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EVERYONE WANTS TO BE AN AUTHOR

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A warmer "hi" to all my friends and family, even if you don't think you're my friend, you are. The weather here in Utah has been delightful, actually a bit too warm -- record breaking.


Over the past few weeks I've only given you quick and dirty advice about your writing. So, today I thought I'd get back to the basics and give you some of the solid advice I learned from Dean Koontz several years ago in his book, "How to Write Best Selling Fiction" (1972). It's a great book on the art and mechanics of writing best selling fiction. If you can find a copy (maybe in your local library???) get it. It's a bit dated, copyrighted in 1972, and went through a third printing in 1984. He wrote this a long time before the self-publishing craze we're currently going through. Still I think it's got a lot of good advice for writers today, advice that kept me going when I felt like giving up when I was writing Bridgetown High.


In Chapter 2, pages 13 - 14 of his book, he summarizes what makes for "Best Selling" fiction, and I think these bits of advice still apply. He says, "The average reader demands eight things of a novel:
1) a strong plot; 2) a great deal of action; 3) a strong hero, or a heroine, or both; 4) colorful, imaginative, and convincing characterizations; 5) clear, believable character motivations; 6) well-drawn backgrounds; 7) at least some familiarity with the rules of English grammar and syntax - the more familiarity the better, of course; 8) a style which embodies at least a trace of lyrical language and as many striking images as possible, for good writing is always vivid and visual."

Today, I'll only touch on one of these 8 items. I mean, if it took Koontz a whole hardback book to cover them, there's not way I can do more than one in this short blog. I don't pretend to think I can do any one of them true justice in this blog, but I will touch on my thoughts.

1) "a strong plot."

What makes for a strong plot? You can't believe how many of today's novels lack a strong plot. This is especially true of self-published novels, and why they might not interest an agent or traditional publisher. Frankly, I have difficulty reading such novels. They just don't draw me in.

A strong plot incorporates most of the other basics Koontz listed. I always go to my plotting advice where you need to have your main character (MC) in some kind of "terrible trouble," as Koontz calls it, beginning on page 1, paragraph 1, if possible. That way the reader begins to care for the MC from the first page. Then, as the MC tries to get out of trouble, their troubles only get worse. That is the beginning of your plot. I always try to write the ending right after I write paragraph 1. The reason for this is to focus your writing toward solving the MC's terrible troubles. You can certainly have sub-plots, and they help to make the story richer, but they all need to be resolved before you type, "The End."

I'll try to get to the other of Koontz's advice next week. Until then, if you like this blog, or even more, my book, "Bridgetown High" do me a favor and write a 5-STAR review and post it on my Amazon page. It should only take 5 or 10 minutes. You can find my book at www.bridgetownhigh.com.




Also, to see some of the great reviews for Bridgetown High, go to my Amazon site: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1680583093/ref=cm_sw_su_dp, or my Goodreads site at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26873370-bridgetown-high?from_search=true

See ya'll next week.

About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Thursday, March 16, 2017

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High to all my family and friends.


This past week has been a very busy one. So, I thought I'd ask what do you want me to tell you about the writing world.



There's so much to talk about, and over the past 30+ years I've learned a thing or two or three. So, contact me with some ideas of how I can help you in your quest to become an author. Like I said in earlier postings, I'm doing this blog to help you see what I have gone through to become a published author, and now all I'm going through to get my book to sell. The two ain't the same, believe me. I'm struggling to learn what to do just to get my book noticed. That ain't easy either. My publisher has done a great job of printing, editing, designing cover art, and promoting it to Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes&Noble, etc. There are other outlets they've used to sell my book, but I can't remember what they are.

Now, I'm still trying to get reviews. The ones some of you have done for me are great and I truly appreciate them. I have a rating of 4.2 STARS on Amazon and 4.5 STARS on Goodreads. I'm learning, however, that the more reviews you get on Amazon, Goodreads,  and Barnes&Noble, and the more "Likes" and "Shares" you get on Facebook the more likely you are to sell books. "Likes" let Amazon know how popular the book is on their site. "Shares" let your "Friends" know it's for sale and any other bits of information like this blog post. By the way, if you want to read the great reviews Bridgetown High has garnered so far go to this Amazon site: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1680583093/ref=cm_sw_su_dp or on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26873370-bridgetown-high?from_search=true

So, if you like my book, "Bridgetown High" do me a favor and write a 5 STAR review and post it on my Amazon page.

Until next week, be thinking of what you'd like me to discuss about the writing profession and I'll try to answer as best I can.

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Hello "EVERYONE." After reading my blog messages, do you still want to be an "AUTHOR?" I hope so. It's an exciting journey. Often frustrating, but even if you never get published, it's a rewarding experience.


For those of you who are new to following me and who I am, I wrote the selling novel, Bridgetown High. Today, I thought I'd tell a little bit about the novel and maybe encourage you in your writing, that if I could write and get published by a traditional publisher, maybe you can too.

BRIDGETOWN HIGH is a suspenseful look at how conditions were in the mid-1960s. The Vietnam War, drugs, alcohol, teen romance, first loves, etc. A lot has changed sine then, but in the long run not much has really changed if you compare both eras.


It's a story about Seventeen year old Mark Wilkerson who has no memory of the fiery crash that killed his family on the Carquinez Bridge in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now living with his grandmother and burdened with guilt that he may have helped to cause the accident, Mark vows to find the hit-and-run driver and take his revenge. But, the only detail he remembers is round taillights swerving in front of his family’s car. He is shocked when he notices that Jeff Marino's car, has identical taillights—and a suspicious dent in his rear fender. Jeff Marino is the school's bully. Now Mark wants revenge more than ever… On the other hand, Jeff believes Mark is an anti-Vietnam War activist like Mark's cousin Gary and despises him for it. To make matters worse, when Jeff’s girlfriend, Genie Lombardi, dumps him for Mark, it kicks Jeff’s hatred for him to a dangerous new level. Lies and threats escalate, until drugs and alcohol, and a shocking death, send Jeff over the edge and his campaign to get Genie back, any way he can, turns violent. When Mark’s memory starts to return, it leads to a terrifying confrontation between Mark and Jeff. Will Mark finally prove the identity of the guilty driver? Or will he and Genie become one more tragedy associated with the Carquinez Bridge?

This book took me quite a long time to write, edit, re-edit, re-re-edit, and once more, edit. I actually tossed in the garbage can several times, but I still believed in it and just couldn't just let it rest. Finally, after hundreds of agent rejections, I found Limitless Publishing who was willing to publish BRIDGETOWN HIGH. I can't say they will publish your novel, but it's worth a try. I'm willing to review your book, if you want, and decide whether or not to recommend your book to them.

I hope that encourages you, not discourages you. For me, writing is in my blood. I just can't quit. I hope my next novel, a sequel to BRIDGETOWN HIGH, will be as well written.

So, until next week,  as always, if you like this blog/message, please remember to "Share" and "Like"it on Facebook , and "Tweet" or "Retweet" it on Twitter. Then PLEASE, take five minutes to write a review and post it on Amazon. I need all the reviews I can get to make this book a success. Also have you signed up for my email letters on my Blog Site? I would love to see you there and have you introduce yourself and give comments, good or bad, to this blog. And also keep in mind "BRIDGETOWN HIGH" is still available at Amazon, Goodreads and Barnes&Noble and several other places I can't remember. You can read some GREAT reviews of BRIDGETOWN HIGH on Amazon and Goodreads in case you need more info about my novel. Almost everyone who has read it, loved it.


(By-the-way, if you are reading this on my blog (www.paulwwest.com) the above blued words are clickable links. Just hold down the Control key and click on the blue words.)

See y'all next week, and happy writing.
Paul


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 Hi everyone, that includes you if you're reading this, ha ha.

Today, I thought I'd share with you an experience I had the last couple of days on Facebook. My sweet sister (and I mean that truthfully) posted the following note on my timeline:

"Truly can't wait to see everyone's response...I think it will be interesting to see how we are all connected. Since life is not only made of photos, I'm going to get into the game called "a reunion of friends." The idea is to see who reads a post without a picture. So, if you are reading this message, make a comment using a single word about how we met. After that, copy this message on your wall and I will also leave you a word. Please, don't leave a word and then not bother to copy the text. You'll ruin the fun."


So, as instructed, I copied and pasted her note on my Facebook timeline just to see what would happen. I didn't expect much. I mean, after all, who wants to admit they know a poor author? What transpired after that was truly amazing. I heard from true friends and relatives I haven't heard from in years. I had no idea they were following me. Go ahead to my Facebook page and see what happened. Go ahead and post something more there if you wish. I'd love to hear from you even if we've never met in person. I even made contact, somehow, with the John Swett High School Library (where I went to school, see photo). I found friends I hadn't heard from since high school.

I just hope that will translate into sales.

Go ahead and start your own chain. Follow the instructions my sister sent me. It's fun, and I got a lot of free publicity for BRIDGETOWN HIGH, he he he.

Okay. So, until next week,  as always, if you like this blog/message, please remember to "Share" and "Like"it on Facebook , and "Tweet" or "Retweet" it on Twitter. Then PLEASE, take five minutes to write a review and post it on Amazon. I need all the reviews I can get to make this book a success. Also have you signed up for my email letters on my Blog Site? I would love to see you there and have you introduce yourself and give comments, good or bad, to this blog. And also keep in mind "BRIDGETOWN HIGH" is still available on Amazon, Goodreads and Barnes&Noble and several other places I can't remember. You can read some GREAT reviews of BRIDGETOWN HIGH on Amazon and Goodreads in case you need more info about my novel. Almost everyone who has read it, loved it.

(By-the-way, the above blued words are clickable links. Just hold down the Control key and click on the blue words.)
See y'all next week.
Paul
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Hi to all my great family and friends. Can you feel it? Can you feel Spring coming on? Boy, it's a wonderful feeling.

So, how are you coming with your own writing? Are you working on a novel? Let me know so I can help you. I'm very willing to review some chapters you might be having trouble with (I know, I know, you're not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition). Did you know that? Well it's kind of an archaic rule, so most of us writers ignore it - but to me it still sounds wrong.

So, today I thought I'd talk about a subject you hear a lot about in the writing world, that is;
 "WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW"
That sounds obvious, but I think we all need to learn about that rule. Let's take a made up example. What if you want to write a murder mystery, but like me, you grew in a small town, and lived there all your life. Murders have never happened there. But that town is what you know best. Can you make murder a subject in that town? Maybe, maybe not. So, you need to set you novel in some exotic place where murders happen all the time. But you don't know anything about all the exotic places you see on television, or in the movies.
So what do you do? 
Well, in today's technological world with the internet, you can "know" all about those places, IF you are willing to do the research. You can't cheat because your readers will know and will not read your novels again, maybe not even finish reading the novel they're currently reading.

But some writers get around that by making up make-believe worlds by writing science fiction or  fantasy. And maybe that's partly why I'm not all that crazy about those genres.

So what if you want to write a novel set in modern day, in a known place?

Again, the internet is a great resource. With Google Earth you can zoom into most places around the world and make a place you've never seen, become real to the reader.

In my novel, BRIDGETOWN HIGH, I have to admit, I cheated a bit, but not really. I made a small town community of four towns the setting for my mystery/suspense novel with the Carquinez Bridge the main character. The towns of Crockett, Rodeo, Tormey, and Port Costa, are real town in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the high school where most of the drama takes place is a real school. I grew up in these places and with a little additional research, was able to "show" the towns the way they looked back in 1965.

So, unless you live in an exotic location, or you can make your small town come alive, do your research. Even if your world is made up, you have to make it seem real.

Okay. So, until next week,  as always, if you like this blog, please remember to "Share" and "Like"it on Facebook , and "Retweet" it on Twitter. Then PLEASE, take five minutes to write a review and post it on Amazon. Also have you signed up for my email letters on my Blog Site? I would love to see you there and have you introduce yourself and give comments, good or bad, to this blog. And also keep in mind "BRIDGETOWN HIGH" is still available on Amazon, Goodreads and Barnes&Noble and several other places I can't remember. You can read some GREAT reviews of BRIDGETOWN HIGH on Amazon and Goodreads in case you need more info about my novel.
(By-the-way, the above blued words are clickable links. Just hold down the Control key and click on the blue words.)
See y'all next week.
Paul
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EVERYONE WANTS TO BE AN AUTHOR

Hello, all my family and friends. Welcome to my crazy world of becoming an author. Last I looked, there are around 370 followers of this blog. I hope to get many more. To some of you who are new to following me, I try to write something each week that may, or may not, help you in your writing career.

Alternatively, you're following me just because you like me. I like to think both motives are in play here. (Oh, and P.S. I have no idea who took the picture above. If that person wants me to quit using it, he/she can let me know, but I like it. It depicts the setting for my novel BRIDGETOWN HIGH.)

So, what would you like to read about in future blog posts? Attach a message to the end of this message and let me know.

Today, I thought I might talk about beginning to write a novel. I've covered this in the past but I still see writers making the same mistakes. I think the biggest mistake I see wannabe authors make is to begin the story by larding on tons of back story and descriptions, all that boring stuff that "NEEDS" to be explained what led up to the point where the real story begins." NOT!

If you expect a reader to spend money and time with your book, you need to capture that reader's interest on the first page, preferably by introducing the main character and his/her terrible trouble in the first paragraph, or even the first sentence, if possible. I know that's a tough thing to do, but capturing that terrible, troubling incident on page 1 is imperative if you don't want to lose your reader. Then, you need to follow up by plunging that main character into worse trouble as the story evolves.
Consider "LITTLE WOMEN" by Louisa May Alcott. She begins her story with 4 young girls worrying about the upcoming Christmas. Their father is away at war, they have no money for gifts and think the season is going to be horrible.

That's terrible trouble in their mind.

Next, consider my novel, "BRIDGETOWN HIGH." The story begins with Mark Wilkerson wanting to throw up if he had to listen to any more of that morbid organ music in the funeral parlor. As the first page develops, we learn his parents were all killed in an automobile crash, and the story grow even worse when we learn he and one of his sisters were the only survivors and he can't remember any of it but wants to get even with the hit-and-run driver.

As a former critique moderator, I can't count on how many stories I've read that begin with background descriptions. Some don't even introduce the man character until the second or third chapter. How smart is that? Once I pointed that out to writers, suddenly their novel took off and became exciting.

So, what do you do with all that back story?

Well, probably much, or even most of it can be tossed in the electronic trash can. You need to decide whether it's needed. As for the rest, it can be added bit-by-bit in some dialog, or in actions in the real story.

Okay. So, until next week,  as always, if you like this blog, please remember to "Share" and "Like"it on Facebook , and "Retweet" it on Twitter. Then PLEASE, take five minutes to write a review and post it on Amazon. Also have you signed up for my email letters on my Blog Site? I would love to see you there and have you introduce yourself and give comments, good or bad, to this blog. And also keep in mind "BRIDGETOWN HIGH" is still available on Amazon, Goodreads and Barnes&Noble and several other places I can't remember. You can read some GREAT reviews of BRIDGETOWN HIGH on Amazon and Goodreads in case you need more info about my novel.
(By the way, the above blued words are clickable links. Just hold down the Control key and click on the blue words.)
See y'all next week.
Paul
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Hi all my faithful family and friends:


Today, I want to talk about writer's block. Everyone experiences it, and I suspect there are as many solutions as there are writers. So, what is an effective method to overcome it?


I often experience writer's block because I don't get a chance to write every day, thus I lose track of what I wrote last and where I intended the story to go.

The method that I find that works best for me is to go back two or three pages and begin reviewing what you last wrote. By the time you get to where you left off, you should be able to remember what you intended to write. Only, this time, I'm at a total block.


Before, I had a critique group to bounce ideas off of. But I don't have that support any more (Hint to myself: join another group).


I'm dealing with how to write the sequel to Bridgetown High, and only get to write about every two weeks or so. That makes it hard to keep track of what I last wrote and where I left off. Does anyone know of a "good" critique group?


Oh, and by the way, I'm still considering doing another blog tour, but I'm hoping they are worth the money -- something around $100.00. Does anyone know of a "good" blog tour company?


So, until next week,  as always, if you like this blog, please "Share" and "Like"it on Facebook , and "Tweet" it on Twitter. Then PLEASE, take five minutes to write a short review of "Bridgetown High" and post it on my correct author page at Amazon.


Also, remember to sign up for my email letters on my Blog Site. I would love to see you there and have you introduce yourself and give comments to this blog. Have a wonderful week.

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