAR I: The Assassins

But the reason I’m here today isn’t only to talk about my novels.  I’m also going to discuss some topics with all of you that are near and dear to my heart:  The social responsibility inherent within the sci-fi genre, as well as my support of charitable organizations through the sales of my books.

Let’s begin by taking a closer look at how science fiction contributes to the greater good by acting as a moral compass for us all…

Science Fiction and Social Responsibility

I’d like to start off this section by clarifying that the series I’m creating has elements of fantasy interwoven throughout each of its science fiction story lines.  But here’s the thing.   It’s because of DARK STAR’s overarching science fiction themes that I feel a certain level of responsibility when it comes to the messages each of my books will convey.  To be clear, as an author I understand the cautionary tales I’m penning are first and foremost meant to entertain my readers.   But I would be remiss in overlooking their added value when it comes to opening a dialogue about the directions technology and society are taking—and whether or not humanity’s heading down the right path.

 

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Tapping into Sci-fi Themes to Create Messages

When I lasered in on DARK STAR’s science fiction themes and messages, I did so with the intention of using these constructs as a scaffold for the series, as well as for the development of its characters. The themes I’m incorporating are what most people would probably consider to be The Really Big Questions, and include:

  • What is reality?
  • What does it mean to be human?
  • Are we becoming more or less integrated?
  • Can humans be trusted with new technologies?
  • What does the future hold for us?
  • Are we alone?
  • Will technology save us or annihilate us?
  • Is it possible to travel in time?
  • Why are we here?
  • How did we get here?
  • How do we fit into the great beyond?
  • Can we live forever and if so, should we?

Timing is Everything

While I’m the first to acknowledge these themes are not new to the genre of science fiction, my sense is that the time is ripe for the creation of the DARK STAR Series. Why? Because of three specific factors that are coming together as we speak: the technological renaissance; globalization; and the mainstreaming of science fiction itself. In other words, from my vantage point, DARK STAR is a series whose time has come! Additionally, it’s my intention to utilize this unique opportunity for the greater good of humanity by serving as a messenger in my writings as well as by financially supporting charitable organizations.

 

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Writing For the Greater Good of Humanity…For Both Today and Tomorrow

Perhaps the most obvious (and immediate) way I’m using my writing for the greater good of humanity is by donating a portion of the proceeds from my ground-breaking novel to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). My hope is that through these contributions, some of the children who benefit from UNICEF’s work may go on to help others in the future.

To be sure, this philanthropic gesture brings added meaning to my writing, but I recognize it’s only the beginning of my social responsibility as an author. I suspect many may be surprised to learn that my long-term plan is to use my books as a stepping stone for even more ambitious philanthropic projects later on—indeed this has been the driving force behind my creation of the DARK STAR Series all along! From its inception, I’ve been combining my passions for the written word with my desire to help others as a way to open the door to achieving this—my ultimate goal in life.

 

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Exit Stage Left

So, in case you’re wondering if I’m entering the literary field with the intention of eventually leaving it, my answer is an unequivocal yes. Strange as it may sound, with any luck one day I’ll be financially able to extricate myself from the work I love so I can devote the remainder of my life to helping others. Having said this, DARK STAR is an ambitious series—one that will likely keep me firmly planted within the scifi-fantasy community for at least another decade. So for now, I’m hoping people will begin to recognize me as an author who’s dedicated to creating a quality book series while simultaneously making the world a better place for all of us…one word at a time.

Until we meet again…

Happy reading,

Danica

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Danica Cornell holds a B.A. in Psychology from Argosy University. She is also a visionary entrepreneur, Fantasy/Science Fiction Network contributing author, and UNICEF-supporter. To learn more about this emerging author please visit Danica’s:

Website

Twitter Account

HEADLINE NEWS: Sci-fi/Fantasy Author Danica Cornell is a Featured Guest On Emily Murdoch’s Blog

Balancing the Chaotic Nature of Creativity: How a Small Dose of Structure Can Go a Long Way to Helping Writers Achieve Their Goals

http://emilyekmurdoch.blogspot.com/2013/12/guest-post-danica-cornell.html

Guest Post: Danica Cornell

Before I begin, I would like to thank Emily Murdoch for inviting me here today. Emily, it truly is an honor and a pleasure to join you on your beautiful blog, and I’m looking forward to having you as a guest contributor on my blog next month as well!  For those of you who don’t know me, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Danica Cornell and I’m the author of the forthcoming DARK STAR Science Fiction/Fantasy Series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books. But the reason for my being here isn’t to tout my novels—it’s to discuss the chaotic nature of creativity and how I’ve learned to best utilize this gift. And in case you’re wondering, my motivation for writing this piece is simple. I hope to reach those who are currently struggling with unlocking their own artistic potential—something I’ve learned a thing or two about over the last several years.

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Creativity as a blessing and a curse 

To be clear, I do see creativity as a gift—but I believe in order to unlock its tremendous potential, creative people need to be managed in just the right way. I suspect without the kind of oversight I describe later in this post, many imaginative individuals may begin to feel swallowed up by the vastness of their ideas. Simply put creativity without direction and a few boundaries has the potential to result in lowered productivity. This can be especially true for those who lack the skills, processes, and/or motivation to achieve a particular goal, such as writing a novel.

Taming the creative beast within

When it came to my own writing, I was fortunate to have a BA in psychology to draw upon—not only for the development of my characters, but also for myself as a writer. My degree has allowed me to examine not only myself, but my environment as well—all with an eye toward tweaking those areas in need of improvement.

Here are a few things I’ve learned: 

– I require a daily task list and schedule to stay on track;
– Mapping out my books up front has helped me to see where I want to take my series and even more importantly—its characters;
– Utilizing a professional editor helps to insure the quality of my work while allowing me to stretch and grow as a writer—something that borders on the sacred for me;
– Too much structure negatively impacts my motivation, thereby shutting down my creativity and ultimately my productivity;
– Daily doses of exercise and music help to fuel my creativity.

In other words, balance and structure are imperative to my success as a writer. Now if you’ll excuse me, my treadmill and iPod are calling me 🙂

Until next time…

Happy writing,

Danica 

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Danica Cornell is a visionary entrepreneur, UNICEF-supporter, and self-confessed chocoholic who’s busily penning The DARK STAR Series.

To learn more about this emerging scifi/fantasy author please visit her website. You may also follow Danica on twitter.

NEWS: Danica Cornell Joins Fantasy Sci-Fi Network as Contributing Author

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Hello everyone, I am pleased to announce my association with the Fantasy Sci-Fi Network (FSFNet) as a contributing author!  This network has been designed to be a source of information for readers of the fantasy and science fiction genres, but unlike other similar sites, FSFNet does not allow its authors to talk about their own books. The result is fresh and interesting content for everyone to enjoy.   I am proud to have been invited to join FSFNet and do hope you’ll stop by and see all the creative and informative articles posted by myself and my fellow contributing authors!

Danica Cornell is a visionary entrepreneur, UNICEF-supporter, and self-confessed chocoholic who’s busily penning The DARK STAR Series. To learn more about this emerging scifi/fantasy author please visit www.danicacornell.com.
You may also follow Danica on Twitter.

Introducing Author, Nonnie Jules’ “Daughters: The Good and The Bad” Blog Tour

Please join me in extending a warm welcome to my friend, the lovely and talented Nonnie Jules, author of THE GOOD MOMMIES’ GUIDE TO RAISING (ALMOST) PERFECT DAUGHTERS and Daydream’s Daughter, Nightmare’s Friend. 

Hello, and welcome to “Daughters:  The Good and The Bad” Blog Tour.  First, I’d like to thank Danica for inviting me over and kicking off this tour.  It’s running for ten days and if you’d like to follow the tour, please do so here http://wp.me/p3sUCq-KA.

Let me introduce myself.  My name is Nonnie Jules as you may have noticed when you walked thru the door and I’m a resident of a small town in Louisiana.  I am the mother of two wonderful daughters, adult and teenager, and husband to one wonderful man.  I also am “NaNa” to a host of 4-legged babies, who I all love just as much as my 2-legged ones.

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My first published work is entitled THE GOOD MOMMIES’ GUIDE TO RAISING (ALMOST) PERFECT DAUGHTERS”, 100 Tips on Raising Daughters Everyone Can’t Help But Love!  It was published in May, 2013.

My debut novel is entitled “Daydream’s Daughter, Nightmare’s Friend and it was recently released at the end of November, 2013.

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Becoming a published author for me was very exciting!  Especially since writing my first book only took me 17 days.  I didn’t have to do any research because I had lived every tip in the book.  I had taught every tip in the book, if not to my own daughters, to someone else’s daughter who had crossed my path.  Shall I share that it t’was very easy penning this book?   I enjoyed every moment of putting it together, every 102 pages of it.

Then, I decided I wanted to write a novel, and of course, it would also be about my favorite topic…daughters.  Well, I shouted to the world that my novel would be released  ON AUGUST 22, 2013!  Little did I know that this wonderful, pint-sized book, would not be released until a full three months later.

I know you’re wondering why it took so long to release after the original release date.  Well, to put it honestly, I didn’t know it would be such hard work.  I soon came to realize that this baby was going to require a lot more than my non-fiction, how-to guide had.  I had to travel.  I had to  do TONS of  research.  I went without sleep, food and water just to get this book out into the universe.  I had to edit (a whole lot more closely than I had with my non-fiction guide) and then I had to re-edit, and re-edit some more.  This book took a lot out of me.

It is always important to me that I share my experiences with others, especially “newbies” who are just entering the field of writing.  Sometimes, the pressures are just so much that you might feel like giving up, and just quitting all together.  I am here to tell you to keep going.  Keep at it, until you get it right and until it feels second nature to you.  My novel caused me tons of sleepless nights and in honor of full disclosure, it also caused me a few tears as well.  But in the end, I was so proud of this great work I had put out (yes, it’s great in my eyes).  And when it was all finished, I was extremely proud of every single 370 pages I had put into it.

I found there to be a big difference in writing my non-fiction piece of work as opposed to my fictional novel.  You will not view this journey as I had because you will more-than-likely have to do research for your book, unless of course, you’re writing one that you actually lived, just as I had.

I found that creating characters, places and entities entailed a lot more than the research I could get from the internet.  I had to go to the city I was writing about and I spent  countless days getting to know it as well as every entity and establishment mentioned in my book.  Why?  Because I wanted it to be as believable as possible and to me, that’s a sign of a true writer.  The pizza parlor mentioned in my book…yes, I ate there and IT IS the most awesome pizza in all the land!  So, if you find that you can pen a book without the research and it’s still a good read, I say “go for it!”  But, more than not, you probably won’t be able to get away from it.  So for me, the difference between writing my non-fiction guide and my fictional one, was all about the time it took to pen it, and the amount of research I had to put into it.  But whatever it ends up being for you, just give it your best and that’s all the readers want from us…our very best!

I’d like to thank you all for letting me share with you and as mentioned above, I hope you will follow each stop on the tour.  I am giving away a “Daydream’s Daughter, Nightmare’s Friend” Swag Pack and also two $5 Amazon Gift Cards to 3 lucky winners.  All you have to do is leave a comment here before you leave.  If you visit each stop on the tour and comment, you will earn 1 entry for each comment left.  The more you enter, the better your chances of winning.

I invite you to check out my writing on my blog (which is extremely interesting all the time!) at www.nonniewrites.wordpress.com and I ask that you follow me as well.  I can be found most days on Twitter supporting my fellow authors while promoting my own work @nonniejules.

It’s Christmas time and books make the perfect gifts. If there is a new mom in your world or you have a friend or family member with young daughters, why not gift them a copy of “THE GOOD MOMMIE’S GUIDE TO RAISING (ALMOST) PERFECT DAUGHTERS”?  You may get copies from www.amazon.com/dp/B00CP62O56 or autographed copies from www.nonniesbookstore.com .  Please know  that this guide is helping to change the world for the better.  “Daydream’s Daughter, Nightmare’s Friend” would also make a perfect gift for an avid reader in your life.  Get your ebook copy at www.amazon.com/dp/B00GLM2VVM.  Paperback copies will be ready for purchase on Amazon, Createspace, B&N.com and at Nonnie’s Book Store (autographed copies) by Thursday, 12/5/13.

Danica, thanks once again for having me and I wish you all much Peace, Love and Great Reads!!!

You are very welcome Nonnie…I’m delighted to have you and hope you come back and visit us again soon.