5am Flash: Indie Author Books – Novels & Novellas

Having seen one of my interviewees Rosanne Dingli say on a LinkedIn thread: “someone should write a blog soon about all the wonderful indie books available by very capable writers”, I challenged them to give me a <15-word synopsis for their book(s)… they are accepting the challenge and their books are appearing here.

What I’m after is your name (listed within each section alphabetically by first name), your website / blog address, book title, book link (where we can buy it), genre and summary in no more than 15 words (a test of your editing skills :)). You can email me these details for up to 5 of your books (please don’t paste them into this page’s comments section). My free and $0.99-$2.99 eBooks are detailed on the Books – mine page.

  • Click here for Fiction – children’s / Y.A.
  • Click here for Fiction – poetry
  • Click here for Fiction – script
  • Click here for Fiction – short stories / flash fiction
  • Click here for Non-fiction
Fiction – prose (novels & novellas)
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Aggie VillanuevaRightfully Mine: God’s Equal Rights Amendment (religion & spirituality) – why should my father’s name be wiped from Israel because he bore only daughters?
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Alan PlaceChronicles of Mark Johnson (fantasy/horror) – the story of a photographer-turned-demon hunter trying to fight his demons. This book can be read as individual short stories or novel chapters.
  • Did we see him? (horror) – mystery of the Victorian era turned into a time travel story.
  • Holding Richmond (horror) – this is an alternate history story about the Battle for Richmond during the American Civil war. Not for fans of Twilight (Alan says).
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Alana Woods: Automaton (thriller, legal) – won the Fast Books Prize for best Australian self-published fiction.
  • Imbroglio (thriller, suspense) – fancy swimming with sharks? No? Neither does Noel, but some things are unavoidable.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Andrew BarrettA Long Time Dead (crime/mystery/thriller) – Conniston pits his forensic skills against the evidence that arrested him.
  • Stealing Elgar (crime/mystery/thriller) – Conniston battles merciless enimies and criminals as England’s most shocking robbery explodes.
  • No More Tears (crime/mystery/thriller) – Conniston hunts a gang of savage killers. Is determination enough this time?
  • The Third Rule, link t.b.a. (crime/mystery/thriller) – Collins discovers the truth, and fights a one-way trip to the slaughterhouse.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Anna PatricioAsenath (historical) – a fictional memoir of the Egyptian priestess who married Joseph the dreamer.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Anne R. Allen: The Best Revenge (romantic comedy/mystery) – Perennially down-and-out socialite Camilla Randall is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong. Available from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk and Barnes & Noble.
  • Food of Love (romantic comedy/thriller) – someone’s trying to kill the Princess – because she got fat? There’s a small nuclear bomb… Available from Amazon.com (eBook), Amazon.co.uk (eBook), Amazon.com (paperback), Amazon.co.uk (paperback) and Barnes & Noble.
  • The Gatsby Game (romantic comedy/mystery) – based on a real unsolved Hollywood mystery. Chick Lit noir. The nanny didn’t do it! Available from Amazon.com (eBook), Amazon.co.uk (eBook), Amazon.com (paperback), Amazon.co.uk (paperback), Kobo and Barnes & Noble.
  • Ghostwriters in the Sky (romantic comedy/mystery) – murder at a Writers Conference. Is it ghosts, gangsters, gay cowboys, or the bogus agent? Available from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk and Barnes & Noble and Kobo.
  • Sherwood, Ltd (romantic comedy/mystery) – penniless socialite becomes a 21st century Maid Marian, but is “Robin” planning to kill her? Available from Amazon.com (paperback), Amazon.co.uk (paperback), Barnes & Noble (FREE), and Smashwords (FREE).
  • Camilla Randall Mysteries Box Set – all three Camilla adventures in one low-priced set. Available from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk and Barnes & Noble.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Arabella SheratonMarried at Midnight – an inheritance depends upon a marriage at midnight… but the bride is already married!
  • The Dangerous Duke – a Dowager Duchess, her beautiful Companion, and the duke who appears to dislike her intensely.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Barbara Ann Derksen: Fear Not – Brian and Andrea journey to clear a friend of murder but discover much more.
  • Presumed Dead – Andrea and Brian search for a missing DEA agent undercover in a biker gang for two years.
  • Vanished – death, fire, and kidnapping send Andrea and Brian to uncover a diabolical plot against blacks.
  • Barbara’s books are available via Amazon.co.uk as e-books with paperbacks from Amazon.com.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Bob FreyThe DVD Murders (mystery) – someone is killing the A-list actors of Hollywood & leaving a DVD at the crime scene.
  • The Bashful Vampire Murder & The Comic Book Murders (mystery) – Detective Frank Callahan is back in two hybrid, contemporary crime fiction stories.
  • Supermale’s Gone and Left Us (satire) – if there really was such a thing as a superhero, what problems might he face?
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Chaz WoodTrinity Chronicles: Maranatha (thriller/mystery) – ‘The Lord Cometh’ but is it the Second Coming, or the Fourth Reich?
  • Trinity Chronicles: Venus in Saturn (thriller/horror) – Horror, both personal and professional, haunts the life and mind of forensic investigator Vanessa Descartes.
  • The Wish and the Will: Sundancer’s Regret Episode 1 (fantasy/steampunk) – welcome to Middengarth, where fairytales are history, and magic still lingers in the air (episodes 2 and 3 also available).
  • The Black Flag (graphic novel/sci-fi/thriller) – love, death, and anarchy in the U.K… led by Georgina Macdubhgaill, eco-activist and possible goddess.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Cyra McFaddenThe Serial: A Year in the Life of Marin County (humour) – The Serial mercilessly satirises the inhabitants of Marin County, California in counter-culture-gripped 1976.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • C.S. LakinInnocent Little Crimes (psychological mystery/suspense) – six unsuspecting guests, a dish of revenge—a recipe for disaster and death.
  • Intended for Harm (family drama/mystery) – a family saga of pain and loss that leads to faith and comfort.
  • Conundrum (mystery/women’s fiction) – a young woman’s search to uncover the mystery behind her father’s death 25 years ago.
  • The Map across Time (fantasy) – a sweeping epic of unfailing love and trust, in which the “insignificant” have merit and purpose.
  • Someone to Blame (contemporary fiction/mystery/suspense) – a family reeling in pain moves to a small town to heal, only to get in the midst of trouble.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Dale T Phillips: A Fall From Grace (mystery) – Zack Taylor must clear a woman accused of murder, against a whole town of suspects. Available from Amazon and Smashwords.
  • A Memory of Grief (mystery) – Troubled ex-con Zack Taylor faces danger while seeking the truth about his friend’s death. Available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Smashwords.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • David Knop: Mining Sacred Ground (mystery/thriller) – former Marine cop, battles self-doubt, hostile law enforcement, and a killer through Arizona backcountry.
  • Poisoned by God’s Flesh (mystery/thriller) – cop confronts gun-slinging hijackers of a nuclear weapons transporter in New Mexico’s unnamed, red-robed canyons. Both mystery/thrillers are published by BookBaby.com and are available in ebook format at Amazon.comBarnes and NobleThe CopiaKobo, and iTunes.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Debra Forch BensonPerfect Wedding (general fiction novella) – will Leah’s father walk her down the aisle to marry the man of her heart?
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Dennis KitainikHigher Than an Eagle: A Wings of Mercy Novel (disaster/rescue adventure) – a rescue team must fly through an Arctic cyclone to save a badly wounded scientist.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • E.R. YatscoffOld Flames (adult mystery) – to some a hero, to others, a murderer.  Fire Captain Ormond hides a deadly past.
  • Gerry’s War (adult suspense) – fire chief battles extortion, bribery, and embezzlement, along with the Red Mafiya.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Erica MinerMurder In The Pit (murder mystery) – a young violinist investigates the high profile murder of a world-famous opera conductor. Available in paper, Kindle, iBooks and all electronic formats.
  • Travels With My Lovers (romance) – a young mom goes on a journey of self-discovery in the romantic capitals of Europe. Available in paperback..
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Ethan JonesArctic Wargame (spy thriller) – Three Canadian secret agents must save their country from an Arctic threat.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Fiona Veitch SmithThe Peace Garden (romantic thriller) – a romantic thriller doused in political intrigue, racial tension, international terrorism and… gardening!
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Frank F. FioreBlack Sun (action/adventure) – who’s plotting to create a second holocaust in Europe?
  • Cyberkill (action/adventure) – how far will an Artificial Intelligence go for revenge?
  • Seed (action/adventure) – what are people being murdered for what they found in the Hopi End Times Prediction?
  • A Taste of the Apocalypse (action/adventure) – is Jesus’ body buried here on Earth?
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Gary Showalter (blog): The Big Bend (mystery) – series of murders prompts Terry Rankin to go after the killers. Available as paperback and Kindle formats.
  • Hog Valley (mystery) – the involvement of drug money in the Florida banking industry and the theft of millions from a US Army cash warehouse in Kuwait leads to murder in Florida. Available as paperback and Kindle formats.
  • Twisted Key (mystery) – a kidnapping that never happened, and a treasure ship that shouldn’t exist, rip the masks off and let evil out to play in the Florida sun. Available as paperback and Kindle formats.
  • Lonesome Cove (mystery) – Terry Rankin’s new client turns out to be somewhat less and somewhat more than he seems to be. And there’s three tons of gold missing, too. Available as Kindle format only.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Gregory AllenWell With My Soul (literary/gay themed) – family drama of two brothers and how choices they make follow them for years.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Ian KiddBloodlust (erotic horror) – a seductive but murderous lesbian vampire comes a cropper with her latest target.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Jean HarringtonDesigned for Death (cozy mystery) – Deva Dunne knows the devil’s in the details, but not that the devil’s stalking her.
  • Monet Murders (cozy mystery) – A stolen masterpiece, a dead woman, a killer on the loose.  This devil means murder.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • JD MaderJoe Café (crime / thriller) – murder, mobsters, strippers, and fly fishing (oh my). Postmodern noir.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Jennifer WordThe Poe Toaster (historical fiction / horror novella) – the last week of Edgar Allan Poe’s life is completely unaccounted for… until now.
  • All Because of the Cat (horror novella) – when a man is stalked by a monster, only his cat can save the day.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Jenny Worstall: Make a Joyful Noise (romantic comedy) – a sparkling mixture of romance, music and humour with characters mercilessly sent up by author. Available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • J Griffith Mitchell: Death in Edenville (crime) – child commits a heinous crime. Townspeople question justice and commit an equally unspeakable crime.
  • The House of Indiscretions (Family Saga/Women’s Fiction) – she retains her mansion through blackmail, prostitution, running a speakeasy, then discovers its real purpose.
  • Jeremiah Bascomb – a Heart Divided (Family Saga) – a runaway orphan, through fate and his own efforts, becomes a business mogul by forty.
  • Pola – a Biographical Novel (Biographical Fiction) – from poverty to ballerina to stage actress to movie superstar and princess.
  • The Royle Blue Bloods (Family Saga/Women’s Fiction) – a dysfunctional four-generation family eventually destroys itself through greed, blackmail, deceit, suicide, and murder.
  • J Griffith Mitchell’s books are available from Amazon.comBarnes and NobleKobo BooksGoogle Books, and iBooks.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Joan H YoungNews from Dead Mule Swamp (cozy mystery) – Anastasia Raven #1 a hundred-year-old newspaper is stolen  But what old news could be dangerous?
  • The Hollow Tree at Dead Mule Swamp (cozy mystery) – Anastasia Raven #2 Ana catches Jimmie Mosher hiding money. What else is the boy hiding?
  • Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp (cozy mystery) – Anastasia Raven #3 Star and Sunny’s mother disappeared years ago. Enter: an exuberant Irish Setter.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • John C BirdAristocrat at Large (comedy thriller) – a naive young Englishman finds fun, romance and danger in the American West.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Joy V SmithHidebound (science-fiction ebook) – after Anfissa meets Ferenc, they flee to a planet where even the grass is deadly.
  • Sugar Time (science-fiction audiobook) – three time-travel stories: “Sugar Time”, “Flight Test”, and “Return to Neander”.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Kathryn Elizabeth JonesConquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones (Christian Fiction) – Virginia Bean meets God. How will the five stones help her to overcome?
  • Scrambled (cozy mystery) – a middle-aged woman who has left her husband meets up with death in an old hotel.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Kimberley Payne (Fit for Faith and Return Home and Tell blogs): Tooth for Tooth – life finally looks safe for Heather Williams until her daughter reveals a terrifying secret. Available via Smashwords and Amazon.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • K. S. BrooksLust for Danger (action-adventure) – Special Agent Kathrin Night tries to prevent terrorists from commiting mass-murder.
  • Kiss of Night and Night Undone (suspense / romance) – Special Agent Kathrin Night deals with life after an injury-induced early “retirement”.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Kurt KammCode Blood (thriller) – lives of a paramedic, stemcell researcher and vampire wannabe collide in this L.A. noir novel.
  • One Foot in the Black (firefighting adventure) – a turbulent, thoughtful story of putting out fires, both personal and professional (Kirkus Discoveries).
  • Red Flag Warning (serial arson mystery) – who is trying to burn down Malibu?
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Lauren Grimley: Unforeseen (urban fantasy/paranormal romance) – hunted for her gift and haunted by her dreams, Alex is driven to fight. Available from Amazon.comAmazon.co.ukBarnes & Noble and Smashwords.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Linda M JamesThe Invisible Piper – 1940. An endearing cockney boy changes the life of a  war-torn family for ever.
  • Tempting the Stars – 1944. One man’s inspirational struggle to survive in a world which judges us by how we look.
  • The Day of the Swans (to be published July 2012) – if memories give you your identity, what happens if someone gives you false ones and makes you believe them?
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Maggie Bishop (blog): Appalachian Paradise (romance) –  good ole boy meets high powered career woman for five-day backpacking trek. Available as Kindle and paperback formats.
  • Emeralds in the Snow (romance, mystery) – treasure hunt, emerald mines, downhill skiing and cold case entangle rich woman and poor man. Available as Kindle and paperback formats.
  • Murder at Blue Falls (cozy mystery) – the horse finds a body during trail ride at dude ranch; woman sleuth investigates. Available as Kindle and paperback formats.
  • One Shot too Many (book 3) (cozy mystery) – photography group meets at dude ranch, shot kills, Detective Tucker takes lead. Available as Kindle and paperback formats.
  • Perfect for Framing, (book 2) (cozy mystery) – trouble brewing in the Property Owners’ Association; CSI wannabe Jemma Chase investigates. Available as Kindle and paperback formats.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Marc NashA,B&E (contemporary fiction) – a gangster’s moll with a contract on her head hides out in island Greece.
  • Not In My Name (political fiction) – internet terrorist grooming, no one is who they say they are
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Marietta Miemietz: Off-site (financial / thriller) – banker attends secluded team-building off-site meeting. Strange things happen, leaving her in mortal danger. Available on Amazon.comAmazon.co.ukAmazon.de (as ‘Das Seminar’), Amazon.frAmazon.esAmazon.it.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Marja McGrawThe Bogey Man – A Sandi Webster Mystery (mystery) – Sandi Webster deals with a wannabe private eye who’s a dead ringer for Humphrey Bogart.
  • Old Murders Never Die – A Sandi Webster Mystery (mystery) – Sandi Webster becomes stranded in a ghost town haunted by unsolved Old West murders.
  • Bogey Nights – A Bogey Man Mystery (mystery) – see what happens when you find a body that’s been buried in your basement since 1942.
  • Bogey’s Ace in the Hole – A Bogey Man Mystery (mystery) – ride along in Chris’s 1950 Chevy while he tries to find a killer and a potential victim.
  • Click here for Marja’s Amazon author page.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Marla MadisonShe’s Not There (suspense) – abused women are going missing. Is a predator targeting them?
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Michael BrookesThe Cult of Me (supernatural) – By entering people’s minds he tormented them. Then things got interesting..
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Michael NicholsonPilgrims Rest (historical fiction) – The story of Mary, a Welsh widow, who resolves to forge a new life with her children in 1870s South Africa.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Michele DrierEdited for Death (traditional mystery) – an art theft in WWII leads to three murders 60 years later in California.
  • SNAP: The World Unfolds (vampire romance) – Maxie finds more than she expected when she begins working for international celeb media SNAP.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Morgen Bailey: The Serial Dater’s Shopping List (chick-lit) – Northampton technology journalist Isobel McFarlane is set the task to date 31 men in 31 days, what could possibly go wrong? Available from Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com and Smashwords.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Neal JamesA Ticket to Tewkesbury (spy thriller) – who will find the secret documents vital for the national security of modern-day Britain?
  • Two Little Dicky Birds (crime) – a killer stalks the streets of England. Can the Met catch him before more people suffer?
  • Threads of Deceit (crime) – James Poynter’s thirst for revenge brings the futures of all connected to a tipping point.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Neil L. Yuzuk & David A. YuzukBeachside PD: The Reluctant Knight (thriller / mystery / police procedural; details on their website) – a compelling novel of corruption, murder, unforgettable characters, intriguing romance and redemption.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Nick CookAggressor (action) – three men find and rescue hostages taken in the Middle East, following the Gulf War.
  • Angel, Archangel (action) – two British spy pilots defuse a Russian scheme in World War Two.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Nick OrsiniFingerless Gloves (young adult fiction/urban fiction) – Tonight will be the most difficult night in 25-year-old Anton Duchamp’s life.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Nicole Dunlap: Miss Nobody (drama/family saga) – Charlene runs away from home and a fear that shakes her very core…seeing her daughter. Available from Amazon and Smashwords.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Nigel Hey: Wonderment (biography/memoir – Matador Oct 1 2012): Globetrotter writer’s adventurous life story interleaves career, domestic life, and departures from the expected. Available from Amazon (including Kindle), B&N, etc.
  • The Star Wars Enigma (Cold War History – Potomac Books, ̣̣̣2006): Reagan’s hoax? The little-known political and scientific inside story of the 1980s Strategic Defence Initiative. Available from Amazon (including Kindle), B&N, etc.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Nina MunteanuDarwin’s Paradox – released in 2007 by Dragon Moon Press. An environmental thriller that explores the merger of machine intelligence with an intelligent virus.
  • Angel of Chaos – released in 2010 by Dragon Moon Press. In this prequel to Darwin’s Paradox  an environmental disease changes the evolution of humanity.
  • Outer Diverse (Book One of the Splintered Universe Trilogy) – released in 2011 by Starfire World Syndicate. A paranormal space thriller about a hard-boiled female detective who must solve a religious massacre. Nina also blogs at The Alien Next Door.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Phyllis J BurtonA Passing Storm (romance/suspense) – Jennifer Redmond is in hospital suffering from amnesia. When her memory returns she remembers why she was running away.
  • Paper Dreams (romance/suspense) – Katie Nicholson discovers evidence of a past scandal and her life is put in mortal danger! Published by Matador (Troubador) December 2011.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • P W FoxSea Change (fantasy) – overcoming betrayal and death, Selena uses magic and races the moon for escape and vengeance.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Robert FordThe King of Spain (literary fiction) – a debut novel set in the not-too-distant future, with unworldly Sam as its hero.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Rosanne DingliDeath in Malta (mystery – BeWrite Books) – a lonely novelist flees to Malta, where a missing boy and a woman prove confounding. You had me at ‘Novelist’.
  • According to Luke (romantic thriller – BeWrite Books) – murder, extortion and forbidden love overwhelm Jana when an ancient icon reveals a dangerous secret.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Rudy A. Mazzocchi (blog / trailer): Equity of Evil (medical thriller) – based on true events, this novel involves some of the world’s oldest, most emotional and controversial issues. Available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and OmniLit.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Sarah Baethge: The Speed of Darkness (sci-fi / fantasy – available from Amazon & Smashwords) –what happens when closely guarded secrets are thrown away to prevent what seems wrong?
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Sarah EnglandExpected (comedy) – Sam Sweet doesn’t want a husband or kids, just a job and a cowboy!
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Sheron Wood McCarthaA Dangerous Talent For Time (science fiction time travel adventure) – a renegade Talent is loose in the past and destroying the future. Can solving a hidden riddle save it?
  • Caught In Time (science fiction time travel adventure) – time traveler Rowyna Grae journeys 1,000 years into the medieval past to save the future. Will love trip her up? Also available as a paperback.
  • Cosmic Entanglement (science-fiction) – An alien probe crashes on Alysia. Adversaries Ching T’Karre and the Democratic Union work together on space program to protect their world. Politics, mayhem, murder and romance ensue. Sheron also blogs at http//www.scifibookreview.com.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • SL Dwyer (and blog): Dirt (YA & adults, available on Amazon and Smashwords) – It’s 1933 and newly-orphaned Sammy begins to live a lie and all its consequences.
  • For Benny (mainstream drama) – a mother’s plans for revenge takes an unexpected turn forcing her to make a decision.
  • If Truth Be Known (action/adventure, available on Amazon and Createspace) – Casey must find the meaning of the mysterious Mayan symbol while trying to stay alive.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Stacy JubaSink or Swim (mystery / romantic suspense) – a personal trainer attracts a stalker after appearing on a reality TV show.
  • Twenty-Five Years Ago Today (mystery / romantic suspense) – a newspaper editorial assistant investigates an unsolved murder and falls for the victim’s nephew.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Sue MargolisApocalipstick (chicklit) – will Rebecca win the recognition she yearns for and get the man of her dreams?
  • Neutorica (chicklit) – Anna commits adultery for the pure joy of it: fast, funny, shocking and unputdownable.
  • Sisteria (chicklit) – the hilarious novel about Finchley-dwelling Jewish housewife’s family life.
  • Spin Cycle (chicklit) – Rachel, a cleaner and professional stand-up comedian, meets a sexy washing machine repair man.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Suzan TisdaleLaiden’s Daughter (eBook, paperback due in March 2012, historical romance) – she believes men are not honorable nor are they kind – he proves her wrong.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Terry W Ervin IIFlank Hawk (the first in the First Civilization’s Legacy series) – an action-adventure post-apocalyptic fantasy where magic exists and ogres are more than a child’s nightmare.
  • Blood Sword (the second in the First Civilization’s Legacy series) – Flank Hawk, Grand Wizard Seelain’s mercenary guard, faces peril seeking the malevolent Blood Sword’s return.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • TL SpencerBlood Prophecy: The Fated Three (vampire) – with vampires and werewolves around every corner, Selene must make a choice between love, death and the fate of the world.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Toni Weymouth: Deadly Vibrations (Amazon / Smashwords / soft cover; erotic suspense) – the Wilde Sisters band together to ferret out sex toy mischief, mayhem and murder.
  • Easy Entry (Amazon / soft cover; romantic suspense) – a therapist and her dog find danger while travelling in a caravan across the county.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Tristram La RocheOn My Knees (M:M/gay/contemporary romance) – when Mark meets a handsome stranger at the gym, he realises he’s gay not weird.
  • Lorenzo il Magnifico (M:M/gay/contemporary romance) – can a holiday fling with sexy Florentine waiter Lorenzo change Luke’s humdrum life?
  • Fixed (M:M/gay/contemporary romance) – he’s broken, but an unexpected meeting with an old friend breathes new life into Mike.
  • The Hun and The General (M:M/gay/historical romance) – when two powerful men share an intimate secret, the course of history may be changed.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Vincent MiskellGodspeed Inc.: A Naomi Kinder Adventure (science fiction free ebook) – set in 2097, Naomi must race to Umbriel to save the solar system.
  • Rescuing the Future:  A Naomi Kinder Novel (science fiction novel) – Naomi travels to the 24th century to stop a nanobot takeover of Earth.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Will le FlemingCentral Reservation (general fiction) – a gripping tale of haunting and the search for identity in a world on fire.
  • you could have your novel listed here
  • Yvonne Hertzberger: Back From Chaos: Earth’s Pendulum, Book One (epic fantasy – available from Amazon as an eBook and pBook) – sometimes destiny chooses the unlikeliest of heroes – assassin and spy. But the goddess needs him.
  • Through Kestrel’s Eyes: Earth’s Pendulum, Book Two (epic fantasy – available from Amazon as eBook and pBook) – Liannis, seer, must face tests and self-doubt to help restore the Balance. Time is short.
  • you could have your novel listed here

So what I’m after is your name (listed above alphabetically by first name), your website / blog address, book title, book link (where we can buy it), genre and summary in no more than 15 words (a test of your editing skills :)). You can email me these details for up to 5 of your books (please don’t paste them into this page’s comments section). My books and free short stories are detailed on the Books – mine page. Please note: the chances are that I’ve not read the books listed on this page (much as I would like to have done) so these are therefore not personal recommendations but are, in the main, by authors who I have chatted to, interviewed or got to know… even just a little bit. 🙂 Kindle Fiction recommends a variety of eBooks and if you’ve read any eBooks you’d like to recommend then you can email suggestions to kindlesrp@gmail.com.

** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!

See http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B008E88JN0

or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.

For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.

As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do, and a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words (and post stories of up to 3,000 words). Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me posting it online in my new Red Pen Critique Sunday night posts, then do email me. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Guest post: The Pitfalls of Counting Words by C. S. Lakin

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of word counts (a great pre-NaNoWriMo subject), is brought to you by multi-genre author C.S. Lakin.

The Pitfalls of Counting Words

One of the most common things you will see a writer commenting on during the time they are working on their book is to announce how many words they’ve written for the day. Facebook and Twitter are constantly abuzz with this seemingly important information, and yes—there is a hashtag for #wordcount for all those eager and needing to both post their own word count and compare with others.

From time to time I make a comment on Facebook about word count; I just can’t help myself. Granted—and I need to get this out of the way first—some authors are under contract. Some very much need to schedule themselves to write a certain amount of words each day in order to meet a pressing deadline. I get that. Although I will still argue that’s a skewed way to look at writing a novel. Why not make it a goal to complete one scene or chapter a day? That’s how I set my writing goals, but I will now explain why I don’t worry too much about sticking to them, even though I’m currently under contract to write three new novels by February 2013.

I try very hard to steer as far away from word count observances as possible. Sure, from time to time I check my word count. It helps me to see, when I think I’m halfway through a novel, just how many words I may end up with. My novels range from 75k words to 130k words. My last novel I wrote—a family saga spanning forty years—came in at 165,000 words. I wouldn’t recommend writing a novel at that length due to the difficulty of selling it, but I knew this was going to be my “epic” story, and I really didn’t pay much attention at all to the word count along the way.

In Donald Maass’s “Writing the Breakout Novel” week-long intensive I took last April, the topic of word length for novels came up, since many of us have been taught that writers have to keep a novel within a specific word-count range for the book to be accepted, but he noted that the truth of the matter is: word length for a novel really doesn’t matter at all—what matters is the book itself. A book should be as long as it needs to be and no longer. It needs to tell a complete, well-developed, gripping story without being too sparse and without dragging anywhere along the way.

I have some strong sentiments about the whole word count issue, and they are pretty negative. Why? Because we live in a world that puts emphasis always on quantity, not quality. More is better. And even more is even more better. Writers tend to brag and compete. “I wrote five thousand words today.” “I wrote five thousand words today standing on my head and cooking a gourmet dinner for eighteen people.” And so it goes. How does it make most normal non-superman-type writers feel? Just plain lousy. Just as we compare our figures, our salaries, our hairstyles, and our clothing, we compare word count in order to either validate ourselves, justify our time spent writing, or feel productive (or better than that other writer who didn’t get as many words written today). Do you really need to write a certain number of words in a day before you can pat yourself on the back and say “well done”?

Another thing: It’s not just society but our churches have, sadly, become works-driven. For example, you are a good Christian if you can write a long list of all the “things” you do to prove you are faithful. I recently enjoyed listening to a CD on this topic. The speaker asked a number of old-time, very faithful believers what they would say to God when they got to heaven when he asked this question: “Why should I let you in?” Believe it or not, yes, these people all answered with variations of the same answer: “Oh, well, I’ve been attending church faithfully for sixty years. I led Bible study for decades. I supported missionaries and donated to xxx causes…”

Horrors! Do you see the problem here? How can we ever think that a compilation of all the good things we’ve done in life will equate to worthiness to enter heaven? What does this have to do with word count? I am not going to stand at heaven’s gate and say to God: “Well, I wrote an average of 3,000 words a day to prove I was faithful to my calling as a writer.” Do you really think God cares about your word count? What if you feel called to write, but it takes you a lifetime to pull together a short little story that burns on your heart to write? That must mean you have failed!

Nanowrimo month (National Novel Writing Month, where you commit to writing an entire novel in the month of November), although a good exercise in discipline, is only more grist for the grinding mill—the mill that grinds your soul and creativity into a million little pieces. A lot of writers seem to enjoy the challenge of pumping out a complete novel in four weeks—regardless if it’s any good. They can post with pride that they did it—kinda like making it to the top of Mt. Everest. Sure, it’s an accomplishment, and a good effort at discipline, but again the whole focus is quantity not quality. For those who want to crank out six quickie genre novels a year to make some money and put food on the table, there’s nothing wrong with that. Many writers out there do that, and some I’ve talked to care little about what they write, rarely ever read any of their books once they’re written, and sometimes don’t even much remember one book from the next. Is that a bad thing? No, not at all, for some people write solely to earn a living, and that is completely honorable. And I bet many of them count words too. I just don’t want to be that kind of writer myself, so maybe my comments here are all very biased. But my main concern is the underlying, sometimes subconscious, messages that are coming through in these announcements and concerns over word count.

I can’t tell you how relieved I felt when listening to two hugely successful best-selling, Pulitzer-prize-winning authors at the Book Expo in New York who said that they took four-five years to write each book. That made me feel good. I had been writing a very difficult novel, and it was stretching into a full year to complete. I felt like I was slipping. But I needed a lot of time to think and plot out the story. And this is my last beef about word count.

I have heard many writers say that the important thing is just to write. Make yourself sit down each day and push yourself to write something. That if you just keep writing thousands and thousands of words, inspiration will follow. I completely disagree. I’ve noticed that writers who pump out thousands of words end up having very little of interest to say. Again, it’s quantity over quality. I will say again for the thousandth time: I would rather write one beautiful, powerful, moving sentence than 5,000 boring, nothing words that don’t reach a reader’s heart.

It would be nice to believe that inspiration and beautiful, powerful writing can be accessed like a water pump—just turn it on full bore and let it gush, and at some point something good will spill out. Then you can throw out most of the other stuff and keep the good stuff. I rarely hear anyone talk about mulling, thinking, musing, ideating. I remember reading how Tony Hillerman often lay on his couch for hours with his eyes closed. That was the bulk of his work. I am much the same way, but instead of lying on the couch, I take long walks, talk out my plots and ideas and characters, sometimes just talking out loud to myself somewhere secluded where no one but my dog hears me (and he doesn’t mind). Nobel Prize–winning author Toni Morrison in an interview indicated that she did most of her “writing” throughout the day as she went about her life, so that when she sat down at the computer to put down her scenes, she had already spent quality time thinking and mulling over what she planned to write.

I would like to encourage all the writers out there to stop and think. Yes, spend more time thinking. Avoid using those distasteful words (word count) and focus more on quality, on planning, on letting ideas simmer. And when you sit down and write, don’t set some arbitrary goal of how many words you should stuff in your document. Aim to write with passion and concentration, with sincerity and significance, slowly, deliberately. And if all that comes out of the effort is one great sentence or paragraph, allow yourself to see that it a great end goal.
Sometimes more is said with less. In fact, I truly believe absolutely: more is better said with less words. The right words. Take time to chew your words, taste them, spit out the ones that aren’t just right and only settle for a sentence that says exactly what you want it to say. My high school English teacher used to say, “Say what you mean. Don’t say what you don’t mean.” I still remember that line forty years later. You may not get it first time around, in a first draft, but don’t zoom through, typing away. Stop and ponder what you are trying to say, how you want it to sound. Let the spirit fill and lift you as you write, for if you zoom ahead mindlessly, you leave the spirit behind. And it will show.

A really interesting article. Thank you, Susanne!

C. S. Lakin is the author of the fantasy series, “The Gates of Heaven,” with the first three books now out in stores. She also writes contemporary psychological mysteries, with her Zondervan contest winner, Someone to Blame, having been released last October. You can find some of her other novels online as Ebooks. She works as a professional copyeditor and writing coach and loves to teach on the craft of writing. Her new websites are dedicated to critiquing fiction (www.CritiqueMyManuscript.com) and building community to help survive and thrive in your writing life (www.LiveWriteThrive.com). Come join in!  You can read more about her and her novels at www.cslakin.com.

***

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with biographer and science-fiction author Nigel Kelly – the five hundred and thirty-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books and I also have a blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Guest post: Finding Your Footing on the Mountain of Success by C. S. Lakin

Tonight’s guest blog post is brought to you by multi-genre author C.S. Lakin.

Finding Your Footing on the Mountain of “Success”

There’s a moment for many writers when a tectonic shift occurs in their writing process, one that may not even be all that noticeable on the surface, but sends out powerful waves across the landscape of their writing life. I’ve seen this happen with dozens of my editing clients as they near either the completion of writing their book or upon finalizing a rewrite and seeing “the end” near in sight for that particular project. This shift manifests in various ways, but the early signs start with questions about “what to do, now that I’m done”.

An Incursion of Unwanted Emotion

Most writers write in the hopes that they will sell their book, connect with a readership, and make money from the sales. Their priorities may not be in that order, but it’s usually the goal when writing a novel or nonfiction manuscript that it get “out in the world” of readers. And that’s expected and reasonable. So, here’s what tends to happen—especially with an author completing her first book. The engulfing joy of writing and expressing creativity and voicing ideas now becomes infiltrated with a subtle, growing anxiety. Soon to join that is a cocktail mix of emotions: trepidation, fear, self-doubt, worry, despair, frustration. Whether these come flooding into the writer’s mind and heart full force or just niggle at the back of her mind—they come.

Now that the intensity of the writing journey is over for the moment and the writer has breathing room, and can step back and look at her accomplishments, often any feelings of significance, achievement, or success are squelched before they can nurture the artist in the way they should. We should be able to step back when done creating a work of art—be it a novel, a song, or a painting—and spend some time in that special place of accomplishment. But this rarely occurs for the writer.

Feel the Earth Move under Your Feet

How much of this is self-imposed and how much is society-imposed is not something I can answer. However, I do believe we as artists need to be aware of this shift and understand that we can actively change how we respond. Why should we? Because if we think back to why we create in the first place, we will usually agree that we do so because of the fulfilling and satisfying experience expressing creativity gives us. There is no deeper joy to an artist than to create, to immerse herself in the creative experience, and then to step back and look at what has been created. That stepping back moment is a precious one, and unfortunately it often gets trampled on by the anxiety of “what comes next.”

I believe if we pay attention to this shift and “feel the earth moving” underneath us, drawing us away from the joy of writing and into the morass of anxiety over whether or not our book will be published, we can steady ourselves and roll with the earth (I live near San Francisco, so the earthquake motif is a natural one for me to default to—pun intended).

Beating Themselves Up over Perceived Failure

Think about this: Some people aspire to reach the top of Mt. Everest. They may spend years of their life training, saving money, and obsessing over this goal to stand at the top of the world. I’ve watched (a bit obsessed myself) from the comfort of my couch these intrepid folks risking their lives to reach this pinnacle. Much of their success will depend upon their skill and training. But there’s no accounting for a freak storm that might come along and take them down. Just read Jon Krakauer’s book Into Thin Air if you want to see how bad luck can cancel out all the odds in your favor of succeeding. I am intrigued by these climbers who, upon having to quit for one serious reason or another just short of reaching their coveted goal, fall into deep depression, and their evident sense of total failure and worthlessness is plain for all to see. How can these people put so much of their heart and joy into the need to get to the top? Can’t they be satisfied with having made it to 27,000 feet instead of 29,000? They have still climbed higher than almost all the humans who have ever lived on earth—isn’t that good enough? But it’s not. They torture themselves over their failure, which to them is absolute and unforgivable.

Many writers do the equivalent in regard to their writing. If they don’t sell millions, make some best-seller list, become a household name like Stephen King, they are miserable. In fact, it’s worse than that. For some, if they can’t get a book contract, or earn more than their advance, they feel the same way. What used to be a joyous experience (writing) has now become a burden and a source of great pain. I see it all around me—even in writers I would define as quite successful by the world’s standards. But, to them, that success is just not good enough, and they feel that “failure” means they are a failure. In effect, they have lost their way through the bucolic land of creativity and are wandering in despair in the gloomy marshes of self-doubt and the need for success.

Step Back and Admire the View

I would be lying if I said I haven’t wandered off the path into said marsh more than once. I think all artists do from time to time. However, if this process of surfacing from the joy of being creative into the marsh of despair and anxiety over a lack of “success” is repeated many times over, year after year, it can destroy our spirit. There are numbers of climbers who never quite made it to the top of Everest. Years later they still feel like failures in life. You’d think with the kind of panoramic perspective they’re used to having at the top of a mountain they could don a healthy perspective about their life and their significance. For that’s what it’s really all about—learning how to find significance in the journey of creativity without it being dependent on the tangible societal measures of success.

My advice, then, as a writer who’s been on this journey to publication and success for twenty-five years, is to step back and get a perspective on how obsessed you might be with “success” and instead find significance in what you create. Remind yourself that the joy of the process is valid and vindicating in its own right. The more you can shift your perspective, the less the ground will shift under you.

Thank you, C.S.!

C. S. Lakin is the author of twelve novels, including the seven-book fantasy series “The Gates of Heaven.” She also writes contemporary psychological mysteries, including her Zondervan contest winner Someone to Blame. She works as a professional copyeditor and writing coach and loves to teach the craft of writing. Her websites are dedicated to critiquing fiction and building community to help survive and thrive in your writing life: www.LiveWriteThrive.com and www.CritiqueMyManuscript.com. Come join in! You can read more about her and her books at www.cslakin.com. Follow @cslakin and @livewritethrive. Facebook: C. S. Lakin, Author, Editor.

***

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with humorous novelist and memoirist Jade Heasley – the four hundred and eighty-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Guest post: 10,000 Hours Can Feel Like 10,000 Miles by C. S. Lakin

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of perseverance is brought to you by multi-genre author C.S. Lakin.

10,000 Hours Can Feel Like 10,000 Miles

I recently read Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller, Outliers, which got me thinking about the long, tedious road to publication. Although we occasionally hear of the author who gets a contract for a first novel in record time, it seems more the norm to hear of stories of authors (like me) who have been trying to get published for five, ten, even twenty years. Through research Gladwell discovered experts agreeing on the amount of time needed to bring a person to the level of an expert in his or her field. He cites examples: Bill Gates, Robert Oppenheimer, The Beatles, as some who put in the requisite 10,000 hours into their field or craft. It just seems to be a very basic rule that to become proficient in any field, you need to put in a lot of hours—which equates to a lot of years of diligent effort. There are no shortcuts or get-smart-quick ways about it. Unless you’re a prodigy or Mensa genius, you are going to have to become an expert the old-fashioned way—by hard work and persistence. In this modern age of instant gratification in which we can’t even tolerate more than five seconds for a web page to load, the idea of having to take such a long time becoming an expert in our craft is downright annoying. We want it all now—success, recognition, fulfillment.

“But Writing Is Different”

As a copyeditor, I see lots of manuscripts lacking in brilliance and writing expertise—as do literary agents and acquisition editors. Yet, I’ve come across many new writers who state that because their book was divinely inspired, perhaps even “written” by God, they can justify “bypassing” the needed amount of training and honing of their craft that perhaps an ordinary person might need. Oftentimes, when feeling the spirit of creativity moving on our imagination and heart, revealing to us words and themes and concepts, we figure all we need do is be faithful and write it all down—and voila! a masterpiece.

Funny how writing seems to fall into its own special category. If I felt called in life to be a brain surgeon, people would think me nuts to walk into a hospital, state I was “destined to become a surgeon,” and ask for a scalpel to operate on the patient on the table. In fact, should I press forward and take scalpel in hand, I would quickly be carted off by force and removed as far from that hospital as possible–to protect the patient lying on the table. I might even find myself in a nifty jacket that ties in the back, where my eager hands can’t reach the knots.

Reasonable people expect aspiring surgeons to put in the requisite hours of study, residency, supervised and assisted training to work up to being the capable doctor they hope to be. This is the same across professions—whether one hopes to practice law, build a skyscraper, or even drive a school bus full of squirrelly children. Some “careers” may not call for ten thousand hours of diligence, but Gladwell notes that to become an expert in your field, to rise above the masses, you have to put in ten thousand hours. That’s about twenty hours a week for ten years of practicing and honing your craft. We feel comforted when we hear our 747 pilot has logged in over ten thousand hours of flight time. We might not feel so at ease if we were told this was his first time behind the wheel (or stick).

 “What’s Taking So Long?”

Sometimes new writers lament that they haven’t been able to sell their first manuscript after a hard year of writing and querying agents. Maybe even after even five years they ask, Why is this desired goal of publishing next to impossible? I would venture to say this: Maybe the goal feels impossible to reach because they haven’t yet put in their ten thousand hours. Sure, it can feel like walking ten thousand miles, but when you take such a lengthy trip through many lands, you grow and learn and absorb the cultures and surroundings until they become part of your soul and fill your cache of imagination to the full. We need to mature in our writing. Our writing technique and voice needs to age like a fine wine. Remember that slogan—“We serve no wine before its time”? How about: “We sell no manuscript before our writing is honed and refined”?

A few—very few—writers find “success” or publication after only a year or two of starting their journey as a writer, but that’s not the norm. Talk to most authors who have been publishing for years and you will often hear numbers thrown around:  “It took me ten years to get an agent . . . twelve years to get my first publishing contract . . .” Sure, there are factors of timing, accessibility to conferences, personality, the genre you write in juxtaposed to the market needs. All these things can have a bearing on your “success.” But, rather than focus on the “success” part, I’d rather focus on the “expert” part. I don’t know if I’ve put in my ten thousand hours yet, but if not, I’m sure close. And I’d rather look ahead to the twenty-thousand-hour mark, drinking in the sights along the way–reminding myself that it’s all about the journey, not the destination.

That was excellent, thank you! I wonder how many hours I’ve done… four NaNoWriMos, one ScriptFrenzy, two StoryaDayMays

C.S. Lakin is the author of twelve novels, including the fantasy series, “The Gates of Heaven”, with the first four books now out in stores. She also writes contemporary psychological mysteries, with her Zondervan contest winner, Someone to Blame, having been released October 2010. She works as a professional copyeditor and writing coach and loves to teach on the craft of writing.

Her new websites are dedicated to critiquing fiction (www.CritiqueMyManuscript.com) and building community to help survive and thrive in your writing life (www.LiveWriteThrive.com). Come join in! You can read more about her at www.cslakin.com.

***

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with author, speaker and photographer Barbara Ann Derksen – the four hundred and thirty-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Guest post: Does It Really Pay to Get Your Manuscript Critiqued? by CS Lakin

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of critique is brought to you by C.S. Lakin.

A Help or a Hindrance— Does It Really Pay to Get Your Manuscript Critiqued?

Critique. Just the word alone makes authors cringe. Why? Because it reminds us of another word that has a negative connotation: criticism. Yet, as authors we understand the need to have another pair of eyes look closely at our manuscript and give us constructive advice and direction so we can make our book the absolute best it can be. But an unprofessional, misguided, or inconsiderately toned critique can cause great heartache and discouragement, so should we really risk our already fragile writer’s ego and let someone tear our precious work apart? Will a good critique be worth not just the money but the emotional cost?

Some copyeditors claim you should never get a critique because it is entirely subjective. They say all you need is to get your book edited by a copyeditor and fix all the grammatical mistakes. And it’s true that getting a thorough copyedit is essential. But few writers think about getting their book critiqued first. However, in my twenty-five years of experience with writing novels, becoming a multi-published author, and working professionally as a copyeditor and writing coach in the publishing industry, I have come to conclude that most authors—whether a new writer or seasoned published author—need a critique and preferably in the early draft of their manuscript.

But Critiques Are Subjective!

Sure, critiques are subjective. But when your novel or nonfiction manuscript lands on a literary agent’s desk, or is placed in an acquisition editor’s hands, it will be read subjectively as well. But here’s the thing authors need to understand: a professional in the publishing industry will temper a subjective read with years of experience; an understanding of current market needs and trends; establish or accepted writing styles, structure, and formatting; and a honed sense for an original and compelling writer’s voice. There is no such thing as an objective critique, but that should not be an issue. Getting an insider’s take on just how well your book holds up is invaluable and can save you months or even years of submitting a flawed manuscript and getting back dozens of rejections without knowing why—leaving you more discouraged than ever.

When you look for someone to critique your “baby”, I would encourage you to look for someone who is not only interested in helping you make your book shine but wants to help you make it all you envision. A supportive critiquer will encourage you, instruct you, and help you along this rocky road. A good critique should not come across as a nice pat on the back with a few muttered words like “Good job. Keep it up.” It should thoroughly address all the major elements in your novel or nonfiction manuscript, and preferably using an annotated style (with comments along the margins of each page) rather than just an overall summary at the end of your manuscript or in a separate document.

However, we as writers grow attached to our words, and an insensitive editor can cause a lot of pain. More than one author friend or client has cried to me in anger, frustration, and a readiness to give it all up after being handed an insensitive critique. Often these critiques are full of negative remarks with little constructive advice, examples of how to reword a sentence better, or explanations as to why a passage does not work well. It takes courage to hand your project over to someone—this book you’ve spent months or perhaps years writing, sweating over, all the while second-guessing yourself and the merits of your book, only to have someone heartlessly rip it to shreds. For that’s our greatest fear—that despite all our hard efforts, we may have produced something that should go in the round file.

Be Ready to Work

I find the greatest satisfaction in helping my clients with their manuscripts. I have seen some of the worst manuscripts—poorly constructed, wordy, almost unreadable—turned into beautiful, well-crafted books that their authors are proud of. I have gone on to see many of my clients get agents, land contracts, and get published because they were willing to work hard to take their rough work and perfect it to the best of their ability. These authors show they are dedicated and willing to learn and listen. But I wonder how many (or few) of them would have dug in to their necessary revisions had they been treated insensitively by a critique. Of course, there is no guarantee that if you follow all the suggestions in your critique that you will get an agent or land a book contract. So many variables affect those outcomes. But applying yourself to make the changes suggested in a good critique will stretch you and teach you how to be a better writer, and as you apply the things you learn, your chances of reaching your dreams will improve immensely.

Do I Really Need One?

Your critique will give you the help you need to get your manuscript or proposal in shape. Your book is competing with hundreds of thousands of others to grab the attention of an agent or publishing house, so you want to do everything you can to make sure your proposal, query letter, synopsis, and book stand out from the rest.

So, if you’ve decided maybe you do need to take this first step, do some research and ask possible editors you are considering hiring for testimonials from clients. Start a dialogue with the editor to see how friendly, accommodating, understanding, and compassionate he or she comes across. And take a look at their concrete experience and influence in the publishing industry. However, don’t expect them to drop everything and answer dozens of e-mails packed with lengthy questions. Don’t expect them to be available to talk on the phone either. Often clients, in their need to be assured an editor will be right for them, expect the editor to push aside whatever she is doing at any given moment to attend to their needs and questions. A potential client wants to feel safe and needs to build a measure of trust with the professional she is dealing with, and that’s understandable. But we editors are busy—not just editing but with our personal lives as well, just as are doctors, dentists, and nurses.

So once you find an editor that seems a good match, send her your manuscript and let her do her job. Answer any questions he may have to better help her understand your objectives in your story. If you can provide her with a synopsis or story summary (for a novel) or a book proposal (nonfiction), that’s a great help. Then, when your critique is done, take all the suggestions to heart and make the changes you feel will best suit your writing style and story. Not every comment included in your critique will work for you. But you’re the author and it’s your book, so weigh each suggestion and trust your intuition. As long as you keep your mind and heart open to ways to improve, your critique will feel less like criticism and more like a gift.

Learn to Give Constructive Critiques

Often, writers will join critique groups or get a critique partner, and having some great author friends who are good at giving constructive suggestions can be a real blessing. They get familiar with your style and know your voice. And because they know you as well, they can often spot areas in your writing that just don’t sound right, or where you could do better. But have you thought about your role as a critiquer and what kind of advice you want to give? The adage “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” really applies here. Do you really want someone to read your chapters and just say “good job” without being honest about the problem areas they see? On the other hand, even though you want them to point out your weaknesses, you certainly don’t want them to be tactless. You would like them first to say something encouraging, point out the good aspects of your writing, then be polite and share kindly what they think might need fixing. We all have egos, and we can often be very sensitive to criticism, even when it comes from a friend. In fact, even more so when it comes from a friend. However, we need to separate friendship from critique. Don’t kill the messenger if they give you a distasteful message.

And so with these thoughts in mind, be the same kind of critiquer that you want others to be. The first thing I learned from my editing mentor is this: Always start with praise. Find things to compliment, and be honest about those things—don’t just randomly throw out a few nice words and then dig in with what’s wrong. Seriously look at the commendable aspects of those chapters and say some encouraging things about how well those elements worked. And then when you get ready to offer helpful suggestions, be sure your tone is uplifting and not harsh.

If you want to help critique another’s work and would like a helpful checklist of all the major elements to cover (for fiction), you can copy and paste this list into a document and use it—useful not just for critiquing others’ work but also your own: http://critiquemymanuscript.com/checklist-for-critiquing-a-novel

Finding a wonderful editor and critiquer to help you along in your writing journey is a real blessing. Maybe it’s time to take the plunge and get the help you truly need. And hopefully, by choosing just the right editor and taking just the right attitude toward the suggestions given, your critique will be a help, not a hindrance, to you.

That was great, thank you. And I totally agree. I would always have a second opinion on anything I put out for sale. A reader is putting their faith that I have made it the best that it can be. 🙂

C. S. Lakin is the author of twelve novels, including the fantasy series, “The Gates of Heaven”, with the first three books now out in stores and online in multiple formats. She also writes contemporary psychological mysteries, with her Zondervan contest winner, Someone to Blame, having been released last October.

She works as a professional copyeditor and writing coach and loves to teach on the craft of writing. Her new websites are dedicated to critiquing fiction (www.CritiqueMyManuscript.com) and building community to help survive and thrive in your writing life (www.LiveWriteThrive.com). Come join in by following @livewritethrive on Twitter. You can read more about her at www.cslakin.com.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with literary fiction author Myra Sherman – the three hundred and eighty-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum and you can follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.