Blog Archives

Reach Your Writing Goals!

Writer Wordart

(Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

A few months ago I added a page to my website introducing a new coaching service I was offering for writers. I didn’t really push the service, didn’t do much in the way of announcing anything. I just kind of put it out there and let it be.

To be honest, I wasn’t ready to start accepting clients on a regular basis.

But now I’m ready.

If you’re a writer, especially a fiction writer, or if you aspire to be a writer and are looking for some personal coaching/tutoring to hone your craft . . . I can help.

If you have questions about writing or publishing that you need answers for . . . I can help.

If you’d like someone who is experienced and impartial to look at your material and give an honest opinion . . . I can help.

If you’re trying to determine whether to go the traditional route or self-published route but can’t decide which is best for you . . . I can help (I’ve done both).

If you’re discouraged and in need of some encouragement and help in determining what your next move should be . . . I can definitely help!

Please, if any of the above scenarios describes you, check out my coaching page, review the pricing, and contact me. I’m flexible. If what’s offered on that page doesn’t fit your needs or budget, contact me anyway and we can work something out. I want to see writers succeed.

I hope to hear from you soon!

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Rename My Blog . . . Um, or Maybe Not

So I had this contest to rename my blog. And well, I hate to say this and feel really bad about it but . . . there isn’t a winner.

Blockhead

 (Photo credit: Kaptain Kobold)

This makes me feel like such a blockhead because when I hold a contest I like there to be a winner. That’s kind of the point of a contest.

I guess I was looking for an entry that would give me that instant “That’s it!” moment and I just didn’t find it. And I can’t just put something up there that I’m not thrilled about.

THANK YOU to all who entered and gave suggestions. Really, it’s me, not you. I’m the blockhead. There were some great titles offered, some very creative, some just plain funny . . . I just didn’t find the right one.

Please feel free to continue to submit suggestions if you like and if I use yours you’ll still get the free books. This might help . . . I’m taking my fiction in a new direction, more focus on psychological thrillers so if we can incorporate something about the mind and life and fiction . . . I don’t know. I’ll keep thinking on it too.

Man, I hate it when a contest fails. Sorry.

Name My Blog Contest

I want to change the name of this blog. It’s time. Currently it’s “What Mike Says” and I’m tired of that. It’s trite, boring, vanilla.

So here’s what we’re doing: I’m going to give you a chance to rename this blog. Not the entire website, just the blog, what you’re reading now. If you want to, take some time to peruse some of the posts and get a feel for the type of stuff I write for this blog. It’s not really focused on any one topic. A little about writing, a little about parenting, a little about life and faith and how the two intersect. There’s also some about my writing in particular, my books, my activities.

I know there are some very creative people out there. I’m looking for something outside the box. Something that isn’t cliche for a fiction author or suspense writer. Something that begs people to click on it and see what it’s all about.

Just comment to enter. You may enter as many suggestions as you want. Winner will be announced Thursday morning.

And the prize for the title I choose? One of my books and a PDF copy of a never-published book I wrote several years ago called Fear Mountain. Only a handful of people have ever read this book. I recently edited it and am now making it available in PDF form for limited giveaways such as this as.

So are you in? Get that creative engine humming and give it your best shot!

Writing Un-Blocked . . . FREE E-book!

Writer's Block

Writer’s Block (Photo credit: thorinside)

Writer’s block is an enigma of sorts. Is it real? Is there really such a thing? Or is it all in one’s head?

I think if writer’s block was put on trial we could call thousands, no, millions of witnesses to attest to the fact that, yes, the block is real. They’d swear under oath, sit in that little box witnesses sit in, then forget what they were going to say.

And yes, writer’s block is in one’s head. Where else would it be?

I think writer’s block can grow from a variety of factors including frustration, anxiety, pressure, poor time management, and many others. It can come in a variety of forms and last for durations of varying times. But it is real. You can’t tell millions of writers who have suffered from it that it’s  bogus. It’d be like telling people that their dreams aren’t real, they’re just figments of their imagination. Um. Okay.

So, the question as I see it is not whether writer’s block is real or not but rather what do we  do with it? How do we prevent it? And once it slithers in and clogs our neural pathways, how do we get rid of it?

WritingUnBlock2All this week you can get for FREE a little e-book I wrote about writer’s block, how to prevent it and how to defeat it. It’s called WRITING unBLOCK! It’s a quick read but I hope you get something out of it that will help you prevent and/or defeat that dreaded block.

Please help spread the word about this book by sharing this post or the book’s Amazon page on all your social networking hang-outs. Thank you!

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.

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.

My Take On . . . Book Sales Numbers

English: An anxious person

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every September and March I develop an unusual twitch. It’s called stress. Anxiety. It’s called royalty statement time.

Every six months I get a royalty statement and on that statement are the sales numbers for each of my books. Both for the period and total.

Mostly, I hate those statements.

Two of the most-asked questions I get as a writer are: Where do you get your ideas? and What are your sales like?

Mostly, I hate those questions.

Writers get into writing because we love to write (duh!), because we love the creativity of it and we love sharing our stories with others. But there’s this other side to writing that whether we want to acknowledge it or not, doesn’t go away. Numbers.

Writing is an art but it’s also a business and while craft and style and creativity rule in our minds, sales numbers rule in the minds of a lot of other people. That’s a reality. Publishers look at sales numbers and more times than not those numbers drive how much money goes into marketing the book, how many resources get alloted to it, and whether or not they offer another contract. It’s a tough business, but it is just that . . . a business.

Every author wants to see his or her book putting up big numbers. In some weird way it seems like confirmation that yes, he is talented, people do enjoy his books, and the publisher did indeed make a good decision to publish his work. In a lot of ways big sales numbers = success.

The questions then arise about what qualifies as “big” numbers, how many books sold do publishers look for, what’s the measure of success? And the answers will vary from publisher to publisher. There’s really no standard.

As an author I care about the numbers. I do because I want to keep writing. But I try my hardest to fight the tendency to put the worth of my writing and even myself on the amount of books sold. There are just too man factors involved in why a book sells well or not.

As an author I want to focus on crafting the best story I can with the most worthwhile message. I want to impact lives, get people thinking, entertain, and yes, sometimes, scare the poo out of a reader.

Most of the time I think I’m somewhat successful at that. But I must admit, when the royalty statement comes I usually get all tense, go somewhere private, and open the letter. Then I walk around the rest of the evening muttering to myself about how I’m wasting my time, how it isn’t worth all the effort involved, how I’d be better off using my time getting a real part-time job. It takes me at least a few days to talk myself off that cliff and get back to writing.

And then six months later we do it all again.

But it’s worth it. Not because of the meager financial reward, but because of the readers I know are being impacted. It’s worth it for everything that isn’t financial, that doesn’t depend on numbers. It’s worth it because of the people. And really, isn’t that the way everything in life should be?

Okay, couple things I have to point out that you’ll want to check out:

FRANTIC  is still just $1.99. If you haven’t gotten it, get it today.

Ian Acheson, friend and author of Angelguard, has posted an interview we did today and he’s giving away books too. Check it out and enter to win!

Issues Writers Deal With, a Series

Writer Wordart

(Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

Over the next several weeks I’m going to periodically discuss different issues I deal with as a writer. Issues like:

  • The pressure of sales numbers
  • Dealing with negative reviews
  • Writing about the supernatural
  • Time management/fitting writing into a busy schedule
  • The issue of faith and fiction
  • Violence in fiction
  • Creating villains without becoming one
  • Romance and the element of love
  • Balancing fiction and real life
  • The ethics of using real people to create characters

If you’re a writer or want to become a writer or do any kind of writing I’m sure you’ll find these upcoming posts interesting.

If you’re not a writer, never were, and don’t want to be I really do think you’ll still enjoy these posts. It’ll give you an inside view into some of what writers deal with, what goes through our mind, and some of the decisions we make while writing. It’s actually pretty interesting.

Check in on these posts too as I’ll also feature some killer deals on books and occasional giveaways too.

Here’s a couple now:

Get my novel FRANTIC for only $1.99!

Enter the Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win FEARLESS.

FearlessCoverAnd if you haven’t done so yet, check out my newest thriller, FEARLESS. Here’s my challenge: Go to the Amazon page and click on the “Look Inside” feature. Read the first several pages. I bet you’ll be hooked. If you’re not, I want to hear about it.

THANK YOU! Can’t Say it Enough . . .

catsI want to thank everyone who helped promote Mirror Image and The Last Hunt. I want to thank those who downloaded them, who read them, who reviewed them, who talked about them. I hope you enjoyed both stories. They’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback and have really seemed to strike a good note with readers.

If you missed the giveaways, not to worry, both stories are available for only $0.99.

thelasthuntAnd believe me, there are more coming. I’ve really been enjoying writing these short stories and making them available.

WritingTimeI recently wrote a short non-fiction book (just 35 pages) about making time to write and finishing what you start. It, too, will be offered for free in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Fearless releases on May 7, a week from Tuesday. You can preorder it just about anywhere. So far, it’s getting very good reviews, some saying it’s my best book yet. I find this interesting because after all is said and done with the writing and editing of all my books I always think, This is the book that’s going to flop, that’s going to expose me as a fraud. But from what I hear from my author friends that’s a perfect normal feeling and shared by most.

FearlessCoverFearless is a wonderful story and while writing it I quickly fell in love with the characters. It has lots of suspense, mystery, intrigue, and of course a slight twist of the supernatural. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Making My Way Back

Twilight in the Wilderness, (1860), Cleveland ...

Twilight in the Wilderness, (1860), (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been gone for a while. Admittedly, I’ve been lost, wandering in the wilderness of indecision.

This was due to a number of factors converging and culminating in a perfect storm of  fatigue, burnout, and apathy. I’d had enough and needed a break from writing, and I had no idea how long that break would last. To be honest, even just a few weeks ago I was perfectly okay with the idea of never writing and publishing another book in my life.

And then I went to the Writer’s Advance Boot Camp and something changed. I was refreshed, refocused, revived. I was reminded why I write and over night my vision became clear. (I highly recommend this conference for 2014).

I write because I’ve been called to. I truly believe that. And I can’t abandon my calling.

And now I’m making my way back. I’m not ready to dive in yet but that day is on the horizon and near. I have some story ideas; my passion is returning. Slowly, I’m rebuilding and gaining momentum. But this time around I want to do it better. I want to have a plan, a true vision, and want to be focused on what’s important, on things that really matter, on things that will last for eternity.

This is why I do what I do, and this is why I must come back from this trek into the wilderness. I need to because it’s part of who I am, part of who I’m meant to be.

More on this return and rebuilding will come in the near future. I have some exciting things planned, and I hope you’ll join me.

After all, we have work to do, eternal work.

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