Monthly Archives: November 2011

DIY Interview – Michael Selmer

Name:
Michael P Selmer Jr

Email Address:
mpsfamily@gmail.com

What is your pen name?
.                                                Michael Selmer

What is your blog URL?  www.michaelselmer.wordpress.com/blog

What is your website URL?  www.michael-selmer.com

What is your contact information?
Facebook – http://on.fb.me/MSelmerFan
E-mail – mpsfamily@gmail.com

Where and/or when were you born?
Baltimore, MD, 1956

What schools did you attend? 
I attended the University of Maryland.

When and how did you discover you wanted to be a writer/author?
Since high school, I’ve loved writing and reading all types of books, but was never in a position to follow my dream.

For decades, the embryonic version of Michael Selmer, the writer, grew inside of Michael Selmer, the husband, father, runner and working man.  Like a fetus inside the womb, the writer developed the basic form that would allow him to go out into the world.  Labor lasted 29 hours, 36 minutes and 17 seconds; the time it took to complete a 100 mile race that plumbed the depths of my soul.  After that race, I was a different person.  My mind, spirit and emotions were fired in the crucible of a body driven beyond its limits.  The Rocky Mountains above Leadville, Colorado served as the birth canal for a writer.

After I moved to Wyoming, the stars aligned and I took my  shot.

Are you a published author?
Yes

Please list your published material, with dates?
“Harvest of the Heart” December, 2011 (eBook preview – November 2011)

If these materials are books, are they still available, and from where?
The  eBook of “Harvest of the Heart” is available now from www.BookieJar.com  It will be available on Amazon (paperback & Kindle) after the official launch – December 8.

Please tell about your first publication – what was it, when, how you felt when it happened, problems you may have had, etc.
“Harvest of the Heart” is my first published work of any note, completed in March 2011. Bill Thompson (the editor for Stephen King, John Grisham and others) was the first editor to look at the manuscript. His guidance was very valuable in making “Harvest of the Heart” the gripping, fast-paced thriller it is.

Please tell about the most memorable moment(s) in your career.
My most memorable moments are ahead of me. Both my novel and my writing career are newborns. If I had to pick a ‘memorable moment’ right now, it would be the phone conversations with Bill and all the wonderful things he said about my writing. He was eager to do a blurb for my book and that was encouraging.

What problems have you encountered in your career and how did you deal with them?
For several months this summer, I had both an agent and a contract offer.  I learned the hard way that not all publishers, or agents, are created equal.  Luckily, I was able to extricate myself and then decided to self-publish.  I hope to follow in the footsteps of Konrath, Eisler and others to success.

Did an established writer mentor you in your early days? If  yes, how did the mentor help you?
My mentor was my high school literature teacher, Mr. Richardson. He sparked that slow-burning fire that eventually turned me into a writer.

What genre do you most often write?
Crime/suspense/thriller

What other genres have you written?
I plan to write in a variety of genres?

Who are the authors who influenced your writing and  career?
In my younger years, Leon Uris, Asimov, McCaffrey, Tolkien, then King and Koontz, Orson Scott Card, and many others.  There are many younger writers who influence my writing now.  A writer has to be a reader also, or he doesn’t grow and improve.

Who are the authors your read most often?
Recently? Neil Stephenson, Patrick Rothfuss, Orson Scott Card, David Weber, Nora Roberts.

Please list the conferences/courses/webinars/workshops/seminars you have attended during the past year?
The Wyoming Writers Conference in June 2011.

Have you mentored an aspiring writer?  Would you mentor, if the opportunity arose?
I would gladly mentor

What would you tell an aspiring writer who asks you for help?
Don’t try to force the story, let the character lead you. Once you’ve finished a first draft, put it away for at least a couple of weeks before you show it to anyone else. It might save you some embarrassment because it is surprising the mistakes (in terms of plot or character development) that you miss when you are too close to the story.

What advice would you give to all up-and-coming writers?
Start learning all the submission, publishing and marketing stuff a little at a time BEFORE your manuscript is finished. That way you won’t be overwhelmed with the task when the  time comes … like I was.

What is the name of your current project?
“Running Scared,” a collection of short stories.

What is the expected release date?
March 2012

What is the genre?
Suspense, crime, paranormal and horror genres.

Please provide details of your upcoming blog tour, book tour, and/or book-signing.
A ‘Book Launch Party’ scheduled December 8 at Second Story Books in Laramie, WY.  A virtual book launch that will coincide with that.  Book and blog tours will follow.

Is this work a stand-alone or part of a series?
Stand-alone

Do you have any project(s) planned for the future?
Yes

Please provide some details of the project(s).
I have a sequel to “Harvest of  the Heart” planned, although I don’t consider it a series.

What is the anticipated release date?
August, 2012

What conferences/courses/webinars/workshops/seminars do you plan to attend in the next 12 months?
ABW Conference, Feb 29 – Mar 3.

What are your thoughts on the demands of being a self-published author?
It is overwhelming at times.

What are your thoughts on having a blog?
The blog universe is one I have only just begun to explore.  I’m finding it to be so rich and containing so much valuable information. Sometimes it’s hard to tear myself away. I had hesitated to start a blog, worried it would take away from my writing, but I’ve found it only enhances it.

My thanks to Michael for participating in the DIY Interviews program!

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Happy Writing!

Julie

PS:  Please take a few minutes to read the Wedding Chapter from my soon-to-be-published book (2012) ‘Janelle’s Time.’  You’ll meet Richard and Janelle Grayson, the newlyweds, AND, meet Duke Logan Conor (he crashes the wedding) from my upcoming book, ‘Logan’s Time.’

DIY Interview – Todd Maternowski

              Name: Todd Maternowski

Email Address: tmaterno@yahoo.com

What is  your blog URL?
http://towersofdawn.com/

What is your website URL?
http://towersofdawn.com/

What is the contact information you are willing to share in the interview?
Email – tmaterno@yahoo.com
Twitter – @ToddMaternowski

When and where were you born?
Madison, Wisconsin in 1975

What schools did you attend?  What was your course of study?
Attended high school at Cistercian in Irving, TX. Dropped out of the Religion program at University of Chicago twice for lack of funds.

When and how did you discover you wanted to be a writer/author?
In Dec. 2010, I finally got around to reading GRRM’s Game of Thrones, and it opened my eyes to the possibility of writing fiction. I’d been writing satire and journalistic non-fiction for five years before that.

Are you a published author?
Yes

Please list your published material, with dates?
About 800 articles with Pegasus News, covering everything from hockey to music to film to ghost hunting. Also, I recently published my first novel EXMORTUS, a dark fantasy, on Aug. 1st, 2011.

If these materials are books, are they still available, and from where?
You can find EXMORTUS on Amazon here:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005G4QEX2

Please tell about your first publication – what was it, when, how you felt when it happened, problems you may have had, etc.
When I wrote, re-wrote and re-re-re-re-wrote EXMORTUS, of course I was starting back from square one. I can write news copy with both hands tied around my back; but fiction is a whole new ballgame. My beta readers loved it, of course, so I was confident that agents would too. I was wrong about that. 44 queries sent, nothing but form letters back. Two months of prime self-pub time wasted, waiting by the proverbial phone for someone to call. Later on, I found that next to no first-time fantasy authors are ever published straight away, but at that point it was rough emotionally. You start to doubt the quality of your work. So I self-pubbed it in August, and immediately started writing the sequel. As I write it, I realize the rookie mistakes I made in the storytelling, but the novel still stands strong every time I re-read it. Now it’s just a matter of completing the trilogy, which is my one true passion creatively, and promoting it, which is my one biggest weakness. It’d be much easier if someone else wrote it. But that’s the price we ebook authors pay.

Please tell about the most memorable moment(s) in your writing career.
In college, I wrote avant-garde satire for a conservative opinion journal called the Chicago Criterion. I was constantly pushing the boundaries of written humor (as I understood it, anyways), but never knew if anyone was actually reading my stuff. Then, for a Chekhov class that was meeting in a student’s dorm room, we got to eating pizza and drinking cheap beer, and the rest of the students all told me they loved my stuff. I was thoroughly embarrassed and flattered at the same time.  Then, this frat-type guy asked me how much drugs I take when I write my stuff. I said, truthfully, that I’d never taken drugs of any kind in my life. They laughed! As if cutting-edge creativity was impossible without drugs! I left soon afterwards, and swore that I would never take drugs as long as I lived. I’m not sharing the credit!

Have you won any awards? If yes, which award(s) and when?
For essay writing, poetry and dance, yes. Fiction? Still brand-new to the game.

What problems have you encountered in your career and how did you deal with them?
There are over a million authors in the country, and some of them churn out crap like a factory every month. It’s a huge, huge barrier to overcome when you tell people you’re self-published, as the amount of “noise” out there in social media/internet is overwhelming. I’m dealing with it now by trying to find every (intelligent!) SF/F reviewer I can find and submitting my stuff to them, as well as different (inexpensive) forms of advertising. It’s a time drain, but ultimately worth it. On the plus side, my books are on the shelf as long as there’s an internet and the servers are still running… a huge improvement over the 6-8 weeks boom-or-bust cycle of traditional publishing.

What genre do you most often write?
Fantasy

Who are the authors who most influenced your writing and your career?
GRRM got me started, and got me writing in the third person. Patrick Rothfuss was inspirational in terms of beautiful storytelling. Gene Wolfe was, and is, the most influential writer in my life for his mind-bogglingly creative ideas and exotic worldviews. And Cormac McCarthy, while not fantasy, has been a tonal and verbal inspiration.

What would you tell an aspiring writer who asks you for assistance?
Depends on what they would ask! I spent a long time as a teacher, and every question is different. I’m more than willing to help out anyone who wants it, but I’m a total rookie myself, too.

What advice would you give to all up-and-coming writers? 
Almost all of the articles out there dealing with self-publishing are about sales. This is horsecrap. They should be about the craft of writing. Don’t write to get rich, write to make the world a better place.

What is the name of your current project?
EXMORTUS II

What is the expected release date?
Spring 2012

What is the genre?
Dark fantasy

Is this work a stand-alone or part of a series?
Series

Do you have any project(s) planned for the future?
Yes

Please provide some details of the project(s).
After finishing the Exmortus trilogy, I plan on writing a sci-fi novel about a scientist who travels back through time to spread philanthropic ideas, only to turn heel and use his knowledge to become a master criminal. A redemption story, of sorts. Then, a military-lit story about a folk singer who gets his hand blown off by a mortar shell, goes insane and becomes a ruthless partisan general. But the trilogy comes first.

My thanks to Todd for participating in the DIY Interviews!

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Happy Writing!

Julie

PS:  Please take a few minutes to read the Wedding Chapter from my soon-to-be-published book (2012) ‘Janelle’s Time.’  You’ll meet Richard and Janelle Grayson, the newlyweds, AND, meet Duke Logan Conor (he crashes the wedding) from my upcoming book, ‘Logan’s Time.’

Passive Voice: Show, Don’t Tell

Okay, I admit it.  English Grammar is not my strong point. For me, seventh grade – ‘The Grammar Year’ – was over fifty years ago!  I didn’t do very well in English that year!

Grammar is why modern word processors are great.  You see all your mistakes – in real-time.  I don’t know about other word processors, but Microsoft Word™ seems to have a ‘Passive Voice’ fetish.
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If I had to rate the grammatical errors in my writing, ‘Passive Voice’ would be at or close to the top of the list. When I’m typing, I see the offending words appear on the screen, with a ‘green underline’ (Word’s way of telling you that you’ve made a mistake).

Oh boy!  What did I do wrong this time? 

So, I right-click on the underlined words, and there it is … again!

“Passive Voice (consider revising)”

For the next few moments, I experiment with different options until the ‘green underline’ goes away, but sometimes, I WANT the ‘Passive Voice,’ … or at least I think I do.  The paragraph works better with the passive sentence structure … but Word says it’s wrong.  Okay, I’m confused … and frustrated.

So, I decided that since I have this ongoing difficulty with ‘Passive Voice,’ maybe now is the time to research it.  Perhaps, with a little education, I can teach myself to not do it any more (and save myself revision time).
.For authors, the ‘Active Voice’ sentences often do a better job of ‘show, don’t tell,’ but not always. This chart illustrates the problem.  The same words, written in different ways, can have entirely different meanings.

Wikipedia describes Passive Voice as “… a grammatical construction (a “voice”) in which the subject of a sentence or clause denotes the recipient of the action rather than the performer (the agent). The English passive voice is formed with an auxiliary verb (usually, but not always: be, was, get, are, or has, among others) plus a participle (usually the past participle) of a transitive verb.” 

Hey, that’s fine if you have a degree in English and you remember what ‘auxiliary verbs,’ ‘participles,’ ‘past participles,’and ‘transitive verbs’ are! 

Let’s try this another way, with examples.

From the chart above: “The cake is being baked by Mike” is in the Passive Voice sentence. The subject is the CAKE and it’s affected by the ‘being baked’ action of the verb.  The Active Voice sentence is: “Mike is baking a cake” in which the subject signifies the agent, or doer, Mike.  So passive = the cake, and active = Mike.

Another way of saying this is that Passive Voice is used when the focus is on the action. Who or what is performing the action isn’t important, or even known.  Example: “My house was painted last week.”  The Active Voice indicates, in this case, who or what did the painting.  “John painted my house last week.”  “ABC Contracting painted my house last week.”  Here, it’s passive = painted, and active = John or ABC Contracting.

Other examples:

  • Active: “I fixed the leaky faucet on the sink.”  (To say what the subject [I] did)
  • Passive: “The leaky faucet is being fixed.”  (To say what happens to things [the faucet] or people, or, to say what is done to them)
  • Passive: “The faucet was fixed by XYZ Plumbing yesterday.”  (The action [the faucet being fixed] is more important than who did it)
  • Passive: “The faucets were made in Texas.”  (When we don’t know who [made the faucets] did the action)

English, with it’s multi-lingual components, is a difficult language, even for native speakers/writers!  However, the bottom line is that passive sentences are not necessarily WRONG, but a sentence analysis is needed.  What was your intent for the sentence? What did you want to say? Was it about the action, or the person/thing? Word the sentence according to your intent, and don’t let the ‘green underline’ mess with your head!  (Whew! What a relief!)

There are many more rules about Active and Passive Voices that apply to more complex sentence structures.

  • Would you like to know more about the Active and Passive Voices? 

Happy Writing!

Julie

PS:  Please take a few minutes to read the Wedding Chapter from my soon-to-be-published book (2012) ‘Janelle’s Time.’  You’ll meet Richard and Janelle Grayson, the newlyweds, AND, meet Duke Logan Conor (he crashes the wedding) from my upcoming book, ‘Logan’s Time.’

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