Friday, July 31, 2009

Book Review: Through the Fire

I just finished reading Shawn Grady's debut novel Through the Fire. I met Shawn last April at the Mount Hermon Writer's Conference during breakfast one morning. I found him very unassuming, soft-spoken and engaging.  Turned out that several at our table lived within a few hours of each other. We exchanged cards and information about what we wrote and hoped to one day get published. Then Shawn announced with a hand-out of goodies that his novel would be released on July 9th. We were very excited for him. It's wonderful to see that indeed there is hope for new authors getting published.

Shawn's book kept me turning pages. The story drew me in with vivid descriptions and careful character development. Aidan O'Neill struggled with inner ghosts while he and fellow firefighters chased down an elusive arsonist. Things shifted and changed throughout the novel, but never felt predictable with the exception of the growing attraction between Aidan and Julianne. Shawn's writing painted a picture of the intense danger a firefighter faces. Fire scenes built to a palpable level and I found myself there crawling on the floor of smoke-filled rooms, facing flames that "seemed to form faces. Razor teeth like a blacksmith's irons, a wall of glowering eyes encircling me."

Through the Fire is a great read. Oh... and expect to be sent to your dictionary more than a few times. This book will also expand your vocabulary with lines like "... clouds formed a soporific ceiling."  And "Piceous smoke surged from the overpass, sunlight coruscating off an overturned semi."

If you read Shawn's book already, leave a comment with your favorite twenty-five cent word from the book.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Blog Traffic Grows a Platform

The Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure visible from space. Now that's a platform!

As writers we learn that having a platform is important. Just what is a platform you might ask? To the unpublished writer it appears daunting... actually downright impossible. "What? I need how many people who know and follow me?"

In simple terms, the dictionary defines platform as a raised level surface on which people can stand. In other words, a platform boosts you above the noise and people notice. For example, Jamie Lee Curtis is a well-known actor. That is her platform. She wrote her first children's book When I Was Little and Harper Collins snapped up the manuscript. They knew her celebrity would be an instant market for selling her book.

OK... we all can't be actors, but we can grow an audience for our work... our style... our voice. Technology supplies the perfect vehicle:  The blog. 

If you build it, they will come. Yes they will, if simple guidelines are followed. Then be patient. Continue to work those guidelines and as time passes, you will see the traffic increase to your blog.

I found a great two-part post by guest blogger Jennifer Fulwiler titled How To Build Traffic on Your Blog (Part 1) and (Part 2) on Rachelle Gardner's Blog site. I'm sure you will find it helpful in growing your platform.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Submitting to Travel Magazines

I recently completed an article I first wrote last year about a boating excursion that Bob and I took with friends on the Big Island, Hawaii. We motored out to view the lava flow into the sea from the Pu’u ‘O’o crater of Kilauea volcano. Using the skills I have learned, I resurrected the article and rewrote it.

Searching for a magazine to publish the article, I found a great site with a list of 50+ travel magazines that accept travel narratives. Out of the list I found several with a good fit for my article. Now the task of submitting the manuscript.

Here is a taste of Lava for Breakfast:
It was dark and raining when we arrived at our meeting location. Rain pounded the roof as we waited in the car and peered out the windows into the blackness of the parking lot. It was 4:30 a.m. As headlights came into view, I studied each vehicle… No boat. Not him.
Have you written any travel articles and found a good place for them to be published? Leave a comment and let us know.


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