Archive for the Category » A Writer’s Take…… «

Book Review ~~ Miss Dauntless by Grace Burrowes

 5 out of 5 stars             Book Review

Miss Dauntless  (of the Mischief in Mayfair series) is another delight for the reader and fans of Grace Burrowes.  It turned out to be one of this reviewer’s favorites.  Charming and loveable characters are beautifully drawn.  A good plot with a big challenge for the protagonists to overcome.  Carefully constructed.  I loved this one! 

Matilda Merridew, former hoyden of the first water, finds herself widowed, weary, and in want of coin. Along comes Marcus, Lord Tremont, with an interesting–and decent–proposition. Tremont will provide Matilda a handsome salary and keep a commodious roof over her head if she will relieve him of the burden of managing a houseful of unruly former soldiers.  (amazon.com)

The Mischief in Mayfair series provides readers with independent, ‘blue-stocking’, heroines that find themselves in straitened circumstances.  But they are fearless when it comes to rescuing themselves. When one of the characters is a mischievous little boy or a darling little girl, it makes for a richer story and some laughs for sure!   I highly recommend this book and this series to my readers.  

Coming next week!  An Interview with author, Marc  Cameron, writing as Tom Clancy
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

Robert B. Parker’s FALLOUT by Mike Lupica (a review)

   5 out of 5 stars     ~~    Book Review

Mike Lupica returns to write this most current release, FALLOUT.  Another Jesse Stone true crime created by Robert B. Parker.  And it’s flawless, as usual.  Mike writes in the voice of Parker effortlessly and I really enjoyed this one. 

The small town of Paradise is devastated when a star high-school baseball player is found dead at the bottom of a bluff just a day after winning the team’s biggest game. For Jesse, the loss is doubly difficult—the teen was the nephew of his colleague, Suitcase Simpson, and Jesse had been coaching the young shortstop. As he searches for answers about how the boy died and why, he is stonewalled at every turn, and it seems that someone is determined to keep him from digging further.  (www.amazon.com)

I never cease to marvel at these authors who keep Parker’s storytelling alive for us. All successful authors in their own right.  Lupica, one of the most prominent sports writers in America,  and Reed Farrel Coleman for Jesse Stone.  Ace Atkins for Spencer and Sunny Randall. There is a  list too long to list here.  All speak with the same clarity and write as if they are Robert B. Parker incarnate. 

Check out my fascinating INTERVIEW with Mike Lupica and Ace Atkins.

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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

A Word to Newbie Writers

authors, writers, reviews, famous authors

Charles Bukowski

He was, in my opinion, the greatest American fiction writer of the last half of the 20th century.   Fortunately for his book sales, most think of him as the archetypal drunk, misanthropic male pig. Whatever else he was, he was also the archetypal writer, a force of nature who knew exactly what to do to a blank page. 

Bukowski attributed so much weight to the single line that it eclipsed the writing philosophy of writing. If the single line was magnificent, the rest would take care of itself.  In a 60,000 word novel, the working focus was on the single line. In the sex stories he wrote and sold to skin mags for money, the working focus was on the single line. In a small, immortal poem that 50 people might read, his working focus was on the single line.

Do you possess this kind of love for your words? Well?  Do you?  Possess this kind of love and respect for your work? Do you respect your craft enough to narrow your focus to the attention of a single line? It’s not easy. It’s not fast. “But this must certainly be a path to immortal (and powerfully influential) writing.  If you can stomach it.”   Robert Bruce when writing about Henry Charles Bukowski, Jr.
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I’ve encouraged to re-write and delete and edit so much in my blogging you probably want to take a
‘delete’ key to me!  BUT!  It’s what makes a so-so writer into a good or great one.

Experienced writers know this and value the rewrite more than anything.  That’s really when the magic happens.
In a recent interview here with Jo-Ann Mapson, she said, “I love rewriting. Just thank God for it every single day, because that is where good writing pokes its head up.”

A word to you aspiring writers:  I’ve been there, believe me, when I was terrified to delete a single word.
Not that I was certain that everything I uttered was ‘gold’…..far from it….no, terrified that I had nothing better to replace it with. Now that I have found my ‘process’ I understand how I work.  I write it in my head for days, then, when the moment comes I type (thank God for my Admin skills of 75 wpm in a previous life).  Once the story is laid down, I begin the re-writing, editing, adding, deleting.

Re-writing and deleting:  some of my best work has been born in the re-write.  Some of my worst work has been write, create, writing, authors, blogdeleted.  Get it?

The Delete key:  I know, I know, I’m a tired old record.  But it can’t be said enough.  Get to know and love your delete key.  Every word you write isn’t going to be ‘golden’.  Before you push your child (story) out into traffic (the world) you are the only critic and editor in the room.  Be certain that you critique yourself; keep polishing, keep editing.

I’m of the school of writers that believes my work is never finished;  I could and have found something to re-write in everything I have published.  It’s a demon I have to live with.

The Mocking Bird by Charles Bukowski ©

The mocking bird had been following the cat
all summer
mocking, mocking, mocking

Teasing and cocksure;
the cat crawled under rockers on porches
tail flashing
and said something angry to the mocking bird
which I didn’t understand

Yesterday the cat walked calmly up the driveway
with the mocking bird alive in its mouth
wings fanned, wings fanned and flopping
feathers parted like a woman’s legs
and the bird was no longer mocking…   (from his book of poetry:  The Pleasures of the Damned)

Reprised from post 3/2013 writeratplay.com
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

Interview with Horror Author, Kevin Kennedy (conclusion)

Kevin out on pizza night

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

KK. Nope. Paperbacks have outlasted radio, tv, cd players, Netflix, and all other forms of entertainment. I am a big fan of Kindle but I still have around a thousand paperback/hardbacks.

Q. What makes a writer great?

KK. Knowing how to entertain a reader. Every author has their own style and writes in their own genre or sub-genres. No matter what you want to write, if it doesn’t entertain the reader, they will find something better to read.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

KK. Stress, worry, giving up, picking it up again. Starting multiple projects in between. Writing short stories for other anthologies when I don’t have time. Getting back to it. Finally getting to an endpoint. Formatting it. Sending it out for edits then proofreading, then publishing it.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

KK. Writing has to feel real and I’m not one for spending hours researching things so I tend to write about stuff I know about. I may warp the experience and change it but I will be knowledgeable about it.

Q. What’s your downtime look like?

KK. Downtime? Na, I tend to chill with my wife, go out for lunch or dinner, snuggle up with my cats and watch something on Netflix. Visit my mum or take her out shopping. I live a quite life now and I like it that way.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre?

KK. Pretty much Horror or Bizarro. I occasionally slip into gangster type crime with a horror element.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

A. Do what works for you. The best advice might not suit you personally. Read the guidelines to wherever you are going to sub. Editors often ignore anything that falls outside of the guidelines for subs. Don’t wait on a response before starting something new. Keep working, keep sending your work out, and remember, it’s supposed to be fun. Don’t take rejections too personally. Re-sub it somewhere else. What one person doesn’t like, another may enjoy.

Did you miss the beginning of this Interview?

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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

Interview with author, Kevin Kennedy (part 2)

At my desk

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

KK. That’s a tough one. I suffer from it myself. I’d say, just write when you can. Try not to plan too much in as it becomes overwhelming. Don’t force a word count every day if it’s not coming. You will just feel worse. Stick to what works for you.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

KK. It tends to be an overall story idea or plot idea I have and then I work out what type of character would fit the story best. It’s rare a fully developed character comes to me. They often grow as I write.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

KK. I was always a big reader but never thought about writing. If I hadn’t seen an advert on Facebook looking for stories, I don’t think I would have ever looked into it. There was no urge. It just grew organically, and now I run a publishing company that puts out chart toppers, and I get invited to participate in invite-only projects regularly. I don’t think I could ever walk away from it now.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

KK. Situation. I will often have an urge to write a certain type of story or even just a scene and then everything builds around it.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

KK. Sometimes but due to a hectic life, I often only have small spaces to fit it in. It’s not the best way to work but life takes over. I still work full time for a charity that helps people into employment and I have a family so writing comes third.

with friend, Dacre

Q. What compelled you to choose and settle on the genre you now write in?

KK. It was easy. I only read horror so it was horror I started writing.

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

KK. A few things. I wrote a novella called Halloween Land. I’m halfway through writing a prequel, The Clown. She was a favorite character of the readers and I wanted to write more about her anyway. I am also close to finishing my 4th collection of short stories called The A to Z of Horror. I have an upcoming anthology releasing in December called The Horror Collection Sapphire Edition. It’s the 13th book in the series. It’s been pretty popular.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

KK. Probably about 5 years ago when I started to see sales picking up.
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Did you miss the beginning of the interview

Join us for the conclusion next week.
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

Interview with Horror author, Kevin Kennedy

 Kevin J. Kennedy is a horror author, editor, and anthologist. He is also the owner of KJK Publishing.
He lives in the heart of Scotland with his wife and his three cats, Carlito, Ariel and Luna. He can be found on Facebook most days if you want to chat with him.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, or special space for your writing? 

KK. I tend to work where I can. Often on the couch or in bed. I do have a desk, but you rarely find me there.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat workspace, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, a glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

KK. Nope. Up until recently, I done most of my writing on an old broken laptop. I recently got a new Chromebook but I am finding it difficult to get used to it. You can only use Word online which is different to Word on my old laptop.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

KK. I only began writing about 7 years ago. Most of the time, writers always seem to have been involved in one way or another. I sort of stumbled into it after seeing an advert for stories on Facebook and deciding I’d give it a go. I feel I have been lucky in how well everything has gone in such a short space of time.

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

KK. Straight onto the keyboard, often with no real planning. Just an idea and see where it goes. I’m more of a fly by the seat of my pants type of guy. I rarely plan anything out and I find I work better under pressure.

Q. Do you have pets? Tell us about them and their names. 

KK. Three. Carlito and Ariel are brother and sister cats. Both ten years old. Carlito is jet black. Ariel is a tabby. We also have a little Calico called Luna who is now 2 years old. They rarely leave my side.

Q. Do you enjoy writing in other forms (playwriting, poetry, short stories, etc.)?
If yes, tell us about it.

KK. I have written mainly short stories with a few novellas. I still haven’t written a novel. I’m not sure I will. I prefer reading novellas so I imagine I will stick to writing them. I have co-written a few as well. Over the last few years I have written several poems that have been picked up but it will remain a once in a while thing and I love drabbles. I’ve written loads of

Carlito

drabbles (100 word stories.) I also fee that my 4 book series, 100 Word Horrors was the main instigator in the drabble craze in the horror market. I’ve stepped away from publishing that type of anthology now as I feel there is just too many coming out but I still sub to other publishers Anthos.

Watch for part 2 of this wonderful interview next week. 
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

Nothing You Write, if you Hope to be any Good….

Lillian Hellman (Author of The Little Foxes and Children’s Hour)  once said, Nothing you write, if you hope to be any good, will ever come out as you first hoped.”

As a writer, that has happened to me over and over.  In the early days of my writing, I was appalled that the story was going somewhere that I had not planned for.   The characters would lead me down paths I had no intention of going down or writing about.  Now I accept this strange phenomenon that happens not just to me but to other writers as well.

     A glaring, or perhaps glorious, example of a story taking an unexpected turn was when I was writing Women Outside the Walls.  My plan for the storyline was that this would be a cozy little story of three very different women coming together while visiting their men in prison.

A third of the way through this project, Charlie, while sitting in the prison’s visiting room, jumps up, grabs Kitty, and, holding a shiv (knife) to her throat,  takes her hostage.  I  sat at my keyboard and wailed aloud, “No!  No, you can’t!  I don’t know anything about hostages……or hostage negotiations!” Too late! He’d already dragged Kitty to the back wall, and pandemonium had broken out.  The prison went on emergency lockdown, and there was nothing I could do! There I sat at my keyboard, dead in my tracks.

It took me four months researching hostage negotiations before I could resume working on my novel.  I had not the faintest clue as to how I would finally resolve this room being taken, hostage.  And I want to stop here and thank the federal and state hostage negotiators who assisted me in my research. While they would not share any of their techniques, they agreed to look over my story and tell me where I was off base. They allowed me to send them this segment of my novel for them to critique and assisted in keeping my portrayal accurate.   Before you COs jump all over me about the gun, I did take dramatic license with that.  

I have learned to anticipate and enjoy it when the story takes on a life of its own.  It’s my fondest wish to become, simply, the ‘typist’.  When my characters take control and tell me the story!

(Reprised 2013)

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Watch for more interviews with authors.  September: Culley Holderfield. October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November: Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

Strong Writing vs Sloppy, Weak Writing

Dear fellow writers,

The one thing that gives me hives faster than nettles, hives, or food allergies is SLOPPY TENSE by a writer!

I am currently reading a book (Spinning Jenny) that could have been an excellent story, could have been pretty good writing for a debut book, and could have some well-thought-out and developed characters except for the writer (Sylvia Ann McLain)  who wrote the entire thing using the present tense. Then slipping into past tense and frequently mixing the two.  (Grrrrr….teeth gnashing.)

Here’s a sample, quoting from the book:  “Children race about, babies are wailing, and clusters of women talk among themselves. Some sit by themselves with Bibles in their laps.  Farther off in the woods, blacks (did they use this term in 1833?)  have set up their own camps; their tents are made of quilts thrown over ropes between the trees.”

Edited:  Children raced around, babies wailed, and clusters of women gathered to talk amongst themselves. A few sat by themselves with their Bibles in their laps.  Further off into the woods Negroes set up their camps.  Their tents were made by throwing quilts over ropes tied between the tree trunks.

and:  “But back at Carefree, there’s a body waiting for her to view it. She dreads it as she drives up the hill to her home.  A body! Has she ever seen a dead person before? Not that she remembers. Why can’t Sophronia get up out of her bed and do something for once? But it’s getting on to twelve o’clock. She has to hurry.” 

Edited:  A body waited for her to view back at Carefree. Stephanie dreaded it as she drove up the hill to her home. A body! Has she ever seen a dead person before? Not that she remembered. Why couldn’t Sophronia get up out of her bed and do something for once? But it was close to noon. She had to hurry.

I like to use italics for internal dialogue but it’s not a rule.   What is a grammatical rule is “i.n.g.’ ing” every other word is poor writing no matter how you look at it.  

There is no rule set in stone somewhere that fiction must be written in the past tense. But it is the accepted and expected tense that 98% of writers use.  More importantly, readers expect it even if they are unaware. 
99% of the time, if a book is written in anything other than past tense, it has not been written that way on purpose; the writer is new, and the book is their first one, and they are ignorant of what is expected and what the industry standard is.  It makes them look like the amateur that they are. 

PS. Finally. Finished it. This book was a real slog. And then to find out the ending was a setup for a sequel. The storyline didn’t support that. Ugh!!!!!!

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Watch for more interviews with authors.  September: Culley Holderfield. October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November: Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

Interview with Simon Gervais, writing for Robert Ludlum (part 2)

Q. What first inspired you to write?

SG. I’ve always been a reader. I used to read at least thirty books per year. When I started writing in 2014, there weren’t many authors with a background like mine. I sometimes felt that the action scenes written by some of these authors—although fun to read—weren’t realistic. I naively believed that I could easily do better. It didn’t take long for me to realize how difficult it was to write a novel…

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

SG. Usually, the plot comes to me first. Then the characters.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

SG. Not really…But I can lose track of time when I write. I often write for 16 to 18 hours in a row in the weeks before my deadline.

Q. What compelled you to choose and settle on the genre you now write in?

With his writing buddy, Louna

SG. This is what I know. This is what I used to do for a living. I’d have a hard time writing science fiction or romance novels.

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

SG. I’m presently working on THE LAST GUARDIAN, which will be published in October 2023, and then I’ll start on BLACKBRIAR #2, the second book I’m writing for the Robert Ludlum estate.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

SG. When I left the RCMP.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

SG. Absolutely not!

Q. What makes a writer great?

SG. Somebody who, while I’m reading his/her book, can give me a solid 6 to 8 hours of pure entertainment.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

SG. My process is to first write a 4,000- to 5,000-word outline. The outline can take me months to write. This is usually when I’ll go on a research trip or two. Then I write the book, which can take me between 45 and 90 days to do. I then submit the manuscript to my editor—rarely with no more than five minutes to spare before my deadline!! We then go through a few rounds of developmental and copy edits before the book moves to the publicity and marketing departments. I then start the outline for my next book on contract.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

SG. Yes, they certainly did. I think my life experiences are my most important assets as a writer. Having served in the military as an infantry officer and then as a federal agent, my work experience gives me the necessary credibility to write in this genre.

Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu in Charlevoix. on the St Lawrence River.

Q. What’s your downtime look like?

SG. We spend most of our weekends during the school year at our cottage in Mont-Tremblant. I enjoy skiing, mountain biking and hiking with my family. We travel a lot, too. We’ll spend several weeks in the Bahamas, but we’ll also go to Europe at least once or twice for a couple of weeks. Our family also enjoys yachting.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre?

SG. No, and I don’t think I could pull it off.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

SG. Failure and adversity are the greatest teachers.
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Did you miss the beginning of this Interview?

To find more of Simon Gervais’ books, click here
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Gawd! I Love Words!

Not a day goes by that I’m not presented with a word that I don’t know the definition of. I think it’s because I read so much and that exposes me to other authors’ vocabularies.  

During my professional career, the standard and most used term when seeking employment and presenting one’s qualifications and experience was the “resume.” Probably because I lived in the United States, I hadn’t given much thought to the definition of ‘resume.’ I just knew it was a list of my skills and work history. And, of course, I wanted it to represent me in the most favorable light as it often arrived before I did in person.  

For the past several years, I have heard a newer (to me) term, ‘CV‘ (mainly on a couple of my fav television programs based in and around Europe). And given what was happening in the TV story and the paper being looked at, I could easily surmise that it was someone’s resume. 

But what did CV stand for? An acronym, but what was the definition? 

Curriculum Vitae (CV) is Latin for “course of life.”

How beautiful: ‘course of life.’  So apropos. Course…of…Life. I loved the words on my tongue.

Whereas in contrast, a ‘resume’ is French for a “summary.” Boring, a list, clinical…. no romance there!
Can you tell what joy new words bring to me?
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  September: Culley Holderfield. October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November: Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK