January 23, 2016

Technological and Critical Divisions over House Divided

The Critical Divide A judge in the 3rd annual Writers’ Digest self-published ebook contest didn’t much like House Divided. She wrote, “What could be an interesting family drama is somewhat overshadowed by the bureaucratic side of Leonard’s job running a counterterrorism task force––the Israel/Palestine conflict is overexplained through these characters.” I can see the basis for that comment, although bureaucratic is not the word I would have chosen. The story does center around the task force’s efforts to uncover the terrorist’s organization in order to stop them from striking a second and third time. If a reader finds “police procedural” story lines boring, then House Divided is not for him/her. In terms of overexplaining the Israel/Palestinian conflict, given that most […]
December 30, 2015

Year-End Report on my Fiction.

As 2015 closes, you may be interested in where things stand with regard to my fiction. Amazon is the measure of how well each of my books is doing, although they are also for sale in half a dozen bookstores in upstate New York and on Barnes & Noble, iTune and Kozo websites. Here are my Amazon numbers: House Divided, which was introduced at the end of January 205, has received 22 reviews, earning an average 4.5 stars. It is ranked #1,210 in the Kindle terrorism category. The book with the highest review average is my suspense novel, Last Stop on Desolation Ridge. Reviewers found it worth 4.8 stars. The Expendable Man, my first novel, has received the most reviews […]
December 16, 2015

The Mystery of Genres: What’s the Difference?

A recent survey reported nearly 90 percent of New Yorkers are concerned another terrorist attack will occur in their state. Test question: Why might these New Yorkers be more likely to read the latest thriller than the latest mystery? The answer has to do with core structural differences between different types of genre fiction. Writers ought to understand how those differences help define their ideal audience, but readers can also benefit. Knowing the difference between genre types can help readers find books that fit their interests. Genre fiction divides along the lines of solving problems for individuals versus solving them for communities. A romance, for example, rarely gets into social issues since its stories are about individuals resolving their need […]
August 20, 2015

The Writer’s Best Laid Plans

I thought I’d share some insights into the writing process for people who enjoy my novels as well as for my writer friends who might find some useful ideas. I’m at work on my sixth novel. It will be another thriller based on an exciting what if proposition: What if the son of the president-elect has evidence his father is an agent for a foreign power? Initially, I set the story to begin right after the 2024 election, but after completing more than twenty chapters, or approximately 60 percent of the anticipated story, I realized it needs to take place in 2028, not 2024. Simple, you might say, but actually. . . not so much. For example, in 2028, Thanksgiving […]
June 16, 2015

Are there prerequisites to becoming a good novelist?

Can anyone become good at writing simply on the strength of innate talent and a desire to do so? That’s a fair question, isn’t it, given that hundreds of people are self-publishing novels never having taken a writing class or even mastered the elements of grammar as taught in high school English. These writers seem to be operating on the belief that all it takes is desire. They see fame achieved by people who are not too dissimilar from themselves and say ‘if she can do it, why can’t I?’ It’s easy to find works created with this mindset. I get emails daily offering self-published books for $0.99 or even free. I’ve tried to read several. I say tried because […]
June 3, 2015

Character Inconsistency: Why it happens and how to avoid it

As I read more and more beginning authors, I’ve often see a problem that occasionally comes up in my own writing––character inconsistency. This occurs when the plot requires a character to act in a way that conflicts with the previous description of his/her personality. I’ll cite examples and suggest some ways to avoid this problem. Example A: You’ve described Ben as a kindly old man living in your protagonist’s neighborhood, but a few chapters later you need him to race out of his house yelling curses at your main character when a vampire chases her and her friends through his backyard. Example B: You describe your protagonist Mary as smart and sophisticated, but then you have her to fall into […]