Monday, October 31, 2011

Win a Copy of The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers

It is that time again when you, our reader, have a chance to start your week with a wonderful award. You have met me now, thanks to Ansha. Allow me to introduce you to a fantastic St. Louis author, Angie Fox, by offering a copy of one of her novels, The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers (Book 2 in the Accidental Demon Slayer series). Angie Fox is a New York Best Selling Author who likes to write (tongue in cheek) about things that go bump in the night.

"Demon-slaying powers should come with an instruction book…

Seriously. Why does a new hair dryer have a twelve-page how-to manual, but when it comes to ancient demon-fighting hocus-pocus, my biker witch granny gives me just half a dozen switch stars and a rah-rah speech? Oh, and a talking terrier, but that’s another story. It’s not like my job as a preschool teacher prepared me for this kind of thing.

So I’ve decided to write my own manual, The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers, because no one tells me anything. Dimitri, my “protector,” may be one stud of a shape-shifting griffin, but he always thinks he can handle everything by himself. Only he’s no match for the soul-stealing succubi taking over Las Vegas. If I can’t figure out how to save him—and Sin City—there’ll be hell to pay."

To enter the contest, simply leave a comment or question on The Writers' Lens blog between October 31st, and midnight November 5th, 2011. Please include your email so we can reach you if you win. The more comments you leave, the greater your chance of winning the contest. The winner will be chosen after midnight on Saturday and the announcement made on Sunday, November 6th.

Thanks for entering, and Good Luck!

If you wish to learn more about me, please visit

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Winner of Darkness Never Far

The winner of Brad R. Cook's October 16, "Win a Book of Poetry!" was Maeve Alpin! Congratulations! She won a signed copy of Darkness Never Far by Matthew Freeman.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Meet the Contributor: David Lucas

Today, I'm interviewing David Lucas, one of the contributors to Writers' Lens.

David, your website mentions that you write in a number of genres, Spy/Crime, Horror and SF, would you say you have a unifying theme in your works or do you work for something different with each work?
I work on something different for each piece, but a common character is the jagged anti-hero.  They are dealing with something--PTSD, addiction, regrets for not being the person they thought they would be when they were children--that gives them a ragged edge that is a part of their character and their world.

Do you have a process when you write?
I do.  I start with the idea--which may come from the news or a conversation or be a collision of ideas from various sources.  I then focus on the main character and nine questions I learned from reading a book on Earle Stanley Gardner, the author of the Perry Mason novels and many other novels.  These questions form the beginning of my plot.  I then plot my story, loosely.  I write the first draft.  The first draft is really my true plot.  From there, I rewrite.

Rewriting, that's when the real writing happens.  Which line do you struggle with more, the first or the last? 
 It's not a line that I struggle with; it's where the story begins.  Where my plot starts the story, and where it really starts, may be in two different places.  Sometimes it may be off by a few chapters and sometimes it may be the right scene, but not quite in the right part of the scene.

Beginnings of stories are a challenge for me too. But somehow when you get it right, you just know.  Until then it takes some work.  The Writers’ Lens is about Bringing Fiction Into Focus – what brings your writing into focus, the characters, the stories, the love of words?
It is the story--the journey and the unusual development of the character.   To me the journey is one that follows a quote of Robert Lewis Stevenson, "In each of us, two natures are at war – the good and the evil. All our lives the fight goes on between them, and one of them must conquer. But in our own hands lies the power to choose – what we want most to be we are."

So, David, of the many genres you work in, what are you working on now, and can you tell us a bit about it? 
I have three projects I am working on. 

I am currently writing the first draft, or plot draft, of a paranormal crime drama, working titled ­THE DEVIL'S BOUNTY HUNTER, which is about Detective Reo Pennington,  a consequential moralistic cop who is killed and finds herself in Hell.  There a devil makes a deal, she can either stay in hell or return to Earth.  But there is a catch.  The devil wants certain people to be sent to hell.  Oh, and to stay alive, she has to kill someone every forty days.  She agrees to the deal and finds herself in a Machiavellian game of cat and mouse as she must keep her badge, stay alive, and deny the devil what he wants.

The second project I'm writing is entering second draft.  It is a space western, working title HERNE'S LAW, about Hernando "Herne" Castellano, a veteran of a civil war in humanity's future, who is abandoned with his troops by his government on the final battle, when a peace treaty is signed.  Herne goes into a self-imposed exile for six years, when he is forced to return by a call for help.  Battling PTSD, he returns and finds his world changed, and not for the better.   Herne's government abandoned him, so he follows only one law--help those who can't help themselves.

The third project has gone back to plotting.  DARK MEDICINE is a gothic novel, about Alexandre Levreau, who was cursed by a witch after the Battle of San Carlos (also known as the Battle of St. Louis) during the American War for Independence.   All he ever wanted was to return home, but the curse changed him--made him inhuman.  He returns home to find his wife married to his brother.  In a duel he kills his brother, only to be imprisoned alive by his former wife and his father--and reemerges over two hundred years later--only to become a science experiment of a distraught emergency room doctor determined to find a way to keep people from dying.  But, there are only three problems with the doctor's plans: The witch who cursed Alexandre was also entombed with him and is immortal; The doctor does not understand the darkness he is playing with; and Alexandre is determined to return to home.

You may learn more about me at, follow my "Coffee with David" blog at, follow me on twitter @Owlkenpowriter.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tools We Use - yWriter

Today I'd like to talk about the tools we use.

As writers we all use our imagination and our brains. I know many writers use a laptop, desktop or other computer to put their words in order.  But what other tools do you use?
I’d like to share with you a tool that I use that I was lucky enough to find early on in my writing career.  yWriter.

yWriter is a free application created by a programmer who also happens to be a writer.  You just know you’re going to get something useful when an actual writer has put the application together.

And you certainly get a tool worth using.  I’m grateful to have found yWriter when I did.  Back when I started writing, every writer I met wrote in order, sequentially, from beginning to end, in Word. When I started writing, my thoughts and ideas came to me in a jumble.  I would know how I planned to end the story,  I’d have a single character’s name and large chunks of dialogue.  None of it showed up in my brain in any order that I could manage.  

I certainly couldn’t put all this information in a Word doc without losing my mind.

I remember hunting online for something, anything, that might help.  I remember someone mentioning yWriter, and I immediately sought out the website.  

Simon Haynes created yWriter to help with his own writing.  And I bet it’ll help yours too.  Check it out.  Try it out.  It’s FREE.  And if you really like it, support Simon by purchasing one of his books.  Hal Junior: The Secret Signal or his Hal Spacejock series.

What tools do you use to get your writing done?  What tools do you wish you had?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Win a copy of Hapenny Magick!

It's Monday again, and here is a wonderful way to celebrate the start of a new week, a giveaway!
Today we have the privilege of sharing an electronic copy of Jennifer Carson's fantasy middle grade novel, 

 As the tiniest Hapenny, a race of little people, Maewyn Bridgepost spends her days from breakfast to midnight nibble scrubbing the hearth, slopping the pigs, and cooking for her guardian, Gelbane, who never spares a kind word. As if life as a servant isn’t bad enough, Mae learns that Gelbane is a troll—and Hapennies are a troll delicacy.
Years ago, a spell trapped Gelbane in Mae’s village. Ever since, Gelbane has been chiseling away the magic spells that guard the village and now Mae’s community is destined to become a smorgasbord for half-starved trolls.

Jennifer is using Kickstarter to fund her first print run of this heartfelt story. Check out the video and all the wonderful illustrations she has planned!

To enter the contest, simply leave a comment or question on The Writers' Lens blog between October 24th, and midnight October 29th, 2011. Please include your email so we can reach you if you win. The more comments you leave, the greater your chance of winning the contest. The winner will be chosen after midnight on Saturday and the announcement made on Sunday, October 30th.
Thanks for entering, and Good Luck!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Winner of Oct. 9th Contest

The winner of Cornelia Amiri's October 9th contest, The Golden Compass Toy Airship and the book Zen and the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury is Lori from Vancover. Congratulations Lori.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Meet The Contributor: Ansha Kotyk!

Meet the Contributor: Ansha Kotyk!
By Brad R. Cook

This week I had the great pleasure to interview the next contributor to The Writers’ Lens, Ansha Kotyk. She is the author of Gangsterland, a middle grade novel due out later this year. A professional writer for the last five years, her titles
include The Comic Book, The Story of Kore, and Ground Zero. Like many writers she began her craft at a young age, writing her first story at the
age of nine.

She is a contributor to several blogs like #mglitchat and Pots n Pens. If you haven’t checked them out I highly recommend that you do – find more at:

Ansha also wrote an excellent post about the choice she made in publishing, and why it was the right decision for her. It’s a great post about independent publishing. Read more at

So, I asked her a few tough questions – sharpened my lens to bring her fiction into focus as it were.

Your website mentions following your dreams, any advice for those who dream of publication and don’t want to lose their way?

Following your dreams is what we're made for, why else would we dream? I think the idea of following a dream makes a lot of people hesitate. I mean, a dream is huge right? What if we can't achieve our dream? Or worse, what if we can and it's not what we anticipated? What then? We
move on and find another dream! I think the goal to following a dream is to make it tangible. Make a list of things we need to accomplish in order to achieve our goal and start working on the list. Eventually we meet that goal. I had a friend once tell me "if you want it bad enough, you'll do what you need to do to get it". I don't watch television. My 'down' time is writing time. I make room in my life for my writing every day. And that's how I know I'll eventually make my dream come true.

Cornelia asked me about the difference between Y/A and MG – So I have to ask, what sets Middle Grade and Young Adult apart from books for Adults?

Wow, tough question. When I was a kid I don't recall there being the amount of Middle Grade and YA books that are available today. I think the themes in MG and YA draw a number of readers. First experiences in life are always thrilling and as a reader you get to relive that through MG and YA characters who are having these experiences and making these decisions for
the first time. I actually can think of a number of reasons to read MG and YA, I have even talked my neighborhood book club into reading a few YA and MG novels instead of adult literary novels. Personally I think you find the theme of hope in MG and YA titles and that will always keep me reading.

Do you have a process when you write? Do you write at the same time every day or whenever you can find time? Do you outline or let the words flow?

For the last 3 years I've made it a point to set time aside to write each day. My children are young so it's been during nap times and now preschool. I really need that quiet time to focus on being creative. I'm a semi-pantser. :) I have always outlined my stories. I even have a few outlined that I never wrote. But the outline is my road map. When I write the draft the scenes create themselves as I write. I'm a strong believer in the subconscious mind doing all my work for me. It makes this job lots of fun!

The Writers’ Lens is about Bringing Fiction Into Focus – what brings your writing into focus, the characters, the stories, the love of words?

I have always loved the well crafted plot and maybe that's because I grew up on lots of Sci-fi, but I do love my characters.

Which line do you struggle with more the first or the last?

Both! I've rewritten my first pages more times than I can count. And I'm currently reworking my final scene. I'm a big proponent of Fast Drafting. Getting the words for your story down on paper as fast as you can. Keep that momentum, that flow of your story. It makes for some lengthy
revision but a thrill ride of a first draft.

What are you working on now?

I'm working on the final revisions of my Middle Grade novel GANGSTERLAND, an open ended series about a boy who wishes himself into his comic book of 1920's gangsters and finds himself in more trouble than he imagined. I plan to self-publish around the New Year. I've drafted the 3rd book but not the 2nd. I plan to keep myself busy with my dream.

Learn more about Gangsterland and the rest of Ansha’s writing at:
Follow her blog at:
and if you’re not checking out her twitter stream, you should be – @AnshaKotyk

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Researching Your Novel: Always Start With Google!

Researching Your Novel: Always Start With Google!
By Brad R. Cook

If you take one piece of advice away from this post
– Always start with Google!
This is part of a talk about research that I’ve given at a couple of writers’ conferences, but it is also my favorite way to learn. If I don’t know something – I Google it. It’s practically how I learned to be an IT tech. BTW, you can Bing too, whichever makes you happier.

In a nutshell, Google is an algorithm that searches everything posted on the web for the keywords you entered. So if you ask for an apple you will get every post with apple in it from the entire world, that’s why it says – about 115,000,000 results (0.12 seconds.)

Why do you need to research? Details! People read to learn, to escape, to experience something new. To fulfill this desire, every writer needs to include rich details.

There are three things to remember when researching your novel:
1 – How to research: Start specific then broaden – always approach from multiple angles – try to find source material.

Start your search with very specific keywords, something like – apple pie recipes with a flaky cinnamon trust. (Can you tell I’m hungry, or it may be a Steve Jobs’ homage, but I had apples on my mind.) It's always best to see if there is a website that has exactly what you need. If that doesn't work, say there just aren't any cinnamon piecrust recipes, then broaden your search. See if there are apple pie recipes with flaky crusts that you could add the cinnamon too. Your next option, if you still haven’t found what you are looking for, or want more detailed information – is to approach from a different angle. See if there is a pumpkin pie recipe with a cinnamon crust. Lastly, one of the most important things you can do is find the source material. Especially, since much of what is on the web is a reprint or an amalgamation of other sources.

2 – Where to research: It isn’t always about libraries.

I love libraries! They're the single greatest resource when trying to find out information. In some cases, they're actually better than Google because they have resources I can't access by myself. However, sometimes it's good to get out of the library. How many times have you heard – “Write what you know!” – and they’re right, so fire a gun, swing a sword, drive your characters’ car, ride with a biker gang, or walk through each location of your story. It can be invaluable to actually do the things your character does. Not to mention, it makes the research fun.

3 – What to research: Details!

Research is about one thing – details. The right details give your novel depth and enrich the reader’s experience. It's how writers create an environment that the reader won’t want to leave. Research the specifics, the clothes, technology, history, slang, sights, sounds, smells, and feel of the important aspects of the character’s world.
Anyone can write – a man walked into a room and fired a gun – but with a little research – The lieutenant smashed his boot against the cheap particleboard door, took two steps inside and smacked into the rancid odor of week-old pizza and enough piled crap to start an episode of
Hoarders. As a man stepped into the hallway, the lieutenant fired a tight-spread of buckshot. (My apple reference didn’t work as well here.)

The second sentence makes people want to read more. They care more about the Lt. than some generic man. What did I research? The type of person, what they wore, and what type of weapon they carried. The type of place they entered. What did that place look like, smell like, and feel like? Don’t add all the details to every sentence, but knowing the in’s and out’s of your world is the only way to show the reader. So, research the five senses, and remember your genre – if you’re writing a space epic, you'd better know some of the laws of astrophysics; writing a western, you might want to know that the pump action shotgun wasn't invented until the 1890s; writing a
mystery, brush up on police procedures. We read for the details.

I hope that helps. My next blog post will continue the research theme. I’ll touch on some great places to look when researching. Good luck with your writing!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Win a Book of Poetry!

It's Monday! Time for another Writers' Lens contest!
Now that you know a little about me from Cornelia's great interview, allow me to pass a book on to you.  I have a signed copy of Matthew Freeman's poetry collection, Darkness Never Far - and all you have to do to win it is leave a comment!
Matthew is an amazing, award-winning St. Louis poet. His next collection is due soon, but until then, let me tempt you with his last collection. Matthew Freeman has been a poet since he was a teenager in Dogtown, St. Louis. Since then he has fallen in love, travelled the country, and sung his songs. He now lives and writes in The Loop, in St. Louis. Darkness Never Far is his third collection of poems exploring the impact of mental illness on language and mythos. (bio borrowed from
A special note: Matthew recently assisted the Missouri Warrior Writer Project. The Missouri Writers Guild in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council, is helping soldiers and their families write about their wartime experience using Poetry, Prose, and Personal Essays. The project has been a resounding success and Matthew gave his time to perform poetry workshops.
One note about the contest: Due to shipping limitations, you have to live within the continental United States to win. Apologies to the international readers. We also have giveaways that are fully online so anyone can win.
To enter the contest, simply leave a comment or question on The Writers' Lens Blog between October 17th, and midnight October 22nd, 2011. Please include your email so we can reach you if you win. The more comments you leave, the greater YOUR chance of winning the contest. The winner will be chosen after midnight on Saturday and the announcement made on Sunday, October 23rd.
Thanks for entering, and be sure to check out the rest of the posts, including last week's Twitter Hash Tag post by Cornelia Amiri.

Good luck with the contest!
Learn more about me at

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Winner of Oct. 3rd Contest

The winner of Diana Driver's October 3th contest, The Ways of Khrem and The Fundamentals of Worldbuilding, was Kristi! Kristi is currently working on a Fantasy story and we wish her the very best in her endeavors.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Meet The Contributor - Brad R. Cook

I am proud to introduce Brad R. Cook,Fantasy and Historical Fiction Writer and another contributing author at The Writer’s Lens. Brad wrote his first book in elementary school and credits those works with starting his love of writing. After serving since 2008 as Historian of the St. Louis Writers Guild, one of the oldest and largest literary organizations in the Midwest, he recently became their President. Studying the past has given him a deep love of history. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri with his wife, cat, and plants. He loves to read books that are over a hundred years old and writes during the witching hour when his muses are most active. He is the author of The Iron Horsemen, a young adult Steampunk adventure set in a world of airship pirates, secret societies, iron mechanics, and the exciting myths of history!

The Iron Horsemen Blurb:
The year is 1881 and Alexander reluctantly finds himself in Eton College, a place he doesn't fit in. Far from his friends and home in America, when his father is kidnapped by a mysterious man half-covered in bronze plates, Alexander teams with Genevieve, a baron's daughter who constantly defies Victorian convention. Along with her feisty little bronze dragon, and an eclectic crew of Sky Raiders, they run from the fog-cloaked cobblestones streets, to the skies above the Mediterranean, as they save London from the four Iron Horsemen.

Far from his father, his home, and everything he's ever known, will Alexander be able save his father, and discover the mysterious secrets of Genevieve's family as he struggles to deal with an offer he never expected - to become an Iron Horsemen!

I recently had the opportunity to visit with Brad and he answered a few questions about his writing.

What do you like about reading and writing Steampunk?

A passion for history helps, but really it’s about the possibility of what might have been. I love that Steampunk is a juxtaposition of opposites. In my case it’s about fantasy I am an avid researcher and all my work is historically accurate,but the fun part is extrapolating where technology could have ended up.

You’ve written a book for young adults and one for middle grade. What difference do you find in writing for the two different age groups?

It was greater than I first thought. When you are writing for kids one of the big things to remember is that there is a huge difference in age, even a single year can have many implications. Young Adult is about emotion, the internal struggle of finding out who the character is turning into and where they fit in their world. Middle Grade is about that first sense of self discovery. Middle Grade is also more heavily focused on dialogue which for a playwright has never been a problem. However, both will always be about telling an exciting story.

What challenges do you find in writing children’s literature, for young adults and middle grade?

The biggest challenges, but one I enjoyed solving, are the fight scenes. In Young Adult you aren’t really limited, but I like to keep the action high and the body count low. However,Middle Grade is tricky. Even though I was a Fencer at thirteen fighting men in their twenties, in a book it’s difficult to have two kids battling each other.Yet at the climax of my Middle Grade there had to be a final battle. That’s where being creative is a necessity, in my case I solved the problem using lacrosse.

As a writer what are the similarities and differences between Steampunk and Urban Fantasy?

They’re not that different from each other, unlike hi-fantasy (another genre I adore) which has completely different settings, plot choices, and characters, Steampunk and Urban Fantasy are both set in ‘modern’ cities. Sure there is a difference in the level of technology, but I truly believe that if it exists today, I can find a plausible way for it to exist in the Victorian Age. It surprises me how much of today’s hi-tech was envisioned over a century ago. The real difference – in the Victorian age everything was more elaborately decorated than today where we strip our architecture, technology, and clothing down to the barest essentials.

What is your upcoming release? Your WIP?

Right now, I am looking for an agent to represent my Y/A Steampunk and Middle Grade Arthurian Urban Fantasy novels. This month, one of my scripts will be performed at Voices of Valhalla and I have two pieces in the St. Louis Reflections anthology. Later this year, I'll have an e-book of short stories, it’s a WWII spy thriller with a Diesel punk influence.My current WIP is an adult Urban Fantasy. I write a lot.

For more on Brad R. Cook please visit his Website
Please post comments or questions and you will be entered in the weekly contest.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Twitter’s Magic Symbol, the Hashtag

Twitter’s magic symbol is the little tic tac toe pound sign known in Tweet-speak as a hashtag. Categorize messages by placing a hashtag in front of keywords. Click on a hashtag word to bring up the other tweets in that category or type it in the search field. When you sweeten your tweets with hashtags they are seen by more

tweeters. Be polite and follow good twitter etiquette. Don’t use more than three hashtags in a single tweet are you will look like a spammer or hashtag hogger or something equally boring. Here’s an example of hashtag use and please feel free to retweet it. #Writers Lens blogging #contest – win Zen In the Art of Wriitng & #Steampunk model Airship

As we all know writing is a lonely profession, but we can share our progress and offer help to other writers with the following popular hashtags: #wip, #author, #pubtip, #authors, #editgoal , #critique, #writing, #revisions, #writetips, #editing, #writenow, #writegoal, #wrotetoday, #writingtips, #amwriting, #amediting, #nanowrimo, #amrevising. So other people will know how wonderfully you’re progressing and how hard you’re working. It doesn’t matter that these people don’t know you, they are still proud of you and encouraged by your progress. I use #amwriting all the time and I’m not the only one. It seems like someone besides me should know I’m writing.

To fish for readers in your genre draw from these hash tag hooks: #YA, #yum, #vss (very short story), #ufo, #nerd, #blog, #wolf, #goth, #xoxo, #sexy, #teen, #poem, #poet, #poems, #teens, #smexy, #yalit, #scifi, #story #ghost, #genre ,#novel, #novels, #erotic, #kidlit, #series, #sequel, #indies, #webfic, #weblit, #creepy, #horror, #yasaves, #review, #fantasy, #mystery #undead, #turnon, #zombie, #poetry, #hotguys, #fiction, #erotica, #chivalry, #twilight, #thriller, #chilling, #romance, #vampire, #zombies, #suspense, #novelists, #kissable, #kidstoday, #haunting, #vampires, #werewolf, #romantic, #dystopian, #steampunk, #werewolves, #longreads, #anthology, #livingdead, #paranormal , #bookreview, #truestories, #historical, #apocalyptic, #shortstories, #youngadult, #shortthriller, #releasedate #indieauthors, #ghoststories, #romancenovel, #contemporary, #romanceauthor, #vampirebooks, and #paranormalromance. There are plenty of hashtags swimming in the twitter sea to help you net and network with readers.
Some of the best hashtags for authors are ebook and epub tags: #wifi, #nook, #ipad, #sony, #apps, #kindle, #tablet, #scribd, #mobile, #ereader, #99cents, #amazon, #publishing, #blackberry, #goodreads, #smashwords, #librarything, #selfpublishing, #kindlebooks, and #kindlebargain,

Hashtags are for readers too. Booklovers, share what you are reading every Friday with #fridayreads. Other fabulous hashtags bookworms will love are #read, #review, #reading, #readthis, #booklook, #mustread, #bestseller, #literacy, #paperback, #amreading, #nowreading, and #summerreading.

Next time you chat about reading or writing let your fingers do the talking on Twitter with handy hashtags. This is not a full list so keep your eyes open on twitter for other hashtags to help you target fellow tweeters who share your interest.

Please comment or post questions below for a chance to win this week’s prizes. Include your email so we can contact you if you win. The prizes for this week are listed in the post directly below this one.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Contest: An Airship and Zen in the Art of Writing

It’s Monday, you know what that means. Time for the Writer’s Lens weekly contest. Yay!

You can win a prize any writer or reader would love, The Golden Compass Lee Scoresby’s Airship collector’s toy model in die cast metal. Yes, your very own airship. A very small one. And a paperback edition of Ray Bradbury’s Zen In The Art of Writing. Two prizes, both go to one lucky winner.

The 2007 film The Golden Compass is an adaptation of the children's book of the same name by Phillip Pullman, the first book in His Dark Materials trilogy, which also includes The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. Actually, in the UK the book is called Northern Lights rather than The Golden Compass. This model airship makes a great Steampunk collectable to display on your bookshelf or your desk.

I have loved Ray Bradbury's books and short stories since I was thirteen and he his has been a great inspiration to my writing. Zen in the Art of Writing is a collection of essays by Ray Bradbury of how he developed his unique writing voice and style. It describes the development of an author's voice in a way that I've never seen a book do before. I believe in authors writing from the heart and developing their voices and own styles regardless of what's hot on the market at the time. Writers, aspiring writers, and also any readers who would like to understand a bit more of where Ray Bradbury's wonderful stories come from will love this book.

To enter the contest simply leave a comment or question on The Writers Lens Blog between October 10th, and midnight October 15th, 2011. Please include your email so we can reach you if you win. The more comments you leave, the greater YOUR chance of winning the contest. The winner will be chosen after midnight on Saturday and the announcement made on Sunday, October 17th. If Blogger isn’t working, you can email me personally with your comment and I’ll add it to the Blog.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Meet The Contributor - Cornelia Amiri

Cornelia Amiri
The Celtic Queen

"Sharpen your Swords.
Find your Courage.
Prepare to lose yourself in Passion and Myth."

I am proud to introduce Cornelia Amiri, The Celtic Queen, and another contributing author at The Writer’s Lens.

The first novel I read by Cornelia Amiri was The Fox Prince, now rereleased as The Celtic Fox. Very few historical authors draw me into the stories and the culture the way Cornelia Amiri did. It was like I was actually living in this time period – her knowledge of the time period and her skillful writing puts her at the top of the list of My Favorite Authors.

Question: You've written about more than one historical time period; including Celtic Historicals, Ancient Egypt, Steampunk, and even about Woodstock in the 1960s. What is it about these time periods that you found fascinating?

Cornelia Amiri: "As far as what I like that connects all three is the art. Of course Woodstock was all about music told stories and conveyed hopes and dreams. Music was key to the Celtic Culture also. Bards were part of the religion, included in the Druidic order. They didn’t have a written language so their history and beliefs survived through the oral tradition of songs and stories. Visual art was of utmost importance to the ancient Egyptians, there writing was based on it. They told stories and conveyed hopes and dreams with their art. The decorations on the tombs and the artistic amulets included in the mummy wrappings helped guide the dead to the afterlife. All three cultures, the Celts, the Egyptians, and the hippie culture had an emphasis on art that told stories, and shared hopes, and dreams. They embraced art with their minds, hearts, and souls. As someone at Woodstock would say, that turns me on, I dig it."

Question: Historical fiction takes a lot of research, do you have any favorite online resources?

Cornelia Amiri: "Here are some:

Ancient Egypt for Kids (it’s for kids but adults like it and use it too)

The Megalithic Portal

Question:  What are your favorite writer's manuals?

Cornelia Amiri: "I love Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing and I also like Creating Character Emotions by Ann Hood."

Question: You've written quite a few books, which one is your favorite - and why?
Cornelia Amiri: "I love Druid Quest because it’s about Boudica, who is my favorite all time historical character. The Celtic Warrior Queen, Boudica, is the reason I began writing seriously. I love history, and in reading a book about the dark ages, I came across Boudica. I was so inspired, I started jotting down notes, but they were fiction (it-must-have-happened-like-this type). Before I knew it, I had written a novel. I thought, gosh I can really do this. So after accidentally writing that novel, I wrote one on purpose which was my first published book, The Fox Prince, which has been revised to The Celtic Fox, now available on's Kindle for only 99 cents."

For more information about Cornelia Amiri visit her website:

For more information about Cornelia Amiri's books go to Amazon 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Seven Stages of Creative Writing

The Seven Stages of Creative Writing
Diana L. Driver
A couple of weeks ago I had an epiphany as I read an English translation of an old 14th century manuscript.  The name of the manuscript shall remain nameless. It’s not important and I don’t want readers to think I encourage one type of philosophy or religion over another. But, the message I received from this manuscript was clear. Every undertaking consists of stages and if you can recognize these stages when they happen, then you can complete what you've started.
Stage One – The Invitation to Write
The Invitation to Write doesn’t come as a surprise. Most writers have contemplated writing a book for years before they get The Invitation. But, when this Invitation arrives it brings a new sense of excitement. The ‘idea’ of “I want to write this story!” Becomes “I should write this story!” and is almost overpowering.  The writer happily visualizes characters, scenes, backgrounds and the beginning of a plot.
Stage Two – Sense of Dread and the Realism about the undertaking – The First Crises
Following upon the joy of ‘receiving the invitation’ comes the First Crises where the author doubts both his own capabilities as well as his ideas. This could immediately be the death of the idea if the author either doesn’t believe in himself or can’t muster the courage to continue.
Stage Three – Determination to accept The Invitation – energizing the impulse
If the author garners the courage to get beyond the First Crises, then the author’s self-determination kicks in. The Author begins compiling information such as character names, description, plot points and where to start the storyline. The author knows now that he will indeed attempt the work as he organizes and plans the logistics.
Stage Four – The Recognition of Self-Discipline and Delayed Gratification
This is the beginning of realistic expectations. The author knows that the only way to complete the story is to be disciplined. Writing Time must be given a priority and a writing schedule must be maintained. Not just for a couple of days, but for as long as the work takes to be finished. This is when the writer actually commits to the project.
Stage Five – The Beginning of the Work
Now the story has begun. The first sentence of the first paragraph of the first page is written. The author sees the story unfold before his eyes. Once again, his excitement is overwhelming.
Stage Six – Problems Encountered in Expression – Second Major Crises
This is where the writer, having written, once again begins to doubt his abilities and the quality of the original idea. This is the stage where most writers fail. Their initial excitement is gone and the work seems endless. The idea now seems mundane and uninteresting and the actual writing seems tedious. With each additional mistake the author’s internal editor gets louder. This is the stage of Writer’s Block. This is the Stage also where the writer has to trust himself, knowing that perseverance is key.  
Stage Seven – Final Expression
Having passed through the Sixth Stage, the writer has matured and can realistically continue. He knows intuitively that this cycle will be experienced over and over again as he writes and rewrites each chapter  and each new edit until the work is complete and ready to be released to the world.

Diana L. Driver is an author of short stories as well as fiction and nonfiction including the novel Ninth Lord of the Night and its nonfiction companion book, The Maya, People of the Maize
visit her on the web at

Monday, October 3, 2011

Win a Copy of 'The Ways of Khrem' and 'The Fundamentals of Worldbuilding' ebooks!

It’s always wonderful to share treasures with others and today I have two e-books from Amazon that I’m offering to one lucky winner; The Ways of Khrem by D. Nathan Hilliard and The Fundamentals of World Building by Jesse Verinno. To be eligible for the contest simply leave a comment or comments on The Writers Lens Blog between October 3rd, and midnight October 8, 2011. The more comments that you leave, the greater YOUR chance will be of winning the contest. The winner will be chosen after midnight on Saturday and the announcement made on Sunday, October 9th. If Blogger isn’t working, then you can email me personally with your comment and I’ll add it to the Blog. Email to:

The author who writes Science Fiction or Fantasy does more than just create compelling characters and a page turning plot – they create a whole society. In my opinion, these two genres are the most difficult to write because of the thought and planning required.

Which is why for my first contest, I’m giving away two Amazon ebooks; The Ways of Khrem by D. Nathan Hilliard published by Pill Hill Press and The Fundamentals of World Building by Jessie Verino, published by L&L Dreamspell. Both of these books are listed on my “Books I Love” website page at and both books can be appreciated and enjoyed by both experienced writers as well as new writers.

Product Description for The Ways of Khrem by D. Nathan Hilliard

The Ways of Khrem, D. Nathan Hilliard's three part novel features: The Reach of Talanturos, The Cistern, & The Ghost of Candlewalk Lane. Cargill the Bookseller lives a quiet life, in a modest house, overlooking the vast city of Khrem...a magical metropolis of cavernous streets, lofty spires, and dark secrets. His life is turned upside down when Captain Wilhelm Drayton of the City Watch arrives at Cargill's doorstep and confronts him with his criminal past. Cargill is required to assist the Captain in solving mysteries and the action soon explodes when he unmasks a horrific killer stalking the rooftops. Soon he finds himself forced to throw the rules out the window and bring all of his old skills to bear as he finds himself at odds with gods, monsters, and psychopaths alike.”

Click for additional information on  The Ways of Khrem

Product Description for The Fundamentals of World Building by Jesse Verino

“World building involves more than elaborate settings, more than magic and magical beings, and more than paranormal happenings. Speculative fiction is a fast growing market, and world building is an essential tool for creating successful stories where the reader can suspend disbelief. Fundamentals of World Building gives writers the proper tools to craft a well written manuscript, rich with details, by guiding them through steps for choosing the right world elements to include in their story. Use a simple blueprint method to lay the foundation, then complete the story. Beginning writers in the genre can learn to identify potential pitfalls. More complex concepts are included for intermediate to advance level authors. Use the extensive worksheet and get started world building today!”

Click here for additional information on The Fundamentals of World Building

Remember to leave a comment for a chance to win both Amazon ebooks!