Category Archives: EBooks & EPublishing

Anything about eBooks and ePublishing.

Book Reviews: John Locke Didn’t Do It This Way!

I posted this on our Indie Writers Alliance page, then I realized this might be important enough to wave it around on my author site, as well.

To my readers and fans, let me just tell you how very important it is for any author to get good, legitimate reviews for their books. If you give a book a good review, you’ve made the author’s day. On the other hand, if you give it a bad review, there will likely be gnashing of teeth. But even negative reviews are important to readers, if they’re honest–and, ultimately, that’s who reviews are for. Reviews are to help potential readers decide whether or not to buy and read a book. Reviews are good things for the consumers–for readers, the reason we write. Reviews with hurtful language, spoilers, negative because “I don’t read this genre, but I got this book for free”: those are the really lame reviews that no one needs.

Okay, so don’t even compare what I’m about to tell you to John Locke’s, “Hey, I sold over a million books in five months this way!” The following info and link is to help fellow indie authors hook up with potential reviewers in their book(s) genre(s).

What’s different? Locke said nothing about the main and now obviously secret ingredient in his plan: buying reviews! I’m not saying it’s wrong to buy reviews. I’d say it’s wrong if you’re buying positive reviews, fabricated reviews from folks who didn’t even read your book, left out the fact that you bought reviews when you go around bragging to other writers how you became so successful and left this very critical piece of the puzzle out. And then Mr. Locke sells us indies a guide-book about how we can do what he did with the most important part–the real key to his success–never mentioned! That’s ri-ight! He paid over $6,000 for 300 reviews. Now think of it, authors: paying three hundred people to go “buy” your book on Amazon over a few days’ time–the increased sales alone would shoot your title near the top of the rankings. Don’t you think if you’re giving these reviewer folks pretty good money to give a review, and there’s no real control over whether they really read the book or not, that they’ll likely give your book a good review? Especially since, if they give it a bad review, they might not be considered favorably for a chance to get paid to write review again!

Click the Image!

Click the Image!

Anyway, check this out, fellow indies! For $67.00 BookRooster will distribute your book to a genre-targeted portion of their 3,000 plus reviewers, and they’ll keep working at it until you get ten reviews. They don’t promise those reviews will be positive. What are you paying for, then? Distribution of your book to reviewers. The reviewers themselves don’t get paid, but they do get to download your book for free. If you need reviews, this might just be a way to go.

EPublishing Radio Interview

I was just interviewed about my writing career as well as ePublishing by nationally known radio personality and voice talent, Mike Lamb. The half-hour segment will air Sunday, March 31, between 1:00 and 2pm ET on WJML radio:  http://www.WJML.com

Listen to the interview here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/moneyroom/033013-moneyroomshow-hour2.mp3

The actual interview starts at 7:10 into the audio recording.

Check it out!

But, if you don’t get a chance, you can catch it anytime afterwards on a podcast on Mike’s Internet radio website, at: www.MoneyRoom.com, and later I’ll post it right here!

Novel Writing Made Simple EBook is now FREE!

Novel Writing Made Simple — Seventh Edition EBook PDF is now FREE!

Novel Writing Made Simple (PDF) is now FREE!

Novel Writing Made Simple (PDF) is now FREE!

Let’s talk about writing really great stories!

THE Book on Novel Writing.

An easy to understand study manual for the beginning novelist, a reference and review for the experienced fiction writer; Novel Writing Made Simple is a comprehensive guide to the novel-writing craft. Its straightforward approach breaks down the rules and conventions of one of the most revered and subjective of all creative arts to their simplest forms. This thorough text covers everything from storytelling basics to manuscript submission. If you have room for but one writing reference book beside your keyboard, Novel Writing Made Simple is the one to have–and it’s now FREE!

Novel Writing Made Simple (PDF) FREE!

Look for Novel Writing Made Simple in large-format (8.5″ x 11″) paperback on Amazon.com and Lulu.com.

Also available in eBook from Amazon.com (coming soon), Barnes & Noble, Lulu.com and iBooks (Apple iTunes).

THE Book for Novel Writers!

Novel Writing Made Simple (PDF) FREE!

EBOOK ***Coming Attractions*** Contest!

 The

EBOOK

***Coming Attractions***

Contest!

IS NOW OVER: Winners to be announced soon!

The BEST Indie EBook Novels Coming Soon To an EReader Near You!

A Writers’ Contest for Future Indie Writers!

The First Three Pages (750 words) of Fantastic Fiction

No Entry Fee!

Any genre (category)!

Simple rules! Submit:

  1. Up to the first 750 words of your novel
    1. Formatted in MS Word, with one-inch margins, double spaced, and in any very readable font;
    2. No title page is necessary, and the author’s name may appear on the submission.
  2. A synopsis/description of the work of no more than 250 words. We suggest including:
    1. A brief pitch (perhaps up to fifty words—this is your grabber or elevator pitch);
    2. A brief summary (this is the synopsis that you hope will sell your book and help it to become a bestseller—check out examples on Amazon)
  3. Ensure your entry email includes author’s name and story genre (category).

*Entries cannot be presently published as eBooks on Amazon.

Entries will be judged on the author’s storytelling ability, ability to follow the contest submission’s very simple guidelines, and the judges’ opinions of marketability (sales potential).

What do you win?

The First Place entry:

  1. Will be showcased on not only the Indie Writers Alliance blog /website but on Gordon Kessler’s author’s site, as well;
  2. Will be linked to Amazon book page once ePublished.

The First Place entry will also receive:

  1. Free eBook formatting for winning entry for Kindle & Nook (when ready, but must be requested within six months of contest deadline);
  2. Free ePublishing phone consultation for uploading eBook to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, (when ready, but must be requested within six months of contest deadline);
  3. Choice of print or eBook version of Novel Writing Made Simple or EBook Writing Made Simple!
  4. Full, line-by-line edit of entry.

The First Place entry and five Runners Up:

1. Will be linked from Gordon’s and IWA’s sites to authors’ sites;

2. Will be listed on both Gordon’s and IWA’s sites with the stories’ synopses/books submitted for the contest;

3. Will have the books’ cover images or authors’ photos, if available, posted on IWA and Gordon Kessler’s blog/websites.

First 100 entries:

  1. Will receive a free PDF version of Novel Writing Made Simple or EBook Writing Made Simple!
  2. Will receive a single-paragraph summary including strengths and weaknesses of the entry as well as suggestions on how to improve the work (feedback will be sent in the format of an email by March 31, 2013).

Have a story opening? With nothing to lose, it’s a no-brainer: dust it off and send it in today!

Deadline: midnight PST, February 3, 2013 (by email date and time confirmation)

First round judging will be completed and finalists notified by February 11, 2013.

The EBook ***Coming Attractions*** Contest winners will be selected and posted on  http://gordonkessler.com and http://writersmatrix.com/wordpress/ (Indie Writers Alliance’s blog/website).

The EBook ***Coming Attractions*** Contest is sponsored by Gordon A Kessler and the Indie Writers Alliance.

Send entries by email as a single attachment (synopsis and story opening), with “coming attractions” in the subject line, to:

Gordon@gordonkessler.com

Questions? Email Gordon with “question” in the subject line.

Deep Point of View: Your Readers Deserve Close Psychic Distance!

Most writers understand the importance and conventions of point of view–but how many understand “deep POV,” a.k.a. psychic distance?

When John Gardner described psychic distance thirty years ago in his book The Art of Fiction, it seemed to get buried in this wonderful writing book. In the first read through, many new writers have trouble grasping all the elements Gardner discusses. For me, after putting hundreds of thousands of words on paper, I went back and reread it. That second time it was more than a light clicking on inside my head–more like a nuclear bomb.

As with all writing aspects, I believe that once understood, psychic distance can be used by the writer like a craftsperson might use a tool–like a woodworker, using a chisel in various amounts, varying angles and pressures to produce a desired effect. The writer should be aware of and understand both the tool and the effect.

Something I don’t believe Gardner goes into great depth about is how unwanted psychic distance can be created unknowingly by writers who describe a point of view character “hearing”, “seeing”, “watching”, an action in a scene, which pushes the reader out of the POV character’s head and forces that reader to imagine, from a distance, the POV character witnessing the action. For example:

Jim watched Zoya walk into the tavern, saunter to the bar and light up a cigarette.

instead of:

Zoya walked into the tavern, sauntered to the bar and lit up a cigarette.

In the second example, if this isn’t the first sentence of the scene, it’s not necessary to say “Jim watched …” since POV should already be established and the reader will know that Jim is the one witnessing this action. Also, the woman’s action seems more immediate if not filtered through Jim’s head before going to the reader. This makes a for a minimal psychic distance—the reader more easily immersed into the psyche of the viewpoint character and thus more likely to find empathy for that character.

That understood, if this is the first sentence in the scene, saying “Jim watched …” might be a better choice in order to establish POV for that scene and the reader shouldn’t need to be reminded whose POV it is after this opening line. Also, if the way Jim is watching is important to the scene, then the closeness of psychic distance might be forfeited or traded for a desired effect, for example:

Jim ogled the young woman as she sauntered into the tavern and up to the bar. Zoya was much more attractive than he’d expected, and he imagined the taste of her full lips as she lit up a cigarette and drew in the first puff.

Also, if the author has established POV in a scene, there is little need to use “thought tags”. In “deep point of view” the reader undersands that the narrated comments and descriptions are coming directly from the POV characters subjective mind–a.k.a. “indirect speech” or “free indirect speech” (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_indirect_speech).

Understanding this aspect of psychic distance and using it as a tool can make a huge difference to the reader and to the success of a scene.

That’s my subjective view of this very important fiction writing aspect, and only further illustrates the beauty of this art, a subjective endeavor in which no two writers will ever find perfect agreement.

You can find a more thorough discussion on POV, psychic distance and other very important writing topices in my books Novel Writing Made Simple and EBook Writing Made Simple:

 

Below, you’ll find a great post by Emma Darwin examining and discussing John Gardner’s thoughts on the use of full character names, first names, last names and pronouns and how they affect “psychic distance”:

Psychic Distance: what it is and how to use it

Psychic Distance is a concept which John Gardner explores in his book The Art of Fiction, and I think it’s absolutely crucial, not difficult to understand, and not nearly talked about enough. You’ll also find it called Narrative Distance because, basically, it’s about where the narrative (and therefore the reader) stands, relative to a character. Another way of thinking of it is how far the reader is taken, by the narrator, inside the character’s head. Gardner breaks it down thus:

  1. It was winter of the year 1853. A large man stepped out of a doorway.
  2. Henry J. Warburton had never much cared for snowstorms.
  3. Henry hated snowstorms.
  4. God how he hated these damn snowstorms.
  5. Snow. Under your collar, down inside your shoes, freezing and plugging up your miserable soul

And since sometimes it’s hard to see how this can equally well apply in first person, and to a less realist project, I’ve done a version which does both. Watch how in this version still has a sense of narrator, and a character, but this time they just happen to be the same persona:

  1. In the far-off days of Uther Pendragon, witches stalked the earth.
  2. Every village had its witch, and we feared or consulted her according to how desperate we were.
  3. When I was a child Mistress Margit frightened me, and when she walked down the street the big ones would shout “Here comes Old Margit!”, while I hid and crossed myself.
  4. And here came Old Margit, with her ragged clothes and her big black cat, and I shivered and prayed because St Mary would save me, wouldn’t she?
  5. Margit’s coming and her cloak like little demons dancing and what’ll I do – mustn’t catch her eye – hide in the ditch cold and wet but Black Peter will see me – Mother Mary save me, he’ll look at you and then Margit can see into your mind and plant demons in there and…

Obviously it’s really a spectrum, not separate stages, but you can see what this is about, can’t you?

1) is remote and objective. It has a nice ‘Once upon a time’ feel to it but doesn’t give us any sense of one or more particular characters in the story as a person with thoughts and feelings: a consciousness. It tells us a lot about where we are and what’s happening, but if it stays at this level we might not care much about this person, and it limits the writer’s scope for exploring how he experiences the world and himself. It’s the subtitle across the beginning of the film that locates us.

2) is bringing in some particulars: the narrator is telling us (informing us) about a place, and an individual and their emotions. Think of it as a wide-angle shot of a village, or a voice-over.

3) is more particular, more personalised still: the narrator’s voice is beginning to show us (evoke for us)  the particular character and their experience. This is, to quote James Wood’s How Fiction Works, “standard realist narrative”: in other words, the predominant mode of the vast majority of fiction: the narrator is in control, taking us into the experience of this world and that of individual characters and quoting speech directly. A medium shot where we can identify individuals.

4) is beginning to colour the voice of the narrator with the the vocabulary and point-of-view of the character. Shorthand for this is that we’re going further into the character’s head, courtesy of free indirect style, as invented by Jane Austen: “God how he hated … ” and “St Mary would save me, wouldn’t she?”. But, of course, we’re losing touch with anything that the character doesn’t see or think, or any other ways of saying it. In a movie – which can’t go inside heads – we could see a face, and try to read what it’s feeling.

5) is tight close-up and subjective: almost a brain download, with thoughts and sensory information all jumbled up. In Wood’s terms this is stream of conciousness. The character’s voice is wholly present and the narrator’s voice has faded out. It’s extremely expressive of this person’s character and situation. But if we stay at this level we may never understand what’s going on, and it limits the writer’s scope for moving between different characters and their consciousness.

Gardner’s point is not that one is better than the other, or that you have to stick to only one. Indeed, it would be a mistake if you did; it can make the piece very monotonous, specially if you stick at the (1)-(2) end. Just as good novels have a rhythm of action and reflection, so they have a rhythm of intimacy and distance. So I’ve extended Gardner’s concept to think in terms of the psychic range of a piece, from the closest to the furthest that it covers. And that’s why it’s important to be able to spot (roughly) what the psychic distance is at any one point. If you understand the possibilities of the different distances to control the reader’s involvement with the character and the story, then you’ll not only be training your instinct for when to stand back and when to close in, but you’ll also get better at spotting and fixing things when they’re not working.

My own lightbulb moment about this stuff happened when I saw that John Gardner’s Psychic Distance fits beautifully with Showing and Telling, (or as I like to call it, Informing and Evoking): Gardner’s (1) is the Telliest Tell, his (5) is the Showiest Show.  And they both fit together with James Wood’s dissection of the different modes of narrative, and with another fascinating discussion by David Jauss: “From Long-Shots to X-rays” (that’s the full article: do read it.)

And notice, too, that although the character’s voice starts coming through as we get closer in to their head in the (4) and (5) sort of levels, the narrative has its own voice however “distant” the long-shot is. What could be stronger than In the far-off days of Uther Pendragon, witches stalked the earth? I’ve blogged more about voice here: the important thing for this post is to understand that fiction is polyvocal. Different voices – the narrator’s and the characters’ – combine to make the narrative, interpenetrating each other to different degrees depending on the psychic distance at that moment.

It’s also helpful to bear in mind that jumping straight from, say, (1) to (5), may risk leaving the reader behind. If you wrote: It was winter of the year 1853. A large man stepped out of a doorway. Snow. Under your collar, down inside your shoes, freezing and plugging up your miserable soul, there’d be nothing to tell the reader that the man we were shown stepping from a doorway is the same as this person with snow down his (her?) neck. Competent readers will make the assumption, but everything they read till their assumption is confirmed is, as it were, provisional, and means they can’t be so involved with the story. Other readers, not feeling secure in the world of the story and the line of the narrative, may give up. So be aware of this: either work your way by stages from, say, (1) to (3) to (5), or make sure you give the reader some handholds, so that you keep them with you at all times.

Understanding psychic distance is also the key to working with a moving point of view. It’s obvious that even if you limit your narrative to a single point of view, how far inside your character’s head you take the reader will vary. If your third-person narrative moves between several points-of-view within a chapter, say, then you have to start coping with the transitions. Many beginner writers are guilty of of “head-hopping”, which is switching points-of-view too often and too abruptly. But it’s not necessarily that the transitions happen too often (though it may be, and some teachers and editors are very doctrinaire about it), but that you haven’t handled them properly. Handle them properly, and you’ll find that said teachers and editors may not even notice, let alone disapprove. If you want to know more, have a look at my post on Moving Point of View, which is part of the big series on Narrators and Point of View.

So, next time you’re reading some fiction, have a look at how the author handles psychic distance: what range they use, and how and why they move to and fro within the range. Have a think about how that affects the way you experience the piece. If it’s told from more than one point-of-view, how do the transitions between different points of view interact with the psychic distance? Doing this will help to train your intuition about this stuff for your own work. And if you want an example of a lovely story which is pure 5, Jane Gardam’s ‘The Great, Grand Soap-Water Kick’, in her collection The Sidmouth Letters, is pure joy. But it’s not an easy trick to pull off.

You’ll find Emma Darwins blog at:

http://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/

KNIGHT’S LATE TRAIN has arrived! (and KNIGHT’S REPORTS is on it’s caboose)


KNIGHT’S LATE TRAIN—an Action/Adventure Thriller Novel

With E Z Knight, if a mountain gets in your way, you don’t go around it, you blow it up.

From flying a helicopter through a blinding mountain blizzard to running down a blazing train to Hell, E Z Knight is tested more than ever in Knight’s Late Train — and somewhere in between he discovers an easy way to join the Mile High Club.

When Doc Knight and his train go missing in a Colorado blizzard, E Z must brave the storm to find his father. In the process, he discovers Doc was involved in something more than conducting trains through the mountains. A hazardous materials train is loaded with highly toxic and explosive gas with a yield that could rival the Hiroshima A-bomb, as well as a yellowcake Betty Crocker wouldn’t even think about making. The Thundertrain is headed for Denver, and the madman at the controls is bent on derailing the hazmat freight cars where they will cause the very highest body count. Hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake.

E Z enlists the help of sexy railroad engineer Rillie Bee Wilde, and finds out she’s as feral as her name. She takes him higher than he could ever reach in their helicopter. Soon, they find out who wins when hundreds of tons of locomotive meet a fragile whirlybird and a battle against two dozen mercenaries is waged in the dangerous Slaughterhouse Train Yard.

With the Thundertrain only minutes from killing tens of thousands of innocent citizens, E Z must decide whether to save his father and children, or to try to stop a team of mercenaries from blowing the “Mile High City” to Hell.
The only way to do both is to move a mountain.

Knight’s Late Train is an episode of the standalone novels of ”The E Z Knight Reports” series; a sexy, humorous and irreverent series as well as a somewhat realistic and poignant look at the darker side of life, crime and the human condition.

With a modern-day, ramped up “The Rockford Files”/”Magnum PI” feel, a Jack Bauer-capable hero and a “24” pace, this series consists of standalone, page-thrumming novels.

“The E Z Knight Reports” has a special section on the author’s website and blog (gordonkessler.com) with info on each of the books, E Z Knight, Jazzy Brass and the “Knight Girls”. You’ll also find information about the author and his other novels and works.

If you enjoy best-selling action/adventure thriller authors like Don Winslow and Clive Cussler, as well as some of the best thrillers in eBooks by indie authors like John Locke and JA Konrath, you’ll love Knight’s Big Easy!

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KNIGHT’S REPORTS — Box Set, Your Three Favorite E Z Knight Books Bundled (The E Z Knight Reporst)