Sunday, December 23, 2012

Thoughts on firearms

I am a gun owner and a supporter of your right to bear arms. But the recent shootings have brought up the gun control/personal carry issues again. As a veteran, a former military cop, and trained extensively in the use of firearms my opinion on having everyone walking around armed is not as simple as both sides have made it.

I refer you to an article by fellow author David Morrell who posted a very good blog about guns on his website.

http://davidmorrell.net/2012/07/a-lot-of-people-ask-me-about-my-firearms-training/

Those of us who have spent time carrying a firearm for work know the responsibility that comes with it and the training involved in making sure that you know how to handle situations when you encounter them. Take a read.

Review for The Affairs of Men

Friend and fellow author DG Gass, author of Ghosts of Arlington, did a review for her blog recently on The Affairs of Men.

In the second of his John Logan thriller series, author Rick Nichols does not disappoint.  With an almost seamless transition from his debut Logan thriller, “Survivor’s Affair”, “The Affairs of Men” takes the reader through an action packed intrigue that brings the main character and his companions face to face with ghosts from John Logan’s past. 
Nichols skillfully incorporated the characters from his first novel into this second of the series and masterfully interwove the two external conflicts in “The Affairs of Men” into a plot with an easy and exciting flow.  The story line was every bit as exhilarating as the first (and I loved “Survivor’s Affair).  If there were any flaws in this, it may be that there were a lot of bad guys to keep track of.  But even that didn’t notably detract from the story.
No doubt that I will be looking forward to reading future releases of Nichols and his John Logan series.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Newtown

I have no words to express my deepest condolences to the people of Newtown. Please know that you are in my prayers and my family remembers you this night.

Already the polticial fallout starts and the blame games begin. Now is not the time for that, America. 27 lives have been snuffed out and parents are hurting. Let us, each in our own way, remember those who are hurting.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Christmas Sale

Seven Realms Publishing, the publisher of my John Logan novels has reduced all my Ebooks (okay, all the Ebooks in their catalogue) to 2.99 through the holidays. So if you haven't gotten a John Logan Ebook yet now would be a great time to do it. Or get it for that reader on your list. Thanks!

Friday, November 16, 2012

COMING SOON
WINTERWALL
PART II of the EASTLANDER CHRONICLES


Cain, the Eastland Blademaster, finds himself stranded along Grayrock's northern Wall, a barrier that protects Grayrock from the barbaric tribes in the north just beyond the mountains. But trouble is brewing. The tribes are leaving their lands to travel over the mountains and raid along the Wall. In addition, Nyogi, the Eastland assassin who Cain pursues, has hired skilled Talon assassins to find the Blademaster and kill him.

Riding alongside battled-hardened veterans and scared new recruits, Cain must help defend the Wall in the face of a fierce winter storm.  When Jessup, Lord of Grayrock, arrives for a inspection before winter, the stakes get higher with the discovery that there is something more dreaded in the snow than a barbaric tribe, something from Ancient times and it has returned, hungry for the taste of men.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy Veterans Day!

Want to salute my fellow veterans on this Veterans Day! And a special salute to those not here, for those who rest in the fields of Normandy, North Africa, Arlington, and countless cemeteries around the country and the world. Thank you.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Reading

So, Rick, what do you like to read?

A very good question. The answer is not so simple. First of all, I like to read what I write--a good hardboiled detective story. The Spenser books were always exciting to me, I like James M. Cain and Ed McBain was thrilling for me as well, especially his 87th precinct novels.

I've read all of Stephen King's early stuff, though not much of his later works. The Green Mile was an exception and I really enjoyed that.

As far as currently goes, I indulge myself in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series although I must admit that it a vast and daunting task. I read Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch novels and an occasional non fiction book that might range from politics to the economy and investing, to intelligence and military operations.

I find that the more I write, the more particular I'm getting about what I read. I used to finish every book I started, no matter how dreadful. I don't do that anymore; I'm getting too old to waste time on stuff that I don't like.

I've not read Fifty Shades of Gray, and right now I don't plan to. I've read the first chapter, enough to know that it's not the best written book ever (which I can understand, given it's her first novel) but the vast appeal of it has got not only me but a lot of writers scratching our heads. You just never know what will sell.

I enjoy the Gideon series by Eric Jerome Dickey, although there is a little too much sex in it for me. I don't consider myself a prude but sex is like anything else--it should add something to the story and Dickey overdoes it sometimes. His prose, however, is spot on and keeps me hooked.

I'm always looking for new writers and new books to try out so I'll try to let you know when something catches my fancy.

Peace.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Forgetting the basics?

Just a reminder, gang, that WINTERTOME is available as an Ebook and that it's only 99 cents! The next part in the saga, WINTERWALL, is still in the writing phase but I am pleased to announce that I'm almost done! John Logan appears again in April with INTO THE MAGIC NIGHT, and I'm in the "creative phase" of his next adventure. Translation: I haven't written anything yet, I'm still trying to get the plot down. :)


Now that the selfless promotion stuff is out of the way, I want to talk to you about the basics. As you frequent readers of this blog will know, I have taken up golf. Why, I don't know, but as Steve McQueen said in The Magnificent Seven, it seemed like a good idea at the time. For a while there I was seeing some improvement in my swing. Hitting the ball with the irons has proven particular hard for me; nevertheless, I was seeing some good leaps forward in that department and I was beginning to feel pretty darn good about my ability to get better in this game.
    It fell apart on me three weeks ago, beginning with a disasterous outing to the driving range. That was followed by a horrible round with a friend, followed by an improved session on the range and a better round a few days later. Then things really fell apart. No matter what I tried or how much I practiced, it felt as though I have never picked up a golf club before.
    So today I went back to where it all began: at the public course where I was first introduced to the game and taught the basics. I attended a clinic given by one of my original instructors and he watched my horrible, mutilated swing. Guess what? I had forgotten the basics: basic stance and set up--that alone was enough to throw anyone's swing off. Now, I'd like to say that it's fixed and I'm back on my way. Truth is: I still have some work to do, drilling those basics back into my brain until I can hit the ball more consistently.

There is a point to my rambling. Sometimes in writing, as in golf, we tend to forget the basics. We spend a lot of time listening to other writers, seeing how they do it, then we spend countless amounts of time shifting through all of it to find out what works for us, then we forget it. We stop writing every day, we try to write in a different place, or we let the TV cut into our writing time.

Stop it.

As in golf (or any sport for that matter) you can't forget the basics:

  1. Write every day.
  2. Read every day.
  3. Make the time to do the above. Even if it means making some drastic changes in your daily schedule. TURN OFF THE TV!
  4. If you outline, make sure you're outlining. Follow the steps that you know work for you.
  5. If you gave up your writing spot, take it back or find another one. I'm still writing in the same spot I've always had. No reason to change it unless I get rich and move into a bigger house. Make that writing spot your own, no matter if it's a desk in the corner of your bedroom (like me). Remember Stephen King wrote his first two novels in a utility room with a typewriter balanced on his knees.
Get back to it! And good luck!

Friday, September 28, 2012

IT'S HERE!!!!!

Wintertome, Part One of my new fantasy series The Eastlander Chronicles, is now available on Smashwords in Ebook!

From the East he came, a warrior wielding a black sword on a quest that he alone must bear. He arrives on the shores of Karthia, a seaport city at the edge of a vast Empire that is slowly sinking into the pit of civil war. Short of coin, Cain agrees to take on the task of retrieving a scroll known as Wintertome, a scroll containing dark magic that if it falls into the hands of the shadowy mage who seeks it, will bring eternal winter and darkness upon the land. With the help of new friends Kalil, a thief, and Cortlyn, a beautiful but deadly mercenary, Cain must break into a fortress to get the scroll--and live long enough to get it to safety. All the while the warrior is aware of his true mission and the deadly killer whom he seeks.

Here is the link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240452

Take a look. I hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hey, gang. Just a quick note to say hi to everyone and to let you know that I've been really busy so a thousand apologies for not blogging earlier.

I'm currently working on two projects at a time--something I don't normally do and normally don't like to do but I'm finding that working on one helps me to get unblocked on the other.

Working on WINTERWALL, the second novella in the Eastlander Chronicles as well as COLD DISH, the fifth John Logan novel.

In addition to writing, there is my normal 8-5 job and domestic duties, my media stuff, golf, reading, and Steeler football.

Which brings me to the point of today's blog.

How do you find time to write? I get asked that question probably more than any other from people, aspiring authors and not. I won't lie--it's a sometimes difficult thing, especially when things pile up, the yard needs mowing, and there's something on tv. My best answer is this. Most of the time when I'm not writing it's not because of work, the yard, or even my golf game. If I'm not writing, it's because of the main hazard of the writer, the one demon-spawn that has wrecked many authors in their quests:

Television.

For me, TV is the worst thing as a writer. It can cause you to put off writing easier than anything (Facebook runs a close second.) Even as I write this, I'm wondering what's on TV tonight, knowing that I don't need to know because I have stuff at my desk that needs done (like this blog). I try to read one newspaper a day to keep in touch with things and even that can get put off by TV (although I find the morning news shows not up to par for me at times).

Ever caught yourself flipping through channels with nothing on, still you search? Same here. Eventually, you have to make a choice. TV or writing. Whatever you deem most important will win. An aspiring writer once got angry at me when I suggested that she didn't want to write that book as much as she thought. She protested vehemently but she hadn't written a word in two weeks, yet she had time to watch TV. She had set her real priorities; she hadn't accepted that fact yet.

So make a choice. If you want to write, you have to make that decision to forego some other things and sit your butt down and do it. There's no other way. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

With BULLET RAIN now available (see previous post) I've now turned my attention to something that I've been blogging about for a couple of years now and have never gotten off the ground until now.

I've written about a fantasy idea that I've had and have posted snippets that I've been working on this or that but nothing has ever been announced about it coming out in print. There was a good reason for that: it was never really finished. I'd made several stabs at it with the results never being quite what I wanted. It got to the point that I called my publisher and vented for awhile until he came up with a new concept for me, one that might fit what I really wanted to write.

So, that being said, THE EASTLANDER CHRONICLES was conceived. It will consist of several parts--short novellas, all with a common thread, released one by one as they get written and edited. Part One is called WINTERTOME. It is finished aside from some final edits and I'm working on Part Two entitled WINTERWALL.

Again, these are novellas, running around 30,000 words, separate stories yet tied together with a common thread.

My goal is to have WINTERTOME released by Oct 1. I've decided to release it as an EBook simply because my publisher cannot handle more than one book from me a year (he has other authors, too, and decided it can't all be about me, although I don't know why he'd say that). Publishing it myself as an Ebook will allow me to get some shorter stuff to you faster and allow me to pursue some other things not John Logan related.

Speaking of my ex-spy turned PI, John Logan will be back in 2013 with a new adventure INTO THE MAGIC NIGHT. Meanwhile, if you haven't read the others, they're still out there and still waiting for you to get introduced to Logan. Check them out! If you already have, thanks so much!

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Hey gang! It's been a long time in coming but it's finally done. BULLET RAIN is here! Available in Ebook form, this short story concerns a mysterious hitman, a gangster's girlfriend, and a load of missing cash!

Here is a link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/212016

Available in all Ebook formats including Kindle! Just .99!

Check it out, and thanks in advance!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hey gang. First of all, my thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Aurora, Colorado. As I continue to hear of the acts of heroism it lets me know that the American spirit does live on. Those who wish to politicize this tragedy to further their own agenda(s)--well, I pity you. It wasn't anyone's fault--except the person who did the crime. He alone bears the responsibility for this horrific act.

In the near future, you will be seeing more available from me. Right now, I'm averaging one novel a year. Between my full time job and my domestic responsibilities, that's about all I can do novel-wise. But I do have some ideas for some short stories and novellas, including mysteries, fantasy, and who knows what else. My publisher (who not only is terrific, but I think a tad overworked) has given me permission to publish these little nuggets myself as E-books. It is a learning process for me so be patient as this isn't as easy as you might think.

In addition to that, I'm developing the concept for the next (#5) Logan novel. Number four is done except for the editing and polishing phases so I'm juggling that as well.

Life, my dear readers, is a fragile and delicate thing. My religion says that it is a vapor, it appears for a while and then is gone. It is so true. My kids are grown and I can't remember where the time went. Seems like yesterday they were born. My daughter starts pharmacy school in the fall and we're so proud of her. My son works locally and gets to hit golf balls with me, so how cool is that? Anyway, take each day as a gift. Those who went to the movie theatre never suspected it would be their last day. Did any of them leave with words unsaid? Or maybe words they were going to take back but never did?

Tell those you love today that you love them. Mend fences and knock down those walls that separate. Life is too short to do otherwise.

Thank you all for your support. It means so much to me. Peace and love.

Rick

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hey gang, just wanted to wish everyone a happy and safe 4th of July. Thank a vet if you see one and remember those who are still serving!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Golf=writing?

First of all, thank you to everyone for their kind comments and reviews for THE SHELTERING TREE. I really do think I have the best fans in the world and I really appreciate your support. The internet is full of things you could spend your hard earned money on and I'm honored that you've trusted me to spend it on my books.

If you follow me very much, you know that I recently took up golf. After more than four months into this journey I can say with certainty that I ALMOST have a swing and soon, I (with the help of my instructor of course) will start working on actually hitting the ball. It is a challenging, frustrating, and complex game but the act of learning it has also shown me the parallels between it and the art of learning to write.

Writing is a lot like golf: it takes time. There are few writers out there who just sat down one day and wrote a masterpiece right out of the chute. Most successful writers have dribbled out a lot of bad prose from the ends of their pens and those few who have done it successfully, seem to quickly fade off the radar.

As I must master a golf swing in order to properly play the game, so you must master the art of putting ideas down on paper. You must learn the rules of grammar, plot, pacing. You must read books on writing and learn from those who have something to say.

As I must take the golf swing and make it my own, so must you make the rules of writing bend to your own whims. Face it, good authors have broken some of the formerly thought sacred tenants of the craft and pushed the boundaries of grammar (use of the fragment comes to mind). I do it and I'm not alone. Patterson does it as well along with many others. For every publisher who says "fantasy isn't selling" or "thrillers aren't selling" or even "you need an agent to publish" there are writers who broke those statements. For the record, I don't have an agent and right now, don't feel like I need one. If that time comes, I'm sure I can get one. Only a few years ago the only people who self published were those who couldn't get a publishing deal and spent vast sums via vanity presses to get their stuff out there. Now, anyone can self publish with little cost and fluff.

So while I'm working on my back swing, learn your craft. Read a lot and write a lot. Write every day, read every day, and never stop. Never stop trying to improve your craft. I wish you patience and perserverance, my friend. It is so worth the effort.

Meanwhile, I'll be doing my thing. Writing, reading, and working on this friggin' swing. Whew!  RN

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Father's Day Letter

Dear Dad:
You've been gone 31 years now and you are still missed by us. I hope I've made you proud.


I know that it seemed that everything you taught me went in one ear and out the other but it didn't. Your lessons to me ring as true now as they ever did and it is a constant reminder of how wise you were. You not only taught but you walked those lessons as well. Your examples of faith, honesty, fairness, hard work, and most of all the Golden Rule, have stuck with me through 31 years of school, the military, marriage, fatherhood, and my career. Not a day goes by that you don't cross my mind and whenever I hear people complain about their dads, I think what I would give to see you for five minutes. Your grandkids would have loved to have met you and you would love them, I know. You would be so proud. Happy Father's Day, Dad. May you be residing in God's arms today and may you never forget how much I love and miss you.

Rick

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I want to talk about sex for a moment.

Why? Well, for starters it's my blog and I have to write something. Secondly, there's a tropical storm pounding at my window and I can't play golf and I've written my allotted pages today. Thirdly, I get asked about it a lot.

My John Logan thrillers have sex hinted at and lovely females are described, and there's a sexy aura about it all, but when it comes to describing Logan and Teri's bedroom scenes, I prefer to fade back and let the door shut and leave it to the reader's imagination.

I know. Sex sells. Fifty Shades of Gray has sold 10 million copies. On TV and in the literary world sex sells. I cut my teeth as a teen on the Death Merchant and Jake Logan series where you could always count on a couple of good sex scenes.

One of my fav modern authors is Eric Jerome Dickey. His books about Gabriel, the mysterious assassin for hire are examples of powerul writing, plot, and characters. His books have action, and sex. For me, a little too much. One of the books has two entire chapters devoted to a threesome between Gabriel and two women he met on a flight to London. It was nice and it revealed a little about the woman, but for me it was overkill. Each scene, each word, needs to add something to the story--if it doesn't it needs to go on the cutting room floor. Sorry, Eric, I think you overdid it.

There are times when a little sex doesn't hurt. For me, though, I use the less is better philosophy. For my Logan books, the sex is simply a part of the relationship between my two characters. A scene with a play by play of the act really wouldn't add to the story or the characters. I cut to the pillow talk afterward.

Perhaps one day I'll write something that has a really steamy scene but Logan has always been a character whom I've never felt the need to peer behind his bedroom door. Logan and Teri have a good and active sex life and I'm pretty sure she is quite good in bed but for now their under cover exploits will remain firmly rooted in the minds of my readers. I'll let you decide how it plays out.

10 million copies, huh? Wow...maybe I can come up with something.......

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Survivor's Affair is now out on audiobook. Here's the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Survivors-Affair/dp/B0083USF8I/ref=tmm_aud_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1337738391&sr=1-1

It's been a long time coming, I know, but I think the results were worth it!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

This is the worst for me as a writer.

First draft of my latest project is complete, ready to be set in the deepest recesses of digital memory, never to be looked at for many weeks. It is this time that a writer must ask himself: what's next?

I usually take a break. Usually I finish a draft working feverishly on it for a week or so and when it's done I give myself a few days to decompress but in reality I'm already asking that question even as I save the project to my jump drive. What is next?

So even as I write this I'm already working out possibilities. So even though I'm between projects, I'm still writing in a sense. Still thinking about things.

Welcome to my world.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

One of the things that I believe makes a good writer is the ability to notice things. Whether it's how snow rests on the side of a hill or the way sunlight glistens off of the water, it's important for a writer to notice things like that. After all, how are you supposed to relay such scenes to a reader if you've never truly experienced them yourself?

Another thing that I've noticed is feelings. Today, for example, I sat in the basketball stadium of the University of Florida and watched my daughter--my oldest child--walk across the stage and receive her B.S. degree. Her education is not complete. In a couple of months she will move to graduate school--a move that will bring her closer to home, I admit, but another 4 years of hard study.

Tonight, it's all over. The ceremony done, presents unwrapped, food eaten, and I gave her a final hug by the car as the rest of us prepared to make the drive back home. I didn't want to let her go. I have been a whirling kaleidoscope of emotion and it's taken me all day to sort them out. Proud? Oh, yes, she has made me and her mom so very proud. She is a smart young woman, pretty, with a wonderful heart and my sense of humor. Sad? Yep. The little girl is gone, replaced by this adult and my desire to hug her and never let her go, to pick her up and bring her back home, yet knowing that I can't because she has dreams to fulfill and goals to reach, makes me sad.

Miss her? Yes. You see, my son has moved back home and even when he wasn't here, he still lived close so we see him a lot. My daughter and I share a bond unique, I think, to most father/daughters. My daughter has come to me to talk about things that most girls would never think of talking to their dads about. We have shared that bond since she was a child and we have always been able to be open and honest with each other without pretense.

So tonight, dear readers, I am awash in emotions. Excited about the new phase of her life and the promise that it holds. Sad that she's not here to tease and talk to, but proud as hell for the woman that she's become. We did good, mom and I.

Anyway, my point is remembering these feelings, this mixing of emotions how they swirl together and come apart in a constant ever-changing mixture of joy and tears. For in those emotions lie the heart of us all and if your characters can feel that same thing when appropriate, they will be richer and more real to your readers.

And to my daughter: you will always be my little girl. I love you and I am so proud of you.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My good friend Kent Holloway has a fantastic website where he interviews authors, reviews books, and generally has a great time. This week, he asked me to stop by and talk about how John Logan came into being. You can read my response here.

http://www.kenthollowayonline.com/2012/05/let-me-introduce-you-torick-nichols.html

Friday, April 27, 2012

Reviews and comments are coming in for THE SHELTERING TREE:

"...Couldn't put it down..."
"I intended to read for an hour but ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting!"

The book is now available for all formats, including paperback from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. Thanks to all who have taken the time to contact me and tell me their thoughts and those who have posted reviews.Kindle is only 4.99!

In other news, I'm still working on my golf swing. I never knew a pivot could be so hard. One thing I've also learned: everyone has advice and "tips'. Well meaning as they are, sometimes it's just confusing me. I guess I need to keep it simple when I'm starting out, huh? If I can get the pivot down without raising up (or raising up on the downswing) I hit a pretty good shot. I am enjoying the challenge.

Enjoy the weekend.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

THE SHELTERING TREE IS AVAILABLE FOR THE NOOK AND KINDLE!!! $4.99

When Mason Killian is caught in a drive by shooting, John Logan vows to find those responsible. But digging will reveal that Logan's enigmatic best friend has secrets...dark and dangerous secrets and will put Logan face to face with the man who wants to see Killian dead.

Here's the Nook link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1110129387?ean=2940014525473

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Sheltering-Tree-Logan-Thriller-ebook/dp/B007VGD1G6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334804628&sr=8-1

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Just in from my Publisher:

THE SHELTERING TREE, the third book in the John Logan series, is due to be released April 24th. Hopefully, all of the online book sellers will be on the same page. Any complications, I'll let you know but we expect an easy release!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Wow, where does the time go? Seems like yesterday I posted something and now two weeks have gone by. My apologies.
THE SHELTERING TREE is done and I eagerly await the publication in late April. I think it's the best Logan story yet and my publisher agrees. You can check the BOOKS tab to get the plot of the story.

Want to wish all of you who celebrate a Happy and blessed Easter. Happy Passover to my Jewish friends.

If you've followed me on Twitter (@RickNichols3) or on Facebook, you will know that I've discovered a new hobby: golf. I signed up for lessons through a program where I work (yes, sorry, I have a day job) and they warned me that it would become addicting. I originally did it to try something different and never expected I'd get so hooked but I am. Bought clubs, have been to the driving range once already, and the wife has caught me putting in the living room.

My driving is the hardest...I'm raising up on the backswing, I know it. So I keep topping the ball. Working on it.
Anyway, I'll keep you updated on my progress. Enjoy the weekend.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Sheltering Tree, the third novel in the John Logan series, is back from the editors and is very close to being sent to the publisher.

You can look in the book section of this website to get the plot of the book.

Right now, I'm working on Logan #4, tentatively entitled INTO THE MAGIC NIGHT. I know, I know, I vowed that I was taking a break from Logan and writing something else.

Sometimes, my muse has a mind of its own. I came up with the idea one afternoon while reclined back in my favorite chair and letting my mind kind of wander over nothing and the plot coalesced into clarity. I stopped the story I was working on and immediately started working on it.

One thing I've learned in the last two years I've been a published author: don't stifle that creativity. When it comes, when it flows over you, take advantage of it. There is magic in that.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"I still have vivid recollections of putting in day after day of trying a case in front of a jury, which one of the most exhausting activities I know about, dashing up to the law library after court had adjourned to spend three or four hours looking up law points with which I could trap my adversary the next day, then going home, grabbing a glass of milk with an egg in it, dashing upstairs to my s...tudy, ripping the cover off my typewriter, noticing it was 11:30 p.m. and settling down with grim determination to get a plot for a story. Along about 3 in the morning I would have completed my daily stint of a 4,000 word minimum and would crawl into bed."--Erle Stanley Gardner, creator of Perry Mason

Wow. Now that is a writer.

Gardner was known as a prolific writer and that reputation was well deserved. He wrote all the Perry Mason novels--as many as 6 a year--plus westerns and other genres. He also wrote travel guides for fun.

One English novelist, Anthony Trollope worked for the British postal service. He would arise at 5 every day and write for exactly 2 hours. This schedule was ironclad. If he finished a novel with 15 minutes to spare, he'd roll a fresh piece of paper into the typewriter and start a new novel. If he was in the middle of a sentence when the two hours was up, he'd put it away and pick it up mid sentence in the morning.

By now you might see that there is something that these authors possessed even more than their ability to create stories. Discipline.

It's necessary if you're going to do this job and get anything done. You must carve out writing time each day and just do it. TV off, family aside, you need to do it.

I know a woman who is a great writer. She can come up with stories that can make you laugh out loud, cry, think, bring out every emotion you can name. I've read some of her work and it's great. But you'll never see it. It's never been published--in fact most of the stories in her head have never even been put down on paper--or screen. Why? She doesn't have the discipline needed to do it. By her own admission. She gets too distracted by other things or simple doesn't have the attention span needed to sit down and do the job. It's a pity, really. The world is missing a great talent who could develop into a great writer.

Knowing how to write and actually sitting your butt down and doing it can be two very different things. Some tips:

1) Carve out a space for you to write. Make it your personal writing space. Mine is a desk in the corner of my bedroom. Stephen King's was a utility closet where he'd balance the typewriter on his knees. Make it somewhere that will provide you with no distractions.

2) Find your best time and write. I'm not a big morning person so my best time is later in the day. Since I have a day job it's usually after dinner.

3) Cut the TV off. This is my biggest problem and sometimes I have to force myself to turn off the tube and go write.

Remember, these books won't write themselves.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Okay, gang, since my back hurts and I can't get the kitchen painted, I thought I'd update the ole blog. I came across a nice list of writer's tips from Henry Miller. During the 1932-33 era when he wrote his first published work Tropic of Cancer, Miller adhered to a strict writing discipline. Among these were 11 commandments. (Thanks to BrainPickings.org):


1) Work on one thing at a time until finished.
2) Start no more new books, add no more new material to ‘Black Spring.’
3) Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
4) Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
5) When you can’t create you can work.
6) Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
7) Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
8)Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
9)Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
10) Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
11) Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

He also had a daily routine:

MORNINGS:If groggy, type notes and allocate, as stimulus.
If in fine fettle, write.

AFTERNOONS:
Work of section in hand, following plan of section scrupulously. No intrusions, no diversions. Write to finish one section at a time, for good and all.

EVENINGS:
See friends. Read in cafés.
Explore unfamiliar sections — on foot if wet, on bicycle if dry.
Write, if in mood, but only on Minor program.
Paint if empty or tired.
Make Notes. Make Charts, Plans. Make corrections of MS.
Note: Allow sufficient time during daylight to make an occasional visit to museums or an occasional sketch or an occasional bike ride. Sketch in cafés and trains and streets. Cut the movies! Library for references once a week.

Thanks again to BrainPickings.org for this, and to The Creative Pen for letting me know about it!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Some brief notes and updates:

Bullet Rain, a short story I wrote for an anthology that never came about, will be released as an Ebook in the near future. I'm still working on that.

The Sheltering Tree, the third John Logan novel is in the editing phase and I'm awaiting to hear back to see how badly I messed up.

I've come a long way from the would-be writer who thought that a good writer got it perfect the first time. I've learned that no writer gets that prose right the first time. Writing a book is a long and ofttimes meticulous process that requires going back and fixing things. A scene that you wrote yesterday and thought it was perfect at the time will come back in the morning light to reveal a slew of bad grammar, punctuation, passive voice, or a host of other things. A scene that seemed to fit so good into your story last night will suddenly become a major plot problem or will create a plot hole big enough to drive a truck through.

Admittedly, there are a few (and I mean few) writers who write pretty clean prose the first time around. Lawrence Block (by his own admission) comes to mind but, come on, he's been doing this for fifty years.

Saturday was a busy day as I painted the living room. The kitchen is scheduled for next Saturday so we'll see how it goes. I'm taking Sunday easy--church and writing and hockey. It's back to the office tomorrow because (and this may surprise you) many of us writers have day jobs.

So have a good week. Read a good book and I'll talk to you soon.

Friday, February 10, 2012




COPP FOR HIRE by Don Pendleton


It was with great joy that I learned of the reissue of the Joe Copp series by Executioner series author Don Pendleton. Pendelton was the first author who inspired me as a young man to maybe try this thing called writing. His pulp style combining hard action, a touch of sex (perfect for a pre adolescent boy), and his fast prose, hooked me so much that I read all 38 of the Executioner books before Don quit writing them in 1980. He licensed Mack Bolan to another publisher and then started writing the Joe Copp books.


It's pure detective noir. The setting is more modern but Copp is right out of the Chandler genre. Tough, rugged, with a code of morality all his own. Like Marlowe, Copp finds himself pursuing a case with no client...just his own sense of justice and to make sure things are set right.


My only complaint was the formatting. I had the Kindle version and the formatting was downright awful at times. That is on the publisher, not the author, though.


If you like the detective noir, check it out.

Monday, January 30, 2012

What is keeping you?

I've met a lot of people along the writer's path who say they want to write but haven't. It seems I've met more of them since I got published.

Perhaps you're one of them. Maybe the urge to write that story or poetry or novel is still tickling the back of your brain, but you've never done it. Never tried putting words to paper (or screen, as the case may be). So let me ask you something:

What are you afraid of?

Okay, there I said it. Yep, good old fashioned fear has kept many a dreamer from achieving their dreams. Fear of trying, fear of failure, even fear of succeeding.

Why would I be afraid of success?

Because when you do write that story, that means you might get the urge to get it published. Face it, many people play music for the enjoyment of it without ever having to record it or get a contract with Epic Records. I love playing guitar and music has aways been an important part of my life but if I never sign a contract with Sony Records, I'm fine with that. I don't need a recording contract or to be on Idol to increase my joy and love of music.

Writing, though, that's different. Writers write for the enjoyment of it, true; but deep down we want to share it with the world. Maybe you work and get that story written and then it sits in your desk drawer and then what? No, you want to share it, get it read by others and that means you got submit it to someone. And that could be the cause of your underlying fear of starting it.
What if they hate it?

It happens. Has happened to me. Can't tell you how many rejection letters I've received, how many critiques I've gotten that surprised me because I thought I'd written the best prose since War and Peace only to find that, much to my chagrin, it wasn't. It makes you want to scream, argue, throw things and all of that, but guess what? It won't kill you. And the sun will rise tomorrow.

Every critical opinion I've received, every rejection letter, even every critique from my editor and publisher, has made me a better writer. No, I don't like it, and I wish I didn't have to hear it, but being a writer requires you have a thick skin and the willingness to face harsh reality. That story that I wrote that is setting in a drawer for three months that I thought was so great now reads stilted, the pacing horrible, and I can drive a truck through the plot holes.

Still, my world didn't end. My wife still loves me and the kids still think their dad is terrific (at least I hope they do). I simply apply buttocks to chair and start to fix it.

Remember, NO ONE GETS IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME. If you write something, if no one ever reads it, if you never make a dime off of it, but it says what you wanted to say, then you are a writer.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

THE MOST FAQ

I get asked this question a lot. HOW DO I GET PUBLISHED?


The answers are not as simple as 1-2-3 but let me try to break it down for you. Publishing a book as we normally think of it, has changed a lot with the advent of the Internet and e-books. Even mid level writers are leaving traditional publishers in droves as the ease of doing it yourself becomes easier and more profitable. Those who have name recognition and a loyal fan base are finding that not having a traditional publisher allows them more freedom and profit.

There are three ways to get yourself published:

1) Traditional: this involves sending your manuscript to a well established publisher who will take weeks or months (in one of my submissions, two years) to look at it and let you know. Most traditional publishers require that only literary agents submit manuscripts which means you won't even get read unless you can find a literary agent ready to go out and pound the streets to sell your book. Writer's Market is an invaluable tool to find publishers who publish your genre, their submission requirements (always follow them to the T or your manuscript will find their circular file), and any other info that you might need to know. This is how writers used to have to do it and I started by doing this. Rare is the writer who gets accepted by the first publisher or agent that they contact (J.K Rowling is the exception, not the rule). John Grisham was rejected by 20 different publishers before someone took a chance on A Time to Kill.

2) Vanity press: These are publishers who will print your book for a fee. No rejection, no critiqing of your manuscript (oh you can get it edited for an extra fee). Basically they charge you X amount of dollars to publish X amount of copies. You get the copies and you sell them for whatever price you choose. The more $$$$ you are willing to shell out, the more they will do for you. It is an expensive option and vanity publishing has a reputation of being low quality writing because the writer is not subject to quality standards. You pay the money, they'll publish any old tripe you write, no matter how god-awful it is.

3) Print on Demand. The Internet has changed how to get published. Sites like lulu.com and others allow you, the author, to download your manuscript into a website and send it to a publisher who will print a copy of your book (or ebook) as orders come in. Overhead is lower and you're not stuck with a bunch of books that you can't sell. Even better, sites can just publish you in e-book form with even lower cost and you get to choose the pricing.
New independent publishers are going for a print on demand operation because it lowers their risks, especially for new untried authors. This approach has allowed many more writers' voices to be heard who might not have succeeded so swiftly under the traditional approach.
Whatever route you choose, there is good and bad. You need to decide what kind of approach would work better for you. For me, I didn't want to pay someone to print my stuff. I felt my time and effort that was put in was payment enough and if it was good enough, someone would want to print it. In the end I was right. Others don't want the hassle of trying to get "discovered" and lean toward vanity presses. Others possess the patience and skills to do it themselves using the Internet and technology now available.
Whatever you decide, good luck and happy writing!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Thomas Jefferson by R. B. Bernstein



When I was in school, Thomas Jefferson was portrayed as a saint; a man who wrote the Declaration of Independence and helped frame the Constitution. Jefferson spoke of equal rights for all, liberty, justice, and that all men are created equal.

I usually don't read a lot of biographies because I find them too long and mixed with too many irrelevant opinions. Bernstein's bio of Jefferson, however, is concise and is an easy read.

In truth, Jefferson was much more complex than our teachers told us. He found his ideals of limited governmental powers a burden when he was a diplomat and as President trying to get things accomplished. He exercised more power as President that he had often espoused that a President should. He spoke of equality for all, yet he was a slaveowner who wanted the slaves freed, yet bore a hidden fear that if they were, they might revolt and take over. He also was aware of how much he depended upon slave labor to work his beloved Monticello.

The book also speaks of Sally Hemmings, the slave by which Jefferson supposedly had a relationship (this happens years after the death of Jefferson's wife, Martha, it should be noted). The book does not draw conclusions, only presents facts as best as history knows them.

In all, it was the best biography I've read in a long time and recommend it if you would like a new look at one of our most famous Americans.