Sunday, December 7, 2014

This is going to be the cover to my next novel. What do you think. Please let me know your thoughts. Does it say sweet romance?

Friday, December 5, 2014

G.L.Snodgrass is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Metaphores and Similes

Here is an excellent article with some outstanding examples of Metaphors and Similes. This is why I like Noir so much.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

I put my short story  Best Friends on Amazon. A sweet romance about a girl and boy best friends in danger of loosing that friendship.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Only seven basic plots

From the Atlantic

 Author Christopher Booker claims there are only seven basic plots, which are repeated over and over in film, in television, and in novels with just slight tweaks. There is the “overcoming the monster” plot (Beowulf, War of the Worlds); “rags to riches” (Cinderella, Jane Eyre); “the quest” (Illiad, The Lord of the Rings); “voyage and return” (Odyssey, Alice in Wonderland); “rebirth” (Sleeping Beauty, A Christmas Carol); “comedy” (ends in marriage); and “tragedy” (ends in death).

Things that make you go "WOW"

A Los Angeles article surprised me That states that Raymond Chandler and Dashel Hammet's Characters Sam Spade and Philip Marlow are based on an African American Private Investigator Samuel Marlow. The article shows the letters between the writers and the PI.

I just love stories like this. Glimpses behind the writing process. I love both of these authors and have been influenced by them. So basically a black Jamaican born Private Detective from the 30's is influencing my writing today.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Lessons Learned

In the Coast Guard, every time we did anything, drill, operation, Search and Rescue case. We would usually do a lessons learned debrief afterword. We'd sit around afterwards and talked about what went right and what went wrong. What we could do better next time and what we learned that we could teach others that might find themselves in the same situation.

Three Months ago I started down the Self-Publishing path. I figure it is time to do a lessons learned debrief.

  1. Format the book in Smashwords. Follow their guide. This will fix all problems and make the file usable in other places. The first one took 4 hours. The second one 15 minutes.
  2. Use the Smashwords file to create the Amazon file. Remove the Smashwords edition information. Convert to fully justified margins. Publish.
  3. Use 6 points after paragraphs for create space. It looks better. Be careful of the gutter, mirror margins, etc.
  4. When creating your cover for Create Space. Make sure there is no text near the edge. It will bleed over and won't be allowed in the print version.
  5. Use free short stories to advertise your books. Put the first three chapters of your major work at the end of the short stories.
  6. I make more money with Kindle Select and Kindle Unlimited than I do with full distribution through all the other sites. This might change later but for now all of my books are going into KDP select.
  7. Follow Writer's Cafe on the Kindle Boards. You will learn a lot of inside knowledge that would take forever to learn on your own.
  8. Make sure your books are listed in Goodreads. This community can influence others.
  9. Have multiple books in the same genre available for readers. I have numerous reviews from the same reader.
  10. Make sure your book is proofread. The readers will let you know if it isn't and hold it against you
  11. Covers and blurbs are critical. A cover will get them to read the blurb. The blurb will get them to read the book.
  12. If you don't publish you can't sell. Get off your butt and get your work out there.
  13. It takes the royalties of six $.99 books to equal the royalties of one $2.99 book. Take that into consideration when pricing your book.
  14. Stop following your sales chart every hour. Turn the TV off, Turn the internet off. Write. When you are done, write some more.

That is all for now. I will try and do another update three months from now.

Friday, October 17, 2014

 I have posted my short story "First" up at Amazon. It is a Science Fiction story that explores Man's first trip to the stars. Let me know what you think.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Joe Konrath's post about publishing.

Joe Konrath has and excellent post about he Amazon and Hatchett battle. Konrath As always he gets to the heart of the matter. Mr. Konrath reminds me of a Terrier after a rat. You know it's not fair, but it is so interesting to watch.

I add the comment below to his post.

 G.L. Snodgrass said...
Question. How many Scriptoriums are left. That is what is going to happen to the publishers. Guttenberg's Press wasn't revolutionary because it created more readers. It was revolutionary because it created more authors. Authors that could bypass the powerful church and speak directly to the reader. The number of books increased and prices decreased. Amazon has changed the supply and demand curve. Whenever that happens, the old ways of doing business die.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Indies Unlimited

The web site Indies Unlimited is hosting a Print Book pampalmousse with a list of indie print books on sale. I have included my Certain Rules.

Here is the site

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I have moved some of my books over to Amazon KDP. This is an exclusive 90 day period where I can't list my books on other E distributers. I am starting with Worth Saving and Prom Date. Currently I'm selling them for $.99 but will lower them to free in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Free Coupon

Would you like a coupon to get one of my books free? If so, Email me and I'll send you a Smashwords coupon.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


One of my readers left a wonderful, beautiful, great review on Goodreads. Check it out at

My favorite part was

"If you want to read a story full of twists that can make you smile and cry and believe the story and root for the characters and their happiness, this is it."

Life is so great


Sunday, August 31, 2014

My Friend Kristi Rose has just posted a FREE short story on Smashwords called "Her Wounded Warrior". Check it out. I think it is an excellent short story.

Here's the link

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

For a free copy of my most recent book "A Demon's Nightmare" Go to Smashwords and use the Coupon RR42G. I would love to hear what you think. Please leave a review at your favorite Ebook retailer.

Thank you

Friday, August 15, 2014

Do you want a free Book?

Do you want as free copy of one of my books. Let me know in the comments or via email and I will send you a coupon to one of my books. Let me know which one you are interested in.



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Kristi Rose

My Friend Kristi Rose is getting ready to publish her first book. "The Girl He Knows" I've read it and this is a very good book. Well written. It follows Paisley and her relationship with her best friends older brother. She wanted just one night, he wants forever. They settle for friends with benefits. The only condition is that his family can't find out. Paisley couldn't handle the embarrassment. These two work through their issues and learn why it is so important to be more than friends. I strongly recommend it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Passive Guy Blog has an excellent post about the Amazon / Hatchett controversy. Amazon sounds so much more reasonable. The people who are complaining about their actions are upset about anything Amazon might do that changes the Publishing world. See the article. Amazon wipes the floor with Hatchett's lunch.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Interviewed by Kristi Rose

The Author Kristi Rose interviewed me for her blog. You can see it here -

Kristi's debut novel "The Girl He Knows" is coming at on August 18. It is a great story. A modern love story about a young woman who has to fight to learn what is important in life and fight to get it. I highly recommend it.

I know that it will do well. Kristi is the type of person who won't let it be otherwise.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Two Years Before the Mast

My Book Review for Two Years Before the Mast was just posted on Chicago Boyz. It is a History/Political blog.

This is way cool

Monday, July 21, 2014

Self Publishing

My first Self-Published work
I just submitted my short story "Prom Date" to smash words. It was an experiment to discover how hard it would be. It took me about 2 hours to create the cover and about 3 hours to format the book and 2 minutes to load everything. It got rejected the first time because I made a couple of mistakes. I fixed them and it sailed through the second time. It will be 3 to 5 days before it shows up in Nook, Kobe, Amazon, etc.

It should be a lot faster next time. It was sort of like doing your taxes, hard, but doable.

Lessons learned - Use the Smashwords guide.
- Nuke the book. Covert to Text then back to MS word. Eliminated all the extraneous code
- Create style sheets for each of the different part. Not MS Word Buttons.
- Cover size 1600 x 2400

 You can find it at

I wrote it for my daughters Caitlin and Andrea and dedicated it to Shelley

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Addiction

The signs that you are addicted to Books.

I realized the other day that I am addicted to books. It is a common vice, shared by many but not yet recognized by the American Medical Association. I feel that if they were to look at it they would agree with me. Book Addiction is a serious disease. Here are the common symptoms.

1.      You buy books that you never get around to reading.  You know when you buy it you probably won’t. But you can’t stop yourself.

2.      You are constantly on the lookout for that next great thing. That book that you can fall in love with and recommend to all your friends

3.      You always read the book before going to see the movie. You don’t want the movie to spoil the book.

4.      You have more than one E-Reader. (I have three, I had a Sony, went to Kindle because of the larger selection. Someone gave me an old nook that I can’t through away).

5.      You think bookshelves with paper type books are an important furniture feature in your home.

6.      You give books as gifts, especially to your children and grandchildren. Then are surprised when they don’t love them as much as you did.

7.      You have always thought you could write a novel, maybe even tried it a time or two.

8.      You have been known to read the back of Cereal boxes because you can’t sit still without reading something.  (You know you have it bad when you find yourself editing the back of cereal boxes. “I would have said it like this” or “That is grammatically incorrect.”)

9.      You can cite the difference between a Regency and Victorian Romance, or between a Space Opera and an Epic Fantasy

10.   You think the smell of an old book is better than the smell of a new car.

Monday, June 23, 2014

USCGC Ironwood, Late 80's North of Kodiak AK. I was standing on the bridge wing of the USCGC Sedge, her sister ship. I miss those days.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Reader from France

I was looking at my Statistics the other day and noticed once again that a reader from France visited. Only one, but it happens after almost every post. I would love to hear from this person. Why do they follow. How did they find me. It is a wonderful mystery. Please, if you live in France, leave a comment and tell me something about yourself.  Thanks

John C Write Captures the meaning of story telling

John C Write has a nice blog post about his fight with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association. I don't really have a comment about who to champion in this brawl. I just wanted to point out something he wrote in his blog. However, I do think that a man who can right like this probably deserves our support in a bar room brawl.

"When the first storyteller of prehistory standing outside the cave in the circle of light shed by that newly-invented dancing sky-flower called fire, and with wide gestures and daring words, while the shadows leaped,  astonished the youngsters of the clan with the deeds of the great hunt which happened that day, he used these tools of the trade.

He told of the comedy of a spear thrown butt-first, the tragedy of a man trampled, the drama of the band of hunters aiding each other that the tribe might feast, that the tribe might live! And the youngsters with their eyes wide and mouths hanging round open listened in wonder. They were enchanted.

And then, as twilight deepened into night and the stars looked on, the tale he told turned to the of the eldest grandfathers and great hunters long dead but living again in the constellations, chasing the raging boars and mighty mastodons and swift smilodons whose images were in the zodiac — that unknown and unnamed first storyteller told a tale of stars and eternal things.

He told of the creation of the world, the kindling of the sun and moon, and how the High Spirit placed green trees and blue rivers in the mighty lap of the Earth. And he sang the names of their fathers and forefathers, and how the tribe was blessed in times long gone by the gods, and how these names and great deeds must never be forgotten, but told in turn to their sons and daughters.

That first founder of my guild knew the three things any storyteller who is honest knows: A story is not a lecture nor a sermon; the storyteller puts the story first, not the storyteller; the storyteller serves rather than rules those who hear his tale."

Read the whole article

Thursday, May 29, 2014

As some of you may know my Father-in-law just passed away. We spent most of the last two weeks at the hospital with him. He was a good man and lived with us on and off for the last five years. I am going to miss him.

While at the hospital I noticed myself repeatedly slipping into my writer mode. Observing the world and its people. There are enough stories, conflict, and drama on a hospital ward to fill a dozen books. Stories about pain and loss, but also joy and redemption. Families coming together to remember the positive, fighting to overcome the negative.  For the most part people acting good, trying their best, and showing a level of compassion that is truly remarkable.

A few takeaways from my experience.

1.                Hospitals don’t smell like they used too. No longer are we greeted with the sharp tang of alcohol and/or formaldehyde.

2.                The nursing profession is still predominantly female. Most of the male nurses I saw were in the technical, adrenalin filled world of the ER. The upstairs, quiet, subdued hospital ward was filled with caring women.

3.                A long drawn out death can help the loved ones move on faster. It’s easier to rationalize that at last the suffering is over. At last he is at peace.

4.                Hospital chairs are uncomfortable as hell. The only thing worse is not having enough.

5.                Different cultures can easily come together in this strange world. A shared look in an elevator or a sour hopeless smile while passing in the hall. A realization that death has no prejudice.  No judgment, it is an equal opportunity bastard regardless of your race, creed, or religion.

6.                Cliché’s and pat sayings dribble from our mouths before we can catch them. That’s okay, they help get us through these tough times.

7.                Laughter truly is the best medicine. Poking fun at each other and chuckling in the face of doom can make things easier on everyone. It is the oil that makes the different parts of our world work together.

8.                The world moves on. No matter the size of your pain. No matter the severity of your loss. The world keeps turning. Those that remain continue to draw breaths, fight, laugh, and love. All we can do is try to make it a better world before we leave. Jim Dillard did that.
Jim, fair winds and following seas. The next round is on me.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Jim Dillard

James Cowan Dillard age 68 passed away after a long valiant fight. He is survived by his three daughters, Shelley Snodgrass, Sandra Klem, and Sally Saxon. 8 grandchildren and 4 Great grandchildren. He is also survived by three sisters. Linda Ellsworth of San Antonio TX, Betty Karr of Seymour TX, and Jodi Dillard of Seymour TX.

 A master salesman, amateur pilot and avid photographer he lived life to its fullest. Jim had a large impact on those around him and will be sorely missed.

 In lieu of a ceremony, a going away party will be organized at a later date where friends and family can say goodbye to a good man.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Friends Cover Reveal

A good friend and excellent Critique Partner has just revealed the cover of her new book. I think the publisher has done a good job capturing the main character - Paisley - Check it out.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Different Types of Members in a Critique Group

What do we want to achieve from our critique group. The goals are as various as the people involved.

-        BUTTERFLIES -They view their critique group as a social opportunity. A time to talk shop. In fact it might be their only time to talk to someone about the writing profession. Or maybe their only chance to talk to people at all.

-        SOAKERS- View the group as a mirror, soaking up their reflected greatness. These people attend the group hoping, in fact needing, to be told how good a job they are doing. How great a writer they are. They live for this affirmation like hot house orchids thriving in heavy humidity.

-        DESTROYERS - They attend these meetings for the opportunity to critique. They revel in the sickening desire to tear down and destroy other’s work.  Unable to create themselves. They must destroy all others that do. If they can’t succeed then, by god, no one will.

-        DABBLERS – These attend only occasionally and rarely contribute finished product. But they can impress their friends with stories about their writing group. Things like “I was at my writing group the other day and we were discussing the merits of Hemingway versus Faulkner.” Dabblers aren’t aware enough to realize their friends could care less.

-        WORKERS – These are the people that want to get better. They regularly submit, hoping to learn and improve. They worry about craft, plot, and grammar. Sweating over every aspect that might make the story better. These are the people that are going to help you. Seek them out.

Your objective with your critique group is to staff it with only workers. Eliminate all of the others. They are only slowing you down and getting in the way of you becoming a good writer.

My current critique group is made up only of workers. I was very lucky to get invited to join. Believe me, you will see the difference instantly.  The focus is on supporting each other in getting better. That should be your goal.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Nature, as powerful as a good book

I wanted to share a link to a good friend of mine, Kristi Rose. She has recently sold her first book to Lyrical publishing.We are all living vicariously through her experience. If you get a chance please check out her page and support the book when it comes out. It is an excellent read and she is an great person. Both deserve your attention.

Facebook = 

Blog =

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Books that changed my life

Now for something totally different

Instead of writing about writing, something most of you could care less about, I thought I’d write about something different – Reading – How certain books leave a lasting impression.

  I was about ten years old when I read “MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN” by Jean Craighead George. The first book to change my life, thankfully not the last. I identified with the main character because of our similar ages. It’s the story of a young boy who runs away from home to live in the woods. He tames a wild falcon and builds a home inside an old tree. The perfect adventure story.

 What the book did for me was open up the possibilities of self-reliance, of individuality, and the fact that there was a world outside that needed to be explored. It also taught me how to get lost in a story. To totally and completely fall into the story and hope I never clawed my way out. The book was like a lifeline. Every time things got hard in my life I knew that I could always run to the forest if I had too.

The next book was the western “THE SACKET BRAND” by Louis L ‘Amour. About a cowboy whose wife is killed and he spends the entire story getting revenge against the killers. Even though I was only eleven it taught me what it meant to be a hero.  What was expected of a man. It opened my eyes and made me fall in love with history, especially western history. It’s the only book I cannot read again. The impression it left is so strong I don’t want to do anything to change it. Instantly becoming a rabid Louis L ’Amour fan I read each of his over two hundred books, most of them more than once. My ex-Sister-In-Law once sneered and said that she thought those types of books were a men’s version of a Romance Novel. I smiled and agreed with her and said, “Yes, if you mean they bring enjoyment to millions of fans, I agree totally.”

At Thirteen I stole my mom’s copy of the “THE GODFATHER” by Mario Puzo. This was the first true adult book, with adult situations (meaning sex). I loved the story and the fact that the main character was both a bad guy and a good guy. I don’t think I ever read another “Kid’s” book after reading it.

In my late teens I read Stephen King’s “THE STAND.” A band of strangers come together to overcome evil in a post-apocalyptic world without rules. After reading it I devoured everything he had written then branched out to other authors in the same genre. It was then that I fell in love with the idea of storytelling and started creating stories in my own mind. I wrote some of them down but they were never good enough so I put them aside. But I never stopped creating them in my head.

While stationed aboard USCGC Storis in Kodiak Alaska I read “THE HIGHLINERS” by William McKluskey a novel about the Alaska fishing fleet in the 1970’s. I also read “GRAY SEAS UNDER” by Farley Mowatt about a Tug Boat conducting rescue missions off the Canadian Maritimes. Both of these books taught me the true romance of the sea and were a big reason I spent the next ten years of my life at sea. I loved the fact that I was living the life these books where talking about. My adventures were true.

I was stationed in Long Beach California on the USCG Venturous when I read “CANNERY ROW and SWEET THURSDAY” by John Steinbeck. These books brought to life those people living on the seedier side of town. The side I was now stationed in. It gave them depth and made me look at them differently. I began hanging out in their world and learned a great many lessons about life.

Finally, while in Antarctica aboard USCGC Polar Sea I read all four volumes of Churchill’s “HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH SPEAKING PEOPLE.” It covers the history of Great Britain from pre-historic times to World War One. It opened my eyes to the big picture and introduced me to Non-Fiction. I hadn’t known that I could get lost in a true story like that. I’d thought it could only be in fiction. I spent several years devouring History books, focusing on Military History. That voracious reading eventually led to me getting my BA in History a few years later and eventually a Master’s in Education with the goal of teaching History.

I would not be the person I am today without these books. I might be better, maybe worse, but most assuredly not the same.  My value system would be different. The way I view people, analyze problems and issues. All of it would be different.

There are many other authors that I have read and loved, Heinlein, Ludlum, Asimov, Austin, Orson Scott Card. Authors that reinforced what had come before or showed me alternative viewpoints. All of them were great but they didn’t have the impact on me like the books listed above.

What books changed your life and why?



Saturday, March 8, 2014

"Thanks Gary for the Tip

The other day I came across an article on how in the Music business, the top 1pt make 77 pct of the money. Seeing how this could soon apply to the writing world I sent the link to the Blog "The Passive Voice" A famous blog about the writing industry. He put it in his blog and said -"Thanks Gary for the Tip." Granted, it would have been nice to get a full name mention, but still. I know. Here's the link.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Possible openings for a story


When an alien lands in your back yard you pay attention. That’s an outer space alien, not a cross the border immigrant type alien.

When the girl next door becomes a cheerleader and spends her afternoons practicing in her back yard, you pay attention. When said alien abducts said cheerleader, you should maybe do something about it.

At least that was what I figured when it happened to me.  Well, technically it happened to Haley next door. She was the one being thrown over its shoulder and carried back to its ship.


The cell door clanged like an out of tune church bell. Waves of failure and shame washed through my body. Well that’s it, the bottom. A man couldn’t fail at life any more than I had.

Two days later I found out how wrong I had been. They put my son into the cell next to mine.


Dear Mr. Johnson.

Please don’t delete this email. It is not a joke. I can confirm that with the words “Red Elephants”. Yes, that is correct, your mother’s secret word to let you know it was she that had sent the person to pick you up from day care. Remember the day she gave it to you, it was raining, hard. She told you in the old station wagon, on the way to day care. You remember. I know you do because I remember.

Steve, this Email is from the future, your future. Six years in the future to be exact.


She walked into my life like an angel floating on a cloud of indifference. A goddess sent to earth to tempt man into being something better.

 My best friend had become the Angel she was always meant to be. The only question, did she know it. Would she ever figure it out.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

what happens next????

Here is some flash fiction. I wrote this in an hour just for practice, just to write. I started with an idea, (pulling up his collar) and wrote whatever bubbled out. No thinking, no planning, no outline. I just wanted to recapture the fun of writing.


Two months. Two friggin months on the beach because some piss-ant cook got drunk on vanilla extract and decided to get froggy.  Shaking his head Tom Miller pulled his collar up tight and stared out over the breakwater as the freighter cleared the sea buoy. What the hell was he going to do for two months? Especially in this god forsaken hell hole.

Spreading his feet and leaning into the stiff wind he shoved his hand into the pockets of his black pea coat and hunched his shoulders. A small orange boat pulled up next to the ship to take off the pilot. Bobbing and weaving as it tried to hold position. A short bald man gingerly made his way down, hesitated, then jumped to the smaller boat. The freighter’s crew pulled the Jacobs ladder back onboard then scurried inside. Slowly, the behemoth turned into the long Pacific rollers as white mist shot up from the bow. That was it then. The last contact. She now belonged to the big blue.

Sighing to himself he tried to suppress a deep shudder. Everyone and everything he knew was literally sailing out of his life. Leaving him here like a discarded piece of jetsam.

 So what now? Where was he supposed to go, what was he supposed to do. It wasn’t like he had a home to go to. He’d been on the move for too long to ever put down enough roots to call any place home. In the past, his down time had been planned. He’d hole up with some buddy and twiddle his thumbs until his next berth. This was different, Money was tight, money was always tight, but he could squeak by for a couple months if he was careful. But there was no telling how long it would take to get another ship after his suspension was over. All become some low life cook decided to come after him with a carving knife the size of Star Wars light saber.

Throwing his green sea bag over his shoulder he turned and began the long walk back down the pier. He ignored the cawing seagulls and distant whistle from the lumber mill. “Well Tommy my boy,” he muttered to himself “Another day, another adventure.”

He had to suppress a shiver as he nodded a greeting to the gray haired security guard at the front gate. God, there was a job for you. All day in a six by six cube, checking people and goods in and out of the loading yard. Stuck here while manufactured parts from Ohio got to travel the world.  It’d be enough to make a man slit his own throat with a dull knife.

Stepping out to the main road he turned his head to look both ways. Left or right? Port or starboard? Which way? Lives could turn on this simple decision. His life in particular. He was really torn. He had no idea which way would be best. The town looked pretty much the same both ways. Gray warehouses, lumber yards and abandoned lots. He’d never pulled liberty here so he didn’t know where anything was located. The only thing he knew for sure was that the Union hall was across town for unknown reason so that was out for today.

His legs refused to move, refused to commit. Surely people looking would have thought of him as a lost soul. Staring first one way then the other.

 “What is it you want Tom,” he asked himself. “Other than what every sailor wants, booze, broads, and a bed. Hopefully in that order.” He said as he tried to shake off that lonely feeling threatening to climb up his spine. He didn’t feel the loneliness when he was at sea. He could push it back. Bury it in work. But here, on shore, the bitch threatened to take over.

 As he pondered his future travels a sea gull landed to his right. There was nothing special about the bird. A normal, everyday, white sea gull. It wasn’t a messenger from the gods or anything special. Just a flying rat.

The bird tilted its head then pecked at a McDonald’s wrapper. Because Tom was generally pissed off to the ninth degree and finally here was something to attack he took a step towards the bird and brought his boot back for an epic kick. The kind that would have made an NFL kicker proud. But sea gulls are not dumb. They have been around enough pissed off sailors to know to keep their distance. And long before Tom could launch his epic kick, the bird jumped into the air and flew away.

Tom chuckled and sighed to himself, “Typical.”

Because he was already turned that way, because it was easier to continue than to make a decision, or just because. He kept on walking, down the road to the right. Not because some higher power drove him. Not because it was his destiny, but because a bird landed to his right vice his left. Such are the little things that screw with our lives.


Gracey Mars was slammed and it wasn’t even happy hour. Carla had called in sick again so she was both tending bar and waiting tables. Oh the glamor of a dock side bar. The Green Shamrock served a mixed clientele, both fishermen and dock workers, almost all men. Guys determined to forget about how much their lives sucked. Men trying to eke out a few more rounds until their next paycheck mixing with guys loaded to the gills with spending money after a profitable fishing trip. It created an interesting environment to say the least.  A woman with any sense wouldn’t be caught dead in a dive like this.

She wiped the bar down for the tenth time and cursed under her breath as Johnny Simpson made his way to the Juke Box. If he played that damn Pena Colada song one more time she was going to scream. Just think, if you had stuck with it you’d be graduating from college this summer. Of course you’d have been a hundred grand in debt, but you sure as shit wouldn’t be here. Twenty three years old and she had made it exactly five point six miles from her child hood home. She wondered for the thousandth time if she would ever get away. Ever see more of the world than this barnacle on gods butt.

“When you going to marry me, Gracey?” Mike Jensen slurred over the top of his drink. Gracey laughed. Mike was older than Noah, with straggly gray hair and missing front teeth. He had lost his dentures a couple of months ago but couldn’t afford new ones. He could afford to come in here every day though.

“Mike, I’ve told you a dozen times. I’ll marry you the day you get sober.” Gracey said with her patented female bartender smile.

“Ah hell Gracey, for you I just might do it.”

Everyone laughed and then returned to concentrating on their drinks. Such is the nature of a dockside bar in the early afternoon.




Sunday, February 16, 2014

One of those Epiphany Moments

I had one of those Epiphany moments yesterday morning. Something I knew but hadn't taken onboard. I needed to write more to create emotion and less to impart information. I needed to focus on using the words, rhythm and pacing to get the reader to feel something. So I spent the day writing 500 words, vice the normal 6000 I would normally achieve during that time. I wrote, and rewrote, constantly changing, removing detail. removing action. Shortening, replacing words. And when I was done, the damn thing read like a boring text book. So I started all over, then had the second epiphany of the day. I couldn't tell you the books major conflict, major problem. I couldn't describe it in one sentence because it didn't have one.

Needless to say I then spent hours changing the scene so I could set up the story problem. Using the writing to define and discover the story. And ended up putting in information and detail that ruined the emotion.  It was fun but useless. I have a great setting, great situation in my mind, (Dystopian Warrior School, Misfits who must pass tests to get the future they want) All of it locked up inside an Enclave located on a walled off Cape  Cod. Obviously, a great deal of detail but I don't have the major problem, not yet.

Is it a rebellion, coming of age, romance, quest, I don't know yet. Yet.

So, creating emotion is slow for me. No use starting a story unless you know what the major problem is.

Here is an example of what I wrote, I don't like it yet, but I am using it to get me into the story. it will change. I have highlighted the parts which are in their for information purposes. I think you will see that they get in the way of the emotion part.

                                                   Danny Erikson

I sat there and watched a man die. It wasn’t an easy death. But then my father had never taken the easy way. No, not him. Not when there were boundaries to be pushed, edges to be skimmed, questions to be asked.

For two days I watched the light slowly leak from his eyes. Two days of pain and anguish. Two days of regrets and anger. All of it totally and completely unnecessary. Or at least it would have been in the old days. The time before. Back in the golden age of miracle medicines, electricity on demand, and a society that cared enough to not kill itself.

My dad had been a field hand. Only a field hand as they say. Technically we were all the same, the same level of importance to the Enclaves survival, yeah, right? You learned early in a small village, where the pecking order stood. But even as a field hand, my dad stood out, I had seen the way people listened to him when he talked. I had seen the way my mom looked at him, as if he was special. People knew it wasn’t fair. But he never complained, never made people feel bad.

 Mom told me in my early years that he could have been more, so much more, maybe even senior staff. But an illness at the time of testing. That’s all it took to change a man’s life, away from the corridors to power and onto the enclaves fields, spending the day watching a horses ass as you plowed another field.

Now he was dead. No more. My world had shattered like a stone through the winter ice. How do people function with this blanket of loneness draped over their shoulder?

I pushed a tear off my cheek as a flash flew through my memory. The time I came home crying my eyes out after a painful fist fight at school. He didn’t get mad that his seven year old son had been fighting. He didn’t get mad that I lost, he didn’t even get mad that I was crying. Instead he put his arm around me and pulled me in for the tightest, warmest hug ever and told me he would help me, teach me, and always love me.

My father was so much more than just a field hand.

“I swear dad, I swear on momma’s grave. I will make you proud. I promise,” I muttered through clenched teeth as I folded the sheet around him and pinned it close. My fingers shook as I tried to close the safety pin. It was a waist to send the pin to the bottom of a grave, “I will do what they wouldn’t let you do. Your grandchildren will live in a warrior’s house, maybe even a staff house. No field shacks. I promise you with every part of my being.” Stepping back I looked at the body shrouded in white. This was no longer my father. My father lived in my memories, the quick smile, and the rough hands that could sooth a little boy’s worries. The eye twinkle that let you know all was well in the world.



Saturday, February 15, 2014


Every story can be placed in a genre. A category designation that helps the author and reader differentiate between books. Each genre can have a sub-genre. A further categorization that more narrowly defines a book.
Knowing which genre your story falls into will help you focus on the true problem. Each genre has unique rules and reader expectations. You can’t meet those expectations unless you know where your story belongs.

Romance - In which the main story problem, the main conflict, is whether two people will fall in love and live happily ever after. Main Rule = Must have a happy ending.

Science Fiction – The main story problem/main conflict is irrelevant, what is important is that it happens in a world different than our own. Main Rule, The physical laws of science apply. Sci Fi is usually IDEA based. It is the new way of looking at things.

Fantasy - The main story problem/main conflict is irrelevant, what is important is that it happen in a world different than our own. Main Rule, Physical laws do NOT apply (Magic.) Fantasy is usually Character based. It is what these people do in this new and weird situation.

Mystery – The main story problem/main conflict is to find the answer to a major problem, usually a crime. Main Rule, the clues must be included. No surprise endings.

Literary Fiction – The Main story problem/main conflict is not critical but usually revolves around common problems. The Prose, the words are as important if not more so than the plot. Main rule, the words evoke emotions, not just the plot.

Thriller – Main Story problem/main Conflict is to save something larger than themselves. The Hero’s journey. Main Rule, the problem must be external to the character.

Sub- Genre. Any of these can be used in any of the Main Genres

MG = Middle Grade – In which the main character starts to story innocent, grows but does not completely loose that innocent. At the end there is room for more growth.

YA = Young Adult – In which the main character loses their sense of innocence and becomes who they are going to become.

Historical – The setting is “Time” related and forms a major part of the story. The Times determine plot points.

Erotica – In which the sex scenes are made better by the story. Vice normal literature in which the story is made better by the romance.

Urban – A gritty, contemporary setting within a large population. Always deals with harsh personal situations.

Paranormal – In which everything is normal except when it isn’t. A unique power or situation in a normal world.

Dystopian – In which the social power structure has changed significantly. This new environment will affect the plot points. The main problem of the story is result of this new society.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My version of story beats

Story Beats. After a lot of research I have come up with my own Story Beats. I find that I learn best by manipulating ideas until they are my own.  This is by no means the only way of looking at it but it is my way.  These plot points need to show up in every story. They move the story along. Placed at the wrong spot in the story or worse, out of order and they can ruin it.

Imagine an Inciting Incident that happened on page 200. Or shudder thinking about a climax on page 20 followed by a 200 page denouement. Imagine a Dark Moment happening before the start of the journey. A story has to flow; we know it when we see it. Things have to happen in the right order at roughly the correct periodicity. Too much in between and a reader skips ahead to get to the next important plot point.

The Story
Act I
Boy Finds Girl
The Character, situation "Before"
"In a galaxy far far away. A long time ago"
Page 1-3
A young farm girl runs away from home
Page 1-3
Inciting Incident
Theme Stated
The event that changed the course of the Main Characters life
Good vs Evil, Coming of Age, Man against Nature
Page 1-20
House Falls on Evil Witch
Page 20-40
Start Journey
How do I get home
page 40-60
Act II
Boy loses Girl
New World
Change Playing Field
How are things different
Page 60-100
B Story
Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion
Page 60-100
Fail, Regroup, Fail
Fun & Games
The meat of the story. Attempt to solve the problem
Fight Empire
Page 80-160
Go after Voldermort or let others do it
Page 150
Bad guys regroup
Flying Monkeys
Page 140-180
Dark Moment
All is lost
Darkest before the dawn
Hans taken away
Page 160-200
Dark Moment
Luke, I am your Father
Page 180-220
Boy Gets Girl
Forces come together
A&B Combine
Bring subplots together
Ron wins at Wizard Chess
Page 200-240
Protagonist changes so that they can win
Kill Voldemort, Tap Ruby Slippers,
Page 240-280
Final Image
Restate theme. Impact of the change
19 years later, Harry says goodbye to children at train station
Page 280-300