Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Guest: John Dolan

Something a little different this week. I've had a visit (virtual) from a (virtual) friend who asked me a question: How can you co-author a book with someone you never meet? Intrigued? So was I. Ladies and Gentlemen...


John Dolan

a Stranger Alliance

One of my old writer buddies – John Dolan – has dropped by today for a chat. Some of you will know John from his ‘Time, Blood and Karma’ mystery series, and he has penned the occasional post for this blog.

EJG: Welcome, John.

JD: Thanks, Eric. It’s good to be here again. Wherever ‘here’ is!

EJG: You have a new book out this month, ‘Chaos Is Come Again’, which you co-authored with the Virginia-based thriller writer, Fiona Quinn. And I understand there is something a little unusual about this collaboration.

JD: You could say that. You see, Fiona and I have never met.

EJG: How is that even possible?

JD: To tell you the truth, I don’t even quite believe it myself. Last Spring, when I was working in Dubai, Fiona and I encountered each other purely by chance on Twitter. We started chatting, then Skyping, reading each other’s works, and the next thing we knew, we’d decided to write a novel together.

EJG: That sounds risky.

JD: It sounds insane, now I come to think of it. But during our Skype calls we started throwing around ideas and jokes, moulding characters, and coming up with their storylines. We set up a Word document on the Cloud which we could both update – either online, or separately offline using a colour-coding methodology. By the time I left Dubai in July last year, we had a 25,000 word document.

EJG: That’s almost a third of a book!

JD: Yup. We then had a hiatus: I was writing ‘A PoisonTree’ and Fiona was up to her jugular in stuff. But by May of this year, we had cleared our diaries – sort of. So we threw together a spreadsheet showing what needed to happen in each chapter, divided the writing load in half, and set about it. We got a first draft out in three months, flipped the editing back and forth and then submitted it to an editor for polishing. Et voila! We have a book.

Amazon Link
EJG: So what is ‘Chaos’ about?

JD: It’s a psychological suspense, a mystery and a love story. All the characters are off-the-wall (and some of them are off the planet). The humour is rather dark, sometimes non-PC, and occasionally blasphemous. The action flips between Washington DC and London, where the plot lines all eventually converge.

EJG: Sounds wacky. Who is your target audience?

JD: Broad-minded folks who enjoy gallows humour and spotting literary references. The back cover of the paperback version features the following warning: “Contains references to Judas Iscariot, a dwarf, and a performing monkey.”

EJG: Hahaha. And are you and Fiona Quinn still speaking?

JD: Still speaking, but still not meeting.

EJG: Thanks for dropping by, John.

JD: It’s been a pleasure, as the actress said to the bishop.


Elevator pitch:

Sean hears voices in his head.
Travis snorts cocaine.
Teagan thinks she’s the next Lady Gaga.
Avery has the boss from Hell, and a mother with dementia.
And Goose wants to catch a serial killer.



BIOs

John Dolan

"Makes a living by travelling, talking a lot and sometimes writing stuff down. Galericulate author, polymath and occasional smarty-pants."

John Dolan hails from a small town in the North-East of England. Before turning to writing, his career encompassed law and finance. He has run businesses in Europe, South and Central America, Africa and Asia. He and his wife Fiona currently divide their time between Thailand and the UK.

Twitter @JohnDolanAuthor 

Fiona Quinn

Canadian born, Fiona Quinn is now rooted in the Old Dominion outside of D.C. with her husband and four children. There, she homeschools, pops chocolates, devours books, and taps continuously on her laptop.

Twitter @FionaQuinnBooks 


So that's us virtually done. I've had the privilege of reading John and Foina's new novel and it's superb. Don't miss it! A great read! Virtually perfect!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Guest: Jonel Boyko

My Guest this week is a top independent Book Reviewer who will share the secrets of how to write a superb critique of a novel; comments that will help readers decide whether to read a given book, and that are extremely useful for the authors too. Ladies and Gentlemen... 



Jonel Boyko


Crafting Killer Reviews



It goes without saying that we all enjoy reading, and many of us like to leave reviews about the novels that we enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy, whatever the case may be).  But how do you start?  What should you include?  Which of your thoughts are going to be most relevant to those who read your reviews?  An easy way to get a feel for reviewing is to read lot of other reviews (just not for the book that you’re about to review).  That way you’ll get a feel for what you find helpful and what you don’t.

When writing a review, you should always write your honest thoughts about the book while remembering that a review is about the book and its content. You may agree or disagree with what the book says or how it is written, but being personally critical of the author doesn't offer your audience much value.

I like to think of my reviews in 3 basic parts:  the story, the characters, and then my overall impressions & final thoughts.

For the first section I think about what caught and held my attention, if my emotions were engaged, did I enjoy the pace of the story, were the descriptions vivid enough to allow me to picture everything?

For the second section I focus on the development of the characters and if I was able to connect with and engage with them.

The final thought includes my overall impression of the novel, if I’d recommend it to others, would I read more by this author, and if it’s part of a series, could it be read as a standalone.

Make sure to write about the why’s.  If you say ‘I didn’t like this character’, as a reader I’m left wondering why.  However, if you say ‘I couldn’t connect with the main character who was too self-involved’ or ‘The characters in this novel were underdeveloped and superficial’ then, as a reader, I understand what the problem was and I can make an informed decision as to whether or not it is something that I would have problems with as well.  Also, if you simply state that you didn’t enjoy the story, or that you loved it, without giving any basis for your statement you don’t provide anything useful to those reading your review.

For the love of all things book-ish, don’t regurgitate the plot of the story.  Authors provide a synopsis on book sites for this purpose.  Also, don’t include spoilers.  A quote or two to emphasize certain aspects you enjoyed or didn’t enjoy is one thing, but don’t ruin the story for others by giving everything away. 

And the number one thing to remember when writing a review?  Have fun with it!  There are no two identical stories & therefore no two reviews will ever be the same.  Just be sure to provide your honest thoughts and feelings on the book you read.



Note from Eric:

I have had several of my novels reviewed by Jonel thus far and always find her observations insightful and helpful. A while ago, in conversations with her regarding how we could provide an example of one of her reviews so you may see the product of her methodology applied for real, I suggested she tackle my recently-completed novel - at all times I stressed (unnecessarily as she is a professional) that the result must be unbiased and independent of the invitation to my blog. I believe in my work and was willing to reflect whatever result she produced. The following is the review:

I can't stop thinking about it, October 15, 2014

As we’ve come to expect from Gates’ work, this story is complex and multifaceted. Readers are taken on an intricate journey through this one of a kind plot without ever looking back. Gates brings the world that he creates to life in vivid clarity, allowing readers to picture each aspect of the tale without curbing their imagination. The unique concepts not only catch your attention but are fully developed, allowing you to join in with the characters in their plight. The suspense carries through the tale, keeping you on your toes to the very last chapter. He had me guessing throughout, but was always a step ahead of me.

Gates’ in depth characters will leave you breathless. Not only do you get to know them well, but you can identify with them. I found myself firmly placed by the side of the main character, racing through this tale. There was, of course, individuals that I didn’t personally like as people, but Gates set up the characters in such a way that I could always see where they were coming from and how their past and present affected who they are.

This isn’t a light, easy read. It will definitely take more than one sitting, but you’ll be thinking about it throughout. That’s one of the things I like best about Gates’ writing. His story is intense and thought provoking, taking storytelling to another level.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.”


(Please note, Jonel doesn't always give me 5 Stars for a review - she's honest and direct and that's what matters to me as an author.)

BIO
Jonel Boyko is the sole reviewer at Pure Jonel, a book blog with 700+ followers, launched in December of 2012, with monthly hits of 6000+ and daily posts including reviews, guest posts, author interviews, giveaways and more. She caters to authors of all types and a variety of different publishers, Indie & traditionally published alike.  Jonel has ranked in the top 25 Canadian reviewers on Goodreads for the past year, and maintains a 90%+ helpful reviewer rating on Amazon.

If you are an author, please feel free to contact her at any time to request a review, interview, or guest post.  Just email her at purejonel@gmail.com 

Jonel also has an excellent blog here:  http://purejonel.blogspot.ca  


Thank you, Jonel, for a superb practical post which is instructive to both readers and writers alike.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Guest: Tamie Dearen

My Guest this week has chosen to tackle the Dark Side... Yes, it's not all about Heroes and Heroines, folks. There are some fantastic Bad Guys out there... Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you...


Tamie Dearen


Greatest Literary Villian




Who is the greatest literary villain in history? 


Before I answer that question, let me explain my methods of determination. Employing a (highly-scientific) poll of my Facebook friends, I compounded a list of probable candidates. The question was, “Who are the top ten literary villains of all time?” The response was overwhelming. My criteria included a specification that any movie villain must have first originated in a book. Despite these instructions, a number of folks nominated Darth Vader. Many suggested villains from comic books, and I decided to include these in the list, rather than be thought a literary snob. The following is the list, in no particular order. I don’t claim to have read every book on the list, so I don’t have personal knowledge of every villain’s qualifications. And I apologize if your favorite wretched fiend has been excluded, but I will be glad to add them in.


What makes a good literary villain?
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Villainous characters are plentiful, found in most literary genres. Some are simply selfish or mean-spirited people. Some have supernatural strength and inhuman power. Some are terrifying to behold. Some hide their evil behind an eerily beautiful façade. The White Witch’s enticing beauty, for example, conflicts with her evil intent.

Stephen King was nominated multiple times for his bone-chilling villains, but Randall Flagg stands out above the others, appearing in multiple books with multiple names. In Flagg, we find a villain who is the embodiment of evil. Pitted against average humans, his supernatural powers allow him to spread evil and destruction, continuing the fear and horror, seemingly impossible to kill.

Cruella De Vil ranks with these other villains simply because she wants to kill puppies. We can always find some reason a man deserves to die, but someone who kills innocent puppies and skins them to make a fur coat is truly villainous. In Oliver Twist, Bill Sikes beats his dog and bludgeons his girlfriend to death, while Fagan uses and abuses children, another intolerable act to solidify status as a villain. 

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Every villain crosses an unwritten line separating acceptable and unacceptable social behavior. It is not the act of torture that makes the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada a villain… It is the torture of innocents. Telling a lie wouldn’t be a villainous act, but for Fagan’s plan to enrage Sikes to the point of murdering his faithful girlfriend. Dolores Umbridge takes after-school-detention to a new level. The more innocent the victim, the more villainous the act. 


What motivates a villain?


Literary villains act from a variety of motivations. Commonly, human villains are selfish, greedy, and power-seeking. Often the author will show how life’s circumstances caused a normal person to transform into the evil character we love to hate. We can almost forgive the man who commits dreadful acts when we witness his horrific, torturous childhood.

But some of the most terrifying villains are those who seem to be evil without just cause. At the age of twenty-seven, Iago had no extenuating circumstances to justify his lust for evil. Demonic and supernatural villains, such as Randall Flagg and Count Dracula, and creatures, like Grendel and Dr. Frankenstein's monster, fall into this category. 

And of course some of our villains are simply insane, Annie Wilkes being a prime example. Perhaps this mentally instable nurse from Misery is particularly disturbing to authors. The sadistic Nurse Ratched demonstrates borderline personality disorder, which would qualify her for admittance to the mental hospital she controlled. 


What bothers us about villains?
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The highly intelligent villain, such as Tom Riddle, will often commit heinous acts with anonymity. Dr. Moriarity is a criminal mastermind who readily kills innocents. Hannibal Lector’s murders and cannibalism are concealed for many years because of his brilliance - an intelligence quotient of two hundred. And the reader cannot help being fascinated with him, despite his horrific acts. 

Iago’s ruthless evil is couched in devious subterfuge. His insinuations cause good people to commit vile acts, destroying the people they love along with themselves. Had Iago simply murdered Desdemona by his own hand, the act would have been tolerable. But the reader is horrified when his intimations cause Othello to murder his innocent wife.

Aaron the Moor commits vile acts without obvious motivation, while appearing to take pleasure in the suffering of others.

Mrs. Coulter is another character we hate for her despicable actions against children. And yet, she almost redeems herself in the end, leaving the reader feeling unsettled and unsure of her motives.

Some villains remind us of real-life. Voldemort’s effort to eliminate all but those with “pure blood” is all too reminiscent of Hitler. And the fictitious Grand Inquisitor Torquemada was, of course, based on the real inquisitor. 


Who is the greatest villain in literary history?


I would never presume to have that answer. But I will give you the name of the villain at the top of my personal list… Simon Legree from Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe).

Legree is thoroughly vile and without remorse. He treats his slaves as objects rather than people. Along with his henchmen, he beats his slaves, sometimes to the point of death. He also rapes women. He reminds us of the true horrors of slavery. He probably wouldn’t be the most terrifying character in a horror flick, but he epitomizes the real-life human villain. And one is further sickened by the fact his sadistic actions would have been perfectly acceptable during that time period. 

I’ve taken a stand and given my opinion. (I hope that doesn’t make me a villain in your book!)

BIO

Tamie Dearen lives with her very romantic husband of thirty-two years. She has two beautiful daughters, two amazing son-in-laws, and one awesome grandson. She plays piano, flute, harmonica, keyboards, and guitar, and loves composing and art. And she hates housework. Tamie has been a dentist in private practice for thirty years. In her spare time, she writes books.


Tamie met her husband as a freshman in college when she acted out of character on a whim. One night in the library lobby, she spied a cute guy with his first name written on the back of his shirt. She called out his name. When he approached to talk to her, she pretended that she'd met him before, asking about his classes and how he liked college. To her surprise and delight, he also pretended that he knew her, but of course he didn't know her name. They continued this false relationship for two months. Each time they saw each other, an event that occurred three times per week at the cafeteria, he would pretend he knew her. Meanwhile, all of Tamie's friends were careful not to reveal her name to him. When he finally admitted his ignorance of her name, he was astonished to learn the truth. And the rest is history.


When Tamie is not placing the Bad Guys under close scrutiny, she can be found at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tamie-Dearen/1384772145109650?ref=bookmarks
Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TamieDearen 

Thank you Tamie for such an interesting article. It's often the villains that make for outstanding novels, so take note of Tamie's observations when crafting your own.

Eric @ www.ericjgates.com


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My Guest: Judith Townsend Rocchiccioli

My Guest this week is a fellow writer of Thriller novels and she talks about, what I consider, one of the most fun parts of writing in this genre. But it can also have a downside... Ladies and Gentlemen...


Judith Townsend
Rocchiccioli 



Is Research Important in Fiction?



Had you ever read a novel and realized parts of it were untrue?  I have and I find it irritating, enough so that I often do not finish the book.  As a writer of medical fiction, I know how much blood a patient has in his body, and I know how much blood you can lose and still live.  When I see medical errors in a thriller or any book, I doubt the veracity of the writer.  For many years, I was a medical researcher and a social scientist but most of all, I was and still am a nurse.

Amazon Link
Alex Destephano medical thrillers novels have three purposes: to engage, to entertain, and to educate. This philosophy comes from my teaching days.  My bio and blog say it all: "Judith Rocchiccioli writes about what she knows...  Hospitals, patients, healthcare, doctors, and nurses".

When I wrote the first book in my Alexandra Destephano series, ‘Chaos at Crescent City Medical Center’, research was not in a major issue.  I was living and working in New Orleans where the story takes place, so I did not need to research setting, dialect, and local customs. I wrote the book off the cuff.  ‘Chaos’ has a skinny research file, with the exception of the references to the Healthcare Affordability Act, compared to my second medical thriller novel, ‘The Imposterthat takes place in a psychiatric unit at the same hospital.

 I did not have a lot of experience working on psych units, so I had to do a little research and to find out just how severely ill psychiatric patients in America really are. In my fictional psych facility at Crescent City Medical, there is a prison unit that houses the most criminally insane patients on the Gulf Coast, and a general psych unit.  That is not a good combination.  ‘The Imposter turned into a psycho thriller as well as an
Amazon Link
exposé on how dismal the state of psychiatric care is in America.  Based on the research I gathered for ‘The Imposter, I am writing a nonfictional piece called Sarah's Story for which I am researching the misdiagnosis of bipolar disease in the US.  This research involves searching medical databases such as CINAL, PUBMED and PSYCH ABSTRACTS.

I keep an electronic marketing file for each book as well as a folder with all of the research and websites I have visited.  I also have a complete reference list done in APA style.  In addition to my electronic files, I keep hard copies of most of the documents I have used in my stories.  My PhD research days prepared me to save everything in case someone asked me a question or challenged what I wrote.

In my new release, ‘Viral Intent’, my series switched genres from medical thriller to political/medical thriller. The storyline, the outbreak of a noxious, lethal virus in the hospital emergency department on the day before a political convention, "Operation Fix America" in New Orleans, has police and Secret Service battling domestic and international terrorism.  With POTUS coming to the Big Easy, I had to research the Secret Service, the FBI, chain of command, and jihad.

Amazon Link
To write a technically correct book, I subscribed to Al Jazeera magazine and visited numerous websites about jihad, its mission, how they recruit, how they are financed, and how they operate.  The next time I flew to New Orleans for a book signing, I found I was on the FBI "Watch List". Air marshals detained and interrogated me for at least an hour about my knowledge of jihad.  My research on how to construct bombs got me in the worst trouble. They dusted my hands for chemicals, examined my luggage numerous times, and asked me the same questions a dozen different times.  In return, I offered to let them see my research files, and of course, read my books.

While this experience upset me, I was happy that I had the “evidence" to help them understand why I had visited those websites.  I am all about protecting our country, so now I just go to the airport two hours early, have my files on a USB drive, and have books available.

Today, I conducted research for my fourth novel in the Alex Destephano series, ‘Toxic New Year’, which I will release at the end of 2014.   In this book, Robert and Monique attempt surgery in a bouncing ambulance to save Jack's life from a shrapnel injury. I searched to find how ambulance and rescue squads cooperate with each other, but I could not find documentation of that anywhere. In desperation, I called a paramedic friend of mine and he was able to explain the process for Virginia (where the scene occurred).  He also said they would never do surgery in a moving ambulance, but I had to remind him that I was writing fiction!

This has been my experience conducting research for my books. Some might consider it a bit excessive or compulsive, but I think it comes from my background as a researcher.  At this time, it is helping me as an emerging writer.  If you would like more information about how to keep your writing and research files organized, please email me at judithrocchiccioli@gmail.com or visit my website at www.judithrocchiccioli.com 

BIO

Judith is a registered nurse and native Virginian who grew up in Richmond.  She holds graduate and doctoral degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia.  She has been a practicing clinical nurse for over 25 years and is currently a professor of Nursing at James Madison University and the author of numerous academic and health-related articles and documents.  In addition to her academic writing she is the author of the Alexandra Destephano novels, a group of medical thrillers set in New Orleans and Virginia.  When not teaching or writing, Judith is an avid silk painter and multi-media artist.  She owns  Artisan Galleries, an art gallery with locations in Harrisonburg and Massanutten.  She lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her family and six dogs.

When Judith is not being tossed around in the back of a moving ambulance as she tries to take research notes, she can be found here:



Thank you, Judith, for a superb peek behind the curtain at the hard work that goes into writing an authentic thriller novel. Hey, don't you think there should be special interview rooms for novelists at airports? Red Channel, Green channel, Writers channel. You know, somewhere with access to the Internet so we can prove what we do more easily? Just a thought...


Thursday, September 25, 2014

How NOT to write a Thriller...

Sometimes writing a novel is a fairly easy process; sometimes it’s just the opposite.

Last Thursday, worldwide eBookDay, saw the launch of my latest Suspense ThrillerOutsourced’ and that day culminated a project that has taken me over three years to turn the idea (actually several) into a cohesive tale of mayhem and action.

So what’s it about?

Amazon Link
Outsourced’ features a New York-based writer of Thrillers (NO! It’s NOT autobiographical!) who receives a mysterious package from a fan. That fan turns out to be a professional killer. That’s just the start of the writer’s problems; problems that escalate way beyond anything he could have imagined on the pages of his novels, as death and destruction follow rapidly. Just when matter cannot get any worse for the novelist, he learns a high-tech Intelligence agency has been tasked with obtaining the contents of the package too, and they will stop at nothing to achieve that goal.

And, if that’s not enough… the sender wants it back, and his methods are even more direct and violent!

Yes, I’m sorry. I’ve written another fast-paced suspense thriller that will have you missing your stop on the homeward commute and make your food go cold as you frantically turn the pages. As one reader put it (rather mournfully, I thought):

I have sadly learnt that once you pick up one of Eric J. Gates’ books, life as you know it ceases. From page one it is nonstop and enjoyable; a read you will not regret

Anyone who has read my humorous non-fiction book ‘How NOT to be an ASPIRING Writer’ will recognise the opening. It’s the same one I used as a case study in the chapter on turning rough ideas into novel plots: how could someone who has murdered so many people be set free at a court hearing?

That was one of the kernels that grew to make up ‘Outsourced’.

Yet there were more, many more.

If you are not into science, don’t be put off by what follows; it’s not what you think.

From an early age I have been fascinated by Quantum Theory and when, in the seventies, much more information about it was available publicly than ever before, I read everything I could. This was an era when books on Physics written by the leading gurus of the day (Hawking, Greene, Kaku etc) were unheard of. Yet somewhere in the labyrinthine corridors of my mind, a seed started to grow.

Over the years that seed grew into… a HUGE problem.

I wanted to write! Okay.

I wanted to write Thrillers! Fine.

I also had this crazy idea of writing a thriller about Quantum Mechanics!!!

What!!!???

I’m sure you can see the dangers. Readers do not want a textbook; they want something that will entertain above all, something that will get them hooked and turning pages like there was no tomorrow. Physics? A branch of physics that is so difficult to understand??? Have I finally flipped?

The answer to the last question is… Yes, but friends have known this for some years now.

Friends also know that I love a challenge – the harder it is, the more I enjoy solving it.

It took me a while, and three years of back-burner work, but the latest thriller I place before the reading public is about Quantum Mechanics… but don’t worry: first and foremost it’s a fast-paced thriller with enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes as you see which is the mightiest: the pen or the sword gun!

No, the novel is NOT Science Fiction.
Quantum Mechanics, or ‘spooky action at a distance’ as Einstein once referred to one aspect of it, is just a small part of the tale: the part where I stretch science a little to make my trademark ‘Suspense Thrillers with a touch of Strange’ novels. This one will not disappoint habitual fans of my books, and you never know, even Michio Kaku or Brian Cox might like it too!

Just in case either decides to pick up a copy>>>


So be ADVENTUROUS.

Do some EXTREME Reading.

Pick up a copy today…

…read it, then try out the Competition on my web: you never know, YOU could be in the next one!

Oh… in case I didn't mention it, please don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon – they are worth their weight in gold for a writer!

And if you don’t…. well, I have this package, you see…

Outsourced  Click for YOUR Amazon Link

Read it for FREE on KINDLE UNLIMITED in US & UK

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

My Guest: Owen Jones

From faraway shores, my Guest this week talks about how he took his first steps on this crazy road to become a writer. Ladies and Gentlemen...


Owen Jones



Getting Started In Writing



Readers, aspiring writers and even practiced novelists often like to know how someone started to put pen to paper, which is what I still do by the way. I still write all my work in rough, before typing it up into neat onto the computer.

I started seeing things that I thought would make good stories about forty years ago, but I did nothing about them, even though I had studied Russian at university and so was used to writing all sorts of pieces from simple exercises to dissertations.

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However, a novel, me? Never!

I had had to read lots, and always had for school, and I did enjoy reading but I didn't know any writers and we certainly didn't have any in our family that I knew of.

If you consider that the average novel nowadays could be 90,000 words or more (although books in those days did seem a lot thinner) and I was used to writing essays of 1,000 to 3,000 words, then writing a book was never an option for me. I found my first 10,000 word dissertation so scary!

Anyway, one day, thirty years on, while I was between jobs, a good friend invited me to join him on holiday for a month in Thailand, so I went.

It was ten years ago to the day as I write this piece.

On that first evening, on a double date, I met a girl, whom I later married. It was easier for me to move to Thailand than it was to get her a settlement visa in the UK, but that meant that I would have to work here too, although there was nothing I was qualified to do and a work visa would not have been easy anyway.

Teaching English was certainly not for me either, because I don’t have the sort of patience required, although I am a patient man, I think.
I was already using the Internet a lot, so I started creating web sites. It got to the point where I had 140 of them and I was doing well, but writing content to keep that amount of sites fresh was a nightmare.

One year, I wrote 1,200,000 words' worth of 500-word articles for my web sites!

It crossed my mind that that was actually enough to write a dozen novels, so I revived an idea for a book that I had had five years before and wrote 'Behind The Smile'.

A lovely woman won a copy of that first book in the only competition I have ever put it into. She liked it and wrote a smashing review, which she put on Amazon (yes, it is still there). It was great to know that someone had actually enjoyed what I had written!

That novel proved quite popular and four people asked for a sequel. When Google closed my Adsense account a year later, they cut off my main source of income too, so all I was left with was writing books and promoting them.

After that first book, I went back to Wales for Christmas, and my stepmother said rather nastily: 'I suppose writing is a skill that can be learned with practice...'. (Six months later, she disowned me 'and all that that entails', although she may have had other reasons too). Nevertheless, my friends and brothers loved 'Behind The Smile', now called 'Daddy's Hobby' and some old friends said that they had been telling me since we had left school that I ought to have been writing for years.

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I don't remember anyone ever having said that, but as I dwell upon it now for the purpose of this article, two years later, perhaps they did, but I didn't want to hear them because I was intimidated by the idea.

I returned to Thailand and another four people asked me for a sequel, so I wrote one and then a third to make a trilogy. (I am writing a fourth and planning a fifth for this year). I have now written twenty-three books and organised all the articles from my defunct web sites into a hundred ‘teach yourself’ booklets.

So, the point of this story?

It is that you should listen to your friends, but not necessarily your family :-), when they have your best interests at heart. You just have to go for it. If you feel awkward expressing your opinions in public and offering them up for public scrutiny and criticism, start with a blog, but write and publish posts regularly and often.

The best piece of advice I have ever had on writing was the daily quotation from the bottom of a desk diary. It said:

‘If you want to be a writer, write for at least ten minutes a day'.

I have never managed it, because once I start writing, I cannot stop and the hours fly past.

One last thing though, as cruel as my stepmother's comment was, it was true - you can and do get better at writing by writing. So, if you want to be a better writer, keep writing! Reading helps a lot too.

Good luck in your endeavours,
and if you want to contact me, please do.
Owen

PS: the girl on the cover of Behind The Smile, is Chalita, my stepdaughter.



When Owen is not writing novels in exotic lands, he can be contacted here:

Website: http://owencerijones.com

Website: http://kindlevsbook.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/OwenInThailand

Twitter: https://twitter.com/owen_author

Google: https://plus.google.com/+OwenJones1408

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/owencerijones

Lulu Spotlight: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/owenjones


Thank you, Owen, for an interesting insight into how someone can take those first steps toward becoming an author.
Eric @ www.ericjgates.com