With a couple of killer story coaching deals. That’s the reboot.
It’s been a while.
Over a month, in fact, since I’ve posted something new here, though this space has been more than suitably filled with great guest posts from my go-to writing gurus.
Where have I been? Picture me on a beach next to my supermodel wife, margarita in hand, reading the pre-release VIP version of Demille’s newest novel, because they want a blurb from me.
Because that’s how I roll. Yeah, that’s how it is in the blogging business.
Not. My wife qualifies, but that’s not how the last month went down.
More like a long trip to the old ‘hood to hang with family (“Gee, you’re funnier in print…”), some bothersome health stuff and a few worthy writing and story coaching diversions.
Missed ya. Missed this. Not kidding about that.
Writers Digest West Coast Writing Workshop – September 27 – 29, Los Angeles
That’s me on the agenda for Sunday (the 29th), 11:10 am to 12:00 noon. My topic:
“Storytelling Excellence Through The Avoidance of Mediocrity”
Basically it’s this: do everything like Michael Connelly and Gillian Flynn would do it. And if you catch yourself saying (to yourself) “I’m really just writing this for myself, I’ll do it however I want because I don’t care what happens to it and I still believe that characters actually DO talk to their creators,” try another strategy if that’s not working for you.
Which I’m guessing isn’t.
The Writers Digest website invited me to write a blog post to help ramp up for this conference. You can read it HERE… I hope you will. It begins with what seems like a joke – “Three writing conference attendees go into the hotel bar…” – but isn’t.
Also, Writers Digest Magazine commissioned me to do a feature article for their January 2014 issue – look for “Stuck In The Middle: A Mid-Draft Fix For Every Story” in that issue. While they’ve excerpted (a strange word, that) several slices of Story Engineering over the past two years, this will be the first of what I hope will be a continuing presence for me in that magazine.
Farewell to Vince Flynn and Elmore Leonard
We lost two of our best recently.
Flynn was spectacularly successful in what you might call the homeland security genre, and was taken from us too young. Always jarring when the news hits. I have to admit, when I heard he was best friends with Rush Limbaugh I experienced a WTF chill (that’s a bit like Colin Powell hanging with Dennis Rodman), but he was a brilliant storyteller, a writer I admired.
Elmore Leonard was… well, Elmore Leonard. Maybe he wasn’t your chosen literary flavor, but for millions and for decades he was the Frank Sinatra of modern hard boiled crime, with a voice based on not really having much of one at all, the Chairman of the Board of minimalism.
If you haven’t read his “10 Rules of Writing,” from a 2001 piece that first appeared in the NY Times, you owe it to yourself.
By the way, I completely disagree with #2.
“Deadly Faux” (Turner Publishing) releases in three weeks.
October 8, to be exact, though odds are (because this is what Amazon does) it’ll be out in Kindle prior to that.
In case you missed the memo, “Deadly Faux” is my new novel, my first since 2006, and the sequel to my 2004 novel, “Bait and Switch,” which was my critical home run (Turner is re-releasing it in early November ”13)… largely because of its snarky well-chinned hero (who speaks to me when I least expect it; the Limbaugh line above was his).
This is my chance to walk the Storyfix talk. Haters, load your weapons, my shields are down. If you have published, or when you do, you’ll know that feeling, it’s like standing on second base naked in Yankee Stadium (for most of us, in the middle of the night).
Then again, “haters” of my work (read my Amazon reviews for Story Engineering and Story Physics, they’re out there; I don’t mind critics or criticism, but some of these yahoos cross the line) tend to divide between not recognizing or understanding the infrastructural physics that make a story work (I think of them as the hey-asshole-the–earth-is-actually-flat-after-all… right? readers, among other things), or they are allergic to my conversational, passion-driven writing.
I could go on, but I’ll take my – to date –24 to 2 box score (5-star reviews vs. 1-star reviews for Story Physics, and 126 to 6 for Story Engineering) and shut the F up about it now, and moving forward.
The first “Deadly Faux” blurb is out, and it’s really rather… humbling.
Amazing, actually, if you’re me. The kind of blurb or review an author waits a lifetime to receive from someone besides his mother (unless your mother is J.K. Rowling – who is younger than me – or Mary Higgins Clark, who isn’t).
This blurb comes from James N. Frey, the esteemed writing mentor and author of the iconic “How To Write A Damn Good Novel,” which remains high on the charts since its publication in 1987.
Here’s what he says about “Deadly Faux” –
“Crime novelist Raymond Chandler was widely acknowledged in his day as the Poet Laureate of The Dark Side (he looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food cake). He died in 1959 and ever since there have been many pretenders to his throne. Among the best are James M. Cain, Elmore Leonard, Robert B. Parker, James Lee Burke—all masters of the craft, all wordsmiths of the first order, but none of them had Chandler’s gifts. After half a century of being on the lookout for a crime fiction writer with a voice that rivals Chandler’s, one has finally appeared, quietly chugging his way up the bestseller lists with Darkness Bound, Whisper of the Seventh Thunder, Serpent’s Dance, and Bait and Switch. His name is Larry Brooks. The guy has a slick tone and a crackling, cynical wit with lots of vivid descriptions (of both interior and exterior landscapes), and the sparkling figures of speech dance off the page and explode in your inner ear. Though as modern as an iPad 5S, he is truly and remarkably Chandleresque. He’s dazzling. Check out his new one, Deadly Faux—it’s sexy, complex, intelligent; a truly delightful novel with more plot twists than a plate of linguine swimming in olive oil.”
Heady company. Heady stuff.
I’ve been waiting my whole career to use the word verklempt and mean it. May your inner ear explode, too. I hope you’ll give me that chance.
And if you’re wondering if this entire post is just an excuse to put this out there… I get that. Half true. Honestly, if it was you… wouldn’t you, too?
Two Killer Story Coaching Deals
If you’ve read this far, I’d like to reward your patience and support.
As you know, I provide story coaching services, and I do it in a unique way that doesn’t require you to choose between this and a trip to Maui. I offer a Kick-Start Concept Evaluation for $35 (because it’s short, it is what it is ), and a fuller look at your entire story arc, via a challenging and detailed Questionnaire that will test you on your own story, for $150.
The latter, in particular, covers the majority of issues that put a novel or screenplay in jeopardy, so from that perspective this is, like, the most ridiculously valuable and useful and underpriced story coaching program, like, ever. (I’ve done about 200 of these in the last 18 months, with only one vocally unhappy client. Because she didn’t understand the 101-level terminology in the Questionnaire.)
My first “deal” makes it even more affordable. Because the principles described in my newly released writing book, “Story Physics” are key to the feedback, I’ll incent you to pick up a copy with these two spiffs:
Send me the receipt from a digital download of Story Physics (dated from today, September 19, through October 31), or tell me which bookstore you bought it from, and…
– I’ll send you the actual book proposal sent to Writers Digest that resulted in this book (something you can use to help model your own book proposal), and/or…
– I’ll discount the $150-level Story Coaching service to $125, through the above date (though, once in, you don’t have to actually send in your Questionnaire answers until, well, whenever you’re ready.)
If you opt in to this, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the words “COACHING DEAL” in the subject line. (For the story coaching part, I use Paypal… feel free to use that email-recipient address to launch there, or I can invoice you.)
The OTHER discount… and this is an EVEN BETTER VALUE…
… is for my most useful and valuable review level of all: the FIRST QUARTILE Manuscript Analysis, which also includes the same full story plan Questionnaire. Here’s why this is a remarkable opportunity:
By reading your first 100 pages or so (up through your First Plot Point), I can – with nearly 98 percent certainty and accuracy – determine the state of your novel. Strengths and weaknesses, and issues to address. Using the Big Picture context of your Questionnaire answers, I’ll know if the concept and premise have been successfully and effectively launched, if your Part 1 set-up has met the criteria for an effective opening quartile, and if the whole thing will float in a sea crowded with grouchy agents and editors and stellar manuscripts seeking the same outcome you are.
The price for this is normally $450 (25% of the full-manuscript evaluation fee). Get it booked by October 31 and I’ll discount it to $400. The value is almost identical as that delivered from a full manuscript read… at less than a quarter of the cost.
Do the math on this one. It pulls the unreachable squarely into the realm of the possible for almost anyone who is serious about writing a publishable story, and leveraging the value of story coaching to get there.
More Storyfix content coming soon.
If you have something specific you’d like to see explored here, or clarified, please let me know. Thanks for your time today… it’s good to be back online with you.