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Defining Default: it’s your choice

March 15, 2022 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster, Writing tagged as , , ,

I love the word default. It is so definitive. It is authoritative when you’re on the right side of it; terrifying if you’re on the wrong side. Default on your loan. Default the game. You have failed to live up to your promise. Over! Done! Fini— unless you do something to change the situation PDQ and get back on track.

Then came computers and the word default got a makeover. It’s softer. Helpful. Kind. The word became synonymous with a do-over. Default is now your safety net. Screwed up your settings? Default.  Go back to the beginning. Get a do-over. It’s okay. We got your back.

Ah…

Well, don’t get too comfy with that default button, especially when you’re writing. I have a new book that I let lie fallow for two Covid-years because I took a creative hike, turning to manual hobbies like sewing and quilting, crafting and cooking. Now I’m back and making a sprint to complete the last 25%. I’m jazzed because it’s almost done. I proudly sent the first three quarters of the manuscript to my editor fully expecting the green light to cross the literary finish-line.

Sadly — and thankfully —her input was the exact opposite. I had dialed in my characters. I had been lazy with my red herrings. I had defaulted in the bad way, and not lived up to my promise to deliver my best work to my readers. On the other hand, she was offering me the chance to default in the kind way: reset, rethink, and rework. It was up to me to decide if I wanted to skate, shrug my shoulders, and publish a book that was ‘just okay’, or go back and make this the best book it can be.

I decided to go with option two. Reset. Rethink. Rework. That’s what author’s do. Thankfully, I have a great editor who is clear that how I define the word default — and how I respond to that definition— is up to me.

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‘TIS THE SEASON: Gifts for Readers and Writers

December 15, 2021 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster, Writing tagged as , , , ,

I adore the holidays. Trees. Decorations. Carols. Searching for the perfect gifts. Okay, maybe I’m not so crazy about the last one. Finding the perfect gift can be crazy-making—until now. Here are a few of my favorite out-of-the-ordinary ideas that will please  the readers and writers in your life.

THE ASPIRING WRITER

What better way to say “I believe in your dream” than a gift certificate for a writing class or conference, or a no-cost-to-you offer to read their manuscript for typos?

THE SUPER FAN

Scan the cover of their favorite book, photoshop them into it, print, and frame. (Make sure this is personal use only because covers are copyrighted). How about genre bling? I give thriller-loving fans and friends a Morse Code bead bracelet that spells out Partners in Crime.

THE TRAVEL-READING-WRITING FANATIC

If money’s no object, send your reader/writer to a favorite literary destination. Include a map with places mentioned in the book and marked them with a big heart. You will be the best Santa ever.

THE BEST GIFT OF ALL

Contact your reader/writer’s favorite author for a signed copy of a book, request a personalized Christmas card, or invite the author to have a cup of coffee with their fan if the author is local. (If you’re asking for a book or coffee make sure you offer to pay). They can only say no, and if they say yes you will have hit the gift ball out of the park.

So ’tis the season to think outside the box because there’s nothing a reader/writer loves more than a happy ending.

A Finn O'Brien Thriller

SEVERED RELATIONS

Buy now!
SEVERED RELATIONS

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Buy now!
FOREIGN RELATIONS

SECRET RELATIONS

Buy now!
SECRET RELATIONS
INTIMATE RELATIONS
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Show Me A Sign

April 15, 2021 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster tagged as , ,

I’m superstitious. Not crazy, black-cat superstitious, but hedge-my-bet, listen to the cosmos kind. For instance, when I play tennis and I win a service point, I won’t serve with another ball. I use the lucky one—at least until it isn’t lucky anymore. The point is, I believe in signs, fate, and all that stuff.

This brings me to my new book. I’m excited about it because I am actually working in earnest after a fairly unproductive year. The idea exists, the characters are coming into focus, my rear end is getting used to sitting in a chair for longer than an episode of Law and Order. Yet doubt lingers. Is the story substantial enough? Are the characters interesting enough? Are the turns I’m planning twisty enough.

I needed a sign that I was on the right track, and I got one.

During the pandemic the world has been hunkered down in a bear-cave. Sleep. Eat. Hibernate. Drink from the bottomless well of mesmerizing streaming television. I was right there baking bread and searching for the lost episodes of The Big Bang Theory as I fiddled with this new idea. Then something wonderful happened.

Two days after I penned the first word of this new project, I received an invitation from ATF, Los Angeles to a Zoom meeting. ATF is the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Agency, and this was not a random invitation. I’m a graduate of the ATF Citizen’s Academy. I often join citizen’s law enforcement opportunities for research and adventure, but I graduated well over a year ago. This invitation was a surprise, and it was also a sign that my new book was on the right track.

The inciting incident of this story is fiery explosion. It detonates any number of dramas. For my detective, Finn O’Brien, the situation is personal not professional. He won’t be investigating, the ATF will. That email, that Zoom meeting and the things I learned during the hour gave me confidence in my story. The stars have aligned; Fate has given me the stamp of approval.

Hard work is needed to write a book, but sometimes a little sign is what it takes to go all in.

*(Check out The Bailey Devlin chic lit series where I pour out my superstitious little heart).  


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Rewrites by Larry Deibert

August 8, 2020 by in category Guest Posts, Writing tagged as , , ,

Today’s guest author is Larry Deibert. Larry is a Vietnam veteran and is the past president of the Lehigh Northampton Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Macungie, PA. Larry retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 2008 after working as a letter carrier for over 21 years. He and his wife, Peggy, live in Hellertown, PA., where he enjoys reading and writing. Larry’s website is, www.larryldeibert.com. You can contact Larry at larrydeibert@rcn.com.

In 1999, I wrote two books, 95 Bravo and Requiem For A Vampire. Eventually, both were published; Bravo in 2004 and Requiem in 2007.

95 Bravo

In 1974, after finding out that I was going to become a father, I thought it would be a good idea to write a book about my military service. Many concerns about the effects of exposure to Agent Orange, a defoliant used in Vietnam, were coming out, and the end results were devastating, including death.


The prospect of dying before my child was old enough to understand what I went through in the service, prompted me to write this story. Back in those days, there were no computers, so I had to type my story on an old-fashioned typewriter, and because errors were apt to occur, I typed several drafts before I had a copy that really shone, one that publishers would not immediately dismiss for errors, I thought.


My book was quite short at about forty-thousand words, but, then again, my experiences were limited. I had never been in combat, so what kind of war story would this be. After placing my manuscript in a plastic folder, where nothing could happen to it, I began seeking a publisher. Over the course of several months, I submitted my book to twenty-three publishers, utilizing hard copies and snail mail. Fortunately, I had a friend who worked in a printing office, and he was able to make all the copies I needed.


After sending them to the publishers, I waited various lengths of time for responses, receiving twenty-three rejection letters, finally giving up, thinking I had no talent for writing.


Fast forward to 1999. I had been involved in Vietnam Veteran groups for about ten years, hearing the stories of many combat and non-combat veterans. Some of the stories became a burden to carry, and I was advised by an Edgar (Allan Poe) winning author to rewrite my story, adding what those veterans shared with me, fictionalizing the book. I also wanted to tell the stories of what the nurses had gone through. In 1993 I was a technical advisor for a play titled Piece Of My Heart, based on a book about women veterans. One of the events during our Lehigh Northampton Vietnam Veterans Memorial weekend, was the second time I saw the play, especially proud of my daughter as she portrayed a nurse. It was the only play she ever did, saying, “Dad, I don’t think I could ever do another role as satisfying as this was.” I began to type the book on my word processor, and later, on a computer. The process took many months, and one-hundred-and-forty-three-thousand words later, completed my manuscript.


As I searched for a publisher, now being able to send digital copies, I began to write a second book.


95 Bravo was published as an e-Book in 2004, by Writer’s Exchange E-Publishing, and in 2009, the paperback was released. The rewrite came after my wife, Peggy, read the paperback. She felt that there was entirely too much unnecessary information in the book, and she wanted me to focus more on the protagonist’s love interests, making the story more female friendly.


This rewrite was relatively easy, because it was a simple matter of reading it, cutting out the unnecessary stories and when I finished, I had cut nearly twenty-five thousand words, and tightened it up quite a bit.


Late, in 2009, I self-published it with Lulu, and years later, with CreateSpace. And finally, Kindle Direct Publishing. The new title became Combat Boots dainty feet-Finding Love in Vietnam. That title came about after a co-worker of mine read the manuscript, finding that my female lead had dainty feet. He offered that I should use that in every proceeding book, which I have done.

Requiem For A Vampire

While waiting for a publisher for 95 Bravo, I had the itch to continue writing; the juices were flowing.


Having always been a vampire fan, Bela Lugosi scaring the beJesus out of me when I was a kid, and seeing many vampire movies after that, I had come up with some ideas of what my vampire would ‘look’ like. In the 60s I became a fan of Dark Shadows, a daytime soap opera that featured a two-hundred-year-old vampire, Barnabas Collins. During my twenty-two months in the army, I was unable to watch it, so my sister sent me weekly synopses of the show. Many years later, a new TV Network, SiFi ran the entire series again. I enjoyed watching the shows I had missed. A second Dark Shadows was released about twenty-five years later, and I also enjoyed that show.


I never quite believed that a vampire, a dead creature, could be destroyed by driving a wooden stake in his or her unbeating heart. Why would garlic affect a vampire? Can a vampire actually see its reflection? Do vampires eat? Why can’t they walk in the sunlight and be twenty-four seven killers?
Coming up with my own ideas about these subjects, I began the writing process, my fingers flying over the keyboard. I probably wrote the manuscript in about three months, ending up with ninety-three thousand words, and change.


I found a publisher, Mundania Press, in 2007, and after the manuscript was edited and an amazing cover created, my book was published. Sadly, they did nothing as far as marketing was concerned, and my sales were not great. I got my rights back, and figured that someday I would rewrite the book, not caring for some of my character’s names and the story needed a little work.


For months I had been searching for the disc or flash drive that contained the manuscript, but I had no success. I tried photocopying the pages of the book, printing them out and writing as I read the page. That was a horrible experience. In May, I found the answer. I used the dictate feature on Word and began to read my entire book aloud, seeing the words appear on paper. Technology is amazing. After completing a hard copy, I began the process of editing, which is not my forte.


I purchased a program-Grammarly-and after dictating a chapter, I had to move the chapter from Word to Grammarly. After correcting the piece, I had to copy it back to Word, with every paragraph indent disappearing. That gave me an opportunity to reread my work again, and after completing that task, I used the Word editing program.

On July 20th, I finally finished the dictation process and the two editing processes. My manuscript is now in the hands of an editor, and I look forward to giving the story one more read before my wife, who has been the final reader of each book, gives it her once over.


Other Books by Larry Deibert


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Suspend Disbelief

July 15, 2020 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster, Writing tagged as , , ,

When I was little my parents packed my brothers and sisters and me into the back of a huge station wagon and headed to Palm Springs – in August! We’re talking 110 degrees in the shade. We didn’t have air conditioning in our car and the big six motels we stayed at had window air conditioners, but there was always a pool to cool us off. It was during one of these trips that I had my first taste of what would become an obsession with suspense and thriller fiction. It was the first time I surrendered to the suspension of disbelief.

In those days there were no freeways from Long Beach to Palms Springs, so it was a long drive. On that particular trip, there was a radio-play about a man who was eaten by army ants in a jungle. It was terrifying. Even worse, my parents never flinched. They looked like zombies staring at the endless ribbon of road. My brother turned his head to look at me just as the man on the radio screamed, but it was so dark all I saw were his glittering eyes. I was literally mute with terror. I had bad dreams for a month. I LOVED IT!

This week my brother sent me a link to that radio-play. Listening to it again not only made me feel like a little girl, it made me realize there were reasons I was caught up in the story. The characters were well drawn, the place was perfectly described, the suspense built incrementally and climaxed in a scene so terrifying I felt I was there. Bravo, to the writers and actors.

When it’s dark tonight, click the link and listen. I bet you’ll get a shiver up your spine too.

P.S. This radio-play was produced in 1957. I was 5 years old. Yike!
https://www.oldtimeradiodownloads.com/…/leinengen-vs-the-an… 

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