New Web Site!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Writers and Readers, Authors and Bloggers,

I’m proud and delighted to announce the last of my new surprises.

My new domain/website Sherry Rentschler is now LIVE!

As a result of the new site, I also have a new blog — or rather Between the Lines has a new home.  And new things planned for your pleasure.

This blog here will be going inactive in a couple weeks. I encourage you to join me at the ****new**** site and sign up for the new newsletter. 

————FOLLOWING BY EMAIL WILL NO LONGER WORK and will soon be deleted here.————

I’m very excited about the direction I’m going and I hope you’ll go along with me.

Many thanks to Dawn at Austin DesignWorks for my new website!!!

C’mon, let’s go to my new home!

I remain Yours Between the Lines!
Sherry

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I will NOT wish because…

DAY 6 Blog Challenge is:  If you only had three wishes what would they be? (no wishing for more wishes).

I’ve given this thought all day and I find myself torn by several questions. First, I have put my husband in the role of the genie who keeps asking me what I want to wish for.  At first, I laughed and then as the day wore on I took all this a bit more seriously.

Consider the potential power of three little wishes. Could you change the world? What would you change that would do the most good? How do you know that what you do would stay good and wouldn’t ultimately trigger something very bad? Do you do moral things or monetary ones?  Do you heal or give medicine for the long-term? What is the best approach?

Can you wish for knowledge so you will know?  But you can’t see the future. Do you wish for precognition?  And isn’t that like magic?  So do you become a wizard? How about a philosopher’s stone?  Or maybe you should deal in alchemy?  Can you change the universe this way? 

At what point does “doing” become “too much?”

Do you do something dorky like saying, “I wish for world peace!” and then watch the world fall into an apathetic apoplexy? Does taking away the struggle make us less likely to survive?

Three little wishes. Wow. There are so many implications.

So here is my answer:  I’ll get back to you. There is no easy answer and I’m not making any rash wishes. So, Genie, stand by. I’ll call you when I’m ready. I have the potential to change the world. And that is a scary thing.

Sorry, that’s the best I can do.

ON THE DESK:  I finished the Kevin Hearne novel, HUNTED. Short review on Goodreads if you want to see.  Praise for Hearne. Love him.  Next up, the Mortal Instruments series (because of the movie).  Yes, I know its more YA but hey, I adored the Harry Potter books! So, here’s hoping.

IN THE PEN:  Now that this book of poetry is done, I’m working on other projects like the book trailer and my mystery novel.  It was suggested that I do a second book of poetry for next fall and call it “Dead Bones.”  You know, I am considering it…

SOCIAL MEDIA:  I just want to make a comment about Twitter. Am I the only person out there who follows people because I want to without expecting them to follow me back? Oh sure I unfollow some people who don’t follow me.  But I do go out and seek to follow some folks just because I’m interested in them and I don’t get upset if they don’t follow me back.  However, it seems to me lately that it is all about “the follow.”  If you don’t immediately follow people, you get dropped like a hot potato. OR, once you follow them back, they take two days and then drop you, maybe hoping you won’t notice and stay with them. Ha. But honestly, what happened to just following because you care? Am I outmoded for thinking this?

GUEST BLOGGER:  New Guest selected! Who will SHE be?? Let me just say that she’s a very successful author. Stay tuned!

Guest Blogger – Xander Buchan

This month’s guest blogger introduces a genre long dear to my heart: horror. A first time author, self-published, this writer wrote, edited, formatted, designed, created, produced his entire book while emerging from a popular reading niche – a risky move for a fresh new novelist. His book not only crossed into gothic horror, but also – gasp – dared to propose a sequel to Bram Stoker’s beloved classic, Dracula. Moreover, not only did he dare such an ambitious writing challenge, he succeeded! Praise has flourished, and this author is now preparing his second novel. I’ve never met him in person, but his love of all things vampire obviously attracted me to his Twitter feed. I pressed him with cheaper prices (and in return I broke down and got an e-reader app), downloaded his eBook when he offered it free, and became a fan. I’ve invited him to speak about his self-publishing journey and what he learned that might help you achieve success. With pleasure, I present Xander Buchan, noted author of Dracula Rekindled. 

Please add your comments after the post and feel free to ask questions! Xander will respond to everyone who posts and will return live for the next two weeks. 

Why I Self-Published and Lessons Learned

 I am not a big reader, nor am I a vampire fanatic, yet I’ve always had a soft spot for Dracula, the Gothic horror unleashed upon the world in 1897 by Bram Stoker. During my 2010 reread, I grew restless as the story approached its climax. The chase gathers pace, the undead villain races back to his castle in Transylvania, the company split in two in order to increase their chances of foiling him. They corner the Count, the box opens, the monster awakens and…..and is immediately defeated with a knife to the throat and another to the heart. Death came not by a wooden stake, and decapitation, the method described, by Van Helsing earlier in the book, as the correct method. And that was it: Chapter 27, “the End.”

As a reader I was not only sad that the thoroughly enjoyable story had come to an end, but also felt distinctly dissatisfied with the outcome; surely the story was meant “To be continued”, I thought. Did Stoker forget the vampire-killing ritual by the time he got to chapter 27? Or did he mean to suggest that the knives did the trick? We’ll never know because, of course, Bram Stoker never did write a sequel. Neither is there any tangible evidence that he ever planned to do so.

My dissatisfaction was in no way a criticism of Stoker’s work, but entirely rooted in my love of the story, and my desire to keep reading about how the Count wasn’t defeated, at least not permanently. Aware that the works had been in the public domain for many years, I presumed that there must be numerous attempts at sequels. Yet some research revealed that despite a biblical-sized flood of vampire fiction, much of it off the back of Dracula, very few sequels were attempted.

Sure, there are successful retellings, re-imaginings, modernizations, and complimentary stories but virtually no sequels written faithfully to the original, bearing the same style and mood. Then I came across the Official Dracula sequel, published in 2009 by Bram’s great grandnephew Dacre Stoker. Wow – I was just about to part with my cash until I read the book’s collection of mixed reviews.

People seemed to either love it or hate it – there was little middle ground. The consensus seemed to be that people who had read and enjoyed the original hated it, whilst those who hadn’t enjoyed the original loved it. Renowned Dracula scholar Leslie Klinger described it as a “fine book,” but not one that could be classed a sequel to the original, having altered so much of the story line. I didn’t checkout my purchase, and still haven’t read Dacre’s book. Nor have I read the other “must-read” Dracula books by Kim Newman, Elizabeth Kostova, CC Humphreys, or Karen Essex to name a few –although all of the above are firmly on my “to read” list.

So, why haven’t I read them? Well I went a little crazy and decided I’d have a go at writing one instead. I needed to ensure the ideas were either my own, or influenced entirely by the original story. Dracula Rekindled was self-published six months ago, and seems to be pleasing its target market i.e. readers who enjoyed the original. I’m currently writing the follow up. My decision is particularly bizarre because I have no previous writing credentials, didn’t study Literature at University, nor did I have a burning desire to write anything before now. Yet, I had an unquenchable desire to write this book. My fuel was my love of the story and my desire to see a good sequel. Plus I assessed there was a definite gap within the saturated vampire fiction genre for a genuine Dracula sequel.

The process took two years from the beginnings of an idea. If I’d known how tough writing and publishing would be, I don’t think I’d have attempted it. Ultimately, I researched and learned the “how to’s.” Now I find the writing process much smoother. I’m still a newbie at writing, but I learned some key things and would like to share them with other potential novelists.

· As best as you can, plan out your story – the beginning, middle, and end. Let your plan evolve as you write – as new ideas appear, work them into the plan and gradually build it up.

· What characters do you need? You don’t want to bombard the readers with an army of detailed characters that they need to remember, nor do you want a 30-chapter conversation between two boring individuals. You’ll need a mix of major and minor characters and if they’re key characters then they must be interesting. Make who-they-are important and relevant to the story.

· Whether the storyline is simple or complex make it convincing – readers aren’t idiots, and want to read something that works as a story and engages their mind and imagination. I think this is true whatever your genre.

· Know your reader. If you are writing YA in Twilight-style for example, then you need to decide who the stereotypical fan is. So if you’re targeting a “moody teenager that wants easy thrills and hot guys and may not appreciate a literary masterpiece,” then write your story for that fan base. If you’re writing for a slash-and-gore fan then they want their action fast and intense, with a simple fail-safe plot. If you’re writing for a fan of Dracula, then you’ll need a more complex story that relies on suspense, creepy atmosphere, as well as gore. Of course – I am generalizing here – there’s no reason why a reader wouldn’t enjoy all three books. But do thoroughly understand your audience and your book’s genre.

· If you’re writing a series, then make sure the end of your books offer both closure and bait. It’s great to leave readers wanting and desperate to read Part 2, but it’s not fair to finish almost mid-sentence with no climax. If you can’t do that, consider writing a longer book or breaking into smaller ones.

· Have your book professionally edited. It will only improve the quality of your work.

· Drawing influence from other books in your genre is fine, but you don’t want to end up writing a book that disappears into an over-populated genre – give readers a reason to read YOUR story. But know enough about other books out there to show how your book differs.

If you plan to self-publish, don’t assume it is an easy process. Avoid taking shortcuts. Just because you could publish the book tomorrow, doesn’t mean you should. Not only do you have technical considerations with eBooks, and layout conundrums with paperback versions, but you must also consider the book cover. People won’t judge the quality of a book by the cover, but it certainly has a strong influence on their decision to buy it.

Readers’ buying decisions are heavily influenced by your marketing and PR efforts. You’ll need a real presence on social networks, a website, a blog, a strategy, and targeted advertising/marketing plan if you can afford it. If you have some nice reviews then share extracts that might entice potential readers. If you don’t have the time or skills to do these things on your own, be prepared to learn, or pay others for these services (and that can be very expensive).

While I continue to learn about self-publishing, I hope this will be helpful to would-be novelists pursing publishing avenues. Believe you can. The rewards are deeply satisfying. Let me know when your book comes out!. I fully support indie authors! Good luck!

Yours between the lines,
Xander Buchan

Twitter: @DraculaReturns
Blog: DraculaRekindled.com

New artist, beauty, and a hint!

Beauty is not a quantifiable concept. What one finds enchanting, another might find to be ordinary.  This is especially true of the arts. Opera, as was mentioned in the movie Pretty Woman, is one medium where people either “hate it or love it.”  Perhaps the sound of the German language can’t touch you through the music. Perhaps you love opera but only the romance languages. I must say Italian does sound quite beautiful when sung.

Beauty is also subjective in art. We are touched by things that capture our eyes because of color, shape, or memory. An artist can never tell what will move a soul to tears or turn a body of people away in disgust (well finger painting with feces will do it for me; how about you?).  An artist can only paint or draw or sculpt what inspires and moves them and waits to see what touches others.

That’s what happened with me. I discovered an artist I am flat crazy about. His name is Ray Ferrer and his web site is listed on the side there —>. His Urban Wall Art is, in one word, FABULOUS.  His style is unique and each piece of art is an original. I’ve purchased a piece from Ray and I am excited. When I receive it I will share some pics with you. Meanwhile, see how Ray uses his style of hand created art stencils and spray paint to make a real masterpiece. Watch this vid:

Art is also a subjective thing when it comes to books. Cover art is so critical for a successful book, especially for the first time author. Doing your own is risky unless you have some serious talent or training. I have none, so I sought the talent of a graphic artist for my upcoming book. I couldn’t be happier with the result which will make my product stand out among the throngs of poor made or super stock covers. But the key is whether it is striking, does it convey the story within, or capture the imagination. Is it art that will make others stop to look?

That brings me to the hint about our upcoming Guest Blogger. His first novel is a completely self-contained work. He wrote, edited, formatted his work, then designed and produced his own cover. Risky for a first time novelist but I think you’ll agree when you see it that his gamble pays off. Is it beautiful? I think I will say that it is striking. And it is memorable. That is true beauty.

If you are a writer, art is how you present your words. That is our craft — to be artful and inventive. If you are an artist, you do the same with canvas, clay or whatever is your medium. To be artist and writer is, truthfully, a gift.  But every person must recognize what his/her talent is and cater to it. Let others do the rest for you. Emphasize your strengths and don’t be afraid of letting others be strong for you where you are weak.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so it is said. Check out my new favorite artist, Ray Ferrer. And now, your hint:

Our Guest Blogger is just crazy for British television comedian Dom Joly. And he thinks that Suzi Perry, British television presenter and F1 presenter for BBC, should be his wife. (we all have to dream). Most importantly, he gave an exclusive interview in Haunted Digital Magazine’s After Dark issue.  What’s that? Oh yes, he’s a horror genre writer.  Hmmm…..

***************

ON THE DESK:  Broke down and started reading Charlaine Harris’ Dead Ever After. I have some mixed emotions and I’m only on page 42. The writing is very simple and some things explained I think the reader should easily gleam. Kinda insulting when an author does that. So, I’ll let you know. So far, this book and I are off to a rocky start. And that makes me very sad.

Okay, look for the guest blogger to appear sometime tomorrow eveing or Saturday morning. Get ready for some fun!

Guest Blogger Hint/Great TV

Guest Blogger to appear in just a few days! Who is HE?  Here’s your second clue….

He went to school in a place called Peterhead Academy.  And has a love/hate relationship with cats.

That’s all for now.

******

One note about something else….I like to watch GOOD television. I like comedies and bubble gum as much as the next person but I live for quality writing and fine acting. Here, in no particular order are really exceptional shows you really should be watching:

Game of Thrones.   The Borgias.   Justified.   Hell On Wheels.   Homeland.

If you like really good bubblegum, then you need to tune in to True Blood.

Shows that are finished that are worth your time:  Carnivale.  Rome.

Do you have some recommendations?  Meet you back here tomorrow for more guest clues.

Guest Blogger – Anna Mittower

April’s Guest Editorial is someone I think is on the edge of being published. I’ve never actually met Anna (though not for trying), but I will tell you she’s an inspiring, warm and positive writer. Last November, I participated in National Novel Writing Month which I hadn’t done in over six years. When I worried about being able to complete the word counts, Anna was there to encourage and advise. I soon discovered she was an “old pro” at the monthly adventure and related to all my fears and woes. Her continuous support was a motivating factor in my successful completion of the program and made me want to know how she came to be an avid NaNoWriMo writer/fan. She’s also in the same city/area as me, and though we have yet to meet, I know we will soon. Meanwhile, I asked her what inspired her about NaNoWriMo and if she would share her journey with you. Please welcome Anna Mittower, short story writer, lover of all things Japanese, webmaster of Writer’s Nook. 

Please add your comments after the post and feel free to ask questions! Anna will respond to everyone who posts and will remain live for the next two weeks.

How National Novel Writing Month Helped Define my Muse

If you ask me where my journey as a writer began I can point you to all the silly, little, short stories I wrote as a kid. Some make sense to my now adult brain, but many are nonsensical romps of a child’s imagination. But my current not-quite-specialty (a fixation, rather) with novels started in middle school. Mother gave me several options for English in 7th grade, being a homeschooler, and I went all starry-eyed over one that taught writing through the process of creating a “novel”.

The attempt was an unmitigated disaster. I only wrote three or four chapters and didn’t even begin the editing phase. But I learned two things.

1)      I hated detailed outlining and planning with a passion.

2)      I loved writing novels and experimenting in larger and longer storylines than short stories could contain.

My fate was sealed, so to speak. For years I continued to work on that ever morphing, epic fantasy, first novel. In fact, it’s still in my “to write” folder though if you didn’t know it was the same novel it would be unrecognizable.

In my teenage years I discovered that I could write more than just bad, copycat fantasy. Drawing upon the Trekkie influence of my early years, I began crafting science fiction novels. Finally I was able to write something longer than four chapters and I learned how to write by the seat of my pants (and how much better that worked for me).

I never did quite finish that novel either, and it’s still waiting for the end of  its mystery. However, it lasted me until college. Then I discovered something which changed the way I wrote. I’m talking about National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, of course.

I’m one of those crazy people who decided that it would be a good idea to attempt NaNoWriMo during the first semester of college. I had a cliché, fantasy novella begging to be written and I let it escape onto the page just so I could forget it. I didn’t even make it to 20k that year (we’re asked to complete a minimum 50k words in 30 days). Still, once I finished it for a class the following semester, I had my first complete novel draft!

However, the floodgates of novel ideas were permanently jammed open.

Re-energized, I returned to sci-fi (I abandoned fantasy) and decided to revisit the main character from my first, unfinished sci-fi novel. The problem was I had no idea what sort of plot best suited my character. Then, I married that character with a persistent daydream. Voila, my second NaNoWriMo novel was born.

This resulted in a highly successful marriage. Though the tale was unfinished, it was my first time writing something at least 50k words. It taught me I could buckle down and produce and just how fast I could write (especially since the last 10.5k was written in around five hours on the last day in a last minute attempt for the goal).

My third NaNoWriMo was a spectacular failure along the same lines of my first year. I attempted (and failed) to revisit the same character’s world. My lesson learned? I do need a general idea of where the plot is going, even if it’s just a paragraph. Because I didn’t have any direction, I wasted my time on a long-winded, rabbit trail beginning. The month ended just as I introduced the secondary characters who would carry the plot. The story is, once again, on the back burner. One day I hope to find the right plot devise to complete it.

By this time, I noticed a trend happening. I didn’t dream in novels anymore, but in series. Case in point: my main character from my teenage novel turned her story into a series spanning several novels.

My fourth NaNoWriMo flew by in a little blip compared to all my senior year college classes and work. It was a failed attempt to return to fantasy. I should have known better. Happily, it marked the beginning of a new writing phase—the addition of Japanese influence derived from my love of reading literature from Japan.

My final semester of college demonstrated this new influence even more clearly. I had to write a creative thesis, aka a short story, to graduate. So I once again drew upon my daydreams. But this time I intentionally created a Japanese character and his granddaughter. They ended up being the two main secondary characters who supported my main character (and gave me plenty of opportunities to boggle my critique partners with Japanese words).

Of course, I couldn’t limit my idea to one novel, so I lopped off the first plot arc and compacted it into an awkward short story which facilitated my graduation. But I always thought about going back and rewriting the story as it might have been. This itch inspired my fifth NaNoWriMo.

Initially, I conceived the original story idea as a final capstone novel in a long running series. I decided to be proper about it and start writing at the chronological beginning. I ended NaNoWriMo with two novellas in hand and an abrupt epiphany that I’d gone down the wrong path. With great regret I locked away both in the never-to-be-revisited folder. I’d written my 50k plus more but all in vain. Right? Perhaps. But at least that was all it cost to set me on the right track as a writer/novelist.

I learned that sometimes you just have to try out an idea or two before you find something that works. But the beauty of writing is that each time you write, be it trash or treasure, you learn something which helps you become a better writer. The key to bettering yourself is to practice prolifically and NaNoWriMo is perfect for that. It gives you that kick in the pants needed to force you into making time for writing.

Finally last year, I used my sixth NaNoWriMo to work on that “right track” for that story. It’s still in progress and has morphed into a duology. Also, it’s set me up for a new challenge this coming November—writing from a male character, 1st person POV whose personality is very different from my own.

I issued a similar challenge to a fellow writer and, if all goes well, we’ll write about our experiences at the end of the year. I believe it will be eye-opening.

Also this year, I’m going to have a NaNoWriMo adventure outside the pages of a novel. I’ll be participating from South Korea as I live and work there. I’m counting on NaNoWriMo to introduce me to kindred spirits in the area. The community surrounding NaNoWriMo is truly the second best part of the experience because it allows you to write within a peer collective, all of whom are working towards the same goal: 50k novel-worthy words.

NaNoWriMo opened my eyes, revealing that as much as I love reading and writing, I’m not alone—not by a long shot. I thrive on the friendly competition and encouraging atmosphere. I would not be where I am without it and when I finally publish a novel it’ll be a sure bet that I drafted it during a NaNoWriMo.

I can’t wait to add my name to the list of published authors on the NaNoWriMo website. Perhaps I’ll see you there, too.

Yours between the lines,
Anna Mittower

Blog: Writer’s Nook
Twitter: @AnnaMittower
(Anna is running a book give-away! The book is Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittermore. If you are interested, here’s a link: Writer’s Nook Giveaway

Last Teaser & an apology

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

(From Lewis Carroll’s, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There)

And since pigs on this side don’t have wings, I must apologize. My guest blogger is delayed because Real Life has intervened. I know everyone understands and will bear with me while we wait just a wee bit longer.

As a reward here is another teaser:  She developed a real taste for Japanese cuisine and Japanese Food Art. She really wants to learn Japanese too because of her love of Japanese anime and manga.  There. That’s several teasers all in one. No more!

Prepare yourselves, for my guest comes soon. And thank you for your patience.