Monthly Archives: March 2012

Mar 28

What Do You Think About Book Trailers? Ask Mary Deal!

A Little About Video Trailers
Mary Deal

A friend claimed video trailers don’t sell books. I tend to disagree, partially. That is… When my video trailers go live, I see an upsurge in sales and personal website hits. What the friend claims is that the only purpose of videos is to attract attention. Yes, they do. That’s what you want. And they get a potential reader interested in the story – if it’s a good video.

Trailers must contain great content in order to convince people to buy the book.

Video trailers will sell books if they tell – in an interesting, exciting way – what the story is about. They must also show what the reader will gain from reading the book. Therein lies the key.

If the reader is looking for nonfiction to learn something, what they will learn must be made clear, even if how they will learn is only hinted at as an enticement. If the potential reader thinks it will solve their problem or answer questions, they will buy from seeing a video. They will, at least, seek out the book and read the covers and blurbs. They will also go to Amazon and other sites and read the reviews.

In fiction, if a reader is looking for a good thriller, the video must offer excitement and the hint of a stunning ending.

Everything presented in a video must appeal to the genre and the content of the book.

In my experience, when my friends say their videos did nothing for them, I first view the video. In most of those cases, I end up asking myself, What exactly are they saying here? If the plot of the story is not covered well, and enticingly enough, of course, the video will leave any prospective buyer asking, Huh? Many videos are ho-hum. Many offer too much and are too long, yet say nothing. Many are too loud or too soft with the wrong music for the presentation. And on and on.

My opinion is that good videos rank up there with sample chapters, good reviews and word-of-mouth publicity. Videos are simply another means to grab attention. Like everything else, they must not let the reader down.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre. Read More

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Mar 21

Some Great Advice from Mary Deal: Let It Sit

Let it Sit
Mary Deal

Authors are constantly reminded that once a story is finished to leave it sit. This can happen before or after the final polish. Many authors believe that once they’ve polished the story to the best of their ability, it’s ready to be published. However, these authors are missing one of the most valuable periods of time to make their manuscript the best that it can be. The length of time to let it sit is at the discretion of the author.

What happens during the rest period is that when you let go of the care of getting it written, your muse is free to think of plot points or scenes you could have made better. When this happens you are usually able to decipher which may be the weak points or other ho-hum sections in the story. When my muse tells me which areas could be made stronger, she has also planted in my mind the ways to make it better.

~ Sometimes I believe I’ve written an incredible scene, only to realize that changing this or that little detail or descriptive phrase would make it much more exciting.

~ Sometimes flawed areas that I’ve overlooked come to mind.

Another great example of waiting is when you submit a short story, or even a lengthy manuscript that gets rejected. If you haven’t received any comments from the editor – and you usually won’t – you begin to wonder what could be flawed in the piece. You may try to correct certain areas, certain scenes, and then suddenly you get accepted. What happened here is that you were forced into a waiting period to further improve your manuscript.

~ Why not allow yourself the waiting period before getting those rejections?

Help like this can only come when you leave your manuscript sit a while. Once you get into the habit of doing this, you’ll know when the story is truly ready for your audience.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre.

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Mar 19

‘No Remorse’ Thriller Author, Ian Wakley, Visits with Mike Angley

MA: I’m pleased to introduce my guest author today, Ian Wakley. Ian is a social and market researcher by profession, investigating the motivations behind human behavior and product purchases. He has pursued his personal passion and written a thriller novel called No Remorse.

Ian, welcome to my blog. How did you decide to become a professional writer?

IW: I used to travel a great deal, and would often buy a novel in the airport bookstore. I thought how great it would be to be able to write a Ludlum, or a Clancy or a Wilbur Smith. Three years ago I was running a research agency and my kids had almost finished school, so I decided to give it a shot. Sold my share of the business and became a writer. Just like that.

MA: Why novels and now a book about the marketing profession?

IW: Since I was young I’ve tended to read novels rather than non-fiction. Probably an escapist mentality. To me, writing non-fiction is the province of journalists. Writing fiction is something anyone can have a crack at. Of course, being good at it is another thing altogether. It took me three years to figure out the basics of creative writing. It’s not as simple actually writing a novel as it is saying “I’d love to write a novel.” I enjoy learning about the techniques of writing, and I expect that I’ll still be learning at the end.

MA: That’s very true! So tell us about your thriller.

IW: No Remorse is an action thriller. I’ve written it as a page-turner. It’s plot driven, with short chapters, action in every chapter. Not so much of a suspense thriller, although there is mystery and conspiracy in there. Lee McCloud is a special operations guy whose best friend’s daughter and another girl are kidnapped in Mexico. He and three other Delta operators try to rescue them, but the attempt fails. McCloud is forced to leave the army and work for a CIA front stealing money from terrorist backers. Meantime, he’s still searching for the two girls, and the trail leads to a Saudi exiled billionaire, Sheik Khalid, who has big plans for one of the girls. I won’t spoil it by elaborating. Suffice to say there are numerous subplots and you won’t know what’s going to happen next.

MA: How did you develop McCloud’s character?

IW: I’ve always had an interest in all things military, so I guess maybe it’s a way of linking this interest with my writing. The skills needed by the protagonist McCloud had to be appropriate to the plot, in this case he needed physical strength, surveillance and shooting skills, and extreme determination. I could have chosen a cop or a fireman or maybe someone who was ex-Army, but when I started writing the book Iraq was still happening and there was a great deal of interest in military heroes. Still is, I think.

MA: I don’t think military characters are ever out of vogue. Tell us more about your hero.

IW: McCloud is a special ops guy, trained for the toughest missions, deniable, highly intelligent, used to making quick decisions under extreme pressure. But his bosses worry about whether someone like that can be controlled. And indeed, McCloud is something of a loose cannon. He has also had some failed relationships with women, including a fiancée who dumped him for his brother four weeks before their wedding day. So McCloud has some trust issues, particularly with women.

MA: And your antagonist, Sheik Khalid?

IW: A few readers have said that I have given more depth to the antagonist – Sheik Khalid – than to McCloud himself. I have to confess I enjoyed writing the bad guy. Many fiction writers do. Khalid is incredibly wealthy, but he doesn’t really have any close relationships. He expects obedience, and the one person who is beyond his control is his personal trainer, Sheriti, who teaches him about tantric sex. He wants her as his fourth wife. Meanwhile, Khalid has big, bad plans…

MA: It doesn’t sound like you have any personal experiences in the military or black ops, or do you?

IW: Not in an autobiographical sense. But I enjoy the research side of writing, including traveling to places featured in the book, except for the fictional island of Andaran. I’ve shot sniper rifles, and been on board luxury yachts. And I’ve met lots of eccentric characters.

MA: Now that you have No Remorse out the chute, are you working on something new?

IW: I’m currently writing my second novel, Bait, which is more of a suspense mystery, but still with plenty of action. The protagonist is a tough female cop in Australia, who is posted to a country town to investigate some backpacker disappearances. There she finds an American she had resettled some years earlier under the witness protection program, and with whom she had a brief relationship. After I’ve finished Bait, I’ll be starting on the sequel to No Remorse. Lots of readers are on my back about that.

MA: I take it some of your main characters from No Remorse will reappear in this sequel story?

IW: Yes, McCloud and Tally will be in the sequel, and I have some other characters in No Remorse that could feature in sequels, or maybe their own series. An assassin named Anastia, and a Mossad agent are two of these.

MA: Give us some websites and information about where my readers can find your stories.

IW: No Remorse is available in good bookstores and online stores. Bait will be available in late 2012.

No Remorse Facebook fan page: Read More

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Mar 14

Mary Deal Talks about How to Doom a Writing Career!

How to Doom A Writing Career
Mary Deal

Quite often, I read a writer’s first book and feel sad for that author. But let me digress.

My first published novel, The Tropics (with 3 subtitles on the cover) was a mess. I was in such a hurry to have a book of my own and start a lucrative career. I accepted my publisher’s editor’s critiques as to mean my book was perfect. What I didn’t realize is that the editor would offer a vague critique of the story overall. He or she did not critique on grammar and composition.

Once The Tropics was published and local friends began reading it, I found it difficult to understand why they didn’t give me glowing comments. They even looked at me in a strange sort of way.

I then read the published book myself and saw the error of my ways. Unfortunately, errors and discrepancies show up better in a published book. Grammar, punctuation, composition, sentence structure, typos and just about everything lacked true polish. A dear friend offered to do a rush edit when I said that I knew I had get help and republish. Her edit totally surprised me in how I could have made my first book so much better from the beginning, without allowing such a flawed book to hit the market. I republished The Tropics within two months. Then I began to resume intensely studying writing like I had never done before.

Knowing what I had to do to make my book acceptable, today when I read a writer’s first effort, and especially when I hear they plan to do nothing to improve it, I feel their writing career may be doomed from the beginning.

Many writers are so in a hurry to have their first book published, they are blind to the errors they’ve made, or thinking their subsequent books will be better. That’s just not the case. Without acknowledging errors in the first book, and perhaps republishing, they will continue to make the same errors in each new book. One person told me, “I’ll get better as I write more books.” This is a poor premise to allow. The first book is a major factor in determining if a reader will follow a new author into reading their next book.

Getting better as a writer progresses is a horrible misconception. Getting better does happen as a writer hones their craft, but that will not be done without acknowledging errors already made. A writer cannot allow the belief that a reader will read their subsequent books. Most writers feel they are telling a new story that readers will love. The plot and unique setting may be great, but if all the elements of good writing are far from perfect, readers will not even pick up the next book by that author off the shelf – or download it, even though eBooks are less expensive.

If your first book isn’t selling the way you thought it would –

If you haven’t had a thorough edit from a trusted, knowledgeable stranger or a professional editor –

If you’ve spent a lot of time and promotional funding and it still doesn’t sell –

If the sales of your second book are much fewer than your first –

All these are reasons for the author to re-examine exactly what it is they have put out for public consumption.

At the point where writers feel they must hurry and get their book published is the point when they need to cease and desist and literally assume something will go wrong because they work in haste.

It is better to have a book take an extra few months to receive an edit and be made as perfect as possible – than to rush and produce something flawed.

Once having been a new writer, I felt my book would set flame to the writing industry. All writers feel their books are unique. Simply put, that is ego speaking from lack of experience. It could doom a career.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre. Read More

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Mar 12

Lotus Landry Returns to Talk About Her New Cozy Mystery, ‘DOA in the HOA’

MA: I’m pleased to welcome back to my blog Lotus Landry, author of Skookum Man, who first guested with me back in October 2010. You can go back and read about her debut appearance with me here: Western Romance, Chick Lit, Feminist…all Descriptions of Mike Angley’s Guest Author, Lotus Landry and her Novel, ‘Skookum Man.’

Welcome back, Lotus! I know you are anxious to talk about your second novel, but remind us again why you chose novel writing in the first place when you penned Skookum Man.

LL: I had a strong romance plot in mind for my first novel, Skookum Man, set in the Pacific Northwest. The plot plays off the dynamics of how a fur trapper’s original native family is confronted by a second refined imported wife from abroad. I especially wanted to portray a feminist spirit in the wilderness of the 1800s. I grew up in the Northwest and was aware of the stories about the fur trapping economy and the schooners.

But the second book, DOA in the HOA, is set in modern Southern California where I have lived for some time. The economic and social focus has undergone such a complete transition that I wanted to reflect this newer lifestyle—to even exaggerate it—in the novel. Most of the community residents have occupations that were not typical fifteen years ago. For instance, there is a housing stager, a uniformed dog employee at LAX, a document shredder, and some career criminals. There is also a rise in the importance of the pet culture and the pet economy. (As for the human economy in the story? Airline flight cabins become dysfunctional. Government finance becomes dysfunctional. Exploding hedge funds become dysfunctional. Socially networked coworkers become dysfunctional.)

MA: That’s quite a different setting from the Pacific Northwest. What does DOA in the HOA mean? What’s it about?

LL: This translates as ‘Dead on Arrival in the Homeowners Association’. Roommates, Christine Amador and Pistachio, team up to solve a mystery that starts in their Southern California neighborhood. The neighborhood, filled with quirky pets and people, is managed by a Homeowners Association.

The police tell them there is no credible evidence a crime was committed. Will Christine’s computer acumen and Pistachio’s skills as an exhibition cage fighter help them solve this Cozy Mystery? The book contains iconic features of Orange County and its history (including fruit fly emergencies, bears, red tides and such).

MA: Are you a martial arts expert or did you do some research to help you develop Pistachio?

LL: I did research on exercises of mixed martial arts for the character of ‘Pistachio’. I also visited a facility and watched videos and followed female fighter web pages.

MA: And Christine?

LL: Christine is worried throughout the story, but she admits that she gets too distracted sometimes by everyday business (as an Online Social Reputation Manager) to resolve problems. For instance, she can’t explain the absence of someone she depends upon and wonders if her ex-husband is connected to her problems.

MA: Did any of your real-life experiences factor in to the plot at all?

LL: Excellent Question! Two factors helped to germinate the book.

1) I couldn’t understand why some of my close relatives attend cage-fights. In fact, one of my relatives has two personal trainers. He does workouts to avert weight and cardiac problems. It works for him. I wanted to understand their hobby better and that is one reason I undertook this book. I made one of the female characters a cage-fighter.

2) My hairdresser was witness to a murder where the discovery of the victim hinged on the finding of a breast implant (with serial number) inside of a body floating in the Newport Harbor. A similar object confounds Christine in my fictional novel, but I won’t give it away here.

MA: Will there be any spin-off stories from either the DOA in the HOA or Skookum Man?

LL: My subtitle, “A Christine Amador Mystery” does open the door to having a sequel, especially if a plot about online sleuthing comes onto my radar.

MA: Do you write anything other than novels?

LL: I have enjoyed writing socially networked blogs (27 of these) about various topics, including travel ones about places I have visited on the West Coast.

The travel ones have titles such as:

Oregon Nostalgia

Houseguests in the OC

Palm Springs Follies

Other current blogs I write try to involve people in using their hands in doing crafts. It turns out that the craft articles about ‘making things’ are the most popular. (I have a hunch that it is part of human nature to want to make things.)

MA: Lotus – thanks for stopping by and telling us all about DOA in the HOA. If my readers want to learn more, please visit: Read More

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Mar 07

‘From Audacity to Self-Confidence’ by Mary Deal

From Audacity to Self-Confidence

When writing, you should be emotionally pumped up to meet any challenges of your plot. Instead of wondering if you should write this or that, stop censuring yourself. Write it. Through the audacity of daring yourself, you turn your creativity loose.

Yes, there are barriers in how you write, but not what you write. Those barriers keep you writing sensibly and for the reading market. If your genre is a romance, sex or bedroom scenes may be obligatory. In fact, sex is obligatory in just about anything these days. But the type of sex scene will vary from one genre to another. I use the obligatory scene only as an example to show that styles of writing differ with each genre; also, to show that you need to have the audacity to write what your genre demands. Audacity lets you test the boundaries of the genre to make your story as exciting and true as possible. Without audacity, your story may end up being a flat read.

However, when it comes to having a finished product and touting your book to the public, audacity must be tempered. It is done through attitude. You cannot come across as a know-it-all to those who would learn from you and buy your book. In fact, you should be seeing yourself as helping others write their stories. You don’t have to offer classes and teach, just be there for people when you speak with them and they ask questions. It’s a subtle change of attitude from audacity to self-confidence.

Too, misused audacity can kill an author’s chances of gaining a wide reading audience. Nothing hurts more than to tout your book as something it hasn’t yet proven to be.

How many times have you read someone saying their book is destined to become a classic, or destined to become a blockbuster. Authors cannot make any such claims of their own books. These types of claims or reviews need to be made by people whose word carries weight, like book reviewers and other important people who didn’t have a hand in the writing of it. How can an author know if their book will become a blockbuster, and so on. The proof is in the reading and reviewing by significant others, and that doesn’t include family.

Something else authors mistakenly do when promoting their book is to compare it to another popular book:

Jane Eyre meets Gone with the Wind.

Spider Woman meets Wonder Woman.

Any such comparisons are foolish and career breaking. Your book is not about anything but what you’ve written until it’s tested in the reading market.

In touting your book, certain protocols need be followed. You cannot…

…say your book is the greatest

…say your characters are like this one or that one in any other story

…compare yourself to any other writer

Audacity has two faces and they need to be practiced. First, as a writer to release total creativity into the process of writing; second, to learn how to present yourself as a self-confident author who’s finished a book and doesn’t allow an over-inflated ego to get in the way of further success. Read More

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