Monday, August 28, 2017

Researching your novel: How much is too much?



I search through my bookshelves occasionally, finding books I read and enjoyed many years ago. A few days ago, I ran across a book by one of the top suspense writers and remembered how much I enjoyed it twenty-five years ago. At that time in my life, I was involved with computers, writing some of my own software and buying too many gadgets. Computers offered some exciting possibilities for writers, and most of us couldn’t wait for all of those wonderful things to arrive in the marketplace. At that time, we knew there were many ideas being considered regarding operating systems. Computers were complicated, and we needed a way to make them intuitive where you could throw the manuals aside and get to work creating a bestselling novel. In this particular book, a cutting-edge company invented a device that operated somewhat like a treadmill. You walked on rubber balls down a virtual hallway wearing a pair of goggles that showed an office-like environment with file cabinets on the walls. You could open any drawer and browse through the information. It was a very clunky system that would require a lot of expensive hardware, but fascinating at that time. Computers quickly advanced beyond this concept to what we have today with Google, the Internet, and digital drives. Reading the book now, it is slightly amusing, and it is hard not to laugh at some of the passages. It is very easy for a writer to get caught up in the same trap. Regardless of how careful you research any situation, technology moves in unexpected directions because of unforeseen developments. Young people today are amused at 8-track tapes, cassette recordings, and CD storage. I research endlessly when I am writing, and you should too, but don’t write yourself into a corner explaining cutting-edge developments that will be outdated in a year or two. I have made this mistake, and it can make your wonderful book outdated a long time before it should be. A good book can be relevant for centuries, and it should be if it is carefully written. Happy writing and have a wonderful day.

    

Saturday, August 19, 2017

AN ALTERNATE WAY OF DOING THINGS



There was a story on the evening news last night that made me squirm. I wasn’t listening until they were well into the story so I don’t remember the names, but the story went something like this. A well-known baseball player died. One of his fans asked the family for some of the ball player’s ashes so he could do something to honor his memory. The family complied with his request and gave him some of the remains. His idea was to scatter some of the ashes at various ballparks around the nation. He couldn’t gain access to the playing field, so he had to work out a plan. It finally occurred to him that it wasn’t necessary to gain access to the field. Instead, he went into the bathroom and sprinkled some of the ashes into the commode, then flushed it. The ashes were carried into the field lines and thus became a part of the playing field. I don’t know about you, but I have a different opinion of how to honor a fallen comrade. While there are a few people who probably need to be flushed, well --- I won’t go into that.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017



FORGOTTEN
A new romance/suspense novel
by
Joe Prentis
I wouldn’t knowingly start any novel if there wasn’t a romance involved in the plot. Who could ever forget Les Miserables, Gone with the Wind, or Anna Karenina? In other books, the love interests might be more subtle. You will find love stories intertwined in the main plot in most suspense novels. James Patterson does it well, and even the most hardened prison stories have romance in some fashion. It might be a long ago high school romance, but if it is worth reading, it is there, and even more poignant because it is often intertwined with anger and hate.
I don’t like what some people call romance, which is nothing but thinly disguised porn. You know the kind of story I’m talking about. The guy enters the laundry, says hello to a girl standing by the washers, and almost immediately they are on the folding table trying to increase the world’s population.
The most important question an author can ask is: ‘what do the characters want?’ That can involve many things, but the most important is love and to be loved in some fashion or the other.
‘Forgotten’ is such a story. Amber is lonely, so shy that she has almost no friend except Emily, and a driving desire to have a career as a singer. Her mother has died two months before her graduation from USC, and she has no relationship with her father except for an occasional visit from him. Who is Robert Fitzgerald, she has always wondered, or more important is the question of what he is. Her father is suddenly in her life again, showering her with gifts and offers to help her find the career she wants. But does she dare let down her defenses long enough to establish a relationship with him? Despite her reservation, her life is suddenly out of control, and she finds herself in a turbulent situation that both excites and frightens her.

Don’t miss Forgotten. It will be released on Amazon Kindle this week at the introductory price of 99¢. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

NEW RELEASE COMING ON AMAZON ON  MARCH 18th.

Lost and found is a collection of short stories by Maria Savva about ordinary people living ordinary lives, torn apart by regret, remorse, and deceit. We are all stumbling through life together.

What makes us betray a loved one? Can isolation lead to irrational behavior? Why do other people's lives look more appealing?

Here are some of the stories you will find in Maria's book:

A Different World: A young man finds friends in the most unlikely place.
An Innocent Man: Will Oliver face a prison sentence for something he didn't do?
Boomerang: A single mother wants her old life back, but will her prayers be answered?
What's Left Unsaid: When one lie leads to another.
Office Gossip: What happens when a handsome new male boss starts work in a female dominated office?
Birthday Boy: Will Victor get away with his lecherous behavior?
Happy Anniversary: Les is unhappy in his marriage but things take an unexpected turn.

 http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Found-Maria-Savva-ebook/dp/B01BX7Q6HE

Monday, November 16, 2015


Review of ANTAEUS FACTOR
BY 
5-star review


I certainly did not regret my decision to purchase Antaeus Factor.
It is a skillfully constructed thriller, and at the same time it is a murder mystery, with an intricate plot and well-developed characters. The action takes the reader on a whirlwind ride across the globe.
The scene is set in the first chapter with the unexplained murder of reporter Thomas Allard in
Memphis. A mysterious set of events seems​ to be conspiring to hinder the police investigations. Ron Cable, working in Rome, Italy is approached out of the blue to replace his step father as CEO of the hugely influential company Cable Incorporated. A mysterious series of events sees Ron deported from Italy. This is just one of numerous damaging and unexplained events that seem to be plaguing Cable Incorporated and anyone with any connection to the company.
Lies, deceit, murders, computer hacking and manipulated events designed to shame and embarrass conspire to destroy Cable Corporation. Everyone appears to be working to different agendas.
Antaeus Factor is a thoroughly enjoyable read that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The plot is first rate, scene settings and characters are cleverly constructed with a professional panache. The author has done a skilful job in creating an easy reading novel that ticks all the boxes.

Friday, November 6, 2015

READ A GOOD BOOK, FEED THE WRITER’S EGO!

I think it is wonderful that some experienced writers spend so much time answering research questions for the rest of us. Three generous experts come immediately to mind; Neil Low, Dr. Doug Lyle, and Lee Lofland. Many novels have passed the giggle test because these experts went to the trouble of giving an accurate answer to some obscure research problem. Regardless of how well educated you are, you can’t know everything about any given subject, and that is when you go to someone who knows more about it than you do.

Those of us with less experience can also lend a hand by writing reviews of books we like. After all, writers spend long hours pulling all of the threads together to create an enjoyable book. They need (and deserve) your feedback. Enough reviews and enough sales will encourage the writer to write another book in a series, and that is what most of us want.

A young woman I met on a forum was very talented, but she decided to write a book set in the 1950s in the rural South. She was in her mid-forties, grew up in a city in the Pacific Northwest, and had no experience on a farm. She asked me if I minded answering a few questions. I agreed with the understanding that I might pass some of them along to the ‘real’ experts. Fortunately, all of them were about things I experienced when I was growing up. There were many questions over the year and a half she was writing and editing her book. She told me that she was going to thank me again on her acknowledgment page in the front of the book. I got a copy as soon as it was in print and read carefully through her glowing comments that covered three pages. When I got to the end of the account, she mentioned the name of her ‘expert’ which wasn’t me. She also posted her acknowledgements on a forum for everyone to read, and the name she gave was the screen name of another person on the forum. Almost immediately, I received an email from the other ‘Joe’ who was embarrassed to have received credit for something he didn’t do. “How do we straighten this out?” he asked. “This book is already in print.” I had been laughing since I read her account of how her book came together, and was still laughing when he sent his email to me.

“No harm done,” I told him. “And don’t try to straighten it out. It would embarrass her too much.”


I missed my 15 minutes of fame, but I still help less experienced writers, and I do write reviews when I read a book I especially like. When you write a review, you are helping yourself in the long run. A writer you like won’t starve, and he or she might write you another gripping novel. After all, that is what this writing game is all about.  

Sunday, October 11, 2015


I’M OFFENDED THAT YOU’RE OFFENDED
The launching of Blindsided, a Young Adult novel.

If your heart isn’t in the right place, you’re going to be offended by some of the passages in Blindsided. One of my favorite pictures is a poster that shows an adult down of one knee trying a little boy’s shoelace. The caption says, “You will never stand as tall as when you bend to help a child.” There are a lot of things in the world that the haters hate. The rest of us have to endure more than we should or become like them. The LGBT movement is not something I completely understand, but I know there are many who believe they were born in the wrong body. I don’t understand people who shoot up churches, or the ones who bring about a massacre in a school filled with teachers and students. I don’t understand road rage, or racial intolerance, or the people who hate the members of another religion. There are other things I understand and wish they could be different. Why someone would want to bully another person because they are different leaves me sad and somewhat puzzled. It also seems that the people who know better are the worse offenders. Here is something to seriously consider. God did not burden you with the task of changing the world. Your assignment is to help those that need a helping hand, and you can find some of them around your doorstep. If you want to change the world, it can only be done by performing one small act of kindness after another.

I received a notice from the moderator of one forum informing me that Blindsided was too controversial to post my promotional notice on her forum. She also sent me a copy of Yahoo’s TOS as if she was brandishing a weapon. Blindsided deals with bullying, and the problems that occur when someone is perceived as being different from the norm. Some of our young people are going to read Blindsided and say, “This is what I put up with every day. What’s the fuss all about?” Others might see themselves in the pages of the book and consider the ways they can be better than they already are. Everyone is different, and all of the characters in my novels are flawed in one way or another, just as real people are. No two of us are alike. There is a song, ‘What the world needs now, is love, sweet love.’ Tolerance should be incorporated somewhere in the lyrics. Most of the things that bother us so much aren’t any of our business. Meeting hate, ignorance, or anger in the wrong manner is like holding a railroad spike against a rapidly spinning grind wheel. You are going to generate a lot of sparks, but very little light. There are things worth dying for, but our private dislikes aren’t a part of it. Most of the world is caught up in a tsunami of hate. We must do better or perish in the process. Blindsided is about anger, rage, and revenge, but also about forgiveness and the pain of lost love. Grab a copy of Blindsided when it becomes available in a few days. If you enjoy it, write a review and let me know what you think . . . or better still, let me know how you feel. There is nothing better than being at peace with the challenges of the world. God bless each of you and happy reading.


Saturday, September 26, 2015

PROMOTION FOR YOUNG ADULT NOVEL BLINDSIDED

I LOVE YOU MORE THAN WORDS CAN POSSIBLY EXPRESS. WHY WON’T YOU LOVE ME BACK?

I don’t know why we’re always surprised at negative emotions. The worse of them are hard-wired in our brain from a primitive time when we had to fight tooth and nail for our very existence.

No one is born civilized. Babies are not born good; they are born innocent. Civilized behavior is a trait learned from those who nurture us during our formative years. There is always enough anger, rage, and hate to go around. At some time in our early years, most of us learn how to handle negative emotions, or at least avoid the worse of them. The emotion that few of us learn to master is rejection. We meet someone, and we admire them. We want to be their friend. There might be a time when we love them, only to be faced with rejection. There is no plan or blueprint to guide us around the worse of it, and it hurts so much that sometimes it is hard to even breathe. In BLINDSIDED, Rodney is the starting quarterback on the football team and the most popular student in school. He has a bright future ahead of him when everything suddenly goes wrong. His story is no different from the things that have happened to many others as they struggle through their high school years. It might have happened to you. I hope you will take a moment to follow the link below to Amazon Scout’s promotional site and click the ‘Nominate Me’ button. It will give me a chance to win a contract for my YA novel. Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful day.   


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

BLINDSIDED
The making of a Novel

I have written 16 books that vary from Civil War stories to Suspense, Crime fiction, and Westerns. Even though they vary widely in subject matter, they have one characteristic in common. All of them contain romance as a subplot because love is a part of life as I know it. Until I started writing Blindsided, I had never written a story that could be classified as Romance. I saw the opportunity as a challenge. I wanted to write a realistic young adult romance, so the reader would say; “I’ve been there and done that.” Here is how I went about preparing myself to write Blindsided.

High school is an emotional, often traumatic time in the life of most young people. There can be many negative experiences such as bullying, fierce competition, anger, and other raw feelings that leave us emotionally crushed. Important decisions that shape the rest of our lives have to be made, and many of them aren’t made easily. To write this type of story effectively, you have to get in the mood emotionally. The best way is for the author to reacquaint himself with the sights, sounds and the smells of a typical high school. I read sections of high school textbooks to bring back the feeling of what it is like to cram for a test. I did a lot of research on the things taught, not because I wanted to include all of those details in my novel, but because I wanted to return to the years when I was a teenager. I dug a football out of our utility room and bounced it in my hand. And then I thought of music. No one knows when music was invented, but it is thought to be a representation of our body’s natural rhythms. Play a rock song that has 150 beats per minute and you will feel your heart speed up. As I wrote and rewrote sections of Blindsided, I found music that represented the things that were happening in the story. I found a couple of love songs, the kind they played at the senior prom and listened to them over and over again. Another important scene in the story happened during football practice. I found several fight songs and played them over and again. I watched videos made at football games where the excitement was building, and coaches and players had furious expressions as they glanced at the clock on the scoreboard. In the videos, cheerleaders danced along the sidelines with emotions that varied from ecstasy to agony, and I remembered what it was like. You experience a lot of emotions during your high school years, some of them so raw that your mind veers quickly away to something more pleasant. Occasionally, an event can slip up on you, and you find yourself, well . . . blindsided. It is what this novel is all about. I hope you will get a copy when it becomes available and read it. I also hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Please follow the link below to KindleScout’s site and hit the Nominate Me button to vote for me. 


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

WHAT I DON'T BELIEVE


WHAT I DON’T BELIEVE


I have spent the last few months writing a book about intolerance and bullying. I have seen a lot of both during my lifetime, and most of it is from people who don’t know what they believe. Even the most intelligent among us change their core beliefs during their lifetime. Democrats become Republicans or the other way around. Marriages might not last a lifetime, and a career change is not beyond the realm of possibility.
 
 I was halfway through this article when I realized I was going to have to go all the way back to the title and start again. Originally, the title was ‘What I Believe,’ but as I continued to work on it, I realized I was working on the problem from the wrong direction. It is very difficult to explain what you believe because many readers will decide what you meant rather than what you said. The Beatles complained once because there were too many of their fans who tried to find deep meaning in their songs. Their response to this was an explanation that the songs didn’t mean anything important. The words were mostly chosen because they could be rhymed and set to music. 

There are a surprising number of people in the world who are negative, and most of them are on Facebook, or it least it seems that way. In the early 1700s a writer named Voltaire made the statement, “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This statement sums up my attitude toward those who sow hate, intolerance, and discord. I don’t like statements that are overly negative to appear on my Facebook news feed, but I grant you the right to say them. I seldom remove a post of this nature unless it is particularly loathsome. Voltaire was one of the first to campaign for freedom of religion and freedom of expression. My strongest beliefs are bound up in Voltaire’s two statements.

I am not gay, transgender, or bisexual, but I want everyone to have the freedom to define their sexuality. What they believe or the way they live isn’t any of my business. I might not agree with you on politics, but I want you to have the right to vote for the candidate of your choice without undue pressure by those who disagree. As long as your behavior doesn’t interfere with the freedom of another, I want you to decide what beliefs will guide you through life even if it is unpopular.

I am opposed to bullying, oppression, and the quick putdown that seems to be so popular today. A man accused of a double murder made the statement, “I am so very sorry.” Sorry doesn’t cut it when irrevocable damage has already been done. Are your preferences really so important that you need to make others uncomfortable in order to express them? I received an email from a friend on the far side of the world after he read the first three chapters of Blindsided. “You’ve really put your foot in it this time,” he observed thinking of the controversy that might ensue from what is a nothing more than a Young Adult novel. Well, maybe not. I am not the guy you would select to sing lullabies to your babies or to read them a bedtime story. The world is full of harsh realities and I’m a big boy. Bullying, harassment, or the latest version of cruelty isn’t the answer to the ills of society. There is a better way, and it leads upward. Thank you for reading and God bless.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

BULLYING -- THE UNKINDEST CUT OF THEM ALL

If you look at the statistics, you might think that bullying is the number one sport in America rather than football. There are far too many incidents, and a surprising number of them lead to suicide. Each year, 750,000 people attempt suicide in the U.S. and 30,000 of them succeed. No one knows how many of the suicides among adolescents are caused by bullying, but the numbers would be astronomical.

Not all bullying leads to something so shocking, but bullying is never a positive thing. Much of it is subtle, but it still hurts those who are victimized. Most of us have experienced it at one time or the other. It might happen to the only girl who wears glasses in her class, and her classmates call her Old Foureyes. No one remembers that she won the spelling bee two years in a row, or that she has the best voice in the chorus. They sometimes forget her real name. Or you might be the kid who had to move to a new school because your father got a better job. Your grandparents came from Asia, and the kids call you Hung Chow and pull their eyes up at the corners and make funny faces behind your back. Or maybe you are standing in front of your hotel waiting to go to a speaking engagement at the civic center, and an overzealous cop body slams you, or maybe you are the cop and you stop a motorist on a lonely stretch of highway. As you approach the window, you see a large pistol aimed at your face, and you think about your wife and your two children . . .

I could go on forever, and I do to some extent in my newest novel, Blindsided. It is about bullying, the unfair judgment of others just because they perceive us as being different. Some of you will read Blindsided, and you will say that’s not so bad. It just happens. Suck it up. Others of you will see it differently as you remember your pain so vividly that it will jar your back teeth loose. Go to AmazonScout’s website and read the excerpt, and then click the ‘Nominate Me’ button which will give me a chance to win a publishing contract. Thank you for listening and God bless.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Young Adult Novel BLINDSIDED now on Kindle Scout's promotional platform 

On September 12th, I will launch my Young Adult Romance novel Blindsided on Amazon’s new publishing program called Kindle Scout. I hope that many of you will support me in this effort by going to their site and read the excerpt and book description. Here are some of the things you might be interested in and my motivation for writing the book.

A book like Blindsided requires an inordinate amount of research because of the nature of the subject. I wanted to be as accurate as I could from a medical standpoint without weighing the reader down with too many statistical facts. I also wanted to know why there were some who felt they were born in the wrong body, and how this conclusion came into being. Was it peer pressure, a desire to be different, or were the beliefs about their own body and orientation valid. It was interesting to explore the reason so many feel threatened by those who are different from the rest of us. This also gave me an opportunity to ponder the fact that there are vast numbers of people who have objections to those who are ‘different’ based on religion, ethnicity, or gender, yet are tolerant concerning some other kinds of behavior that should be an issue to all of us. Bullying is never acceptable for any reason, although there is far too much of it occurring at schools, on social media and wherever people come in contact with others. I think it is fair to tell you that my research caused me to examine my own values on a variety of subjects.

Please take the time to read the excerpt and click the ‘Nominate Me’ button. It will make it possible for me to win a publishing contract with Kindle Scout. Those who participate will receive a free copy of the book at a later date.