Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Book Review - Everybody's Daughter by Michael John Sullivan

Michael Stewart is obsessed with finding something that was hidden in the basement of an old church.  He also faces his own demons, worried he isn’t being a good enough father to his teenage daughter Elizabeth and punishing himself for his belief he failed his wife before her death.


Unfortunately, nobody else seems to believe this hidden secret exists.  And how could they?  They believe he is crazy, his talk about travelling to the past through a tunnel in the church basement the delusions of a man who is not coping with reality.   But Michael knows it is real because he has gone through it before.


When Michael re-discovers the hidden passageway through time he vanishes.   Realizing what happened; Elizabeth is determined to follow her father.  Elizabeth finds the passage and emerges in Jerusalem centuries in the past just as she hoped, but her father is nowhere to be found.


Michael returns to the present to find Elizabeth missing.  He can only guess what happened to her, that she had followed him through the tunnel.  The world that was Jerusalem centuries ago is a dangerous world ruled by Roman soldiers and brutality.


Michael immediately realizes the danger his daughter in.  He has to find the way back.  He has to find her and bring her back!


But the tunnel has vanished and Michael cannot find it.  Complicating things more, he is everyone’s suspect in the disappearance of his daughter Elizabeth.  The three women in his life make it even more difficult.  His deceased wife’s friend blames him for her death and is convinced he is to blame for his daughter’s disappearance.  His sister and a woman who seems caught between being his friend and wanting more are both torn between his craziness, being unable to decide if he is guilty or innocent, and the need to help him find his daughter.


With the FBI investigating and following him, and the three women holding him back, it doesn’t seem that Michael will ever find his daughter.  The more Michael tries to convince those around him that his daughter is trapped in time; the more convinced they are that he is crazy and has done something to her.


His only real ally is his friend Dennis, the priest of the church who has his own reasons to believe this passage to the past exists.


While Michael fights his own battles in the present, desperate to find a way to return to Jerusalem in the time of Christ, Elizabeth faces the greatest danger of her life centuries in the past.  She reconnects with Leah, a woman she and her father met on their previous visit to Jerusalem in the time of Christ.  With no one who can save them the two women fight for their lives against a sadistic Roman soldier determined to own and control them both in his prison of savage cruelty.



Everybody’s Daughter mixes religion with the paranormal in a blend of miracles and sacrifice and the lesson that faith in the unbelievable is sometimes the only answer.  Michael John Sullivan treats the reader with a story of hope and despair, and finding salvation, all in a story that any reader can relate to.





Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Trouble With Self Promotion

The Trouble With Self Promotion


After years of work, a great deal of time spent
writing, re-writing, abandoning, taking up again, and endless rounds of editing, self doubt, and convincing myself that no one will like it, I finally took the big plunge and queried, accepted a contract, and had a book published.

Now what?

Self promotion, that’s what.


No matter the size of the publisher, or if you go the traditional publisher route, small independent press, or self publish, nobody is going to know about or buy your book without promotion and a lot of it.  The smaller the company, the smaller the promotional budget they’ll have.  But regardless of the size of the company the bulk of the promotion will fall on the author’s shoulders.  It’s expected that you will take up that burden and run with it.  After all, who has your self-interest at heart more than you?  That means you, the writer, have to do a lot of work to promote yourself as an author and your book.


My first attempt at bulk/multi self promotion can be summed up with one word.  It’s not a good word so we’ll just say “Oh crap!” and leave it at that.

The trouble with self promotion, my trouble to be specific although guaranteed I’m not alone, could probably have been helped a great deal with being more prepared and organized.  But in such a big task it takes a lot of time to be prepared and organized in that huge world of promotion and, like writing a novel, that will be an ongoing work in progress.

 Anger and frustration.  Those are two good words to describe my experience.  The biggest challenges working against me: poor internet connection, a less than stellar working mouse (okay, its more dysfunctional than functional), and starting out already tired and frustrated, with an overdose of wild hyper kids to reduce any attempt at concentrating to a slathering glob of damn I wish I had a glass of wine and a quiet place.


So this is lesson one in How To Be A Writer – Promote Yourself & Your Book:

-              Distractions are a killer just as much here as when you are trying to write

-              Tired and grumpy?  Let’s find our happy place before we start.

-              Preparation and organization ahead, yeah let’s work on that.

-              A good internet connection and reliable computer are huge pluses, essential even.

-              Spending four hours or more fighting with the internet, computer, distractions, et al to post a measly 8 quick past and post attempts to promote your book sucks the big one and was probably a huge waste of time.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Every Character Is Somebody

I get incredibly lazy about character development in my first draft. This especially happens when it comes to secondary and background characters.


When I’m in the throes of pounding at that keyboard, the words flowing through my fingertips as the story flourishes, or banging my head on the contraption in frustration, my focus is on the story. The big question of what happens next is what drives that first draft.



In most of my stories I have no better idea than the reader does about what is going to happen next or even who the characters are. The story often changes from that initial hunch of what it will be about as the events play out. Hell, I’m just along for the ride, wherever my imagination decides to take us.


Just like the reader I’m experiencing the story and meeting the characters as the events unfold.


This is why it is perhaps even more important for someone who writes like I do to never forget that every character is somebody, no matter how small a bit part they play.



What is more memorable? The story where everyone is a faceless nameless blank except the three or four main characters? Or one where old Mrs. Appleblossom down the street always wears a white flower either in her hat or tucked into her button hole, the absence of which could be a hidden (subliminal) hint of trouble to come?


What about Mr. Commely, who’s only purpose in the story is to deliver the letter that gives your character the bad news? Does the reader need to know that Mr. Commely has returned to work after retiring because he’s lonely after his wife passed away, that he always has a gentle pat on the head waiting for even the most fiercest of mailman hating dogs on his route, or that his behavior is sometimes strange and erratic? It doesn’t drive the story forward, so some would argue this is just extra words that should be cut.


The girl serving coffee through the drive through window probably doesn’t need to tell you that she’s having a bad morning. You can see it in her face. You don’t know her name and you probably don’t need to. But you can make the reader wonder why she’s having a bad day. Did she have a fight with her boyfriend? Was she reprimanded at work for being late again when she’s dealing with a serious crisis at home? Maybe she has a parent or child who is deathly ill. Why she looks unhappy isn’t important to the story. But just making the reader notice her sadness and wonder about it because your character did draws the reader further into becoming one with and sympathizing with your main character.


When you go through the drive through yourself, that girl behind the window touches your life when she hands you your coffee and takes your money. It may only be a thirty-second moment, but those thirty seconds still touch your life.



None of these bits about small characters drive the story and most of it can be left unsaid, back-story for these people who make only brief appearances. But dropping these little observations can add a depth of understanding and reality to the world your characters live in.


If you write with a sense of familiarity will all your characters lives, the reader will pick up on it. Like watching someone waving to someone walking by from across the parking lot, you can get a sense if they are familiar with each other or just passing a friendly wave to an acquainted stranger.


Some characters develop through the writing of that first draft. The main characters mostly get a lot of their character traits and flaws because their reactions and needs are what push the story forward. But with the rest they are lucky if they get dubbed as “frontdeskguy” or “girl2” as I write. Sometimes they are nothing more than a mention of “the other guy”.


As the story unfolds, so do little hints into the characters that show up for repeat appearances. And as I learn more about where these bit players fall into the story, I also get a better understanding of how each of them can bring more life to the story.


Like the young man in Men of Twelve (working name of a W.I.P.). The young man is an unimportant player, like the Start Trek guy who wears red to beam down to the planet. I know he’s going to die and the reader may get a sense of it too. That the trees mock him for being a nameless bastard without a father moments before his death does not drive the story, but it does add a layer of depth to the scene and the world the characters live in.



It’s in the editing, when I go back over the story to re-write, revise, develop more, and delete than I put the emphasis on picking out each character from the biggest to the smallest and give them a little touch of personality.


Bringing your characters to life brings the story to life. And, remembering that behind that blank nameless place holder in the story every character is somebody adds a touch of real life to your work. Behind the blank nameless face every person you see today is somebody too.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Exhausted by Sidney Gaudet

Exhausted by Sidney Gaudet

Exhausted is like the color gray.

Like a hungry wolf that spend the whole night looking for food,

Or the soot you cleaned out of the fireplace.

It is like the clouds on a rainy day that woke me from my slumber,

Like the huge rock I tried to bring home.

Exhausted is like a heavy fish on the end of your fishing rod,

Like the smoke that comes from the chimney that you tried to clear all day.

Exhausted is like the cement you got stuck in before it dried and you have been using all your might to get out of,

Like grey eyed people’s eyes after a long day.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Book Review: Scorpion Bay by Michael Murphy

Working as an investigative reporter and a prosecuting attorney respectively, Parker Knight and his wife both had jobs requiring secrecy and chasing down sensitive information.

Unfortunately for Parker, his wife has been more secretive lately.

Worse, his investigative reporting instincts bring him racing to the scene of an explosion that would rip his life apart.

Crassly snapping off photos of the scene, including an injured woman; Parker stops by the woman only to come face to face with the horror of the reality of the situation.

The woman is his wife Erica. He is helpless as she dies in his arms.

This is the start of events that pull Parker deeper into the mystery surrounding his wife’s death.

Parker is compelled to find out why his wife died and bring whoever planted the bomb to justice. With the help of his friend from his days in the Special Forces, Justin Kendall, and Justin’s girlfriend Tina Banks, he starts digging into the secrets behind Biotech and its CEO Harrison Bradley.

Together they follow the one elusive lead he has, Wildflower, a path that leads Parker into being dubbed a vigilante. Parker finds himself unwillingly embracing his identity as a vigilante despite its hindering his efforts to avenge his wife’s murder and bring the man he believes is responsible to justice.

The thing that initially drew me to want to read Scorpion Bay was a comment the author made once about how he was so charmed with Scorpion Bay, a real place, that it inspired him to write a book about it.

Michael Murphy did justice to both the place and the dangerous feel of the name. Scorpion Bay is more than an action packed mystery, it draws you into its web of intrigue and plays on sub plots that make you wonder where they will take you. Just when you think you figured it out you learn not to make any assumptions.

Scorpion Bay is published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC.