Neil O'Donnell

Neil O'Donnell

About Me

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Buffalo, New York, United States
Anthropologist, author, certified career coach, and musician who mixes all four interests as much as possible! Senior EOP Counselor at/EOP graduate of Buffalo State College.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Vlara's Song continues

Hello everyone! I hope your holiday activities aren't too overwhelming!

I just posted three new chapters of 'VLARA'S SONG' on the blog. I would appreciate any feedback readers provide. As of now, I am nearing completion of the entire story (I plan on posting the entire story on the blog after it is completed and my reader has read the entire manuscript. The story (novella length) will be the anchor story for an anthology. All Author proceeds from the anthology will be donated to an institution that's dear to my heart: Buffalo State College. A dear friend has been working on cover ideas, which I think are amazing. All in all, I'm hoping to have everything ready for the publisher by February.

That said, I have been working on another project that means a great deal to me. I submitted a short memoir concerning my experience battlling OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). I have been battling OCD my whole life and only recently (June 2007) asked for assistance. I hoped that writing about my experiences would help encourage other OCD sufferers to not wait like I did to speak up and ask for help. I've come to accept that I needed assistance in dealing with OCD and realize it takes strength to ask for help. If you know anyone suffering from OCD or any anxiety disorder, encourage them to seek help.

As for my memoir (titled: BELLWOOD, ME AND OCD), I will update everyone when I am informed of its release date. Best wishes to everyone for Merry tidings in the coming weeks and year.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Let it Snow!!!

The Buffalo area is finally getting snow, which has been very uplifting for me. I've written more in the last two weeks (since the snow started to fall) than I had in the previous 6 months or so. VLARA'S SONG is nearly complete. It will be compiled with short stories (an anthology); publication aimed towards the Spring. Author proceeds of the book I am planning on donating to my alma mater (Buffalo State College) - I will give you specifics when the book is set to print. Additionally, A-Argus, my publisher, is publishing an anthology of short stories (3 of my shorts are in the anthology). Proceeds of that anthology are going to 'Reach out and Read.' This anthology should be out soon; I will post you when it hits shelves. I hope everyone is having a good holiday season!

p.s. I will post additional chapters of Vlara's Song in the next two weeks. Take care.

Friday, September 17, 2010

And the writing continues...

Sorry for the lack of posts. The start of the academic year is intense leaving little time to blog, let alone time to write fiction. Now, with drop/add over and classes moving along, I'll be able to post blogs more regularly and work on the sequels in the evenings (nothing like writing while NCIS is on TV). As a quick note, 'VLARA'S SONG' is progressing as is RISE OF THE CELTS. I also have two books in my publisher's hands which will hopefully be out by January. Hoping all is well with everyone.

Sincerely,
Neil

Monday, August 16, 2010

Environmenatl Details

Environmental details in which a story unfolds are crucial to a reader's enjoyment/understanding of the story. Considering the details [from the writer's perspective] also helps in finding the best way to take a story. Any time a writer is stuck on which direction a story should take, taking time to expand upon the environmental details can often assist the writer in finding the best, most believable path for the story to take.

Those are not the only environmental details an author should consider...


I found myself struggling throughout July to get my thoughts onto paper. This weekend proved to be similarly difficult for writing as I tried to get thru the 1st chapter of a new novel I'm working on. I was sitting in the same seat I wrote PEOPLE OF THE SWORD in and at the same time of day I found to be conducive to my writing. After hours of staring at the computer screen getting out little bits of detail, but no dialogue, I made one change and, suddenly, the words started to flow. You see, while I was writing my first book, my wife was always in the room working on her exhibit scripts while a DVD of NCIS episodes was playing in the background. When my wife got home, we put in NCIS and immediately I made progress. Moral of the posting - keep careful track of all the little things [regarding your environment] that make writing easier. From my experience, writer's block usually happens when such environmental details are overlooked.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Calling Wren

OK, as if three novels at once wasn't enough...

I'm currently putting my archaeological experience to work while writing a histoical fiction piece titled 'Calling Wren.' The story follows an Erie Iroquoian who is captured by the Seneca. The time-frame of the novel is 1655 (late fall) thru Spring of 1656 and will cover the disperion of the Erie confederacy at the hands of the Haudenosaune (the 5 nations commonly called 'the Iroquois). Calling Wren is the captured Erie, and thru him, readers will get a glimpse at Iroquoian culture and the historical events that precipitated the Erie's demise. My longhouse research will play heavily in the construction of Erie society and their relations to neighboring Native American Nations. I'll update the blog as I complete more; chapter 1 is already near completion. Take care.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Show don't Tell?

'Show don't Tell' your reader... words I've heard or seen in print for a long time. Authors, editors, agents, teachers, professors and a host of other "experts" bash writers over the heads with these words, like Yoda scolding Luke or something. Funny thing; I'm not so sure anyone understands what "show don't tell" actually means. Or, maybe it's better to say not everyone agrees on what those words mean.

This past week, I looked in books and on numerous blogs/sites in an attempt to find some consistency on this topic. I gotta tell ya, there are a lot of mixed opinions out there. In some instances, "experts" describe "showing" as dialogue and "telling" as narration. In other places, it was the exact opposite. What the Frak?!!!

I'm not gonna bother hammering writers with some diatribe on what I define as "showing" or "telling." Instead, I'll simply state this. Write what works for you. Read over authors whose work you've enjoyed. Do you prefer a lot of dialogue or a good amount of narration. I've actually revised a portion of writings at a publishers and/or agents suggestion only to have another publisher and/or agent say the structure was better the way I had it. Write in a style that works for you and get further direction from sources you trust (writer's groups) and the agent/publsiher that ultimately takes you under their wing. You should also pay heed to feedback from publishers and agents that give you any feedback. But remember, there will always be someone else out there that believes in "show don't tell" differently.

Annoying, isn't it?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Going Historical

With the next fantasy book and Vlara's song moving along, I decided 'why not add to the pressure?' My anthropological research focuses on the prehistoric Native populations that inhabited Western New York. After compiling years of data thru archaeological excavations and archival research (basically digging in the dirt and looking at objects on dusty shelves), I now have enough data to write a dissertation of sorts. As for the format, I chose a format that people would prefer reading over a 300 page research paper. This new book, titled 'Calling Wren,' will focus on the Erie nation, which were an Iroquoian speaking population eventually driven away by the Haudenosaunee (the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida and Mohawk - the Tuscarora had not joined the Iroquois Confederacy as yet). My hope is to show the unique differences between the various native populations while also detailing the common cultural practices shared by them all. My hope is to have the novel completed by the Fall. Of course, it may take me that long just to develop the character sketches. Hope all is well with everyone.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Character Development

As with any part of writing, there are endless ways to accomplish a tak, including character development. For me, characters have to be real. Real in the sense that my main characters (and most of the secondary ones) resemble 'characters' I've met in life. No, this doesn't mean I've actually met wizards in real life. Yet, the complexities of Crarnock (he hatred for humanity) I've seen in individuals I've encountered in my life. For those looking for ways to contruct 'believable' characters, consider people you've interacted with. That should give you a good start.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thoughts about pubs and agents

Hi everyone:

I talked about professionalism in the last post and received some questions, which I thought I'd deal with in this post. Yes, I feel we writers need to act professionally. That said, agents and publishers need to be as professional as well. We (writers) have more options now then in the past with regards to publishing platforms. I for one will not work with publishers or agents that fail to respect me. My Mom taught me to be kind and respectful to everyone. She also taught me not to let people walk all over me. I keep those life lessons in mind with everything I do, including working with publishers and agents. Take care everyone.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How NOT to handle rejection of your manuscript

OK, so maybe I haven't covered the following enough. To writers looking for agents or publishers, please carefully consider the following:

The publishing world is smaller than you think. Curse out a publisher or agent for rejecting you and word will spread. If you are angered by getting rejected, vent with your friends in conversation. Never write back and curse the publisher/agent out, and NEVER write nasty blog entries trashing them. To make it easier to forget a rejection consider that:

1) The rejection may simply be because that publisher/agent has already published similar stories recently and wants to go in a new direction

2) The rejection may simply be due to the fact that the publisher/agent has too many clients at the time to sufficiently market your book

3) The rejection may simply mean the publisher/agent didn't really enjoy your story and doesn't believe she or he can provide the enthusiasm your deserve from an agent/publisher.

Rejection is nothing personal. If your manuscript is rejected, take time to consider any reasons stated for the rejection (if any) and move on. Trashing a publisher or agent in a tirade over the phone, thru an email or on a blog won't likely help you sell the story to the person that rejected you. But, such a venting of your frustration may get your name out to other publsihers/agents, who will possibly ignore all your submissions.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Keys to Writing

I'm sure that every author has a list of compnents he or she needs to have in order to write a story. I am no different. For the next couple posts, I thought I list the keys to my writing a story. The 1st thing? I need a part for me in the story.

If I'm not in on the action, there is likely no way I'll be able to finish writing a story. I have to be there, even if it's only for a brief scene. That connection is necessary, or I'll just drop what I'm working on and go read a David Eddings novel or watch Battlestar Galactica.

For those thinking of writing a book or a short story, and you don't no where to begin, think up a place or time YOU would like to visit; write your story based around your coming into that story/time/scene.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Writing update...

What's with July, anyway? Two days in and my writer's block has deteriorated. Last night broke thru more of RISE OF THE CELTS. With a long weekend coming, I'm hoping to have two chapters from each of the novels completed. And at this rate, that may be the minimum I get finished. I will keep everyone updated on the progress. Take care.

Do people really talk that way...

Morning. I wanted to take a moment to discuss complaints I commonly hear about books (including my own). Let me start by saying, I am a realist - some people aren't going to like the book. Amazingly enough, I learned this by the fact that the comments I received from publishers and agents indicated that what one publisher liked, another wanted changed. Now, I have shelled out too much money on books produced by major houses ripe with typos and spelling errors. That aside, the issue of how authors create dialogue often gets critiqued (I myself have questioned why authors picked certain dialoque for scenes). How do I come up with dialogue? I guess that's really the best way to explain my approach. You see, everyone of us encounters different individuals every day. The way these individuals communicate forms the basis for our knowledge of how people speak. That aside, I'm also a professional anthropologist... I'm trained to observe how people communicate. When I develop dialogue I consider how my family, friends and contacts interact and communicate. I try and make the conversations as realistic as I possibly can. I can't explain why other authors write dialogue the way they do. I can only say that any dialogue you encounter in my writings reflects conversations I've observed. Scary isn't it! Take care.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Getting Unblocked

So there I was... looking over the paragraphs I struggled to write Tuesday. Three bloody words I changed, and now I actually like how the scene progressed. Moral of the story... put your writing down and let it rest a day. The book is historical fiction about the Iroquoian speaking nation called "The Erie." The book itself, while fictional, is based on my research, primarily my archaeological excavations and examinations of data from Buffalo area colleges and museums. I will post more information about this novel as I get further into the writing, which should move quicker now that I finished that bloody scene.


So, here we are, the first day of the month. I plan on writing a new blog entry every day. In addition to updating readers on the progree of my writings, I will also try and give a bit of advice to other writers, advice I wish I had early on when I started this journey. For today, let me suggest one thing. Find 'readers' early on who will give you honest, CRITICAL feedback on you story line and characters. Doing so will help you find shortfalls in your writing quicker. Those same readers may offer good direction on how to correct those shortfalls. Take care.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Back on my feet

OK, so there I was, awake Monday morning.... and I couldn't hear out of my right ear! Went to the doc, had the bloody thing fixed (all is well). For some reason, that got my writing juices flowing (hearing problems solve writer's block?). Anyway, writing 3 books at once, and things are starting to finally move at a good pace. As for the immediate future, I have a few short stories that will be published in an anthology later this summer. The stories are part of the historical backdrop of PEOPLE OF THE SWORD. As for this July, I am aiming to provide daily updates on each of the three books I am writing. They include:

1) Vlara's Song
2) Rise of the Celts
3) Calling Wren, Fallen Squirrel

The 1st two are a part of the "realm" of PEOPLE OF THE SWORD. The third book (Calling Wren) is a historical fiction novel detailing native american Iroquois populations during the early contact period (I am incorporating my archaeological research into that one).

I hope you enjoy the coming blog posts. As always, comments/feedback appreciated. Take care.

Neil

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Beating Writer's Block

OK, so I've had a bit of writer's block. Not in the sense that I don't have ideas, but in the sense that when I sit done to type my thoughts out, I get distracted. I finally found a solution. I have reverted back to hand writing everything and then typing things out. In a few days, I've written more than in the past few months. I feel like I'm back in college.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Back from trip to Germany

I spent the last two weeks in Germany. Aside from a few luggage snaffus and a airline strike that made it necessary to suddenly change flight plans right before leaving for home, all went amazingly. Germany is such a beautiful country, as are its citizens. Friendly atmosphere, good food, great friends and a rich history that included the Neanderthal museum, castles and a number of magnificent churches (visiting the churches with the remains of the three Magi as well as the church containing Christ's Tunic were especially moving). On top of all this, I was able to break thru on some stumbling blocks I was facing in my writing. Additionally, I submitted a book on study techniques for college students, which my publsiher is planning to publish. I will update everyone as the book gets closer to publication.

As for the next novel in the series, I made a critical breakthrough on a serious problem. How was I to balance the power of the sword versus its enemies. I believe I worked it out so the coming conflicts will be more realistic and add obstacles for the heroes.

I am also now working on a stand-alone novel (historical fiction) about the Iroquoian peoples that occupied western New York about 500 years ago (the Erie). The storyline has been mapped out and the character list generated. Chapter 1 is almost complete. My hope is to have Vlara's Song and this historical fiction manuscript (currently titled CALLIN WREN, FALLING SQUIRREL) compeklted by mid summer. Here's hoping. Take care.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Character Development - What works for me

When I develop characters, I consider everything I want to see in a hero, villian or throw-away character. Every character needs to be 3-dimensional for me to get hooked (as a reader). Characters need to have strengths, weaknesses and have his or her physical presence described. As a writer, I keep my reading preferences in mind. Sir Harrison of Corrington, from PEOPLE OF THE SWORD, was actually created late in the process of writing the book. The sequel (RISE OF THE CELTS) and its characters were prepared first (yea, kinda screwy I know). As for Sir Harrison, he was geared to be a hero with flaws. A knight that ignored protocol [riding to investigate a disturbance instead of riding to report to commander]. A man that was affected by anger and remorse. His flaws will be further explored in 'VLARA'S SONG' as will his strengths. The point is, I made him as real as possible. Admittedly, there are adjustments I would like to make to him now that the final copy is in circulation; I'm sure most authors feel that way. At times, I wish I had clarified certain weaknesses/strengths of Sir Harrison and other characters. Yet,I believe my readers walk away understanding why Harrison was impacted by the loss of those he commanded and why he was open to people of different backgrounds. For me, if an author can accomplish that, get readers to understand a character's motivations and actions, that author has successfully generate a 3-D character, which will ultimately get me to turn the page and read on.


Character Profile of Sir Harrison: Knight of the Church of Tropal. He is of Celtic heritage. Promoted to Captain during the events in PEOPLE OF THE SWORD. A Calvary officer, he is trained in the use of lances, pole-arms as well as utilizing a horse in combat maneuvers. Sir Harrison is also a master swordsmen and experienced in infantry deployment. A knight of the Church, Sir Harrison has received training in theology and medicine along with military strategy. This character class was developed with the Templar knights and Paladins in mind. Temperament/personality wise, Sir Harrison is thoughful, considerate and open to accepting anyone as a friend and comrade as long as he/she is of good character/heart. Sir Harrison is also seeking to find his place in the world; he is constantly torn between his service to the knighthood and his wish to have a family, living his days in peace.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Onward we go...

So the tales are finally spinning again... RISE OF THE CELTS and VLARA'S SONG are continuing. I am hoping to finish VLARA'S SONG shortly and will post updates on the blog as soon as I get them. In the immediate future, I have my next book signing scheduled for June (date posted when event finalized).

As for those of you writing your own tales, I strongly recommend joining a writing group. I have been a member of 'CRITTERS' (http://www.critters.org/), which is free to join; I found the members give great advice (PEOPLE OF THE SWORD made two rounds through the members before it was ready for publication). No, I'm not pressuring others to join any writing group. I'm just strongly urging other writers to consider doing so. Take care.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Time to write....

The semester finally ended today. While I still have to give my students their final exam (my poor students), my time has certainly opened up. It seems like every time I'd sit donw to write during the last few months, something else came up. For the most part, I spent my time creating/updating power point presentations for my class. Now, it's finally time to get back at the fiction. :)

My time will be divided between RISE OF THE CELTS and VLARA'S SONG, the latter getting the most attention for now. For college students, I am also working on an academic support book that has tips for acheiving and maintaining success during their college years. How will I get all this done? Can you say 'COFFEE'?!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Writing continues...

The semester is finally winding down. Now that all my power points/lectures are finished, I am slowly getting back into my fictional work. David Eddings wrote about the need to write everyday. I can honestly say that I don't have a problem finding time to write. However, getting time to work on a novel is not what I think is the important thing. It's the act of writing I feel is needed; getting into the habit of putting words to paper. As for the fiction end of things, when the story is ready to come out of the author, it will. Until then, authors should just work at the mechanics, whether it's writing reports, lectures or a silly message to a loved one. At least, that's what I'm doing. I think David Eddings would understand.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Thanks to Agents and Publishers

I read a disturbing post recently where a writer seeking a publisher and agents ranted about the prossess (and yes, the writer named specific pubs and agents that had rejected the writer's queries/manuscript). That's a dangerous AND unprofessional things to do. Why is it dangerous? Because, agents and publishers discuss troublesome/arrogant/self-righteous/annoying writers. Word gets around. The writer (as well as the other writers that have foolishly done similar things) is only making things more difficult for themselves. Yes, my short stories and novel were all rejected many times before I found a publisher (I still haven't found an agent willing to represent me). Is it frustrating? Yes. Have I purchased a novel published by a major house that was filled with grammatical errors, historically inaccurate, lacking any true cohesion, or all of the above? YES! Did I write back scolding the publishers and/or agents? NO!

The reason I didn't send such venemous attack letters is two-fold. First, I did my research on the publishing industry and knew that most things written were never published. The odds are stacked against us writers. In some cases, rejection may be due to the fact we submitted a bad manuscript (my apologies to TOR - they were the 1st publisher I sent my novel to and it truly was not ready for publication at the time). In other cases, what we've written may simply not peak the interest of the agent or publisher. It's that simple. I've read some classics teachers shoved done our throats in high school, which I thought (and still believe) are far from worthy of finding space on my book shelf. We all have likes and dislikes when we choose a book. Publishers and agents have the same right! Case in point, GONE WITH THE WIND was rejected well over twenty times before it was accepted by a publisher.

The 2nd reason I don't write attack letters? Thank my Mom for that. She always said we should thank people for taking the time to help or listen to us. Consequently, I usually sent thank you notes to the publishers and agents that read my material. Maybe they didn't like what I wrote. Maybe they were in the process of publishing a similar story? Maybe... Honestly, it didn't matter. The publsihers and agents took the time to consider my manuscripts. I was never under the impression that the pubs/agents were obligated to love my story. Yet, I was grateful that the publishers and agents took time to read any part of my query package, something I think all writers should appreciate. Take care.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How I come up with my cast of characters

Hi everyone,

'Vlara's Song' and 'Rise of the Celts' are progressing. I will be posting the next chapter of 'Vlara's Song' soon afterwhich I will be focusing my primary attention on the book. No additional chapters will be posted until the book is complete [I hope to have the book completed by lated Spring]. As for the characters that populate my books, I thought a little background info would be useful for readers so they understood better just how I come up with this stuff.

For me, the "quest" is oviously an essential part of the story. However, the cast of adventurers in everybook are often a starting point for me. I think of the people I surround myself with in life and develop characters of similar dispositions. Why? I find a character that's me inevery book, a necessity for me. Then I think of my friend and family [i.e. who do I want to hang out with]. Then I consider what we, as a group, would like to do. Yes, in other words, I have my compatriots and see what we want to do any given evening. Traveling and accomplishing a task always is made easier and more exciting when you are sharing the experience with loved-ones. Hence, the development of the characters often supercedes the identification of an quest. Now, there will be times that I recognize that my friends and family need additional support [characters], which leads to the development of characters like Helean and Troje (People of the Sword). That said, I have a deep connection with most of my characters, which makes the writing process a whole lot easier. Take care!

Neil

Friday, March 26, 2010

Today's a Very Special Day

Hi everyone:

Today is my mother's birthday, and while she is no longer with us, her spirit and conviction towards equality for all still resonates through my whole family. I found it fitting to think of her during Canisius College's 'Women's Studies' Luncheon yesterday. Mom always pushed everyone to looked passed stereotypes and consider others by their actions, not by their gender or ethnicity. In her memory, I encourage everyone to discard the bias that has plaqued humanity for so long.

Happy Birthday, Mom! I Love You!

p.s. Yes, there are two characters based on my parents, which appear at the end of 'Vlara's Song.' I felt it fitting that they should be a part of this writing journey for it was Mom and Dad who taught me and encouraged me to read. Thank God for my parents!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!!

Hi everyone:

Update on 'RISE OF THE CELTS':

Today seemed fitting for this update. The last two weeks have been difficult getting through the next chapter (which is why further parts of 'VLARA'S SONG' have been delayed). It was one chapter filled with terror, compassion, destruction, villany and heroism (it also included the brazen actions of a raven and a skunk). Ultimately, the chapter was finished and I am able to move forward with the rest of the manuscript. At this point, my initial plan is being overhauled. What had once been planned for one book now is slated to cover two books. It's a lot more writing for me, but I think it does better justice to the generational story line. I owe that to the characters and to all of you.

As for 'VLARA'S SONG,' expect the next chapter to be posted by next week.

Thanks for the continued support and have a happy and safe Saint Patrick's Day!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Politics in Writing

Hi everyone,

Working on the sequel to PEOPLE OF THE SWORD, I've come to realize just how much I enjoy political intrigue. Political posturing simply makes for good prose. Throw in a coup, add in some elections, a revolt or two, and BAM, you've got plot. OK, for the record, the politics I put into my writing is not meant to criticize anyone or any single party (frankly, both major U.S. parties are providing writers with a lot of material). As an archaeologist by trade, I have a lot of years of history under my belt, which means a lot of references to political action leading to good stories. For those of you looking for writing tips or to write your own tales, politics makes for a good foundation, both for character development and plot. What to expect from my sequel, RISE OF THE CELTS:

1) A military coup
2) Assassination plots
3) A revolution
4) Espionage

Sound like fun? Take care.

Best regards,
Neil

Monday, February 1, 2010

Blogs of Wisdom

I spent weeks studying the publishing industry before I sent out my first query. To this day, even after having published my 1st novel, I still look for new information on industry trends. I pay heed to the advice given by agents on there blogs (even though I don't, as yet, have an agent). For those seeking to get published, the best advice I can give you is to spend time studying the industry [publishers, agents, query letter writing etc]. If you are that set on publishing your manuscript, invest time in learning every aspect. One last thing, always be professional. Don't bash an agent or publisher that rejects your manuscript; thank them for their time and move on. Rejections are not meant tio be personal - don't take it so. My book was rejected 7 times before I found a publisher. Sending an email or letter to those who rejected the book [in order to bragg] doesn't say anything about my writing skills. It just sends the message that I'm immature and unprofessional.

For additional advice in this regard, check out the blogs of agents spread accross the web. These sites and their respective agent provide valuable bits of info to help you along.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Beating Writer's Block a.k.a. why snow is good

For me, winter is always too short [no, I'm not a skiing fanatic]. For me the cold temps and snow are just a great backdrop. Today I woke up to a fresh, five inches of snow that needed to be dealt with before work. I got up at 6am, filled up the snowblower and started to work on the driveway. Funny thing while you're snowblowing: there's not much in the way of distractions, especially at 6am (not counting the swirling blades of course). What passes the time for me? This morning the time enjoying the snow (and the occasional blast of thrown snow in my face) also allowed me to consider part of my sequel, a pivotal part, that had been dogging me. The critical turning point for the two main characters is something I've been considering for years, and I am almost to that point in the novel [so time was running short]. That time this morning helped me consider the bare elements of the story, and, without distractions, I was able to plot out the related scenes [which I immediately outlined once I got into the house]. While I know not everyone enjoys or has access to snow, every writer has an environment or setting that calms them. Find that space or place, and the next time you face "writer's block," spend time in your space; it will help. Take care everyone.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Rise of the Celts

Progress on the next book [tentatively titled 'RISE OF THE CELTS'] is progressing. It literally took about a month to make it through two pages of dialogue/narration, which is why LVARA'S SONG has been on the back burner. It's amazing how words can flow quickly and then feel like you've hit a brick wall. In any event, 'RISE OF THE CELTS' is really going o pull in place names from Buffalo, NY and will be more historically based then the 1st book. What's going to be included? The names of rivers, creeks, streets and historic buidlings will surface. Why use the names I heard from childhood? As a writer, I like to visualize stories, and the use of things I've experienced helps in that capacity. If you are a writer and faced with the dreaded 'writer's block,' I encourage you to try this. Name mountains, rivers and cities after ones from your childhood; it will help your writing progress.

P.S. If you're stuck on naming characters, open the phone book and start using LAST names for character 1st names. It always works for me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Happy New Year!

I know January's about half over. Yet, as the first blog the the new year, I thought wishing everyone a happy and safe 2010 was acceptable. As for the blog, I am adjusting things just a bit. Aside from the occasional shameless self-promotion (yeah! PEOPLE OF THE SWORD is for sale), I decided to add more on the writing side. For the first blog, I wanted to go over book promotion, something that's important now that holiday sales are over. How do authors publicize their work? I agree with many that there's is now simple answer. My suggestion, find some way to have an online presence (a blog, Twitter, FaceBook, etc). I thought about a web page, but that's just not me. Find an online medium that works for you.

Another suggestion, contact schools you attended and ask them to post an announcement in any alumni publication the institution has. While you are at it, see if the school will host a book signing for you.

Finally, search the internet for ideas. Many agents and authors have posted a variety of advice (some good, some not so good) about ways for authors to get the word out about their publications. Read thru the advice and find something that feels right.

Hope this gives readers at least some direction. Have your own ideas? Reply to this post; I'd love to hear about it. Take care.