Monday, February 28, 2011

Take a Simple Survey

Hello passionate readers! If you’re reading this it probably means that I’ve sent you the first chapter of the novel I’m currently working on and I need your help. Below I have a simple questionnaire designed to gauge people’s responses to my current work. 

I’m really looking for honest feedback, so please don’t worry about my feelings. My wife gives me enough positive insights, so I’m really looking for people’s unbiased opinions. If you have more detailed or specific feedback you’d like to provide other than the form below, just email me at Thanks and enjoy the survey below.

Mark’s Simple Survey 

  1. After reading the first chapter you felt…
    1. Ecstatic! You want to read more.
    2. Pleased. It needs work, but the basics are there.
    3. Bored. Only your own snoring kept you awake.

  1. The main characters made you…
    1. Feel like you had stepped right into their shoes.
    2. Feel like they had promise, but seemed two-dimensional.
    3. Feel like you needed a sedative.

  1. Describing the plot in a few words you might say…
    1. It made you fall in love with reading all over again!
    2. Overall you understood it, but it felt a little convoluted.
    3. You gouged your eyes out to stop the pain.

  1. Who if anyone, would you recommend read this book?
    1. Any friend or family member who loves to read.
    2. Only people who really like historical fiction.
    3. People only interested in ritual suicide.


    Friday, February 25, 2011

    With or Without You

    I listened to U2 this morning on my way to work and it feels lately like the “With or Without You” song applies to my continued editing efforts. I say this with a smile of course. All my writing endeavors have gone great, but the editing is a serious time drain.

    I'm simultaneously doing double edits/rewrites for both my colonial story, The Last Cabin, and my civil war novel, The Long Defeat. A few weeks ago I thought I was done, but not so. It's going well, and I really feel that I'm improving both stories drastically. Every day I gain a new respect for what intensive rewrites can do for a manuscript.

    On the flip side, it means more and more hours typing away. So if my blog posts seems a bit more scattered than usual, please know that it's all in the name of improving my writing. Nonetheless, I'm still dedicated to my blog and hope to have some more intriguing posts for you early next week. Have a great weekend!

    Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    Borders Closing

    No, I’m not talking about politics here. Instead, the bookshop chain Borders will be closing its doors as it files for bankruptcy. Nationwide, Borders stores have begun clearing house sales.

    This holds a somewhat bittersweet edge for booklovers out there, as it does provide some great clearance deals with regards to purchasing books, but it also means one less place to go to get your book fix.  The big question remains: how long other chains like Barnes and Nobles or independent bookstores can hold out in the ever fluctuation book market?

    I suppose the uncertainty of the future of books seems to have people the most worried. More and more online content provides a cheap means of getting a book fix and sites like have done quite well. Does this mean the end of paperbacks? Will we all be using electronic pads to read, i.e. like Star Trek or something? Probably.  Although a true book lover can’t ever give up the smell and touch of a paper-made book.  Nonetheless, we’re definitely witnessing a revolution in terms of print, the likes of which will probably rival the alterations of the printing press centuries ago. Who knows what other changes we’ll see before this generation is out.   

    Thursday, February 17, 2011

    Bernard Pivot Test

    Inspired by some of my fellow bloggers out there, I decided to take the Bernard Pivot test. If you’ve seen Charles Lipton on the Actor’s Studio on TV, then you know what I’m talking about. Plenty of bloggers are trying this exploration of themselves this week, and I’ve posted the questions (along with my answers) below. But what I really would like is to hear your answers…so give this quick quiz a try and tell us just who you are (in your own quirky way).


    1. What is your favorite word?
    2. What is your least favorite word?
    3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
    Books, lots and lots of books.
    4. What turns you off? 
    5. What is your favorite curse word? 
    Nucking Futz!

    6. What sound or noise do you love?
    7. What sound or noise do you hate? 
    Wind chimes.

    8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? 
    Professional Ghostbuster.

    9. What profession would you not like to do?
    Work in a donut shop.

    10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? 
    Alright, let’s start the party.

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Happy Valentines Day!

    Yesterday my wife and I celebrated out Valentines Day early by going into the city and seeing a string quartet followed by a dinner at Jardini√®re’s French Cuisine Restaurant. Needless to say, we had a great time, and the famed Borodin Quartet played at the Herbst Theatre, performing works by Beethoven and Shostakovich.

    Seeing the collaborative, yet individualist styles of a four-piece string group of musicians impressed me to say the least. It also made me think of the collaborative versus individualist elements of other art-forms, namely writing. Oftentimes, we put the writer on a sole pedestal, not acknowledging the others that contributed to their work.

    Think about how editors and fellow writers contribute to each other’s work, allowing them to both express themselves singularly, but also as a group. On Valentines Day in particular we often praise that most important person in a writer’s life, their muse. So as you enjoy this Valentines Day or compose a few odes to your sweetheart, remember that everything you do from art, to work, to life somehow stems from them as well. 

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    A Big Giants Fan

    Just thought I’d post a little picture from a Giants fan close to my heart. Lou Seal, the ballclub’s mascot, brought the real World Series trophy by my wife’s work and she got an opportunity to take a photo with them. I’ve got to say, wish I could’ve been there!

    Nonetheless, they’ve started selling Giants tickets early and I’ve already got three games booked for the coming season. I’m really looking forward to a new season in the spring. Hope that everyone’s week is going well. Go Giants!

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    Big Edit Done!

    Finally, after over a month of going over my colonial novel, The Last Cabin, I’ve finished major edits to my 15 chapter story. I cut a good 20,000 words out of my first primary draft and have settled the novel at just under 95,000 words total. It took a good bit of work, but I’m glad it’s done.

    To get there I had to go through the story with a markedly different mindset than I did when writing it. I removed as many instances of passive voice as I could, i.e. variants of “to be” verbs. I also cut out as many adverbs as possible, namely those verb modifiers that often end in “ly.” I even took to eliminating plenty of adjectives as well when I felt I used too many in a paragraph.

    It may seem silly at first to emphasize such corrections, but it really makes a difference regarding the flow and character of your tale when a reader peruses the text. In addition, I made lots of content alterations as well. But my fight for a perfect novel is far from over. Now I’ve begun work-shopping the novel with a few trusted friends and will branch out from there in order to get as much feedback as possible. 

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Strong Female Characters

    In my latest novel, The Last Cabin, I’ve tried to build in stronger female characters. Not just for the sake of doing it, but to craft the story around central women that drive the story forward. I’ve come realize and reevaluate my past writings and have come to the conclusion that a strong female character is the essential element in any good story.

    I know some of you may or may not agree on this point, but I’ve even begun rewriting my previous Civil War novel on the precept that it needs strong central female characters to make the novel something truly worth reading. In my quest to ever broaden my horizons I wanted to ask who your favorite all-time female characters are.  

    Some of my personal greats would include everything from Jane Eyre to Scarlett O’Hara to Princess Leia. Pretty much anything from a Jane Austen novel or the ancient Irish epic of Deirdre get high marks from me as well. So when it comes to writing a really intriguing female character, who would you draw upon for inspiration?