Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Interview with John Wayne Cargile


It’s my pleasure to interview fellow Alabamian John Wayne Cargile,as the featured website. John is promoting his new book.



“The Cry of the Cuckoos,” released today no less April 1, 2009, no it isn’t an April fools joke, seriously, you can read excerpt on his website The Cry of the Cuckoos an intriguing mystery novel of suspense and murder set in Midfield, Alabama.


John said, “I'm not waiting on my publisher to market and sell my book. I am hooking up with people like yourself, social networking, building a website and a book trailer, blogging; all things I thought were impossible.”

John has taken the bull by the horn,and built a website to help promote his book. His book will be online in a couple of days at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million so keep checking with your online distributors, or pick it up locally.





So as a fellow Alabamian, I asked John some rather pointed questions. Read his response.




1)You’ve spent 40 years working for others, when did the idea for the book surface?


I have known since I was a university student that when I retired I would write novels. That has been my goal most of my life. I began as a journalist in the 60's and 70's, then opened a publishing company in the 1980's in Birmingham, Alabama. I was a printer for companies needing printing, but I also produced two slick magazines. I became a managing editor for a publishing company in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in the late 80's before creating my own company, Creative Services, in 1990. The company was designed for my work. I was publisher for a number of magazines, edited freelance work sent for publication, and sold advertising. I calculated my career in writing and publishing beginning in the 60's. The book, The Cry of the Cuckoos, surfaced only three years ago.


2)How long did it take you to write the book?


I've had the book in my mind for a long time. My biological mother who lived in Texas was divorced from my father in 1946. She was forced to give up custody when I was 1 1/2. Before she died, we spent hours on Instant Messenger talking about her life and mine. I have over 200 pages of conversations between the two of us. I began writing the book in 2007, but it was an historical romance novel with the setting in Texas between a soldier and a female civilian who meet at a dance hall in west Texas. But, after my mother's death, everything changed. I decided I wanted to write something contemporary and upbeat. I didn't know at the beginning it would be a mystery novel. When I began the story it just unfolded like I didn't have control of it. I completed this version of the book within six months, but the foundation was laid long before. I talk about being in the zone below.


3)How many revisions did you go through? Are there any ideas you would like to share to those aspiring authors about the process of revision?


Revise, Revise. Revise. This is very important. I believe I cut out nearly 8,000 words before I felt the story had been told. A professional editor is essential, and I hired one to set me on the right tracks. She didn't have much to edit, but it gave me a sense of my unique voice in writing. I cannot tell you how long I spent reading and re-reading the story. In fact, now, I don't want to read it again, but I probably will. I am writing its sequel.


4) Share with others your thoughts on social networking, Twittering, Facebook, Blogging, building a website to promote your novel.


I didn't know much about using social networking until I got into the marketing stage of the book. Now I am all over the Internet. I've joined so many writer's groups, I forget sometimes what group is what. I'm on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Gather.com. I was only last week named as an administrator at Red River Writers on Facebook. I built my own website, which is not eloquent, but it gets the job done. I created a book trailer, which I thought was impossible. It is adequate, but I didn't have to pay a professional to create it. I created a blog for the novel, and offered readers an opportunity to read the first chapter to get some reaction. I learned long ago as a journalist that if you don't capture your audience within the first three paragraphs, you most likely will lose them right there. They will put the book down. I received a great review before the book was published, and it is on one of the first pages after the dedication page, which was to my late mother and step-mother who actually raised me. Both of them are characters in the book, but with distorted and flawed characters that neither had.



5) Do you belong to a writers group? If not what are thoughts on belonging to a writers group?


Writer's groups are great, however, you take what advice they give you some times with a grain of salt. Everyone has a sense of how a book should read, and readers have odd tastes. I belonged to a critique group and became very frustrated. I learned from my publisher that you can have 10 editors sitting and reading your script and you will have 13 interpretations. It got to be too much, so I left the critique group.



6) Any general thoughts you have on the subject of writing?


There is writing, then there is writing. I've seen a lot of people blogging and to them that is writing. Journaling is writing. But not the type of writing a publisher is looking for. I could write a lot of deep, thought provoking pieces on the subject of metaphysics. Would it sell? Probably not. I decided to become a commercial writer. If it is worth writing, I wanted to make money for my efforts. One of the best books for commercial writers is "Techniques of the Selling Writer," by Dwight Swain, published by the University of Oklahoma Press. I hold a doctorate degree in metaphysics, and some of the thoughts and conversations in most of my writings deal with metaphysics in some facet.

7) What you would like to share about your novel, the process of writing?


Getting into the zone. People have heard that athletes get into the zone and are able to do things they didn't think was possible. I hardly ever get writer's block because I have trained my brain through the art of meditation to toss away things you don't need. You place them in the recycle bin. Use only what is necessary. My novel has been reviewed and the reviewer, I thought, said it best. He said my writing was crisp, direct and engaging. You won't find flowery words flowing constantly off the pages of my book, You'll find engaging conversation between characters. Actually, the dialogue between characters tell the story for you. You let your characters dictate what will happen next. You won't be far off if you let the characters take over your story.

As an Alabamian, and a southerner, I find our state has very few resources for the aspiring author; do you have any thoughts on the subject?


You mentioned the state of Alabama doesn't have resources for writers. I don't understand. We have the same resources as any writer on the globe. The South has produced some great writers, including Alabama. It doesn't matter where you live to become a writer. You can aspire to write, but a writer needs to write. He is an eccentric in most cases, and a loner. He wants his place on Earth to be marked when he passes on to the other side. Here stands old Joe, who was an author. God Bless His Soul. He has left someone, somewhere a legacy in his own words. He might not be famous or on the New York Times Bestseller list, but he had to write his stories. He didn't aspire to write. He had to write from a psychological and philosophical point of view. These type writers write from the soul.

I’d like to thank John for taking the time out of his busy writing schedule for this interview and to say too everyone out there reading this, go buy his book.


Happy Writing!

Monday, March 30, 2009

A New Word for the Aspiring Author!

Platform

What does the word mean to the aspiring author? It’s not about a raised surface, a stage, a stand, a podium, a pulpit or a balcony defined by the thesaurus. It’s about marketing and promoting, and it is crucial for the aspiring author to learn the techniques of today’s marketing trend.

How to learn about these tips and techniques, by reading what others in the know are saying, learn to blog, follow the articles they write on the subject.

Author Platform - The New Buzz Word by Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Need a platform? By Agent Terry Burns

Fiction Platform by Agent Rachelle Gardner


How Important is an Author's Platform by Michael Hyatt, editor of Thomas Nelson Publishers

Building A Platform by Agent Chip MacGregor (Click on Archive, Jan. 11, 2009)

Another good article I came upon via twitter.
From The Times
March 30, 2009
Authors fight free books site Scribd for ‘pirating’ their work
Bestselling novels are reproduced without publishers’ permission.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Taking the Plunge and Mystery out of Creative Writing.





I want to thank Raven, for joining me last week here at “A Writer’s Group Blog,” she did an excellent job sharing with us her insight thoughts on sensory memory. As an aspiring author, I know it took a lot out of her, so give her a big hand for taking the plunge into the cold dark water and coming up with such insightful comments.


I’m sure you are looking left and right wondering what kind mystery lies in creative writing, suggestive by the title of this article. Well, it is a mystery to this aspiring author that more wanna-be’s (aspiring authors) are not blogging, sharing blogs and social networking than there is, that’s where the mystery lies, not in the craft of fiction.

Where does the mystery lie!

Too me, there is real mystery that the aspiring won’t take the plunge to promote themselves by creating a blog, or a webpage, or joining Twitter or Facebook, diving headfirst into social networking to promote themselves. It’s no longer about sitting and waiting for the royalties or being famous novelist with editors and agents breaking down the door for you, it’s not something to take lightly, but something every writer, poet, artist of any caliber should be thinking about and doing. I’m not a social butterfly and find myself often quivering over the possibilities of the mistakes I make, which is often, both speaking and writing, usually what comes to mind, comes out of the mouth, either spoken or written. Those flub-dubs a scattered brain can formulate.

As you know, I’ve been following J.A. Konrath’s Blog Tour. Think of it, me doing an interview with a well-known published author—wow, I was shaking in my boots, scared all the way down to the knobby toes in my socks. Not only is J.A. Konrath a talented author, and a heck of a nice guy, humorous as well, it was a quite an experience and a treat for this aspiring author. I wouldn’t have had the chance, if I had not taken the plunge.

I follow a lot of blogs, especially those that discuss creative writing. Blog following is part of social networking. Day 28 of J.A. Konrath’s blog tour, he was interviewed by another well-known author, Alexandra Sokoloff here Jack Kilborn discusses the “Anatomy of a Horror Scene.” You can’t go wrong as you study the craft of fiction, by following such talented published writers and the tips and techniques they share.

Why not take the plunge?

What are the benefits of creating a blog, a webpage, joining a social network group? There are many and I’ll attempt to name a few.

On Twitter and Facebook, social networking sites you come in contact with agents, publishers, published authors and wanna-be’s like ourselves.

Blogs, ah the blog, many authors, agents and publishers are blogging, and giving advice to the aspiring, sharing their views on the subjects such as marketing, the craft of fiction.

Webpages: Authors construct their own webpages (or have a professional do the job) to feature their latest novels or to help sales increase on books all ready released. It is definitely a good self-promotional tool.

Read: Literary Agent Nathan Brandsford’s article “It's The End of Publishing As We Know It: Do You Feel Fine?

Read: Seth Godin’s Blog Advice for Authors

In today’s day and age, it is not just about writing the greatest novel ever told, it’s about self-promotion, and exposure, the internet is becoming one of the hottest marketing tools available.

Read: Ten Great Ways to Promote Your Book

Happy Writing!

Forensics & Faith: An Aging Audience

Forensics & Faith: An Aging Audience

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sensory Memory, by Raven

Raven a member of “Sweet Hearts of The Rodeo” and a friend has graciously given me an interview on the subject of Sensory Memory that we’ve been studying this last week from Robert Olen Butler’s book “From Where You Dream.” Raven’s blog can be found at: The Raven’s Eye This week, we will be doing the exercise from chapter 9 of his book.

I want to thank Raven for taking the time to do this interview; she is an excellent student of the craft of fiction and a wonderful writer. Read what Raven has to say as she answers the questions I posed, as she talks about a story she is in the mist of writing.

I've been asked by my Sweetheart's colleague, JB, about my view on Robert O. Butler's sensory memory. Recently, I posted my feature story on the Sweetheart's board over at the Writer's Village University. Within the story is a scene in which the main character comes across a dead foal. JB has asked me:


1)Did you draw back in your mind, as you experienced writing the scene visually?


I found that when approaching this scene, my inner eye focused on visual details more than anything else. Smell came into play, but only in a limited way. Most of what my character felt was suspended, in favor of the initial visual impact. In order to record the details, I found it necessary to draw back and view the scene as a camera. The position of the foal, the minute details became the focus of what I intended to be a snapshot of the foal. The moment of discovery, became an objective view in which my character, Evie, acted like a lens, not a filter. From that point, I unraveled the story, allowing Evie to slowly begin the process of filtering how she felt about the dead foal. The result feels intellectual, but the intent is emotional. The gradual unpeeling of Evie's feelings is low key, as opposed to dramatic. In this, I feel the process reflects a version of reality, though not the commonly depicted one. It is more common to see everything stuffed into one paragraph or to find metaphor and simile acting like the filter. Theses are adequate ways to filter scenes and reveal the yearning, but I feel as though these are also temptations that can lead to generalization and abstraction.

The scene, as I have written it, is supposed to rely on what comes shortly before and long after the moment, creating an overall feeling for Evie's situation. It remains to be seen whether it succeeds. The process demands many sessions in which the words, images and descriptions must be continuously stroked. The filter needs to be present in imagery in order to avoid stepping into the "she felt" or "she thought" mode.

Please understand that I am not dismissing the use of the pov filter nor am I saying it isn't a vital tool in writing, I am simply saying that the way in which we utilize the filter can vary according to the conditions created by the story. I think it is a good thing to experiment in order to learn the particulars of this technique.

With my story undergoing its third, serious revision, it remains to be seen whether this approach will satisfy the sensory specifications Mr. Butler calls for in his teachings.


2)What details do you think you could have added that would increase the reader's mind visually to what Grace saw and felt as she viewed the remains?

Visually, I think I've offered enough support. My concern is whether I ought to allow Evie's filter in. I'm reluctant to do so because, after several experiments in which I allowed her to speculate, or "translate" the scene, I felt the intensity of the scene was diluted by what essentially felt like an invasion of Evie's psyche. I believe this may be where the students in chapter eight foundered and lost direction. Sometimes, using the pov filter invites speculation; speculation opens the door to generalization and abstraction. Used carelessly, the filter can be detrimental to a work. On the other hand, I think mastering the combination of the filter and lens is something worth pursuing, so I am returning, yet again, to the scene of the crime to study it and hopefully come up with a combination that meets Mr. Butler's standard.

3) Butler says in Chapter 9 of "From Where You Dream" that sometimes the narrative voice is allowed abstraction and generalization. What do you think that means?

I think this refers to filtering in the reflective sense. To thoroughly know the character, is to understand her/his concept of any word. Characterization takes some of the weight of this form of abstraction/generalization as can dialogue and inner monologue. The words "it hurts." Can be abstract, until the reader knows the main character is sitting under a tree, thinking about her dead father. Then what is general has become specific, though it is voiced as a nonspecific concept. So, then, if proper placement or setting is provided, in addition to good characterization (which would include dialogue, description, etc and character action (which I define as the actual things said and done in the story) I think abstraction and generalization work well enough. I am willing to investigate this further. It is my goal to "soften" Evie in the story. I'm not satisfied that I've accomplished this at this point in the revision.

Forensics & Faith: Same Kind of Different as Me

Forensics & Faith: Same Kind of Different as Me

Monday, March 23, 2009

Forensics & Faith: Eureka Moment

Forensics & Faith: Eureka Moment

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Metaphors, Similes, and Sensory details

Being pure southern, as well as debouching metaphorically the English language with such similes as Query Shark’s Blog defines in Janet Reid’s #106 article blogged Friday March 20, 2009.

As aspiring authors, we need to pay close attention to the rules of colorful writing that will stop an agent or editor in their tracks, too formulate a rejection. She says frankly that metaphors should illuminate and not confuse the reader.

So understanding figurative language and its use is the wanna-be’s aspiration.

A metaphor is a comparison of two things that does not use "like" or "as." Where as a simile is a comparison of two things using "like" or "as."

Figurative language is a word or phrase that departs from everyday literal language for the sake of comparison, emphasis, clarity, or freshness.

At About.com Ginny Wiehardt discusses metaphors, similes, and conveying emotion without lapsing into sentimentality. She gives examples of Raymond Chandler’s use of similes and metaphors, how it often supported larger themes in his book The Long Goodbye, as in:

"And his eyes were like holes poked in a snowbank."
"His hair was as smooth as a bird's breast."

WHISTLE BRITCHES is a southern term of endearment for boys with more energy than sense and who talk to hear their heads rattle.”

What struck Ms. Reid was the last part of the sentence structure (Is "talk to hear their heads rattle" another southern turn of phrase? It jars me (Ms. Reid says) because heads don't rattle.) —who talk to hear their heads rattle. As a southerner, the expression I’d always heard was—to hear their heads roar. Meaning metaphorically they would rather hear the sound of their own voice than to listen to the common sense of reasoning and logic. I’ve commented and asked on Ms. Reid’s article, if she thought roar would be a better word choice, metaphorically. I will post her response in the comment section of this article. (My quest as an aspiring author is to learn from those that have the knowledge as much as I can, and one mistake I make frequently is not reading aloud what I have written. And having rephrased the question and posted the meaning a second time on the blog, I’m reluctant to post it a third time, fearing utter embarrassment. I do think and feel that I have the meaning expressed better in the above highlighted in blue.)

I’m way behind in my groups discussion “Sweet Hearts of the Rodeo” this week and I’m thankful there is no writing exercise. Anecdote Exercise this week’s topic, from Robert Olen Butler’s book “From Where You Dream” chapter 8. Chapter 8 deals with the descriptive details of the sensory memory as the anecdote is put into words. Robert Olen Butler asks the students to volunteer to tell an anecdote orally. After the students that volunteered have told their tale, they stand to repeat the story they have conveyed, and he draws their attention to the abstraction, generalization of their opening. He attempts to draw from each student precise sensory details through sight, sound, touch-- the elements of the senses that bring the reader into the story visually.

One student began an opening sentence with “There are men sitting”; Butler immediately says to her, “you’re generalizing.” What he is saying is that she’s not focusing on specifics.

When you take a panoramic view of the room, as you walk in utilizing the senses, you might see, “A man sitting in the corner, waiting his turn with the barber, as he listens vicariously to the music drone from the radio, thumping his fingers against armrest of the chair in tune.” We’re painters Robert Olen Butler says, detailing through descriptive details, what is before us, to the reader in moment- to -moment sensory impressions.
Don’t draw back from the emotional aspect, as you write the character’s viewpoint of a scene, what they might view (through the senses of smell, hear, see, touch, taste) in the opening paragraph of your story.

These are my thoughts as I learn through reading, and taking into account others interpretation of the craft of writing. I do hope you share your thoughts, view, and interpretation.
Happy Writing!

Forensics & Faith: Policing Amazon Reviews

Forensics & Faith: Policing Amazon Reviews

Thursday, March 19, 2009

AIG Bonuses

AIG bonuses, if the government ie Congress, Senate, Secretary of State, as well as the President wants to do the honest correct political thing for the American people, they can (instead of attempting to propose heavy taxation on those that got bonuses) give the head of household (taxpaying) American a 1 million dollar bonus.

What it will do!

Pay off mortgages, credit card debt.

Medical Insurance Benefits.

Influx taxes back into system both State and Federal.

Relieve the nation of strife.

Induce spending.

Cap excessive profit margins.

What better way to promote prosperity than put it in the hands of the American people.

I've emailed the Senator's of my state, Fox News, Glenn Beck's 912 Project and I haven't stopped yet. Emailing that is!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Nation in Pain

I’ve been following the Glenn Beck 912 Project, reading the people vent their thoughts and feelings on what is wrong and taking back the country, and the liberty for which this Nation was built upon.

Glenn’s 912 Project 912 Project Vent is about 9 principles and 12 values, but this soul thinks there is another, loving thy neighbor, a moral value not spoken. A quality not intentionally left out, I’m sure, for charity as a value is mentioned. Charity is not something most are seeking.

As we struggle against foreclosures, job loss, and a failing economic system there is real pain, distrust, and anguish in those voices that speak. Uncertainty lies amongst these individuals as to what the answer is that the people can and are willing to do bring this nation back to prosperity. Now is the time to focus on what it is that needs fixing, listing out those priorities and come together in agreement. We are a nation built on strong principles and values.

1) Do we want the government taking away our rights as individuals on a daily bases? The answer is obviously, No!

2) Do we want our Voices heard? The answer is obviously, Yes!

3) Has the structure failed to protect the people from the frailties of its rulers? The answer is obviously, Yes!

4) Is everyone seeking substance to help with their struggle in preserving their homes, their health benefits, the right to maintain a minimal existence of life, free loaders? The answer is obviously, No!

What I ask, is it right for companies to be able to over inflate cost, under pay workers to a point that the rising cost, a cost that affects the majority of the people their homes, the right to place food on the table and have a bare minimal health care. I don’t believe the founding father’s meant for this to happen intentionally either. Although many of the founding father’s built their wealth on indentured servants, obviously is not the answer!

Greed is what is overwhelming America, the success of an individual or individuals willing to morality do the unethical to reach the success they desire and not care at who’s expense.

Read this article America's Disease is Greed by Andrew Greeley America's Disease is Greed

A brief excerpt:

Greed is responsible for the obscene salaries of CEOs. In the '90s the ratio of CEO compensation to average workers' compensation was 250 to 1, meaning that the boss earned on his first day of work during a year as much as the worker did in a whole year. In European countries the ratio is closer to 100 to 1. Recent estimates put the current ratio at 500 to 1 -- the boss makes as much before lunch as the worker does all year. Greed is the cause of the high wages paid to the bosses even if the company is failing.

What is the answer?

People have the right to prosper. Yes!

People have the right to the American Dream. Yes!

But at what cost and to who?

Are the people in Need? Yes!

Do the people Need help? Yes!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Smoking Book

Visit The Smoking Book Blog, they are asking for Poetry (any form or style)for an anthology on SMOKE.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Author of Afraid - J.A.Konrath shares his view on writing.

It is my pleasure and delight to introduce guest blogger J.A. Konrath to The Writer's Group. You can find Joe's blog at, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing there is a wealth of information for the wanna-be author. Currently Joe is appearing on different blogs to promote his book,"Afraid" and sharing with the group his thoughts on belonging to a writer's group, and what he did prior to being a published author.

Considering the group "Sweet Hearts of the Rodeo"is at point of revising their novels, and Joe being a published author, and having been down this road, I want to share an interview link he did with The Leaf Blower on the subject of Rejection.



As an aspiring author of the macabre, I ventured over to Joe’s website featuring his novel “Afraid” and read an excerpt of his book to be released on March 31. The cover of the book asks you, Are you Afraid of the Dark? Then clearly says, “You Will Be.”



Any writer/wanna-be that studies the craft of fiction, knows the beginning paragraph of a story that first sentence is what draws the reader in, and I must say J.A. Konrath fulfills that promise. Sitting alone with Sal Morton in his boat, beneath a hunter's moon, a chill begins to creep over my skin and the hair on the back of my neck prickles-an innocent fishing trip-no, there is so much more that waits this protagonist--read the excerpt and you will see what I mean.


Afraid excerpt


Joe responds with his thoughts on belonging to A Writer's Group.


  • Have you ever belonged to a writer's group?



  • No. And I should have. Maybe I wouldn't have racked up 500 rejections before my first sale if I had a group of writers telling me what I was going wrong.

    That said, I do sort of belong to a writer's group now. I'm friends with many published authors, some of them bestsellers, and we trade manuscripts for critique before our agents get them. It's invaluable.


  • Do you advise a beginning writer to join a writers group?


  • Yes. You learn two ways--from other people's critiques, and by critiquing other people. It also forces you to write, so every meeting you have more pages to pass out.


  • What revision method did you use in revising your novel, "Afraid?"


  • After the first draft, I do what I call "pruning." That's trimming the unnecessary stuff, and adding to the aesthetics and overall impact of the story.


    Then it's a question of responding to editorial comments, and rewriting where necessary.


  • What tips would you give a beginning novelist to take on revising their novel?


  • Get feedback. Put it away for a while and read it with fresh eyes. And take off your writing hat---you need your editing hat for revision, and the person who wears that hat is critical, not creative.


    Getting down to a personal side, I asked Joe, what he did prior to being a published author, and what he is working on next.




  • What did you do before you became a writer, is that still your current profession?


  • I'm now a fulltime writer.


    Prior to that, I was a male stripper, an international spy, a world class chef, and a big fat liar.


  • Tell to me about your current book?


  • AFRAID is a horror novel, written under my pen name, Jack Kilborn. It's scary. In fact, it's so scary, that I don't recommend anyone reading it.


  • When did you begin writing it?


  • I began a few years ago, in between writing my Jack Daniels books. From first word to finished manuscript took maybe three years.


  • Are you in the stage of writing another novel?


  • I'm working on the rewrites to TRAPPED, another horror novel that is too scary to be read by anyone.


  • What short stories have you written?


  • I've published over sixty. There's a semi-complete list on Wikipedia. J.A. Konrath


  • What else would you like share?


  • I'd like to share this beer, but it's gone already. There's nothing sadder than an empty beer.


    Wait! I found another one! But that's my last one, and I couldn't possibly share that.


    Especially now that it's gone, too.


    But I can share my books. There are a bunch of free ebooks and stories on my website, www.jakonrath.com. There is also a scary excerpt from AFRAID that you probably shouldn't read.


    I'm delighted that Joe granted me this interview, and I do hope he will come back soon. Thank You Joe, we are looking forward to your next novel Trapped, and I'm certain it will be as intense and frightening as Afraid.

    Happy Writing!

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