Authors are Always Learning – Quick Book Review

As I mentioned in a previous post, authors are always learning.  I have been scouring the web and buying books to improve myself as an author.  A book I just recently acquired, thanks to hearing about it on The Creative Penn, is “Creating Complex Characters” by Jen Blood.  Jen Blood is the author of the bestselling Erin Solomon series.  She also runs her own editing business Adian Editing.

The book helps you better understand character development.  The background, how to make them engaging characters for the reader and more.  She provides real life examples and comparisons throughout the book which provide very meaningful insight into the instruction for that day’s lesson.  The funny thing about the examples she gives is, if you haven’t read the books – you are probably going to be buying them.

Here is the synopsis on the back of the book (yes, I ordered the print copy over the e-book.  For learning, I always prefer a physical copy):

A simple, five-day process for writing complex characters readers will love – or love to hate.  Through case studies, insightful lessons, and writing exercises divided into five easy-to-follow daily plans, veteran editor and bestselling author Jen Blood shares her secrets for creating characters readers can’t get enough of.

The book is set up as a “5-Day Fiction Fix.”  There are lessons, case studies and exercises that you perform, preferably over a five day period when starting out.  I read through the entire book in one sitting just to get a feel for what was to come.  I plan to perform the exercises on my current novel next.  Have you ever interviewed one of your characters?  Jen goes into an example that chances are you have never thought of.  I know I didn’t!

While I have not performed the exercises yet, the book is very promising and well written.  If you are an author, or thinking about becoming an author, I highly recommend you check out The 5-Day Fiction Fix – Creating Complex Characters by Jen Blood.

Authors are always Learning - Check out Creating Complex Characters
Creating Complex Characters
Image © Adian Editing / Jen Blood

Author 2.0 Blueprint = Mind Blown

Author 2.0 Blueprint - Joanna Penn
Author 2.0 Blueprint – Joanna Penn Image © The Creative Penn

I was browsing through The Creative Penn the other day and decided to join Joanna Penn’s e-mail list and got her free “Author 2.0 Blueprint” book.  Hopefully Joanna does not mind that I grabbed the image from her site :-).  The truth is, an author is always learning, especially me since I am at the beginning and just breaking into providing works to the public.  So I got the book and sat down to read some of it before bed one night.  The goal was some – I read ALL of it!

The information she provides in the book is mind blowing.  There are so many things I realized I should have different, shouldn’t have done.  There were a couple I did right, but very few compared to the wealth of knowledge she shared.  She expands on all of the information in further detail in her other books available on Amazon.

First and foremost – Scrivener is a game changer.  Scrivener is essentially an author platform software allowing you to better write books.  I had been using Word!  I played around with the software and fell in love with it in minutes.  They only want $40 for it for the Windows version!  $45 for the Mac.  With the features I have used, and I have barely touched it, it is well worth the money.

The advice she gives, the resources, the examples.  The Blueprint book is filled with so much information I will be re-reading it, most likely multiple times!  The crazy part is she gives it away for free.  Sure she promotes her other works within it, but she would be crazy not to!  The best part is, I got it for signing up to her e-mail list which will give me even more information.  I just want to say, very nicely done Joanna!

If you are an author, consider being an author or just want to see a very nice site, go visit The Creative Penn!

Work Around the House


A Week Off to Work Around the House

This past week I took some time off to work around the house.  The first few days I got to spend entirely with my daughter as my wife slept and then worked.  She works nights, so as she slept during the day I got to watch my daughter take some of her first steps.  She laughed, we played and it was wonderful.  The rest of the week was house work.  The dreaded, unbearable need to get the to-do list done.  We all know too well how the to-do list seems to grow exponentially as time decreases at a comparable rate.

This time last year I was building the nursery.  We took out all of the carpet upstairs and put down laminate.  It was a fun project, though my wife was determined to put the nursery in her office and move the office to the other bedroom.  So, I cleared out the one room where the litter pan for our cats was (more on that later).  I ripped the carpet out, put the floor down and proceed to do the little hallway in between the rooms.  Once finished, we moved everything from my wife’s office over to the room I had finished and then I proceeded to rip the carpet out and paint.  Cute colors, a purplish gray for the main color with a light blue accent wall.  I might have gone pink, but there was no arguing with my wife.  Arguing at eight months pregnant turns into “Yes, dear.”

The Litter Pan Fiasco

Back to the litter pan.  My office is in the basement.  I did not think things through originally and put my office at the bottom of the stairs rather than in the back of the basement.  Naturally, I did not want the litter pan in my office.  It sat up in the extra bedroom.  Well, it was not going to stay there after spending hours and hard earned cash to do the flooring.  It got moved to a much worse area, the living room.  My to-do list from that point on had the litter room project but it just did not happen.  Now my daughter is starting to walk, she has been crawling for a while.  I do not want her crawling through litter.   I hate the smell despite how clean I keep it.  It had to go, so my vacation from work involved taking care of the “litter room.”

The litter room is not a room at all.  I decided to wall in the landing of the steps and put a door in.  The litter pan will sit at the bottom of the steps and the door goes into my office.  The steps remain open and the cats can walk on down and do their business then walk on up allowing my office to remain protected.  Face it, cats love to play.  They love to claw.  My leather office chair and fragile displays of wolves cannot be mangled by my cats, so the door had to be put in.  That left the smell.  Smell carries, so I caulked all crevices and put a sweep on the bottom of the door.  Presto.  Now I just need to get a cat door for the door that leads to my stairs.

The Reloading Bench

This leads us to the next project, my reloading bench!  A work in progress over the months.  Work full time, write a book and doing personal projects takes time.  On top of that there is the need to spend time with family.  My reloading bench sat in sized and labeled pieces for months.  This week I finally got to assemble the base, minus the drawers.  The oak top was already done and sat on a simple support for years.  Now I just need to build eight drawers and it is done.

Wait Mr. Wolf, you reload?  As in ammunition?  Yes.  Yes I do.  Here is the thing about life, hobbies provide great satisfaction.  Some say travel, but honestly if you travel a lot – it is almost a hobby.  Hobbies are something you love to do and distract you from life.  I have woodworking, photography and reloading.  Writing is a hobby too.  Having so many hobbies becomes troublesome to find time for it all.  Don’t fret – the book is still coming along.  As a matter of fact, it is in the editing stage!

The interesting thing…

…about this week off is I did not do the main project that I intended.  Put a radon fan in the attic.  For those of you who do not know what radon is, read these Radon Facts.  Radon sucks and is nasty stuff.  I did a short term test and it came back very high.  The issue was that the attic was too damn hot, so it is put off till the Fall.  I got some other things on the to-do list completed and that is really what mattered.

Did anyone else take a week off this summer to get stuff done around the house?  I would love to hear about your projects too!

Now it is back to work.  Back to writing.


Tight on time? Books don’t write themselves.


Everyone gets tied up and loses track of time.  Things happen and we all become tight on time.  There aren’t enough hours in the day.  Book writing can suffer if one does not dedicate time to them, or they can take a lot longer to write.  Books don’t write themselves.

I have been overly tied up with various activities this year.  I have, at the time of this writing, a nine month old daughter who is taking up most of my time.  It makes it hard to dedicate my time to writing, but I must do what I can when I can.  I am putting every effort I can to get the new series done as soon as possible.

Not to worry – The Sheriff series will continue as well, though it will be longer in between releases.  Books do not write themselves and I cannot create time in the day.  I am working to improve my writing style and bring you better books as well.  This means I am doing research, taking classes and becoming a better writer overall.  This, again, takes time.  I have discovered some time saving tips though.

If you are writing a book – ideas constantly come into your head as you are writing.  Make sure to note them down.  Google Keep is what I use to jot notes down for a book.  Once I incorporate them I check them off a list.  My phone is always with me, so it doesn’t matter whether I am out shopping or sleeping in bed, my phone is within arms reach.  It is amazing how many ideas come to mind before falling asleep or while you are asleep.

Set a goal.  Sometimes goals are a certain time period every day to write.  My goal has been the amount of writing I do when I can.  A chapter is my goal.  This is sometimes hard and I will write a pseudo chapter to finish it off if need be.  A pseudo chapter is essentially an outline so I can remember exactly where my thought process was.  Never take a break in the middle of a chapter without having some idea of where you were headed.  Some writers prefer to have a paragraph or two written in a chapter as they simply re-read those two paragraphs and move on.  This is fine, if you can remember exactly the direction you were headed.  Sometimes writers don’t care which direction they were headed, they just want to go whatever direction it is they want to at that time.  This is fine, but it does not work for everyone.

Clear you mind before writing.  Write a paragraph or two of absolutely nothing related to the book.  Sometimes it helps to even move a story along depending on what you are thinking about at the time.  Lets try it now, I am going to write a paragraph without any purpose other than to throw the current thoughts in my head into bytes on the WWW:

I need to print pictures of my daughter before they get backlogged.  Posting them on OneDrive so my family can see them is very important.  My car needs inspected this month and the registration is due on my truck.  How am I going to go about solving the personal dilemma within my character?  I wonder if the powerball will be hit tonight.  Why didn’t I put the scissors back.  They are just laying on my desk in front of my keyboard.  What was I cutting with them?  Oh, right – coupons for the wife.  I will have to put them back when I am done this blog post.

There is absolutely no purpose, rhyme or reason to the thoughts that come out, but it helps clear your head before you sit down writing.  I find this very useful when I have a busy life to try and get some good work done on a book.


Speaking of which, I better get to writing a chapter.  On a side note, I just picked up John Hart’s:  Redemption Road.  Have any of you read it?  What do you think?  I look forward to reading it here in the very near future.

John Hart: Redemption Road