Let the Coffin Hopping Begin

Taptaptap

Hey, is this thing on? It is. Okay, here we go.

Welcome to Type AJ Negative…

Ow ow ow. Feedback. Hey, can we tune it down a little?

What’s that, Herbie? Oh, you want me to introduce you? Can’t you wait until I am done? I’m trying to get my first Coffin Hop post up. No, Herbie. Not right now. What’s that?

Ow ow ow… okay. Okay. Tune it down and I’ll introduce you to all the Hoppers out there.

Let’s try this again.

Welcome to Type AJ Negative, the official unofficial web presence of A.J. Brown. The imaginary guy controlling the sound system would be H. Herbie Himperwheel the third. Don’t ask me about Herbie one or two—I have no clue about them, or even where the third one came from, but he has been here since the beginnin. Herbie does the interviews. He likes poking people with needles. He is especially fond of the women. Ask Belinda, Myrrym and Michelle, they’ll tell you.

Better, Herbie? Can I get on with the Coffin Hop now? Thank you.

As I was trying to say before, Coffin Hop 2012 is under way and this is my first time being a part of it. The event last from October 24th through the 31st. Over 100 writers, artists and publishers are participating this year. You can check out more information here.

It appears that many of the participants are doing give aways. I’ve never done a give away or a contest. Of course, I’ve never had anything to ‘give away’ before. Ahhhh, but let’s change that. After chatting with my friend, Belinda—an awesome person, and a great writer—I learned that I can ‘gift’ one of my books to someone on Amazon by simply purchasing it and giving it to them.

Awesome idea, Belinda.

With that in mind, this is what I am going to do: I will give away a Kindle version of Southern Bones to two lucky people who comment on any of the post over the next seven days. I will put the names in a hat and let my daughter and son choose one name each. Make sure include an e-mail or Facebook link so I can get back in touch with you. Oh, one more thing, If someone comments on multiple blog posts, their name will go into the hat as many times as they comment. If you comment six times, your name goes in the hat six times. Fair enough?

What’s that, Herbie? What if someone doesn’t have a Kindle? Good question. Then I will send you a PDF version of Southern Bones that you can read on your computer.

The only thing I ask in return? Leave a review. Love it or hate it, leave a review. It’s one of those things that we authors rely on to help us get the word out there.

What now, Herbie? Why put a stipulation on giving away a free copy? Why not just give it away?

~Sigh~

Okay, if you want to leave a review, I would appreciate it, but you don’t have to. Just enjoy the book. That’s really what I want—that’s what all writers want. Oh, and come back. Browse around—there was a story posted just the other day—a freebie by any other name—and there will be another one posted in the next few days as part of The Coffin Hop.

So, what are you waiting for? Start commenting. And get to hop hop hopping along the Coffin Trail.

Until we meet again, my friends…

(And Herbie said C-Yah!)

Belinda Frisch, Guest Blogger

Recently, my good friend, Belinda Frisch, released her novel, Cure. In support of the release, I asked Belinda if she wanted to do a guest spot on my blog. She agreed and wouldn’t tell me the topic of her blog until I received it yesterday. Needless to say (yet I will anyway), I was humbled by her words…

Hey there, Type AJ Negative followers. I feel like I’m among kindred here because we have this wonderful friend in common, Jeff Brown. AJ, if you will. Herbie if he’s being shy, naughty, or moderating this blog.

A couple of years ago I wrote this short story, Cure, and Tales of the Zombie War picked it up. You know TOZW and this great series they have going, Dredging Up Memories? Well, Cure was a seed, a tiny little idea that hadn’t reached its full potential. That was November 2010. Fast forward to June 2012 and there have been a lot of changes. For one, I’ve developed my writing abilities far beyond where I was two years ago. Dead Spell, my YA novella, was my first experience with long-form writing and I fell in love with it.

Luckily, Jeff and his wife, Cate, enjoyed reading Dead Spell. Jeff sent me a great review and pointed out a few, eh hem, flaws. So embarrassing, but a lesson worth learning: no matter how many times you look at things, you’ll miss something. This brings me to the point of my guest post: AJ rocks. Yes, you heard it here, folks, and while I can imagine his cheeks blushing with embarrassment, he deserves some major praise.

Not only is he a talented author and a devoted, voracious reader, he is also a genuinely brilliant editor. When it came time that Cure needed its turn with the red pen, there wasn’t anyone else I wanted to work with more than Jeff. He is thorough, attentive, and committed. He is what made me be able to sing from the rooftops that I’m the author of Cure. I’m not afraid of flaws because Jeff made sure there weren’t any. He helped me put out a top-quality novel and I’m forever indebted to the countless hours he spent listening to me whine on Facebook chat.

You see, a good editor has an eye for plot holes, character flaws, grammar, punctuation, and spelling. He can spot when some dialect needs tweaking and is fluent in redneck, which came in handy writing my character, Billy. Jeff pointed out places where he felt things could be done better or different and I ran with them. I didn’t question him when he said, “no way this character would do or say that.” I followed his sage advice and I know, without a doubt, that Cure is better for it. I call dibs on him for Afterbirth, Cure’s sequel, so be prepared to arm-wrestle me for his attention in another few months.

We’ve all been watching AJ’s trial with the day job and his vacillations between writer, editor, and productive member of corporate America. There are a lot of reasons to question publishing these days, not the least of which is favoritism and nepotism over talent, but writers and editors like AJ are a rare breed. Talented and not afraid of hard work, I know his faith will pull him through. I hope my cheerleading helps him the way that his has helped me.

Now, to talk a bit about our “baby”.

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Here’s the official blurb for Cure:

“Dark, disturbing, and deliciously addictive”
–R.A. Evans, author of Asylum Lake

Welcome to the Nixon Healing and Research Center, refuge for the indigent sick, and playground for the maniacal Dr. Howard Nixon whose cancer research has him dabbling in the undead. His human-zombie breeding program is falling apart and only Miranda Penton can save it.

Miranda gave up her budding military career to marry a fellow soldier but when their first child is stillborn, it’s more tragedy than their new marriage can handle. One year later, following her painful divorce, Miranda accepts an unexpected job offer to join Nixon’s security team. Her recruitment is part of Nixon’s dark plan and she quickly becomes one of his captives.

Nixon impregnates Miranda with a zombie fetus, but her imprisonment at the center is short-lived. A rescue team led by Scott, her estranged ex-husband, releases her and the infected on the unsuspecting hospital population.

The virus is spreading and must be contained. The center is going into lock-down. The group’s escape is threatened by a homicidal security guard and a raging storm. The town of Strandville is ground zero for the zombie apocalypse and Miranda must escape because the fate of humanity lies with her unborn child.

Only 5-star reviews so far, which is a testament to both my and Jeff’s hard work. Here’s what a couple of readers have said:

“Lets face it, original is hard to come by. Everything has been done and tried. But what makes a book unique and refreshingly stimulating, is the author’s ability to breathe life into their characters, and send them on a course that you are compelled to follow along. Cure delivers just that. It is a rotten breath of fresh air with a premise that I haven’t seen in any other Zombie novels.”

“I purchased this book for my Kindle on release day. Once I started reading, I was immediately drawn into the story and could not/ did not want to put it down until I read the entire story in one sitting! Without giving away the story, the author pulls you into a dark and twisted world, full of vividly graphic details that keep you in suspense as you delve deeper into the story to see what happens next. Immediately frustrated after reading the last words on the page because I can’t move on to the sequel! Ugh! I want to read more…I want to know what happens next! ! Drama, horror, suspense, love, loss and some intense zombie action…you can check all the boxes!”

As part of this guest post, I’m giving away (2) Kindle copies to randomly selected commenters. Tell me why you love zombies or confess your biggest medical fear and you’re in the running. Stay tuned for winner announcements on June 30th. I’ll need your email address to send them. Good luck and thanks for hanging with me.

Author Bio:

Belinda Frisch’s fiction has appeared in Shroud Magazine, Dabblestone Horror, and Tales of Zombie War. She is an honorable mention winner in the Writer’s Digest 76th Annual Writing Competition and the author of DEAD SPELL, CRISIS HOSPITAL, TALES FROM THE WORLD, THE WARD, AND THE BEDSIDE and the newly released CURE, the first in the Strandville Zombie Series.

You can find me blogging about writing and reading on my blog . My Facebook fan page is the best place to stay current with giveaways, reviews, and upcoming projects. I Tweet, randomly, about my books and others’ at @B_Frisch. And my Amazon author fan page lists all my available titles.

Thanks, AJ, for hosting me and for helping me make Cure the best it can be.

The Versatile Blogger Award… and the Nominations Are…

Sometimes the best surprises come out of nowhere. And it’s those little things that can make a world of difference in a person’s attitude, outlook, or just make them smile and feel good inside.

Yesterday I spent a good chunk of my day working on writing related materials. Had an interview done of me and then started doing an interview with someone else. Wrote a blog about trying something different, a teaser for the readers, if you will, called The Inside View. In the process of creating The Inside View (the I.V. as I fondly call it) I started two other blogs related to it and hope to finish those soon. I asked a favor of a friend, then asked another favor of another friend. I sought advice about an idea from a close writer friend—one I trust more than most—and she gave me her straight up honest opinion.

I did a bit of writing on Her Cure. Managed a decent two thousand words.

I did some reading on Andy Taylor’s book, The Drunk and the Dead. Yes, there is a theme there and no, this is not Andy Taylor from Mayberry.

All this with my lovely wife in bed sick most of the day, which meant I had Kid Watch Duty. Thankfully, the kids played well together.

Oh and I had a great time bashing Twilight on Facebook with some friends. If my wife reads those posts, she may disown me.

As I was about to settle in to watch The Walking Dead I pulled up my blog to post a draft for the next installment of the I.V. series to go up sometime this week or next. Lo and behold there was a comment on the blog I wrote yesterday.

Before I go to that comment, let me say this: I have had my blog, Type AJ Negative, for a little over eighteen months. There are a total of 116 Posts, 44 Pages (most of which are interviews) and a grand total of 325 comments. In that same span, I have had 2091 Spam comments. Basically, the math equals out to one legit comment to every almost seven spams. I guess that comes with the territory.

Now that you have a little history about the blog, let me tell you about the comment in the post from yesterday. It was from Candice W Coghill and she commented to let me know she had nominated my blog for The Versatile Blogger Award.

That may not mean much to some, but for me, it made me feel good inside, like an acceptance letter does. For one thing, I haven’t known Candice all that long, but her words in her comments were nice and it told me that I haven’t just been writing into the Internet Black Hole. Someone reads my blog on a regular basis. That alone made me feel really good.

Now what?

Well, I’m going to make sure the image goes up on my blog’s front page, that’s for sure. For me, if someone thought enough about something I’m doing to say, ‘hey, I read your blog every chance I get’ then I want to make sure everyone knows. Besides, it’s nice to be acknowledged by someone who is not a judge of some contest or part of a committee to decide if my work is worthy enough to win any other awards. It was something nominated by another person because they liked something I did.

So, Candice W. Coghill, thank you. Thank you for making my day and for giving me the knowledge that someone reads Type AJ Negative and that my ramblings aren’t just from a mad man, but they reach ears… err… eyes.

There are rules to this award and they are:

* Thank the award-giver and link back to their blog in your post.

* Include a link to the original blog, The Versatile Blogger Award.

* Share seven things about yourself.

* Pass this award along to fifteen blogs you enjoy reading.

* Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

* There is no deadline for responding, although I would imagine that being “fairly prompt” would be the polite thing to do.

Let me see, I already did the first two, but let me do it again. Candice W. Coghill, THANK YOU from down south. This southern boy appreciates it.

Now, all you folks out there reading this, you need to go check out Candice’s blog, read the posts, comment. You don’t have to tell her A.J. sent you, but just make sure and visit HERE.

While you’re at it, go to the blog where all of this originated at: The Versatile Blogger Award.

Seven Things About Me

Are there really seven things I can tell about me, legally? I guess these should be things that most folks don’t know about me.

1. My wife asked me out on our first date. True story. She asked me out as a last resort to a birthday/tailgating party then told me if there was another guy there, to act like I was her boyfriend. We haven’t been apart since. I’m one heck of an actor, eh? (And one VERY LUCKY man)

2. I once picked imaginary spiders out of my hospital bed as a kid. Long story short, I had an accident as a child and ended up in the hospital for a period of time. I had hallucinations when I woke up that spiders were in my bed. My mom, who is deathly terrified of spiders placed her hand in the bed with me and said, ‘Would I do this if there were spiders in the bed?’ The natural response was ‘no.’ Later, my mom saw me plucking out the hallucinated spiders and asked, ‘What are you doing?’

‘I’m picking out the nice spiders.’

3. I secretly like my wife’s cat, Mia. Though I call her Hellspawn, she is a sweet cat and fun to play with, especially when using a laser light. She also looks at me funny when I say, ‘What up, dog?’ to her.

4. When I was a child I wanted to be the Fonz, from Happy Days. I even had a false leather jacket and the whole thumbs up and ‘Aaaaay’ routine down pat. Then I thought I had the Fonz’s touch when trying to be cool, I hit a drink machine one day and a coke came out. That’s right—I am cool.

5. My eyes tear up every time I hear My Hometown by Bruce Springsteen. It reminds me of my dad and me when I was a kid and all the things he taught me. I love my dad.

6. My favorite book of all time is Where the Wild Things Are. I’m pretty sure I don’t need to elaborate on that one.

7. I once wrote my own version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and titled it Rudolph the Dead Head Reindeer. In it, Rudy was a drunk who liked Fuzzy Navels and was arrested for FUI—Flying Under the Influence. I also drew a picture of the drunk reindeer missing an ear and sporting a tattoo on his forehead that read OUT TO LUNCH.

Fifteen Blogs that I Find Worthy of this award:

Fifteen? I’m not sure I could qualify fifteen, but quite possibly ten.

BREATHE: This is Michelle Garren Flye’s blog. I think she deserves it simply because, a) she’s super cool and b) The HONEOWP. That would be Helpful Outstanding Novelists, Editors and Others in the Writing Profession. Each month she donates a portion of her royalties to a charity and it’s a different one each month.

Belinda Frisch, Author: As you can probably guess by the title, this is Belinda’s blog. Belinda constantly updates it with useful information about both the traditional and indie publishing worlds. She also calls it the way she sees it and I like that in both my friends and what I read.

Speaking of Belinda:

The E-Book Bin: This is another of Belinda’s blogs (which shows just how versatile she is and why she is nominated).

I’m going to count those two blogs as one nomination.

Word Blurb: Chantel Boudreau’s blog. I don’t know Chantel all that well, but I do know that at her blog there are a lot of book reviews and good articles to ponder on. Her reviews are honest and straightforward. Her blogs are the same way.

Juniper Grove: The blog of writer Jaidis Shaw. Like most blogs, Jaidis focuses on her self to a point, but then, like most good blogs, she focuses on others as well. From featured authors to book reviews to a little thing called Nurture Your Books, there is a lot to see from writers to books to Jaidis as well.

The Writer’s Block Party: Is it obvious I like the sites that offer to help promote other writers? I’ve always said word of mouth is the best marketing tool and that’s exactly what The Writer’s Block Party is, a blog dedicated to other writers with interviews and guest blogs going up on a regular basis. Lisa Taylor has dove in with both feet to help promote others while drawing very little attention to herself.

This Is My World, the blog spot of Nerine Dorman. Again, another writer taking time out to pimp other writers. Nerine does interviews and guest blogs and it helps everyone involved.

Raccoons with Tubas… yeah…: Okay this blog is just fun to look at. It’s Steve Lowe’s bizarre (dare I say bizarro?) site and yes there is some language, but it’s all Loweprechaun…

The Galloping Ghostwriter: I’ve only been following this blog for a short time. The articles about writing action fiction are informative and insightful. It’s the blog home of David Ritchie.

Fran Friel’s Yada Feast: Okay, this one has a lot of sentimental value for me. Fran is one of those people who helped me out when I first started writing and trying to get published. She was the one responsible for getting me into blogging and the Yada Feast is always full of great information, neat insights and Fran being Fran. There’s a reason I call her my Big Sis.

My Name Is Not Bob: This is Robert Lee Brewer’s blog. I do not know Mr. Brewer, but I absolutely love his blog and all the information on it.

Ramblings of an Anxiety Ridden Mind: Suzanne Robb does a LOT of interviews of horror writers and we all know how much we like to be interviewed.

So, eleven it is.

I close this as I have come to close all of my blogs and posts: Until we meet again, my friends…

[[Herbie’s Note: Again, thank you Candice, for the nomination. I am honored.]]

A Book Review: Dead Spell By Belinda Frisch

I would like to be up front about something before I go forth with this book review: I am not a book reviewer. There are reasons for this. One reason is that when I am editing others’ work, I am often a bit harsh. On occasion, writers of those works at those moments didn’t care much for how I went about explaining things. I used to be soft of folks so it took a while for me to be brutally honest about someone’s work. I’ve found sometimes you have to be a little rough on folks to get their attention, to make them listen. While I do tend to be hard on folks, I rarely ever end an editing job without something positive to say. For me, I try to balance the negatives with the positives in order that the writer can see that, even if he/she is struggling with a particular issue, there is hope and giving up should not be an option.

With that in mind, I don’t review many books simply because, though I know I can give fair and impartial thoughts, sometimes the writer simply can’t handle my opinion or the way I give it. The key word there is opinion. The other reason is I am a notoriously slow reader. It’s not that I can’t read fast–I can when I have to–but I don’t like to breeze through stories and not get the full effect the writer intended.

However, I got my keyboard calloused fingers on a book about six or so weeks ago and, after reading the first couple of pages, I was engrossed in the story. Ten minutes and twenty-five pages later I stopped reading. Did you catch that? Twenty-five pages in ten minutes (or maybe fifteen, but definitely no more than that). That’s a lot for me in such a small span of time.

I set the book down just long enough for my wife to pick it up and begin reading it. In my household that is all of about three seconds. She read it in a couple of hours and told me, “You really need to finish this book.” Finishing the book was my intention before the lovely lady picked it up.

I turned back to the first page and started over. I read through half the book that night and finished it the next day. For a person who takes six months to finish a three hundred page book, that’s quite an accomplishment.

Five paragraphs in to this, one would think I would have already offered up the title of the book and the author or even a little bit about this novel, but I havenn’t. On purpose. Remember, I’m not a book reviewer. So, I need you, the reader, to understand that though I am a writer, I am a reader (just like you) and I like to be engrossed in what I am reading. Understand? Good.

Dead Spell, by Belinda Frisch, is my type of book. It’s quick paced, but not all action all the time. There are enough descriptions to get the feel of the scenery and the people in it without overdoing it. And it has something that not many stories have (at least for me): a few really good cringe-worthy scenes. If you can make me squirm just a little, then you’ve done your job, and Belinda Frisch did her job.

A brief synopsis without giving too much away: Teen-aged Harmony struggles with living in a world where her mom has issues of her own and a ghostly figure named Tom haunts her on a regular basis. Her best friend, Brea, also has problems, but not nearly to the extent as Harmony. Brea has to help Harmony figure out who Tom is before it’s too late–for both of them.

I can’t really say too much more without spoilers, so I’ll try and talk around it a little.

As the story unfolds we find out how tight the bond is between the two girls and how Brea’s mother wants nothing more than for her to stay away from Harmony. There is a bit of mystery behind her reasons, which in the end, make complete sense. We also get to see more of Tom, the apparition tormenting Harmony, as well as Brea’s boyfriend and mother, who are somewhat over protective and, in the mother’s case, overbearing.

Again, I am not one to give away all the information, but in the end, the story takes an unexpected turn that gave me a satisfying smile. And that’s pretty hard to do these days.

This book could have easily taken that turn into young adult horror, but it stayed in the more adult arena. That is my opinion. Others may disagree and I’m fine with that. It does have the feel of a young adult title, but it also has things in there that definitely fit the more adult crowd. There are drugs, a bit of sex (and who doesn’t like them a bit of sex?), some paranormal activity, some violence, both inflicted upon and self-inflicted by the characters. There are lies and deceit and… gasps… a little bit of romance as well, but not too much and not enough to make me gag, thankfully. There is heartache and a bit of redemption as well. There are no glittery vampires or hunky werewolves and that made me a happy reader.

The real key to this book is not only the story, but the ease at which it was written. There is no flowery language to wade through, no purple prose. The characters come to life and, believe me, when certain events happen, you feel it. There is no extra padding of descriptions in order to make the story longer. It comes in at a relatively modest 198 pages, which is right around the forty to fifty thousand word mark. Belinda Frisch’s writing in Dead Spell is simple and easy to read.

If you like heavy descriptions and a lot of fluff, then this book is not for you. However, if you like a quick paced, easy to read story, you’ve found your book of choice in Dead Spell.

Will everyone like this book? Probably not. Nothing is ever liked by everyone. Will the majority enjoy Dead Spell? I am going to say they would. What I find refreshing about this novel is that it was written with the reader in mind, not the editor, not the publisher. It’s a story that the reader can understand without having to go back and reread portions of it just to ‘make sure.’ You don’t get lost when the plot takes an unexpected turn. I like that.

Everyone has a rating system of stars and what have you. What can my rating system be? Let me see… Stars? No. Skulls? No. Bones? No. Hair follicles? Yeah, right. How about blood drops? Sure, that works. I give Dead Spell five out of five richly red blood drops. Go pick up a copy. I think you’ll like it.

You can purchase Dead Spell at Amazon

Also, check out Belinda Frisch’s home page at:
Belinda Frisch, Writer With A Dark Side

Keep It Simple Stupid

Who am I to tell you how to write? I’m not the best writer in the world. I’m clearly not the smartest guy you’ll ever meet. I may be in contention for the opposite end of that spectrum. I can’t do quantum physics. I’m not a rocket scientist. I can, however, color within the lines and I build a mean Lego castle. Even if I slept in a Holiday Inn Express, I wouldn’t be any smarter when I woke up than I was the night before. You know, Holiday Inn Express… the commercials…

Wow, crickets.

Though I can’t rap like white bread in the video, I do know one thing: what I like in writing. That is simplicity. I like the simplicity of the written word, when the writer writes, well, simple.

Some of the old school writers had the right idea when they penned their stories, giving just enough detail for the reader to understand the location and then let the story spell itself out.

However, in many cases, the dialogue really lacked a realistic flair.

Then you had those writers who were quite knowledgeable with their vocabulary. I found many of those stories to be tedious and aggravating. If I have to keep a dictionary handy when reading something, more often than not, I stop reading.

As time moved on, writers began going full on descriptive. You know some of those writers I speak of. Anne Rice and Stephen King come to mind (hey, not bashing King here–he’s my favorite writer, but let’s call a horse a horse, okay?). I love to know the scenery and the way folks appear and what’s going on, but I don’t need four pages on the shade of purple a curtain is. Yah know?

In today’s world of fiction, we are told action, action, action. Get straight to the action. So, the modern writer has become action driven, while character and descriptions have gone by the wayside.

What I like is a mixture of all of those. Details without overdoing it, simple prose without being too wordy and action that feels real without all the Batman BIFFS and BAMS.

Is that too much to ask?

Here’s the thing with me, the reader: If I find a story is straight up action, I put it down. I don’t care much for that style at all. If I find a story that is straight up descriptions, I put it down. If the story is too weighty on one thing and not balanced out by the other, I put it down. Bad dialogue makes me cringe and I almost always put those stories down. Lately I’ve put down a lot of books.

As a reader, I want the mixture. I want writing that’s not going to confuse me and a story that will engage me and not something that is so quick I feel like I just had great sex that ended badly. Does that make sense? I hope so, because I really don’t want to go into details with that…

I want the well rounded story. The simple story.

Simple? Yes, simple. Simple sentence structure. Simple language.

You see, we writers tend to over think things. Things our readers could care less about. In most cases, that is fine, but in some, not so much. We want our words to be just so, that when the editors get them they will gush and say they have to have that story. We tend to over analyze and scrutinize and theorize and whatever-else-ize you want to throw in there.

Listen to me for a second: Readers want great stories. That’s the bottom line. They want to be entertained. They want to fall in love with and/or hate the characters. They want to FEEL something while they are reading and, especially, when they are done. They don’t want to be confused. They want to be immersed in a story until its end and then need a cigarette afterward.

In order to do that, you don’t need purple prose or elaborate sentence structure. You simply need to tell the story.

Let’s be honest here: Do any of you wish you were Stephanie Meyer right now? She may not be the best writer in the world, but she wrote in simple terms with engaging characters. Bottom line. She wrote the great American novel–though many, myself included, don’t find it to be all that great. But, thousands upon thousands of women do. You can’t really argue with the success, can you? It wouldn’t do you any good. Those women are vicious about their Twilight…

Meyer had an idea and she wrote it. She threw the rules out the window and just wrote the story. The sentence structure is easy to read; the wording simplistic. If you ask a thousand women, nine hundred of them will say the book is a page turner.

Simple writing. Simple story. I need to vomit now…

Some folks are just born with talent and anything they write turns to gold. Most of us were not and we have to develop our skills as we go along. It’s an eternal internship. Say that five times real fast. We have to learn how to tell a effortless story.

I’ve pondered this over the last few years as I’ve tried to develop the ability to write engaging stories and memorable characters. I experimented with the action oriented stories and didn’t like them. I tried to use sophisticated language, but it just wasn’t me. I tried the heavy descriptions and found myself nodding off while writing. A bad sign if there ever were one. Now, I’m in the Happy Medium mode, trying to blend enough action with descriptions and feeding off the senses of the characters to, hopefully, create memorable works. I like where I’m at right now, though I’ve got a few major areas that need work.

The one thing I have always tried to do is keep my story simple. You’ve heard of K.I.S.S., right? No, not the rock band.

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K.I.S.S. stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. Ring a bell? Good. That philosophy is perfect for writing. It doesn’t mean you have to dumb down your writing. Just don’t overdo it. Complicated storylines are fine. Complicated writing is not. You want your stories to be free flowing and capture the imagination of your readers. By using eighteen letter words that start in X and end with Z you just may lose your readers, or at least jolt them out of the story.

I have come across some stories that are simple in the writing and hard to put down. I find the writers to be refreshing and have won me over as a fan.

My favorite of these is a guy named John Mantooth. If you’ve read any of my blogs before you may have heard his name once or twice. I’ve never read stories that seem so effortless in their telling. Take for example, The Water Tower, which appeared in Fantasy Magazine in 2009. Great writing, terrific story and engaging characters. The writing is simple and very easy to read. I could not pull myself away from this story until the final word had been read.

Mark Wolf, an individual I have watched grow as a writer over the last few years has quickly developed an easy reading style. I often find I have a hard time getting into fantasy and sci/fi types of stories, but I’ve often enjoyed his pieces. A little peek into Mark’s writing style and you will see it is simple and you can garner a lot of information in just a few words:

I was about 12 when I met Redder. I’d been orphaned for nearly half my life and made my way through snatching. Of course I had a wee advantage. I was a morph.

Very easy to read. This being a work in progress, I asked permission to use a little of the story ahead of time. I’m sure by the time Mark gets done with it, that paragraph will probably look different, while maintaining its simplicity.

There is Belinda Frisch , the author of the novel, Dead Spell. I received her book in the mail last week and sat down to read it. I’m a slow reader by nature, so the fact that I read through about 25 pages in about ten minutes is pretty good. The story is a page turner and it has none of the useless drivel that we find in so many novels these days. Unfortunately, my wife swooped in and took the book and has been reading it. Until she is done, I won’t see it again. If not for spring break here in SC, I would probably already have my grubby little hands back on it.

Possibly my favorite female author is a friend of mine, Michelle Garren Flye . I’ve known Michelle for a few years now and, aside from the way she writes, she is a terrific individual. The Steps My Lover Built is a short, yet powerful piece and it’s a very good example of simple writing. There is nothing fanciful about this story, but the meaning of it is easily understood.

There are others, but many of them don’t have websites or don’t submit their works for publication. It drives me nuts.

I will leave you with a thought. Keep It Simple Stupid–it’s easier than most of us think.

But, who am I to tell you how to write? After all, I’m still just another writer trying to find my way in this business. Ah, but I’m also a reader, and I know what I like to read and usually those stories that are the easiest to read and swallows a person up are the ones that are simply written…

In the Interest of Writing…

In the interest of writing:

Flash Fiction Chronicles, a website dedicated to flash fiction (obvious, right?) puts out a daily dose of advice on writing and publishing. It is owned by Every Day Publishing who also owns Every Day Fiction and Every Day Poets. You can subscribe to all three of the publications through your e-mail and get those daily updates with articles, stories or poetry (all three if you subscribe to all three).

I’ve found many of the articles at Flash Fiction Chronicles to be informative and entertaining. Does that sound like a cheesy infomercial to you? Just picture me holding a Shamway in a Snuggie while saying that…

There are several regular contributors to FFC and often times they are witty in their articles–I would be lying if I said I haven’t chuckled a time or a hundred while reading. My favorite of these contributors is Aubrey Hirsch. I like the way she writes and her Dating Advice for Writers is a terrific piece relating writing/submitting into dating terms, which I am sure all of us can relate to in one way, shape or form.

Oh and there’s one other tidbit that I would like to share about Flash Fiction Chronicles: they are always on the lookout for articles related to the writing business, whether it’s on the craft of writing or publishing or marketing. If you would like to write an article for FFC, check out their guidelines HERE

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My friend, Deborah Walker, has a postcard sized story titled Grandma’s Cottage up at Postcard Shorts. Give it a read if you will and explore the site for other stories under 250 words in length.

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Also, check out Belinda Frisch’s blog page, Belinda Frisch, Writer with a Dark Side. It’s informative, with great links to other blogs, and entertaining–a great combination. While you are at it, check out her novel, Dead Spell. It’s there on your left with links to the various places you can purchase it. You’ll like Belinda and you’ll enjoy her writing. Go ahead, check her out–I mean, the book. Come on, men, get your heads out of the gutters.

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Beneath the Surface of Things by Kevin Wallis is one of the best single author collections you will find this year. Twenty-five stories that tingle the spine. I’ve yet to read a negative review on this collection. Kevin is a tremendous author who continually crafts terrific story after terrific story. There is something for almost everyone in this collection. Pick one up today–you won’t be sorry.

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Normally I like to say something witty or leave you with a lasting impression. Today, I have nothing witty to say. Sad, I know. So, I’ll leave you with this: It’s time to get my sanity on…