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Sunday, June 19, 2022

Review: Mandalay Hawk's Dilema

 

"Tom Hawk had come to accept that his daughter - his very smart and very motivated, but extremely unprepared daughter - was going to try to march to Washington without any plan or parental support"


I was given a copy of this book for review. You can find my review and original book image at 

https://www.amazon.com/Mandalay-Hawks-Dilemma-United-Anthropocene/dp/1732077533/


"Tom Hawk had come to accept that his daughter - his very smart and very motivated, but extremely unprepared daughter - was going to try to march to Washington without any plan or parental support"


Mandalay suffers through a hurricane, leading her to the impetuous action of burning a bunch of school property (donated by an electric company). What follows is her journey to activate her generation for climate change. It read much like The Day After Tomorrow watched - singular agenda driven. All characters are defined by the main thrust of the book: environmental issues. From Mandalay's red lipstick message WE READ: "THEY CAUSE GLOBAL WARMING-LIKE ALL POWER COMPANIES USING FOSSIL FUEL!! HOW STUPID CAN WE BE? IF WE DON'T STOP GLOBAL WARMING NOW, IT WILL BE TOO LATE! IT WILL MAKE THE PANDEMIC OF 2020 LOOK LIKE A PICNIC IN THE PARK!!!... ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! THIS CR** HAS TO STOP NOW!!!" It is ALL CAPS, bold face here matching the text in the book.


There is a great scene early on between Mandalay and Gertrude where Gertrude asks, "please tell me how you and your friends plan on saving the world." The response made me chuckle, "Nothing embarrasses a kid more than having their own words or actions shoved right back in their face."


I suppose time will tell if books such as these can help us change collectively in such a way as Upton Sinclair's The Jungle once did for the meat industry. Here, marches, rap songs (I was ill prepared for Mandalay as an eloquent rapper), and rooftop gardens are the proposed solutions, leaving this reader to close the book feeling preached at without any discernable path forward.


I was given a copy for review.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Review: MD Cooper's Outsystem


I met Cooper at a convention this past year. She was pleasant enough and enjoyable to talk about the craft of writing. She writes a very niche genre: Military Sci-Fi with lesbian protagonists. The book is one of her first and stars one of her major characters: Tannis. The author is super prolific with hundreds of books published in the sci-fi world she has created. 


There is actually a pretty cool KDP (Amazon Authors) video interview worth watching if you are interested in how authors can make it through independent publishing. One well respected system is definitely the "Put lots of stuff out there." More notably, I see theories like "20 books to $20,000" or similar titles. Cooper seems to have made it work for her and kudos. 

See her interview HERE

My Review on Amazon:

 A cocky protagonist saves the space colony from a nuclear explosion. What follows is a mystery / conspiracy laden sleuth in space with cyborg body parts, tech and AI. There is some character development but the real reason to get on this rollercoaster is for the non-stop thrills. The author writes excellent action scenes that put you in the moment.

Monday, May 30, 2022

Review: The Bootlace Magician

 




As a kid, one of my favorite Wonderful World of Disney specials on Sunday night was Toby Tyler. He was a young boy who ran away from the circus. He was welcomed into the circus family, but didn't have a "place." Micah Tuttle is such a boy in this book. It is not the first book in the series, and perhaps I would give it 5 stars if I had read the first. It took me a long while to catch up to the backstory. To my credit (or my excuse) I was given a copy for review at DragonCon and was never told it was book two.


The opening seemed slow though even after I realized I wasn't in the first book and read a quick synopsis of book one. However, I loved the themes of family and overcoming darkness in the world.

I enjoyed the magic system and the coming-of-age element as Micah learns more and more how to use his magic. 

Definitely check out book one before this one if you have not done so. That said, I would not hesitate to recommend both and will be picking up book one soon.


I was given an ARC copy at Dragoncon for review. The thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Short on Time but want to edit your WIP?

Visit Original 


I have learned a lot since I started writing a few years back. One is that those of us who work full time, have families, second jobs, and other committments often struggle to write. For me, I enjoy the flow of a good story and it is easier to find time to put words on paper than it is to go back and edit. 

Let me make clear, what follows is not a comprehensive edit. You should have beta readers, content editing all the way down to line editing and proofing if you want your book to find traction with readers. Some of this you can get friends to help do, some you can do yourself, and some simply must be hired out (especially I would argue the final proof needs to be fresh eyes).

What I have here are not comprehensive edits. Rather, they are the "I have an hour but can't really sit down and go deep for another two weeks" edits. It keeps you in the work (though pauses and breaks are great for editing too) but does not involve you keeping every detail of your story fresh and top of mind. What's best? they are all free.

Visit Original



-1.Check your adverbs
    Adverbs. In a draft they often come quickly (uh... I mean with rapidity). Why say someone walked softly when you can say they tiptoed. Or he ate greedily when you can say he devoured. Or that someone suddenly jumped out of the window when you can just say they jumped. Adverbs have a place and I don't necessarily believe (oops - I don't universally subscribe) that they all should be eliminated like enemy ships in a video game. But English is a beautiful language in part because it has so many excellent words. 

So... her eis the edit task. Go to your word processor and pull up your document. Then go to the FIND ALL function. Type in "ly" "ly" with a space bar after may narrow the results and eliminate words like fly, ply, and lye. Then look at each occurance using whatever time you have. Consider why you used the adverb and if there is a better way to write the sentence. Maybe you knock out a paragraph, a chapter, or half a book. Either way, you will benefit from the edit in your final version.




-2. Scan for passive voice
    This FIND ALL may have more false alerts, but it is still a good use of a short window. FIND ALL words like "be." "has been." or even words like "was." What will come up within the results are your uses of the passive tense. Sometimes the passive tense is okay. It is a great way to keep mystery ("The body was found in the living room" doesn't tell us ho the killer was). However, in general it is a weaker tense. So take a moment to find where you used it. Is there a way to write the sentence in the active voice? Knock out a few sentences to better your novel... rather than the novel was knocked out by you editing.

-3. Polish character ticks, mannerisms, or dialogue
    Do you have a character (this is especially helpful with side characters) who has a particular catchphrase, mannerism, or physical tick? Again, use FIND ALL and search for a key word you used. "Y'all," "tapped knee." "fingers hair." or " you betta." If you have chapters where that character plays a prominent role but no hits it means you may have let your character slip out of character. Or, like me, you may find you allow other characters to adopt things you assigned to only one character. It can be a good character check within a very short amount of time.

-4. Get rid of excessive exclamation marks... and rewrite so you don't need it!!!!
    You don't need them. Maybe if your characters are reading a poster outloud that a second grader made. "Lemonade sale tomorrow!!!!!" Otherwise, use minimally. So, what do you do? Yes, you guessed it. Do a FIND ALL for "!." But don't just delete them and put a period in its place. You chose that punctuation for a reason. In your draft you felt excitement, fear, or energy in the passage and wanted to convey it. Now is your time to craft a better sentence or passage. Take out the exclamation mark and insert words that do the heavy lifting for you. "The dog entered the room snarling!!!" can change to "Everyone spun as the dog snarled. It's normal overbite and cute front teeth sticking out of its lip grew grotesque as other teeth joined in a gesture of hate." Maybe not my best work, but you get the drift.


-5. Scan first two words.
    Take a chapter. Look at the first two to three words in each paragraph. What do you see? "Joe shouted..." "Janie sat..." "Joe got up..." "Janie stuttered" Here you are looking for two things primarily. Obvious signs of head hoping and if you need to change your starts to create a more readable rhythm. Of course, the latter will relate to the book you are writing and the section you are in. It might be a good time to have short, choppy action sentences. However, if every paragraph starts out with a participle phrase you may tire a reader.

-6. Participle search or other copious occurrence.
    Try FIND ALL for "ing." Unlike the exclamation mark where you are seeking out weak writing to create better writing, here you may need to judge case by case. Either way, it may uncover tendencies you have. If I could, this technique can be used for any number of instances. I grew up with an elderly school marm whacking my fingers with a ruler as I pecked away at a typewriter. Therefore, I inevitably double space after sentences. Here I can FIND ALL "  " ("space-space") and use REPLACE ALL to correct the problem.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Review: Billy Summer

Buy Here (link to image also)

 

A sprinkle of political jabs throughout read as distracting to me, but if Bruce Springsteen can shout political opinions then I suppose King can too. Maybe too many, especially since it was published after Trump's presidency. For me it was not the issue he was thrusting his political opinion out there - Lord knows lots of authors promote their agendas - it was that he did it in a way that pulled me, the reader / listener, out of the novel.


Otherwise, it is two excellent interwoven novellas. The first about a Birman performing a job. The second about a man who rescues a girl from a bad situation. The second story is built on the first and uses the hit man’s unfinished business as its catalyst.
I loved the nods to Cormac McCarthy and O’Brien. The ending recalled a lot of The Things They Carried. Like almost every King book I read a little, got hooked, and devoured the story.

Not horror fiction in the way It or Carrie are. But 100% King and a great intro to King for any newbie. Or do yourself a favor and jump into The Dark Tower.


Monday, May 9, 2022

 



TAKING A HIATUS!!



I began reviewing Indie books in May 2020. I have loved reading Indie authors, building new friendships, and most of all supporting you all. However, I am committing this summer to my own writing endeavors. 
I have some short reviews of more mainline published books I read over the past year to populate my blog. I hope to be back taking submissions in August 2022.

Are you an author?


Would you like your book promoted on my blog? and website?

Would you like to have your book reviewed?


If so, please contact me directly at 

jerryharwoodbooks (you know the symbol) gmail(dot) com.


Please put in the subject line: 

REVIEW REQUEST and the title of your book in the email. 

Look forward to hearing from you.

Independent authors welcome!

One of the things I love most about the writing community is the support and help I have received. Whether it be a seasoned writer who lets me bend his/her ear, a conference speaker, members of the writer's group or critique group I am in, book related podcast hosts, or just other writers in general, I have always felt a willingness to share and help.

If you are an independent author, I would love to extend my little corner of the writing world to you. 

Drop me an email at jerryharwoodbooks@gmail.com and let me know what book(s) you are seeking to promote. If it is a good fit, I will be happy to do an interview posting to my blog, website, and social media. If the genre is in my wheelhouse, I will be happy to read an author copy. I would then post my review on my blog and give you the option for me to post it as well on other sites such as Amazon or Goodreads.


Hope to hear from you soon!


jerryharwoodbooks at that thing called gmail.


Sunday, May 1, 2022

Interview and Review: Golem by PD Alleva

 

See the Blog Post


Today, we have an opportunity to talk to PD Alleva.  PD has written the book, Golem, a psychological horror novel. 

 

First, let me say I love the cover. Second, thank you for joining me.  I appreciate you giving me your links and I want to share those with our readers.

 

Thank you for the interview Jerry, it’s greatly appreciated.

 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pdalleva_author/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pdallevaauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/PdallevaAuthor

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/pdalleva

Website:  www.pdalleva.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7634126.P_D_Alleva

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/p-d-alleva

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gxKH7P

Golem Purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09CV5823C/


"Yeah, that’s what I do, I write books, that’s my day job. I’m also a hypnotist and therapist with a specialty in treating trauma, addiction, and mental health. My interests include, quantum physics, ancient philosophy, science of mind, spirituality, and of course, ancient aliens. Any questions?"


That is great.  Can you tell us a little about yourself and what led you to start writing?

 

I’ve been writing since I can remember, it’s kind of an itch I need to scratch on frequent occasions plus writing affords other opportunities for all the voices in my head to be heard. I find a certain profound peace in the creative process I’ve never been able to replicate. Writing keeps me focused, poised, alert, and on point, it’s the balance between the surreal and the real, kind of like teetering across the line between total insanity and complete numbness. Plus it’s a safer and healthier practice than acting out the insanity as if personal life was meant to be chaotic and filled with mayhem and drama.

 

But to answer your question about myself, well, I write books, that’s what I do. Good ones, crazy ones, fun books, entertaining books, scary creepy books that are absolutely insane, books with depth and books with excitement, and books that tear out the heart of humanity and throws it on a slab to be feasted on. Yeah, that’s what I do, I write books, that’s my day job. I’m also a hypnotist and therapist with a specialty in treating trauma, addiction, and mental health. My interests include, quantum physics, ancient philosophy, science of mind, spirituality, and of course, ancient aliens. Any questions?

 

Where do you get your inspiration, information, and ideas for books?

 

Inspiration can come from just about anywhere, but mostly nostalgia, old movies, old books, certain scenes or nuances that take up space in my brain and need to jump onto a page. But also, concepts, theories, folklore, and myths. Sometimes I look at society and want to puke or grab an axe and start whacking, but I can’t do that now can I, so I wrap it all up into a story.

My best piece of advice is to not just read, but study the craft."

What are your hobbies and do they ever play into your writing?

 

Reading is my ultimate hobby, and it is through reading that I can explore unique concepts such as science of mind, spiritualism, quantum physics, mythology, folklore, and alien theories. I’m big into aliens and alien concepts and theories. Ancient Aliens is one of my favorite shows, allowing this indulgence to take on a new life. I’m also a psychotherapist and hypnotist (practicing now for close to twenty years) and with my practice training comes into play, mostly through concepts and practices like hypnosis, neuro linguistic programming, and an understanding of belief systems and how the mind functions including the subconscious mind. The human mind contains depths far exceeding the reach of the known universe. I find it amazing how disempowered the human race has become, with little to no understanding of how powerful we all truly are, how eternal, with the ability to self heal.

 

And yes, my hobbies have an uncanny knack of finding their way into my writing. It’s one of those things that you just can’t turn off.

 

What advice would you give someone who wants to be a writer?

 

My best piece of advice is to not just read, but study the craft. While you’re reading stop and look around (at the book that is). How did the author introduce a new character? What is the flow of the book from one chapter to the next? How did the author use dialogue to move the story? Begin to see the craft and artistry behind the story and that will lead to better writing on your part.

 


Do you write full-time or around another job? How do you schedule your time to write?

 

I write full time and also have a private practice, although the private practice is more of a part time position. A few years ago when I decided to write full time I began to take on a smaller role in the private practice and cut down on the amount of patients I see in any given week. Since it’s a private practice I can schedule my days around writing.

 

How many hours a day do you write?

When I’m writing it’s about four to six hours a day. But I do take breaks in between writing and editing. I write horror novels and I write scifi novels about alien vampires attempting to subjugate the human race after WW3 so I need to bounce between genres and sometimes I need to disconnect from one genre to give my full attention to the next. Kind of like having different personalities but the best of both worlds.  

 

What is your favorite part about writing?

I love it all, the craft, the fine-tuning, the relentless click of the keyboard, the editing, cover design, all of it, but I will have to say my favorite part is holding the finished product in my hands. There’s just something about the finished product that carries a certain pride to it, kind of like watching your child walk across the stage to receive their diploma. It’s a battle writing a book just the same as raising a child (I’ve got four), you go through so many trials and tribulations, but when you see that final product, you know it was all worth it.

 

What does literary success look like to you?

 

Millions of preorders.

 

Please tell us about your current release.

 

Golem is a psychological horror novel written in the vein of books like The Shining, Interview with the Vampire, The Silence of the Lambs, and Frankenstein. The story follows a young and na├»ve detective, John Ashton, whose first case as a detective is to find the District Attorney’s missing daughter in 1951 New York City. Problem is, his only lead is high society sculptor and socialite Alena Francon who’s been a resident at Bellevue’s psychiatric facility for the past six months. When John interviews Alena, she tells him the story of Golem, a demon she incarnated into a statue she created in 1947 whose been wreaking havoc on the New York social elite, gaining power and control over the city as he uses orphans to serve as bodily hosts for his demonic army. The story is profoundly psychological (I am a therapist after all) and is told through multiple points of view, as are most of my books. I love being in the heads of my characters, discovering their intricacies and fears, motivations and desires. 

 

Can you read / provide us with a small exert?

 

“Sixty-two bedrooms,” said the cabbie. He was explaining to Ashton the Francon Mansion’s history. “Every brick was imported from all over Europe. Right down to the marble tile.” He added, “From Italy.” Ashton surmised the cabbie was Italian by the prideful way he expressed “Italy”.

           They were driving down a barren road lined with red cedar trees. Every so often they passed a gate and driveway leading to a house or mansion tucked back off the main road.

            “It’s the biggest house on the block,” said the cabbie as he eyed Ashton in the rearview mirror. “We’re almost there.”

            “You seem to know a lot about the house.”

            “Lived here most of my life. One tends to pick up history as the years go by.”

            “Have you ever been inside?”

            He shook his head. “Not at all. A guy like me has trouble getting invites.” He laughed. Then a moment later, “Here we go.”

            Ashton perked up. The gate was old steel and wide open attached to two stone pillars on either side. The cab stopped outside the gate and Ashton looked up the long winding drive to the house that stood in darkness. Colossal, was Ashton’s first thought, his eyes wide taking in the sheer volume and size. A single light flickered in the mansion as if a candle had been lit in the foyer.

            “No party tonight,” said the cabbie. “Your luck must have run out.”

            Ashton caught the cabbie’s smile.

            “You’re not gonna drive up?”

            He clucked his tongue and shook his head. “No,” he said. “This is as close as I get.”

            “Superstitious?”

            “You might say that. I don’t invite devils into my life, detective. That’s your job.”

            “Indeed,” Ashton breathed staring at the long walk to the house.

            The cabbie added, “I feel like I’m dropping off Rhenfield to meet his doom. Be careful in there, detective. Evil spirits are everywhere around this place.”

            “Rhenfield?”

            The cabbie eyed him in the rearview. “You don’t read, do you?”

            Ashton shook his head. “No time.”

            “You should. Great books are like a blueprint…a survival manual disguised as fiction. As folklore. Because the truth hides in plain sight and those that see have to hide and those that can’t see…well, they’re just a part of the plan.”

 

What exciting story are you working on next?

 

I’ve got a few in the pipeline. I just began writing Vol 3 of my scifi fantasy series about alien vampires attempting to subjugate the human population. Series is titled, The Rose, which is based on an alchemy practice that allows for the manipulation of chemistry in inanimate objects, and telekinesis. I’m also editing my next horror novel, Jigglyspot and the Zero Intellect, a novel I refer to as my covid quarantine satirical cosmic grindhouse horror fantasy thriller novel. It’s one hell of a wild ride. Carnivals, Cannibals, and Clowns! Oh my!

 

Who are your favorite authors?

 

This is a very long list, but I’ll keep it short: Ray Bradburry, Edgar Allan Poe, The Bronte Sisters, HG Wells, Jules Verne, Stephen King, Blake Crouch, James Herbert, Ernest Hemingway, Clive Barker, Mary Shelley (favorite book is Frankenstein), and Anne Rice.

 

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Time and Again by Jack Finney. It’s a time travel novel that uses hypnosis as a means for time travel. Fantastically excellent book.

 

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?

 

Yes, first thank you for the interview and supporting indie authors. For all the readers out there thank you for stopping by and taking some time to check out my interview. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter. I send that puppy out once a month, and it’s the perfect way to score an early release, take part of giveaways, and enjoy some book fairs.

 

One more time, where can someone go to purchase your book?

 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pdalleva_author/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pdallevaauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/PdallevaAuthor

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/pdalleva

Website:  www.pdalleva.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7634126.P_D_Alleva

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/p-d-alleva

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gxKH7P

Golem Purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09CV5823C/


MY REVIEW:


For one, I love old lore and myths reinvented. I enjoy horror and love the psychological thriller told well. If you are still tracking with me and like the same, this one is for you. Allena is a laugh for Captain Knowles. She claims a Golem kidnapped a horde of children in a hotel. A hotel she apparently set on fire. She is in a sanitarium. John Ashton is a detective tasked on a different case, another kid kidnapping. Their worlds intertwine. There is cruelty and blood. In fact, at one point the story echoes the whole when Allena is bleeding and the narration declares “Life is a cruel trick that God gets off on playing. And hope is nothing more than a delusion.” Grim, right. It is. And captivating. Page turning. Especially when we meet Golem. Alleva weaves an engrossing tale that leaves you curious to see what is on the next page. But, as the Golem warns, “be careful… you know what happens to curious kittens.” Alleva certainly does well writing compelling narrative. I was given a free copy for review. I usually read a little here, a little there. I found myself staying up past my bedtime on this one.


Sunday, April 24, 2022

Interview With Chris Topher

HERE


 Today, we have an opportunity to talk to Topher Allen.  Topher has written the book, Geo.  


First, let me thank you for joining me.  I appreciate you giving me your links and I want to share those with our readers.


YOUR INFORMATION:

Website: https://www.topherallenbooks.com/

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09NJBCYJF


That is great.  Can you tell us a little about yourself and what led you to start writing?

I first started to seriously consider creative writing a few years ago. The undiluted expression it provides just seemed so refreshing. But at the time, my only real writing experience was authoring maintenance manuals for aircraft components. It was all pretty dry, but introduced me to sentence structure and economy of words and things of that nature. I had always enjoyed storytelling, as well as the creative moments of the engineering classes I was taking at the time. The impetus for this specific project was honestly nothing more than me challenging myself to create a legitimate story that could get people to care about and emphasize with the least interesting, least likely thing I could think of. As a child I was always doodling, carrying a sketchpad with me everywhere. One night while my family and I were out to dinner I got pretty bored and sketched this square little rock-crystal guy. It was one of a few hundred doodles I had done up to that point, but for whatever reason that specific figure just kind of stuck with me. That sketch, combined with the challenge I’d given myself, eventually came together to produce Geo. From there it was just a matter of getting the pen to the paper, so to speak, on any night or weekend I could manage.

Fairly early on in the process I got some less-than-enthusiastic feedback from a professional editor: “Do everything you just did in this story, but rewrite all the rock people as humans instead”. That one sentence gave me so much confidence. 

 

Getting a pen to paper is hard. Perhaps the effort is the greatest step an author takes. Any advice for a new writer out there struggling to make that move?

Actually following through on writing a book is a great accomplishment all on its own. It requires so much thought and effort over a long period of time (especially if you’re not full-time yet). For tips to get through it, I would say to learn how remind yourself of the parts you like most about writing, even if that’s not the exact part you’re working on that day. That always helped my get through some of the downswings. There’s a lot to do, and the parts you love doing will have a much higher chance of success if you’re working just as hard on the less-fun things too. I would also say to not worry so much if you have to cut out a huge chunk of story that you really loved. Even if it’s the best page you’ve ever written, if you keep getting feedback that it’s a problem, hanging onto it could jeopardize the entire rest of the story. There are lots of other parts of your story that are great, don’t hold them back out of stubbornness.


What is the best advice you have ever been given as a writer?

Fairly early on in the process I got some less-than-enthusiastic feedback from a professional editor: “Do everything you just did in this story, but rewrite all the rock people as humans instead”. That one sentence gave me so much confidence. I knew I was on the right track, with my own unique flair on the formula. I didn’t take the advice, but sometimes negative feedback can be a good thing if it’s directed at something you intended to do differently than most others. 


Website: https://www.topherallenbooks.com/

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09NJBCYJF


Do you write full-time or around another job? How do you schedule your time to write?

Still working around another job. Scheduling time was one of the biggest things I struggled with throughout the whole process. You’re creating a new world in your head, so it’s easy to get lost in that realm. Which is great! But, it can also take a heavy toll on those around you. Definitely focus on communicating with your family/those around you, BEFOREHAND and stick to the plan you both established for writing time.

How many hours a day do you write?

Weekday: 0-3hr (usually about 45min), Weekend: 0-16hr (usually 1 or 2hr). Really any time I can have to myself AND if I’m feeling well enough mentally to not destroy my brain with another marathon session.


What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Noise-cancelling headphones.


What is your writer’s kryptonite?

Wasting time doing nothing of interest on the internet.


What is your favorite part about writing?

Worldbuilding and dialogue. You get to create an entirely new and unique culture. As long as your characters are acting appropriately, you can do some pretty wacky traditions and make it believable. As far as dialogue goes, there are so many times we have to watch our tongues in real life, which is good because of the actual people with actual feelings. But, when it’s two fake people ripping each other apart in a book, readers love it. It’s pretty liberating.

What does literary success look like to you?

Knowing that I got to slip a little bit of physics and biology into a book that might be entertaining to kids is pretty cool. Besides that, if I can get a few people to feel for a bunch of rocks I’ll be happy.


Please tell us about your current release.

My current book, Geo, follows a rock and his friends trying to survive a world unlike anything they’ve ever seen. I don’t want to give too much away, but there is a sort of hidden longer-form narrative going on in the background that gradually takes center stage by the end of things. Geo’s always dreamed of something more. He’s always had questions about some strange things he’s seen around his home town, but he’s never asked them out loud for fear of being labelled different. By the time his journey is nearly done he’s a changed person in a lot of ways, having found out some of the long-held secrets regarding the forces controlling his home town. The whole thing ends up in a place I don’t think many will predict, but hope most will enjoy.




What part of writing and publishing was most difficult for you?

Knowing when to move on to the next phase. There’s always that little voice in the back of your head telling you how much better you can make your writing if you just work on it a little more. I think there’s diminishing returns to that each time though, unless there’s some specific part of your story that you have very specific concerns about.


Thanks again for joining me. Let's throw out those links again:

Website: https://www.topherallenbooks.com/

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09NJBCYJF


Sunday, April 17, 2022

Interview with Patrick W Anderson

 

See the Blog Post here


Today, we have an opportunity to talk to Patrick W. Andersen.  Patrick has written the book, Acts of the Women.  First, let me thank you for joining me.  I appreciate you giving me your links and I want to share those with our readers.

 

Website: https://www.pwandersen.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Author.Patrick.W.Andersen

Twitter: @PWAndersen

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pwandersen/

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@sanfranciscopatrick

 


That is great. I see more and more authors joining TilkTok. Seems like a growing platform.  Can you tell us a little about yourself and what led you to start writing?

 

When I was 25 and working a decent union job in a cannery in my native Southern California, I realized this job was not going to help me realize my dream of becoming a writer. Fortunately, I was not married or otherwise committed, so I quit my job and moved to San Francisco to earn a degree in journalism. I became editor of a newspaper in Chinatown and established a successful career as a writer. I left the paper and went into a larger, more corporate environment, and earned my master’s degree in public administration. After retiring as a communications manager for a large organization with about 6,000 employees, I was finally able to return to my first love, writing fiction. My wife and I continue to live in San Francisco.

 

Where do you get your inspiration, information, and ideas for books?

In many years of news writing, I learned the best way to attract and keep readers’ attention was to always look for conflict or disagreement, and then offer both sides a chance to make their best case so readers could decide what to accept and what to reject. In writing fiction, I am sometimes drawn to a story idea by the same motive. If a large number of people have accepted a premise as “fact” just because that’s what they’ve always been told to believe, then I get a nagging notion in the back of my head that someone ought to challenge that assumption.

 I always try to glide over the obvious responses on any story, and instead look for something—probably idea six or seven—that will make a reader sit up and say, “Wow—I hadn’t ever thought of it that way.”


Can you give an example?

For instance, I became a Christian more than 45 years ago and have studied many aspects of the faith. So, after some random guy started arguing with me that Jesus was an only child—despite very clear texts in the Bible that say he had brothers and sisters—I did a deep dive into researching the topic. My debut novel, Second Born, was the result of that study.

And over the years I got tired of all the talk about what the so-called “Church Fathers” had done to establish the traditions that billions upon billions of people have since accepted as fact. What about the Church Mothers? You don’t give birth to much of anything if you don’t get the mothers involved. So that question led me to write my newest novel, Acts of the Women. When someone asks for my “elevator speech” to describe the plot, I just say that the men gave speeches and wrote history books about their own noble deeds, but the women did most of the work.

 

Clever. It sounds like you listen a lot but also aren't afraid to think independently. What is the best advice you have ever been given as a writer?

My first English professor in my freshman year of college was teaching us how to write essays, because that would be a key element to our success in school and, in many cases, our careers after graduation. He told us that when we received an assignment to write an essay about a topic, to stop and write down the first ten ideas that occurred to us about how to handle that topic. Then cross out the first five on the list, because everyone else in class has thought of the same ideas. Keep in mind that the primary audience is a tired professor grading papers late at night, and she’s sick of seeing the same thing over and over again with only slightly different wording from one student to the next. Ideas six and seven on your list will be more original and probably still be close enough to the topic to make it interesting, to make that tired professor sit up and take notice. By the time you get to idea number eight, you’re probably stretching the connection to the original topic pretty thin. And ideas nine and ten will be so far off track that the professor will give up trying to make sense of it. So, I always try to glide over the obvious responses on any story, and instead look for something—probably idea six or seven—that will make a reader sit up and say, “Wow—I hadn’t ever thought of it that way.”

 If I’ve coined a phrase that becomes

part of the lexicon,

then that’s success.

Do you write full-time or around another job? How do you schedule your time to write?

Before I retired, my full-time job was writing, plus managing and editing the other writers I worked with, and managing the office procedures necessary to allow us all to do our work. Since retirement, my writing schedule is much more lax. When the word gets around that you are retiring, well-meaning friends who assume you will be bored start “volunteering” you to serve on the boards of nonprofits and to publish their newsletters. I’ve found myself serving on more than a dozen boards and volunteer committees, so the time set aside for writing is much more limited than I’d like.


Too funny. I was asked to be on a board for a writer's guild last year. Some days I am thankful and others I wonder what I agreed to! It sometimes pulls me away from the things about writing I enjoy. What is your favorite part about writing?

I like that I get to use my craft to inform, entertain, or persuade readers. In the past four decades I have needed to be able to do all three of those. Once I know what my objective is and who comprises the audience for any particular story or assignment, then I am able to decide my approach, my methods, my style, my vocabulary, and the rhythm with which I will put all these elements into play. I’ll take input from others, but I’m all alone and in charge at the keyboard when it’s time to write it. Too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the dish. Just tell me what I’m supposed to do, and then give me the space to do it.

 


What does literary success look like to you?

Some people define success by the size of a paycheck. Others see success as the fame that comes with having your name out there. But in my experience, most readers don’t really pay much attention to who the writer is. So, I measure success by whether readers accept and act on what they have read in any story I have written. If I’ve coined a phrase that becomes part of the lexicon, then that’s success. If I’ve introduced a new interpretation of a long-accepted “fact,” and that interpretation becomes a topic of public discussion or debate, then I’ve succeeded, and it doesn’t matter so much whether the people debating the issue are attributing it to Patrick Andersen. If I’ve moved the discussion forward, then I’ve done my job.

 

Please tell us about your current release.

The title of the novel, Acts of the Women, is a take-off from the New Testament book, Acts of the Apostles. If that latter book was your only source of information, you’d come away thinking that a roomful of illiterate or semi-literate men led by Peter decided one fine day in Jerusalem, Hey—let’s start a religion that will replace Judaism and the Greek and Roman gods of our time and make us all famous. And in the second half of the book, another man named Paul—much more literate, this one—says, Hey, you’re right, but I’m more right than you are so I’ll take your new religion and make it even grander. Then the rest of the story consists of each man saying my religion’s bigger than your religion. Oh yeah? Well, my religion lasts longer and is more satisfying—everybody says so. Oh yeah? Well my religion… And on and on and on.

 

Now, as a married man who has been forced to learn the proper order of the genders in the running of the universe, I know quite well that it wasn’t a dozen illiterate men who created the Christian church and made it grow so phenomenally that it became dominant in the empire in just a few hundred years. Even if women were considered “property” under the laws of that time, the women were running things just as they always have. They will flatter their men to make the guys think they’re in charge, but the women will manipulate events behind the scenes to make sure things run smoothly. So shall it be written. So shall it be done.

 

Can you read / provide us with a small exert? (optional – under 200 words)

 

Okay, this occurs early in the book, so I’m not giving away too much. The scene is when the woman we’ve always called Mary Magdalene has come to the “upper room,” where Jesus’ brothers are mourning his execution by the Romans three days earlier. She’s just told them that Jesus is still alive; they don’t believe her, but she has stared them down and forced them to accept what she says. Now she has gone downstairs:

 

I found Rachel in the kitchen, fussing over a large cake of bread she had just pulled out of the oven. She poked a small knife into the middle and examined inside to see if the dough was cooked all the way through. Apparently satisfied with what she found, she set the knife down and turned to me.

“I was sorry to hear of your family’s loss,” she said with a slight bow of her head. “The Rabbi Gamaliel was so sad when he told me. I’m sure the Rabbi James must be grievin’ terribly, it bein’ his brother and all.”

I clutched her forearms in greeting the way the men did, and locked eyes with her. “Rachel, he’s alive. I saw him this morning. I need you to gather some women that you can trust to help me take care of him.”

Rachel’s eyes widened in a mixture of shock, disbelief and wild joy. “Alive? But we heard the Romans killed him. They said the King is dead.”

“No, they failed to kill him, or at least they can’t keep him dead. But we have to hide him and care for him or else he may die. He’s badly wounded. And then we have to smuggle him away.”

She looked off vacantly for a moment as if consulting a list that hung in the air before her, then snapped back into focus. “I know some people who can help. We’ll go to them.” Then she looked at my belly. “You look like your baby’s gonna pop out any minute. Why don’t you rest here while I go take care o’ things?”

I tilted my head as if I were looking at a teenager who had just uttered a mouthful of nonsense. “Rachel, we are women. Who do you think actually gets things done in this world — the men?”

 

Buy it HERE

 Love this. I am a Bible reader in my own life and journey. This is a refreshing way to enliven well known story. What exciting story are you working on next?

A murder mystery, set in a different century, a different culture, a different mindset. It’s requiring a lot of research.

 

Research is always my kryptonite. What is your writer’s kryptonite?

Kryptonite? That makes it sound like there’s just one thing that prevents me from writing. There’s social media, computer video games, volunteer projects like the weekly church newsletter and taking minutes for nonprofit board meetings. Every time I declare to myself that I’m going to spend several hours on my writing project, one or more of the other voices in my head shout out a dozen other reasons why I should do something else first. Sometimes I have to call all my personalities into a conference so we can discuss and vote on our priorities for the day.

 

 What part of writing and publishing was most difficult for you?

The writing part is probably the easiest. Trying to find an agent is like climbing a steep hill of loose sand. After giving up on finding an agent, finding a publisher who is willing to accept queries from an agent-less writer is like deep-sea diving without the air tank. And then promoting your work so some people will actually get the opportunity to read it—well, if you haven’t already lost all hope, then you soon will.

 

Are you involved in any writer groups?

I guess I’m listed as a member of a dozen groups loosely held together by social media. But a group of three of us started meeting every month about seven years ago. We called ourselves Coffee House Eccentrics & Writers (CHEW), and we met at a coffee house a few miles from Stanford University. When the pandemic hit, we started meeting on Zoom, which was really easier because we were each driving 40 to 50 miles to get to the coffee house. Each of us has completed two novels. One member, Victorian Kazarian, has published both of hers in what she’s calling the Silicon Valley Murder series. The other member, Pamela Chartrand, did not publish her first novel because she wanted to look at it again after thinking about other things for a year or so. But her second novel The Herbarium, is due for publication this spring.

 

One more time, where can someone go to purchase your book?

Add your links here again

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09PGRGKKP/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1



MY REVIEW:


Acts of Women begins grounded in one of the most known and well read stories in history: the death of Jesus. But here there is a twist early in the dialogue: “Many lives are at stake here, so I’m going to need people with common sense. I’m going to talk to the women.” Or as Priscilla gathers a group of women at one point: “We are here today because it is up to us women to bring order to the empire.”

The story cleverly builds upon the text of Scripture around the voices of the women. Some names are well known to readers of the Bible account while others may be less familiar. It does well to honor the original text while cultivating a new perspective with such gems as: “Well, let’s not just stand around like a bunch of men. It’s time to get to work.” Or “Rachel here has one of the most important jobs of all…. She has to keep control over all of you men.”

There is also a great deal of fun interactions with the ancient world if you are a fan of history (I particularly liked Thomas’ at the library of Alexandria). The author has certainly done some research as shown by knowledge of Priscilla. It was fun to finally hear from Lazarus (who at one point declares the works in mysterious ways perhaps tongue in cheek) since he never speaks in the Bible after his resurrection.

Overall, it offers a fresh way to see a known journey and some of the road through the New testament (book of Acts in particular). There is enough invention to keep it fresh and enough from the text to keep it familiar. This may be the hardest challenge the author faced approaching a sacred story and I think did it well.

I was given a copy for review. The opinions are my own.