So you can read my books

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Nothing is as it seems.

Each person you meet is like one of those oriental gods whose face is a triad, constantly shifting with the whim or need of the moment.

Each face you see is a mask. Yet, it is not the only mask worn by that person.

The features change constantly. The true face is a meld of all the many masks worn by that person.

Sometimes the true face is decidedly different than you would expect from the mask you seen worn most often by that person.

What does this have to do with writing?

1.) Your characters.

Are they one dimensional? The villain twirling his moutache? The stirling prince out to save the virginal princess?

Cliches I know.

I watched FLIPPED, based on the MG book. Each character was a prose puppet cliche going through the motions. The dense, cowardly, though handsome, young boy. The chipper, wise-beyond her years girl smitten by his eyes. Her artistic, haunted father. The boy's boorish, insenstive father. And worst of all, the movie ended just when things started to get interesting.


FLIPPED was written by a woman, who wrote according to her vision of humanity. Boys just didn't get it. Most men didn't either. And those that did were mavericks. She was the oh, so wise little girl. Women were unappreciated yet still loving. Grandfather was oh, so wise. Older sister was sex-crazy but still oh, so wise. I was oh, so happy for the fast forward button.

2.) Do you want to pander or to stir the hearts and minds?

Many people think in cliches. It is easier than actually thinking beneath the surface. And like snorgeling, you move forward -- you just don't get to the beauty of the depths.

You can write cliches and be popular. Or you can stir the imagination, the heart, and the soul. I know which path appeals to me.

3.) I like suspense and surprise in my reading.

One dimensional writing will not provide that for your readers.

And in today's market, filled with weary, bored agents slogging through the murky query tides, it probably will get you rejected.

4.) Do you want your novel to be a lightning rod?

All of us want lightning to strike us like it struck J K Rowling.

We want to capture magic, not in a bottle, but in our keyboard.

And the agents and publishers want us to know how to do it, too. Yet, they only know what is selling now ...

not what will sell tomorrow. But they turn up their noses at what is different, afraid to beard the purchasing agents who only count pennies.

A.) The band wagon heads only to a dead-end street.

If I look at one more cover with a beautiful girl torn between a hunk vampire and a hunk werewolf/magician, I will bay at the moon myself.

Same with covers spotlighting self-sufficient bad-ass supernatural babes, usually who shop at Leather-Dominatrix R Us.

I love dark chocolate, but if that was all I ate, I would soon hurl at the very sight of the stuff.

B.) Make your own trend :

I.) I've always loved Western heroes. Same with supernatural adventures.

I put the two together in my Samuel McCord novels where a Texican with the blood of Death in his veins battles all manner of beasties from 1853 to the present.

No agent has fallen in love with him. But McCord is different enough to start his own trend.

II.) When I was young, I imagined myself Ulysses, surviving against gods and myths with his wits alone. I love the brash but wounded Tony Stark of the two IRON MAN movies.

I imagined a young Ulysses on the supernatural streets of the French Quarter with the personality of a thirteen year old Robert Downey, Jr.

And so Victor Standish was born.

I knew he needed a love interest. I saw the zombie craze sizzling.

What would it be like for a 13 year old Robert Downey, Jr. to fall in love with a self-hating, flesh-eating ghoul from the Victorian Age (as an inside joke to me on my hero's name)?

I already had a full universe plotted out with my two Samuel McCord novels. I decided to put Victor in it.

Further, I have always loved the classic movie, AUNTIE MAME.

What if I made Samuel McCord a Twilight Zone version of Auntie Mame to Victor?

The story ideas just poured into my mind.

C.) You want magic in your next novel?

Think back on what you love to read. Think on what cliches turn you off in books now. Take those two plumb lines and measure what would make your fancy soar if you saw it now on the bookshelves.

Try to write that.

And as Captain Jack always says, "Did everyone see that? Because I will not be doing it again."


  1. A very refreshing approach to writing. You answered some questions for me and left me with a few to ponder.

  2. Mary : I try to make my posts useful as well as entertaining. Hope this one leads you down interesting paths.

  3. You ar too funny. I cracked up about the hunks with the babes and shopping at Dominatrix R us!

    I must tell you that is exactly how I pictured Victor.... a young Robert Downey Jr. That is how I planned to illustrate him. We are so on the smae wavelength and the same with Alice.

    I had good news today. I had entered a short story contest for a NY magazine in October, and I made it as a finalist. They had already picked the winner. This is the first positive acknowledgment with my writing. Even though I didn't win, I feel great.

    It's nice to know that a NY magazine thinks I have some talent.


  4. Michael!

    What great news. I have never won honorable mention in a NY magazine. Can you believe I had the brass to submit to HARPER'S last year? I didn't get a form rejection. Not any printed rejection actually.

    I just got my story back with a dirt imprint of a foot on the first page. True story.

    I called it my thousand word rejection since a picture (the footprint) was worth a 1000 words!

    You have every right to feel great. You made it as a finalist after so short a time. Way to go!!

    I'm proud of you. As for Victor and Robert Downey, Jr. ... I knew we were on the same wavelength about writing. My hat's off to you.

    Merry Christmas, Roland

  5. My main character is an updated Travis McGee, except the Busted Flush is a geodesic dome in the Arizona desert. And it's alive. :-)

  6. Oh wow, I so know what you mean about the book covers. Sultry MCs, forbidden romance, insert-name-of-supernatural-being here. Yaaaaawn. Or groan.

    Hey, are you waiting for that Cowboys and Aliens movie, starring Daniel Craig? That looks like a bit of a genre buster. Woo!
    Cowboys and Aliens

  7. Cliques leave a bad taste in my mouth. I tend not to read novel with them in it and I definitely try not to write novels with them in it! I love most things new and fresh. But if someone can put a really good spin on an old idea and make it believable then I might bite.