SIX DEAL BREAKERS ON BOOK BLURBS AND IN BOOKS

There was an overwhelming response to my recent blog on”Deal Breaker” words and phrases on book blurbs for potential buyers. Here’s some words and phrases that readers wanted to add:

1.  American

2. Spiritual

3. Virgin Heroine

4. If you liked Fifty Shades then you’ll like this because it’s just like Fifty Shades (Seems to be true whenever a book achieves cult status. Some call it the “halo effect,” hoping to get readers to buy the book because it’s just like…

5. Language not appropriate to time and place. This reader wrote that if the book is a Regency Romance, the word “ass” should be “arse.” I couldn’t agree more! To me that’s just sloppy writing. I want to see a cohesiveness – the language, the settings, the descriptions – all should match the era. For example, I’ve read a lot of books where someone was wearing something that simply wasn’t around at the time in which the book takes place. You can’t have a Tiffany lamp in a mid 19th century novel. Inconsistencies such as these detract from the novel, no matter how good it might be on other levels.

6. And a personal note. What turns me off are misspelled words or using the wrong word. No spell check can take the place of a good copy editor!

I was recently asked to review a novel in which the author had written “serf and turf.” Wrongo! It’s “surf and turf.” I sent him a personal message regarding it and his response was, “Well, I had five people read it.” Yeah, but that doesn’t make it right!

Love to hear what turns you off in a book or on the blurb. Thanks!

EIGHT DEAL BREAKER WORDS ON A BOOK BLURB

I’m the Moderator for the Romance and Literary genres for the Goodreads Modern Good Reads group. There are so many reasons why a book does or doesn’t appeal to us. I recently posted asking if there were Deal Breaker words or phrases in the blurb about a book that would result in a “no buy.” Here are some of the responses:

1.  spirited

2. Christian

3. “from hell”

4. “a love story”

5. vampire

6. turgid

7. “feisty heroine”

8. soul

These were the words and phrases that were “Deal Breakers.” The readers also posted that they didn’t like foul language, detailed sex scenes, and repetitive sex scenes, although I think these things would in the book itself, rather than in a blurb.

Please keep in mind that these are not my words or phrases. They all come from readers. And I would imagine that there a number of people who would buy a book specifically because some of these words and phrases were in the blurb. Guess that’s why we need so many genres and sub-genres!

Want to put in your two cents? I’d love to hear from you!

FIVE WAYS YOU CAN INSTANTLY CREATE INTRIGUING SETTINGS!

I recently bought a book which was highly touted as taking place in such-and-such city next to the Pacific Ocean. I love that town and know it well. After I read the book, I wasn’t sure if the author had ever bothered to go there. The only thing that even indicated it was set in that town was the reference to the sound of the ocean. I wanted to read about things that made that town special. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement!

Number One

If you’re going to state that the book takes place in a certain town or area, make sure it’s readily identifiable to the reader. Restaurants, parks, streets, landmarks – these bring the reader in and engaged with the book.

Number Two

In today’s world, there is no excuse for not researching time and place. Everything is available through the Internet. If the building you refer to wasn’t built until 1990, don’t reference it when the  book is set in the ’60′s. I guarantee you someone will catch it and call you on it. Attention to detail!

Number Three

Colors can play a huge part in setting the scene. Two things readily come to mind. When I was in Ireland several years ago, the green colors of the countryside were so vibrant, they almost hurt my eyes. On a recent trip to Provence, many of the windows were set in blue frames and there were fields of lavender and sunflowers. They became part of the scenery when I wrote Coyote in Provence.  If you haven’t been to the place you’re writing about, get a sense of the colors and don’t overlook the seasons. In many places of the United States, the landscape becomes brown in summer, yet is green during the rainy season. I imagine this is true in other parts of the world as well. Make your setting agree with the time of the year.

Number Four

One of the things I’m often told by readers is that my books make them feel that they’re wherever I’m writing about, because of the attention to setting. For example, in Blue Coyote Motel, the motel is located in the desert outside of Blythe, California. My opening chapter sets the tone with descriptions of the heat, tumbleweeds, and barrenness of the land. The book becomes far more interesting to the reader when they can visualize the scenery, even if it’s indoors.

Number Five

You remember the five senses. Ambience and settings are easily created through smell, taste, touch, sight, and sounds. I wrote earlier about color. What about the sounds of a busy city? Wouldn’t expect it to be quiet! I remember a trip I made to New York about the time car alarms become popular. There was a car in the parking lot below my room that had a voice activated alarm whenever anyone got within a certain distance. All night long I heard “please step back, you are too close.”  I got no sleep that night and it was really annoying, but it was the sound of the city at that moment. The next morning I changed hotels.

Ocean towns and farms have smells of their own. Use them. The sense of taste can be brought in through foods of the area, or the salty air of the seashore.

Bottom line – a good book captures our attention and draws us in, but it’s been my experience that a lot of writers focus completely on characters or plot. They neglect to engage the readers’ attention through the senses. This is an incredibly useful tool! Bringing in the senses elevates a book from merely being good to being great and it’s so easy to do. Involvement by the reader guarantees they’re going to want your other books. Don’t miss this opportunity to capture their attention!

Entertainment Director Writes Soon To Be Best Seller!

Bob Rector knows how to hold the audience in the palm of his hand. A former movie and television director, he knows what works. And Unthinkable Consequences works. I invite you to enjoy my interview with this new author. There is no doubt in my mind that you’ll be reading about him as this book makes its way up the charts. Believe me, reading the book and interviewing him were two wonderful experiences I had to share.

Tell me a little about yourself and your background?

  • I’m basically a happy, content person because I was fortunate enough early in life to find my soul mate and we’ve just celebrated our 38th anniversary. We’ve had a wonderful, adventurous life together and love each other more today than when we met. That makes me happy. As for work, I’m somebody who believes variety is definitely the spice of life. I’ve worked most of my life at many different jobs in the entertainment business and loved every minute of it.
  • What would you like to accomplish in your writing career?
  • To be financially successful enough at it to justify the enormous amount of time and effort involved.
  • What was your life like before becoming an author and how you use your experience in the film industry?
  • I’ve worked in the film, TV, video, and stage business most of my life, starting in 1970 as one of the pioneers of music videos. It’s a wonderfully collaborative environment where you work daily with talented, energetic people. You’re always trying to meet an impossible deadline, which pushes you to accomplish more than you thought you could. Writing film and play scripts taught me how to write good dialogue. In a play, it’s virtually all you’ve got. Conversely, novel writing is a very lonely endeavor and sometimes that’s difficult for me to deal with.
  • When did you decide to become a writer?
  • I’ve always been a professional writer as a component of my career in films, TV, etc. Unthinkable Consequences is my first novel. I started on it in earnest a little less than a year ago, but it was a project I tinkered with for over 20 years. Just never could get a handle on it. Then I finally had some serious time on my hands, took another shot at it, and things started falling together. The book suddenly seemed to have a life of its own.
  • Did you outline your book before you wrote it or did it evolve while you were writing it?
  • I’ve never been one for outlining because I think it can become restrictive to narrative flow. When I made films, I would look at all the good takes a time or two, then just sit and think about it for several days, editing it all in my head until I could see the finished film, then I would attack the editing table and film would fly. I approached writing my book much the same way. I did create a ‘bible’ as I went along with specific info about characters, events, places, etc.
  • Why did you decide to write a book?
  • Well, I’ve done films, videos and plays, why not a book? Regardless of the medium, it’s all about telling a good story. We’re all storytellers first and foremost. Gather round the camp fire, folks.
  • Are your characters based on real people?
  • Always. It’s the only way to keep them from becoming stereotypes.
  • Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
  • The same advice I’ve given actors for years: Look outward, not inward. Experience life in the raw. Load trucks, wait tables, dig ditches, get your hands dirty with life in as many different ways as possible. If you’re a guy, get in a few brawls (not hard to do). If you’re a gal, have a baby, raise a kid. There are many variations of this. From that personal knowledge base you can give characters and scenes – and especially dialogue – the ring of truth.
  • What have you written?
  • This is my first novel but I guess I’m most noted for my play Letters From the Front, which entertained America’s troops all over the world for 15 years. I wrote and directed a feature film, Don’t Change My World, which was released to theaters then to HBO, CineMax, the BBC and finally to Vestron home video. I’ve lost count of how many film, video, and stage scripts I’ve written over the years. These are absorbed into the production process and are seldom available for public consumption.
  • Paula and Kurt are very interesting people. What inspired you to write about them?
  • Ha! Good question, Dianne. Excuse me if I sound a little mystical but the only way I can explain it is that Paula, and Kurt were shadowy figures for a long time, existing only to satisfy the demands of the plot. Then one day Paula stepped out of the fog a full flesh and blood individual and she spoke to me. The same happened with Kurt a little later. They took me into their world. I could watch how they reacted to each other, hear how they spoke, see their expressions. After that, things got a lot easier, but if I didn’t get it right, Paula and Kurt would be the first to let me know.
  • Did a certain event or incident become the basis of your book? And if so, what?
  • It was an observation brought about by sexual awareness. I was 12 in 1959, the same year that Unthinkable Consequences takes place, living in hot, sultry Florida. I began to notice an undercurrent among women in the their late 30s, early 40s, mostly mothers of my friends who were wives of successful businessmen, professionals, professors, etc. They had everything – nice homes, clothes, all the latest household gadgets, because it said their husbands were doing very well. But many of these women were restless and seemed (to me) to be pacing about like lionesses in gilded cages. There was a sexual tension to it that I was just starting to pick up on. But this was 1959, a very different America, especially for women. My imagination went to work and I wondered what would happen to one of these women if they made a break for it. It percolated in my mind for many years and finally started finding its way onto paper, as a script at first, than as a book.
  • Stephen King believes authors must read as much as they write? Agree? And why or why not?
  • Agree. It’s how you become a more skilled writer. You can learn so much from a well-crafted book but you can also learn from a poorly written book. You learn what NOT to do. I read constantly. Always have.
  • Standard question. Favorite authors?
  • John D, MacDonald. The master. Reading one of his books is like taking a college-level writing course. Also, Hammond Innes; nobody is better at complex plot and character construction. Among contemporary writers, Michael Connelly and Ken Follett, both master craftsmen.
  • Where do you like to write?
  • As long as I have access to a keyboard attached to a computer, I don’t much care where I write. Marsha and I spent many decades on the road so I learned to crank out scripts wherever we were. When battery operated laptop computers arrived, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Now I could even write in the car during those long, 5 or 6 hundred mile days.
  • Have any rituals you do before writing? Do you listen to music?
  • For me, music is a distraction. I try to clear away as many obstacle or distractions as possible before I start writing – tidy up, so to speak. When I’m completely immersed in a scene, living it, I don’t want anything to pull me out of it. It’s like opening your eyes to find yourself in the middle of the freeway with cars and trucks zipping by you, horns blaring.
  • How do you market your book/s?
  • I’ll start by following in my wife’s footsteps. As you know, Marsha Roberts is the bestselling author of Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer and she has done very well with it as an indy writer/publisher. This is a brave new world and we’re all still learning and, no doubt, have a lot to learn yet.
  • A lot of authors feel it’s very hard to get book reviews. And some book advertisers won’t accept a book without a certain number of them. What have you done to get book reviews?
  • I’ve just started this process and have already received glowing reviews from fellow respected and successful writers. I’ve spent my life in media creation so I’ve dealt with reviews, good and bad, for many years. These were usually the results of a producer’s efforts and not mine. My only criteria for approaching a reviewer is to do my homework and make sure they are pros, not just a critic wannabe. Doesn’t mean I’ll get a good review, but hopefully it will be a thoughtful analysis by a skilled reviewer.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
  • In filmmaking there comes the day when you go to the lab’s screening room to see what’s called the final answer print. You watch all the hard work that’s transpired for the past weeks or months unspool onto the screen. Then it’s over, the projector is turned off, you shake a few hands, then step out into the sunlight and ask yourself: okay, what now? That’s kind of how I feel now.
  • How about sharing some links where readers can get your book and in touch with you.

They can buy Unthinkable Consequences on CreateSpace at https://www.createspace.com/4494167 or Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Unthinkable-Consequences-Bob-Rector/dp/1493563483/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384804200&sr=8-1&keywords=Unthinkable+Consequences (or just type in the title) or go to my Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/RectorWriter or Twitter at https://twitter.com/RectorWriteror email me at rectorwriter@aol.com. My Unthinkable Consequences web site will be up shortly and I’ll post the link on Facebook, Twitter, and ASMSG.

17 Professionals Discuss Why They Use Digital Technology

Very interesting article by Hilton Collins in his blog, Imagination Unplugged http://ow.ly/qT6ja

17 Creative Professionals Explain How Digital Technology Touches Their Lives and Careers

 

Hilton Collins | On 14, Nov 2013

All creative professionals know that digital technology can help them market their work and engage an audience, but harnessing its power is tough.

Creative people understand that they can use the Internet and social media as tools to boost their careers in many ways, but it’s not always easy. They also know that this technology reshapes how everyone lives their lives.

Imagination Unplugged was created in part to explore digital media’s impact on the creative artist, both professionally and personally. Many of these web-savvy folks build online platforms through blogs, video, and social media to reach audiences.

But these same tools also affect them personally. Just like everyone else, creative artists spend more time enjoying online shows, games, and e-books as years go by. Some apps and other technology also help them organize their time and create their works of art.

Last week, I posted interviews with 20 people about their creativity, and this week I’m posting responses from 17 of them about how digital technology makes an impact on them.

How does the Internet and digital media affect you, either personally, professionally, or both?

I asked the same writers, visual artists, and businesspeople about the role this technology plays in their lives and careers. Some struggled with its use early on, some are just getting the hang of it, and others have mastered its marketing power. See what actual professionals have to say about digital media and its role in their lives as creative artists.

Andy Schmidt –  Owner of the Comics Experience School and Former Marvel Comics Editor

I run my own web-based teaching business called Comics Experience. The website is where folks register. Twitter and Facebook are integral to the marketing, and doing the “Make Comics” Podcast at iFanboy has been nice in just spreading the word. And the classes themselves, while held live, are still held via the Internet. So, it’s huge from a business perspective.

When I’m creating media at Brand + Entertainment Solutions, I have to know how all kinds of things work and what kind of experience fans get from them. I’ve worked in probably every medium at this point, even app games and such. Pretty exciting stuff, but man, it’s a lot to keep track and stay on top of!

Unfortunately, the flip side of that is that I don’t have much of a personal life digitally. It’s not that all I do is hype stuff, but I know people that I don’t really know are watching and reading, so I keep it within certain parameters I’ve set for myself. One does have to be careful, and I’m probably not as careful as I should be.

Diantha Jones – Author of the “Oracle of Delphi” Series 

Social media is everything. Personally, it’s how I’ve kept in contact with all of the wonderful people I’ve met over the years, and it’s how I meet new people. Professionally, it’s how I engage with other authors, readers and bloggers. It’s my main avenue of promotion and so far, it’s served me well.

Angela Booth – Copywriter, Entrepreneur, and Writing Teacher at Sell Your Own Writing Online

The Internet has been an all-encompassing part of my personal and professional life for so long that it’s very hard to remember typewriters, and life without the online world.

An academic at the University of Melbourne got me Internet access in the late 1980s. This was in the days of BBBs (bulletin board systems), and several years before the development of the Web. I discovered CompuServe, and spent huge amounts of money on access every month.

Once the Web grew, and the Mosaic browser was available, I realized that everything had changed. In 1994 I gave presentations called “The Internet and the New Age of Creativity.” Those presentations were met with blank stares, but I knew that before long, everyone would be online and that they’d CREATE content.

I always write about what I’m doing, so from the early 1990s I wrote for computer magazines, and also wrote business books. I wrote one of the first books ever on making the Internet work for your business. That was in 1998. Publishers had no idea what the Internet was, and how it might affect publishing. It was very wearing on the nerves to work with an editor who had no idea what I was talking about.

Reading and writing make up a huge part of my day. My iPhone and iPad are always with me. Oddly enough, I spend more time on my iPad than I do on my iMac — go figure. These days I avoid paper books, partly because of storage. Our home is crammed with books. For years, I had a policy that I had to give away the same number of books that I brought into the house. Mostly I read e-books because they provide instant gratification, and I can read what I want, when I want — no more hunting for books.

I have many blogs. I tend to get an idea and create a blog for it, and then write an ebook. It’s all become automatic. I don’t think about it — I’ve always considered blogging instant publishing, and created my first blog in 2000. So platform-building is painless. Total fun.

Zach Prez – Web Marketing Expert at Photography Spark

Given my profession is online marketing, the Internet and digital media shape my professional and personal interests.  I’m constantly connected, whether it’s streaming songs from the phone’s Google music app to my car’s bluetooth system, or doing drawing lessons with my kids via YouTube. Thinking with the Internet first can change the way you approach almost any situation, and that approach has become ingrained in my daily life.

Kathy Lynn Hall – Twitter Expert, Fiction Writer, and Author of “Red Mojo Mama”

For the longest time I wasn’t interested in Facebook, but now I find I’m stopping by regularly, more for social connection than anything else. Twitter is very much about my aspirations as a writer. It is more of a platform building exercise although I have good friends on there. When I have a chance to do so, I try to really have conversations with people on Twitter and catch up with people I haven’t seen on my timeline for a while. However, if I wasn’t a self-published author I doubt if I would ever have started using Twitter. My day often starts at the computer, checking Twitter and Facebook while I wake up, and I continue to check in periodically throughout the day. Social media has definitely become an integral part of my life and I don’t regret it a bit. Unfortunately, like most writers, I’ll use any excuse to avoid the blank screen and social media ends up being that excuse more often than I’d like.

Bruce McAllister – Writing Coach, Veteran Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer, and Author of “Dream Baby”

I do the internet and social media because to be alive in 2013 I must, but they have nothing to do with my writing.  There are entire generations of younger writers now who appear to write in order to exist in the internet community–to exist socially. For them writing is a social activity. I write privately, and I use the digital era to get my writing out into the world. If computers and mobile devices and the internet and all things digital disappeared tomorrow, I would type on my 3rd grade typewriter again, post the stories tin hardcopy to editors, and correspond with my fellow human beings by long and slow typed letters–connecting with them from my little island–the way we all did once. I’m happy either way.

Corbett Barr – Business Blogger, Web Marketing Expert and Consultant, and the Entrepreneur Behind Think Traffic

I love technology, but it’s important to remember that it’s just a tool. The real point of life is to connect with people and share experiences. That becomes harder and harder to remember as technology becomes more and more pervasive.

Allen Schatz – Mystery and Suspense Writer and Author of “Game 7: Dead Ball”

Outside of the obvious “it really makes the world very small,” I think the impact related to my writing is that it has allowed me to be discovered. I originally tried the traditional route of publishing. I signed on with an agent, but after 18 months, he was unable to sell my book to anyone and released me. I took that opportunity to go into self-publishing. I created a website for my writing (www.allenschatz.com) and increased my Twitter (@raschatz) and Facebook activity to promote myself and interact with readers and fans. I think more than anything, the Internet and digital media have enhanced my enjoyment of writing and reading.

Luke Romyn – Bestselling Author of “Sins of the Father”

Professionally my life seems to revolve around the Internet. Days when I’m not on some sort of device checking emails or updating social media are rare. Twitter and Facebook are the backbones of my marketing platform, and I have hundreds of thousands of people whom I chat with and share some of the nonsense rambling around in my brain. I think this is an amazing age to be an author, with outlets such as Amazon completely revolutionizing the industry, and I look forward to what the future might bring.

Steven Montano – Dark Fantasy Author of “Blood Skies” and “City of Scars”

I haven’t been a terribly social person ever since we moved to Washington — my wife and I have always been somewhat hermetic — so social media allows me to meet and interact with folks from all over the world, to share stories and jokes and insights with people I otherwise never would have connected with, and I love that. From a business perspective, I use Twitter as a marketing tool to connect with readers and potential readers, and I use Facebook to keep the really “hardcore” fans informed. I won’t pretend like I know what I’m doing, aside from making things up as I go along.

Claude Bouchard – Bestselling Author of the “Vigilante” Series

The Internet and digital media have a huge impact on me, both personally and professionally. On a personal level, email and social media have vastly facilitated communication with family and friends regardless of their location. I’m still awed when I consider how easily I can transmit messages, documents and photos instantly from halfway around the globe… A far cry from being impressed when we could get our photos developed in an hour. On the professional side, without the Internet and digital media, what I do for a living simply would not exist… *Shuddering at the thought of returning to corporate life…*

Jake Needham – Bestselling Author of Multiple Crime Novels, Including the Jack Shephard series

I’m not much of a Facebook user, but I’ve discovered that Twitter is quite an effective way of keeping in touch with readers and meeting new ones. I think I have something like 45,000 Twitter followers now, and I try to tweet a half dozen times or so a day. I talk mostly about my own books, their background and some of the real events they have connections with, but occasionally I talk about other things as well. That gets me nice feedback from readers so I guess I’ll keep doing it.

David Leadbeater – Bestselling Author of the Matt Drake Thriller Series

The Internet slows me down. It’s too easy to sit at the computer, plot at hand, ready to write, and suddenly get distracted by a quick bout of surfing. On the other hand it’s surely the best writer’s tool – research has never been so easy. Just be careful with those keywords – type CIA government plot too many times and you might get some unwanted attention!

Social media is great. Very easy to get lost in, so I have to limit my time there. Twitter especially, but also Facebook are good for me to connect with readers and other authors.

Dianne Harman – Political Thriller Writer and Author of “Tea Party Teddy”

Digital and the Internet have been pretty much my sole outlets and have worked for me. I didn’t want to waste time visiting all the bookstores, getting rejected, and maybe getting a couple to take my books on consignment, so I went the digital route and am happy I did so. It takes a lot of time and commitment, but it’s working. As far as my life away from writing, other than reading books on my iPad, I’m not a web or Facebook junkie. I view the Internet as a way to get information I need and a way to market my books.

Jason Halstead – Science Fiction & Fantasy Author of “Voidhawk”

The Internet does not make all things possible, but it makes all things a whole lot easier. Professionally speaking I use it to blog about my books, thoughts, or random ideas that entertain me- or rarely, irritate me. I have a Facebook fan page where I post regular updates, and I have my own website I built to further showcase what I’ve done and what I’m doing in the world of fiction. I use Twitter extensively to reach out to fellow authors and readers alike, as well as sharing occasional bits about my books to hopefully lure people in. Of course there’s loads of opportunities to do research on the Internet that were lacking twenty years ago (or required trips to experts, libraries, and other complications).

Personally speaking, the Internet makes life a lot easier. Sometimes it’s as simple as my wife ordering pizza for dinner when we’re having guest over. I’ve got a mildly bad habit of playing online computer games every now and then – without the Internet I’d be way too productive! Email, corresponding with writers and fans, answering questions about how I use the Internet, and enjoying occasional media (typically Pandora) are all made possible with the Internet.

Pinguino Kolb – Visual Artist and Correspondent forSpelunk.in

I live on the internet – it is my entire life. It’s an extension of my mind- I could not function properly without it. Everything I do is fully integrated digitally.

With smartphones and cellphones in particular, there is little left that is unconnected. Even when I am overseas without live access, I use all of my devices as thought recorders, memory collectors, and reminders.

John Marcotte – Journalist, Web Developer, and Founder ofBiznerds

I run a digital media company that does websites, online marketing, and SEO work. The Internet and digital media are so ingrained in our DNA that it would be impossible to list all the ways we leverage them. I can no longer remember a time when I simply wondered where I had seen that actress before without looking it up on my smartphone.

Tools such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter mean that I am always documenting my life, and I get regular updates on friends that I would otherwise not see. I maintain friendships in Los Angeles, St. Louis, and even Egypt that would be impossible without the net.