July 31, 2013

Why (Good) Writers Revise

Beginning writers tend to get hung up in plotting their stories and forget that what makes a good story is good writing. People are often amazed when I tell them that I don’t have any problem coming up with story ideas. The problem is in the execution. Execution involves more than getting the story down on paper, although that’s where most stories begin. Execution takes time and effort. The work of execution is revision. What happens when writers revise their stories? It’s not a great mystery, but if you’re not a writer you may not be aware of the extent to which revision is a critically necessary part of the process. If a story idea is ever to become a […]
July 9, 2013

Terri Lynn Merritts’ Review of The Expendable Man from Goodreads

Terri Lynn Merritts gave The Expendable Man 5 stars on Goodreads.  Here’s her review: “The author of this excellent thriller is also my Goodreads friend Peter Pollak and he gave me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Those who know me here know that is the only kind of review I give and I do not hesitate to tear apart an awful book by even a best selling author I tend to love. “I read a lot in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre and it is a personal favorite. This book kept me glued to my seat racing along with my heart pounding to see what would happen next. “The expendable man was American businessman Nick Grocchi […]
July 2, 2013

Book Review: The Woman Who Knew Too Much

The Woman Who Knew Too Much by B. (Bett) Reece Johnson is the first of three Cordelia Morgan mysteries, the last of which appeared ten years ago. Some readers may have a difficulty with the structure of this novel because Cordelia Morgan is not the protagonist or is at best a co-protagonist with Jet Butler, the character around whom the story unfolds. Butler is hiding out in Northern New Mexico under an assumed name after an unfortunate event twenty years in her past involving the deaths of innocent women and children. She returns home from teaching a college course in California to witness the death of a neighbor––another refugee from academia who is hiding out from his own demons. Butler […]
June 10, 2013

Moving Forward Thanks to Lots of Help from My Friends

Writing is often portrayed as a solo activity, but in truth, it is not–at least if the writer intends on having an audience for her/his output.  In my case, I’m blessed to have a cadre of willing readers, critiquers and proof-readers. Today, I handed over to Barb S for proofing Part III of The Chains of Time, a heroic fiction saga which is projected to run to 300,000 pages and 6 parts. I also received the comments of Connie Jo on In the Game, a detective story I wrote a couple of years ago and had set aside to let it mature (like a good wine?). Later in the week I’ll be getting the comments from Alexander on Part I […]
May 23, 2013

Waiting for the truth to come out: a review of Solomon’s Puzzle

Solomon’s Puzzle by Loris Nebbia. Blessing House Press, 2010 As someone who reads a lot of self-published and boutique published fiction, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two kinds of editors––those who work for the author and those who work for the reader.  Author-centric editors view their main goal as helping the author say what s/he wants to say with less concern about whether the reader will have problems sticking with the author while s/he spins her yarn. Reader-centric editors believe protecting the reader is their primary objective. Those editors scream when the author inserts conflicting or confusing details, wanders off the main path or gets bogged down. To that end, reader-centric editors are actually more helpful to […]
May 7, 2013

On Villains, Part Two

Why do people enjoy a good thriller or mystery? In large part it’s because we want to see the hero vanquish the villain, and while our focus is on the hero, the more threatening the villain, the greater the catharsis when the hero wins out. In order for the story to connect with the reader, however, the villain needs to be believable. In comic books and science fiction, villains can have super powers because we know the good guys have whatever it will take to defeat them. In mysteries, suspense and psychological thrillers, on the other hand, the villain must represent a real, but not over-the-top threat. Too often villains seem to have extraordinary powers––knowing for example where someone will […]