Ode to the Editor!

Editors are important. They are frustrating, sometimes grating, and annoying (did I mention frustrating) but absolutely essential.

I once worked with a guy who hated the idea of deleting any of his words at all. The mere suggestion that you delete even one word of this his prose would send him into a fit of despair. He no longer works around me, but he did teach me the importance of having a thick skin. Watching him devolve into fits of grandeur as he explained that what he wrote was absolutely gold was very unnerving. His final argument was always, “You just don’t understand.”

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Recently I got back my current work in progress with a lot of editing marks on it. It’s true that there was a time in my life where I would have run away screaming. You probably would have found me under my bed drinking out of a sippy cup filled with chardonnay Chardonnay.

But, I’m a big kid now. I’ve learned a couple of very important points that every professional writer needs to know and accept. The first, and maybe most important, is that you’re your editor doesn’t hate you. As a matter of fact, they have a vested interest in seeing you succeed and know that sometimes tough love is necessary.

He or she can be abrasive and sometimes irritating, but they want to see your book be the best it can be. However, it’s not a one-way street. You can’t just take what they give you and walk away sulking. You have to know when to push back a little.

For example, my present current editor is from a different region of the U.S. than I am. This should not make a huge difference, but it does. His word choices are not always what I would use. He is from the Western part of the US and I am from the Midwest. So, sometimes I don’t take his suggestions because it’s just not the word choices I would make. Not to say that he’s wrong, it is just that sometimes his word choices would never be my own.

You might ask yourself why I use someone who is from a completely different part of the country than I am? Well, that’s simple. He does a really good job and since he’s from a different part of the U.S., his inputs into my writing style help broaden the acupuncture aperture of my writing.

The editor/writer relationship is critical. It is somewhat like a marriage in some respects. You have to trust that they have your best interests at heart. You have to be willing to honest with them. Sometimes they are going to tell your things that you don’t want to hear. However, you have to shear here hear it either way. And it sucks, and it’ll be momentarily painful, but you have to hear it if you ever hope to be a better writer.

So, I’d like to take a moment out of my hectic vacation to raise a wine glase glass to the humble editor. The unsung hero of the writing world.

But …

The role of the editor does not absolve you from forcing yourself to do a little soul searching. Recently I found I had to dive farther into the writing craft to try and up my game. It’s not always easy to grow as a writer. I think the hardest part about it is to really learn to accept your own faults and try to address them. You do this knowing that anything you wrote in the past will carry those faults in perpetuity no matter what you do. The mistakes you make as an author in 2016 will be there for the world to see long after you have left this earthly form. Somewhere, out there, lurks a poorly structured sentence that I gave birth to.

So, once again I dive into the realm of self-reflection. I look at myself in the mirror and after marveling at how handsome I really am. After I am done indulging in my own delusions, I take a closer look at the blemishes and faults. They are there, that is for sure. Standing out for all the world to see. Addressing what is wrong with yourself can be hard, but it can be very therapeutic as well.

*Note: Errors are international intentional!

-Your humble servant,

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Gillian’s Island is A Must Read!

Gillian's IslandGillian’s Island by Val Tobin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I recently had the great pleasure to read Val Tobin’s, “Gillian’s Island”. If I were an award’s show and there were a category for Best Overall Fiction Novel, Val would definitely be getting that award. I was delighted from the very first page, to the very last.

The story centers on Gillian who is forced to sell the island resort she bought with her now ex-husband. As hard as it is for her to sell the resort, it is made complicated by her sudden love interest in the new owner. This situation is further complicated by the locals not appreciating the fact that the whole shebang was sold to an American.

Although there are bunches of reasons to go out and read this book, I have three great reasons which I’ll bring to the forefront of this review.

1) Val is a brilliant writer in her composition of the story line. The sub-plots of the story are handled amazingly well and seemingly with ease. At the point that the main character, Daylin, is being targeted by someone who wants to do him harm, you realize that you have this wonderful suspect list which is so well balanced that you have to keep reading to figure out who actually is the killer.

2) Val does a great job of character development. The acid test for me, on any book, is if I really feel the pain when the main character gets hurt. I connected with both Gillian and Daylin and that is the mark of a true artist when I can feel that level of emotion towards fictional characters.

3) I am not sure I would put this into a romance, thriller, mystery, or another category. It is just a well-constructed great read. The story keeps you moving along. Sometimes I just want a good story to sink my teeth into and Val has hit the ball out of the park with this one. You just have to read it!

Again, this goes on Bryan’s list of must reads. I am thrilled to recommend “Gillian’s Island”!

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But, I don’t Wanna Blog!

I don’t feel like blogging these days. Seriously I don’t. With the move and the upcoming Scares That Care Weekend, I really feel overwhelmed. I really just want to curl up the corner of the room and work on my next story. No collection of random thoughts, no attempts to be witty for the general public. I just want to sit back and let my imagination reek havoc on other parts of my imagination.

The reality is that most writers would love nothing more than to have someone to take care of all of the little things they would much rather not do. I would be content to sit in my house and plug away at my keyboard. Maybe take an occasional break to eat, read, and play the occasional video game.

Alas, that isn’t to be. See, I have news I need to share with you all! Next weekend is

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Come See Me!

the big event of the year and I am so excited about it I would shout out for joy if you could hear me. On Friday, we begin the Scares That Care Weekend in Williamsburg. I can’t wait. To be surrounded by those that love horror as much as I do is almost unimaginable. There are going to be signings, guest celebrities, and most importantly there will be me! In addition to a huge fundraiser for the philanthropic arm of the Horror Writer’s Association, it is also the chance to meet others in the horror community. I’m so stoked, I can hardly believe it’s finally here. I can’t really believe I am going to be part of this event. I worry that someone is going to pinch me and say, “Wake up Bryan, you’re dreaming.”

I really wasn’t very excited about it until today. I had to go to a craft store because I was looking for a piece of plastic for a project I’m working on. I didn’t find plastic, but what I did find was a couple of really cool book stands (for display), and a very cool jar to put my mints in. Yes, I offer mints to people who stop by my table or booth at events. I mean, who doesn’t like a mint? Anyway, the jar is awesome! It is labeled “Skeleton Medicine.” Yes, I know, it is a bit geeky. But I fell in love with the jar. And, it’s perfect for a horror writer!

If that weren’t enough, I’m edging ever closer to my next book. I expect Crimson Tassels to be out next month sometime. The book takes place in the corn country of Illinois. I really do hope you take a look. I’m really happy with the way it is coming along. I’ve also started exploring the possibility of turning The Dramatic Dead into an audio book. It won’t happen overnight, but I am excited about the possibility.

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There is a part of me that feels like I am about to turn the corner and enter a whole new world as an author. However, there is still a huge part of me that want’s nothing more than to just curl up in the corner and write my stories.

-Your Humble Servant,

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What Excites a Writer

What Excites a Writer? Honestly, have you ever given much thought to that question? Well, you may be shocked to realize that it really isn’t necessarily the money we get you when you buy the book. Let’s face it, our take on one book sale is actually pretty small when you think of the personal outlay we have to make as an indie author. But if not for the money, what is it?

For me, personally, I love seeing the project come together. An author is looking at 9-12 months worth of work to get a book to you, the reading audience. We are just as excited to see the final product as you are! For me, the cover art is a critical turning point. When I see the cover art, I swoon like a schoolgirl with her first crush.

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In the very near future, I’m going to start talking about my latest offering. The book is called Crimson Tassels. It takes place on a farm in Illinois and centers around a farmhouse possessed by the imprisoned spirit of a woman who died there. The spirit, after watching her family massacred day after day for thirty years, goes a little crazy. She needs another victim to take her place.

Look for Crimson Tassels to be available on or around August 15th!  I sure enjoyed writing it, I hope you enjoy reading it. After all, that is what we write the books for in the first place.

 

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A Review of Salby Damned

Salby DamnedSalby Damned by Ian D. Moore

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am a sucker for a good disaster story. I really am. It is sort of like the human predilection to watch a train wreck. You know what’s going to happen, but tearing your eyes away is almost impossible. From the very book title, Salby Damned, you know it is going to be one of those kinds of books. This is offering by Indie Author, Ian D. Moore is simply too good to pass up. Go ahead, watch the carnage … you just have to!

The story chronicles the actions of the protagonists Nathan and Evelyn as they end up fighting their way through a bio-weapons disaster of biblical proportions. Along the way, they find themselves in the company of Holly and Tom, who are two children who were separated from their mother. Along with a cast of characters, we see Nathan (who happens to be a former British Military Sargent) and Evelyn (who happens to be a Bio Scientist working for the military) work their way through a difficult situation.

During their work, Nathan becomes victim to the bio-weapons that it turns out Evelyn had a hand in creating.

Writing a book like this can be difficult. There are minor plot lines you have to entertain as a writer and ensure none of them are left unresolved. Ian does a masterful job at this as he ensures the reader is always wondering, but just long enough that when that plot points advance, you are rewarded for your short wait.

Character development can be difficult for a new author and even here Ian dealt with it like a true pro. I always tell people the mark of good writing is when you care about the characters. I truly cared about what happened to them. They seemed real to me and that is when you know the writing is good.

I will say that all-in-all, Ian did an excellent job on Salby Damned and I think it is highly likely I will be reading his second book in the series in the very near future.

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Transcript from the latest political scandle

Scandals abound in U.S. politics. There are places where people go to have supposedly private conversations. However, there is nowhere in the world you are safe from the prying eyes of the world. Recently a former U.S. official and a seated government official met at an airport, on a plane, to have a talk about something. Although both sides admit to not having any specific political discussions, Bryan the Writer has obtained a copy of the transcript.

After a lengthy discussion, both engaged in a drawn out conversation. Here are the relevant excerpts.

Male: I’m serious, this is really important. We need you on board.

Female: I just don’t know, I really am not supposed to do things like that, it shows partiality. And I am supposed to remain above the fray on these things.

Male: I know, but this is good for American and good for the party.

Female: Fine, but you owe me one. I will step in and ask everyone to read, The Dramatic Dead. It is a definite great read. And really, I’ll be doing it for the party. What does your wife think about it?

Male: Oh she says it is the best book she has read all summer and highly recommends it. When she wins the election … she is going to make it mandatory reading for everyone in the country. 

Female: Umm … you mean if she wins the election. Besides, I’m pretty sure that isn’t legal.

At Bryan the Writer, we cannot confirm the intent of the conversation, but we do know the scandal is ongoing at this time. Want to know more? Pick up your copy of The Dramatic Dead today!  Just follow the link below.

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-Your Humble Servant, Bryan the Writer

 

 

I’m Proud to be an American … and You Should be too!

Proud to be an American!  Happy Independence Day everyone. I’m happy that as I sit here composing this I’m free to say what I want. And, I think I will …

Presently the U.S. is undergoing what likely seems to other nations as a bit of a sudden lapse of judgement. If we were a loved one, you would probably take the whole country in for a psych eval, wondering if we were suffering from schizophrenia. The fact of the matter is that we, as Americans, can’t really explain our present behavior and hope you all will just bear with us while we work some things out.

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As most Americans I’m pretty much in the middle on a lot of things.

  • I’m a gun owner who isn’t against rational laws keeping weapons out if people’s hands who don’t deserve that right as guaranteed by our constitution.
  • I tend to think that people deserve a decent chance at a suitable life. It isn’t a right or something you get for free, you have to earn it; no matter the color of your skin or place your ancestors came from.
  • I’m against the whole sale exclusion of one group of people from the U.S. But I am also against just letting anyone in because they say they want to be here. And no, my ancestors didn’t just show up her. They filed the appropriate paperwork and got their asses to work when they came here. I expect others to do the same. You need to prove you do not have ill intent and you have some sort of plan to learn passable English and find a job. Again, we expect you to earn your keep.
  • If you are running from oppression, that is fine. We’ll take you, but you better be ready to work and learn English or you should be sent back. Sorry, but the no one owes anyone else a living. You’re not special.

Statistically, I’m not alone. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty close to the majority of the Americans living in the country today in my beliefs. These are pretty broad categories, I know. Relax my liberal friends, I still love ya … I just don’t agree with you. We all want the same thing, a productive America. We just differ on how we think we should get there.

Right now we seem to be tearing our selves apart over this Presidential Election. The problem, as I see it, is that we have completely ignored our inalienable right to be Americans. I’m no where near a Democrat, as a matter of fact I self-identify as a Libertarian, but trend towards moderate conservative. But I do have things that are considered liberal. For example, I am not against healthcare for those who need it, but I think having the Federal Government do it is idiotic. Please ask soldiers how much they love Tri-Care (Federally provided healthcare) or the VA who is supposed to be taking care of the vets. Then you might get an idea of why I think it is such a bad idea. In both cases it they are a mess.

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Things look kind of bleak right now. However, there is hope. Not in Washington, those ass-hats seem to have made such a mess of things that no one has any idea what they’re doing anymore. Nope, getting back to the business of being Americans starts at home. Recently I saw some great photos of a 4th of July parade in my former home town of Excelsior, Minnesota. It was great. I used to march in that same parade. The kids were lining the streets, waving flags, and celebrating the day. I suspect more than a few of those kids were there to get candy being thrown to them by people in the parade.  I wonder how many of those parents had a long chat with their kids about what it means to be American?

This July 4th, as you fire up the grill I want to charge you with an idea. Spend some time thinking about what it means to be American. Are we going to be content to let politicians continue to muck things up for us or are we going to take back what is ours? I say hell yes we should take it back! When it comes time to attend community meetings, or cast your vote, get out and do it. For a representative democracy, we have a horrible voter turn out rate. People are angry in the streets who have no right to be angry because they can’t be bothered to cast their vote.

When you find yourself saying things like, “Someone should help those people.” You really should be saying, “How can I help those people?” Maybe, the reason our politicians have stopped looking like true Americans is because they are reflecting what they see in us. Maybe the problem is that we have stopped looking like Americans ourselves.

A final thought …

“IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government …”

If you have no idea where this document came from, then I say shame on you!

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html

-Your Humble Servant, Bryan the Writer

 

 

Don’t Forget to Go Over the Falls!

Stop and listen. Do you hear it? In the distance the wind rushes through the trees. Watch the leaves twirl in the gentle summer breeze. In front of you lay a path through the forest. Small blobs of light decorate the pathway, interrupting an almost ceaseless stretch of shade. The oaks, firm and tall, stand sentinel, protecting the paths. As they have done so since the time of General Grant. Our feet plod the soil in front of us, tiny plumes of dust rising at our feet. The heat and relative dry of the summer have made the soil the consistency of dust.

20160702_111323_001In the distance, a beautiful rushing sound threatens to envelop us. Beckoning and threatening at the same time, it constant din speaks of power and majesty. Over a rise in the hill, a waterfall churns its ceaseless mixture in the river below. The sound feels like it will drive you mad if you stayed long enough to listen to its regular hum. However, you cannot look away. It compels you to gaze upon it. It is raw power, unyielding.

 

As many of you know, I am still in the throes of moving. Yes, it’s a lot of work. Today we took some time out to go for a walk. Not just anywhere, but one of my favorite places in the world, Great Falls Park. It’s absolutely beautiful. A little crowded, but once you get away from the falls, the groups thin out. Why I like it is a little hard to define. There is something indescribably beautiful that claims the lives of seven people every year. Anything in nature that has that kind of power is beautiful to watch in action. Its raw and emotional.

I personally feel that the constant churn of the water is therapeutic. It takes the stress from you and sends it away. You are left feeling whole again, at peace with yourself and the world around you. The trees are literally hundreds of years old. It would not be out of line to imagine Civil War soldiers taking a nap under them to escape the summer heat. This area of Virginia has relics of Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and the Native American populations that came before them. You feel immersed in history.

20160702_124802_001The freshness of the air is only interrupted by whatever is in bloom at the time. People in the park are in the best mood they could be in. I always get the impression that most people in the park are in their best mood they will be all week long.

I think it is important, as a writer, to make sure to take time out of my busy schedule to spend time in the outdoors. It’s really easy to get wrapped up in life at the keyboard and forget what is going on around me. I totally can understand why someone would want to do that, but it’s bad for your health.

As this summer continues to grind along, no matter where you are, I hope you are taking some time to find your own “Great Falls”. It’s food for the mind and soul.

-Your Humble Servant, Bryan the Writer

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