Sunday, January 25, 2009

Conception is Murder

Award winner, Dr. Darden North has served up a medical murder novel that is difficult to stash as an ordinary thriller. It is written from the omniscient point of view, which for this mystery enthusiast did require a period of adjustment. This literary style of writing is not one you often see in a mystery/suspense novel. There is no murder until late in the story, instead it is a steady building of tension between the characters and the reader who is unsuspectingly drawn into the twisted plot.

To say a murder mystery is literary is trite, but I can think of no better description. The writing is so smooth and the threads of the story interlock in a fascinating fashion, but not before you are thoroughly puzzled and intrigued as to where the tale is leading.

The characters are exposed through their thoughts and actions with graphic insight into the human behavior of self-deception. The frightening and chilling aspect of reading about them is the realization: "I know people like that." People who always blame someone else for their own actions, yet never consider the consequences of their desires.

The medical and computer technological detail are explicit and written so a novice can understand them when conceptualizing the process of receiving an implant of an embryo for impregnation.

Is the physician performing a service or preying on human frailty? Fresh Frozen provides a new understanding of the dilemma. How far will someone go to have a child, how far to protect their privacy, their reputation, their obsessions, their crimes, and their humanness?

From the pen of Darden North no one escapes and the unexpected conclusion will leave you pondering long after you've finished Fresh Frozen.

Darden North's books are available from a book store near you or online from Amazon, B&N, and others.

Nash Black, author of Writing as a Small Business and Sins of the Fathers.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Creative Thinking

We had the privilege of sharing both a signing table and a dinner table with Robert Alan Black and discussing the cognitive thought process that guides an author's style.

Broken Crayons is a guide book designed to be used in group sessions for executives and employees to solve problems, but many of the concepts he details in a simple, easy to remember pattern apply to writers who work alone.
One of my favorites is a list of activities that can easily generate a new way of thinking. Alan's text is on p. 17-18, but I'm semi-quoting as I've changed items to suit my purpose.
Broaden Your Interests searching many areas for information.
Reverse Perspectives to see things a different way.
Open Yourself to an infinite number of ideas.
Kickback and let your imagination run around.
Eliminate Steps in Procedures to discover new ways to solve problems.
Never say Never. Keep yourself open to positives in all things.
Combine Ideas, new & old, tried & experimental, ones you agree with, ones you know will not work.
Rearrange steps, facts, data, ideas, characters to create unique approaches.
Adapt or alter existing ideas to produce new ones.
Orient differently, switch, change, alter combine past, present, and future, here, there, somewhere, nowhere.
Noodle around, play with ideas, look at it from the perspective of a child or an animal.
Sleep On It For a While, let your intuitive or subconscious mind work on the situation in your story.
Coloring inside the lines of our dime store book was a skill we learned as children. Now Alan gives us dozens of guidelines for breaking our crayons and working outside the lines.
His Cemetery of Creativity is one we've visited many times. Add your personal monuments to his forty-tombstones, and give them a proper burial.
Broken Crayons: Break Your Crayons and Draw Outside the Lines by Robert Alan Black is available from him with a unique signature at or from
Nash Black, reviewers and author

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Selling a Book

How do you tell the world about you and your book? The manuscript is looking for a home, is in the process of being published, or is on the market. If you don't "toot your own horn," no one else will do it for you.

The book marketplace is changing almost weekly and it is difficult to stay current with all the innovations, new techniques, and economic downfall. Marketing is like building a house, when actual construction begins you must establish a firm foundation. Building for yourself a rock solid base is the essence of market research.

Jeffrey Marks provides the basics with INTENT TO SELL: Marketing the Genre Novel. My copy is the 2nd edition, which was published in 2005. Since that time there have been rapid changes in the market place. 2008, alone, turned the publishing world upside down, but the basics of promotion have not changed. Several writers have covered the topics with much the same answers in various formats, but for me a book is still easier to pull off the shelf and browse.
Recently an established author was seeking advice on how to compose a query letter to accompany his press release to print media. How do you approach someone with whom you are not personally acquainted and illustrate to them your title is newswrothy? Jeff devotes a full chapter to "getting your name out there." Step-by-step he takes you through the elements of a press kit, its necessity, its components, and its uses.
One important item Jeff discusses, which I haven't seen any where else is on p. 114. "You should save at least one box of your title for special matters and for your own purposes. Don't sell these copies at your signings or give them away to readers." In today's market this is vital, as books go out of print, are picked up by a new publisher, publishers go out of business or are absorbed by another publisher, copyrights get hung-up in bankrutcy court, or your title may end up being published in another format without the permission of you or of your publisher. So keep a few copies in storage, you never known when they may be important in another scope.
Jeff keeps the mystery world current on marketing techniques from his website, which is easy to navigate and open to the public.