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writing, and you should too, but don’t write yourself into a corner explaining cutting-edge developments that will be outdated in a year or two. I have made this mistake, and it can make your wonderful book outdated a long time before it should be.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


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

A new romance/suspense novel
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¢.