This Writer's Journey

This Writer's Journey
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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"A SHARP BEND IN THE ROAD: 17 INTRIGUING STORIES"

A Sharp Bend in the Road: 17 Intriguing Stories by Gerard Bianco

Following a devastating fall, Rita finds herself standing outside the dining hall at an independent living facility. She squeezes the handle of her cane, and her knuckles turn white. Her wire-rimmed glasses accentuate the tears she tries to hide. After eighty-two years, and a lifetime of memories, Rita believes she’s been abandoned at the mouth of a fiery dragon that will swallow her up—and she is terrified.

When a man purchases a remote log cabin in the Adirondacks, he believes he has found a peaceful haven, until he ­discovers a stranger dead on his living room rug.

An adventure seeker joins a unique organization and quickly learns that getting what you want can sometimes lead to unimagined consequences.

Two couples set out on a vacation in Maine, only to find their dreamy trip has turned into a getaway nightmare.

A Sharp Bend in the Road redefines the art of the short story collection. Seventeen stories, built around absorbing characters, strong conflicts, and sometimes dark and absurdly humorous ingredients, prove that journeying through life is far from predictable.


Here's what they're saying about A Sharp Bend in the Road -


“A virtuosic collection of stories followed by the sharp blade of a killer novella as the final act. Gerard Bianco’s stories do not creep up on you: they fall upon you like a raptor plummeting, wings folded, golden eye ablaze. Their signature swirl of caustic irony is bitter, often brutal -- a gleam of talons and a sudden cry -- resulting almost always in a small death of the heart.” —Dianne Benedict, Author of Shiny Objects

“Addictive reading. Each story is both captivating and intriguing.” —Jane Isaac, Author of An Unfamiliar Murder

"I thoroughly enjoy this collection of short stories and believe this book would be a great gift idea for people who enjoy quick, but unforgettable reads. I have trouble picking a favorite as I found each one to be a well written piece. Although all the stories are from the same author, none of them felt repetitive, as Bianco’s writing style took the reader into a different character living a very particular moment in their life. Bianco’s voice is hidden within different personalities, and settings, his craft evident on each one. As a writer myself I understand how difficult it is to write good short stories, as delivering a full story in just a few pages is no easy task. To deliver a quality collection of these stories deserves 5 stars for sure!"  —Reviewed by Susan Violante for Reader Views 

Available January, 2015.

Be the first to own a copy. Order your copy now - SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR! Your book will be mailed to you in January, 2015. *Want to give this book as a Christmas present? Let us know after you order your copy, and we'll send you a gift-boxed card with the photo of the book and a "Coming To You Soon." inscription.

Hardcover - $23.95
Softcover - 13.95
Ebook - Not available at this time. It will, however, be available in January for $3.99.


Book Ordering Options
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

BOOK TRAILERS: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

My short story collection, A Sharp Bend in the Road: 17 Intriguing Stories, will be on book shelves January, 2015. Consequently, I am in the planning stages of a marketing campaign. One form of advertisement I used for my mystery/thriller, The Deal Master, was a book trailer. It's a Hollywood-style trailer, filmed in New York City with a cast and crew from around the globe. The trailer is heaped with action—murders, victims, police on the chase. There's even a darkened shot of the illusive Deal Master himself. (Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ilXHaugenQ).

I recently spoke to my son, Gerard Bianco Jr., about filming a new trailer for A Sharp Bend in the Road. Gerard's, and his partner Nikki Gold’s company, Rare View Films, produced The Deal Master Book Trailer. We discussed a number of options. The new book contains 17 stories and therefore presents somewhat of a problem to encapsulate all of the stories into one trailer, but we're working on it.

Having already gone through the process, I thought it would be a good idea to help other authors decide on whether or not to create a trailer for their books, and to shed a few helpful hints.

Book trailers take on many forms, and as you might expect, the length and quality of a book trailer is determined by the amount of money you’re willing to put into it.

In today’s market, book trailers can run the gamut of costing as little as $100, and as much as tens of thousands of dollars.

One of the most popular, less expensive book trailers consists of a series of stock photography photos, combined with stock music, and a voice over. An obligatory photo of the book at the beginning and end of the trailer most always accompanies the trailer, along with a location where someone can buy the book. Usually, the voice over speaks the words that are flashed on the screen, either above or below the photos, as if to strengthen the impact of the words. Seems to me if the words were strong enough, one wouldn’t need a voice over. (Hint, hint: Choose one or the other.)

The goal of the book trailer is to give the reader a synopsis of the story, hoping this will lead to a sale. Critics of less-expensive book trailers say that poor quality book trailers have the opposite effect. Inexpensive and/or amateurish trailers cheapen the author's image rather than strengthening it, resulting in a poor image of the book. Poorly-made book trailers, critics say, stroke the vanity of the author while damaging the reputation of the book.

It’s interesting that a number of writers who spend a year, or many years on their novels fall down when it comes to the conceptualizing and writing their book trailer. It may be because they are inexperienced and are unfamiliar with industry standards, or they hadn't thought about creating a book trailer when planning their advertisement campaign, and now that their book is out, they rush a trailer through—something mediocre at best. Bad idea. Why? Simply because most people wouldn't pay to see a movie if they thought the movie trailer was amateurish, or mediocre. Same result with a potential reader. If someone views a book trailer that is awful they probably won't buy the book. It’s as simple as that.

A book trailer is only successful if it sells books. Think of it as your on-the-road salesperson who never sleeps. Wouldn't you want a terrific salesman touting your hard-worked efforts? Of course you would. Therefore why settle for a second or third best book trailer, simply because you want to rush it through, or can't afford anything better? You’d be better off spending your money elsewhere—in another form of advertisement.

So, what’s required to create the movie trailer that’s going to sell your book? Here are a few thoughts:

  • If at all possible, use film action instead of still photography to illustrate your story, the way movie trailers do. Viewers love action, especially action that incorporates conflict and suspense. If you don’t have the experience of shooting live action, or the proper gear, hire someone who does. Can't afford a professional? Many times, film students, eager to practice their craft, will help you out.
  • Stay away from narrative voice over. If you want to use voice in your trailer, it’s far better to have one of your characters speak the voice over, or incorporate dialogue.
  • View as many movie trailers as you can to learn how movie professionals sell their art. How do they begin their trailers? Action? Back story? How do they end them? Leaving the audience wanting more? What information do they include in the middle of the trailer? Back to back action scenes?
  • Spend plenty of time thinking about, constructing, and writing the best possible trailer to sell your book. Create art to sell your art. Take your time. Investigate all possibilities. In the long run, you'll produce a better book trailer, and your potential reader will appreciate your efforts, and hopefully they'll realize this same quality translates into a rewarding reading experience.
 Produce a high quality book trailer. Sell more books.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

THE LATE, GREAT CAROLYN KIZER

Photo: poetryfoundation.org
Carolyn Kizer, Pulitzer-winning poet, passed away on October 9th at the tender age of 89.

Kizer was born in 1925. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College, studied at Columbia University as a fellow of the Chinese government, and in 1946 became a graduate fellow at the University of Washington, Seattle.

"Poems, to me, do not come from ideas," she said in an interview in the Paris Review, "they come from a series of images that you tuck away in the back of your brain. Little photographic snapshots. Then you get the major vision of the poem, which is like a giant magnet to which all these disparate little impressions fly and adhere, and there is the poem!"

In the interview, Kizer went on to explain how she remembered dialog she had when she was a little girl. She explained as only a poet could. "The pressure of my mother's speech in iambic pentameter of course, 'Listen darling and remember always; / It's Dr. Einstein broadcasting from Switzerland.' When someone speaks in that impassioned way, when they speak in perfect iambic pentameter, as most people do under pressure, it's something you remember."

For the full interview in the Paris Review click here. For an in-depth article on Carolyn Kizer, her accomplishments and bibliography, click this link, which will take you to the Poetry Foundation.


Monday, September 22, 2014

A SHARP BEND IN THE ROAD: 17 INTRIGUING STORIES - DUE SOON!

“Been away so long I hardly knew the place. Gee, it’s good to be back home. Leave it till tomorrow to unpack my case. Honey disconnect the phone.” __Lennon & McCartney. “Back in the U.S.S.R.”

Sorry it’s been so long between blog posts. I’ve been crazy busy, preparing my collection of short stories, A Sharp Bend in the Road: 17 Intriguing Stories, which will be out January 2015. 

I’m very excited about the blurbs and reviews that have come in so far.

Here’s one of them:

            “I thoroughly enjoy this collection of short stories and believe this book would be a great gift idea for people who enjoy quick, but unforgettable reads. I have trouble picking a favorite as I found each one to be a well written piece.
            Although all the stories are from the same author, none of them felt repetitive, as Bianco’s writing style took the reader into a different character living a very particular moment in their life. Bianco’s voice is hidden within different personalities, and settings, his craft evident on each one.
            As a writer myself, I understand how difficult it is to write good short stories, as delivering a full story in just a few pages is no easy task. To deliver a quality collection of these stories deserves 5 stars for sure!.” __Susan Violante for Reader Views

I keep you posted on how we’re progressing and when the BIG LAUNCH will take place.

Keep in touch!  __Gerard

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

GUEST POST: MEET RAYMOND BOLTON, AUTHOR OF THE SCI-FI ADVENTURE "AWAKENING"


I’m delighted to be joined today by author Raymond Bolton. As an author, Raymond’s goal is to craft gripping stories about the human condition, whether they are set on earth or another world. He has written award-winning poetry and four novels. Two are explorations in science fiction: Awakeningan epic, released in January, 2014, and Thought Gazer, an adventure, part of a planned prequel trilogy, is expected to be released later this year.

Awakening has received almost all five star reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads.

Q) Welcome, Raymond. Thanks for joining us. Awakening: Please tell us a little about your book.

A) In a nutshell, this is the premise:

How does a world armed with bows, arrows and catapults, where steam power has only begun to replace horses and sailing ships, avert conquest from beyond the stars?

Prince Regilius has been engineered to combat the Dalthin, a predatory alien species that enslaves worlds telepathically, and to do so he must unite his people. But when his mother murders his father, the land descends into chaos and his task may prove impossible. Faced with slaying the one who gave him life in order to protect his world, he seeks a better way. Set in a vast and varied land where telepaths and those with unusual mental abilities tip the course of events, Awakening goes to the heart of family, friendship and betrayal.

Q) What do you want the reader to remember most about your book?

A) I want them to remember how it spoke to them. I say this because I have taken great pains to impart intimacy to my characters and richness to the plot. In fact, many reviews tell me I’ve succeeded.

Q) Why did you decide to write this book?

A)  I had always told myself, “Some day, I’m going to write a novel.” Eventually, I realized the only way to do this was to sit down and begin writing. Since I had grown up reading science fiction and fantasy, it was only logical that I begin within these genres. The book is a crossover and Tolkien’s Rings trilogy established the structure.

Q) Can you tell the readers about your writing schedule. For example: How many hours a day did you spend on writing? Editing?


A) While I would like to be able to say I write X hours a day without fail, because I run businesses in two cities located 1,100 miles apart that keep me occupied long hours five days a week and on a plane one day every seven, I write whenever I can.

I regard revising and editing as most important, because this is where the rough stone is polished, hopefully to become a gem. This is what has helped me win or be a finalist in various literary competitions.

Q) Who do you feel is your best audience?

A) Although I wrote with the intention of attracting young men aged late teens to early thirties, most of my reviews—two-thirds of which give five star ratings—have come from women. In addition to younger readers, many of reviewers I’ve spoken to are in their fifties and beyond. Further, and to my great delight, two Amazon reviewers said—and I must assume, because of this, the book was either given as a gift or was recommended—that although they never would have picked up this kind of book from a bookstore shelf, they now cannot wait for the next one.

Q) What's next on your writing agenda? Working on another book?

A) I am about to release Thought Gazer, the first volume of a prequel trilogy. Expect to see it between November 1 and New Year’s Day. Foreteller, the second volume of the trilogy is already being written.

Q) Anything else you'd like to add or share with us?

A) Those who are interested in such things as how I learned to self-publish and market my books would do well to check out my television interview on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WRVFbWRUNA&feature=youtu.be

As a result of my marketing efforts, beginning with its October 2014 issue, Sci-fi Magazine, with a circulation of 108,000, will be featuring Awakening for the next six months.

You may purchase Awakening at:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0991347102

http://www.amazon.com/Awakening-Ydron-Saga-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00HMSEVVC/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Ydron-Saga-Raymond-Bolton/dp/0991347102

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Ydron-Saga-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00HMSEVVC/

Keep in touch with the author at:

Website: 
http://www.raymondbolton.com/

Facebook: 
https://www.facebook.com/RaymondBoltonAuthor

Twitter: 
https://twitter.com/RaymondBolton

Goodreads: 
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7690905.Raymond_Bolton

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

JANE ISAAC - EXCITING NEW CRIME NOVEL - "THE TRUTH WILL OUT"

It’s a great pleasure to re-introduce author Jane Isaac (May 2012). Jane’s new crime novel The Truth Will Out has just been published and is already garnishing rave reviews. Jane was kind enough to answer a few questions I had about her new book. Here they are:

1) Jane, your new novel “The Truth Will Out” has just been published.  Please tell us a little about your book.
            I am fascinated by what happens when extraordinary things happen to ordinary people. Most of us live our lives in a bubble and never cross paths with law enforcement. I like to explore what happens when we are taken out of our comfort zone. In The Truth Will Out we follow a murder investigation through the eyes of Detective Chief Inspector Helen Lavery and the rest of the story through by another person affected the by the case: Eva Carradine.
Let me share my blurb with you:
"Everything's going to be okay."
"What if it's not?"
Suddenly, she turned. For a split second she halted, her head inclined.
"Naomi, what is it?"
She whisked back to face Eva.
"There's somebody in the house..."
            Eva is horrified when she witnesses an attack on her best friend. She calls an ambulance and forces herself to flee Hampton, fearing for her own safety. DCI Helen Lavery leads the investigation into the murder. With no leads, no further witnesses and no sign of forced entry, the murder inquiry begins.
            Slowly, the pieces of the puzzle start to come together. But as Helen inches towards solving the case, her past becomes caught up in her present.
            Someone is after them both. Someone who will stop at nothing to get what they want. As the net starts to close around them, can Helen escape her own demons as well as helping Eva to escape hers?

2) Sounds very exciting, Jane. What do you want the reader to remember most about your book?
            I think it would be the character of Helen Lavery. It’s important to me that the characters appear real; they could just as easily be you or I, so that we feel their journey.
For Helen, I interviewed police officers across the ranks in the local force to create a character that is not only interesting, but also realistic in modern day policing. She is a mum, battling to single-handedly raise her teenage sons while holding down one of the most important jobs in the police force and genuinely a good person, walking that extra mile to fight for justice in the face of difficult circumstances. I have great admiration for her.

 3) Why did you decide to write this book?
            As soon as I finished my first book, An Unfamiliar Murder, I realized that there was a lot more that I wanted to do with the character of Detective Chief Inspector Helen Lavery. The Truth Will Out is the second book in the series, although it can be read as a standalone novel in its own right, and sees the detective face her toughest case yet. There’s plenty to keep her busy as she clashes with superiors in pursuance of the truth, and she has a love interest too.

4) Can you tell the readers about your writing schedule. For example: How long did it take you to write the book? How many hours a day did you spend on writing? Editing?
            I have a day job and a family to fit my writing around, which means I lack the luxury of a regular writing routine. I tend to squeeze my writing into every spare moment and can often be found sitting beside the pool with my laptop while my daughter is in swim class, wandering over the fields with my dog churning over plot lines, or jotting down notes in the supermarket queue. It usually takes me around eighteen months to research, write and edit a book.

5) Who do you feel is your best audience?
            That’s a tough one. I’ve had messages and tweets from both men and women from ages sixteen to eighty I would guess! I think it would appeal to anyone who likes a British crime police procedural dosed with a large spoonful of psychological tension.

6) What's next on your writing agenda? Working on another book?
            I’ve just finished the first draft of my third novel, a new detective mystery set in Stratford upon Avon. It’s out for first opinion at the moment, so I’m keen to see how it’s received!

 Thank you, Jane. It’s been enlightening. Much success with your new novel.

Thank you so much for interviewing me, Gerard. It’s been fun answering your questions.

Jane Isaac was runner up, ‘Writers Bureau Writer of the Year 2013. Her debut novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, introduced Midlands based Detective Chief Inspector Helen Lavery and was nominated as best mystery in the 'eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013.' Her second book, The Truth Will Out, was released by Legend Press on 1st April 2014 and nominated as a ‘Thriller of the Month – April 2014’ by E-thriller.com.
Jane  lives with her husband, daughter and dog, Bollo, in rural Northamptonshire, UK.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

HOW TO KEEP YOUR READERS READING

“Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle. They read it to get to the end. If it’s a letdown, they won’t buy any more. The first page sells that book. The last page sells your next book.” __Mickey Spillane


“The first page sells that book.” Mickey Spillane understood the concept that the job of the opening lines of a book, a short story, or an essay is to grab the reader’s attention so that they have no choice but to continue reading. Spillane sold over 225 million copies of his books.

I’m a FFLR - a first few lines reader. I sail through bookstores reading the first few lines from an assortment of books—classics, not so classic, and bestsellers alike. The first few lines (or paragraphs) should attract the reader’s attention, set the stage for the rest of the story, and should be an indication as to the theme and genre of the story.
The first few lines are also a way in which the author introduces himself. It’s his/her way of saying “hello.”  Sometimes an author will start his story slowly, bowing courteously like a Japanese host. Some authors go a step further using the hot, wet, clammy dead-fish-in-your-hand handshake. (Yuck.) Then there are those that use the hardy handclasp, which indicates a warm, neighborly and inviting hello. Finally, some authors use the screaming, slap-on-your-back, two-fisted, hand-over-hand handshake that literally pulls the reader into the story, like it or not.
Personally, I like to wake the reader with a hold-on-to-your-hat first few lines, grabbing the reader and never letting go. Here are the opening lines from my mystery/thriller novel The Deal Master:

Before she could react, he attacker her. He flung her backwards onto the floor and lunged at her, pressing the cold steel blade of a pearl-handled straight razor menacingly against the side of her neck. His face, only inches from hers, began to sweat. “Don’t move,” he said through clenched teeth.

And here are the first few lines from my theatrical comedy, Discipline:

HAROLD:  I find that no two nipples are alike - even on the same person.
LILLY: It’s not polite to compare them.
HAROLD: I wouldn’t know why.
LILLY: I wouldn’t think you would, so I’ll tell you.

Notice how in both examples the atmosphere of the story is clearly laid out. There is no question as the genre of either story.


So, go back and change those expository boring first few lines you used to begin your story. Grab the reader’s attention. Shake him/her about. Keep your reader reading. Make your first impression impressionable. You may not get a second chance.