Good work, Keith!

 

From the desk of W. J. Onufer…

While in Clarksville, Tenn. last week, my cover Artist, Keith Wood, and I did a Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price book signing at Rick’s Comic City. Something happened there that I’ve never seen in any venue where I’ve sold my books. First off, I’ve never seen book vending where both the Author and the cover Artist are present. Keith and I have done several together and have been well received in that. People are thrilled to have their Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price books signed by the Author and cover Artist.

But at Rick’s last week, Keith did something that went beyond that. And I was blown away by how acomidating and original that was.

At one point, a copy of Torch, the new Hadley book was being purchased. The buyer asked Keith if he would do a sketch, in addition to signing it. I thought this was bit much to ask but after negotiating a charge of an additional five dollars, Keith agreed to do it.

Now five dollars is a give away price for orginial Keith Wood art work. But as long as Keith was good with that, so was I.

I proceeded to run the buyers debit card through the reader on my cell phone to complete the transaction. At the same, I was multi-tasking several conversations with people gathered around the counter where Steve (Ricks’ Comics store manager) had us set up. While doing that, I assumed that Keith would just run off a postage stamp size little drawing. Maybe Hadley’s lips and fangs, something akin to a minimalist tattoo.

But no. When I was done running that debit card, I looked over at Keith and he was doing a full page, head and shoulders of Hadley. The person buying that book couldn’t have been more amazed than I was. Keith was speed-drawning and I knew it. When he and I work together on a Hadley book cover or any other Hadley promotional materials, the pace is much slower to get it all right. He erased the pencil a couple times to redraw and I explained to those watching, that no line in an initial sketch is definitive. Playing with that is necessary to, as I’ve said, get it right.

I can’t promise that Keith will do that in any future book signings that we both attend. While book vending in various venues, things can get a little crowded with people and happen fast and furious at peek times. We may not have the time to acomidate that.

But it was way cool of him to do that at Rick’s. Good work, Keith!

Has anyone else seen something like this at a Con or book singing?

Get your copy of Torch, the new Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price novel, in paper book or ebook here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Torch

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If you can’t say anything nice…

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I’m at the point in my writing experience where I’ve gotten used to dealing with other published authors, professional artists, graphics people, editors and people grounded in the reality of book publishing and promotion. I’ve also become acquainted with talented people in other mediums- beside writing. I’m not the best of the best, but I am a player in all of that.

The result is that my standards for all of that have become quite high. Producing a minimum level of quality is necessary is be a player. Anything less is amateur territory. There is a divide between amateurs and people who are are serious about producing quality entertainment for the public.

The Internet has been great in giving opertunities for talented people to show their work, that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. But the Internet isn’t particularly discerning. Anyone can show their work- even people who aren’t that talented. People who have not reached the minimum level of quality.

So what is one to to do when one sees such lack of quality? How does one, who knows the difference, respond to amateur level work- or even work that shows no talent at all?

As a person who used to be on one side of the amateur/professional divide and am now on the other side, allow me to tell you about the differences between the two sides.

An amateur may writing something or draw something, then show it to their mother. They’ll have little or no experience before this. But hey! Look what I did! Isn’t it great? That mother says the writing or drawing is great work. So that amateur goes on to have their friends take a look. And those friends all rave that the writing or drawing is great work. But the thing that most amateurs overlook is that those people in their circle would say it was good if it was good or not. Why? They don’t want to hurt your feels. On the amateur side, there is never a bad review. Blanket statement. As a result, there is no unbiased judgment as to how good or bad it really is.

This happened to me a few decades ago when I went through by poetry-writing phase. (Not a particularly proud time in my writing life.) Some friends read my stuff and they all raved about it. Not a bad review in the bunch. Now, when I look at that stuff and see how truly wretched it was, it makes me gag. It was just god-awful writing. In retrospect, where they sparing my feelings or did they really think it was good stuff? Hard to tell. But now, having the writing experience of those decades behind me, I can report that what I wrote back then- daring to call it poetry -was just self-indulgent crap. Emos didn’t yet exist back then. But if they did, I was one of them. Maybe that’s why I now write Vampire fiction, stuff that’s dark with an edge. That, and stuff that has a sense of humor, that doesn’t become stupified by languishing in the over-emotional.

On the professional side, you have to have an amount of experience to be able to produce work that’s good enough to be taken seriously. They’re not interested in your personal journey in exploring on how to become a good writer. They just expect you to be a good writer. Minimum level of quality is expected before you walk in the door. And they really don’t care if they hurt your feelings. Your manuscript is okay, but this needs to be reworked. This part is stupid, take it out, remove those ten pages entirely. The beginning is weak. Rewrite it. I’m firmly convinced that any writer who has gone through the editing process, no longer has anything in the way of an ego. It’s a humbling experience. Way beyond hurt feelings. The result, however, is good, professional-quality work that is worthy to be released to the public. Quality entertainment that people will enjoy.

I have to admit, there are times when I see things posted on Facebook- writing, drawings, paintings and such -that are simply not that good. Minimum quality not achieved. My initial, knee-jerk reaction is to get on and make note of the lack of talent and tell them that we’re not their mom and their friends. I ignore that knee-jerk reaction and take a more tactful approach. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. And on those posts, people- obviously their friends and possibly their mom, chime in on how great the writing or drawing or painting it. There is a noticeable lack criticism. I wasn’t the only who didn’t say anything at all instead of saying some thing that wasn’t-so-nice. That writer/artist wanna-be would get their reality check some place else, some time else.

There was one time, a few months back, however, when I saw something on Facebook where the reaction was downright cruel. And more so, because it happened in the very public place of Facebook. A guy wrote on Facebook that he writes short stories and inquired how to get published. The problem was, his grammar and spelling were awful. Quite obviously so. People took delightful glee in bullying this person for that. And they were were absolutely merciless in mocking the lack of writing talent. I didn’t recognize any of the names of those mockers. None of them where on my friends list. There’s no way to confirm, but I’m guessing that none of them were writers. People, who’s ego has been reigned in because they went through the editing process. People, who remember when they first started out and weren’t quite up-to-speed on their craft. No one who’s gone through that, mocks a newbie writer just starting out. None of the writers I’m acquainted with are that cruel.

I saw the same post the next day. The snarkiness continued. There were additional and equally nasty posts from when I viewed this a few hours before. I truly felt bad for the guy. No. He didn’t have the writing chops to get published. But maybe he would. Someday. Would this- all this negative feedback -hinder his approach to writing? Would he quit in the face of such hostility? What great stories written in the future by this guy, will never be enjoyed by readers, because he walked away from it all after such mean-spirited feed-back?

Yes. I felt bad for the guy. So I added to that post. I told him that he’s not there yet. I told him to take a year or two and really work at improving his writing skills. Find a mentor. I told him that he would embarrass himself if he approached a publisher now. Take the time. Don’t try to publish now. You’re not ready. I told him that five years from now, he’s going to writing something truly amazing. But not now. Now, you work on getting better at it. I hope I did something in the way of damage control to mitigate the scoffers. I hope I encouraged him. I hope I was at lease one person who didn’t make him want to quit.

Later that day, I saw that post again. What I wrote was still there. With the exception of one other, all the posts there that were snarky and critical, were removed. Gone. Did the original poster remove them? Did the people who put him down, see my post, come to the realization of how needlessly mean they were, and deleted their own? Again, there’s no way to tell. It is interesting, however, to see that only the encouraging posts remained.

There are those who post stuff on Facebook, obviously in the mode of: look what I did. Tell me I’m great. They’re looking for an ego massage. A quick-fix of instant gratification. That, from their mother and their friends wasn’t enough. They go to Facebook for more of it. The quality of their writing or drawing or painting is not up to a minimum standard. Hopefully, someone they trust will take them aside and tactfully tell them that.

But there are also those who post on Facebook who aren’t there yet. Their skills need work. And they post of Facebook, not for an ego massage, but to find out how to get better.

So what is one to to do when one sees such lack of quality? How does one, who knows the difference, respond to amateur level work- or even work that shows no talent?

If you can’t be encouraging, don’t say anything at all.

*     *     *

Get your copy of Torch, the new tales of the Vampire Hadley Price novel, in paper book or ebook here:

 

 

 

 

You never know where the Vampire Hadley Price will show up

From the desk of W. J. Onufer…

Hadley Price is a Vampire woman with a mind of her own. As the author of the Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price books, she allows me to tag along as her offical scribe, to tell you about her adventures. I have no illusions that I, in any way, control her. As a result, there are times when she goes off without telling me. You never know where the Vampire Hadley Price will show up.

There’s a very exciting project in production right now and Hadley’s involved. It’s in a medium other than in the pages of her books. I don’t mean to be a tease about this (well, maybe a little) but I can’t say anything more about that at this time. When it’s released- and that will be soon -I’ll let you know.  Or more specifically, Hadley’ll inform me, then I’ll pass that along to you.

In other news- I just finished the first draft of the next Tales of the Vampire novel a few days ago and have sent that to my Editor, Christine Piesyk. Any author will be tell you that there is a huge sense of acomplishment in getting the first draft of a book done. Any author will also tell you that the calmness of that satisfaction is soon replaced by the storm of the editing process. I’m preparing myself for the doses of humility that Christine takes great delight in giving me in that.

I’ve also been communicating with my cover artist, Keith Wood. He and I are well beyond the half-way point of what that next book’s cover will look like.

But all of that is something you’ll see when that book comes out in a time frame that we project to be something in the order of a year to year and half from now.

For now, Hadley’s new book, Torch, is available to satisfy all your Vampire reading desires. Get your copy, in paper book or ebook, by click on the link here.

And as far as Hadley showing up elsewhere? Stay tuned for more info on that exciting new project I told you about. When you find out what that is, it’ll be worth going through all this tease.

A Variation on Murphy’s Law

From the desk of W. J. Onufer…

A variation on Murphy’s Law is everywhere. I’ll go a few days, maybe as much as a week with little or no communication with people. Then, all of a sudden, everyone wants to talk with me. I’ll be in the middle of a Skype with someone, then Facebook PM pops ups. Then a second PM from someone else, at the same time. I excuse myself from that Skype to manage those two PMs. And as I’m doing that, my cell pings with a text message. Then, a couple minutes later, it’s rings for a phone convo. Seconds later, I get a prompt telling me I just recieved an important email. Now obviously, the way to manage such things is to prioritize. Which, of all these comunications is most time-sensitive? Which of these people most demand my attention?

As the author of the Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price books, I always have various projects happening. And those projects involve the creative input of other people- all of whom are important to me. But when I get his tidal wave of communications, they’re all those important people.They each have priority in the big picture, but they’re all collectively coming at me at the same time. I’m grateful to have such people in my life and I try my best to give each individual my undivided attention. And hope to receive the same from them. But sometimes Murphy has other plans.

This also applies to people in my personal life, people who have no association with any Hadley Projects. They too join that tidal wave of communication. You never know just how many devices you have until they beep, cherp, ring or prompt- all at the same time.

Has this happened to you? Have you ever been presented with such a Murphy senario? If so, how do you deal with it?

Get a free listen of a narration of The Right Shade of Brown, a new Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price short story here. A free bee. No charge. No sign-up. No Vampires will insist on a sample of you blood.

 

 

Don’t you just love delays?

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Torch- The new Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price novel by W. J. Onufer

From the desk of W. J. Onufer…

Torch, the new Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price novel is now out on ebook. The paper back version, however, has been delayed. I won’t go into detail except to say that my team and I have been dealing with not just one, but two last minute technical problems. They may be last minute, but they’re taking some what more time than that to fix. And when those issues are resolved, we’ll let you know when you can get a paperback copy of Torch of your very own.

In the mean time, what’s a author to do? There’s no rest- as they they say  -for the wicked. There’s always something to do here at Tales of the Vampire Hadley price. In my wait for all the techie stuff to be fixed on Torch, I’ve been working on the the next Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price book. I’m making significant progress on that. I should have a fist draft done in a month or so. And the title of that book- that comes out after Torch -will, for the time being, be my little secret. Stay tuned for a revelation of that title, at some point in the future and the release date- which should be sometime toward the end of next year.

But for now, Torch is coming your way. It will, that is, when all the techcial stuff is fixed- which should be soon.

As I’ve said, the ebook of Torch is now available. You can get that here: https://www.amazon.com/Torch-Tales-Vampire-Hadley-Price-ebook/dp/B06XZHL4P4/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1494262409&sr=1-3

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For a look behind the scenes here a Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price, listen to the Grace and the Author Podcast here: http://graceandtheauthor.podbean.com/

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Artwork by Keith Wood.

An Appreciation for the Vampire Svetlana Magnovska

svet-aprecFrom the desk of W. J. Onufer…

“I have a whole new appreciation for Svetlana now,” my Editor, Christine Piesyk, told me. That was her opening greeting to me as we got together, on Skype Sunday afternoon. We’re on the edge of getting Torch, the next Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price novel, published and we were dealing with some of the thousands of things we have to do to make that happen.

“A whole new appreciation for Svetlana?” I said. “In what way?”

“She doesn’t speak with contractions.”

I got a good laugh from that.

You see, over the last month or so, Christine and I have been dealing with a glitch in word processing software. The short version is this- Open Office Writer has a couple of straight lines as their quotation marks. They’re not curly. Now, to anyone other that a writer, that’s no big deal. And I was going to let it ride until I did a little research and found out that those straight line quotation marks are considered unprofessional when submitting a manuscript. Since I wrote all the stuff for Torch on Open Office, Christine and I had to change all the straight quotation marks to curly ones.

One would think that a simple search and replace would fix the whole manuscript. Or go into Settings and select or deselect certain things One would think. Not so. Very-not so. I won’t go into details except to say that it was ridiculously complicated to fix the straight quotation marks. When it comes to quotation marks, Open Office and Microsoft Word don’t play well together.

Christine did manage to fix some things, in bulk. But even after seeking help on Youtube and other tutorial online sources, the result was a big, sorry, you’re SOL when it came to apostrophes, those curly things used in conjunctions- like we’re, I’d or she’s. And being consistent, Open Office had theirs as a straight line, not as a curly line. It all resulted in making it necessary for Christine to go through the entire manuscript to correct the apostrophes. The Quotations marks could be fixed in bulk, but for some reason the apostrophes couldn’t. So Christine went, line by line and manually changed the straight apostrophes into curly apostrophes.

Now, if you haven’t read any on my Tales of the Vampire Hadley books, here’s a couple words of explanation. The three main characters are the Vampire Hadley Price, her Vampire lover, Nathan Hughes and their daughter, the young Vampire, Svetlana Magnovska.

Svetlana is a tall blonde beauty of a young Vampire. She’s forty years old but she looks like a teen age girl. She was born in Russia. As such, she speaks English with a Russian accent. To emphasize her accent, I purposely write her dialogue without any words that are contractions. It’s sort of like Data, in Next Gen, who never used contractions when he spoke. Can’t is always can-not. We’re is always we-are.

So whenever Christine came across some of Svetlana’s dialogue- and Svetlana tends to be a bit of a chatty gal -there weren’t any contractions to fix. No straight apostrophes to make curly.

Thank you very much, Svetlana Magnovska. We appreciate your help.

Get Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price books here:

 

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