So you can read my books

Monday, December 31, 2012


"A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God."
   - Victor Standish.

Roland's zoned out asleep.  So I thought I'd write this post for him.

When nutcases aren't trying to kill me, I surf the net and sometimes I read your blogs.  And while I don't feel your pain, I do sense it in many of your posts.

You want to quit writing, don't you?  No fibbing.  I read not only between the lines of your blogs but under them, too.

I'll make it easier for you: I'll give you 11 reasons why you should STOP WRITING!

1.) The septic tank of self-publishing.

        a.) Yeah, in the septic tank of self-publishing, the
              biggest chunks rise to the top.
        b.) Discoverability on the Internet sucks.
        c.) Trying to find the secret of standing out is like
              pulling teeth out of roosters: by the time
              you find there aren't any -- you're all cut up!

2.) You believe editing compromises your authenticity.
         a.) Because only the unhampered, unrefined,
              half-drunk and totally transcended
              creative word-barf you spray on the wall is true art.
          b.) And as everyone knows: no one wants to read
               art anymore!

3.) The bookpocalypse is upon us.

        a.) Walk into any B & N or BOOKSaMILLION. 
        b.) All they sell anymore is coffee and board games,
              except in the back where you will find three zillion
              dog-eared copies of  50 SHADES OF  GREY and
              72 copies of the latest issue of MAXIM.

4.) You think grammar rules is for wussies.

        Your sertain its only a matter of time til someone
        seas you’re genius 4 real

        and then its on and all them teachers can go suck a
        broom for all you care cuz you gonna
        be rich and famous and totally kick ass wit the book
        you writed.

5.)  Your cat keeps burying your manuscript in her kitty
       litter box.

        a.) This is just between us, now. Your book's not that
              good, is it?
        b.) Lots of spelling errors. Commas breeding like lice
              in the scalp that is Roland's cooking.
        c.) All the structure of an up-ended box of Scrabble letters.
        d.) The last time an agent looked at your work, 
             she sent it back wrapped around a hand grenade.

6.) You’ve stopped reading books in the eighth grade,
      because they tarnish your style.

        a.) Like Grandma Moses or Alley Oop, you are an artist
              in the primitive, unvarnished mold.
        b.) Every word you read stains your original style with
              the Philistine brush ... except for
             THE NATIONAL INQUIRER which keeps you
              in touch with reality.

7.) It’s really HARD.

        a.) Writing? It’s hard.
        b.) It’s like, you have to sit there? And you have to
              make stuff up? For a living?
        c.) And there’s all this… typing involved.

8.)  You suffer from writer’s block 364 days a year.

        a.) Your muse isn't a muse.  She's a hermit.
        b.) You suffer from imagination constipation, and
              they don't sell prose laxative at Wal-Mart.

9.) Writing ain't writing no more.

        a.) The title “writer” is the sorriest description of the
              job I’ve ever heard.
        b.) Total. False. Advertising.
        c.) Man, writers have to like… edit, blog, market,
             learn good business practices,
             engage in public speaking, train on computer
             repair, and actually be like ... pleasant
             on social media.
        d.) Total, major bummer.

10.) Ah, where did my toes go?

        a.) Writing is a sedentary activity. You sit on your butt
              all day.
        b.) Jabba the Hut is sending you love letters.
        c.) The only parts that move are your darting eyes as
             they follow the cursor and your fingers
             as they piston-pound out text.
        d.) Your cat thinks you've become Darth Vadar the
              way your over-worked lungs wheeze.

11.) Writing Really Cuts Into Your Internet Time.

        a.) The Internet is like a… delightful hole you fall into,
              a Wonderland of Facebook and
              Pinterest and tweets and porn and
              funny cat pictures.
        b.) Porn?  "Alice, I wrote no such word.  Ah, that word
             IS porn, isn't it?  Ah, Alice, no getting
             blood on Roland's laptop!  Alice!"

DUH! That quiet voice that asks, "What were you thinking?"

Humans aren't the only ones who suffer from sagging middles.

Novels do, too.

It's accompanied by that leaden feeling that weighs you down with the mocking question :

"What were you thinking of when you thought you could write a book?"

When you hear that voice, I want you to answer, "DUH!"



H ..... HEROES


I.) Disaster. When your novel's middle sags, you certainly know that word. It's what you feel you are writing!

II.) Escalating Disasters ...

A.) are what make up the backbone of the best novels.

B.) without them, you're just writing a news snippet for CNN.

C.) Each disaster must lead logically from the last one to make a coherent whole.

D.) But to interest an agent, then the publisher, and finally the reader ...
you must have a destination in mind for your hero from the very beginning.

III.) If your novel's middle is sagging then ...

A.) Like with humans, the discipline of exercise is missing.

B.) The disciplined exercise of steadily working towards a pre-conceived ending, step by logical step.

C.) Without that compass to guide you, your novel will meander all over the place, subject to the whims of your imagination.


I.) The trouble with a novel that its very structure invites sagging in the middle.

II.) Your novel's middle will more than likely take up fully half of your pages.

A.) After that many pages, things start to look alike.

B.) The fix : underlying that middle with a tremendous disaster, rocking your hero and his world to its foundations.

C.) Shaking things up like that will awaken your readers from the sameness doze they may have fallen into :

Think Obi wan Kenobi sacrificing himself so that Luke may escape. To all appearances, Darth Vader looks unbeatable.

D.) This enormous disaster shores up your novel's middle, firming it up and preventing sagging.


I.) A memorable character that leaps off the page and into your reader's imagination is the keystone to the success of your novel.

A.) Think Hannibal Lector.

What? Hannibal a hero? Of sorts. He chose his victims quite carefully. Don't agree? Think Dexter. Same principle. We pull for Dexter, for he has chosen an acceptable outlet for his murderous impulses.

B.) UNDERLYING comes into play again with your hero :

Your hero was not born yesterday. He/she has a past. It will determine his or her actions. You had better know your hero's backstory.

C.) In fact, your hero's backstory may very well provide the world-shaking disasters that braces your novel's middle.

D.) You see how DISASTER - UNDERLYING - HEROES all interweave with one another? It is a support device that wraps around your novel's middle, keeping it firm.

E.) A fully developed hero with a past, flaws, hopes, failures will make him seem real, sucking your reader into identifying with him, rooting for him, and thrilling with him when he succeeds.

F.) Without a backstory, your reader will not understand your hero -- and more than likely, neither will you. And that slippery slope ends with a sagging middle and confused muddle of an ending.

G.) Backstory is an iceberg ;

1.) The part that is important to you as a writer is the 9/10 of it that the reader cannot see.

2.) The part you must tell your reader is the tiny 1/10 above the water line.

3.) Sensory and data overload is one of the hallmarks of a sagging middle.

H.) What determines the backstory you reveal to your reader?

1.) Core truths.

2.) They determine your hero's motivations, acting as a rudder in the flow of events in your novel.

3.) They often conflict.

You know why Miss America wants "World Peace?" She wants to impress those fuddy-duddy judges and win the war of the beauty pageant!
Stated values often clash with the real ones, motivating your hero.

II.) A dynamic hero, like say Robert Downey Jr.'s portrayal of Tony Stark, shored up those times when he he wasn't in that armor -- those moments could very well have sagged -- but because of his impish, rogue attitude, those moments were some of the best of the film, IRON MAN.

*) I hope you've found something of value in this little post. Happy New Year, Roland!


Sunday, December 30, 2012


{Sadly, Victor didn't get to go party-less for the New Year's Eve after yesterday's post}


{ From LOVE IN THE TIME OF THE UNDEAD - hopefully out by April 15th }:

 {Gorgeous art by the genius of Leonora Roy}
Mother told me that I was born the very instant the old year died and the New Year began. I figure the Angel of Death should know.

I lay on my bed in agony. What part of my body that wasn't cut, was bruised, or throbbing -- or all three. A sharp pain stabbed into my chest as I turned.

"Happy Birthday to me," I groaned.

I heard another groan from the mirror.

"Elu, are you all right?"

His gruff voice rumbled from the mirror, "Define 'all right'."

I swayed to the side of the bed and looked into the mirror. Ouch. His face looked like raw hamburger meat.

He grunted, "Don't worry, Elu. I am Victor Standish, and I always have a plan. Some plan! You nearly got us killed!"

I made a face. "Well, we got the bad guys killed."

A snowball hit me in the face from the mirror. "There is the icing to your birthday cake, Standish."

I wiped the snow from my face, seeing the mirror had gone black. "At least, you're all rig...."

Another snowball smacked me in the face. "I am not all right! Now, go downstairs and clean up the mess you made."

I swayed to my feet. "Aw, man, there's body parts all over the place."

Elu chuckled, "You cannot say Dyami does not know how to throw a New Year's Eve party."

"After last year, I swore off New Year's Eve parties.  I'm double sworn off now!  Besides, body parts are not my idea of the perfect Birthday present."

The back of my head got smacked with another snowball.

I smiled bitter. Snowballs were cheap presents, but at least they were handmade.

I limped down the hallway with scattered monster parts all over the carpet. I made it to the head of the stairs.


Meilori's was a burning battle-zone below. Marshal Hickok was dosing what I considered my birthday candles on the steps.

He glared at me, and I sighed, "Don't tell me you're holding a grudg ----"

He dosed me with the fire extinguisher. "Go downstairs and start cleaning up, Birthday Boy."

I shook my head. Never, ever, had I been thrown a birthday party.

I thought Alice might --- but she had gotten mad over something I had whispered to Becky in her revealing Steam Punk outfit. So there went my party.

I started to sway on my feet. I had taken a few good hits last night. More than a few actually. The pain spread from my chest and down my left arm.

I was so hot suddenly.  Clammy sweat beaded my body.  I couldn't catch a breath.

I smiled crooked. "Alice will be so mad. She missed me dropping dead like she ask ...."

Someone cut the strings holding me up.  I fell.

Out of the growing darkness, I heard Alice scream, "No!!"

Suddenly, my head was cradled in her soft lap. My head was resting on her bare legs. Finally, a good Birthday present.

My head lolled to the left. Cute knees in fishnet stockings. Becky? I flicked my eyes to the front of me. Glasses in her Maid Marion outfit.

I glanced up at Alice. "Y-You mean I get a menage a trois for my birthday?"

My head was jerked and thumped off her pretty legs. "That for your present!"

I weakly raised my right hand. "Dying here. Doesn't that buy me a ---"

Alice threw my right hand to the smoldering carpet. And just like that, an icepick stabbed into my chest and everything went black.

I heard Becky snap, "Oh, perfect, freak. The last thing he'll remember is your throwing his hand down."

Alice grumbled, "Or perhaps it will be your wanton knees in his face!!"

Women! I had died. And they still made it all about them.

Glasses sobbed, "He never even saw the surprise Birthday Party we had prepared."

I floated in an ink sea for long moments.

I shook my head, and suddenly became scared that I had a head at all to shake in the darkness.

There was a bright light right in front of me. I squinted and smiled.

A long marble table with the biggest Birthday cake I had ever seen.

And standing by the table was Mother ... the Angel of Death.

"You remembered, Mother."

Black tears gleamed in her eyes to drift up from her lids in tiny swirls of dark snowflakes.

"I always remembered, Victor."

"Now, back with you!" she said.

"I'm not dead?"

Mother smiled coldly.

"You die when I say you die, Victor. Besides, it will be so much fun to see you try to extradite yourself from the hole your brash tongue has dug for yourself."

Her black robe billowed as she gracefully gestured. Suddenly, I was back. Three pairs of pretty knees. Now, THIS was a Birthday present.

Alice hugged my head against the torn satin that barely covered her breasts. I hadn't died. But I was certainly in Heaven.

"Alice, you sure about that menage a trois?"

She threw my head down to the floor. "Oh, Victor! I should have known you were faking."

I staggered to my feet as the three of them looked at me like the Gorgon Sisters.

"Whoa. My mother WAS waiting for me. She just sent me back to say ...."

The three of them wailed and clung to me like a life saver in a rough sea.

Becky husked, "We will not let you say good-bye!"

Glasses hugged me tight. "You're Victor Standish. You can't die."

Alice embraced me with her icy arms. "You are my Victor. I will never let you say good-bye. Never!"

I made a sheepish face. "Ah, Mother just wanted me to say 'I'm sorry."

All three pairs of arms popped off me like I had been hot brass.

Alice glared at me. "So much for my special Birthday present for you!"

Becky sizzled a look at me. "And mine!"

Glasses just giggled, running off with Becky. "Only you, Victor. Only you."

Captain Sam loped up with a plate of birthday cake.

He grinned like a wolf. "Devil's Food Cake, son. Seemed to fit."

I gobbled my very first slice of Birthday cake. "When you're right, Captain Sam, you're right."
What William Jospeh played for Victor's birthday (remember he is a gypsy) :


The old year was dying, the tolling bells ringing out its dirge in the night.

Alice squeezed my hand tight,

her death-cold fingers reminding me that I had someone to be strong for.

Shadows were heavy in the LaPrete Mansion's upper dining room.

Of the places I wanted to spend New Year's Eve with the ghoul of my dreams -- this was the very last.

Cezar Prodanescu, wheezing the prelude to his death rattle, spoke from the oak chair at the head of the dining table.

"Victor Standish, you and your ghoul cost me. That building was going to be my last project."

I shook my head. "The thousands of new Katrina orphans needed that place."

"You made the buyers think it was haunted!"

"What can I tell you? My mother's good at making ghosts."

Cezar's son scowled at me. "Because of you we have been made to endure this tedious Romanian ritual."

His wife, sitting beside him, patted his hand. "Andrei, remember your blood pressure."

Cezar snorted, "All you care about, Andreea, is that bearer bond right beside that New Year's Eve Mask."

Her daughter whined, "Grandpapa, must I wear this mask, too?"

He flashed a dying wolf's smile at her. "If you want your own bearer bond, Doina, yes. Besides, I made yours a faerie princess. And you only have to wear the mask until the bells stop."

Her brother glowered at the mask on the table before him. It bore an uncanny resemblance to Alfred E. Neuman. "Look at what he wants me to wear!"

Cezar snorted, "Then, don't wear it, Gavril. But you will receive nothing!"

Reluctantly, Gavril put it on. Andreea looked with disgust at her own mask in the shape of a wrinkled old shrew. She fondled the bearer bond. She put on the mask.

Andrei flicked dead eyes to the pig mask and barked an insult of a laugh. "You have made me wear so many masks, Father. What is one more?"

He put it on. Cezar pointed to the braying donkey mask in front of me. "Wear it and I will call off my lawyers from delaying that orphanage."

I shook my head. "The deal was you would do it if I showed up."

His smile reminded me of a snake's - but without as much humanity. "The deal has changed."

I shook my head. "My word hasn't. I've showed up. No jumping through hoops."

Alice lightly touched her mask on the table top done up like a snake's face. "Victor, the orphans."

Cezar turned to her. "Don the mask, and I will still call off my lawyers."

She took her hand from mine. She picked up the mask, slowly bringing it to her face.

I went cold.

Something was brewing, but I knew Alice. If I told her not to, she would do it out of spite.

Cezar looked nothing so much as a vulture as he watched her, then turned to me. "Tell her not to, boy. You want to."

"I - I love Alice too much to take away her right to choose."

Alice's eyes rimmed in black tears. "So I choose ... you."

She placed the mask down.

Cezar scowled and put his skull mask on.

He slid Alice's mask to Doina. "Wear it, and you will receive ten bearer bonds."

"T-Ten?" She tore off the faerie mask, putting on the snake one.

The tolling bells were reaching the end of their countdown. The Prodanescu clan glared at their patriarch. Alice smiled softly and took up my hand again.

The tolling died away. Andreea wrenched her mask off. Doina screamed wetly. I felt like screaming myself. The mother's face was an exact copy of her mask. Andrei ripped his mask off.

A wet pig's snout quivered at me. Doina sprang from her chair, sending it to the carpet. She raced to the ornate mirror. A snake's face stared slit-eyed back at her. She started screaming in peals I knew would never stop until her last breath.

Gavril just sat shivering in his chair. Alice slowly, slowly reached out to Cezar's mask. As soon as her fingers touched the mask, the rubber band crumbled to ash.

Cezar's skull mask dropped.

Andreea began to titter in gibbering madness.

Though dead, Cezar looked merely asleep.

I turned to Alice. "Next New Year's Eve? No parties."


Saturday, December 29, 2012


It's hard to get any writing done with the ghost of Mark Twain, gasping between peals of laughter and holding his chest with tears in his eyes.

"Oh, kill me, Roland. Kill me!"

"I would," I growl, "but you're already dead."

He shakes his head, muttering, "I never thought my ghost would be around to see the day when gals get sunburned in places I only dreamed about."

Mark Twain flips another page of 50 SHADES OF GREY and reads aloud, " My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves."

I pause.  "You're making that up."

Mark puts a pipe-holding hand high in the air.  "I swear upon the prose of James Fennimore Cooper I am not!"

He looks down and reads out loud again, punctuating every few words with sputtering, "Anastasia, you are going to unman me."

Mark guffaws as he strangles out, "Listen to this -  Why is anyone the way they are? That’s kind of hard to answer. Why do some people like cheese and other people hate it? Do you like cheese?”

He bends double as he gasps, "Oh, son, this line is wonderfully, gleefully bad - 'I can tell from his accent that he’s British.'"

Mark turns a page and sputters, "No, Roland.  I was wrong.  This here line beats them all - 'My inner goddess is doing the dance of the seven veils.'"

Wiping tears from his eyes, he turns to me and chuckles, "How much did E. L. James make from this travesty?"

"Don't remind me," I mutter.

Mark grins, "Of course, Ms James is not the first author to strike it lucky in a market where unpublished rivals are told to sweat over every word,

then write a perfect cover letter and synopsis so that they stand out from the pile of slush washing through agents’ doors.

 But, oh, no, she's successfully bypassed that route by piggybacking onto the fan base of Twilight.   Now, how Mormon Stephanie Meyers feels about this remains to be seen."

"What does Miss Meyers being Morman have to do with this?" I frown.

Mark Twain holds up the book.  "Son, this sure ain't gonna be quoted from behind any Mormon pulpit!"

All laughter dies in his eyes as he turns to me and sighs, "Why, Roland.  Why?  Why does prose-ettes like this make tons of money?"

I knew what he meant.  At the start of his literary life, he had been mocked and almost starved a few times writing books that now are considered classics.  I pushed back from my laptop.

"I think 50 Shades hints at why certain books catch on whatever the quality of the writing.

The explanation is thematic."

Mark grinned, "You actually think in words like thematic?"

I happily ignored him and went on, "They tap into modern anxieties about our lives in a way publishers fail to predict."

Mark Twain scowled, "If they could predict them, they'd write them."

I nodded, "The Da Vinci Code hit the spot as distrust of global organisations and big government reached new levels of paranoia.  Twilight tapped into teen angst about sex."

I made a face. "On some level 50 Shades taps into their discomfort about the role of women and their relationship to power."

Mark Twain dropped his "Just Folks" manner and switched to the keen thinking revealed in his essays,  "As an advocate of women's rights, Roland, I find the popularity of books like 50 Shades deeply disturbing as they represent a resurrection of the whole Madonna/ Whore archetypes of Freud,."

He lit his pipe.  "Archetypes, which the overwhelmingly female fan base indicates, many women buy into."

I said, "What unites these and far better written global phenomena, such as Bridget Jones’s Diary and the Harry Potter series, is they hark back to traditional worlds. Whether sorted according to ability and class (Harry Potter in his boarding school) or gender – the idea that a woman’s ultimate role is wife or girlfriend (Bridget was doing this one long before 50 Shades’ Ana) – they inhabit a traditional universe."

Mark sighed, "What is behind these phenomena may not be deliberately misogynistic, Roland, but I do believe they offer a disturbing insight into wider attitudes towards women.

They seem to say, ‘Try as hard as you like, sister, you’ll still be either a Madonna or a whore.’ That they are predominantly bought by women concerns me as much as it perplexes me.

Maybe conscious or otherwise, the fantasy of readers is that they will be thought Madonnas, even if they act like ‘whores’? "

As his ghost slowly faded, Mark Twain said, "Whatever the answer to that question, Roland, what they definitely tell me is that if you want to write a bestseller: forget the writing, remember tradition. That is what you need to tap into."

"Right," I said into the darkness.  "And after that, I'll start on world peace."

What do you think?

Friday, December 28, 2012


You can write the most selling novel ever crafted ...
     but it will die if you cannot draw internet attention to it.

Most self-published books sell fewer than 100 or 150 copies.



1.) Book cover
You can choose a proper image for the book cover that will draw attention to your eBook.
     a.) You need to choose the proper thumbnail with a theme that reflects the contents of your

     b.) Many readers will be drawn to the book cover long before
          reading the description and the reviews.

     c.) It helps if you have a book cover that instantly draws attention.

     d.) Look at the image for the prologue to LOVE IN THE TIME OF THE UNDEAD.

2.) Pricing
      a.)  it should neither be too cheap or too expensive
      b.) People value what costs them and hold to be inferior what they got cheaply.

      a.) Pick your title BEFORE you begin (you'll be with your novel for weeks so have a
           title that inspires you!

      b.) It's a marriage - LOVE YOUR TITLE

      C.) What a great title does:
            1.) Captures your audience’s attention
            2.) It communicates what your e-book is about
            3,) If it’s your style, it should include a little bit of a “What the Heck?” factor:
Titles tell your audience a little something about you.
Look at these three sets of words:
  • Epic; Awesome.
  • Remarkable; Brilliant.
  • Elegant; Erudite
Each pair of words has a unique flavor. You can almost begin to see the people that would use them in a title or a headline.

Which means that the words in your e-book title need to reflect your style.

       D.) WHO'S AN OXYMORON?~!

           i.) EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE was a great title to an older book because it linked two

           ii.) Startle your reader and snare his attention.


     a.)  Most people skim the content.

          1.) You’re also one of them (okay, including me)
          2.) This is where you need to write creatively
          3.) Use short paragraphs
          4.) Use short sentences like this.

     b.) Divide your content into three blocks

          1.)  Introduction (first two to three lines or really important. Tell them a story,
                make them scary, make them laugh, do anything but don’t make them bored.
               They must read your first two lines.

          2.) Middle of the content (this is where your actual MEAT of the content comes in)
          3.) Ending (end with either a surprise twist or question.)


   A.) It is the Old West once again.

   B.) Remember the Klondike Gold Madness (well not from actual memory, of course.)

   C.) Wild-eyed dreamers would race to Alaska where they would fall victim to prospectors
          selling fake maps to sure gold mines.


   E.) Once again, just write what you love, what fills your imagination with magic and delight.




          1.) If you don't know your destination, it is likely you will never arrive.

          2.) Is it 1,000 sales a month?

               a.) At 99 cents a book, you will make 35 cents off each book.
               b.) That's $350 a month.
               c.) That's $4,200 a year, but is it success to you?

          3.) At $2.99 a book that would be $24,000 a year - now, you're talking more than a hobby.

     B.) THE TOP 4 GENRES:

          1.) Romance, paranormal, thriller, and mystery.

           2.) But, there is a wide variety of additional genres. 
                 It looks like the club is open to almost any genre.

           3.) THINK SEX
                 a.) No matter what genre you pick, make sure there
                       is romance, steamy sex, and suspense.

                 b.) Look at the hottest eBooks and you will see what
                       I mean.

     C.) Of those authors who sell 1,000 titles a month ...

           1.) What is their key to epublishing success?

           2.) It seems that it’s the number of titles an author
                 has available.

           3.) 67% of the authors have three or more
                titles available.

     D.) Joe Konrath talks about this a lot over on his fine blog.

          1.) And, from the numbers, you have to agree.

          2.) It seems that a good strategy to join the
                1,000+ Sales/Month Club
                is to emulate the existing club members by
                putting more ebooks up for sale.

     E.) Get started now, keep writing, commit to 2 or 3 years
           of effort
           before you evaluate your success, and don’t lose hope!

          1.) Novels take too much time to write so as to
               accumulate a backlist?

          2.) Consider volumes of linked short stories as
               Milo James Fowler has done.

          3.) What price you ask?

                a.) 99 cents for volumes of short stories.

                b.) $1.99 to $2.99 for novels (You are not JK
                      Rowling; you have to tempt a reader to 
                      gamble on you.)

     A.) Don't read reviews.

     B.) Reviews are for readers.
     C.) You're better off taking the advice
           (praise and criticism) from your fans
           because they are the ones you're writing for.

     D.) Don't compare yourself to other authors.
           Everyone's experience will be different.

     E.)  Sales rise and fall. Publishing new books help to get
           out of the dips,
           but not all books sell the same.

          a.) Some books sell better than others, and there's no
               way to tell which will sell well.
          b.) All you can do is write the best book you can, put
                an attractive cover and title on it,
                write the best description you can, and put it
                out there.

     F.) Most of all, have fun writing because in the end,
           that's really at the heart of what we're doing:
           writing books that mean something to us.