A quick note to let you know the May promotion starts today!
Authors to Readers selected 20 authors in the Crime, Mystery, and Thriller genres. You know that’s a wide variety of books to read. Visit the promotion from today through May 12th for free novels and special promotions from each author.
Each author was personally invited and, then, vetted for quality.
Enjoy the reads. If you like the stories, show your appreciation and leave a review.
Forward this email on to your crime, mystery, and thriller loving friends. Share the joys of reading a favorite genre at a price you can’t beat–Free.
If you haven’t read The Used Virgin or The Peach Widow this is your opportunity to read another Argolicus Mystery. The free version of The Peach Widow disappears at midnight, May 12, along with all the other specials. Be sure to visit today!
Fellow writers provide a rich source of knowledge. You can use this knowledge to expand yours. From writing groups to indie author idea exchanges you can build your personal knowledge base on writing and publishing skills.
New writers, especially, can fall into the trap of spending hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars on writing and publishing courses. Before you do that seek out fellow writers for critiques of those courses before you buy in by midnight tonight.
I’m not saying don’t take courses. Education is beneficial. First get feedback on the cost reward of the program. Build a network of fellow writers to learn which courses and which paid blog or advertising spots will serve you well.
There are many ways to gather invaluable knowledge for other writers and authors.
- Join a critique group — before you self-edit, and then send your manuscript to an editor, your critique group will help you find your blind spots from punctuation, spelling, typos, and grammar to plot holes.
- Join a local writing group — this may cost you a few dollars a year, but you will meet a wider circle of writers and authors and have the opportunity to attend group events where you can expand your knowledge even more.
- Join an online group — expand your knowledge globally by exchanging ideas with fellow writers. Social media like Facebook and Google+ have groups and communities where you can exchange ideas, get reviews of courses and paid advertising opportunities, and even get feedback on book cover ideas. Keep in mind the writers are not graphic designers. Or get suggestions on cover designers familiar with your genre. Get tips on what works and doesn’t work with Facebook fan pages, Amazon marketing, Facebook marketing, genre specific book descriptions, or just dealing with Amazon and other book retailers.
- Join a professional writers organization — a good choice is one that is genre specific. Join forums to where authors discuss details of publishing and marketing.
- Attend conferences — meet writers, agents, publishers and learn from experienced authors. If you are working with a limited budget, find one that is close to reduce air travel, stay with a friend to reduce hotel costs. Remember that much of the great conversation and discussion happens outside of the formal presentations. Socialize.
By the time you have expanded your circle of writing and author friends you will know more about how to improve your own writing, where best to spend your writing budget, and you will discover tips and resources you would not have imagined if you had not connected with other writers.
These suggestions are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to learning from other writers. You’ll find offhand remarks that change your thinking and tips that refine your writing, your publishing skills, and your professionalism.
Zara Altair writes mysteries set in ancient Italy. Argolicus thinks he has retired, but he and his tutor, Nikolaos, are drawn into puzzles, politics, and murder.
She consults with a select group of writers as The Story Bodyguard.
Join the Argolicus Readers Group. Enter an ancient world.
Celebrate Electronic Reading
Mark Coker, Smashwords founder, interviews the Read an E-Book Week creator Rita Toews.
While taking a writing class at the University of Winnipeg, I was approached by the instructor with a request – would I assist an elderly gentleman with his memoirs. I jumped at the chance and thus began a wonderful relationship with my co-author, Mr. Alex Domokos. Mr. Domokos’ memoirs are fascinating. He served as a slave laborer in Russia for 6 years after WWII. When he was returned to Hungary the communist government deported his entire family because they were members of the upper class. He and his wife escaped Hungary in 1956 but were forced to leave their child behind. The novel is entitled The Price of Freedom.
We later wrote several novels together, including The Centurion, Prometheus and Ten Chocolates From the Box. As a sole author I also wrote several children’s stories – Kelly’s Baby Brother, Christmas Stars and The Bully. I realized the only way we would get any of our work published was if we did it electronically.
We were among the first authors to embrace e-books but the general public was very cautious of the new reading technology. It was hard to promote our books or to get anyone to listen when we requested publicity.
The first years [starting in 2004] were pretty quiet as I figured out what worked and what didn’t, but as e-books became more popular the event grew. I’m very happy with the results of 2009 and anticipate a good response in 2010.
[MC] – How do you measure the success of the event?
To learn more about Read an Ebook Week, visit the official web site at http://ebookweek.com.
Follow Mark Coker on Twitter: www.twitter.com/markcoker
Today on Meet the Author Monday we have Zara Altair here to tell us a little about herself and her books. As usual we will put my comments/questions in BLUE and our guest author will be GREEN.
I always like to start off with exploring out my guest authors entered the literary world. Is there a specific person or even that made you a reader?
Wow, Andrew, I’ve been reading since I could read at about the age of five. In our family, reading aloud was a daily tradition, so I could get more stories when I could read myself. Kipling was an early favorite. I loved the way he talked to you, O Best Beloved, as though he were telling the story just to you. Winnie the Pooh, Just So Stories, The Wind in the Willows, both Alice books, Albert Payson Terhune because I loved dogs. Those were…
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Today on Meet the Author Monday we have Zara Altair here to tell us a little about herself and her books. As usual we will put my comments/questions in BLUE and our guest author will be GREEN. I al…
Nikolaos and Argolicus
The tutor, Nikolaos, plays a main role in the Argolicus Mysteries. He sees the world from a different and more worldly perspective than Argolicus, often noticing things the cerebral Argolicus misses.
His role is traditional and at the same time unusual for the period. Argolicus is a high-standing Roman citizen but he is not part or elite Roman society. He grew up in the country of southern Italy and was rich with land. Although his family was well off, they were isolated from the elite far away in Rome. Children in this situation received their education from tutors who had a favored status within the household.
Tutors were usually slaves, often from Greece, who were able to instill a Classical education in Greek and Latin. Argolicus was fortunate because his teacher educated him in geography, philosophy, literature, mythology, and geometry as well. These subjects were considered at the time the basis, along with rhetoric, for training as an orator or Senator.
Nikolaos is unique in that he teaches classical Greek athletics as well. Roman culture looked down on athletics as something only soldiers learned. This training gets Argolicus out of some scrapes that other Romans might not know. On the other hand, Argolicus is not armed, because under the rule of the Ostrogoth king Theodoric, Romans (Italians) were forbidden by law to carry arms in public.
Tutor Role After Childhood
Tutors were treated almost family members, even as slaves, and often stayed with their protege long after he reached adulthood. Most, like Nikolaos, served as secretary, in the same way Cicero’s Tiro centuries before. Nikolaos takes copious notes at meetings and serves as a second pair of eyes observing what goes on while Argolicus is engaged in conversation.
History and Fiction
Although Argolicus was a real person mentioned several times in Cassiodorus’ Variae, the details of his personal life. are unknown. His tutor, Nikolaos, is a fictional character who has encouraged a love of literature and a rational mind in his pupil and lifelong friend.
Because, in the stories, Argolicus grew up with Cassiodorus I can easily imagine a scene like that in the illustration here of the two boys studying together with their tutors.
Read to Write
Reading is the inspiration for many writers to begin their own, writing career. For me it was reading and meeting an author when I was five. That’s what I want to do, was my childhood thought. Creating stories seemed like such a magical way to live a life.
As an adult, the hard truth hit that having a story idea and creating a story is a path fraught with pitfalls. When I read my first short stories now, I am embarrassed at how they lacked story. Yep, those old tropes like a beginning, middle, and end, not to mention character revelation, action, description, and a story line that engages the reader.
Yes, there were scenes that even today can bring me to tears, but the story just did not hang together.
What’s a writer to do? Learn story.
The best and most lasting way to learn story is to go into other stories. For fiction writers, there are three excellent ways to experience story.
- Read books
- Listen to books
- Watch films
However many posts (like this one, alas), software and online tools you gather they won’t help you as much as diving into other stories.
Focus On Good Writers In and Out of Your Genre
Reading books from the perspective of a writer is much different than as a reader. Once you begin the journey of writing you begin to notice things that an average reader does not.
- The beginning – the first sentence, the hook, and the setup
- Character arcs – not just the protagonist, but every character
- Description – all five senses and what you need to fill in as the reader
- The all-important Middle – how does the author keep your attention? What are the tension elements?
- The antagonist – how is the antagonist developed
- Point of view and why the author chose 1st person or 3rd
- Tone – is it even throughout? Does it match the genre?
- The ending
Yes, every element.
As you keep reading, you begin to start comparing your writing–in a good way. Would you use that plot device? Would your character have that flaw?
As you continue reading with a critical eye, you begin to see how writers, even major writers, have flaws. This is where it drags. I don’t believe that character would naturally perform that action or say those words.
The more you read, the better you understand story.
Audiobooks and the Moments in Time
I used to have a book in different rooms–the bedroom, the kitchen, the living room. Now that I listen to audiobooks, I usually have one reading book in the bedroom and listen to audio books on my mobile device.
Applications like audible allow you to listen to books with some very dynamic readers. As you listen to the story, you can bookmark a passage with annotations like fight scene, forest description, interior monolog, deep point of view, etc. These bookmarks help later when you are constructing a certain passage in your story.
Because audio books are on a mobile device you can listen while cooking, gardening, walking the dog, driving and many other activities of daily life that would keep you from sitting down with a book.
I’ve increased my fiction “reading” since I started using audio books several years ago.
The Basics of Story: Movies
Screenwriters struggle with story basics like how to keep the middle from sagging the same way novelists do. Because films are a collaborative project scripts are the skeleton for the story that allows for interpretation from directors, actors, set designers, lighting engineers, etc. But, story basics are key to a good film.
Unlike a novel which may take hours or days to read from beginning to end, a movie is two hours or less of time. And you can spend this time with friends and family as a diversion from your solitary writing time.
Those two hours are filled with sparks for ideas: plot twists, supporting character arcs, subplots, character reveals, and the crucial elements of story getting from the beginning to the end.
The same is true for film as well as books, watch in your genre and outside of your genre to see how story is constructed.
Books, Audio Books, Film
As writers, we can always improve our craft. Learning from other writers builds an accumulation of skill points that cannot be matched. Balance your writing time by learning from others.
If you are a first time writer, developmental editing can help you strengthen your story structure. Check out my content editing service on Reedsy.