Saturday, November 9, 2013

New book update - thank you to my readers! FIRST READERS discussion.

Thank you to my readers!

Behind German Lines made it into the top 100 in the Military category last Sunday, 11/3. Last night it broke into the top 50! Today it's sitting at #37. My first book, Operation Devil's Fire broke back into the top 100 this week due to the renewed exposure and the discovery by readers that there are now two Sgt. Dunn novels.

Writer's Advice

As I've written in earlier posts, some of my readers sent me emails about Operation Devil's Fire and I discovered that folks from all over the world were reading my book. If you receive emails, answer them promptly and be sure to personalize your response. Take the time to engage the person who took the time to write you about your book.


I always capitalize these two words because that's how important they are to me. There's a lot of writer's advice on the internet, and when it comes to finding people to read your work and give feedback, most advice says you can't trust your family and friends because they'll sugar coat anything they say.

Well, I'm here to tell you, those advice givers don't know my FIRST READERS! They are all excellent editors and telling me something doesn't work or is just plain wrong is no problem for them. Each of them looks for different things: some are grammarians and others are fact checkers, others tell me how different chapters make them feel. One prints the manuscript, writes all over it, then scans it into a pdf file and ships it back to me! 

Only a few of my FIRST READERS know each other, I am the only commonality between most of them. They reside all over the world: Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and Cairo, Egypt.

If you're fortunate, you'll find FIRST READERS as awesome as mine.

Thanks for spending time with me today.

Tomorrow: Writing with discipline.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Creating a WWII novel

Writers have a daunting task ahead of them when you think about it. First, there's the IDEA. The "what-if" this happened? Think about some books you've read or movies you've seen. What if an impenetrable dome settled onto a small town? The Dome, by Stephen King. What if a computer became self-aware and decided to kill humans? The Terminator movies. What if the Nazis were about to finish their atomic bomb AND had a jet bomber capable of transatlantic flight? Operation Devil's Fire, my first book.

Next, we pick the setting, the time and the place. Then we populate that framework with characters. We decide what viewpoint(s) to use to tell our story. Some stories require multiple viewpoints and others follow one character around and only see the story as it unfolds for him or her.

For my Sgt. Dunn books, the setting, time and place are determined somewhat by what actually happened during World War II. I create challenging events for my characters to overcome either by extrapolating from historic fact or from my imagination.

I use multiple viewpoints, and the third person omniscient, which means I and the reader can be anywhere and see anything including things the characters don't see. For example. I can have Dunn and his men preparing to attack a German outpost. By using the omniscient viewpoint, I can show the reader that there's a Tiger tank around the bend in the road, but Dunn and his squad don't know this. This creates tension, or suspense, for the reader, another word is worry. I want to make my reader worry that something bad could happen!

By using more than one viewpoint, I and the reader can follow the bad guys, see what the hell they're up to, and this creates the thriller aspect. Again we know something the good guys might not know yet. Then, if the good guys uncover the evil plot, I add the ticking bomb part by giving the good guys a deadline to meet or else.

I published the second Sgt. Dunn novel ten days ago. Two days ago, I wrote the first paragraph of the third novel. I'm a believer in writing a first sentence that conveys the essence of what follows. So far, I'm two for two, meaning that the first sentence for each of the books remained unchanged for the entire duration of the writing of the book. Here they are:

Neil Marston feared for his nation’s survival. (Operation Devil's Fire)
Tank battles are mankind’s reply to God’s thunder and lightning. (Behind German Lines)

I learned this from the author Dick Francis who wrote outstanding first sentences. 

As for the plot of the third book, I have the beginning in my head, perhaps as far as the middle, but not the end yet. My next step is to begin writing the bullet point chapter descriptions and create some of the new characters to populate the setting, time and place.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Veterans Day is in 
8 days. 

"Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good."