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  1. Wow. All your advice has really helped me. I’m an aspiring author and I’ve always, ALWAYS had trouble defining clothing and dialogue has been pretty hard for me. It’s been hard for me to create a dialogue that makes the story sound believable and doesn’t make the reader drop the book(Or virtual book.)
    You can obviously tell I’m a high school student… or someone with horrible grammar. I’m really good at helping others create a good story; finding plot holes, fixing grammar, whatever. But it’s just that for myself, it’s super hard.
    If you could give even a LITTLE advice, that would be great.
    Thanks for all the awesome posts, they’ve really helped!

    • The first advice any author will give you is to keep writing. That’s how you’ll define your unique voice and improve your art. It’ll hurt. It’ll challenge you. You’ll have to ignore lots of naysayers, but when you’re finished, you’ll be a writer. It’s a wonderful life. Good luck to you. Come back again!

      • Hi I recently wrote a book and sent it off to publishers, it is about my life living w aids after almost dying in05 froma misgiagnosis and menegitis. The book is basically about mylife froming the american childhood to the present and covers homelessness, marine corps and going from nothing but a backpack to becoming a tradesman and buying a house and having the american dream to being diagnosed and losing it all. It is short because I didnt want to bore readers and is about 13000 words or 50 pgs. Im wondering how do I put it on google partners…I see lots of books but no option to sell.

  2. I can’t emphasize enough what “worddreams” told you. I was told I was a good writer when I was in high school. When in college I was told by an instructor, “Write before you gel.” I did write some over my lifetime, but didn’t get really serious until I retired at age 55. Don’t let those precious years go to waste.

  3. You can see what I’m up to at my blog site. Ch 1 of my novel Lethal inheritance is there, as well as where I’m up to in the process of publication.

    Your site has excellent tips, so I’ve taken a subscription.

  4. The thing I like about your blogs is that you have always been honest about how hard writing is and that whilst it can be rewarding it can sometimes be a struggle. I have read other relatively successful writers whose advice has been if you dont enjoy it – stop, but you have always been focussed on pushing forward though the bad times. It was a message I, at times, needed to hear!

    I took heed and the result is my own ebook on Amazon; The Grave Undertakings of Thomas O’Hanlon by Jeff Hare

    I am now writing a separate article for, hopefully, a freelance article on the selling process. The way I see it, its going to be difficult but at least I will have something to show for the journey.

  5. New ebook!! My first and hopefully not last.

    With the help of your own blog, Kali, and number of others, somehow I managed to push through and get to the end. It has always sickened me somehwat that other authors state things like “if you dont enjoy the writing – just stop” whereas your blogs have always stated plainly that sometimes writing can be a slog, very hard and very unejoyable, but if you keep going you WILL get there. Well, finally I have and after three months sitting on it before the rewrite, the results are now on Amazon’s Kindle store.

    The Grave Undertakings of Thomas O’Hanlon.

    I am also doing an article on not only the process of writing/publishing, but the after effects and the marketing etc. Any thoughts would be welcome. See my specially created blog for further details.

    Thanks, Kali.

    Jeff

      • Thanks for the kidn words, Kali. It is selling reasonably well (43 copies sold in a week) but I just dont know if that’s my friends buying it or if it is actually getting “out there” to people.

        Have been advised to make a You Tube ebook trailer to market the novel…Will have a look at it later.

        Thanks again for the encouragement.

        Jeff

  6. Jacqui, Just want to chime in with all the rest and say what an excellent site this is for writers. You advice is concise and to the point. Make sure you tell me when your book comes out. After all, I was there during the gestation.

    • It’s so good to hear from you Drusilla. I’m editing the novel I started back with you, planning on summer for query letters. I have a few agents interested, so who knows–one of those might come through. Then I’ll be back with you in September for another Novel Cram on my next mss. Hope all goes well with you. Any new books in your future?

      Thanks for dropping by.

  7. OOPs! I didn’t see the subscription place on the right. I have shared your link on my face book page. Are you on facebook?

    • Hi Delilah, it sounds like you found the subscription link. If not, let me know. You will have wonderful insights into my descriptors with your background. I try to put myself in my character’s emotional shoes and think what they would be feeling. It’s a challenge.

      Thanks for visiting!

  8. Hi!

    I’m Cassie.
    Ok I dont usually do blogs but I am an aspring writer and am desperatly looking for some feedback on a novel I have been writing over the last 6 months. I finally admited to myself that I want to be a writer and reach for my dreams, so with your help I hope to become a successful author. if you could possibly look on my blog and give me some feedback to the first two pages then I would be so grateful.

    Thanks

    X

      • sorry it has taken so long for me to reply. I kind of lost hope in the whole blog thing. It just seems so hard to get some feedback. But thanks for your support. Here is an extract of my book:

        The stillness of a calm winter’s night was interrupted as an expensive, black five door car pulled to a sudden halt up in front of my house. A young, athletic, tall man stepped out effortlessly and made his way through the gate and up the copper pebbled path. He wore dark blue jeans and shoved his white hands into his thick black double breasted coat, shielding himself from the cold. His broad shoulders filled out each corner of the material, making him appear sharp and smart, even though he was in casual attire. His chiselled jaw outlined his equal proportioned features. It was obvious that he was a very attractive and confident man who clearly grabbed the attention of any girl who was lucky to catch a glimpse of him. He was so handsome in fact, that when he wanted something he could normally get it without a second’s hesitation, especially if he threw the unsuspecting victim a heart throbbing smile.

        The path led him past the white picket fence, round the tall thick tree and toward the strong pretty building. The Tudor styled house was semi detached, recently painted white with black beams, and a carbon copy of every other structure on that street. The square green blocks of grass on either side of the path were cut perfectly and held a healthy light green colour. It was a miracle at this time of year and the only thing that made it stand out. Neighbours always glanced at my family’s house jealously because through rain and snow, our home always looked clean and classy. But this stranger wasn’t like all the other neighbours. He didn’t even glance at the garden as his smooth long strides quickly covered the distance to the shinny black front door. The mysterious man slowed as he reached it, but surprisingly it opened with ease, welcoming him in. He didn’t even take his hands out of his pockets as his black converse trainers stepped into the darkness. The door gently shut behind him, locking out the icy wind and the silent unaware street.

        Casually walking down the still corridor he took in the creamy magnolia walls. He flicked his straight hazel brown hair out of his bright green eyes, making it easier for him to see the black framed photographs in a straight line down the wall. They were the same size and sat equal distance from each other, decorating the plain hall naturally. In each picture was one of my family members, love beaming from each smiling face into the heart of anyone who bothered to look. The photographs showed that this house held a single mother who supported her two children, my brother and I. We both had warm blonde hair like hers and the same thin body frames. But I looked more like my mother because we both had soft delicate features and my brother was more defined. The stranger promptly made his way across the rich white carpet till he reached the staircase. Each stair was covered in the same white carpet as the hall to match with the rest of the pure clean theme.

        He could have walked into the living room as the door was open wide and only two steps to his left. If he glanced in he could have seen the big plasma television against a maroon red wall. It sat defenceless on its stand, with a Sky box below it and a fairly new DVD player, each lit up like a Christmas tree. You would have to be blind not to see them. He could have effortlessly grabbed any or all the items and sneaked from the house without a sound. But if he didn’t want to do any heavy lifting he could have ignored the electrical devices. He could have avoided the stairs and carried on down the hall, past the white banister and into the kitchen. The room was easy to see in the dark because the full white moon reflected off the black marble counters that sat on white cupboards. They sat ordered and organised in a line across the right hand side wall. The floors had a pattern of black and white tiles that spread under the cream wooden table and chairs on the opposite side of the room. At the back of the kitchen were French double doors that opened up into a reasonable sized green garden, cornered off by a tall grey fence. Along the edges of the perfectly cut grass were squares of brown soil which in the summer were always filled with an array of beautiful coloured flowers. My mother and I would spend our weekends just before spring planting all the different types of plants, in an attempt to make patterns, and somehow with my mum’s special touch, it would always turn out perfectly.

        If he just looked through the draws in that kitchen he would have quickly found silver cutlery that he could have easily sold on the street. If he glanced in the cookie jar on the island in the middle of the room he would have pocketed a reasonable sum of money that would have bought anyone a few weeks worth of food. But he wasn’t looking for money. He just stood at the bottom of the stairs gazing up to the landing. The narrow corridor held three white doors that sat firmly shut. A smaller door was left ajar at the bottom of the corridor, exposing the toilet. My mother, brother and my rooms were equal distance apart and there was no way of telling them apart. There were no sounds that made any room stand out. No label saying ‘keep out’ or our names with a cheesy sign attached in pink or blue writing to show the intruder which room to avoid or enter. But he didn’t need visual aids to help him find what he was looking for; he could already sense where it was. For the first time since he stepped out of the car he hesitated. Closing his eyes and swallowing the lump in his throat he began to get second thoughts about what he was going to do. They had never asked him to do anything like this before and after he did, there was no going back.

        If you can let me know what you think I would be grateful.

        Thanks

        Cassie
        x

  9. It’s very descriptive, Cassie. I like that. I can see the man, the house, imagine his walk up the path and into the house. You build the drama effectively with words and images that he’s not there for good–that danger is lurking.

    Here’s one suggestions: You’re in first person, so this is where I see a problem. Get your POV character out front early–more than saying ‘I looked more like my mother’. You must be watching from somewhere–a window? a hiding place? How are you seeing this action? Let me know. That will build the drama even more as I wonder if you’re safe.

    Keep it up. You have a good start with lots of possibility.

    • You have a nice writing style, with a fresh outlook on everyday items (like ants). It’s entertaining and because they’re short, no reader will stop in the middle. Each has a moral that is softly defined, allowing readers to reach their own conclusions. Nicely done, Tskraghu.

  10. Thanks very much for taking the trouble of looking at it and providing an encouraging feedback. How important it is to settle on a genre? I keep ‘going all over the place’. And one last question: how does one figure out if one is doing a decent job of it and is worth pushing ahead (I don’t mean commercially) or it has been a ‘good try’ but…

    • Picking a genre is paramount when you get serious about writing. A lot of authors brag about dabbling in many genres, but the gurus of fiction writing will tell you to make a choice. Each genre is written differently and you have to get used to the style to do it well. You can’t do that if you’re jumping around.

      As for figuring out if you’re doing OK, that’s a personal decision. I hope you have a trusted writers group who’s honest with you. They’ll help you determine when you’re ready. You can post material on Scribd and see how many reads you get–a sort of barometer, but not one to discourage you. I write because I enjoy it. My business is in my non-fic, so my fiction is for personal satisfaction. Though, I wouldn’t mind more.

      My quick opinion: you have a knack for building drama in a plot. Don’t give up. That’s hard to teach to someone.

  11. I’m writing, recording and uploading an original song everyday this year. I’ve been keeping a daily journal about the inspirations and challenges involved in creating a song and meeting a midnight deadline every single day. I’ve accepted a 2-album record deal with a long-established indie label…they’ll get me on the radio all over the world…I talk about how that deal came about and other things I’m learning about the business side of music…right now I’m exploring publishing options for the music, but there’s a problem. I want to publish an electronic version of the book entitled ‘My 365′ and I want my book to have the mp3s embedded in each page…I’m not sure if there will be a problem with the music and book publishers… no one seems to know about that…I want to embed the songs in the book because I’ll be talking about things that inspired each particular song… things in my mind…worries and happy thoughts…this is a roadmap for any aspiring musician or writer to follow if they like. You can read short excerpts from my journal by clicking on the ‘music’ tab and listening to some of the songs…I’ve included short bits from the book on the top of each jukebox page.

    • Hi Rhonda

      I know a guy who might be able to do that for you. I haven’t used him myself, but he has a great reputation. When I get to my ‘other’ computer, I’ll send his name. If I don’t, poke me to remind me.

      Love your music. I have it playing right now. Very motivating. What a lovely voice.

  12. FYI, since you have an interest in Technothrillers and tech education, here’s one that’s online (free) or in print:

    The novel “Rad Decision” culminates in an event very similar to the Japanese tragedy. (Same reactor type, same initial problem – a station blackout with scram.) The author has worked in the US nuclear industry for 25 years. Readers report the book is an excellent source of perspective for the lay person. The novel is free online at the moment at http://RadDecision.blogspot.com . (No adverts, nobody makes money off this site.) Reader reviews are in the homepage comments – there have been a lot, and they’ve been uniformly positive. One of the interesting things about modern nuclear power in the US is that few really understand how it works day to day — including most scientists and journalists who are commenting to the media on the topic.

    • I’m sorry to hear that. Here’s what most authors do when they’re having difficulties putting words on paper: Just do it. Say whatever comes to mind. Let it all gush onto the page. Edit later. Good luck!

  13. I,m writing a book about myself, living with ALS from the first day of my first symptoms to testing to living with ALS today for as long as I can used my one hand my left to weak can only type uesd one finger
    Thank You for your skills

    • That will be quite a story. I felt bad when arthritis took my right hand–left me with one finger that worked. And I’m a tech teacher! But I have become pretty fast with six fingers. Can’t imagine one. Look forward to your story. There’s always a great market for overcoming adversity. People will love your story.

  14. Hello, Jacqui.

    I just came across your page, checked out a few things and I think it’s a great resource for writers. There’s much for me to explore on your site and I look forward to reading it over time.

    I am also an educator and have been in the profession for over 10 years. I’m currently working outside the US, but my most recent experience was in southern California. I was living in Laguna Beach and working Inglewood. It was a horrible commute, but worth it at the time.

    I’ve always thought that I would write a book at some point in my life, but never put a plan into place to make it happen. I’ve been blogging on and off for a couple years and enjoy the experience,although I understand that the long breaks have been detrimental to my growth as a writer. I write about my life’s experiences and share things I think align with my beliefs on perception, observations in context, and the distinct interpretations made any given person. If you check out my blog, please refer to the about page and the ‘suggested posts to read’ in the side margin (I’m most proud of these posts).

    Interacting with other bloggers is the only writing community in which I’ve participated and I enjoy the experience. I gather that you have much more experience and insight into this matter and would appreciate any thoughts you have on finding writing communities. Since I’m currently living abroad, I feel that cyberspace is the best place for me to connect with other writers. I hope to have fun, improve my writing and focus of thought as I meet other interesting writers and learn from them.

    • What a terrible commute–LB to Inglewood. If you still lived in LB, I’d invite you to my writer’s group. Someday… I haven’t tried any of the online writer’s groups. I hear a lot of good feedback on them, just don’t have the time to put into it. If you decide to do that, I’d love to hear how it goes.I’m going over to check out your blog. You’ll find me there in a few

  15. Saludos, Jacqui!

    Como esta usted? How are you on this lovely evening? I am wonderful and blessed and incredibly full, what with my surfing of the web, searching for ways to promote my work online! And here, I have found you. That is the cherry atop my sundae. Echoing the others above, I am in awe of the wealth of information presented on your welcoming site. By far, it is the best I’ve discovered.

    Speaking with a writing friend earlier this year, I learned that some writers were now publishing their blogs, and as I perused your site, I observed you’d already covered that topic in the entry on “Kindle Your Blog.” Indeed, I shall return to read it before reluctantly leaving the site!

    YOUR PLATE IS FULL! How do you manage to accomplish it all? Although you cannot see me, I am bowing! You deserve it. A lesson on time management and determination, you give much to others…as I can see from your thoughtful responses to those who have come out of the “blogsphere” to say hello and ask questions. Therefore, I shall ask here and now, what may I do for you? Don’t answer right away. Give yourself time to ponder it. Perhaps once you visit (and join, if you like) my blog home at http://www.thegolden-goddess.blogspot.com, you will discern how I might be of service to you!

    Nonetheless, I shall traipse on to share more of why I am Present. I’d like to share a copy of my new novel, “If You Love ME, Come,” released July 2011, with you for a review under your hats as an Amazon Vine Voice and as an Examiner.com writer.

    I am leaving my book’s Prologue to give you and your community an appetizer of my repast! Tis true, I am proud of the novel, on which I have received rave reviews, but I’d LOVE your thoughts, too, Jacqui Murray!

    Finger pop!

    I have it! When your book comes out, I shall be delighted to honor you with an author interview and a review on my blog! I am anticipating increasing my numbers with a Book Giveaway soon. And you’re welcome to participate, introducing your work to my followers.

    Before your eyes weary, I shall post my Prologue and bid you Buenas noches!

    It has been my pleasure to “drop in!” Yes, we writers know what it is to be lonely. All day I have surfed the web, albeit joyously, learning about online resources to support me at my craft.

    Warm regards,

    Claudia Moss

    ************************************************************

    PROLOGUE

    Techwood Homes was quiet that blanket-draped night in 1993, in Atlanta, Georgia. Unlike other evenings when the community was a blight of flashing blue sirens and amazed reporters on the eleven o’clock news or a whisper of Black Death strolling amongst its residents like a natural man. Which was why J.T. would have died and haunted a well-dressed woman in a grey Mercedes for the rest of her days had he known she drove the neighborhood’s well-snubbed streets after ten p.m., telling herself she was looking for a new shortcut home tonight.

    She knew it was a lie. Fact was, she didn’t know why she felt compelled to be in this tucked-away enclave where folks thrived in infected air and experienced different joys and sorrows than those who whizzed up and down North Avenue stiff-and-starch necked, as though merely glancing in the direction of the Techwood Homes Community Living Project might turn them into stone, causing massive traffic shutdowns in a profitable part of the city.

    But the March evening was so peaceful and the bookstore’s closing so lucrative and a killer flu’s reputation so murky in pale-yellow streetlights, until the change of scenery proved a reprieve for the driving woman, accustomed as she was to bustling storefront shops, long noisy streets, milling nightlife, panhandled corners, and crowded eateries.

    There weren’t many residents about. Just short squat brick buildings, sitting like fat mortar ducks behind uneven sidewalks, disheveled and webbed with cracks. Graffiti-marked walls, with boarded-shut or empty-eyed windows, cast lonely shadows. Iron-winged gates surrounded courtyards hungry for grass and gatherings.

    Atlanta’s answer to housing low-to-no income families ten or twelve years ago, Techwood slid from a colorful development into a drab project in the 80’s. Drugs and crime hurried its landslide, pressure-washing laughter from the units and leaving a stench of standing misery. In city hall, an SOS for renovation and social programs went up. For the young and the old. But those who could appropriate program funds closed their ears and hearts and tried not to be caught anywhere near the intersection of Spring Street and North Avenue, before or after nightfall. Most remembered Techwood’s intolerance for white-to-bright skin and suspicion of strange dark ones, word on the walls and in the streets had it.

    A teenage couple hugged up under a lamppost here and a knot of old folks congregated in a yard there fanned March mugginess like heavy flies. Of the eyes present, most studied the stranger as intently as she them. And since they were neither glassed specimen nor caged wildlife, the woman slowed and waved. The scene before her could have been a Romare Bearden portrait on the walls of the High Museum on Peachtree Street or a flashback of smiling, country faces from her Alabama childhood. Thinking and driving, she marveled at it all. No one she knew ever considered visiting Techwood, yet here she was.

    What a tragedy if the beauty of this street was never a triumphant feature in the Atlanta/Journal & Constitution, in Parade Magazine, on the news, or in folks’ perceptions.

    Her thoughts splintered. One mind suggested she get on home, the other intimated she park, strike up a conversation. A nearby threesome looked interestingly innocent. Just as she cut the Mercedes towards the curb to park, something streaked from the dark into the white of her headlights. Jarringly, the idea of a collision eclipsed her breath.

    Somewhere, someone screamed.

    A searing shriek, the sound ripped through her, boiling her blood and pricking her skin. Her heart lurched. The reflex sent her right foot into the floorboards, practically forcing her bumper to kiss asphalt. Fear invaded her limbs, squeezing her windpipe, causing her body to shudder and tremble not to give up the Ghost.

    Thank you, God! She shifted the car into park and leaped into the night, landing near the car’s hood to lean over a child. A bronze boy of four or five, with large round nut-brown eyes, confusion at their core, nose running, face drawn in astonishment, as though the one thing he knew for sure was this street belonged to him and this person had no place on it. His jean shorts sagged and a dingy, striped T-shirt hollered to cover his middle. He clutched a frayed basketball.

    “Hi. You okay?” The woman smiled a breathy smile.

    The child didn’t smile or answer, but his eyes twinkled. “Where do you live?”

    He pointed to a dark unit on his left.

    “What’s your name?”

    The boy remained close-mouthed, so the woman bent low, lower. At his eye level, she’d appear harmless. Suddenly, they were caught in a paperweight of magically swirling time. The sweet way he studied her birthed a longing inside the woman to hear his voice. Their eyes caressed in silence, while the evening wind pin-wheeled playfully about them.

    “Mooo-key! Mookey Man!” A woman’s voice sliced the shadows.

    Only then did he speak, his voice floating up to her—small, proud and unafraid.

    “My name’s Lewis Earl Reynolds.”

    The young woman grinned and reached out to him, but he pulled away and held one hand high. “I’m these many.” Four stubby, grimy fingers wagged the air.

    A current of warmth riveted them at the fit of his palm in hers. “Lovely!” she said in a honeyed tone. “I’m that and twenty-four more.”

    Not too far off, an older woman stood with her arms akimbo.

    On cue, the March evening gathered itself, exhaled and yawned softly, its blue-black covers fluttering gently, nudged backward by the promise of dawn in the distant sky. Fate had accomplished her mission, unbeknownst to the people propelled toward one another like falling stars. Magnetized, they were unable to halt the inevitable if their lives depended on it, and since their lives did, thus began their story….

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