Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hook 'Em!

Some first lines are so enthralling that you must keep reading. I've read many books on how to write strong opening stories. In Noah Lukeman's "The First Five Pages," he teaches that these hooks start out as an opening line, then paragraph, page, and opening chapter. The intensity of the first line that draws the reader in should apply to the book as a whole. This takes a great deal of focus and endurance for me. But it doesn't mean the story doesn't need to slow down and let the reader digest what they have read so far.

Often when the protagonist's life is stable or improving from a recent problem, it's the break before a worse problem begins. I lost count of how many times my manuscript has changed as I attempt to make it flow better. Lukeman also warns us about creating such a hook that caused the story to flop from the inability to maintain the pace.

How do you handle the pace throughout your story?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Interview With Allen Schatz

I met Indie Writer Allen Schatz a short while ago from the
fabulous Writer’s Unboxed group on Facebook. The print version of his debut novel, GAME 7: DEADBALL was released on July 1st.


Jennifer: Where did the idea for GAME 7 : DEADBALL come from?
Allen: A combination of things. The title, originally simply ‘Game 7′, came first. I have a tendency to do that, hit on a title from seeing or hearing something and then filling in the blanks. I thought it might be neat to use a series as the ‘clock’ on a story, ending with the ultimate of a Game 7. Putting it on the baseball canvas came from my love of the game. I’ve been a lifelong baseball and Phillies fan, it was clear this was my best “write what you know” option, at least for a starting point. Having an umpire be the lead character was a way to get me in the story without me being in the story. And it is a completely different take on mystery/suspense.

Jennifer: Have you always wanted to write a novel?
Allen: I’ve been contemplating something like this for the better part of my adult life. I just never really had the courage to jump in and do it. A work situation several years ago gave me that opportunity and I ran with it. Several of the story’s characters are actually my way of saying thanks to some folks who helped with that opportunity. The “real” Mark, Gabi, and Terry all get credit for being part of the push into this world.

Jennifer: Was it your first attempt at long-form fiction writing?
Allen: Yes. This is the first time I intentionally sat down and decided to do something     about all the “you should be a writer” comments I’d heard over the years. I’ve done a fair share of business-writing in my career, but this is the debut of my fiction novel work. I love doing it. It isn’t really work at all.

Jennifer: What was your primary inspiration for writing the novel?
Allen: I’m not sure there was a primary inspiration. Finding myself with a lot of down time as part of the real work I was doing might be the closest thing. I used the writing as a way to fill the days and keep myself from going totally nuts wondering if I’d still have a job. From a ‘what kinds of books do I like’ standpoint, I’ve always been a big fan of mystery/suspense stories. Harlen Coben, John Grisham, and several others are my favorites. Some readers have noted that my style is somewhat “Grisham-like” so I’d have to give a nod to his books as being an inspiration.

Jennifer: How long did the writing process take, from first draft to final edit? How does the process change as you become more experienced?
Allen: My original method was to write whatever came out. At one point in the process I had almost 200,000 words. It was in the continuous re-writes that followed where I pared things down to something more reasonable. I don’t use a “draft” methodology per se. I usually lay out notes or do an outline of the basic path of the story. From there, I add and tweak and adjust as the plot moves along. I found early on that things kind of write themselves once you get into it, at least for me.
I started Game 7 in May of 2008, finished (a relative term) around the end of that same year. During 2009, a version was used to procure an agent. At the beginning of 2011, I was released by that agent. That provided the push to do another rewrite which got me to the final version that hit the eBook stores in February.
I’ve changed in that I have a better initial process. The first book was a lot of cutting and pasting things together. I’ve learned to be more organized at the start. It still allows flow of ideas, but with some finish line in sight.

Jennifer: What was the culture shock of making the change from full-time businessman to author?
Allen: It wasn’t as much of a shock as might be expected. I was in a position where I was employed in a full-time situation, but the details of said job left me more as a baby-sitter than a day-to-day to-do list kind of thing. I have been working virtually and/or on the road for many years anyway, so it kind of fit nicely into what I wanted to do. Of course, not getting paid at anything remotely near that of a full-time businessperson is a shock. Hopefully, that comes, but I try to take it as it comes. I still do consulting work to help pay the bills, but being a full-time writer is the goal.

Jennifer: What are you currently working on?
I’m in the final stages of prepping Game 7 for its print launch, coming July 1 via CreateSpace. I’m also bringing book 3 into final edits for its eBook launch, tentatively scheduled for August 1. From there, I’ll be starting the next project — I have a title (Liars Ball) and a preliminary story outlined, but will be filling in the blanks shortly. Otherwise, self-promoting and doing what I can to help other Indie writers succeed.

Jennifer: Thank you for your time today, I just bought the eBook and plan to read it soon. I wish you the best with all of your books.
Allen: Thank you for the interview.
Click here for Allen’s Website. To order the book on Amazon, click here: If you would like to read the eBook, click here. Also check out the second eBook in the series, 7th Inning DEATH. 

Welcome!

This is the first post on my new writing blog. I love learning new writing methods and following the publishing industry trends and I'm excited to share the lessons I learn.