Guest Post

HAVE A BOOK TO PROMOTE? Lyrical Pens welcomes guest posts. Answer a questionnaire or create your own post. FYI, up front: This site is a definite PG-13. For details, contact cjpetterson@gmail.com cj

Sunday, June 23, 2024

“Write what you know” means “write the truth”

cj Sez:  Writers are always looking for the magic formulas and rules to make their writing struggles easier. Eight rules on this, ten tips on that, three on the other. There are two rules that top them all:


 My take is, the more I familiarize myself with the different philosophies and “rules” of the various writing worlds (journalism, creative, non-fiction, et al.), the better I am able to write the truth about my characters, their personalities, and their worlds to make them authentic.
 
   In a way, I am world-building for my novel.
 
   Granted it's easier to write “what you know”—i.e. the truth—when we write about the people and places we know best. In my Death on the Yampa novel, the setting is Dinosaur National Monument and the Yampa River that runs through it. And yes, I once did a five-day white-water rafting trip there. Even with that familiarity, I had to do more research to make sure I had the dialogue and sites correct. (Memories are notoriously faulty.)

   The following excerpt is from regional writer Judy Alter who specializes in her familiarity with Texas.

. . . “setting a book in a particular region (doesn’t) make a writer regional. It’s essential that the author absorb the setting so that rather than obviously telling, such things as geography, culture, food, and manners flow naturally. Otherwise, the background looks like those fake sets in so many grade B westerns.” 
 
   I’ll take Judy Alter’s advice one step further: Regions are made up of cities and people, and to write the truth about a city and its characters means the writer also needs to absorb the city setting and its language. That’s why Elmore Leonard’s books are so Detroit-authentic.


   I could never consider myself a regional writer, though not by choice, but by happenstance. Born in Texas and raised in Michigan, I currently live on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. (I guess I could do a decent job of characterizations and syntax of Detroiters.) As a native Texan, I do populate almost every story with a character from Texas, and now that I live in Mobile, Alabama, I people-watch intently. I want my new characters to have some authentic Southern attributes.

   I know a slew of excellent authentic South-regional writers; I also know I’ll never be that good. Writing things Southern is its own genre. There’s a humor and a dialogue cadence that are peculiar (and I mean that in the nicest way) to the South.
 
   Whatever the genre (mystery, suspense, romance) or theme (cats, dogs, yoga, ecology) of the novel, the details of setting are an all-important facet of grabbing and holding a reader’s attention. How do you incorporate your setting and what you know into what you write?

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  Did you ever watch a movie or read a novel with so many visuals or words tumbling out at a rapid-fire pace that they left you breathless?
 
  If you’re an author who is self-publishing or a small publishing company, author, speaker, and former teacher Ellen Buikema has some advice on how “to keep sensory overload at bay.”
 
  Read more at https://writersinthestormblog.com/2020/03/white-space-in-writing/
 
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  By the by, as the masthead of Lyrical Pens says, if you have a book you want to promote, old or new, let me know. We can arrange a blog date for your book tour. The only caveat is that this site is PG 13.

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  Okay, that’s it for today. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Raising prayers for a happy and safe you and yours.

cj
  
  Now some words from my sponsors:
 
  Beach? Mountains? StayCay? It’s time to plan for those holiday and summer vacation downtime moments when you can lose yourself in a book. THE DAWGSTAR and DEATH ON THE YAMPA are available on Amazon or through your favorite eTailer and bookstore.


Got a library card? You can read the ebooks free from Hoopla.
  Nota bene: Angela Trigg, the RITA Award-winning author and owner of The Haunted Book Shop has a few signed copies of my paperback books in stock. TO ORDER, contact: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us 

➜ Follow me on        
➜ Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
➜ Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/CjPettersonAuthor
➜ BookBub:   https://www.bookbub.com/authors/cj-petterson
➜ Goodreads:
https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6
 


Sunday, June 16, 2024

On-line troll reviews abound

cj Sez: Happy Father’s Day to all fathers, step-fathers, grandfathers, and adoptive fathers. And to all the fathers in heaven: You are dearly missed, every day. 


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From the Lyrical Pens Archives:

  A fellow writer was grieving and questioning what to do about a one-star review on Amazon that complained about something that wasn’t in her novel. Obviously, the reviewer hadn’t even read the book.

  One- and two-star reviews can be devastating, for future sales and for the author. Wherever there’s an opportunity to post a review, there will be trolls ready and waiting with low ratings—whether they’re warranted or not. I’ve seen reviews by people who purchased an item on Amazon then rated the product one star because they thought delivery took too long. Had nothing to do with the quality of the product.

  So where am I going with all this? It’s to reinforce why comments and reviews need to be put in perspective. Don’t let the naysayers persuade you that your work isn’t good. Hiding behind the computer keyboards of the Internet are nameless, faceless, and wretched on-line trolls. (Whew! I feel better now.)

  We can’t realistically expect all reviews to be five-stars (okay, we do, but that’s beside the point). I admit to having desperate pangs when someone dings a story. Yes, it skews the “average,” but then I re-read the good reviews that I do have (some posted, some not) and calm down a bit. 

  I remind myself that I cannot please every reader out there. There will always be someone who dislikes some characterization, challenges some datum, or is offended by piece of history. Always. Duh. That’s the reason there are a gazillion different stories in multiple genres for the gazillion different readers.

  If you receive a poor review from an on-line troll, consider the source, and please do not respond to the reviewer. That could dig a deeper, darker hole than you want to dive into. In the meantime, if you’re like me, you’ll console yourself with a treat.

 My favorite dessert: A hot fudge creampuff, with caramel pecan ice cream, and I have the recipe for those big, delicious creampuffs!

  Speaking of reviews: Have you taken a few minutes to give a one-line, on-line review for the latest book you read? You might be able to refute some troll.

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  On a personal note: My minivan finally gave up the ghost, and I had to get a new vehicle. Can’t imagine why it quit. It’s only 16 years old. I was hoping and praying it would last a few more years. My mechanic diagnosed the engine of the Town and Country as terminal in April, and I placed an order to lease a 2024 Chrysler Pacifica minivan in a deep blue color called “Fathom Blue Pearl.”

Thanks to son, Jeff, for the glamor shot.
  I picked it up Friday. It’s beautiful, and it's loaded—and I mean, really loaded—with all kinds of 21st-century electronic buttons and knobs on the instrument panel that I have no clue how to operate. 

  The first thing I needed to do was change the time on the clock—yet to be accomplished. I’ve always claimed to love learning new things (NOT computer things), so we’ll see if this vehicle beats me. (Ain’t gonna happen.)

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  By the by, as the invitation on the masthead of Lyrical Pens says, if you have a book you want to promote, old or new, let me know. We can arrange a blog date for your book tour…the only caveat is that this site is PG 13.
§§

  Okay, that’s it for today. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Raising prayers for a happy and safe you and yours.

cj

  Now some words from my sponsors:

  Father’s Day Gifts—Lyrical Pens suggests books, the gifts that keep on giving, and there are thousands to choose from in all their favorite genres.


  Beach? Mountains? StayCay? It’s time to plan for those holiday and summer vacation downtime moments when you can lose yourself in a book. THE DAWGSTAR and DEATH ON THE YAMPA are available on Amazon or through your favorite eTailer and bookstore.

Got a library card? You can read the ebooks free from Hoopla.

  Nota bene: Angela Trigg, the RITA Award-winning author and owner of The Haunted Book Shop has a few signed copies of my paperback books in stock. TO ORDER, contact: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us 

➜ Follow me on       
➜ Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
➜ Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6