March 2015 – Page 2 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: March 2015 (Page 2 of 2)

Why Procrastination is the Key to Your Writing Success

I was taught by my parents to do things NOW and avoid procrastination. But, for some reason, when I put things off until the last minute, it always seemed like the end result was much better than when I did it with plenty of time. I find that doing that in my writing helps me to achieve more, with less effort, in far less time, and with much better results.

For example, when I am in my day job, writing blog posts and news articles, I don’t do too much research the night before. I find the resources I will use to write the articles, and I only study them as I am going to write the article. Seeing as I am under a bit of a time crunch, I have to really study the material and boil it down to the key points–which I then use in my article or blog post. The result: content that is short, snappy, and easier to read, but which still has all the pith to make it valuable.

According to quite a few experts, procrastination (the right way) is the key to getting more done!

Putting off decisions until later can give you time to gather information, and making a last minute decision will help you know how you really feel. Your “snap judgment” is often the one that feels right, and if you have gathered all of the information, it usually will be.

When it comes to writing, procrastination can be the key to success.

I’m right now sitting down to start working on the third book in The Last Bucelarii series, and I don’t really know where the story is going. I have a rough outline of the plot for the book, and I’ll keep working on it and fine-tuning it, but I’m going to start writing without really knowing how it ends or where it goes.

Why am I doing that? Easy: by forcing myself to start without all the information, it gets my brain churning away. Over the next couple of months, my brain will puzzle over the story and give me information to keep it moving along. I have no doubt that by the time I reach the last few chapters, I will already have an idea of where Book 4 is going to go.

It’s that kind of procrastination that I find so helpful, and I think it’s what has helped me to be successful with my story-telling. A lot of work goes into making the stories great, but procrastination makes me more creative in the long run.

That doesn’t mean you should procrastinate when it comes to sitting down and actually doing the writing. The time to write is NOW! Putting off writing until “later” may mean that your writing time never comes. But you may just find that you come up with awesome ideas at the last minute, when you need them most.

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Book Review: In Shambles Anthology

It’s Book Review Wednesday, and today we’ve got a collection of short stories–including one by Kevin J. Anderson

In Shambles

In Shambles … that was my life. I sat in a cell all day wondering what could have been. Thinking about it only made me feel worse. I was lost until someone left me this book about people just like me. People that made mistakes … people that tried to redeem themselves … people that failed. It helped me cope with the things I’ve done. It helped me find peace. 

To those whose lives are In Shambles, crack open this book. See what it can do for you … 

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My Review: 5 Stars

Written/Reviewed by Samuel Denberg

Anthologies offer us readers a chance to discover new authors, and for authors to seek new audiences. This book is no different. It mixes new and established authors in a way that keeps the readers interested and gives them a chance to judge new writers for themselves, without having to buy and read a whole book.

As with all anthologies, some of the writers are better than others. Likewise, every story in this collection is unlikely to appeal to every reader. But, that’s why there are so many different styles included in this book. There’s something here to disturb the sleep of all lovers of the strange and the tragic.

From plotting werewolves to a zombie P.I., this anthology has it all. An evil school principal, a possessed sweater, metal-eating ghouls, a misunderstood drunk, and murderous nature spirits are only a few of the strange and unreal things you will find in this anthology. The arrangement of the stories was very well done. The book begins with the creepy, is lightly sprinkled with some dark or twisted humor, proceeds to the disturbing, and ends with the bizarre.  All in all, a well-arranged read that will provide hours of delightfully disturbing, reading.

 

Find the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Shambles-Scarlett-Nightmare-Book-ebook/dp/B00QNYL0H4/

Writing Has Taught Me to Accept Criticism

Criticism is one of the hardest things in the world to accept!

I know that I get pretty prickly when I hear my girlfriend tell me that my desk is messy or my work is sub-par, and that’s the stuff that I’m not very protective about. Now imagine how much harder it is to hear that the book or story you spent months working on doesn’t even rate a 3- or 4-star review by some random reader. Then they go on to point out all of the flaws and mistakes–each one like a dagger to your heart.

But over time, I’ve come to accept and even value criticism. And not just from experts (editors, highly valued colleagues, etc.), but even from people who have no idea what they are thinking or saying.

For example, as I started writing The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer, I was telling my girlfriend about how I was having difficulty adding emotional depth to my character. In the course of the conversation, she said this to me:

“If you want to add depth to the character, you have to have that depth first. You can’t develop depth from behind a desk.”

Bam! Took my legs right out from under me. It felt like a criticism, that I was so focused on my passion of writing that I wasn’t living.

But then I thought about it, and I found out how to use that. Instead of trying to generate some emotional depth for a character, I began to use the things in my own life that make me a deep person. All of a sudden, something that seemed like a criticism became the answer to my problems.

Another great example: one of the reviews for my first novel–In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continenttalked about how my characters lacked depth and showed very little emotional growth.  A hard thing to hear, but I have taken that to heart. Now, it is a huge part of the stories that I am writing, and I believe that they have gotten better as a result.

So, as hard as criticism is to hear, boy is it helpful! If we could all be just a little less prickly, we could become so much better in so many ways. The criticism given to us by others will help us to make improvements in areas we may not even realize are weaknesses, thereby making up better for it in the long run!

 

Dusk Cover

Book Review: Dusk by Heather Kirchoff

It’s Saturday, and you know what that means: Bonus Book Review day! Today, we’re looking at a YA novel that’s a lot like Twilight, just with witches instead of vampires…

 

Dusk

Seventeen-year-old Meagan Nevels is a powerful witch. After her village burnt down, taking Meagan’s mom with it, she had to flee with her aunt into an unknown world. Now they’re among unsuspecting humans, trying to fit in. When a prophecy strikes her, taking Meagan’s breath away as she’s told that she’ll fall in love with a human. Meagan knows that she can’t let that happen or else her secret might get out and take her and her aunt down, but she’s caught in a desire to be with him. Can Meagan break what she feels for him or will all hell break loose?

Dusk Cover

My Review: 3 Stars

I compare the book to Twilight, but that’s not a favorable comparison. It’s definitely written for the same audience and has the same weaknesses that made me not want to read Twilight in the first place.

The opening pages were excellent, but the minute the main characters were introduced, I was lost. Way too much focus is placed on inane activities and actions, but there’s no real story line. The blurb mentions a prophecy and some big revelation, but I never felt any buildup or tension.

There was no explanation of the magic. There is no reason given (that I could find) as to why people are trying to kill her. The name “Powerful One” is incredibly irksome in my opinion, and the way the MC refers to herself by that name is not good. There are quite a few tense and grammar mistakes, along with expressions I found iffy–all in all, the writing could use a bit more spit and polish.

There’s no real story line, or at least none that I could find. The character is just sort of existing, but there’s no emotional challenge, no character growth or change, nothing but her liking a guy and being told she can’t like him then liking him anyway. It’s just too much of a cliché for my tastes. The characters are fairly two-dimensional, without any real depth.

All in all, it was a weak story, and though it showed a LOT of promise on the author’s part, I can’t give it a high rating.

 

Here’s a Taste:

Fog blurred my vision as I followed an unknown path. I didn’t know how I got there or what was going on, but I knew I had to keep going forward. No matter what. I couldn’t stop in the middle of nowhere-I’d be completely lost. So I followed my heart and kept trudging forward, despite my mind screaming at me to stop and turn around. No way was that going to happen. Not when I was this far.
I heard a soft voice calling out to me, enchanting me with its whispers. I followed the melody, curiosity getting the best of me. I felt my way, tripping several times, but I never stopped. Soon the fog cleared and I was standing in a meadow filled with beautiful flowers, nice plush green grass, trees that stood tall with leaves shaping the branches, and a girl sitting on a tree stump, humming to herself.
“Hello?” I called out to her softly. “Who are you? What is this place?”
She turned to me, her eyes sparkling with white. The girl was wearing a shimmering white strapless dress; her hair was extremely pale with a hint of blond to it. I met her eyes as a small smile lifted her lips. “Ah, it’s you. We’ve been waiting for you, Meagan.”

About the Author:

Heather Kirchhoff lives in a small town in Missouri with her three parents, siblings, a dog, and three cats. She became a bookworm back in sixth grade when her teacher suggested the Phantom Stallion series by Terri Farley and instantly fell in love. She loves reading paranormal stories, plus some love ones here and there. Writing is her passion-it helps her escape the world for a while, as well as reading-she doesn’t know what she’d do without it. She just loves it. When she isn’t writing, Heather is doing odd jobs, reading, editing, promoting, taking walks, or spending time with her boyfriend and animals/family. Heather is currently a senior in high school.

Find the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dusk-Magic-Book-Heather-Kirchhoff-ebook/dp/B00J1UK2BW

Connect with Heather on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Heather-Kirchhoff/376618135776063

Or on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeatherKirc

 

 

What Really Makes a Good Book?

Dejan Stojanovic said in his book The Sun Watches the Sun “The deeper thought is, the taller it becomes.”

Stop and look at that for a moment. Basically, what it means is “the deeper the thought, the more visible it will be”.

I’ve been doing a lot of book reviews recently, and I’ve come to realize one simple truth: it’s not necessarily the quality of the writing that makes a book great, but it’s the depth of the story.

The books I’ve disliked the most are the ones that have no depth to them. They’re all story and very little character growth, challenge, or change. It’s all about telling a great story, but without actually getting you to relate to the character.

Then, there are the stories that are considered “classics”–The Grapes of Wrath, The Great Gatsby, 1984, Animal Farm, and so on. These stories have a lot more depth to them. They look at serious issues–with society, politics, religion, or humanity. They may not be “light” reading, but they are the books that “stand tall”.

Not every book can get into a discussion of socio-economics and its effects on the religiosity of blah, blah, blah, boring, dull humdrum. You’re writing fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, or thrillers, so do you really need to get into deeper issues?

I wouldn’t discount the idea! Your main character may not be a philosopher, but he/she can still ask some questions that force them (and your readers) to think about deeper issues. The best books, I have found, are the ones that get people thinking and talking.

Everyone loves to talk about how controversial Game of Thrones is, but that’s what has made it one of the most popular novel series/TV shows in recent years. People are talking and thinking, and it doesn’t matter how long and hard the books are to read. They’ve grabbed people’s attention by offering a simple premise: what are you willing to do to achieve your end goals?

Find that “something deeper” in your story. It doesn’t matter what genre you are writing–add depth to it! It is the deepest stories that will stand the tallest.

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Book Review: Another Sunset by Jason Zandri

It’s Book Review Wednesday again, and today I’m quite pleased to bring you a story that was surprisingly moving for me…

 

Another Sunset

David is a kind drifter who settles in the small Texas town of Westville. His sense, empathy, and awareness are well received by the residents as they welcome and befriend him. He helps a small local girl try to realize her dream and excites and energizes the whole town. The local reporter unravels the mystery of his travels and discovers why he is on his journey. Then, lives change as fate takes a critical turn…

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My Review: 4 Stars

I have to point out that there were a few flaws with this book. For example, a truck driver says he always drives hundreds of miles out of his way to visit the small city. Unless he is an owner-operator, he isn’t allowed by his company to deviate that much from his route.

There are a few problems with “head hopping”–the POV of the characters shift incorrectly. There were a few verb confusions and fundamental grammar mistakes that made it seem a bit amateurish at times.

The dialogue also didn’t have a natural feel. There were no Texas-isms, no accents, and no difference in the way they talked. Consider that this is the deep South (a few miles from the US/Mex border), there should have been MANY more Mexican/Latino characters than just the one.

The actions were often at odds with the words. For example, one of the characters says something nice to another, then smirks. Perhaps it’s just the verb confusion, but “smirk” is not usually associated with “nice”.

One thing that really irked me is how the writer copied the stories VERBATIM at the end. One of the characters interviews people, and they tell their stories three times–each time with EXACTLY the same words. The way a story is told to a friend is not the same as it’s told to a reporter or on live TV, so it felt like the author got lazy and just copy-pasted that bit.

And yet, despite all of these issues, I can’t help but give it a 4-star rating. I opened the book expecting it to be a lot like many of the other “helpful drifter” (such as the book Joshua by Joseph Girzone), and it definitely had a lot of that feel. Yet the main character, David, was down to earth, real, and a guy you can’t help but like. Despite the fact that the author alludes WAY too much to his “secret past”, it’s still easy to keep reading the story.

Then there was the ending. I expected to be disappointed by the ending, but I couldn’t help but get a lump in my throat as I read it–a reaction I did NOT expect. Definitely a touching, moving ending, and for that, I must give it a high rating.

 

Here’s a Taste:

David waved his hand over the grill as it heated up for the morning breakfast. As he moved things around he looked up Packer Road at the few remaining tents and tables that were still set up.

He stepped out from behind the grill, walked around the front counter toward the front door, and then stepped outside and watched a couple of the business owners start taking down the remaining setup from the bazaar.

The sound of an approaching car got David’s attention, and he turned around to see Rebecca getting out of her mother’s car, which was now pulled off to the side near Charlotte’s Place.

“Going in for some breakfast, Mrs. Wilson? Miss Charlotte is inside,” David said calling out to the two of them as he began to make his way over.

Mrs. Wilson waved and nodded. “I’ll see you inside,” she said to Rebecca as she went in.

Rebecca walked over to David and he turned slightly so that the morning sun was not directly in either of their eyes.

“I guess you’re leaving today,” David said as he noted that Rebecca’s suitcase was visible from the backseat of the car.

“Yes,” she replied excitedly. “I talked to my family and everyone seems to agree that beyond just the money, which in and of itself is worth it, it will also be a great learning experience.”

“It will be. It may offer you opportunities for the future you never even considered. Perhaps it will take you farther down the journalist path. Maybe Zachary has some work upcoming for a corporate communications person and he wants to see how you can adapt to that. Perhaps another company might need or want you for that. I don’t know what he has planned for you, and I did try to ask, but he wouldn’t tell me. I’m sure it will be exciting and rewarding.”

“I don’t know what to say to you. Your being here and stoking the fire, that’s what allowed all of this to happen. So many of us are looking at things differently already. A few, like myself, are finding ourselves with new opportunities we never thought possible before,” Rebecca said as she choked up a little on the words.

“Life happens while you’re busy making other plans. You have to grab onto it when you can and ride it for all it’s worth.”

“I’ve never been on a plane before and Mr. Taylor is flying me out of El Paso on his private jet,” she said as she turned west and looked down Route 385 toward El Paso. “I tried all night to come up with some way to thank you for all of this and I still can’t think of anything.”

David breathed in deeply looking for something meaningful and encouraging to say. “Some things are right place, right time. If you had gone away to college, you might have been elsewhere when all of this happened and you wouldn’t have been here for the opportunity when it came. Life is full of variables and many of them we have little control over. It’s really not necessary to thank me, but if you really feel the need to then take in what’s happened here and never forget it. Don’t let other people forget it. That’s what happens in the fullness of time. Memories fade and fires dwindle on their own. We have to work to prevent that from happening.”

Rebecca worked very hard to hold back the tears. “I’ll remember. I’ll never forget.”

David smiled at her. “Go have something to eat with your mother. You won’t be seeing her for a few weeks.”

Rebecca turned to walk away, then reached back and hugged him tightly. “I hope there are more people like you and that I find them, making the world a better place one person at a time.”

David had a response for that, but he didn’t like the sound of it, so he kept it to himself and simply smiled.

As Rebecca let go to go inside Caroline bounded off the stoop of the apartment and ran over to David. She was already for school and clutching her tablet. Maria came out and stopped and chatted with Rebecca before she went in. David noticed she was not dressed for work.

“Mr. David, everything was so wonderful. I can’t wait to tell the kids from the other towns that couldn’t come how great the bazaar was. I am so excited.”

David kneeled down so that he was basically looking up at Caroline. He looked at Maria, who was still talking with Rebecca. “Can you do something for me?”

“I can,” Caroline said proudly.

“I want you to be you. I don’t want you to ever worry about what others think or what their expectations are. You are the only one that you need to live up to. Your expectations, no one else’s. Can you remember that?”

“I think so,” Caroline said. “I’ll keep repeating it to myself like I do with what Hogarth says: ‘You are what you choose to be. You choose.’ ”

“That’s a good plan. The meaning will change for you as you get older. Always remember the message,” David said as he looked at Maria again who looked as if she was about to come over. “Always remember your mother, too. She has sacrificed so much to give you this life you have and it is invaluable.”

 

 

About the Author

Jason has been working in the information technology field in one form or the other since 1996. He is currently employed full time at Bloomberg LP as a Systems Engineer in the R&D group. Jason lives in Wallingford Connecticut, with his wife Renata. He is the father to four children, three boys and 1 girl – 10 years (Andrew), 8 years (Angela), 6 years (Adam) and 5 years old (Alex).

Find the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QD2FQU8

Or on Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/another-sunset-jason-zandri/1120699750

You can keep up with Jason on Facebook via his author page at https://www.facebook.com/jzandri

You can FOLLOW Jason on Twitter via https://twitter.com/gunderstone

You can ADD Jason to your circles on Google+ via https://plus.google.com/+JasonZandri/
You can also follow his writers blog: https://gunderstone.wordpress.com/

Writing Has Taught Me Acceptance

When I first started writing, I spent every spare moment trying to fit in a few thousand extra words per week. I wrote as much as I could, trying to blast through that “one last chapter” so I could finish as quickly as possible.

But over the last year or so of working on The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer, I’ve come to realize that I can only do so much in a day. With all of the other things I need to do–work, family, health, etc.–I have to accept the fact that I cannot spend hours every day writing for the rest of my life. I have to pace myself.

This has taught me acceptance, in so many ways.

There are so many things that are completely outside of my control when it comes to writing!

I can only do so much to market my book, given my current circumstances.

I can only spend so much time writing per day, but I have found that spending too much time writing can actually decrease its quality.

I can only do so much to ensure that my works are error-free, but the truth is that I will never catch all of my mistakes–hence the need for an editor.

I can only make sure to write the best story possible, but I will always need an outside perspective to tell me “Oh, this is crap” or “Change this” or “Expand on this” or “Eliminate this completely”.

I can only write to the best of my abilities. I may not be the best writer on the planet, but I will be the best writer I can be.

Acceptance does not mean mediocrity; quite the contrary, I think. I believe that acceptance helps us to stop driving ourselves beyond our capabilities, and it helps up pushing ourselves to our utmost limits without expecting the impossible.

Life isn’t perfect and it never will be. Those writers I look up to as “the best” probably face the same crap that I do, and they have come to accept it. The quality of their writing proves that they are as good as they can be, and that’s what they are content with.

I have learned acceptance a lot in my writing, and it has made me not just a better writer, but a better person overall!

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