THE SATs & THE VANISHING ESSAY
I recently read that the SATs are making essay writing optional. The writer in me is saddened by this. While not many of us can write the Great American novel, I think
the elimination of such an exercise will work against one's own benefit. Great communication skills are essential, and those who stand out better than others will be head and shoulders above everyone
RESUMING "SADISTIC PATTERN"
Now that my duties as Secretary of our RWANYC chapter draws to a close, I will resume writing my suspense novel SADISTIC PATTERN. I hope to
befinished by the spring.
AUTHOR OF THE MONTH!
I am very proud to announce that my RWANYC writing chapter will be honoring me on Saturday, January 4th, 2014. What a way to start the new year!
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
The other day I visited St. Lawrence Church in Brewster NY, my first time there. Why the significance? It is the locale of the wedding between my two main characters in my novel THE DIAMOND MAN. And as I imagined Jim and Anne walking down the aisle arm in arm, I got to thinking about the importance of describing elements and scenery in a story.
My story is, of course, fiction. But I had to do my due diligence when it came to explaining places. A savvy reader familiar with restaurants you mention or, in this case, churches is going to pick up on any misstep you describe. Yes the story is made up, but the site is real.
When you incorporate an actual location in your story, take a little time to do research. If you can't get to the spot to witness it directly, then do your look-up online. If you know someone who's been there, ask them about their experience. It would make a great side story.
The bottom line here is to always authenticate your work by infusing actual facts about locales. It will make your story stand out better and show the readers you took the time to care.
OBSERVATIONS OF MY HEROINE
For my contemporary romance novel THE DIAMOND MAN, soon to be released by Gypsy Shadow Publishing, the main focus is on the hero, Jim Monahan. If it were the other way around, the book would be called THE DIAMOND WOMAN. But I do want to draw attention to my heroine, Anne Finley.
We learn that Anne was told by a physician, when she was a very young teenager, that she was incapable of conceiving children. It didn’t bother her at that time, but it became an issue for her when childhood girls she knew became pregnant themselves years later. This led her to depression.
But to make matters worse, a handsome, virile man proposed marriage to Anne years later, only to call it off once she told him of her inability to conceive. He needed to pass his genes down naturally because of high conservative and religious viewpoints he held. This pulled Anne’s self-esteem down even lower. But Jim only saw the sweet and passionate woman Anne was and not someone who couldn’t be a natural mother. And the fact that he was already a father of a teenage girl from a previous marriage didn’t weigh into the equation. Jim preferred Anne the way she was and would’ve accepted her just the same two decades earlier.
In this work, I want women who are in the same position as Anne not to feel any less of themselves just because of this physical problem. As I have illustrated, there are men who will love them and cherish them just the way they are. Becoming a parent is truly a blessing, but it should not be the all-consuming objective of a marriage. And so I reach out to women like Anne to offer comfort and support, and to never give up hope in seeking true love.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING PRO-ACTIVE IN BOOK EDITING
Recently, I dashed off a second round of edits to Denise Bartlett, the chief editor of Gypsy Shadow Publishing, which will publish my romance novel THE DIAMOND MAN in the next couple of months. In the initial round Denise wanted me to tighten up on the manuscript, which I did. But after I sent out the edits, I asked this question to myself: How could I have done better? Well, I came up with a solution to improve the flow of the story and sent Denise a follow-up email. She kindly appreciated my ideas and welcomed the suggested changes.
As I mentioned in my local writing chapter meeting recently, it's important for writers to be pro-active with your publisher. By offering suggestions that he or she may not have thought of, whether it's the inclusion of more dialogue or tweaking the story line slightly, it shows you care about making sure you have a well-polished finished product. And let's face it. A better book garners better reviews. That translates into more sales. And trust me here, editors will love you for it.
So just remember this when it comes down to working with your editor. This is not a one-way street. Show some initiative on ways to improve the flow of the story. That will put you in a better light.
SHOULD YOU SELF-PUBLISH?
I have tweeted (twitter.com/@AuthorMJM) and written on my Facebook page (facebook.com/michaeljmolloy3) about the subject concerning self-publishing. If you are a writer considering going this route, please look away! If you are unlucky in landing an agent, there are plenty of smaller publishers out there, just like the one I signed with, who are always looking for new talent. You don't have to sign with the The Big Six to make your mark.
Speaking of which, there have been stories swirlingaround that one noted New York Publishing House joined forces with a large well-known vanity publishing company in trying to lure unsuspecting authors into self-publishing. I'm sure they lend their name to make it authentic and give writers a false sense of hope that perhaps it may lead to a huge regular contract for a future work. This is nonsense. The major players in the publishing industry will only deal with agents.
My question is: Has the publishing industry stooped to a new low in getting authors to buy expensive book packages well over $1,000.00 minimum with the shallow promise of making a future deal with them? One can only wonder, but I call it for what it is: exploitation.
My Ultimate Evildoer
Whether it’s a romance novel or a thriller, there’s always one particular character that you’d like to see boiled in oil. After all, these characters leave an indelible impression on the reader just as much as the hero. And when you create such an evildoer that the reader would like to personally reach into the book and strangle, then you have accomplished what you had set out to do as a writer. In this piece, I’d like to discuss the villainess of my soon-to-be released romance novel THE DIAMOND MAN. Don’t worry, ladies. I have plans for a male rogue in my next romance book! Both genders deserve equal time.
Her name is Maureen Bell. She’s 46 and is three years removed from divorcing the hero, Jim Monahan. Four years earlier Maureen ran into an old flame, Harley Bell, from college, who made it big as an investment banker with a prominent Philadelphia financial firm. They had an affair that night and Maureen became pregnant as a result, thus forcing Jim to cut his ties with her. She since married Harley after their son was born.
Since her association with Harley and the wealth he possessed, Maureen became a snooty and arrogant person, who often chastised Jim and looked down at him. Her treatment of Jim, a generally easy-going sort, was uncalled for. She would always make things difficult for Jim to see the one child they had together, their 15-year-old daughter Madison. And if that wasn’t all, Maureen puts down the heroine Anne Finley, Jim’s new love in his life. Maureen treats Anne with equal venom, referring to her by a number of colorful terms. And none of which are true, for Anne is the kind and loving person any respectable man would love as his wife or girlfriend, and any decent woman would appreciate as a true friend.
In creating Maureen, I wanted to depict a person so cold and irreverent that it’s difficult not to hate her. The animosity towards Jim is one thing, given their divorce. But then she attacks a sweet person like Anne, someone she hardly knows. And everyone connected with Jim despises Maureen with equal passion. Even her own daughter Madison wants to run away from her. And the only conclusion for the readers is that they, too, will love to condemn Maureen. As a writer, you can’t ask for anything more.