Tag Archives: books

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksWelcome to another Monday of writer’s links. I find my links as I surf the web and save the best ones for you to view here on the blog. I hope you enjoy them.

Five Authors Who Prove It’s Never Too Late To Start Writing

See Your Characters

From Serviceable to Memorable: 5 Principles for Dialogue That Delivers

How to Format Your eBook Using Scrivener

How To Format Your Book In Scrivener For CreateSpace

Worldbulding: Nation/Culture Building Template

My Editing Technique

What Makes a Character Memorable?

The 7 Most Essential Genre Conventions

How Mastering the Query Letter Will Change Your Life – And 6 Steps To Doing It

Author Interview: Marty Steere

It is always a pleasure to offer authors in my local Los Angeles area. Marty Steele has written a lovely historical fiction. He shares more about his writing process and his new novel here on No Wasted Ink.

Marty Steere - AuthorI’m Marty Steere, a lifelong book junkie who spent many years convinced that he would ultimately be a novelist – but who was unwilling or, let’s face it, afraid, to take the plunge. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not as if I wasted those years. I became a lawyer, grew to like it, and have had, for longer than I’m prepared to admit right now, a very busy and gratifying practice. But, in the back of my mind, I did always believe that one day I would sit down and write that novel I knew was in me.

When and why did you begin writing?

The economy took a hit in late 2008/early 2009. (You probably read about it; it was in all the papers!) My practice in the months after that was not – how do I put it – nearly as robust as it had been in the overheated years leading up to the collapse. I found myself with rare evenings and weekends free. Now that was a bit of a sea change. So, I filled the time with the logical thing. I became spectacular at a couple of home video games. I mean really good. (I don’t want to brag or anything, but you know….) Anyway, it was late one night, after I’d advanced to a seemingly impossible new level, that I asked myself a poignant question: What the heck am I doing? That was when I came to the rueful (and somewhat daunting) conclusion that it was now or never.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Believe it or not, it was after I wrote my first chapter. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it. I think I held my breath for the week it took me to write it. When I’d finally finished it, printed it, given it to my wife to read and received her – God bless her – accolades, I thought, I’m there. What a boob I was. That first chapter never made it into my book. But, in fairness, it was the breaking of the seal. In the span of a few months, I slid into a comfortable rhythm, and, after that, the writing came to me in a much more natural fashion. Now, with two novels under my belt, I do honestly think of myself as a writer.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Defiant Heart is the story of a young couple who, in a small Midwestern town on the eve of World War II, fall in love, are torn apart and must fight to be reunited.

What inspired you to write this book?

It’s a story I would want to read, filled with characters I would want to read about. In a way, you might say, I was entertaining myself while writing it.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t know that I do, but, then again, would I recognize it if I did? I try not to bog down the prose. I’m more interested in telling the story than dangling fancy descriptions in front of my reader. I want people turning pages, and I try to foster that by moving the story along.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

I didn’t. For the life of me, I couldn’t. I wrote the whole book just assuming the title would come to me at some point. And then I was finished, and I still didn’t have it. I’d written well over 100,000 words, and I couldn’t come up with the last two or three. I tried out a few ideas with those who’d read the book – ran them up the flagpole if you will. Nobody saluted. (In retrospect, some of them were really awful.) A mild panic was beginning to set in. I was getting ready to submit to agents, and I obviously couldn’t do it without a title. I’d been working with an editor, Hillel Black. He was in New York, and I was in L.A., so I couldn’t actually see it, but I could pretty much feel the eye rolls when I gave him the last couple of ideas. Finally, he sent me a cryptic email that said “I had in mind something like DEFIANT HEART, A LOVE STORY. Idea grows out of Mary’s and Jon’s defiance of convention in their love for each other. Think this has more zing.” And he was right.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The cover for Defiant Heart, as with the cover for my first novel, Sea of Crises, was designed by my good friend, Ben Lizardi – a very talented man who, among other things, is a fabulous graphic artist. I explained to Ben my idea of featuring the image of the biplane flying over fields with clouds in the background. Ben did a mock-up using stock photos, then suggested that, because the novel takes place in the 1940s, we might consider commissioning an illustration from a local artist, Ed Lum, who has done a lot of work that evokes the ’40s and ’50s. Ed and I spoke, and I explained how I wanted to create this nostalgic feel. Using Ben’s mock-up as a rough guide, Ed drew the illustration featured on the cover, adding the figure of the young man. It was exactly what I was looking for.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I alluded to it above. I don’t know how profound it is, but my advice would be this: Write what you’d like to read. You’re going to be living with the story for a while. Make it be one you’d enjoy having someone else tell you. If you’re anything like me, you won’t know the whole thing starting out. So it’ll be a journey of discovery. Might as well enjoy it.

Defiant Heart Book CoverMarty Steere
Los Angeles, CA

Defiant Heart
Penfield Publications

Cover illustration by Ed Lum; cover design by Ben Lizardi


No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksWelcome to another Monday of Writer’s Links. I was surfing a bit more wide for articles this week than usual and found many useful new topics such as how to put together an author’s press kit, how to better your writing routine and, of course, more articles on how to use that most wonderful of writing programs: Scrivener. Enjoy!

How I Use Scrivener to Organize my Writing

Book Marketing: Creating Your Author Press Kit

Aiming The Subconscious

7 F***in’ Great Ways to Build Your Writing Routine

How to Write Faster and Get Organized with Scrivener

Fear: The Most Undervalued Emotion in Fantasy

The Problem With “Revealing” Information That’s Already in the Cover Copy

Wholesalers—who they are and how they differ from distributors

Is Wikipedia Ghettoizing Female Writers?

Is sales tax on e-books, iTunes next? Tax-free digital content’s days may be numbered

Book Review: The Great Gatsby

Book Name: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
First Published: 1925

F. “Scott” Fitzgerald was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota to an upper middle class, Irish Catholic family. He was named after his famous second cousin, Francis Scott Key who wrote The Star Spangled Banner.

The young Scott Fitzgerald lived his early years in New York attending catholic private schools. He showed an early affinity for literature which was encouraged by his doting parents. In 1908, when his father lost his job, the family returned to Minnesota where Fitzgerald was transferred to another catholic private school. His first story to publish was a detective tale in the school newspaper when he was thirteen years old.

Eventually, Fitzgerald was admitted to Princeton University and there he continued to practice the craft of writing. He became friends with future critics and writers and wrote for the Princeton Triangle Club, Nassau Literary Magazine, and the Princeton Tiger. The connections he gained in the Triangle Club, a sort of musical/comedy society, prompted him to submit a novel to Charles Scribner’s Sons where the editor rejected his book, but encouraged him to continue with his writing. To this day, the Princeton University Cottage Club, where he was also a member, still displays Fitzgerald’s desk and writing materials in its library.

Fitzgerald’s writing and socializing interfered with his general studies at Princeton. First he was placed on academic probation, and then later he dropped out of university altogether in 1917 to enlist in the U.S. Army. “The Great War” was at hand and young Fitzgerald feared that he would go to war and die on the battlefield without fulfilling his dreams of publishing a novel. In the weeks before reporting to duty, Fitzgerald quickly wrote a novel called The Romantic Egotist. Once again, he sent the novel to Charles Scribner’s Sons and while the publisher made a point to note the novel’s originality and encouraged Fitzgerald to continue writing, they did not publish his work.

Young second lieutenant Fitzgerald was assigned to Camp Sheridan in Montgomery, Alabama as he awaited deployment to the front. Enjoying an evening at a local country club, he spotted his “golden girl”, Zelda Sayre, the daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court judge. Later, Scott proposed marriage to Zelda, but he could not convince her that he was able to support a wife and family. In those days, a married woman did not work or have a career of her own, she depended upon the success of her husband. Zelda decided to break their engagement due to financial reasons, but not because she did not love Scott.

Fitzgerald was eventually discharged from the Army, never being sent to Europe at all due to World War I ending in 1918 before he could be deployed. Instead, he moved to New York City. He hoped to develop a career in advertising that would be secure enough to convince Zelda to marry him. He worked for an ad agency in New York for a time, but never found the money he needed to survive in the Big Apple. His dream of enticing Zelda vanished along with his money.

As his pockets became depleted, Fitzgerald moved back to the home of his parents in Minnesota. He was poor enough that he was forced to take on a job repairing car roofs while he attempted to put his life back together. In desperation, he returned to his old novel, The Romantic Egotist. Heavily revising the novel, Fitzgerald renamed it This Side of Paradise. He sent the novel to Scribner’s in the fall of 1919. At last, the publisher bought his book. This Side of Paradise went on to be one of the most popular novels of 1920 and became the financial success that Fitzgerald needed to win his “golden girl”. Scott and Zelda were married that year in New York and one year later their only child, a daughter, was born.

Scott and Zelda began to live the life of celebrities due to the success of This Side of Paradise. They moved to Paris where Scott became friends with author Ernest Hemingway. His friend did not get along with Zelda. Hemingway accused her of being insane and driving her husband to drink instead of working on the novels that he loved. Fitzgerald turned to making a living writing short stories for magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s Weekly, or Esquire instead of working on longer fiction. He would also turn his short stories into scripts to be produced in Hollywood by major studios. This was considered “whoring” his talents and both he and his friend despised themselves for making money in this manner instead of remaining focused on writing their beloved novels.

The lifestyle that Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald lived was expensive and eventually it drained them of all their funds. Fitzgerald was forced several times to ask for advances from his publisher or his literary agent to not only pay for their bills, but for Zelda’s growing medical expenses. When The Great Gatsby came out in 1925, it was not a financial success and the couple moved deeper into debt. Although this novel would later be accounted as Fitzgerald’s greatest work, it was not helpful to him at the time.

In the end, Zelda would be diagnosed with schizophrenia and be put away in an asylum. Fitzgerald, who had been an alcoholic since his early twenties, would suffer from a pair of heart attacks in the late 1930s that would claim his life at the tender age of 44. He would publish five novels and numerous short stories.

The Great Gatsby follows the lives of four wealthy people as they are observed by the narrator, Nick Carraway, a man that studied in an ivy-league university and yet was not born to wealth. He settles in West Egg, Long Island, an effluent neighborhood, and finds himself surrounded by the nouveau rich, exemplified by his neighbor, Jay Gatsby.

Gatsby is a young man with a mysterious past. Many rumors surround his identity, and he fascinates the guests that attend the many lavish parties that he throws at his lakeside estate. The purpose of these parties is to woo the beautiful Daisy Buchanan who lives across the bay. From the lawn of Gatsby’s mansion, it is possible to see the green light at the end of Daisy’s boat dock on the other side of the lake. The light becomes a symbol of unobtainable treasure as Gatsby continues in his quest to win Daisy. Gatsby and Daisy had met years before when he was a young military officer and she had pledged to wait for him while he went to war. Instead, she married Tom Buchanan, who is a friend of the narrator, moving on with her life. The fact that Daisy is a married woman with a child, does not deter Jay Gatsby in his desire. He has earned a great fortune during the years he was away and with money on his side, he is determined to win Daisy back again, whatever the cost.

The Great Gatsby is a tragic love story, a mystery, and a social commentary on American life. It is regarded as Fitzgerald’s best work and is known as a literary classic, capturing the essence of the roaring twenties. Yet, The Great Gatsby was not a commercial success for the author during his lifetime. It was not until many years had passed that this novel became an acclaimed masterpiece that is read throughout the world and is part of the curriculum of schools all over the world.

The Great Gatsby Book CoverI was assigned to read The Great Gatsby in high school, as I believe many students are. I did not enjoy the book at that time because I was too young to understand the undercurrents about this elite society and the reasons for the destruction that occurred to the characters in the end. As I have grown older, I have gained a new appreciation for the novel. In a way, this novel is like a deception to the reader. Fitzgerald writes with glorious prose that tantalizes you with its elegance. With such poetic words, you expect greatness of deeds from the characters, rather like how we might view the rich and powerful around as being larger than life. As all the characters crumble into the chaos that they have created via money and greed, the American Dream that they live becomes a nightmare. Nothing is quite what it seems as the layers of the mystery surrounding Gatsby unfolds. Our dream of the good life evaporates along with them. Perhaps this is part of the power of this story and why it has remained a fixture in American literature to this day.

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksHere it is, Monday again and time for more No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links. This week I found a few good ones on marketing, improving your skills as a performance reader of your books and a bit about the new trend in book stores. Enjoy!

Why Bookstores Aren’t Helping Indie Authors—Yet

The Difference Between Marketing and Selling a Book

Sell books (without being an asshat.)

Blogs and Typos: A big deal?

Word Wizardry Where Art Thou?

Print Images Lousy? Here’s The Secret For Improving Them.

My Writing Process

4 Tips for Public Readings

Scrivener and the Cloud: Best Practices 2013

3 Minutes to Better Scrivener Chapter Headings