Tag Archives: books

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksI always look forward to Mondays because it gives me a chance to share with the readers of No Wasted Ink the articles that have tickled my fancy the past week. The links this week include a wonderful tutorial on incorporating weather and a timeline in Scrivener to two articles on etiquette while using Goodreads. I hope you enjoy them!

YouTube Video: Editing Weather & Time Using Scrivener

Were you meant to be a writer?

The GoodReads Bullying Drama

Ten Tips For Good Goodreads Author Behaviour

Epics, part 2

Using Plot to Reveal Character Transformation

British and American English

The Internet, Respect and a Fair Go for All Writers.

Essential Contracts for The Modern Writer

Handling Cliffhanger Endings With Multiple POVs

Author Interview: Patrick Dearen

Patrick and I met via membership in several Edgar Rice Burroughs forums on facebook. He has a great writing style in the forums and his new book sounds like it is a real winner to those of us that enjoy classic science fiction. I am very pleased to introduce him to you all here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Patrick DearenI was born in 1951 in Sterling City, Texas. When I was 10, my mother presented me with Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes, a gift that helped shaped my life. I earned a bachelor of journalism in 1974 from The University of Texas at Austin and worked as a reporter for two daily newspapers in Texas. My wife Mary and I have a son, Wesley, a recent college graduate who serves as first reader for my novels. My favorite pastimes are backpacking and playing ragtime piano. We make our home in Midland, Texas, where my wife is managing editor of the daily newspaper.

When and why did you begin writing?

When I was 14, a teacher suggested I consider writing as a career. Thrilled over the prospect of emulating my hero – Burroughs – I went home that afternoon and began my first novel.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

From the moment I sat down and wrote that first line as a kid, I thought of myself as exactly that—a writer. But forty-seven years later, I’m still learning.

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

Although the first two of my 20 books were science fiction novels, Starflight to Destiny is my first sci-fi work since 1980. Here’s a teaser:

A deep-space archaeological dig shrouded in mystery…
Clues to the location of a legendary power in the reaches of the galaxy…
A man and a woman, each of them holding half the answers, both of them defying a totalitarian government.

Together, Blake Sharrel and Rhonda Gregory embark on a starship quest to find the Leijan, an enigma that holds the fate of the cosmos. It’s an epic journey filled with peril: a crew of pirates ready to slit their throats, a planet where intruders are crucified upside down, and a chase across countless light years of unexplored space.

From one planet’s Valley of the Skull to another planet’s City of the Skull, and on to a derelict spacecraft orbiting a black world, it will be a Starflight to Destiny.

What inspired you to write this book?

My science fiction roots run all the way back to Burroughs, but I’ve also found that my work in one genre fuels another genre. Since 1982, I’ve researched and written extensively about lost treasures of the Southwest. Starflight to Destiny is actually a lost treasure tale, although this treasure is a lost power and the setting is interstellar space rather than a Southwestern wilderness.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I learned early on never to emulate another author stylistically. Over the decades I’ve developed my own style, although I’ve always felt that a competent writer should adapt his style to the subject matter. My works range from documented history to folklore to journalism to westerns to sci-fi, and each genre demands its on style.

With that said, Starflight to Destiny most closely resembles the works of Leigh Brackett and the mature Edmond Hamilton, with a large dose of Burroughs.

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

A title should attract a potential buyer’s attention, but also be true to the subject matter. “Starflight” immediately indicates science fiction and an interstellar journey. And as readers will find out, “Destiny” could not be a more appropriate term for what my characters find at quest’s end.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

On one front, I want to stress the importance of perseverance, which I think is the key to success in almost anything, whether it be writing or interpersonal relationships. It’s always easy to throw your hands up and give up, but that frame of mind won’t gain a person success in writing, much less in a marriage or in the relationship with his children or friends.

When I completed the manuscript for my first nonfiction book back in the mid-‘80s, I suffered through 75 rejections. At that point, I faced a choice: I could either give up or I could persevere. I chose the latter. I changed the title – that’s all – and started through the same publishers a second time. After I had endured exactly 100 total rejections, an acquisitions editor snapped it up.

With another manuscript, a novel about hobo life in the Great Depression, I went through 17 drafts over a 32-year-span before it was good enough to find a home. It’s no accident that I titled it Perseverance.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Even in science fiction, I draw upon my own experiences, shaping them to fit my needs. First love, last love, forever love, never love . . . Who hasn’t gone through at least some aspect of the intricacies of interpersonal relationships?

There’s a lot of Humphrey Bogart’s Rick from “Casablanca” in my main character in Starflight to Destiny, but there’s also a lot of me.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I’ve already mentioned my admiration for Burroughs and Leigh Brackett. For my buck, Burroughs was the greatest storyteller ever, and Brackett was the master stylist. Every time I read one of her works, I’m so awed by her incomparable style that I think I might as well give up writing.

I also admire James Oliver Curwood, whose Kazan, the Wolf Dog is on a level with Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes and The War Chief as my all-time favorites. Jack London’s The Call of the Wild is high on my list too. Do you note a trend? High adventure is the common element in all of my favorite authors’ works, which is something I pursue every time I go backpacking.

If you had to choose, is there a writer you would consider a mentor? Why?

From the standpoint of authors as persons, rather than writers, I had the utmost respect for my dear friend Paul Patterson and his one-time student, the acclaimed western author Elmer Kelton. I dedicated books to each of these late, great men, most recently my novel To Hell or the Pecos, which is dedicated to Kelton.

Patterson, one of the last old-time Pecos River cowboys, guided me into folklore and Old West history in the early ’80s and was my chief consultant on all things western. Kelton went to bat on my behalf numerous times as I sought contracts with publishers for my documented histories about the Old West.

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

I chose a spectacular deep-space photo from the Hubble Telescope, and Lee Emory of Treble Heart Books used it in designing what I consider an eye-catching cover. I think it may be the most attractive cover of any of my 11 novels.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

In a question-and-answer session back in college, I asked Larry McMurtry what advice he would give an unpublished novelist. He replied, “Write regularly. You may have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t have the energy and dedication and perseverance to sit down and write, you’ll never get anywhere.”

Let me add this quote that I have framed over my work station: “The real trick is to keep on writing when no one cares whether you do or not, to keep on writing in the face of loneliness and fear.”

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Expect more than a simple space opera in Starflight to Destiny. Maybe reading it will help point you toward your own destiny.

Starflight to Destiny book coverPatrick Dearen
Midland, Texas

Starflight to Destiny
Treble Heart Books

Lee Emory, Cover Designer


Book Review: The Blue Sword

Book Name: The Blue Sword
Author: Robin McKinley
First Published: 1982
Winner: Newbery Honor Book(1983)

Robin McKinley was born in Warren, Ohio. Her father was an officer in the United States Navy and her mother was a school teacher. Like many military families, The McKinleys’ moved quite often as her father was reassigned to various posts. This gave their daughter exposure to many areas of the United States including California, New York, Maine and even a time living in Japan. McKinley went to Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and finished her education at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine where she graduated summa cum laude in 1975.

After college, she remained in Maine for many years working as a research assistant and later at a local bookstore. It was during this time that she completed her first novel, Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast. The work was named an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults.

The author currently lives in Hampshire, England with her husband, author Peter Dickinson. They have no children together, but their family includes two children from a previous relationship of her husband. McKinley is known for her “obsessions” which include learning to play the piano, horseback riding, gardening, cooking and, interestingly enough, bell ringing.

Robin McKinley describes herself as a “scribe” and “Damar’s Historian” because she feels that the stories are told her to by the characters and she is simply writing them down. The Damar stories, of which The Blue Sword is the first to be written, have been occurring to her since before she began her first novel. As an author, she is known to write stories with strong heroines that reflect qualities that she saw in herself as a youth; clumsiness, bookishness and a particular disinterest in the usual social flirting and dating that is commonly found in the typical female. She likes her women to be out doing things and having adventures, much as their male counterparts would be, a modern sensibility that is more common today than back in the 1980s when the Damar books were originally written. McKinley’s heroines do not simper, they display ideals of faithfulness, duty and honor.

The Blue Sword begins when Angharad Crewe, nicknamed Harry, becomes orphaned when her nobleman father passes away. She is a citizen of a proto-British kingdom known as “Homeland”. Being a young woman in need of a protector, Harry is sent across the ocean to join her elder brother Richard in the nation of Istan, a remote colonial town and military outpost in the Royal Province of Daria. Harry is a shy and awkward girl that is more interested in horses than in flirting with the young soldiers in the outpost. Soon after her arrival, the outpost receives a visit from Corlath, the king of the native hill-folk who still regard the province as their own. Corlath has come to warn the “outlanders” of an invasion from the demon people of the North, but his warnings fall on deaf ears.

Corlath has a magic of his own, called “kelar”, that only runs in the royal bloodline. It shows him a prophecy that the shy young outlander woman he has noticed has an importance to his people and that she must be taken to them. Corlath is embarrassed by the act, but he and his men kidnap Harry and take her away with them when they return to the hills.

Harry’s fear at being abducted gives way to wonder when she discovers that she also has strong kelar of her own. As she lives among Corlath’s people as an honored guest, she learns the language and customs of the Damarians from her mentor Mathin and from the king. Soon she adopts their dress and learns to ride their beautiful horses in Damarian style. She becomes known to the people as Harimad.

During an evening fire, the legendary heroine, Lady Aerin, visits the people as a spirit and favors Harry. Based on this vision, Corlath decides that Harry with enter the Laprun trials, an annual competition for the right to be a King’s Rider. Mathin teaches Harry to fight and ride like a Damarian warrior, preparing her for the trials. In the end, she wins first place, becoming the Laprun-minta. The hill people of Damar see this as a good omen because there have been few female riders since the age of Aerin. Harry becomes known as the Damalur-sol, or lady hero. In recognition of this, Corlath gives her a blue sword named Gonturan that had belonged to the ancient Lady Aerin, the dragonslayer.

At first, Harry is bemused by all the honors heaped on her, but gradually she realizes that the inpending danger from the demon people of the North is growing closer and that Corlath will do nothing to protect the Homeland people of the outpost. She becomes torn between her old loyalty to her former people and the new found love she has for Damar. She realizes that the Homelanders will have a better chance to defend the pass into their area if they are fore-warned. Despite Corlath’s orders, she races off to warn the Homelanders.

After meeting with the Homelanders, Harry gains a small army of her own composed of both Damarian and Homelanders. Together they make a stand at the pass, expecting only a small part of the Northern army to come through. Instead, they discover that a major part of the army is present and that this pass was determined to be a breach in Darmarian defenses. Harry calls on the power of kelar and falls into a trance. She climbs the mountain and calls for help. Lady Aerin answers her call and Gonturan responds by throwing off sparks of blue light that causes the mountainside to shear off and break away upon the invading army below.

Harry becomes the hero of the day, the savior of Damar. But what of her disobeying the King’s orders and of his disapproval of joining with the Homelanders in battle? Even a hero has to face the music in the end.

The Blue Sword Book CoverI discovered this book the year that it was first published in my local bookstore and purchased it new. The novel intrigued me because back in the early eighties, there were not many books that featured strong women who stood on their own and had adventures. I found young Harimad-sol to be identifiable and likable. It was a story that featured big cats, horses from the dreams of Alec Ramsey, enchanted swords and true love. What was there not to love? This novel has become a favorite of mine and I’ve read it many times down through the years. Do yourself a favor, read The Blue Sword and its prequel The Hero and the Crown. You will not be disappointed.

Use of Twitter #Hashtags for Authors

Twitter HashtagWhen I first began building my author platform, I knew that one of the major social networks that I would need to use is Twitter. At first, I found this social media giant to be bewildering. It is a complex network of tiny conversations, ideas, links and news about everything and anything on the planet. Words were shortened into acronyms to save space. Ideas needed to be conveyed in only 140 characters. It was not long before I realized that Twitter has a sort of code, a language all of its own, that I needed to learn in order to use it properly. This code is known as #hashtags.

A #hashtag is a word starting with the # symbol that Twitter will pick up as a subject in its search engine. It is a sort of code that helps to group tweets based on an agreed meaning by a group of people. It is more powerful than simply allowing Twitter to pick up a subject based on what words are in the tweet. There are thousands of #hashtags used on Twitter and they are constantly evolving. Try and limit your use of #hashtags to no more than two or three at the most per tweet. You will get better results that way. I want to focus on ones that are commonly used by writers to bring attention their tweets and more traffic to their websites.

The first group of #hashtags you need to know are related to books and reading. Use these to find new readers for your books and stories, not just fellow writers. My favorites of this list are #books, #bookreview and #novel. I use them frequently to highlight the authors that I interview and the book reviews that I write.


This next group of #hashtags are used to connect with other writers. I try and do two or three tweets a day about how and where I’m writing during the day. When I do, I include one of these favorite #hashtags at the end of the tweet: #amwriting, #amrevising, #Nanowrimo, and #writing. When I started to use these #hashtags, I noticed far more feedback from my tweets about writing than when I did not use any #hashtags at all. I use #Nanowrimo mainly in October and November only when I am participating in the program, the others are general use.

There are also two #hashtags that I want to highlight that are used when you do a post that lists people that are either new followers or followers that you want to promote in your Twitter feed who are also writers. These promotion posts for writers are typically done on Wednesday and the practice is known as “Writer Wednesday”. The #hashtag code is known as either #writerwednesday or #WW. If you want to add new authors and writers to your twitter feed, searching for either of these #hashtags on Wednesday is a great way to find them.


#NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month is held every November)

This next group of #hashtags are for highlighting your ebook announcements. If you are posting about a link to Amazon, your smashwords store, or promoting a KPD ebook giveaway, using these #hashtags will allow people outside of your followers to find you.

#KPD (Kindle Publishing Direct)

There are genre and specialty #hashtags that help readers and other writers who share your own literary interests find your tweets. They are rather self-explanatory. I like to use these with author interviews to let the reader know what genre the highlighted author writes in, but they are also good to use with book promotions.

#HistFic (Historical Fiction)
#MGLit (Middle Grades Literature)
#PoetryMonth (Each April in the USA)
#YA (Young Adult)
#YALit (Young Adult Literature)

This final group of #hashtags are for marketing and general promotions. Of these, I find the most useful one to be #novelines. Use this #hashtag when you are putting down a short quote of your own novel as a tweet.

#99c (to offer or pick up an eBook bargain)
#Novelines (to quote your own work)

#Hashtags are constantly evolving on Twitter. What is popular today could be gone tomorrow. As you chat with your fellow writers at forums or in writing’ groups, ask what #hashtags they are using. You’ll be sure to find new ones to add to your Twitter tool kit.

Author Interview: Glen Robinson

Being a writer of steampunk or alternate history novels myself, I was very delighted to discovered Glen Robinson with his interesting mix of fictional and historical characters. Glen writes his steampunk novels under the pen name of Jackson Paul. I hope you’ll join me in welcoming him here at No Wasted Ink.

Author Glen RobinsonMy name is Glen Robinson. I am a professor of Communication at a small university outside Fort Worth, Texas. I have been happily married for 37 years and have three grown kids and one grandson. I have been teaching for 14 years and before that I was a book and magazine editor.

When and why did you begin writing?

I have had a passion for writing ever since high school. Every job that I have taken since college has been one that either called for me to write or allowed me time to write on the side. I write because, as a Christian, I feel I have something to say. And I write because I enjoy it—some projects more than others.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I have wanted to be a writer since I was in high school in the 70s, but my first book was published in 1983, so I guess that’s when I first officially considered myself a writer. Although even today, during the writing process, there are times when I feel I haven’t learned enough to consider myself a writer. But everyone goes through that.

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

I am working on several projects at present, but the book we are talking about here is “Tom Horn vs. the Warlords of Krupp.” I probably had more fun writing this book than any of my other book projects. It’s a tongue-in-cheek look at a steampunk America and Europe, the last years of the Old West, and alternate history. The story is littered with real historical characters, who as far as I know never met each other, but could have. The premise is that Tom Horn, a western gunslinger, is recruited by old friend Teddy Roosevelt to escort his 16-year-old niece Eleanor Roosevelt to Vienna. The Krupp Weapons Corporation is intent on making World War I happen (early actually), and a summit peace meeting in Vienna is intended to stop the war. Eleanor has a special talent of persuasion, and Roosevelt thinks she can help prevent war. But the Krupp people send assassins and other bad guys to stop them on their trip.

What inspired you to write this book?

Since moving to Texas in 1998, I have been inspired by the heritage that is around me here. I am also a big fan of alternate history.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My background is news writing, so I tend not to be too flowery with my writing. I especially love to allow my main character to develop a distinctive voice, and follow that whenever it happens. That’s a lot of the fun of this genre and this particular story. Also the contrast between Eastern and European “sophistication,” versus Western directness and simpleness.

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

I look at it as along the lines of old serials of the 50s, so I tried to find something that would fit that mold.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

If there’s any message, it’s that simpleness is not always stupidness. Sophistication has its own issues.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

You mean like falling from a dirigible, being chased across snow by Germans in a steam-powered tank, or launching a glider from the top of the Eiffel Tower? No, most of the experiences are pretty well made up.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I like Orson Scott Card, Tom Clancy and Jerry Pournelle. I like how Card can weave spirituality into an otherwise straight science fiction story. I like Clancy because of his dedication to giving technical details that suggest credibility. And Pournelle was an early writer that got me inspired about the possibilities in my own writing.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Right out of college, my mentor was a fellow named Arthur Milward. He mostly wrote short stories for Reader’s Digest, Redbook and Saturday Evening Post. But he was very good, and had a lot of good advice for me. I miss him a lot.

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

I teach a class called Applied PR and Advertising, and one of my students suggested I look on deviantart.com for an illustrator. The cover art is by Mateusz Ozminski, also known on Deviant Art as artozi, who lives in Poland. He gave us a good price. The typography was done by my son, Matthew Robinson.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yeah lots. That’s why I teach writing classes. But in a nutshell, you have to keep trying, no matter what anyone else says. And keep your priorities straight.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I hope to do a sequel to Tom Horn one of these days. In the meantime, check out my many other books under my name or my pen name Jackson Paul on Amazon or on Smashwords.

Tom Horn Book CoverGlen Robinson
Cleburne, TX
Author of 11 published books in Christian suspense, steampunk/alternate history and science fiction.

Tom Horn vs. The Warlords of Krupp
Prevail Publications
Cover art by Mateusz Ozminski