Category Archives: Fearless

My Take On . . . Reader Reviews (with some feistiness)

Modern Art

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m going to make this short and to the point. Reader reviews are what they are. Writing is art and reading is subjective. That whole beauty in the eye of the beholder thing. That’s what is wonderful about it. There’s something for everyone.

Yes, there are certain rules writers should follow that make for “good” writing but even those rules can be broken and broken with success.

But as for the reviews themselves, I put reviews into four categories: Positive about the story; Positive about the craft; Negative about the craft; Negative about nonsense.

I’m not going to dwell on the positive reviews because everyone enjoys positive reviews. For some readers the story captures their imagination or heart and they just love it. For others, the skill of the author impresses them. Positive reviews are awesome. Simple.

Negative reviews are another kind of bird. There are the negative reviews that actually mean something. They touch on the craft of storytelling or the skill of  word weaving. Pacing, character development, plotting, etc. This is called constructive criticism. I take these reviews to heart and seek to learn something from them.

Then there are the moronic reviews. Like this one for my family drama, A Thousand Sleepless Nights (written under a pen name, Michael King): The reviewer gave it 2 stars because “I ordered this book because my brother was recently diagnosed with Colon Cancer, I thought this would be a resource book.” Really? It clearly says “A Novel” right on the cover. My heart goes out to the brother and . . . he could still use it as a resource book.

And then there are comments like this attached to 1-star reviews: “Gives you the impression it’s going to be a horror novel, and ends up pounding religion into the reader.” And this: “This book is all about finding God, how your problems will all be solved and all will be right with the world. What a crock. If I want to find religion, I can do it without being tricked into reading a religious book. Shame.” Uh, did they read the book? Yes, it’s about finding God but all is definitely not right with the world. And these are the folks who accuse Christians of being closed-minded. Shame.

These moronic reviews really don’t bother me. They’re part of being a writer and you take ’em as part of the journey.

But sometimes negative reviews hurt. This one for Frantic still puts an ache in my heart. It’s honest and respectful and I appreciate that. I wrote a post on it before that discusses why it hurt so badly.

Other times I’m just baffled by positive vs. negative reviews. The two following reviews exemplify perfectly how subjective reading is. Both are for my short story The Last Hunt.

The positive one: From the first line of the story, Dellosso’s craftsmanship shows through. The story begins with boyhood memories of hunting trips with his dad, his uncle, and his grandfather. The tale includes anecdotes of how the narrator grew up on these hunting trips and approached manhood. Then the story delves into the fateful night and the hunting trip that was the final one. The story is narrated at just the right pace. It is a masterpiece.

And the negative one: I really enjoy Mr. Dellosso’s books, so I thought I would try this short story. It was very disappointing and definitely not worth the dollar I spent on it. The story was rushed and the conclusion just left me confused. Questions were not answered and storylines weren’t finished. I think this would make a good full-length book so that more things could be fleshed out. As a short story, however, it fell way short of the mark.

Did they read the same story? Obviously they did. But you see how the same story can affect people in two totally different ways. For a writer, this is frustrating.

Now, the negative one here would fall into the “Negative about the craft” category and is worth learning from. Except one thing that, I’m sorry, just irks me: “definitely not worth the dollar I spent on it.” I wish this reviewer would have used his real name because I’d gladly track him down and refund his dollar. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Okay, that was a little more than short and sweet. Sorry.

FearlessCoverHey, if you haven’t read my newest thriller, Fearless, yet I’d suggest getting a copy and leaving a review when you’re done. And I’ll thank you ahead of time for any positive or thoughtful negative reviews. But please, if your review is going to be moronic, save your time and skip it. Or don’t use your real name.

My Take On . . . Creating Villains, Part 2

The creation of villains is a delicate process.

Adolf Eichmann

Adolf Eichmann (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You wouldn’t think it would be. You’d think it would be akin to ramming a half-ton pickup through a shop full of glassware. You’d think it would be messy work, all murders and mayhem and carnage and cursing.

But it’s not. Not if you do it right.

Fictional characters are a bit of an oxymoron. They’re fictional, only they’re not. All writing originates from what we experience. What we see, hear, feel, taste. Stories we hear, research we do, memories we have, nightmares we dream. It all derives from our experiences.

So the characters we develop are mostly collages of people we’ve met, folks we’ve observed, and/or bits and pieces of our own psyche/personality/concoctions.

And this is where it gets hairy with villains. You see, I’m not a villain, at least as far as you know. I obey laws, respect other people, follow rules, and basically try to stay out of trouble except those times my big mouth gets away from me. And generally, I try not to rock the boat too severely.

So how do I create villains who are serial killers, psychopaths, narcissistic nutjobs, and all-around bad guys? And how do I create them in such a way that they walk right off the page and urge you to not only hate and fear them, but feel sorry for them and understand the world they live in?

I tap into my own inner villain. He’s in there. In fact, he’s in all of us. That little Adolph Eichmann waiting for permission to show himself.

The trick to creating believable villains is to get in touch with Eichmann without letting him roam free. And it’s a balancing act. Very delicate work.

To give my villains texture and personality and believability I have to see what they see, hear what they hear, think what they think, and feel what they feel. And it’s not a pretty place to be. It’s brutal work, depressing, sorrowful . . . and dangerous. To spend too much time there is to toy with evil and that’s never a safe thing to do.

So I walk a line, that line between doing my best to remain pure and upright and innocent and delving into carnality and selfish desires and murderous thoughts.

The work of creating villains needs to be handled with care. It’s claimed more than one victim.

FearlessCoverPost script: Mitch Albright, the villain in my new novel Fearless, is a man tortured by his past and his desire to be respected. He has many sides to his personality and much difficulty controlling any of them. And while Mitch was difficult to write, I believe he’s one of the most pathetic villains I’ve created yet.

My Take On . . . Villains, Part 1

Hey, bad guys are people too!

That statement is more true that you’d like to think.

Gacy as "Pogo The Clown".

Gacy as “Pogo The Clown”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Look at some of the most despicable people in recent history: Andrea Yates, Gary Ridgeway, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and most recently, Kermit Gosnell. Some would say these folks are subhuman, their deeds were so awful, so evil.

But what’s their story? What were the events in their life that played a part in shaping who they became?

That’s the question I try to get at when I create villains. I don’t want to create just another bad guy doing bad things. That’s one-dimensional, it’s cardboard. There’s so much more to people than just what they do.

There’s the why, the how, the background, the psychological damage, the emotional turmoil.

The villains I create need to be defined by more than just what they do. I want readers to experience who they are. They have reasons for what they do. Those reasons may make sense (in a very demented, twisted way) or they may not. But all the time those reasons are tragic.

In villains I want to show the fallen state of mankind, how low we are capable of going if that self-absorbed, sin nature is allowed to thrive, unhindered, unshackled. But I also want to show the tragic groundwork that was laid to enable that kind of fall.

I want readers to understand that these people, these monsters, are more than what their deeds portray. They’re people, hurting, confused, lost, and warped beyond most of our FearlessCoverimaginations. They are to be feared, yes, but not only because of who they have become, but because, as the 16th century preacher and eventual martyr John Bradford said, There but for the grace of God, go I.

You can find a listing of all my books on this site or my Amazon page. And make sure you check out my newest thriller, Fearless. The villain, Mitch Albright, is quite a character and has quite a back story.

So what do you think? Should we portray villains as wounded, hurting individuals? As people and not just heartless monters?

The Importance of Time and a FREE Book!

Time travel 01

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, I have another book to giveaway. I must say I love doing this. Giving away books.  Giving away things.

I’m a busy guy. Probably not as busy as some but busier than others. I have a lot going on in life and it keeps me scurrying about. That’s why I get asked so much about how I find time to write.

But it isn’t about finding time, is it? No. Not really. It’s about MAKING time.

If time were money we wouldn’t talk about finding money as if just happens to appear in secret places and we have to snoop around until we find it. No. We talk about making money. About being intentional.

The difference is that there is really no limit to the amount of money one can make. There is a limit to the amount of time one has at one’s disposal. So we must not only make time but we must use it wisely.

And therein is how I MAKE time to write. No, I haven’t discovered the secret to time travel and don’t have the ability to literally make time as you would money. We all have 24 hours in a day and that’s it. No more, no less.

It’s what we do with that time that matters.

I’m sorry but I tend to be rather cynical when someone tells me they simply don’t have time to write, that they could write a book if they only had the time. I’m cynical because the making of time tends to bring with it some sacrifice. The bottom line is those folks who think they’re too busy simply don’t want to make the sacrifice.

This is  a lesson not just for writing but for all of life. Take note: You do have the time but you choose to use it how you wish. Remember that whenever you are tempted to use the excuse of lack of time.

WritingTimeNow, back to the giveaway . . . while we’re discussing time management and writing I think it’s appropriate to introduce a little e-book I wrote called Writing Time! Proven Techniques for Making Time to Write and Finishing What You Start. It’s a short book, just 35 pages or so, but it’s packed with information about making time to write and making the most of that time. If you are a writer or if you know a writer, this book will help. Guaranteed.

And the best thing is that all this week the book is FREE on Amazon! That’s right. FREE!!

Please help spread the word about this book by sharing this post or the Amazon page on all your social media hangouts. Thank you!

Also, be sure to check out my newest thriller, FEARLESS. Available wherever books are sold.

Get FEARLESS for FREE!!

FearlessCoverSound too good to be true? It’s not.

Yes, you can get my newest thriller FEARLESS for free.

My publisher, Charisma House, recently created a website called Booketeria where you can request books for free and all you have to do in return is promise to write an honest review.

FREE book (and a new release at that). A $14.99 value. For a simple but honest review.

Not a bad deal.

Just go on over to Booketeria.com, sign up, and get your copy of FEARLESS for FREE.

And if you don’t mind, please share this great deal with all your social media friends. FREE is good!

Oh, one more thing . . . you can still get my novel FRANTIC for only $1.99 on Amazon. Hurry, though, this price won’t last too much longer.

Final WINNERS of FEARLESS Giveaways!

Wow, I can’t believe the week is over already! What a whirlwind. I truly had a blast reading all the comments. Here’s a quick rundown on how things played out for the week.

Calculator

(Photo credit: yum9me)

Visitors: 1185
Comments: 192
Books given away: 29

Pretty awesome! THANK YOU!!

Okay, here are the winners of yesterday’s giveaway . . .

MIRROR IMAGE: Dennis Morris
THE LAST HUNT: Kevin Hill
REARVIEW: jendjacobs
THE HUNTED: Shana Montgomery
FEARLESS: donnajsanchez
FEARLESS: Troy Tennard

Congrats to all the winners!

And again, a big THANK YOU to everyone who participated this week. Keep spreading the word about FEARLESS!

And HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!

LAST DAY to Win a Copy of FEARLESS (and Other Books)!!

David Prowse as Darth Vader in The Empire Stri...

(1980) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wow, I can’t believe this week has already come to an end. THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the giveaways, especially yesterday’s. It was so interesting to see who those favorite villains were. I think Darth Vader and Marsuvees Black were the most popular. Lots of Star Wars and Ted Dekker fans out there, huh?

Okay, here are the winners from yesterday’s giveaways:

MIRROR IMAGE: Judy More
THE LAST HUNT: Sarah Hallam
REARVIEW: JoAnn Armstrong
FRANTIC: Jenn
FEARLESS: Vicki H.
FEARLESS: Mizael

Congratulations to all the winners!

And now for today’s giveaway . . . Simply leave a comment to this post. That’s it, nice and simple. Anything you want to say. Books on the table are MIRROR IMAGE, THE LAST HUNT, REARVIEW, THE HUNTED, and 2 copies of  FEARLESS.

And if you’re a mother may I just say HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! Thank you for all you do!

Two More Days of Giveaways! Be FEARLESS and Enter.

FearlessCoverOnly two more days of giveaways! Thank you to all who have participated and congratulations to all who have won books.

I’m often asked about the villains I write. When writing villains I try to keep in mind that they are real people too. There is a reason they turned to evil; at some moment in their life there was a decision made, a turning point happened. That’s what I try to explore. I want to dive deeper into the psyche of the villain, show the reader that under the exterior there is a hurting person there. And if the reader feels some sympathy for the villain, then I’ve done my job.

In FEARLESS, Mitch Albright is one such villain. Wounded, he has chosen the path of destruction and is desperate to get what he craves the most.

Enough of that, now on to the winners from yesterday’s drawing:

MIRROR IMAGE: Jason Sessions
THE LAST HUNT: Nancy (@ciclodiva)
DARKNESS FOLLOWS: Annie VZ
FEARLESS: esdluquillo (Betsy)
FEARLESS: Brian Stansell
FEARLESS: Cathy Groover

Robert DeNiro as Max Cady in the 1991 remake.

Robert DeNiro as Max Cady in the 1991 remake. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, for today’s giveaway. All you have to do is leave a comment stating your favorite villain of all time. I don’t care who it is or where he’s from. Favorite villain of all time. Let’s have it. Mine? Max Cady, Robert De Niro’s character in Cape Fear. That guy seriously creeped me out.

Books up for grabs are MIRROR IMAGE, THE LAST HUNT, REARVIEW, FRANTIC, and 2 copies of FEARLESS.

Celebrating the Release of FEARLESS with More Giveaways!

FearlessCoverFirst, I want to thank everyone who has taken part in this giveaway week by entering the contests and helping to promote them. You make this possible. Really.

One of the characters in FEARLESS, Louisa, is a child with a very special gift. If you’ve been reading my books you may have noticed I’m on a kick with including children in my stories. This is for a couple reasons. One, I enjoy writing children. They provide a unique canvas for creating very colorful, interesting characters. And two, the innocence of a child offers the perfect contrast for evil. Louisa’s character is rich with both of these aspects.

Now, down to business. The winners of yesterday’s giveaway are . . .

MIRROR IMAGE: Ann Carawan
THE LAST HUNT: Whitney Woodmansee
REARVIEW: Gary Hough
A THOUSAND SLEEPLESS NIGHTS: Reggie Greanleaf
FEARLESS: Tom Farr
FEARLESS: Anna Urquhart
FEARLESS: Patrick Cox

Whew! Congratulations to all the winners.

Okay, more giveaways on the way. Today, I’d like you to go to my Facebook fan page and Darkness Follows“LIKE” it. Then leave a comment below this post stating you did so. If you’ve already liked it, that counts. Just leave a comment saying you’ve liked it already. That simple.

You may win a copy of FEARLESS (I’m giving away 2 copies), MIRROR IMAGE, THE LAST HUNT, or DARKNESS FOLLOWS.

Please share this giveaway with your friends and followers via all your favorite social media sites. If we get to 1,000 likes on the Facebook page I’ll throw in another copy of FEARLESS and increase your chances to win!

FEARLESS: The Release is Here (With Lots of Giveaways)!

FearlessCoverToday is the official release day for FEARLESS and we have  a lot to cover so let’s get started . . .

Yesterday’s winners. Below are the winners from yesterday’s giveaways. Congrats to all!

THE LAST HUNT: Greg Sutis
MIRROR IMAGE: Pal Davenport
FRANTIC: Lois Hudson
FEARLESS: Cindy Snider

Want to help promote FEARLESS? Wow, thank you! Below are some links you may find interesting. Just copy and past them in your Facebook status or Twitter feed.

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Fearless-A-novel-Mike-Dellosso/dp/1621362418/
Fan video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ha04CiaDJxA
Fan Pinterest page: http://pinterest.com/jojosutis/fearless-by-mike-dellosso/

Rearview coverATSNcoverOkay, here’s how to win more books! See the “Share this:” section directly below this post? Just share this post on one of those sites and then leave a comment saying you did so and you’ll be entered to win one of 3 copies of FEARLESS, a copy of MIRROR IMAGE, THE LAST HUNT, REARVIEW, or A THOUSAND SLEEPLESS NIGHTS.

You have until midnight. Winners will be announced tomorrow.

Please share this!

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