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My Novel Approach to Novel Writing

At least it’s novel to me…

Anyway, these kinds of posts are always a bit self indulgent, but if you’re like me (and god help you if you are), you too like to know how the sausage is made when it comes to an author’s creative process.

I’m both old and old school when it comes to writing. First drafts are were always done with pen and paper.

Mostly because I love the physical act of writing, the feel of pen in hand, the feel of ink flowing on the paper.

But also because if I try to write the first draft on the computer I never make it out of the first chapter seeing that I’m one of those edit-as-you-go guys. I have too many folders with forgotten novels with unfinished first drafts that I attempted to write on the computer.

Writing the first draft by hand allows for limited editing — a line through here, a line through there maybe — and because of this, I enjoy a more immersive, free flowing writing experience…

One that actually results in finished novels.

How ’bout that?

But there is a catch.

My handwriting is garbage.

Which means draft two is pure and absolute torture when it comes to typing it up into the computer. Oftentimes it takes longer to type up the second draft than it did writing out the first.

Which brings me to my novel approach to first drafts, an approach that saves me months in novel development…

The iPad.

And the Nebo app.

Using this new technology (new to me; never been an Apple guy) I can still write out my first drafts longhand, but with the Nebo app, it automatically converts it to digital text.

It’s amazing.


The notebook contains a print copy of the screenplay (which I use as an outline for my novel). The cool sculpture/now paper weight is courtesy of my highly creative daughter. The iPad Pro 12 with Apple Pen attached shows the chapters of my latest WIP in the Nebo app.
A screenshot of the chapters in Nebo. One slight downside is that you can’t arrange the files (at least I haven’t been able to figure it out if you can) so they’re stored as they are created.
If you look at the top of the first paragraph (click on the image to enlarge), you’ll kind of see how it shows a highlight of my writing as converted text. It’s unbelievable in how well the app understanding my crappy handwriting, but if it doesn’t convert a word correctly, you can catch it in the highlight and go back and write it more clearly.

Of course you don’t get the same feel writing on the iPad as you do with pen and paper. The iPad screen is a bit slick so it takes some getting used to. I initially put a screen protector on it but that made it even slicker and it also screwed up the functions in Nebo to add and delete stuff.

The Apple Pen feels good in hand and works like a charm with zero lag between it and the tablet.

There’s another tablet I’m interested in checking out that is designed specifically for writing. It’s called reMarkable and the developers claim it will give you the feel of writing on paper. Sounds awesome. The best selling point to me for it is that it is a heck of a lot cheaper than the iPad Pro 12.

So, yeah… when it comes to drafting novels, that’s how I now roll.

Oh, and if you haven’t guessed by now, I’ll be announcing my latest novel soon…

Like tomorrow. 🙂

#writeon

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THE GOOD KILL – A Review by Gina Rae Mitchell

I would like to sincerely thank Ms. Gina Rae Mitchell for taking the time to read The Good Kill and write such a fantastic review for it.

I could tell when first visiting Gina’s website packed full of book reviews, author interviews, and all kinds of other interesting information from gardening tips to tasty recipes that hers was a platform I would love to get my book profiled on. So, as you can imagine, I was very grateful when she responded in the affirmative to my review request.

And grateful I am indeed for throughout the entire time it took from my initial request to Gina posting the review today, it has been nothing but a pleasure to work and correspond with her.

Right from the beginning I signed up for her newsletter and I’m glad I did because it offers way more than just links to her latest book reviews. Had I not been on her list I would have never known to add apple cider vinegar to my bone broth to better soften the bones so my dogs/boys can better enjoy them without me having to worry about them choking on a shard!

There’s so much cool stuff on her site that you’re sure to be amazed when you head over there to read her review of my book.

So be on your way now to Gina’s site… and don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter!

Thanks, Gina!

GinaRaeMitchell.com

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I’ve been got…

For years my barely read first novel INSIDE THE SKIN (formerly The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor) had been pegged at 15 meager but oh so appreciated and loved Amazon reader reviews…

about

However, as of today there are now only 7.

I mean, c’mon…

Thanks Amazon.

Sigh…

#itainteasythiswritinggig

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To Review or Not to Review…

That is the conundrum.

More specifically, the conundrum is should authors review or not.

I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for a while now…

At least ever since reading back at the end of June horror author sensation Ania Ahlborn’s excellently articulated post I Won’t Pan Your Crummy Book. I’m Not That Type of Gal.

And then even more so after having an interesting Goodreads discussion with my internet buddy Author Joy Pixley about it (I know, I know… Goodreads, ugh!).

Fortunately, during my recent meanderings I found the excellent post Should Authors Review Books? by Author Raven Blackwood — an author and Navy vet! which makes her a lifelong shipmate of mine — that I’ve reblogged down below for your entertainment and instruction, and which sums up the issues nicely regarding reviews.

But as far as Ahlborn is concerned, in her post mentioned above, as well as her subsequent post, she comes down strongly against authors reviewing books.

And she particularly takes Indie Authors to task for it.

One should remember that after hitting the big times as an Indie herself and subsequently getting drafted by the Trades into the Big League, Ahlborn has returned to her roots and has gone Indie once again with her latest novel IF YOU SEE HER [about].

Which is very cool thing for her to do… and very profitable one I’m sure.

Both of which I admire (read: envy) greatly.

But I don’t necessarily agree with her position regarding reviews.

Indie Authors such as myself, those down closer, much closer, to the lower rungs of the authorial success ladder, need to do just about anything they can to expose their literary flare.

Showcasing the fact that they are not just well-read, but understand what they read and that they can articulate why they do or do not appreciate what they read can, in my estimation, go a long way toward proving their own writing chops…

Or lack thereof.

And when it comes to reviewing well-established authors backed by the highfalutin publishing industry, I’m all for being brutally honest in regards to how one feels about their work.

Meaning all is fair: from one-star reviews to five; as is even making note of the fact that a book of theirs had to be DNF’d…

As can be witnessed by those DNFs found on my sidebar.

But, as an Indie Author who understands that this writing gig is a tough one, I do believe we Indie Authors need to find ways to uplift and showcase each other’s work…

And providing positive reviews for each other is one way to do that.

I didn’t always believe this.

Back when I first started this Indie thing a decade or so ago, I wrote a few rough reviews of other Indie Authors’ work.

And I still feel guilty about it.

And I won’t do it anymore.

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to be dishonest with my Indie Author reviews.

It just means I will look harder for the positive when reviewing them than I probably would for non-Indies.

And if I can’t find enough positive in an Indie’s book to at least write a decent three-star review?

Then I won’t review it.

And if it’s so bad I have to DNF it, gawd forbid — let’s be honest, there are a lot of less than good books out there, especially by Indie Authors I’m sorry to say…

Then I will do it without mention or fanfare.

Which means, if you are an Indie Author and if one day you find your book on my Currently Reading list and then the next day it disappears from the sidebar altogether, never making it to either the Recent Reads or Recent 5-Star Reads lists where all books are rated and (some are) reviewed…

Well then I apologize in advance, for, with my particular literary sensibilities being the way they are, I just couldn’t stick with your book to the end.

But so what, right?

I mean, my opinion about a book is just that…

An opinion.

And we all know what that means, right?

Yeah…

Exactly.

Now do yourself a favor by disregarding this extremely long opinion of mine and go read Raven’s most excellent one on the matter!

TL:DR: Some think it’s okay for authors to review other authors’ books, some don’t. Yours truly here thinks it’s okay… albeit with some provisos attached.

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THE GOOD KILL – A Synopsis

During the battle to liberate Mosul from the brutal grip of the Islamic State, Killian Lebon, a war-weary Navy SEAL Senior Chief, sustains life-threatening injuries from an explosion during a rescue operation that goes horribly wrong…

Continue reading THE GOOD KILL – A Synopsis

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Happy Cyborg Monday!

Robot Editor
This is not a Cyborg

Hey, wow! To celebrate Cyborg Monday*, you can download all my ebooks from Amazon for free for the day!

If interested, you can read a sample and download them from here.

And as always, thank you for shopping at Amazon where your feedback in the form of reviews are always welcomed (and desired).

#prayforthesingularity

****

*It’s obvious to me, seeing how Jeff Bezos is embracing Cyborgs and dedicating an entire day of discounts and savings in their honor, that he doesn’t fear the AI Apocalypse quite as much as his billionaire bud Elon Musk does.

 

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Paul Xylinides, a literary fiction author in the classical sense for our less than literary contemporary times – A Review

BOOK | FICTION | LITERARY
THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA
by Paul Xylinides
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

I could have spent the time writing this review of Indie Author Paul Xylinides’s novel The Wild Horses of Hiroshima comparing and contrasting it with other similar works of literary fiction, or I could have attempted to apply the story’s highly powerful, poignant theme against the larger social and political woes of our time, but I am not going to do any of that, at least not as fully as I would had this been a typical review of mine. I’m not going to because if I had it would have meant that too much focus would have been on my knowledge of other such similar books or other such woeful contemporary issues rather than focusing on why Xylinides is so important to the Indie Author movement, as I believe he just may be the author who proves in a most definitive way that literary fiction of the highest sort does not have to be blessed and published exclusively by the traditional literary gatekeepers of days gone by.

My Kindle account is cluttered to near capacity with books I have downloaded from my partake of the many, many Indie Author giveaway promotions that are always going on. Unfortunately, I am sorry to have to say, I am unable to finish most of these books that I attempt to read. The reasons are many but it all boils down mostly to the books being either poorly edited or without a compelling story. There is so much Indie Author detritus out there, perhaps even including the work of yours truly, that it can become disheartening to even the most fervid believers of the Indie Author movement. But I am one of those fervid believers, and it is because of this belief that I host the Indie Author Book Selection & Review. The IABS&R is my means to help me find the best that the movement has to offer and a medium for which to share these finds with as many readers as possible.

I am very happy to have found Xylindes’s work and even happier share my high regard of it with all of you.

When I read a book with the intent to review, I always read with pen and notebook at hand, for one way I make judgement of the work is by highlighting the good and bad of it — the good with the marks of stars and exclamation points and the bad with the marks of strike throughs and question marks. Regardless the book I read, whether it’s published independently or traditionally, it always receive markups of both kinds, with the indie published books typically having way more of the bad kind than the good.

However, Xylinides’s book had so many stars cluttering the margins that it became a pointless endeavor. His ability to craft a sentence is magical. And they are some of the best I have ever read. The way he describes the scenery below and the mental reflections of the pilot as he observes it from above, just moments before he drops upon it the bomb that forever changes our view of warfare and of ourselves, is both heartrendingly tragic and breathtakingly beautiful all at once. And then his description of the impact of the explosion and the death and damage it causes moved me such that I had to put the book down for a while in order to collect myself. Those are just two examples of such fine craftsmanship found all throughout the book. This highly evocative read at times channeled in me the feelings I had of when first reading something along the lines of a Flaubert or a Balzac.

You may be reading this zealous, perhaps even overzealous, promotion of Xylinides’s book and wondering to yourself, if it is as good as Brindley says it is, then why only four stars? Why not five?

Good question. As good as the book is, it is not perfect. Most books aren’t. In fact, if I remember correctly, there is only one five-star review that I’ve written. And where Xylinides’s book succeeds, it is also where it, while not failing, at least causes enough disturbance in my appreciation of it to knock it down a star.

What I appreciate most from a good read is not its crafty sentences but its ability to take me away from reality for long periods of time. What is most critical for me when reading is attaining that Zen-like place of verisimilitude. The longer a book is able to hold me within that heavenly zone of literary satori, the more overcome by and appreciative of it I will be when finished. The truth is, Xylinides’s writing was so impressive and so often so that it literally pulled me from the story because of it. And after a while, it almost felt like a distraction, as I would have to then work to get back to that inner space where the magic truly happens. Another distraction, and I almost hesitate to mention it because, compared to all the other attributes the book possesses, it may sound petty, but the lack of commas ended up being a pretty big deal to me. I believe that if there is a natural pause in the momentum of a sentence, then that is where a comma belongs. A comma’s job is to signal and allow the reader to take that natural break that the sentence is calling for. Unfortunately, Xylinides does not follow this comma convention of mine and it left many of his sentences without guideposts that are essential for fluid reading and deep comprehension. Now, I do not believe Xylinides does not understand this; I believe he does but chooses not to follow convention, perhaps as an artistic statement of some sort. His is a challenging subject that he took on as a matter of literary courage and conviction. I suspect it was not an easy challenge for him to overcome. Why then should we, the reader, have it any easier? His success in overcoming such a challenge must be ours as well. As, that for which we work hardest for is that for which we appreciate most. Still, a distraction is a distraction, regardless how artistic and stylistic it may be.

While these distractions are significant to me, they are not nearly weighty and serious enough for me to lose my faith in Xylindes’s ability pick up the guidon of our movement and hold it high as he leads us in our charge toward Publishing Independence and Literary Respect.

The Wild Horses of Hiroshima certainly ranks as some of the finest writing of the Indie Author movement; additionally, I feel very comfortable saying that it just may rank as some of the finest contemporary literary fiction being written, regardless the publisher, or lack thereof. But my opinion of the book is just one, which is why I strongly encourage all of you who are also believers and supporters of the movement to purchase this book and, if you feel as strongly about it as I do, to review it and continue to spread the word that it is truly a work to be reckoned with, as it just may be the template of success that all Indie Authors, nay, all authors, wish to attain.

 

Wild Horses of Hiroshima
paulxylinides.com

 
 

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September 20, 2011

September 20, 2011, will be a historic day for our country, and a special day for me.

It will be historic because the United States’s discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy will finally be put to rest.

And it will be special to me because I hope to release my novel THE SEA TRIALS OF AN UNFORTUNATE SAILOR on that day in honor of the historic event.

But, like the cup half empty kind of guy that I am, I won’t believe either will happen until I actually see them happening…

But I’m hopeful it will all come true.

I can hardly believe that DADT is finally coming to end because it has been a powerful presence in my life since my decision in 1994 to work outside my career field of telecommunications, and outside of my comfort zone, to become a navy Equal Opportunity Advisor. My duties as an EOA required me to become thoroughly familiar with the DADT policy and to facilitate seminars and focus groups regarding it at navy commands throughout the Western Pacific. A key element of my training was not to just remind sailors that they could not ask about someone’s sexual orientation, but also to make it very clear since it had become an issue in the military that, just because their values or stereotypes or perceptions or prejudgments motivates them to do so, doesn’t mean they can harass or abuse or murder someone who they perceive has a sexual orientation that is contrary to their beliefs. I use the word “perceive” because rarely do homosexuals violate DADT policy by telling others, especially others hostile to their lifestyle, about their sexual orientation. Consequently then, the most likely way a homophobic person can be motivated to act upon his or her (mostly his) homophobic tendency to want to harass or abuse or murder is by perceiving a service member to be a homosexual based upon the perceived homosexual’s behavior or personal characteristics. Facilitating the discussion of such a sensitive, and often combative, nature for three years was very challenging, yet very rewarding for me.

If I can hardly believe that DADT is finally coming to an end, I can only wonder how one feels who loves his or her country so much that he or she was willing to join the military knowing that the DADT policy required him or her to suppress his or her identity and sexual orientation in order to serve. (Normally, because I am a man and because I choose a male identity for myself (It’s a gender thing, you wouldn’t understand…probably.), I would not bother with all the “he or she” and “his or her” distraction; I would simply just write “he” or “his,” just as I would expect a female writer to just write “she” or “shis,” I mean, “sher,” I mean, “her,” but I feel in this situation, it is important for me to highlight and reiterate the fact, in an effort to remind everyone, that both men and women have chosen to make this enormous sacrifice for their country. Talk about Patriots. All you heterosexuals out there go ahead and try imagining what it would be like to not only not be allowed to tell others who you love, but also to not be allowed to completely express your love to the person whom you do love. Hard to imagine, isn’t it, since it’s our privilege to not have imagine such an absurd way of life?

And I can hardly believe that my novel is finally going to be released because it, too, has been a powerful presence in my life for nearly as long as DADT has been. Consequently, I find it hard to believe that in a few short days I will finally be able to call the project complete.

And I also can hardly believe that my novel is going to be released on September 20, 2011, since it is only a few short days away and, because of a few issues I am contending with, I still have yet to complete the publication review process with the publishing service I am using. So, at this point, September 20, 2011, is more like a target release date than a set release date. But we’ll see.

Regardless of whether my novel is actually published on September 20, 2011, or not, the date will always be special to me since it was DADT, or more specifically, since it was all the harassment and abuse and even murder that was inflicted on so many service members because of DADT, that provided the unfortunate impetus for why I wrote the novel to begin with.

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Exploiting the Crisis

Rahm Emaneul, President Obama’s first Chief of Staff, was famously quoted as saying, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste” in response to the financial meltdown of 2008.

I imagine most would regard that quote disdainfully—a little too Machiavellian for their pleasant palates, perhaps.

But you know what? It is that exact mentality towards life in general that I have tried to apply to my life over the years, and I have been trying even harder ever since I was diagnosed with cancer and lung disease.

Because let’s face it, regardless whether your palate prefers pleasantries or not, the saying that we all know, every single one of us, that expresses so well about the horrible inevitables that life sometimes trips us up with is not “Flowers Happen!” or “Perfume Happens!” No, the saying we all know and have probably even declared from time to time in our sometimes horribly inevitable lives is:

“SHIT Happens!”

And do you want to know why we say it?

That is a rhetorical question because I know you all ready know.

We all know the answer because no matter how hard we try, no matter how much we study to get good grades, no matter how many hours we put in at work to make the money that we use to build our little nests for which to lay in our little eggs, no matter how well we plan and believe we are prepared for all the horrible inevitables we find in our paths, sometimes life can really stink.

And sometimes it can really, really stink. Sometimes life can be so smelly our noses cannot even become desensitized to it. Sometimes the smell is so bad it seems like it has become our permanent atmosphere. And in order to survive, we have to breathe it in no matter what, knowing that each breath we take is poison and will make us gag, or even kill us.

Now that is one stinky life, in my blurry view.

Fortunately for me, one of the side effects from all of the shit that has been happening in my life lately is that I lost both my sense of smell and taste.

Pretty handy when life smells so badly that you can almost taste it.

Shit happens. Yes it does.

Another less offensive way to those whose sensitivities are easily offended, and less poetic, too, of saying the same thing would be to say that life is nothing more than moving from one crisis to the next.

I guess how we manage life, then, is dependent upon how we define and deal with crises.

I am not sure how you define and deal with yours, but I define my crises as “inevitable opportunities” and, like I all ready more than alluded to with the title of this article, I deal with them by exploiting the hell out of them.

For instance, this blog is nothing but a pure and simple exploitation of the biggest crises that I have ever faced in my life.

I have been exploiting the hell out of my cancer and lung disease as much as I can. Hell, I tell you exactly as much in my cheeky, self-infatuated, hand-written blurb about me under my obviously intentionally depressing looking picture of me, used only to get you to feel sorrow for me so that you will be more compelled to read my exploitative writings.

But, there’s more to the exploitation than that.

I may sarcastically say I am exploiting my disabilities by trying to get you to feel sorry for me, but what I am really doing by all that nonsense is attempting to cope with my insecure feeling of trying step out in my new life as a writer and an author. It’s all pretty scary for me.

What I really mean when I say I am exploiting my disabilities is that I am trying as best I can to take advantage of the opportunities my crises have provided.

And the opportunities are many.

Do you think I really would have been able to pursue my life-long love of writing as aggressively as I am doing now had I not become stricken with cancer and then a chronic, debilitating lung disease?

I think not, so I am exploiting the hell out of my disabilities to blog and to facebook and to tweet and to finally publish the novel and poetry collection that I had never been able to finish before because life had always gotten in the way.

Do you think I really would have had the time to share each day and grow in partnership and friendship and love with my wife and children had I not become stricken with my diseases?

I think not, so I am exploiting the hell out of my disabilities by waking each day looking for new ways to love more and to be more loving and to continually grow as an individual.

I could give many other examples of how exploitative I am and how I am not letting my crises go to waste, but these will do for now.

And sure, sometimes the smell of the crises in my life are so overwhelming to me that I become numb and despondent from the smell, but those days, too, are nothing more than smaller crises that must be dealt with in the same manner as all the others: by realizing that no matter how hard I try to be positive and productive, sometimes it—my life—will just hurt too much and I am going to become deeply depressed and I am going to feel so sorry myself for being so unlucky and I am going to feel so resentful towards you for being so lucky and I am going to sit in my cocoon-like chair and let myself sink into a almost inescapable (so far) black hole of depression.

It happens. I get depressed. And I realize it will continue to happen to me from time to time until a cure is found for my lung disease.

But I accept that it will happen.

And when it does, I will deal with it by exploiting the hell out of it.

~~~~

Oh, by the way.

Now that I got you feeling sorry for me…

How about reading [download id=”7″] and letting me know what you think of it? 😉