Saturday, November 10, 2018

Sample from Arcadia’s Children 2: The Fyfield Plantation (out Feb 2019)

Klaien Mygael glanced at the SSIAT building and took a deep breath. Even though she knew there was a protection droid ready to come to her aid if anything went wrong, she still felt very exposed. Having lived a sheltered middle class life until then, being asked to break the law didn’t come easy.

Psyching herself up, she slipped on the distortion collar Alton had given her and walked towards the tall building. Crossing a pedestrianised area, she glanced at a reflection of herself in a nearby window and was pleased to note the collar had totally altered her appearance; it had also made her look twenty years younger.

Reaching the main entrance of the SSIAT building, she saw one of the outer shutters was still retracted and a lift door was visible. Activating her percom, she locked onto the building’s external comm’s port and waited. A few seconds later, a power bubble formed and the image of a droid appeared, an Alpha 300.

Without prompting, the machine said, “It’s after hours, the facility is closed.”

Klaien hadn’t been anticipating a robotic response and a mild wave of panic ran through her; something had gone wrong. She was seriously considering abandoning her mission when the bubble content suddenly changed and Unnan Vardis’ image appeared.

“Sorry about that, the automated system cut in.”

“Have you got the money?

Klaien held up a large brightly coloured paper bag. “It’s in here.”

The contents of the bag moved slightly. She realised Rover was getting restless from being cooped up and hoped Vardis hadn’t noticed. “Are you going to let me in?”

“Okay,” Vardis replied. “Come up.”

There was a slight whirring noise and an outer lift door opened. Once inside, Klaien was whisked up to one of the upper floors. When the doors opened, she found herself in a lobby.

A woman waiting there said, “Come this way. Unnan’s through here.”

As she pushed her way through a set of fire doors, the woman glanced back and added, “I’m Marci, by the way; I’m Unnan’s partner.”

The comment surprised Klaien because during previous conversations, Vardis had implied he lived alone. Marci led the way through an open door into a spacious living area. Klaien caught a glimpse of a charging unit though the slightly open door of an adjacent room and immediately worked out the truth. Although Marci looked human, simple logic implied she was a humanoid.

 Noting the expression on Klaien’s face, Marci glanced towards the open door and  said, “Ha! I see my little secret is out. I hope you’re not offended.”

“Why should I be?”

A male voice said, “Some people are.”

Glancing around, Klaien saw Vardis standing in a doorway. “Well I’m not. I was just surprised because you said you were single.”

“In the eyes of the law I am,” Vardis replied. “Marci and I are partners but it’s not recognised.”

Getting straight to the point, he added, “So let’s see the money.”

Klaien nodded and pulled out two large denomination money cards but kept a firm hold onto the bag. Vardis gave her a sharp look, “That’s only half of what we agreed.”

“You’ll get the other half once the job’s complete,” she said, passing over a sheet of plastimetal paper. “Those are the teleport co-ordinates.”

She glanced at her watch, “As agreed, in a few hours, two separate groups of people will come here. The first group wants to teleport to Salus Transporter Nine and the second group wants to go to Awis Oasis.”

“I want the rest of the money first,” Vardis growled.

 “Very well,” she said, “It’s in the bag.”

As Vardis was about to reach into the bag, it rustled and a small rugby ball-shaped droid emerged.

“What’s this?” Vardis sounded startled.

“My insurance policy,” Klaien replied. “This is Rover. He has the other cards in his internal safe and has orders to pay you the balance once we’re all safety teleported.”

Vardis gave her a hostile look. “Don’t you trust me?”

“I once heard of a teleport operator who cheated a group of people,” Klaien replied. “He promised to teleport them if they gave him a large sum of money. He took their money but instead of teleporting them, he put them into stasis. He then called the police and denied receiving any payments.”

Vardis clicked his fingers and gestured towards Marci. “And she’s my insurance policy.”

Glancing round, Klaien saw that Marci was holding a stun gun and it was levelled at her.

Vardis said, “Now get your droid to hand over the other money cards.”

Klaien gave Vardis a sharp look, which made him smirk. “You were right. I have no intention of getting your people out of here. Illegal teleporting is a criminal offense.”

Preparing for a book signing

Preparing for a book signing

I’ve read a number of articles concerning engaging with readers.  With this in mind I decided I would try to set up a few “meet the author” events.  I also decided to engage the help of my BNI group. 
I have held one book signing with my group.

I then came to the conclusion that if I ran a “meet the author” event I would need a banner to attract possible buyers. Unfortunately my BNI banner maker didn’t have the skills to carry out the necessary artwork.

Eventually, I found a good graphic designer and the problem was solved.

See below.

BNI is going to be may safe testing ground for my new banner because I have a 10 minute spot booked on 7th December 2018.

Wish me luck. 

Andrew R Williams

Author of Arcadia’s Children: Samantha’s Revenge.

Out Feb 2019 Arcadia’s Children 2: The Fyfield Plantation

Time Off Before Edits

Since my last post, I traveled to New England to take in the fall colors and visit some scenic areas such as Acadia National Park in Maine and the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

Mark Twain House
I even made a stop at the Mark Twain house in Hartford, Ct., and Stephen King's home in Bangor, Me. 

Before I left on my short getaway, I sent my manuscript to my editor at Wings ePress. When I returned eight days later, I signed a contract for the third book in the John Ross Boomer Lit series. 
Stephen King's home

For those interested, the novel is tentatively scheduled for release in May 2019. The title? New Horizons. More about the book later.

She also had first edits for the novel and some recommendations to consider in my inbox.

Believe it or not, I haven't opened either document on my computer. She said there was no hurry, and I took her at her word. I needed to put some more distance being me and the manuscript, especially since I was preoccupied with other things at the time (I'm not the multi-tasker I used to be). 

I need a clear head when I delve into edits. I want to be as objective as possible when seeing edits and reading comments.  I want to view the manuscript as an editor, instead of as the author. I want to be in the mindset of editing the copy as if it were written by someone else. 

I've also got to provide the publisher with information to give the graphic artist an idea on how to approach the book cover. And I also have to write promotional blurbs, book dedication, and excerpts for marketing on websites. 

So there's a lot of work to be done in the coming months. I'll probably tackle the edits the first of next week since (with credit to Johnny Nash) "I can see clearly now" to move forward.

Until the next time . . . 

(Visit Michael Embry's blog at

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Manuscript: It's Time to Let Go

After seven rewrites and revisions, and a few last-minute tweaks and deletes, my manuscript was sent to my Wings ePress editor yesterday. 

When I informed her on the previous day that I'd be forwarding the 67k words to her. She replied that she was looking forward to a good read. I hope she's not disappointed. 

The first draft was 37k words, so it's grown another 30k in the past four months or so. I thought I would be able to finish it in three or four rewrites, but that was not to be. Every time I went through the manuscript, I added another layer to the story, be it a subplot, new character, or plot expansion.

I suppose it's no longer my work in progress since it's in the hands of the editor. It's become part of an effort to make it worthy of publication by Wings ePress team, from editing, proofreading, cover art, and promotion.
Ina Garten

I recently read an interview with "Barefoot Contessa" chef Ina Garten,  and she quoted noted journalist Bob Woodward as saying, "It's not that I ever finish a book, I just stop working on it."

I couldn't find the quote after a web search, but I understand the reasoning behind it. There comes a time when you have to say to yourself, "Enough is enough," and hand the manuscript over to your publisher. 

One of the great things about writing a series—this book is the third in the John Ross Boomer Lit Series—is that I can pick up where I left off. I've already written the first draft to the fourth book, and know what I plan to do in the fifth. 

I've got a title for the new novel but won't disclose that until the contract is signed and I'm working on her edits.

And if all goes to plan, the novel will be published in the first half of 2019. And perhaps the fourth book in the second half of the year. No pun intended, but time will tell if those goals come to fruition. 

At least the manuscript is out of my hands for a few weeks. It's time to take a break.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Learning to Write and Revise

While I love fiction writing, all types of writing are important to me. The personal things I write give me a trail of past thoughts and ideas interesting to revisit. My writing also gave me the opportunity to teach writing, which I also love because I want to help develop good writers for the future.

Two weeks before classes started at the end of this past August, I was given two more composition classes. That was great, one class was online, two classes hybrid, and one face to face (f2f -- Isn't it interesting how names for new things change names for preceding things?).

I have finished grading my first group of fifty essays. The essays' topics were great, but the grammar, while not dismal, certainly needed improvement. Which brings me to a question: don't students learn grammar anymore, like the parts of speech, or sentence structures like how independent clauses, subordinate clauses, and phrases work together? I think they do, but why don't my students seem to know them? While in fiction writing sentence fragments are sometimes a rhetorical device, in academic writing they are major mistakes. And commas! Different styles of writing often allow different comma usage, but they don't seem to know either casual or formal academic usage.

I do know most of the wording errors are caused by students not editing or revising enough, even though they have to critique each other's work. 

As a writer, I know how hard it is to find glitches in your own work. I make them all the time. I think there is a mind-eye-finger connection built when you write. Your mind knows what it made your fingers type. Your eyes saw the words your mind dictated. You immediately read the results and it is perfect! It is not until time breaks the connection by a day or two that you can go back and see what your writing actual contains. Then you can see the mistakes and correct them.

A certain percentage of students don't care. They don't think writing will be important in their future career (wrong!). All they want is to complete this required course with at least a grade of C and move on. Another group thinks they cannot write. 

One thing I tell them is that it is my job to point out their errors so they learn the type of mistakes they commonly make, so that they can look for them in their future writing. If they think my comments meant they don't know how to write, they're wrong. They should look at everything that was correct and had no comment on it, usually 80% of their essay. Those portions prove they can write, they just need to hone their editing skills. 

Even if none of my students end up writing short stories or novels, writing well is not only important, but the ability can also effect employment, and often adds enjoyment to their life like keeping journals. Memory is short, it's good to have a written backup.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Have Digital Books Changed Reading?

I grew up on hard-covered books of printed paper and have a library of probably close to a thousand books today, but I'm also in the process of sorting them out and getting rid of some. Most of those are non-fiction books, although I do have some classic fiction books too. Most of my reading today is done on my Kindle. I'm on my second one.

I like Kindle. They came on the market in 2007 and I bought my first one in 2012. Since then, the majority of my fiction reading has been on that device. I had been reading e-books on my computer almost since they first became available. I love my Kindle for reading fiction because it is less bulky than a paper book. I read in bed at night, and it is lighter than most books and the pages are easier to turn with the touch of my thumb. I can stick my Kindle in my purse and take it with me, and it has thirty books on it right now. I can add more or remove them from the device. I also like that I can search a book to find a certain passage, and can hit the back arrow to get back to where I started. E-books also open to the last page read, another feature I enjoy.
How reading has changed! Yet I still like certain books in paper form, especially those with images.

It is a well-document fact that reading fiction changes readers, opens their minds to new ideas, helps them develop empathy, new knowledge, increases vocabulary, and in general accomplishes many mental feats. All good things; but has device reading degraded this?

Today anyone can read novels on computers, reading devices, or almost any mobile device. Some are wondering if these devices are changing how people read and what they read, and how this has affected writing fiction. During a Nation Public Radio Morning Edition interview with author Lev Grossman, back in 2009 shortly after many reading devices became available, he wondered about readers not having to handle the pages of a book, turning and savoring them. He said digital reading was “Very forward moving, very fast narrative ... and likewise you don't tend to linger on the language. When you are seeing a word or a sentence on the screen, you tend to go through it, you extract the data, and you move on" 

Since the invasion of mobile devices others worry about user distraction, and the devices being more important than talking with the person they are with. I think the dangers of device addiction are known and people are beginning to at least wean their children off their devices, but maybe not themselves.

Does faster reading mean less comprehension? Does it mean readers are not receiving the benefits of reading given from print copies?

My opinion is it probably depends on the genre of fiction I am reading. When reading literary fiction, admittedly not one of my favorite genres, where what is stated and what is implied is so very important, I might like print form better. However, I have discovered digital hasn’t changed my enjoyment or anything else in reading and allows me to become deeper involved in the story even if I have to leave it frequently and pick up where I left off later.

(This blog post is also posted on my personal blog.)

Thursday, August 09, 2018

What Are Boomer Lit Novels?

My last two novels belong to a genre referred to as Boomer Lit. I wasn't aware of the label until I stumbled across the term while surfing the Internet for tag lines for my books—"Old Ways and New Days" and "Darkness Beyond the Light"—now part of the John Ross Boomer Lit series.

In a sense, Boomer Lit is a continuation of the young adult novels that sprang up in the 1960s, such as "The Outsiders." You might include "Catcher in the Rye," since it was almost required reading for boomers when they were teens. 

Those readers have grown up and many want to read about their contemporaries, who range in age from 54 to 72. By the way, as you have probably guessed, I'm in that group. 

Those born in the United States between Jan. 1, 1946 and Dec. 31, 1964, are referred to as baby boomers. After the war years, there was an increase in the number of births during that period. My "Greatest Generation" parents produced five boomers.

According to statistics released a few years ago, that number reached about 76 million. A recent figure has it at about 65 million, meaning the generation is aging and dying.  

Except for two young-adult novels, my other novels have focused on middle-age adults dealing with life's trials and tribulations. They were boomer lit before boomer lit became a label. Reminds me of the Barbara Mandrell song, "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool," if you know what I mean. 

Wikipedia defines boomer lit as "any genre that features mature characters, in contemporary settings, addressing any aspects of today's world."

I'm sure many of the novels offered by Wings, especially the romances, contain elements of Boomer Lit if the protagonist is a boomer. Check out the many titles by clicking here

For those interested in Boomer Lit, check out these sites:

I'm currently rewriting the third book in the John Ross Boomer Lit series. We'll let you know when it's released.

Until the next time . . .