Posts Tagged With: Reading

So I ran the first chapter of Chasing Nonconformity by my critique group …

… and they didn’t hate it!

It was a fairly nerve-wracking experience — after all, despite how much we writers talk about loving it when people read our work and tell us what they think, in truth we’re absolutely terrified at the idea. What if they hate it? What if they think it’s the worst thing they’ve ever read, but are too polite to tell us to our face? Etc. But I persevered!

Going into the reading, I asked my group to look out for certain things (feel free to steal these if you’re working on your own first chapter):

  • Do you get a good sense of who the characters are? Can you picture what they look like? Do they have a distinctive voice when they’re talking?
  • Do you get a good sense of the setting? Is it interesting? More description or less?
  • In terms of plot exposition, too much or too little? Do you know why the characters are here and what they want? Is it over-explained? Is it under-explained?
  • (And now for the most important question …) Does the first chapter make you want to keep reading the book?

Overall, they enjoyed it. They suggested a bit more description in some parts, and less in others. They agreed that I over-explained the characters’ purpose (I think I mention it like 5 times over the course of the chapter), so that’s something I’ll need to cut down and work into the flow of dialogue a little bit more seamlessly. And, thank God, they said it was intriguing and that they’d like to read more.


I was actually so nervous about sharing the chapter that my stomach went completely nuts and started … well, we won’t go into that. Long story short, I had some tea, took a few deep breaths, shared the story, accepted all criticism with thanks and a smile, and got out alive. What more can a writer ask for?


Unrelated media of the day:


Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 24 Comments

Got my book back from the beta readers!

That’s right! As of yesterday afternoon, I’ve officially reacquired Chasing Nonconformity, the sequel to my debut novel Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It, from my beta readers. Huzzah!

Granted, I only actually got it back from two beta readers — specifically, my mother and brother. Three big cheers for them! The rest of my so-called “beta readers” haven’t done a whole lot of reading. But that’s okay! Because I’m going to be doing a lot of re-writing (again), so by the time they remember they’re supposed to be reading the book, I’ll have a new draft for them anyway. Then they can busily not read the new draft while I start on the next one. This plan, my friends, is fool proof. FOOL PROOF!

Ahem. So, onwards and upwards with the re-writing! I’ve got a lovely 200 page manuscript full of red ink sitting beside me just waiting for me to begin my perusal, so that’s exciting. More awesome, however, are the small cartoons I noticed that my mother and brother and slipped into the manuscript every now and again. They’re quite artistic, my family members. Thus without further delay, I present to you:

Drawings from Chasing Nonconformity (Summer 2013 draft)

Artists: Jesse Proulx and Linda Schneidereit

Note: Please don’t ask me to explain these, because … well, because I can’t. Enjoy!












And that about wraps that up. Now that you’ve seen the drawings, can you imagine the kind of ridiculous comments and suggestions I have to put up with from these people???

Categories: My Works, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 34 Comments

Guest Post: Charles Yallowitz on Sequel Writing

Tips on Writing a Sequel

First, a big thank you to Michelle Proulx for letting me write a guest blog in honor of the July 31st debut of my second book, Legends of Windemere: Prodigy of Rainbow Tower.  I think that covers the shameless self-promotion part of the program.  Wait.  Feel free to buy and read Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero, so you’re ready for the sequel.  There.  That should do it.

So, you want to write a sequel.  It’s a common malady for fiction authors.  You love your characters and you have subplots that need more time to run their course.  You have a new villain that you want to use. That infomercial at 3AM gave you the best idea for another story with the same characters.  There’s also the chance that you had a series planned all along and this is the natural progression of your career.  In the end, the sequel is there and you’re ready to write it.

My story is that my books are based on a college Dungeons & Dragons game.  I knew from the beginning that a series would have to happen.  Each semester had a different quest as the heroes moved through the dice rolls.  Then I realized I had to put some work in and altered a lot before I sat down to write.  The big difference is that characters don’t evolve too much over the course of a single adventure in a game.  In fact, many players have their characters stay the same in terms of mentality and emotions.  I had to shake things up and put growth into the story, which is why I take sequels very seriously.  You need all of your main characters to change in every book even if it’s minor.  For example, one character might go through a life-changing event while another learns a new skill.  Both are growth, but one is definitely heavier than the other.

I would say one of the most difficult parts of writing a sequel (and I’m writing the 5th book of the series here) is balance of characters.  Specifically, your old characters versus your new characters. You have your original heroes that you need to keep some focus on and retain what they had in the first book.  You must also put them in situations that test their strength and develop them beyond their original forms.  This takes a lot of work because you don’t want to go too far or spend all of your time on it.  Yes, these are the characters you started with and they have seniority, but they also have fans and reputations that your new characters are setting out the gain.

The balance with new characters is that you need to highlight them without overshadowing your old characters.  They need to merge into the preexisting group, but not so flawlessly that it’s unbelievable.  Think about how you make new friends and try to work off that.  You might even want to go with a new character that the old ones have trouble getting along with.  I introduce a very powerful spellcaster named Nyx in my new book.  She is temperamental, rude, and difficult to get along with at first.  It makes for an interesting story because she butts heads with the main hero of the first book, Luke Callindor.  This gave me the opportunity to delve into the tolerance and friendship making ability of these two characters.  In the end, I create a very tight and clear dynamic between them.

Here are some simple tips about writing a sequel:

  1. Change is good and necessary in terms of characters.  Yet, you must always stay true to the character.  If one of them goes evil then it has to make sense that they do it.  The noble Paladin going evil on a whim won’t win you any sales.
  2. Reference past books, but don’t harp on it.  You need to find a way for the new characters to learn about past events.  I write in present tense, so this is done through dialogue.  I also use the occasional ‘told off-camera’ trick when it can be used.
  3. Never be afraid to check back to your first book to make sure you have your facts straight.  If you mention that a city has a specific symbol in the first book then double check when the characters actually go there.
  4. Give the villains a reason to hate or fear the new characters.  You need your villains to acknowledge your new character instead of holding onto the old grudge.  Otherwise, your new hero becomes a secondary character.
  5. Spell the series name correctly.  You think I’m joking here?  Well, I am, but better safe than sorry.
  6. Don’t be afraid to shake up the foundation.  The fun of a second book is that you can change things in the overall world.  A city can be wiped out or a secondary character from the first book can be killed.  The fun of a sequel, which can lead to a series, is that you now have the reach and time to do world-changing events.
  7. Most important!!!  Have fun.  Don’t look at writing the sequel as a stressful situation where you need to outdo the first.  Have fun with the writing and exploring your beloved characters.  You’ve given them more than a spotlight, but a life path that can go on for a few books if you wish it to.

Those are the big points about writing a sequel.  If this inspired you to write a sequel or plan a series then I’ve done my job.  Again, have fun and enjoy yourself!

Book 2 Final Flat






You can check out Charles Yallowitz’s debut novel, Beginning of a Hero, by clicking here.


And you can check out the sequel (release date: July 31, 2013), Prodigy of Rainbow Tower, by clicking here.


Categories: Guest Post | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Impending Nuptials Ahoy!

Greetings, my fellow bloggerites! I just wanted to check in and let you know that:

A) The book reading was a semi-success — I managed to attract 4 entire people to come listen to me ramble. Huzzah!
B) The book reading was a semi-failure — I managed to attract 4 meager people to come listen to me ramble. Booooo.

In other news, I’m off for the long weekend (Canada Day!) to attend my friend’s wedding, so if I appear to be suspiciously absent for the next few days … well, it’s because I’m not here. I’ll post more about the book reading when I get back.


Oh, and don’t forget to enter the Goodreads Giveaway for Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It! No purchase necessary, much love for all who enter, and the contest ends on July 1.


In conclusion, live long and prosper, and enjoy the unrelated media.


Unrelated media of the day:

Categories: Blog-related | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Beta Readers — The Agonizing Wait

As much as I complain about how mind-numbing editing and re-writing can be, I actually do really enjoy the writing process. Although banging out that first draft is definitely my favourite part of writing, the subsequent months/years of editing can be quite fun, and it’s all worth it when you get to sit down and read your finished, polished, wonderful story.

But there’s one part of writing I absolutely cannot stand. And that part, my friends, is waiting for beta readers to read the manuscript.

It drives me crazy! Working for months and months to produce a piece of writing you think is finally ready for other human eyes to see, sending it off to a select few … and then waiting and waiting and waiting for them to respond with their critiques. Obviously, I’m incredibly appreciative that they’re bothering to read my story at all, and I recognize that reading an unpolished manuscript is time-consuming. But I want to get their suggestions and get started on revising now, dammit!

The obvious solution is, of course, to impose a time limit on the beta reading process. Except that doesn’t work, because my elite beta reading team knows that I value their opinions, and that I will wait as long as necessary to receive said opinions. Curse my dependency! Curse it!

I need another strategy! Any suggestions on how to increase beta reader reading time / productivity? Any suggestions on how to keep my sanity whilst waiting for the critiques to return? Any suggestions on how to deal with people at festival booths who ramble on about astronomy for thirty minutes and scare off potential customers while you smile and nod and wish they would go away?

Reminder: Enter the Imminent Danger Goodreads Giveaway!

Click here to enter — open to CA, USA, UK, and AU.

Unrelated media of the day:

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 46 Comments

Book Review: 28 Shades of Black by Sahm King

This is a fun one, because I picked up the book on a whim and had no idea what to expect … well, read on to see what happened!


The Book

28 Shades of Black

The Genre


The Author

Sahm Ataine King is a poet, aspiring novelist, and graphic designer and has been in love with the written word since his exposure to the Science Fiction/Fantasy and Poetry genres at a young age. He has self-published two poetry collections, “The Grey Muse” and “L’aria Onyx“, along with his first novel, “28 Shades of Black”. He lives on the planet Earth and hopes to one day expand his horizons by travelling the world and learning of cultures beyond the confines of the internet.

The Plot

Dominick Black is a man with a problem: an insatiable sexual appetite coupled with a lack of inhibition.

When Black is informed by his boss that he has to take care of his over-active libido issue or lose his job, he reluctantly agrees to do what he must. What could it hurt?

From the unrelenting and murderous infatuations of a man he thought he knew, and the revelations of a past he thought was long buried, Dominick Black is in for one wild, hot, and disturbing ride.

The Review

This book was … strange. But in a good way! Also in a confusing way. It started out feeling like a parody/humour book, but then, as they say, s**t got real. The shift was totally unexpected, but in a weird way it totally works within the context of the story.

The main character, Dominick Black, is hilarious. It was so refreshing to read about him, because his character is one that I’ve never encountered before. Everything about his life is so different from mine that it was like looking into another world entirely. He’s smart, he’s gutsy … and his very peculiar method of introduction had me giggling every time I read it.

I do wish the book had been a little longer. Dominick’s relationship with his psychologist is sweet, but I felt that it developed a little too rapidly to be entirely plausible. And I would have liked the antagonist to get a bit more screen time, so I could have gotten more of a chance to suss out his motives.

All that being said, I really enjoyed the book, despite it being the total opposite of what I usually read. It baffled me from start to finish, and I had a blast reading it. Well done, Mr. King!

NOTE: This book has a lot of cursing and sexy time (some of the sexy time is disturbing and non-consensual), so read at your own risk.

The Rating

5 out of 5 stars


Check out the book here.


Unrelated video of the day:

Categories: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

New Book Trailer! (because I’m bored)

So instead of catching up with the work hours I still need to finish for December, I instead decided to spend the morning making a new book trailer for Imminent Danger!

I really need to get my priorities straightened out.

Anyway, here’s the new trailer! It’s considerably more chill than the last one, and while it sadly doesn’t feature a soundtrack reminiscent of an adult video, I feel it is still worth a watch.

Maybe if this whole author thing doesn’t work out I can pursue a career as a maker of extremely low-budget book trailers …

Unrelated image of the day:

Categories: iUniverse, My Works, Self Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

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