Poilitics and the writer.

If you're a regular on Facebook or twitter you've no doubt seen the posts downing one candidate or the other for the upcoming presidential election. And the competing posts that oftentimes denigrate into a virtual shouting match that drown out all reason.

I've often wondered if it was wise for a writer who is searching for an audience to honestly express their opinion about one politician or the other on a public forum. After all we want everyone to read our book, not just those who share our views, so why would a writer purposely alienate a potential 50 percent of their possible market by expressing their opinion in such a way. 

What really disturbs me are the posts from people I would view as normally intelligent, who lower themselves to name calling just to get their idea across. Do you believe that calling a public figure an asshat, or shitbag will cause me to fall into line with your belief. All that's going to do is make me question your intelligence if you can't present a counter argument that rises above schoolyard bickering.

How do you feel about political posts on public forums?

5Qs with Craig Saunders

1.) When did you first consider yourself a writer?

A.)  I'm still not sure I do! I think it comes down to what I deem a success - I've written 17 (ish) novels, had novels and shorts 'traditionally' published, received royalty cheques, advances, and published on Kindle, too...and I'm still not sure I qualify under my own measure of success. I think if I ever get to the point when I'm making a living writing, then I'll consider myself a writer.

2.) What is the hardest part of writing?

A.)  Getting published! Ha. I don't find writing difficult (usually, though I get blocked from time to time, like most of us!). I aim for 500 words a day, and try to hit that every day, but getting published has proven to be by far the hardest thing. It's a challenge, though, so it never gets tiring, trying...

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.)  My first published novel was Rain, and I cried like a baby - it had taken me seven years to get my first novel published (or thereabouts)...I still didn't feel like a writer, though.

4.) In addition to writing, what else are you passionate about?

A.)  Not much...I like to read, a little, PC game, a lot, and drink coffee and smoke! I'm the epitome of dull, really!

5.) If you could ask any author, living or dead, one question, what would it be?

A.)  Joe Hill...when's the next book coming out!? haha - I love Joe Hill, since reading Heart Shaped Box.

Craig Saunders lives in Norfolk, England, with his wife and three children, who he pretends to listen to while making up stories in his head.

He has published more than two dozen short stories, and is the author of the novels Rain, Spiggot, and The Love of the Dead.

He blogs at www.petrifiedtank.blogspot.com.

Review: Craig Saunder’s, A STRANGER’S GRAVE

Title: A Stranger's Grave

Author: Craig Saunders

Publisher: Grand Mal Press

Pub Date: June 7, 2012

Genre: Horror


The dead rise, and only the dead can rock them back to sleep...but sometimes it falls to the living to do what the dead cannot.

Elton Burlock's done his time. Twenty-six years for a terrible murder. Some of those years were hard, some easy. On the outside, he takes the only job he can find - the custodian of a local cemetery. A simple job, keeping the grass tidy...giving the dead a haircut.

But there are three black angels in the cemetery: a little girl's ghost that roams the night...and two women, one a vision in white, one a nightmare in black.

When the killing starts, who can rock the restless dead back to sleep? Who but Elton? Elton, custodian of the dead, but the gatekeeper, too. The keeper of this world and the next.

The dead are awake. The little girl is free of the earth. But there are no lullabies for the dead and if he's going to live, Elton's going to have to give her what she wants.

Then, maybe, he can find peace for them both - in the grave or out.

My Review:

There is a cemetery in a small Norfolk town....Thus begins the journey of recently released Elton Burlock who served twenty six years in prison, five for murdering the man who took his wife and daughter, the rest because Elton was not a man to be caged.

One of the most difficult tasks a writer faces is making their words transparent, allowing the story to come to life in the readers mind. Craig accomplishes this with a graceful ease that quite honestly makes me, as a writer, jealous.  He paints a vivid picture of a man trapped between the authorities who at first eye him with suspicion, and his unspoken duty as the cemetery’s caretaker to keep the dead at rest. But vengeance is what they seek and if Elton is to accomplish his task he must first locate a stranger’s grave.

This is a must read for anyone who enjoys a good ghost story. 

5Qs with Jo Ann Russell

1.) When did you first consider yourself a writer?

A.)  Honestly, I first considered myself a writer when I completed my first novel, “The Nightmare Project.” It was a lengthy project that I am sure many “would-be writers,” would have given up on.

2.) What is the hardest part of writing?

A.)  The hardest part of writing for me is getting started. Social networks are my drug of choice, and make for many a day wasted – to a point. Other than that, knowing when to stop going over a piece is hard for me.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.)  I felt terrified. Completing my project meant I had to send it out and open myself for rejection.

4.) In addition to writing, what else are you passionate about?

A.)  I am passionate about reading and horses. I own a beautiful white appaloosa mare named Whisper. It is because of her I put together a charity anthology called Scarlet Whispers, that benefits a local equine rescue called Hilltop Haven. I even board my horse there – at least until I find my new country home.

5.) If you could ask any author, living or dead, one question, what would it be?

A.)  I must say, this is one of the hardest questions I have ever had to answer. To choose only one is tortures. However, it would be Ray Bradbury, and I would ask him; ”What is it like on the other side?”

Changes are afoot.

If you've been here before you may have noticed that there are changes taking place. I've always viewed this blog as a way to give readers and potential readers a glimpse at the person behind the stories. That solitary figure hunkered behind the computer monitor as the words spill across the page. Truth be told the words come in spurts, not that smooth flow so many of us wish were possible.

First and foremost I'm a reader, I always have been, and chances are good that if you were you to run into me in public you'd notice that a book is never far from my hand. Lately it's been my kindle as I've taken the plunge into E-readers, but I still enjoy the act of reading a new book, the smell of the pages, that tactile feel of the book in my hand that can never be fully replaced by an electronic device. I like to read, and I like to share what I've read. So you will notice two lists to the right. Links to the books I've recently read, and a list of links to the author's page whose works I've read. Whether I've liked their work or not.

I've recently come to a junction in my life that has created a great deal of personal turmoil for me. For the past four months I have been in the middle of a legal process that I hope will offer some relief and with the final payment to my lawyer made I feel I now have some breathing room. The details are unimportant. I feel as if a tremendous weight has been lifted from my shoulders and I can once again look to the future with a degree of hope. And I can put the period from 2008 to the present firmly behind me.

Going forward  every Monday will still be devoted to Monday's 5Qs. Every Wednesday I will post about my own personal journey through the act of writing. How I myself put butt in chair and create. A glimpse if you will of the process I follow in creating a piece of work. Fridays will be given over to book news, reviews of recent reads, announcements of upcoming releases from other authors, or information about small presses.

5Qs with Alice Sabo

1.) When did you first consider yourself a writer?

A.)  I think it was Rita Mae brown that said to celebrate your rejections, it means you're off the porch and running with the big dogs. When I started submitting to magazines and contests, I considered myself officially a writer. Before that I think it was just a hobby. The commitment to finish a story, polish it and research a market for it made me feel like it was for real.

2.) What is the hardest part of writing?

A.)  Writing. Butt in chair. I have lots of ideas and conversations with my characters, but getting it all into the computer is hard work for me.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.)  Ecstatic! I think it was an essay for a local free magazine - small beans in the writing world - but it was a thrill. I snatched a ton of copies and mailed them to all my friends.

4.) In addition to writing, what else are you passionate about?

A.)  Organic gardening and eating well. On a warm spring day, I'd rather be playing in the dirt that sitting at the computer writing.

5.) If you could ask any author, living or dead, one question, what would it be?

A.)  That's a tough one. It would probably be the author of the last book I was reading, and my question would be - "And then what happened?"

Alice grew up in suburban New Jersey with a brother and three sisters, sidewalks to play hopscotch on and friends to walk to school with. She developed a bad case of wanderlust, which might be blamed on nomadic ancestors or all that speculative fiction she read describing new and exciting worlds. After attending colleges in New Jersey and Massachusetts, she finished her Bachelors in Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico. Since that time, she has worked in a variety of jobs, in a variety of places, Boston, Los Angeles, Aspen, Long Beach Island. Now she lives in Asheville, NC where she writes, paints and gardens.

White Lies is a mystery set in LA:

5Qs with William F Nolan

1.) When did you first consider yourself a writer?

A.)  When I sold my first story to Playboy. At that point, I knew I was a professional. That was in 1956.

2.) What is the hardest part of writing?

A.)  Sitting down in front of a sheet of blank paper (or a blank screen nowadays) and filling it with good words is the hardest part.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.)  Seeing my name in professional print gave me a tremendous lift, and seeing my name in print still gives me much of the same feeling today.

4.) In addition to writing, what else are you passionate about?

A.)  I love cartooning and sports car racing, and the work of Max Brand.

5.) If you could ask any author, living or dead, one question, what would it be?

A.)  Bradbury said that he wanted to be buried on Mars in a Campbell soupcan in the "Bradbury Abyss". I'd ask Ray Bradbury if he found his way home to Mars.

William writes stories in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres. He is best known for coauthoring the novel Logan's Run, with George Clayton Johnson. He co-wrote the screenplay for the 1976 horror film Burnt Offerings which starred Karen Black and Bette Davis.
Nolan was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He attended the Kansas City Art Institute. He worked for Hallmark Cards, Inc. before becoming an author.
Among his many awards, he was voted a Living Legend in Dark Fantasy by the International Horror Guild in 2002. During 2006, he was bestowed the honorary title of Author Emeritus by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. In 2010, he received the Lifetime Achievement award from the Horror Writers Association. He maintains a blog at: http://www.williamfnolan.com/

What can Traditional Publishing learn from Indies.

I was recently asked what I thought traditional publishers could learn from Indies.
In my opinion I don’t believe there is much traditional publishers can take from self published authors. I’m not a fan of the indie designation for writers who chose to self publish. There is nothing wrong with being a self published author, after all I’m one, but some writers carry that Indie designation as if it were justification, an excuse, to produce sub-par work and rush it to publication. 

I know many will disagree with me, claiming that maybe traditional publishers should be a little more open to new writers, more willing to take a chance, quicker in their responses, faster to publication,  freer with their money. They are first and foremost a business, and in business the bottom line matters. When a writer approaches a traditional publisher they should do so with the understanding that they are dealing with a business whose sole purpose is to make a profit. The writer is like a manufacturer offering a product to a retailer for sale to the reading public. 

Honestly, as a consumer, would you purchase a sub par product?

The biggest thing a self published author can take from traditional publishers is the amount of editing in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and story structure that goes into a work before it’s released. And before the comments overflow with examples of crappy editing from traditional publishers take a moment and compare the number of known mistakes with the volume of that publishers releases. We’re all human and we’re prone to make mistakes. But that is no excuse for sloppy writing and even sloppier formatting.

The goal of any writer should be to make their writing transparent. You want the reader to experience your work with the least amount of roadblocks and interruptions possible. For me as a writer the biggest compliment I can get from a reader is that the words vanished as they were reading. This is only accomplished by polishing your work. 

I was in an online discussion with a young writer who proudly proclaimed that he switched tense from past to present and back again in his work, on purpose, just to keep the readers on their toes. I attempted to explain to him how important it was for the writer to remove those roadblocks from the story but he insisted that it was important to keep the reader guessing. 

Again I have nothing against those who self publish, only those who refuse to take the time to produce their best possible work.

What are your thoughts on this? Is there something I've missed that traditional publishers can learn from self publisher writers?