2016 Reading Challenge: MY BOOK

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that I’m in the midst of a mad dash to complete my 2016 reading challenge. I finished two more books over the weekend to see if I can ultimately complete it.

But today I’m talking about MY BOOK. I wonder if I’m making history right now by reviewing my own work. Hm. Anyway, let’s go.

Divided Within is set in and around Houston and follows Andrew Banks as he works his first case as a private investigator. His first client happens to be a teenage girl who suspects there’s something really wrong between her parents that they aren’t telling her about, only it’s much worse than she could have imagined.

A little history before I get into the good stuff. I wrote the book over the course of the first months immediately after I graduated from college in 2013.

Although it’s my own work, I still had problems with it. The first thing I noticed is I obviously forgot how to use commas. Seriously. I’m not sure what was going on. There were commas where there should have been periods and then there was nothing where there should have been commas. Ugh.

The other thing I didn’t really like after my reread was the language. It was unoriginal. It’s a crime novel, but I felt I used cussing at weird points in the story. I don’t feel like it worked.

The other thing that I definitely recognize, though I still don’t have a problem with is the story. I won’t get into the specifics because some of you all might actually want to give it a read now, but one of the complaints I received when I first published the book was that the story was unbelievable. And it is. But I’ll keep saying it over and over again that I don’t read any fiction to read something that’s entirely realistic. If that’s what I want then I’ll watch the news.

After more than three years my favorite aspect of the book is still Andrew and Sydney. I found a few points in which I didn’t like their dialogue, but their relationship is great. So many detectives have a new love interest every other book, but not Banks. You know that just from reading this first book.

I still find it crazy that I wrote this thing, but I did and it’s mine. It satisfied the requirement to read a self-published book for my 2016 reading challenge.

Have YOU read it!? Have you ever tried to review your own work?

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Some Good News!

Well, kind of.

I know what my next story is going to be! Most of y’all know that I haven’t been writing AT ALL recently. I think I last put words to paper in May…of 2014. Yikes. This has been a long time coming. So now you’re probably wondering what I plan on writing, right?

Welp. I’m going with my original idea. But I bet YOU weren’t around when I wrote posts all about it last year. Except I’m going to work on Andrew a bit. I want potential readers to think of him as more than just a PI.

I’ll have three days off this week. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get started.

What’s the longest you’ve gone without writing? I’m nearing the two year mark.

I Think it’s Time to Revisit the WIP

Do y’all remember that I originally started this blog to document my progress as I wrote my first book? Or that I actually started writing my second shortly after finishing my first? Yeah…about that. You likely also know that I haven’t even glanced at my WIP in many months. But I think it’s time.

I’ve known for several months now that I’d revisit my story at the start of 2015. I don’t have a particular reason for waiting so long, but I had no reason to look back any sooner. See, I’m in no rush. I’m not over here thinking I’m writing the greatest novel that no one will ever know about. I’m just writing along and seeing where it takes me.

Let’s refresh just a bit. My current WIP is my second book around Andrew Banks. Someone who is mildly controversial. (I’m poking fun at some of my reviewers). He’s a Houston area PI and he has this girlfriend who goes by the name of Sydney. Ha. That’s all. But really, I’m something like 30k words in and I stopped just as Andrew goes on a trip out of the city following a lead.

But enough about that, what are you currently working on? Book one? Book two? Book 38?

Do Your Characters Sleep?

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Seems like an odd question, right?

I was lying in bed just a few minutes ago when I thought of this topic. I know for certain that James Patterson’s characters sleep. Because Detective Alex Cross is often woken from his sleep to get to a scene or by something happening inside his own home. I also think Spenser and Harry Bosch sleep in their stories. But that’s about all I could come up with. Three characters written by three different authors.

Isn’t that just a little odd? Sleeping is something that everyone must do, but it doesn’t happen often in books. At least not the ones I’m reading. I know Andrew sleeps in my book. I think I probably ended three chapters with him going to sleep after a long day. And that’s really what I’m talking about here. I’m not expecting to have these characters sleep in every chapter or something. But I do think it’s possible that authors sometimes forget that these are supposed to be people. Sure there fictional, but how many characters do we see coming to TV or movies every year?

Just a thought.

Do your characters sleep?

Ending Your Story

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Photo Credit: Pinterest

We’re all writers here, right? I know most of you have several manuscripts complete at the moment. Some of you probably have dozens. Well then that means you have some experience bringing your stories to a close.

Before I begin, I first want to say that I have no issue with happy endings. Fiction is not supposed to be 100% believable, otherwise how could you have all the crime series that never seem to end? Now let’s talk about ending your story. Personally, I’m a big fan of the ending that fits. So if the main character must lose someone close to him/her, then I’m okay with that. If the main character gets seriously injured in heroic fashion, then I’m okay with that. Or even if the story leaves you with a cliffhanger. I have no issue with any of these as long as it fits.

I think writers can be guilty of writing a happy ending just for the sake of doing so, at times. I’d say that’s the only issue I’ve had with story endings. The ones that leave you scratching your head like “whaa?”and thinking how in the heck did the author come up with that. I’ve never once had an issue with a story ending in a manner that forces you to read the next book in the series. Or ending badly for a main character in the book. I honestly think it’s more difficult to write these kinds of endings. Because readers have almost come to expect a positive resolution to the events throughout the book.

When it comes to my own writing, well I have just the one story that certainly had a happy ending. But I have every intention of continuing the series and absolutely throwing in some curve balls when it comes to the endings. Am I going to have Andrew killed in a shootout with a bad guy during his last case? Eh, probably not because I don’t want him to go out like that. But you never know, right?

What about you? In your writing do you have any preference when it comes to endings? Or perhaps in your reading.

PS: I apologize for not replying to comments at all recently. I have a giant orange number staring me in the face right now of pending comments. I’m going to do something about this. Finally. But I always read what you guys say. Always.

The Reader in Me

I missed another post yesterday, well maybe to you I missed it, I had plenty of time to write one and several ideas but I just didn’t feel like it. So I don’t think I missed anything more than I just didn’t do it. But that’s neither here nor there. I have a simple one for you all today. Y’all know I like writing posts in which I get to answer questions about my reading or books or whatever. Wellllll I have another set for you guys to read. Each of the other two times I’ve written this type of post I’ve had a number of bloggers copy me, so one of you needs to continue that tradition.

Okay. Might as well get started. Oh, I found these questions here. I’ll do the first ten today and the last ten tomorrow.

1. Which book has been on your shelves the longest?

Ooooh. This is actually a tough one to answer. I know for sure that I’ve had some books at least since my sophomore year of high school. I’ve probably had a couple handfuls since before then. Okay. I’m going to have to take a wild guess and say that the book that I THINK has been on my shelves the longest is A Deadly Game of Magic by Joan Lowery Nixon. I have another of her novels that I read right around the same time that actually won an Edgar. Didn’t even know.

2. What is your current read, last read, and book you’ll read next?

Don’t really have an answer for any of the above.

3. What book did everyone like and you hated?

I’m pretty sure I’m the only one in the history on the universe who did not like this book. I’ve written about it over and over and even dedicated a full post to it back in March. Sorry, Mr. Dahl. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

4. Which book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read but probably won’t?

The Bible. Ha. Just kidding. I’ll never read that. No matter what reasons people give me. Hmmm. I don’t think I have an answer for this one. Cause I’ll read a book if I want to and won’t if I don’t. Pretty simple.

5. Which book are you saving for “retirement”?

Uhh what exactly does this even mean? Is it supposed to be a book I’m saving for years and years from now? Or…I don’t even know. Anyway, I’ll just say Potter. Cause when the movies ended I vowed to wait awhile before actually starting the books. Cause once I finish them there’s no going back, the entire phenomenon would be over. I know there are millions of people like me in that I grew up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. The first movie was released when I was ten. You see what I mean. So I’m saving the series for forever. Although I have now read the first and have the second right here next to me. Once I get to book seven I imagine that I’ll wait at least a year before actually reading it. Cause then I’ll be done and  I’ll no longer have anything more I can take away from the series that haven’t already. I know a lot of people reread the full series every year, but I know I won’t be doing that. Of course, with all that being said, I read THG trilogy in a really short span and finished the series shortly after the first movie was released. Eh.

6. Last page: Read it first or wait til the end?

Oh boy. I read mysteries. Where’s the mystery in reading the last page of a book before actually reading the book? Makes no sense. Okay. Let me go pay $13 to go to the movies and walk in during the final five minutes. Yep. No. Literally the dumbest thing I know readers do is reading the last page first.

7. Acknowledgements: waste of ink and paper or interesting aside?

The person who created these questions has obviously never written a book. To say that the Acknowledgements section of a book is a waste of paper and ink (you’re talking pennies) is simply moronic. This is the kind of person who thinks one person writes a book. This is the kind of person who has no respect for what authors and writers do. This is the kind of person who says “Oh, so you just stay home and write?” This is the kind of person who has never written anything of substance in their life. I almost always skip the Acknowledgements, but as someone who has gotten to write just one Acknowledgements section I can tell you that I spent quite some time on those few pages and every person mentioned helped with the book. I very much hope that not a single one of you who reads this will think they’re a waste of ink and paper. Then you fall into the category I mentioned above.

8. Which book character would you switch places with?

Easy. My own. Andrew Banks. Perfect girl. Perfect job. Pretty intelligent. Strong physique. Helps people.

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life?

No. I don’t know how many times I have to say that I read because I like reading and because it’s the greatest form of entertainment we have today. Whatever I have going on in my life has absolutely nothing to do with what I read. I’m not trying to cope or deal or get away, I just want to read my books without someone thinking that I have some motive for doing so.

10. Name a book you acquired in some interesting way?

I buy all my books. Nothing special about it.

Okay.  I rather enjoyed answering these questions. Had to really think about a few and then had those that were pointless, as usual. Feel free to go ahead and answer them yourself or let me know what you think of my answers.

Knowing Your Audience

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How well do you know the target audience for your book(s)? I’m of course not meaning how well do you know individual readers of your work, I’m talking about the demographic that reads books similar to yours over and over again. I’d like to think I know mine fairly well. And honestly, I’m sitting here trying to remember if I’ve written about this before now and I have no idea. So if you’re reading this thinking that you’ve read it before, well you’re not in the Twilight Zone. Or maybe we both are? Yikes.

Let me tell you what some very keen observations have told me about my target audience. Have you ever been to an author signing? Well they’re pretty cool if you’re not among hundreds of people. I’ve been to a few. Both crime writers. Both NYT bestsellers as of today. I met Steve Hamilton and T. Jefferson Parker. I have all but just a couple of their books. But I’m not here to talk about the events or what those two were like, I want to tell you about what I saw there.

This is very unscientific, but you use what you can, right? I would say both events were attended by maybe 50 people. It’s hard to say because the store changed its layout sometime in the months between these two events. Anyway, what I saw was approximately 90% White women. Who were aged 50+. And based on nothing at all, who I thought were college educated. I could probably come up with some other characteristics, but that’s all I focus on.

And I’m thinking that this type of person is a big reader of crime novels across the country. I don’t work in a bookstore or anything like that, but I do read other blogs and I have occasionally had someone buy books from me at work. And they fit the demographic I’ve described exactly.

Now that I claim to know my target audience, now what? Well, the only way I can think that knowing this has influenced my writing is the fact that Andrew Banks is obviously white. But other than that, the whole “write for your audience” thing people say is stupid to me. I write whatever I feel like.

Two things: Do you know your target audience? And how does this affect your writing?