So you can read my books

Saturday, March 3, 2012


A great surprise this afternoon.

I found this review for GHOST WRITERS IN THE SKY on Amazon by Mary Bartlett :

"I've been writing fiction and poetry for over thirty years and reading writing books longer. At this point, it's rare to read a writing book that doesn't say much the same as every other and the information in this book is comparable - but -

This book is the BEST writing advice from some of the BEST writers in history. The author did a good job of spinning together some of our greatest author's writing advice, while weaving in personal insights into the complex occupation -

or preoccupation - that is writing. Whether you're a new writer or seasoned writer, there are valuable things to harvest from this entertaining, informative book."


Help me boost it back up ... FOR FREE! THESE ARE THE LAST TWO DAYS!

The mysterious Nazca lines.

What fan of the arcane and the supernatural has not heard of them? But did you know that there were equally mysterious Nazca Lines for writers?

Bet you didn't.

But there are. And you need to know them. Imagine this famous scenario :

you're at a writer's conference. You're waiting for the elevator doors to open and take you to listen to your favorite author. They open.

He storms out. You stumble into the elevator and bump into none other than the president of HarperCollins Publishing.

The doors close, and he glares at you. "That jerk just told me I needed him. Me need him? I made him. I could make you. Hey, you tell me what your book is about in one sentence. I like it. I'll publish it. Well, just don't stare at me. Give me that sentence!"

What do you say? Besides "Oh, shit!" to yourself. And right now, as you read this, if you're writing a novel, you better have that sentence crystal clear in your mind. If you don't, you need those mysterious Nazca Lines for authors.

What is your novel about, Roland? Now is no time for ah's. "It's about a man, nearing retirement, invited to a company country retreat, only to find out it is his employers' deadly way of downsizing by 'accident' to avoid paying him his benefits."

The president's eyes roll up. "Why should I care? What's the shake-up in this retread?"

"Ah, you see, he's not human. He's ... he's an alien with gruesome dietary needs. And he's more than happy to add these company killers to his menu."

"Hey, that might work. Give me an eagle-eye view of this, kid."

Eagle-eye view. That is what the Nazca Lines for authors happens to be.

First Nazca Line - The theme in one sentence.
In an important aspect, a good novel is an argument posed by the author to the reader. As in : what is more important, love or success? What is love really? And success? How do you measure that? Your theme is your argument.

How do you get your theme seamlessly inserted into your novel? Usually thourgh the lips of a secondary character. In my THE MOON & SUN AS HIS BRIDES, Webster, the one-eyed orphanage headmaster, stalks towards my young hero as the orphange burns down around them.

He jabs at his empty eye-socket. "You want the truth? You want to understand? That costs, boy. It costs!" {As it turns out Webster is really Wotan, he who you might know as Odin -- and wisdom cost him his eye.}

Second - The Book-Ends :

The Opening Scene and Your Closing Scene.

Some publishers look at the first 10 pages and the last 10 pages. Think of them as the "Before" and "After" photos in all those advertisements. There has to be a drastic change in the main character underlinging your theme or the rubber stamp "REJECT" comes down on your manuscript. Ouch.

Third - The Set-Up Lines :

The first 50 pages or the first 3 chapters.

In those you must set-up your hero, the life-or-death stakes, the goal of the story, and all the major characters are introduced or hinted at. Think of any classic Hollywood movie. In the first 15 minutes you will see that same set-up. You don't have it in your novel? You don't have a good novel. Or least that is what the publisher will think. And he is the one we're trying to sell.

Fourth - The Flaws That Show & Those That Don't :

You should have three major time bombs in your hero's life that need fixing and three minor ones that prevent him from seeing the real problems in his life. Tick. Tick. Tick. BOOM!

Fifth : Let The Games Begin :

Fun. That's what gets readers to come back for a second and third read. It what gets them to urge friends to read. Let the hero and his circle of comrades have adventure. Let them get away with the loot. Let them thumb their noses at the howling Dark Ones. It's what would be on the poster if your novel was turned into a movie. Luke and Leia swinging on that rope. Quigley shooting his rifle over impossible distances. Iron Man streaking across the dark heavens ... to slam into the brick wall of the next Nazca Line ---

Sixth - The Twilight of The Gods :

Or that is what I call it : the hero realizes too late a harsh truth. The forces of darkness have won. He is alone. There is no hope. He comes face to face with the fool that he was. And then, kneeling in blood and ashes, he decides ...

Seventh - The Phoenix Rises/ The Catalyst Sizzles :

There is losing. Then, there's quiting. The hero decides to fight on. But fight on smarter. The bad news was really the good news. It is that moment the reader loves. The harsh realities that every reader faces is tilted on its ear by a carefully sown subplot. The person the hero thought he has lost returns. And the forces of darkness discover you never count a hero down until you see his corpse. And maybe not even then.

Eighth - The Mid-Point Line :

The stakes are raised. The hero wins. Or does he? The floor bottoms out beneath him. All is lost. The hero was a fool. He obtained his goal, only to discover he had lost the real treasure in getting a tarnished, empty vessel.

Ninth - The Wolves Close In :

What makes a hero? What ticks inside a proponent of Evil? The answers to those two questions are what turns defeat into a learning, growing stage in the hero. The hero fights for others. The antagonist fights for himself. The hero is willing to die if those he loves live. The antagonist usually finds a way for followers to die for his cause. He himself wants to live to bask in the glory of winning.

Tenth - Gethsame_Golgotha_The Empty Tomb :

Death. Someone dies. Something important dies. In every classic movie, death is the seed that is sown to bring a harvest of redemption to the hero. As the shadows close in around our defeated, dejected hero ...

Eleventh - The Sun Also Rises :

Love usually brings the believed lost partner of the hero back to his side. A moment of joy leads to a revelation of a solution. The lessons learned in the prior pages are brought to bear. The forces of darkness have learned nothing. The hero has learned a great many things. He brings them to his arsenal of weapons. One by one, he and his comrades and his love dispatch the enemy. Until it is just the hero versus his arch-foe. New surprises are thrown at our hero. He takes his hits and keeps coming. He may die, but he will not be defeated. Nor is he.

And The Lines Strikes Twelve - The "World" is changed.

Triumph isn't enough. The world must be drastically changed -- for the hero or for everyone. But changed it is.

Final Image :

It echoes the first image we got in the book. But this image has more depth, brought by the dark colors of death, pain, and revelation. You have made your point in the argument you proposed in the novel's beginning. You know your reader will close your book with a sad sigh at a great experience ended. And maybe, just maybe, if you've done your job right ... your reader will turn to page one again to read your novel with renewed delight at knowing where you are going to take him/her.
And talking of eagle-eye views, here is a music video that is a life lesson all by itself :


  1. You have given me lots to think about today! I really enjoy your posts!

  2. Good morning, Roland,

    Well, my friend, you are still on top of your game. From the first time I so thankfully dropped by your blog many moons ago, to now, I still leave your post with knowledge and more passion for my writing.

    Thank you for your many, many helpful suggestions on how to improve our novels.

    I woke up thinking of you this particular morning. Yesterday, visiting Hemingway's house in Key West, the strong passion of the writer was never more present than in the tall tales of the guide AND especially his writing studio.

    I learned that from the main house Hemingway installed a cat walk to the carriage house he had turned into his second floor studio. He waisted little time from his18th century Spanish carved bed to that fifteen second journey across that fifty-foot cat walk.

    Truly larger than life, he did some of his best writing in that studio. It was a fascinating tour. The house, although needed a MAJOR restoration, still held a trace of its former glory, only visible through photos and his studio.

    But I did feel something amazing later that evening... which I will post about later today or tomorrow, as to share with all of you.

    Have a wonderful day...

  3. The theme in one sentence - like the 'logline' taught in the book Save the Cat. It's difficult but necessary. It took me weeks to come up with a good logline for CassaFire.

  4. Excellent post, Roland. Will be bookmarking this one for sure.

    All the very best with, Ghost Writers. I will do what I can to help.

  5. Thank you, Kyra :
    You enjoying my posts mean a lot to me!

    Michael :
    I envy you that tour through Hemingway's Key West home. Alas, the weather of this part of the country is not condusive for long-lasting homes!

    Alex :
    Yes, Blake Synder was a fount of wisdom! I am so happy for your continued high sales!

    Wendy :
    Thanks for all you do in my support. I do believe that the release of THE RIVAL and the A-Z CHALLENGE will be my swan song though.

    When the incentives of Kindle Fires, autographs of JK Rowling & Stephen King, free books even cannot entice folks to buy my books, then you know they suck! LOL.

    I hope to make the last 2 months of my blog my best. Thanks to all my friends who have supported me. Roland

  6. Last two months? What do you mean last two months? You aren't leaving us are you????

  7. After I keep my promise to Alex for the A-Z CHALLENGE and my guest post, I will bid adios to blogdom.

    Like I said earlier when FREE books, Kindle Fires, and autographs of JK Rowling, Robert Downey, Jr, Stephen King, and Charles Schulz can't entice folks to buy or review my books, wow ... my books must suck!! LOL.

    Of course, if THE RIVAL pulls in box office numbers or my current books start doing the same, I will stay. Be foolish not to.

    But the past is prologue. I do not foresee that happening. I gave it my all. Some dreams pan out. Some do not.

    Thank you for your friendship and constant support, Wendy

    I am off to set up the duel between President Andrew Jackson and Victor under the infamous New Orleans Oaks astride gallopping horses, slashing at each other with sabers as they pass.

    Of course, the forces of darkness cheat. Hey, it's in their by-laws!

    I am throwing everyting into THE RIVAL but the kitchen sink. Oops, I spoke too early. Victor just handed me the sink! :-)

  8. No. Your novels - do - not - suck.

    I'll be in touch.

  9. Great post! Lots to think about!

  10. Fabulous post, Roland - I'm sharing it with my followers across a few social Media platforms because I love your approach (I am a mythology nut), and your fun and easy style.

    I also got the Ghost Writers - good luck getting it up in the Amazon's Top 100 Best List.

    I'm sorry to hear about you decision to leave the Blogospere. If I could add my two cents... I don't think that giving up blogging has anything to do with your books. And don't be too harsh on yourself - we all struggle with selling and promoting. The competition is fierce but if you are persistent, you will make it. Maybe being number one, two or three in the Amazon's Top 100 Best List is not most important... you decide.

    If you are on Twitter, hop over to #mywana group (and #wana711 and #wana1011) - we are a super friendly bunch and we help and support each other. Maybe you just need a "new crowd". Something to think about.

    All the best, Roland. Believe in yourself.

  11. Thanks, Angela :
    Your compassionate words helped. I followed you on Twitter and thanked you for your wisdom.

    I have finished editing THE RIVAL and sent it off to Wendy Tyler Ryan. A weight has been lifted from my chest from that and your kindness.

    The first of it is like SUPER 8 meets THE WALKING DEAD. But the majority of the book takes place in 1834 New Orleans with its own unique mythology, voodoo, Legba, Marie Laveau. I threw in the Nameless Ones and Death herself, the mother of my hero. Now, his is a hero's journey! The centaur Chiron takes a major role in it, calling Victor "Ulysses."

    If you like mythology, you will like this one from me. I hope! :-)