Saturday, January 31, 2015

Stormrider - Book Giveaway from Author 

Yes, it's true, I'm giving away a Kindle copy of my SciFi/Fantasy book, Stormrider. Ending Feb. 14 at midnight. your chance to win a free copy head over to my Stormrider facebook page, click on the 'giveaway' tab and enter. 

Good Luck! 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Writers And Self Publishers - The Ultimate Resource Guide

Usually on Wednesday I offer up a link to a site I've found on the web that I enjoy or think is really worthwhile. 

Today, instead, I'm going to talk a little about The Self-Publisher's Ultimate Resource Guide

I was given a copy to review. It's gotten 89 reviews on Amazon at this writing and the vast majority are in the four and five star category. In my opinion it's a great resource. Of course it can be expanded upon (what can't?) Of course it's a compendium of lists (what do you expect?) The book is giving the self publisher resources. And it's organized into three categories; Prepare, Publish and Promote. 

There's not much fluff and not much commentary, which for me was actually good. It got right to the meat of things. And, I noted a couple of complaints that the links within the book weren't correct.  I had no such problem and indeed have found it most handy to jump from one section to another very easily. 

It's a book I'll keep handy when I'm thinking about who I need to contact for editing or illustrating, for Ebook conversion, book reviews and marketing - and yes, dare I say it, a whole lot more. 

My only sticking point was the subsidy publishers listed under publish. It didn't quite seem like something needed in a resource guide for self publishers - but then again, that could just be me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Future of Reading - for Writers and Readers

With all the changes we’ve seen recently we may well ask what will the reading of the future be like?

Who knows? I sure don’t. But, I’m an experimenter. I got one of those first clunky EReaders a few years back before Amazon and Barnes & Noble and Apple’s iPads  and wide spread PDFs.  Now I have a Kindle HDX 8.9.  Who knew?

Books are great, don’t get me wrong. I still love paper books and I don’t care if there are claims of a ‘war on paper books’.  Personally I think they’ll be around forever in one form or another even if they become ‘collectibles’.

I mean I suspect a lot of writers are publishing their books not only to Ebook format but to print on demand as well. Let’s face it, you can’t put your Ebooks on the shelf. And, for many writers it’s an inspiration to see those books on the shelf. I know I enjoy glancing across my study and seeing the line of books I’ve written and had published traditionally or self, marching across the book shelf in orderly fashion.

There are lots of readers who feel the same way and not just the ‘old fogies’ from years gone by who won’t let go of the ‘old way’.  There are simply many people who enjoy holding that book in their hands and turning the pages, maybe with feet up in front of a fire or just curled up in a chair our out on the beach.

On the other hand think about how much of the reading you do you now do online or on a tablet or even on your phone. Business, articles, magazines and yes, more and more fiction.  E-reading has joined the mainstream.

Heck, think of the convenience of Ebooks. If you travel you can pack up literally dozens of books for your pleasure or business in one small reader you can tuck in your carry-on.  On top of that Ebooks are generally less expensive than paper books (though with some super popular authors you could debate that). Don’t forget the ‘instant gratification’ of the download. You don’t have to order the book and wait for it, it simply appears on your reader after purchase.

There’s also the fact that Ebooks now have all sorts of bells and whistles. You can adjust the size of text. The reader is lit softly so you can read easily in low light. Many, like the Kindle, can also download a music library so you can listen to your favorite music (probably with headphones) while you read your favorite author.

Come on, really, how can the even most die-hard paper book proponent deny the convenience and say no to e-readers?

Not only all that, but I can see the potential where all of this could lead to people reading more and that would be a great thing. How do I get that? Well, think about it. If you run around with your tablet or smart phone your reading material is always in your pocket or purse, plus access to much more. Bored? Read a bit. At a doctor’s appointment and he’s running late – read. Bored on a subway or bus? Read. And there are lots of promotional low cost and free books and articles, even magazines to supplement your favorites you would willingly pay premium for to keep your reading queue full up.

And if you’re a writer, what a boon. You can carry your phone or tablet, read at will and even surf the web for research or fun. You can make notes to yourself on the run and email them to yourself about future projects or writing ideas. Then you can go back to your reading.

So yep, there’s a revolution going on, but I see no reason why the ‘what has been’ won’t blend with ‘what is to come’, sort of like an oil slick swirling on top of water.

And yes, there are things to be better worked out such as with my Kindle – they really need to provide a better way of organizing the books we buy. Right now it’s sort of in on big virtual heap and you have to scroll through to find a particular book. You can do minimal organizing, but it really needs to be in such a way as to allow the consumer to separate fiction from non-fiction, biography from business – and even sub categories like type of fiction; western, romance, SciFi, whatever. My books are organized by category on my shelf. I want the ability to do the same with Ebooks.  C’mon Geeks let’s get this sorted out.

So, tell me how you feel about the book revolution – how you’re utilizing it, or not. Do you take a reader traveling or are you still toting paper books? Or do you use your phone, tablet, whatever just for games and communication? And check out the links below if you’re interested in where we’ve been and where we’re going.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Writers And Readers Websites Wednesday - Words!

I picked World Wide Words for this week's fun and possibly helpful website for everyone who loves them. 

Readers, Writers, anyone who enjoys the English language will enjoy cruising this website. Weird words, questions and answers, origins, and more.  Jump in, explore, have fun!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tips on Writing - Solitude


Yes, that’s the subject for today. A writer can’t worry about being alone. A reader must welcome alone time to be able to read.

Solitude is the sunshine that allows creativity to flourish. In the quiet time your thoughts can take shape and you can focus. You can unwind, face inner demons, reach deep and find out who you really are. I focus more on the writer, but the same applies to the reader. There are times when we simply need to do nothing, to just sit and be, in order to feel the creativity rise up from the depths of cool solitude. Even while you do nothing, you’re doing something. In the stillness lies the kernel of creativity.

But don’t listen to only me, listen to Lu Dorfsman who said, “Creativity is essentially a lonely art. An even lonelier struggle. To some a blessing. To others a curse. It is in reality the ability to reach inside yourself and drag forth from your very soul an idea.”  Solitude can breed loneliness but it doesn’t have to. In solitude is the excitement of self-exploration and the birth of ideas.

And it doesn’t go for just folks who write or create paintings or sculpture or music (Mozart said, “When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer–say, traveling in a carriage or walking after a good meal or during the night when I cannot sleep–it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly.”) it’s a balm for everyone.

And it’s not just those creative. How about physicist Albert Einstein? He was famous for his long walks on the beach and said, “On the other hand, although I have a regular work schedule, I take time to go for long walks on the beach so that I can listen to what is going on inside my head. If my work isn’t going well, I lie down in the middle of a workday and gaze at the ceiling while I listen and visualize what goes on in my imagination.”

And one of my favorites, Nilcola Tesla who told us,  “The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone—that is the secret of invention: be alone, that is when ideas are born.”

Get it? We all need alone time. That means turn off your computer, silence your phone, put away your tablet and do some daydreaming. Sometimes focusing on the ceiling really is all it takes.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Writers And Readers Websites Wednesday - Enchanted Mind

The mind is a wonderful thing and if you are a Writer, a Reader or both it can be a fantastic playground. Our brains are amazing!

So, today I give mention to a website called Enchanted Mind. Their tagline is "Magic Happens" and they have lots of categories to explore like humor, brain, mind, inspiration, creativity and more.  Don't you love the 'and more' - well sometimes the list can just get too long with categories and subcategories.  Head on over and explore a bit yourself.  Watch the short videos, explore, learn things, and if you're a writer, maybe get a fresh new idea.

And don't forget to tell me what you think in the comments below.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Writers Read

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”― Stephen King

Ah, the intertwining of reading writing. How often have we explored that? One is so completely wrapped up in the other. On this blog I admit, I talk about writing more than I do reading…despite my best intentions. I am, after all, a writer. 

But it’s always worth stepping back and reminding myself just how interdependent they are. How on earth would one expect to write a story, let alone a GOOD story if that writer didn’t read? Where would that writer think he or she would come by the tools necessary to write if not thorough reading and the love of words? Is writing a special talent bestowed by the gods? Does the writer wake up one morning with the amazing ability to create stunning and engrossing tales?


Yes, there is a talent involved just as there is with an artist. But the artist must also love the creation of art and his brushes and color box just as the writer must be forever in love with words and stories. The artist doesn’t simply wake up one morning with the ability to paint simply coursing through his veins any more than the writer wakes up with his ability. 

There is learning, and appreciation and polishing the craft until it shines. Mr. King is quite correct. If the writer doesn’t make time to read, the tools and the time needed to write are lacking.

It’s worth paying attention in those English classes at school. If you’re not getting what you need in said classes it’s worth pursuing proper English through such things as books like Strunk And White’s Elements of Style or Chicago Manual of Style  or Karen Elizabeth Gordon’s Deluxe Transitive Vampire: A Handbook of Grammar For the Innocent TheEager And the Doomed  or take some additional classes at your local community college or visit your library and check out some helpful grammar and language books or throw something like “learn english grammar online free” into your search engine and see what you find. 

And for heaven’s sakes, read other books. If you intend to write nonfiction, read it and think about how you can do it better. If you love fiction, read in your genre, read, read, read – and in other genres as well. Don’t just learn story structure, feel it and live it. The same goes for script writing. How can you break the rules if you don’t even know what they are? If you’re into writing scripts, read articles about creating them and read scripts!  Here are some teleplays or read scripts at Drew’s Script-O-Rama.

And if you don’t enjoy all this reading, then odds are you really don’t want to be a writer, so don’t, just don’t. 

And if you do enjoy all that reading, you don’t HAVE to be a writer; you can just skip the writing part and have a great time losing yourself in books, scripts, articles, whatever!

But circling back one last time, the writer doesn’t have that luxury. So read.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Writers And Readers Websites Wednesday - BookBub

Okay folks if you're crazy about books, this is for you.

BookBub.  I don't know how they came by that name, but it's a great site for books. Books in many categories, including nonfiction, books by new authors and books by best sellers. Yes, you need to give them an email and yes it's one you won't regret providing that address to.

Here's what they say: 
 BookBub is a free service that helps millions of readers discover great deals on acclaimed ebooks while providing publishers and authors with a way to drive sales and find new fans. Members receive a personalized daily email alerting them to the best free and deeply discounted titles matching their interests as selected by our editorial team. BookBub works with all major ebook retailers and devices, and is the industry’s leading ebook price promotion service. BookBub was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

And here's what I say:
A great resource for readers and writers who love to read (which is every writer, right?) Specify some categories that interest you, then see what crops up in your email each day - and don't forget to visit the site as well. If you're an author or a publisher you can see about having your book featured. Cost ranges from free up - and the ones that have a cost are deeply discounted. 

Check it out, it's worth your time. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Grandpa Was A Character - A Writer's Inspiration

It’s a new year and while I don’t go in for the ‘resolution’ thing, I have spent a bit of time recently reflecting on my early beginnings as a writer and the transformation that has happened over the years. Life is change after all and nothing ever stays the same.

 Currently I write a lot of things. Novels, screen scripts, commercial copy, and pretty much anything that comes my way that sparks my interest. I’ve published with major houses, optioned scripts and done some self-publishing.

But, what I’m centering on here is my beginnings; that which brought me to this point. 

When I look back it’s rather amusing, that very first jump and accomplishment. I’d started writing when I was about fourteen and just enjoyed creating other worlds but knew right away it was something I wanted to do for real, for publication, for a career.
What was that very first jump? It was a western novel titled Night Of The Flaming Guns, published when I was twenty-two .

That was waaay back and is still available used through Amazon.
But here’s the thing, how exactly did that book, published originally by Doubleday come to be? There was a whole lot of weirdness connected with its actual publication. The Cliff’s Notes version is an agent had it, went defunct. While I panicked another agent had picked it up and had an offer from Doubleday. I got the offer, I accepted, then the publisher decided we had to go with my initials as author (P.A. Bechko) since I was writing a gritty western in the first person as a middle-aged man and I was a twenty-something young woman. Sure rattled my editor at that time. 

Anyway, I was off, that was the first of sixteen books so far. But what inspired the writing of that particular original book?

If you’re another writer or reader and curious about such things, let me tell you. It was two things that tripped my writer's imagination.

1. A dear friend (male) dared me to write a gritty western, because I suspect, I WAS a young, fairly shy woman. Hey, what he didn’t know was that was a great way for me to utilize my love for the west and let go of a lot of frustrations. Heck I could shoot people at will on the printed page and let the hero win. Whohoo!

2. The second, and most important inspiration for writing that first western novel was my grandfather. Yep, my grandfather IS the hero of the book. He is long departed and much missed, but he was the original inspiration and hero. Not because I made the hero look like him, but because Grandpa possessed the strength, determination, compassion and down-to-earth, get-it-done attitude coupled with some pretty deep philosophical outlooks on life that completed that character. You go Grandpa! An incredibly intelligent, profound man who made it through the depression doing any job he had to for his family, held a hand out to those less fortunate, participated in a few brawls in his youth, and always had a wonderful and sometimes twisted sense of humor. All of that made up the core of the hero, Matt Logan in that book.

Not every bit of my grandfather is visible in the tale that is told, but those characteristics are at the hero’s core and they are what drive him to do what he does.

That was the first with many others following. And today, while not ALL my characters are based directly on life, there are many of them that are bits and pieces of friends and relatives I’ve known throughout my life (I’m not going to name any more of them here). I suspect that’s true of pretty much all writers. You can’t create characters without stealing bits and pieces you love of family and friends. Even bits and pieces you hate (another place I won’t name names).

And while most characters I create are made up of various parts of people I’ve crossed paths with, the original book, the original inspiration. was quite simply Grandpa.

So, tell me, what characters have you, as a writer, created based on someone in particular? Do you still see them in that character now that the story is written? Comment below, I’d be fascinated to know.

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