Likeable Characters (And creepy book gifs)

So often I hear people talking about books, and occasionally I’ll hear someone say they didn’t like the book because they just didn’t like the main character. They just didn’t seem like someone I’d like to spend the afternoon with.

Oh, no? You didn’t like them? The main character wasn’t someone you’d stay up with at night and tell your secrets to? You didn’t want to braid your hair with them? You don’t think they’d make a good wing-man?

Have you read GONE GIRL? That girl isn’t someone I’d want to see on the street in the middle of the day if I were surrounded by a team of Army Rangers and attack dogs. I pretty much hated every part of her. But I couldn’t look away while I was reading it. I was utterly captivated.

I read a great blog post on this very subject a few days ago and I’d like to direct you to it if I may. It’s written by uber-awesome literary agent Lauren Abramo at DGLM. Please check it out!

http://www.dystel.com/2015/02/you-like-me-you-really-like-me/

So what do you think? Do you prefer likeable characters, or do you love to hate the characters you read about?

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The Hat-Trick Post… And a Free Book!

I don't always play But when i do, i score hat tricks - I don't always play But when i do, i score hat tricks  Berbatov Hat trickHere we are, day three on the challenge and I’m surprised by how well it’s going. I have a very real problem with over-thinking those things I toss out into the great expanse that it the internet, and it usually makes me just refrain completely from saying anything.

But that was the point of this challenge. Get outside myself. Write freely and not over think it. 30 days of posting means I don’t have time for over-thinking things. I’m pleased to report that it *seems* to be working (but ask me again in 10 days)

Today’s an easy post. My update.

ABDUCTION (which is the working title for the second in my CAMBRIDGE FILES books) is written. Done, and done. I have completed one line-by-line pass of the manuscript, and have just started in on my second. After this round it’ll be off for one more beta-read, and then a proper copy-edit.

Then layout.

Then release.

Check back for more updates!

PLUNGE (Book 4 in my DEAN CURSE series). This book has been a long time in the making. I am not going to rush it, but I have tentatively committed to a 2015 release. More updates coming soon.

As I sign off, I wanted to give a quick shout out to another MG writer I know, Michael Blackbourn.
He’s running a limited time giveaway of his novel, CINDERCAST. It’s free. It’s on Amazon, and you can, Nay, SHOULD get your copy ASAP!

Here’s the link!

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Doing Number Two… Wait… that’s not what I meant…

Admittedly the title for this post could have been better, but as you all know I’m in the middle of a 30 day challenge (and by middle I mean practically at the start … Day TWO to be precise), and if I’m going to pull this off, I need to be fast. There’s no time for pondering better blog titles.

So some time ago I did a post HERE and HERE about books that have some rather unfortunate covers/titles. People seemed to like it so as I step boldly into this 30 day challenge I thought I’d share a few more.

Enjoy!

I’m not sure about this book. On the one hand, it’s about time these stinking kids and their sub-par art skills are brought to bear. But on the other, do you really want to put their thoughtless scribbles in a book that will probably last for generations to come? They are kids and we should encourage them to… blah blah blah… 😛

Um, yes. Yes, I believe he does. Why? Because even if I didn’t believe it, I would know better than to question the divinity or our feline overlords within a thousand meters of an internet connection. The net, as we all know, is governed by cat-loving psychopaths who flood our digital world with enough cat-videos to choke a pack of rabid Tibetan Mastiffs.

But let’s be honest, shall we? Do pretty much anything on a horse and it becomes manly, right? Okay, anything within reason. Knitting, sure. French-braiding your own hair? Manly! In fact, I’d say the only thing that wouldn’t be manly on a horse is macrame. Then again, macrame is only done by people who are bat-guano crazy. It has no place in a civilized world.

If you don’t follow the instructions EXACTLY as they lay it out, you can have a fairly large mess to clean up. Trust me!



Again with the @#$@# cats. Oh, right, feline overlords…
I Love cats!

What get’s me is the by-line at the bottom. Why is your family running? What exactly do you feed old tractors?

Obviously. Nothing new to see here .

About time! I’ve been wasting time and resources on befriending others when I could… nay, SHOULD have been keeping the focus closer to home.

Chapter 3: Bonding while enjoying the Coin-operated kiddie-rides at malls.

Chapter 6: How to mug someone using a silver dollar and a free condiment from Burger King.

Chapter 11: Penny slots.

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30 Day Challenge (and Ninja Unicorns!)

I’ve been challenged to write a blog entry a day for the next 30 days, and I’m going to give it a serious try. I tend to need challenges like this to hold me accountable. Plus, with the awesome weather we’ve been experiencing lately I feel invigorated (I know much of the country is buried in snow, and you have my sympathy).
 
However, doing this kind of blogging is going to mean I’m going to have to put aside my typical over-thinking attitude and just go for it. So apologies in advance for typos and any inappropriate posting. Here is a totally appropriate picture of a couple guys dancing that will kick this 30 day challenge off right.
 

Oh, see? There I go already. That was inappropriate, and since I’ve committed to this 30 day thing, I just don’t have the time to remove it. Sorry.


I promise, future posts will include photos and gifs of people wearing more clothing.


I’d also like to throw the challenge out to other bloggers who perhaps need the accountability/encouragement/threats of public ridicule for failure.



So c’mon, who’s with me? ….. *crickets*



Seriously, if you’re with me, just comment with a link to your blog/website and I will be sure to dispatch an army of ninja-unicorns if you fail to complete the challenge…



*more crickets*

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BOOKS YOU PROBABLY HAVEN’T READ…

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I’m settling into my new digs now,  and getting ready to set more time aside for blogging and posting on  my website and Facebook page. I figured it was time to post something lighter to start things off.

Quite a while back I posted about some real, but unfortunate book covers/titles, and now I’ve decided it’s time for a follow-up. So, without further ado, I give you part two of the unfortunate book cover/title  collection.

Hope you enjoy 🙂

Pinata 1

have a feeling Todd is going to want that candy, and  in a few pages the Pinata is going to meet the business end of that bat. But hey, it’s a book about sacrifice . . .

These next two go together well, and I often wondered how I’d talk to my kids about such things… now I’ll simply get these two books and all their questions will be answered…
nuclear-war  atomic_submarine

 

The next book I have to admit gave me some pause. Being Canadian it was interesting to see a book about Canadians, and how we mysterious northerners are portrayed. Sure, we’re polite, we wear toques and sit on chesterfields. But… well, the four images for WHAT IS A CANADIAN seems a bit off somehow. . .

canada1964canada31

In Canada it is true that it’s pretty rare to see a French girl without her priest, so that photo is pretty accurate. But prospectors don’t wear hats like that. I mean, c’mon!

And finally, because I know this is a topic many of you will want to know about:

passion-for-donkeys

 

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Planting Roots

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My family and I just completed another move.

Another.

Move.

Moving 1

 

Okay, I know, I know, most people have experienced moving at some point in their life, but I feel I have a special relationship (love/hate relationship…mostly hate) with the process. In the past eight years we’ve moved eleven times. Don’t get me wrong, the moves were mostly for the best. We chased opportunities: school; work; life experiences. We did most of the moves before having children, which, now that I’ve experienced two moves with children, was a wise decision.

But for the past eight years we’ve never really settled. We’ve always had furniture in storage. We’ve never unpacked clothing for more than one or two seasons at a time. We’ve collected artwork and mementos from our travels and stored them in boxes. We’ve never even put pictures on walls for fear of impacting our damage-deposits.

The next move was always on the horizon.

And that’s why this move is so different. We’re finally in a place we intend to be for the foreseeable future. We’ve taken all our belongings with us—including pictures and artwork—and intend to fully settle in. We’re putting roots down for the first time in as long as I can remember.

I’m really happy about it. It’s only been a couple days, but I’ve even found that my writing output is increasing now that I have a dedicated space to actually write in. I’ll talk more about what I’m working on in the coming posts, but wanted to share a bit about my experience finally putting down some roots.

Roots… it’s nice to have those again.

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mywritingprocess-blog-tour.html

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A writer friend of mine, A. B. HARMS who wrote a really cool MG story called BEWILDERED asked me to participate in a blog tour where a bunch of people blog about the same thing. I was happy to have the invitation and quickly accepted.

So the topic is the writing process, and there are four questions. Let’s get to it, shall we?
1)     What am I working on?

I always have more than one project going at a time. Right now I’m working on tweaking the outlines to my CAMBRIDGE FILES series. I am also finishing the draft of PLUNGE, book 4 in the Dean Curse Chronicles. I’m polishing another YA project for my agent, which I am very excited about, but don’t want to talk about just yet.

BUT that’s not all. I am also putting the finishing touches on a 7 book series of MG books that I’ve been working on for a while. I’m excited about these. They’ve been fun to write and I’m excited to see how they’ll be received.

2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is a really tough question. There are books like mine on the market, so I won’t pretend that mine beat a new path. But I usually ask myself if the story I’m writing is exciting enough to take the reader (a kid between the ages of 9 and 14, in most cases) on an adventure that keeps them guessing.

I want the reader to expect to be taken on a high-stakes adventure, and thrown some curve balls they weren’t anticipating.  I want parents to trust that my books are clean and age-appropriate, but above all else I want to give the reader a solid adventure. Stories of adventure were always my favorite kinds of books growing up, and actually, they’re still my favorite to this day.

Oh, and along the way I’d generally want the reader to laugh a few times too.

3)     Why do I write what I do?

Another tough question. “Why do you write books for kids, Steve?” is a question I get quite a lot actually. I read a lot of books geared for adults, and I have written books for adults too. I like writing those. But I LOVE writing books for kids. Despite having read thousands of novels in my adulthood, and loving many of them, the books I remember most fondly are those books I read when I was a kid. Books like Hardy Boys, or Nancy Drew; those Ramona the Pest books; Charlotte’s web, Harriet the Spy, and just a host of others that I still remember to this day.

4)     How does your writing process work?

I write in the morning. That’s when I get 90% of my writing done. I wake up early, and write until one of my kids wakes up. I tend to get up quite early though—around three o’clock (or earlier), so I can usually get a solid three to four hours a day. Sometimes more. (As I put the final touches on this post it is 1:45 a.m. and I am up for the day and plan to start writing as soon as I post this.)

As for the actual process, I am an outliner, and when I start writing I generally have pages and pages of notes on my stories. Usually I’ll have an idea for a book, then I’ll write some notes, jot down my immediate thoughts or a scene or two. Then I let that idea percolate for … well, typically several months while I’m working on something else. When I’m ready, I’ll polish the outline until I have a very clear direction for the story and the characters involved and then I start to put the rough draft together.

I can generally write a story pretty quick once the actual writing starts, but when I take into account the time I spend working on the outlines it’s actually a pretty long process.

Thanks so much for checking this post out, and again a big thanks to A.B. Harms for inviting me to participate. Part of the blog hop is to invite other authors to do the same and so next week (the week of APRIL 21, 2014) I invite you to check out the authors listed below and read their answers to the same questions. 

LINKS WILL BE ADDED SHORTLY

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why I don’t do my own covers

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 I had a few people ask me if I came up with the designs for my books, or if my designer did. Well, what a very interesting question and I wanted to post about that. Plus, even though it hasn’t been a great secret, it gives me a chance to show you what the cover for the next installment in the Dean Curse Books will look like.

So, after I finished the outline for book 4 I decided I wanted to title it DEEP. But after a bit of thought I decided that sounded boring, so I tried BREATHE, and that didn’t look right to me either, or rather, it didn’t feel active enough, so I changed it to PLUNGE. I mention that so you understand why my concept design that I sent to the designer says DEEP.

Alright, alright, I am sure you are dying to see my superior art skills, so I’ll force you to wait no more.

Cue orchestra. Rlease the doves. Here it is:

PS- if you love mine more than the designer’s hack job of my idea, I am availalbe for commissions 🙂

  Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000448_00034]

So, what do you think? Have I missed my calling? Should I hang up this whole writing thing and hand a shingle as an artist and book designer?

 

 

 

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I owe you an update!

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I’m woefully inactive on my blog lately, and I really wanted to do better. I honestly did. What I find hardest, I think, is that when I’m home, and have downtime to write, I feel so guilty if I’m not working on my manuscripts. But I’m trying something new. Every Sunday I’m going to carve out some time in the morning to post here.

To start it off I’m going to give an update that is long overdue.

So, first question, WHERE IS BOOK 3 IN THE DEAN CURSE BOOKS?

I know, I know, I said it would be out last year, and then I said it would be out very early this year. And I am saying now, it’s seriously going to be soon 🙂 The problem isn’t that it’s hard to write. That’s not it. It’s written. It’s done. The problem is, once I get to book 3 in a series I want to use the same people to help me with it. I want the same beta readers, the same editors, the same people doing layout… etc etc. It just helps working with people familiar with the previous books. And sometimes the scheduling just doesn’t work out as well as I hoped it would.

That’s what happened here.

So, the good news is, as long as everything goes as planned, editing will be done this month. and I will send it off to the talented people who do layout and conversion. Fingers crossed. I am cautiously optimistic. And as for book 4? Uh uh, no way. I’ll wait and announce that one when I’m holding the proof copy so I can be more confident about release date :/

 

Next question: WHAT IS THIS NEW NOVEL OF YOURS? 

Ah, yes, mysterious new novel: DISRUPTION. Well, it’s this new YA novel (geared for the younger YA readers) in a new series titled THE CAMBRIDGE FILES. I’m really excited about this story, and the series in general.  It’s a straight up Action/Adventure novel. No supernatural, or science fiction elements. I honestly can’t wait to hear what people think of it.

Actually, speaking of that, if you scroll to the bottom of this page you’ll see a contest entry form. Enter it. You know you wanna 🙂

Although the contest below is for anyone, I do have another offer for readers who review books: If you are interested in DISRUPTION and would like a digital copy in exchange for an honest review, please drop me an email. It would be my pleasure to send you a copy.

 

 

 

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I EITHER TOOK ONE FOR THE TEAM, OR I GOT PRANKED…

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I thought there would be a line I wouldn’t cross, but apparently there’s not.
My daughter (2 months) caught a cold and couldn’t sleep because she was so congested. We tried to help her with that little blue bulb thingy, and that didn’t work. We tried drops of saline, and that didn’t work either.
Nosefrida-Snot-Sucker-Nasal-Aspirator-L13645887a But then we found this little gadget. It works as you’re imagining it. One end in the nose, the other in mouth of whichever parent lost the coin toss, and then you suck. The crazy thing is, it works. She slept peacefully the whole night when I was done. I, on the other hand, sat in the corner, rocking back and forth as I drank a bottle of Scope. But I still question whether the person who invented it is brilliant or just flat out disgusting. Maybe a little of both. Not sure what that makes me for being the guy who used it though….  snot sucker
I’m not sure where the line is anymore, and I worry about future products that might come on the market. Of course, there is a part of me still expects my wife to start laughing, flash the two headed coin she used to beat me in the coin toss, and reveal the whole thing was a giant disgusting prank.
Have any of you parents out there (or really devoted uncles/aunts) tried this thing? If not is there another product out there you’ve tried that is similarly line-crossing?
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