One Second After by William R. Forstchen

One Second After by William R. ForstchenApocalypse / post-apocalypse books are my favorite sub-genre of books. (If there was such a list, I’m sure I would have read most of the biggies. And no, Dystopian is not the same thing and does not count.) So, ONE SECOND AFTER . . . is probably one of the scariest apocalyptic books I’ve ever read.

Whereas most other  apocalypse books are hard to imagine, even if they are feasible, One Second After is frightening because of it’s very feasible and possible scenario.  It had me wanting to go take a  survivor training class.

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How To Drive An Editor Crazy.

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Exclamation Points. Lose them! 

Carton ImageNew writers seem to love exclamation points.   Whenever I open a manuscript and spot a bevy of these little demons, I moan.  It’s a sure sign that the author is inexperienced.

Now, will a plethora of exclamation points keep me from buying a book?  Probably not by themselves.  However, the overuse of exclamation points is often a substitute for strong writing.  Plus, exclamation points are distracting, smack of insecure writing, and yes, will almost all come out in the edits.

So what should you use instead?

Show emphasis with your character’s words and the action he takes while saying them.  Take a look at this snippet of dialogue.

John grabbed my hand.  “Stop that.”

“Let go.” I met and held his angry gaze.  “Now.”

Obviously, there’s emphasis in both characters’ dialogue.  However, no exclamation points are needed. In fact, exclamation points would distract from the tension between the characters.

So, does that mean there is never a place for exclamation points?  Of course not.

John jumped to his feet and pointed to the balcony.  “Fire!”

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Techniques of the Selling Writer

Techniques of the Selling WriterOne of my favorite books on writing is Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain.  As most writing teachers will tell you, this is the bible for writing commercial fiction. It’s a valuable resource you’ll use throughout your writing career.  Just a word of warning, though.  It’s very dense, and you might not get it all the first time through.  Don’t worry about it.  You’ll get the parts  you’re ready for as a writer. Then I promise you’ll pull it out again and again during your writing career – maybe just to read sections — and then you’ll say,  “Oh, I get it.”

After over twenty years of writing, I still use it today and am still finding new information that I didn’t ‘see’ before.

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The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Passage by Justin CroninAs all of you know, I’m a big reader. I always have about four or five books going at a time. Until one of them grabs me and hangs on. Currently, I’ve been caught by Justin Cronin’s THE PASSAGE. It’s fabulous–if you like apocalypse books. (Which happens to be my favorite sub-genre.) It’s not a super fast read, but the writing is fabulous, and the story is layered and multifaceted. Sometimes, the best seller lists get it right

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