Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Eleven ways to make your novel better.

1.       Find and replace the word “even” with the word “odd.” If the sentence doesn’t work, delete it.
2.       Quit using adverbs. They are evil, lazy, and destructive. They will destroy your creative work and cause you to rely on lazy writing techniques such as passive voice. They are evil because they should be considered evil and destroyed like ISIS.
3.       Get rid of to-be verbs. Rewrite, restructure, and reinvent any sentence with the words: were, was, would, have, been, had, etc. If the sentence sounds lazy, rewrite it.
4.       Please stop using passive voice. Take this: “They had decided long ago, almost as soon as we had left the cars and began this trudge up the mountain, that I was just slowing them down. They were right. If we did this hike at my preferred pace, the speed would be much slower than this kamakazi attack on the welch landscape.” Fifty-four words. I count five to-be verbs, incorrect punctuation that MS Word catches as an error, the word “right” being used instead of “correct,” extraneous verbosity… And do I see mixed present-past tense? Plus, you can tell the writer sees this sentence as a darling, and all darlings must be killed.
I’d rewrite this section as follows: “We left the cars and started up the mountain. If they let me set the pace, we’d proceed much slower than their attack on the steep welch landscape.” This is Twenty eight words that relay action and reads fast with the same point made. There is no prose, but the reader doesn’t expect to be reading a candidate for the Nobel Prize for literature. Give the reader a good read and he or she will buy your next book and recommend you to others.  
5.       Get rid of the word, “that.” Most of “that” can be deleted and not change the meaning of the sentence.
6.       Kill your darlings. I know. I know. I’ve been there. We all have written beautiful prose. We’ve put them in places where they don’t fit, or yank the reader out of the story. Those are verboten. Kill your darlings!
7.       Never use clichés. Those cute mousey phrases creep into any writers work as they pound the keys to get their story down. As you edit your own work recognize these rodents for what they are: vermin. Then exterminate them. Your readers will not know why your book is better than the average slush on the self-publishing book shelves, but you will.
8.       Hire a competent editor. There’s millions of writers who need to make a living. Editing your self-published book is a good way for them to make five hundred bucks. Hire an editor who has proven credentials and pay them several times more than that. You get what you pay for. Or learn the hard way, write four or five novels, then hire and editor, and wish you had hired a good editor first.
9.       Pick a theme for your story and stick to it.
10.   Each chapter is a scene. Each scene must have a point. It must tell the reader something that drives the story forward.
11.   Memorize the preceeding ten.

That's 11. Now edit, edit, and edit your novel. (That's 12.) And quit spending so much time promoting them on facebook. All you are doing in selling to other writers. (That one is 13.) 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Sully - a Las Vegas short story.

The intentions of the man on the corner became obvious upon a second glance. At first look, he's warm jacket and blue jeans announced he was a local because winter-time visitors to Las Vegas wore shorts and Hawaiian shirts. The fifty degree days felt balmy compared to the near zero temperatures of the northern climes. Not-so to thin blooded Vegas residents grown accustomed to 108 degree summers.
My second glance revealed the muzzle of a handgun under the jacket, breaking smooth lines. The calm, almost sanguine early morning, with the rising sun back lighting the aptly named Sunrise Mountain promised excitement. Nothing ever happened at 5am, no hookers, no deliveries, nothing, except for...
I leaned against the neo-roman concrete fence of Caesars Palace and watched the man standing at the head of the alley between the Flamingo Casino and O'Sheas, my early morning job for a client temporarily postponed. No one posted an armed guard on Las Vegas Boulevard without cause. After a moment, I walked up to the man. He looked away, pretending we didn't know each other.
"Get lost, Sully."
A radio-mike protruded from his collar. A clear coiled tube ran from under his jacket to his ear.
"Need any help?"
"Not your kind."
"Oh. One of those jobs?"
"Bounce." Beads of sweat formed on his brow.
"Just checking out the competition."
"You looking a little sick. Are you okay?"
Stephens put his hand under his jacket and stared into my eyes.
"Extraviarse. I get it. One last question: When the shit goes down, which side am I on?"
Stephens's muscles tightened.
I departed, returning to the Caesars Palace side of the street to watch and wait. Stephens glanced at me. I imagined his thoughts: I've been made. Do we call this off? Is it too late? How do I handle him after this goes down? Should I kill Sully now? Is he packing? Probably. How messy is that going to get? He's got friends on the force.
I enjoyed fun on the Strip at any hour.
Ten minutes later the Oshea's side-door opened. Two guards and three drop-crew personnel manhandled a cash-cart over the threshold and down the concrete ramp. Stephens moved, talking into his coat collar.
I looked at the second hand on my watch.
A rented box truck, it's rear loading gate out and lowered, sped up the street, turned into the alley, and missed hitting the casino crew and cart by inches. The truck's brakes screeched as the vehicle stopped. The rear door opened and three men with sub machine guns jumped out. The loading gate straightened and lowered to the ground. The unarmed casino guards raised their hands and the drop-crew froze, bewildered. Gun barrels swung and pointed. Commands rose. Within half a minute the guards pushed the cash-cart onto the loading deck and the money disappeared into the truck. Five seconds later the truck went mobile again, and ten seconds later, police sirens echoed through the streets.
Those dumb bastards, I thought. I later learned that for ten years, since Flamingo purchased O'Shea's, they'd been taking the cash up an elevator and across the alley through the overhead walkway, then down five stories in another elevator to the count room in the basement. Concealed and secure, but inconvenient and a pain to manage, the bosses did something dumb-deciding to take the money outside, in public, rather than tolerating drop-crew complaints. They finally gave in. I wondered for how long. A day, maybe two, until they got robbed. The eyes on the city, eyes like mine, watching, learning, waiting to see how obtuse the managers were. Street people watched everything. Seeing this one time might be weird. Twice: an anomaly. Three times: opportunity not missed.
An hour afterwards, Detective Esposito, my current nemesis, and certainly not one of my friends, crossed the street. "Sullivan."
"Casino Surveillance says you were talking to one of the gunmen and you've been standing here since before it happened. Are you stupid or do you wish to go down as an accomplice?"
"Nice to see you too."
"What happened?"
"I should arrest you for being an asshole." Esposito's eyes narrowed and he turned away.
"Well... I might have seen something." I walked after him, crossing the street.
"I'm not hiring you."
"Let's call it a finder's fee."
I expected the knock on my office door when it arrived that afternoon. I discussed with a visitor if his side would pay and which small-time, virtually unknown drug-dealer he would frame, deflect suspicion, and allow Esposito the glory of solving the case, recovering half of the million dollars stolen from the casino. The casino certainly reported twice that amount stolen to the insurance company. This profited the bad guys and the casino. I'd deposit two nice paychecks into my vacuous bank account. Everyone wins.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


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....What do you do when you are drugged, tied, hanging from the ceiling, and your feet are planted in a bucket of concrete? P.I. Sully digs deep in Sullyland - A Las Vegas Mystery
....What do you when you're 17, trapped with elite soldiers, surrounded by zombies, ammo and supplies run low, and your boyfriend is outside and M.I.A.? Julie Rayzor locks and loads for the final battle.
Starting Thursday May 21st until the 25th for Memorial Day weekend only!!!  (And always free on Kindle Unlimited.)
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Sullyland - A Sully Las Vegas Mystery: http://www.amazon.com/Sullyland-Sully-Mystery-Mysteries-Volume/dp/1492829579

Julie Rayzor - Zombie War Series Book One: www.tinyurl.com/JRZWS1
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“Crisp, fast-paced action novel... Writing style is very impressive... realistic energy and highly effective tough combat... Great dialogue in this entertaining novel... Elmore Leonard type: short, character-revealing, and advancing the story conflict. And conflict is everywhere... I will not give away any secrets in the plot... I won’t tell you about the train scenes, wow, you’ll have to discover those yourself...” says John Hill, Author and Screenwriter of "Quigley Down Under", and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (uncredited), "LA Law" and "Quantum Leap".
Sullyland Excerpt:
Roused into a hazy darkness, dust with a hint of lime-the odor of fresh concrete, a stretching of my arms and a slap across my face made the world clearer. John Medici rubbed his hands, injuring himself on my jaw-line. I smiled.
“Wake up, dead man,” Anthony ‘Tall-Tony’ Constantino said. A half-dozen men stood around me.
My head swelled, aching, thudding, as the drug wore off, my crossed eyes focused in the dim room. I hung from my arms, propped upright.
“I want you awake for this,” Medici said. “You don’t get to die easy. I want you to suffer every agonizing gulp of water as it floods your lungs and try to grow gills and breathe like a fish.” He laughed.
With wrists tied above my head, my body hanging down, ropes secured me to a gaffing hook bolted to the ceiling. I sighed and dropped my eyes, gazing at the floor.
Legs weighted down, frozen, paralyzed, my feet held inside a bucket of masonry cement. No one wore concrete galoshes since Whitey Bulger won the Massachusetts state lottery and went on the lam… no one until me. My murder would be stereotypical... a cliché from old movies about Al Capone. I’d be embarrassed for them if the victim was anyone else. Blood drained from my head, I grew weak, panic rising.
Calm, I told myself. What can I do? Analyze the situation… How did I get myself into this mess? Anthony promised not to kill me… Fat joke. What did I do? I insulted John. A minor jab to anyone else except a man who possessed no humor. Killing Butterfield didn’t scare me off… probably upsetting Veronika more than worry of her own death… She wanted her children to be safe. This doesn’t help.
Eyes opening wider and my face flushing renewed bouts of laughter from the audience. They pulled at beer bottles until John gestured–retiring to the upper decks and saying, “Let’s wait while the concrete dries.”