Monday, September 30, 2013

Guest blog: Writing Non-Fiction, with Jo Linsdell

In the usual tradition of this blog, when things get tight, the pressure builds, and I can't find time to write anything.... that's when it's time for a guest blog. :)   See, easy ... unless you can hand out ipods, Virgin Media TV packages, or free books ... this is easier.

Today, we'll be hosting Jo Linsdell.  If you're a writer on Facebook, you've run into madam Linsdell before. I even had a Facebook interview with her not too long ago. Jo Linsdell is a best selling author and illustrator, award winning blogger, and freelance writer. She is also the founder and organiser of the annual online event Promo Day ( Her latest release Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home is now available from Amazon. Find out more about her at her website

Writing Non-Fiction

By Jo Linsdell

I'm a multi genre author and also an illustrator so my writing process tends to differ depending on the project I'm working on. For my non-fiction books the first two steps are always the same though 1) make the cover art 2) write up the table of contents.
By making the cover art I get a feel for the book and set the tone. It also becomes "real". This is a great motivator for me and helps me focus on finishing it. Another benefit to making the cover early on is that it means I can do some pre-release promotion even before I've finished writing the book.

The table of contents is basically the structure for my book. I start by brainstorming the topic I'm writing about. For my latest book Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home the topic was virtual book tours. I made a list of the questions I get asked most related to virtual book tours and they essentially became the chapters of my book. All I needed to do was put them into a logical order. With a clear plan for the book I knew exactly what to write for each chapter and book quickly came to life.

The idea was to break it down into 3 main sections; pre-tour, during-tour, and post-tour, covering everything a person would need to know to be able to set up and carry out a successful virtual book tour. I then added a forth section packed full of useful resources. The book pretty much wrote itself.

I think the main reason I found it so easy to write this book was that I already had a lot of experience and knowledge of my topic (I've carried out numerous successful virtual book tours for my own books and have been hosting others on my blogs for years. Some times working directly with the author, some times with book tour companies). Virtual book tours are also my favourite, and most effective, marketing method for promoting my books. I'm therefore passionate about the topic and enjoy talking about it. These two factors are the essentials for writing a good non-fiction. You need to know your topic and be passionate about it.

As the reader goes through your book it will be obvious whether you're an expert in your topic or not. Your excitement and enthusiasm about your topic should shine through from start to finish. If it does, you'll have them excited about the topic too and eager to use their new found knowledge.

What are the first steps you take when writing a non-fiction book? As a reader, what do you look for it a non-fiction book?

Monday, September 23, 2013

THIS! IS! 400!

This is the 400th post for this blog.  Can you believe I've been doing this for six years?  It's only felt like sixty on this end.  Along the way, I've shared with you how I invest myself in my work, dissected my life to show you how it enters my writing, given you the story of everything that has been important in my life. You folks know when I'm single, when I'm hurting, and when I'm going to lose myself in video games.  I've shared my wonder at emerging technology, my irritation at politics and the comic book industry, my love of reading and even the music du jour.

I'd like to thank you all for putting up with me that long. I never thought I was that interesting.  Believe it or not, this blog has lasted longer than some relationships I've had.

And now, I have an almost constant readership of some 2000 people, give or take a few hundred.  Wow. If it were in my power, I'd start posting gift voucher codes to thank you all for the time and energy you've spent visiting my blog and reading everything.  Now if only you would all buy A Pius Man and Codename Winterborn....

Yes, I'm joking.  But you can't blame a guy for trying, can you? :)

So, since I can't hand out gift voucher codes on this blog (and I'm not sure where I'd get them, to be honest), what do I have for you today?  Well, for one thing, I have a brand new review of my novel Codename: Winterborn, written with my co-author Allan Yoskowitz, so that'd be fun.  Also, I have a new video from Lindsey Stirling.

Enjoy all, and thank you again.

Monday, September 16, 2013

DC comics death from Above: writing for management

Starfire, bad ass.
In the not too distant past, I did an article about how DC comics seems to have a pathological problem with sex.

This month, the problems have really started to hit me.

Keep in mind, the last DC comic story I read was "Final Crisis," and that one didn't even make sense.  Once they went to the New 52, "One More Day"ed every relationship, and started warping the very nature of their characters, I have only glanced at the comics from time to time, usually to my horror.
Starfire, fashion victim

It was bad enough when DC comics took Starfire -- an alien who was fairly open about her sex life, and was completely monogamous -- and turned her into a .... I'm not entirely certain that the word "slut" is a strong enough word. Not only did they have to go out of their way to make the character amoral when it came to sex, but also gave her a costume redesign to match.

I mean, really? Who comes up with this stuff?

Then Catwoman's character redesign was .... also horrible.

I figured, okay, not a problem, that's two comics out of 52, and one of those writers is Judd Winick, who is a crappy writer to start with (Really? Let's bring back Jason Todd? That's a good idea by you?).

And then some of the most recent stupidity hit the fan.

batwoman.jpgTake, for example, Batwoman, a "Lesbian hero in the DC universe."  That, in and of itself, doesn't effect me. After all, I figured out a while ago that the DC policy on women created since the late 80s is simple: if you're not a woman dating a Superhero, or if you don't have superpowers in the DC universe, you're a Lesbian (Footnote: see Maggie Sawyer, Metropolis cop; Renee Montoya, Gotham Cop, Batwoman... you get the idea).

Here's the problem.  After building up for months the concept that "Oh, Batwoman's going to get married to her girlfriend," DC pulls the plug on the whole concept.

Now, I don't know if you're aware of this, but comic books are usually planned out at least one year in advance. This allows for planning, crossovers, editing, illustrating, etc. You can't start a 6-12 month story arc without approval.  You can't start something and blink at the last minute.

And yet, this is what DC comics has done.

If you told me that, at the last minute, someone had old religious feeling kick in and they felt they had to swerve away from a lesbian marriage .... I wouldn't believe you.

Why?  Well, aside from the fact that a lot of people don't give a crap about gay marriage (my opinion on it is here), you have.....

1) As I said above, the "new 52" imposed a "One More Day"- like idiocy on the DCU.  No one in the entire DC universe is married anymore.  Barry Allen, married forever? Not anymore. Superman and Lois married for all of the 90s? He's now dating Wonder Woman.  Marriage is, after all, for old people. Who cares if your loyal readership of decades have grown up with these characters in solid, committed relationships? Teenagers are where [DC thinks] the money is.  (Personally, I'd wager my money on the middle aged professionals doing a 9-5 and have a few bucks to catch up to Superman this week)

2) I can't see religion being a factor, given what was done to Catwoman and Starfire.  And, after cancelling any wedding for Batwoman, DC decided that they wanted artwork of a naked Harley Quinn committing suicide. Which leads me to...

3) Is it just me, or is every active writing decision that DC Makes centered around pandering?
  • "Hey, we'll have some gay superheroes!" And make it a green lantern from an alternate universe who gets almost zero screen time, as well as one of a hundred interchangeable green lanterns.
  • "We'll make a title heroine who's a Lesbian, yay!" as long as she doesn't get locked into a stable relationship, but we can see her make out with her girlfriend.
  • "Let's have two of our strongest female leads turn into sex crazed women!"
  • "Naked Harley Quinn!"
Seriously? Who's in charge of DC comic nowadays? The same five year olds who swear on MMORPGs because they just discovered these great new words?

My point? I'm not sure if I have one, short of "top-down control is bad."  I used to think it was deranged when there was an infinite amount of crises at DC.  "Oh, hey, we're going to continually shake up the DC universe every month."  But those at least created some interesting stories and some good writing along the way, such as the three year War of the Rings in Green Lantern, or the series 52.

This .... all this has just resulted in bad writing. Does anyone know what's going on anymore?  Once it was editorial lockdown from above, where everyone was in lockstep with the crisis du jour. Now, it looks like no one is in charge except for refugees from my old high school.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9-11, and Nightwish meets Lord of the Rings

Today is September 11th.

Twelve years later....

Lucky for you folks, I haven't really anything new to add to the post from the tenth Anniversary.

However, I do have a new review for A Pius Man.

If you got the expanded edition of Lord of the Rings, you will have noted that it comes out somewhere around fifteen hours.

Here it is in ten minutes.