Recently, I had the great pleasure of chatting with notable Colorado author Mark Stevens, host of The Rocky Mountain Writer podcast. We chatted about writing and publishing, and I read an excerpt from my upcoming book, A Kiss Before Doomsday. Listen to the RMFW podcast here.
As I’m sure you know, I love sharing writing tips and productivity tips that anyone can use. In the podcast, I got the chance to talk about an acronym I use to help me write absolutely anything from a blog post to a novel. It’s CODE:
Do you have a favorite bookstore?
For my money, one of the neatest bookstores on the planet is the Tattered Cover on Colfax Avenue in Denver. Did you know that it’s built inside an old theater? Strange, but true. They even kept a few of the old folding red theater seats, where you can sit and read, and pretend you’re just killing time between acts. Also, they have a delectable coffee shop.
(By the way, I’ll be doing a book signing event at the Tattered Cover for A Kiss Before Doomsday on Friday, July 21, at 7:00 pm. Prizes, treats, and lots of fun. Join me!)
Last month in my author newsletter, I asked subscribers to tell me about their favorite bookstores, and I gave away a signed copy of It Happened One Doomsday to one lucky reader. I also heard some great stories and shout-outs to some real bookstore gems. Here are a few:
If you think about it, storytelling is a skill we all use every day. We tell stories at the water cooler, in meeting rooms, in social media, and around the dinner table.
Knowing how to tell a great story helps you communicate, do better in business, and be more fun at parties.
Think you’re no good at telling stories? You can be, if you want, for just $1. (More on that in a moment.)
Storytelling is a skill, and like any skill, it can be learned. Just ask Michael Hauge.
The guy is a storytelling genius. He’s not only a best-selling author, he’s also one of Hollywood’s top story experts. He’s worked on projects starring Will Smith, Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise, Reese Witherspoon, and Morgan Freeman. He’s given lectures and workshops on storytelling to more than 80,000 people worldwide.
He knows what he’s talking about. And he can teach you how to tell stories.
Exciting news! I’ve just released the newest Dru Jasper story: Put A Spell On You.
To celebrate, I’m giving away several copies to my readers. Leave a comment below and you could win it for free!
But first, let me tell you the story behind this story:
Hidden in It Happened One Doomsday is this quick exchange between Dru and Joe, the delivery guy from the neighborhood Chinese restaurant:
Dru slipped the honey-colored citrine crystal into a paper bag for Joe the delivery guy, and rung up the sale. “Remember, from your front door, you put this in the back left corner of the restaurant. Also, I put an extra little crystal in the bag for you. That one goes in your cash register drawer.”
Dru hit the SALE button, and the drawer slid open with a chime, revealing the chunk of citrine she kept in her own change drawer. “See? Prosperity and abundance.”
Do you ever wonder if maybe we make crucial life choices based on completely misunderstanding the world around us?
One of the most common questions I’m asked in interviews is: What made you decide to become a writer? I tend to talk about reading and storytelling as a kid, playing with an old typewriter, that sort of thing.
But really, I think it all goes back to a broken plate glass window.
I don’t know about other authors, but for me the moment when a book becomes “real” (and not just a story floating around in my imagination) is when I see the artwork for the book cover.
Ever wondered what the book cover process looks like from the author’s perspective?
It starts with cover concepts from the editor.
Last fall, while I was still writing the manuscript, my editor sent me two variations of the cover and asked for my opinion.
They had decided that in this book, only Dru should be on the cover, not Greyson. (If you haven’t already read Book 1, I won’t spoil the end for you, but I will say this: it’s not exactly a Disney ending for our guy Greyson.)
However, they did want to imply that Hellbringer is back on the road by including tire tracks. And not just ordinary mortal tire tracks, but glowing red tire tracks of doom. Oh yeah!
(If you haven’t read Book 1 yet, Hellbringer is a 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona possessed by a literal speed demon. Which leads to the most “hellish” car chases ever.)
The biggest thing I love about these cover concepts is Dru’s new sassy silhouette. Also, I love the magical sparkles and cryptic circles floating around her. They add a fun comic-book feel that just screams “MAGIC!”
Uh oh. Problem…
This is where it starts to get real, people. You’re looking at a box full of advance reading copies of A Kiss Before Doomsday.
That means, for the first time ever, the truth is out about Greyson. And Hellbringer. And the end of the world.
And what about Dru’s magic crystal shop, the Crystal Connection, which was utterly demolished in a battle against the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? How will she fight the forces of darkness without her crystals, magic books, and assorted tools of the trade?
And what about her sassy, outspoken, highly inappropriate friends, Opal and Rane? What will happen to them?
It’s all in there.
Plus, there are tons of little Easter eggs for those super-fans who read closely. All of those little details are present.
It was a real honor to have the chance to sit down and talk with Electric Spec about what makes short stories so relevant today. As writers, short stories give us the opportunity to connect with readers in ways that novels don’t. Besides, talking about how to write short stories is just plain fun.
Also, for probably the first time ever, I talked about the science fiction stories I discovered when I was 12 years old that made me decide to become a writer.
If you enjoy an engrossing science fiction or fantasy short story (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), then you need to check out Electric Spec. For over a decade, these fine folks have been putting out some of the best speculative fiction out there. Give them a shot.
It happens to every writer: you’re writing along when suddenly you need to go back and change some fact or detail.
Because if you don’t fix it, the story won’t make sense. Should you stop writing at that moment to go fix it?
Nope. That could kill your momentum.
Here’s a better idea. It’s called a retcon, and comic book writers have been using it for decades.
Retcon is short for “retroactive continuity” and it means that you’re stating a new fact that changes what’s come before.
In other words, you’re changing the past.
This is a term I first encountered in the massively entertaining and informative book Writing for Comics with Peter David. (Mr. David, by the way, has an impressive list of comic writing credits, including Spider-Man, Wolverine, Supergirl, Hulk, Star Trek, and tons of others. He knows what he’s talking about.)