Next in my series of posts about Brilliant Authors, I will talk about Dawn G. Torrens (@Torrenstp), a great writer and a real sweetheart. I first met Dawn in Twitter, as many other authors and writers, but I felt from the very first time I talked to her that she was different, she was special. And from that very moment, I knew that we were going to be great friends. She is supportive, she is a fantastic writer whose stories you feel that come right from her heart, she is a wonderful friend, she always has a kind word, but, above all, she is one of the best mums that I know. Her motto, "The children first and foremost" is well-known all over the Twitterverse, and that's what she promotes all the time. That idea is very well reflected in her debut novel as an Indie Author, Amelia's Story.
Amelia's Story is Dawn's true story. In the book, which she wrote for her beautiful 3-years-old daughter, she tells about how she survived to a very difficult childhood. It is a really moving and inspiring story, telling about her struggles with a mother who wasn't very caring at all, and her pilgrimage from one orphanage to the other. However, the message is a positive one, since she achieved to survive and build a life by herself. I truly believe that people who have had a difficult childhood look at life under a different light. I know because my childhood was a very hard too. I think that is why I also got very close to her. The fact is that when you survive to a hard childhood, you are more positive, and you are thankful for simple things that the rest of the people seem to take for granted. I was having a hard time in my life when I met Dawn, and she helped me to look at each new day under a positive light, with her cheerfulness, with her sweetness, and with her smiles. Thanks, Dawn, for being such a wonderful friend.
Dawn also writes a blog (http://dawnsdaily.com), where you can read her reflections and keep updated with her writing. Everything she writes comes from her heart, and you can see a bit of that in the following short story she decided to share with all of us here, in my blog. I asked her if she wanted to write for my blog and she immediately started writing a short story for me. It is a lovely piece of writing, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed it.
Some one once told me to always hold on to your dreams no matter how impossible they seem! So I looked through the window, out into the vast world before me, my dream can never be granted I know that now I thought, or could it? Is it asking too much? Is wanting something so badly so wrong even though you know it would never be possible in this life time ? Are you just torturing yourself? I send my thoughts out into the universe, closing my eyes for just a few moments, “Can you hear me?” Nothing but silence is returned, I feel the wind brush across my cheek, touching my face I smile inwardly as I know I was heard! I could almost feel your touch, as if you were right here beside me. I want the world to stop for just a few moments, freeze time and reach out to you. “I miss you so much, I would give anything to see you, to hold you one last time.” Closing my eyes once more I see your face in the corner of my mind, a special place reserved just for you and no-one else.
You are smiling at me in that beautiful knowing way you always did when you were alive, sometimes I feel your presence so close it’s like you are in the room with me, I turn around to look for you, then I remember it can’t be you, it’s just not possible, or is it? It’s been almost four long years since you were taken from me, four long years when my heart was taken with you forever. Hold my heart for it is yours always, no one could ever take your place. I dream of you all the time, I wish I could stop the world and get off just for a moment, pause time when I feel the wind brushing against my cheek, I know it’s you I know you are close, I just wish I could see you one more time.
Then I felt a hand on my shoulder, I knew that touch, I missed that touched, I dared not look around, could my dream have been granted for just a single moment in time? Has the world stopped? I slowly turned around, I took a deep breath as my eyes fell on your beautiful face, I brought my hand up to your cheek and held it there, it feels so real to me, I needed to take in every last touch every last look of you. I looked into your eyes they were smiling at me like they always had when you were alive, I kissed you for the very last time, I held you for the very last time, then as quickly as your apparition came, it disappeared into the universe. My dream had been granted for one single moment in time.
When I asked Alan McDermott, author of Gray Justice, a great thriller as I already told you some posts ago, if he wanted to write a post for my blog, he agreed and I felt very happy. He is a very good writer and it is always interesting to read about what he thinks as regards the writing process. Sometimes dealing with the reviews you get from people who read your books are not the expected reaction you had in mind, but we can always learn from them. In this fantastic guest post, Alan McDermott talks about his experience with the reviews he got for his debut novel, Gray Justice. Thanks, Alan, for sharing your thoughts with us.
-------o-------Seven months into my writing career and so far I've learned...
...that my writing style appeals to readers a lot more than it does to writers.
Of the 20-something reviews I have had, it has been non-writers who have loved Gray Justice simply for the story I told, while the most criticism has come from fellow writers. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind constructive criticism. It’s just someone’s way of telling me what they would like to see in my writing. A prime example would be the review by Rachel Abbott:
“...this was a pretty significant undertaking, and I didn't get much of a feel for Tom Gray `the man' and how this mission was affecting him.”
To be fair to Rachel, she did show me the review before hand and said I could clarify any points she had raised, but I wanted her review to reflect what she got from the story, not what I wanted her to get from the story.
Rachel said she doesn't get a feel for Tom Gray, the protagonist. While she is correct in pointing out that I could have added a paragraph here and there telling the reader how Tom felt about the death of his family, I felt it would have slowed the story down. From my perspective, the man just lost his wife and son to a career criminal who shows no signs of remorse: how do you expect him to feel? Ecstatic? Do you need to be told a dozen times that he misses them? When I go on a rollercoaster, I don't want it to stop every hundred yards to show me a video of how the engineers designed it with a triple corkscrew. I know it has a triple corkscrew! I gathered that when I was upside down three times in quick succession!
Another reader said that I went into too much technical detail:
“I don't need to know how the system was hacked, just that it was.”
Well, I'm sorry, but if I read a book and it says '...he needed to find his daughter quickly, so he inserted a special device into his computer and a few moments later he was inside the NSA mainframe...' Hang on! What special device? A USB ice-cream maker? A power cable? If you want me to believe this device is so special, then please spend at least a paragraph explaining its origins and how it works. The current crop of children were born, for the most part, with a mouse in one hand and a Windows user guide in the other. You try telling a fifteen-year-old kid that you have a device which gives you access to every database in the world, the response will either be:
a) How does it work? (and you'd better have an answer); or
b) stop talking nonsense (or other polite words to that effect).
If I am to get people to believe my story, they must be able to relate to what I'm telling them, not see me as someone who doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.
The final comment I want to address was this one:
“A point here about the political dimension of the book. The main character proposes changes to the UK's criminal justice system with much stricter sentences and prisons and even the reinstatement of corporal punishment. I could point out the practical futility of many of the proposals. Personally, I think that the reasons for crime are deeper than the punishments for them.”
I'd like to point out that Gray Justice is a work of fiction, and as such Tom Gray could have chosen one of a million paths. He chose this one because I thought it would make a much better story than Tom Gray: social campaigner! If I'd had him lobbying parliament for a change in the justice system it would have made for a pretty boring book. I could have even let him accept the court's decision, but that would have cut the word count down by about 90%. I’m also rather thrilled that someone got so engrossed in the story that they started comparing the protagonist’s views with their own!
I wanted it to be a thriller that people couldn’t put down, with an unforeseeable twist at the end, and the general opinion seems to suggest that I got that bit right.
I read a wonderful post recently by Scott Morgan on http://robonwriting.com and point one was along the lines of “write the way you want to, not the way others think you should write. “ That’s what I started out doing, and that’s the way I plan to go on. I recently got an email from a reader who said the only problem with the book was that they read it too quickly. I asked if it was because they thought the book was too short and the response was:
“Ha ha, well it wasn't particularly long but some books are just longer because they're padded with unnecessary stuff like descriptions of things that go on for pages and don't add anything to the story or the atmosphere etc. No, I just couldn't put it down.
It's a bit sad that "page-turners" are over so quickly but reading them is also like being on a roller coaster in your head (without the nausea) so exhilarating at the same time.
Thanks for a great story.”
When I first joined Twitter in July 2011 I had the pleasure of exchanging a few emails with bestselling author Mike Wells, and his advice was “Don’t worry about what writers think of your book: it’s the readers views that count!”
To all those whose reviews I have mentioned, please don’t see this as criticism. We all have our target audience, and what works for you might also work for me sometimes, but while I continue to get the kind of reaction above, from people I have never met, I will ride the critical wave and hopefully deliver what my readers want.
Alan was one of the first authors that I got to meet in Twitter when I was starting to tweet more often. I don't even remember how we started talking to each other, but I remember that I felt immediately attracted to the kind of fiction he writes. I love a good thriller (weird in someone in love with Jane Austen? Nah, I don't think so) and when he told me about his book, I knew I had to read it. I decided to buy a copy of his book, Gray Justice, to support his work and because I always feel curious about what Indie authors write about. Till now I have never been disappointed, what it is very good :D
Anyways, thanks to his book we started talking more and more, and he has become one of my dearest friends from Twitter. It is amazing how you can feel close to people you have never seen, but the truth is that, when two people share the same love for writing and books, no matter how many miles exist between them. There is a worldwide bond or link among all of us book-lovers and writers. The fact is that after reading his book, I admired his writing and his cleverness. I like being surrounded by people that can teach me things, people I can learn from and become better in my idea of becoming a writer. He has always being supportive and encouraging, and I am grateful I happened to meet him in the Twitterverse.
So after meeting Alan in Twitter, I decided that I could read his book. Why not?? I have a Kindle and the price was quite good. His book, Gray Justice, is a very clever thriller. From the very beginning you have to love its protagonist, Tom Gray, since his life has not been easy and he is desperately to make a difference to change the world or, at least, certain laws. When I started reading it, I was very surprised. Gray Justice has surprised me quite a lot. When I normally read a thriller, more or less at the middle of the book I start suspecting what the ending is going to be. In this case it was impossible. The quick pace and rhythm of the story keeps on moving and turning in really unexpected ways, making the story so enthralling and making impossible for the reader to put the book aside. It truly is a very interesting story, quite close to the reader since we live through similar stories every day: through the news, TV, and in our cities. A wonderful story of a desolate man who loses his family and chooses to do something to change the world where he lives in. It is no wonder that he has got lots of five-stars reviews from readers and other authors. Amazing for a first novel by an indie author.
Right now, Alan is working on the sequel of his first novel. Personally, I cannot wait to read it, since I really want to know more about Tom Gray and his story. As I said, I love a good thriller (yes, I know, I love Jane Austen, but I read other things apart from that), and if the sequel to Gray Justice is just half as good as the first novel, it will still be worth the effort of reading it. Very well done, Alan! I am really happy of calling you friend. May these lines serve as my humble homage to a great author and better friend.
If you want to know more about Alan and his work, please visit his blog (http://jambalian.blogspot.com) or follow him on Twitter (@Jambalian).
Since I have been lucky enough as to meet some lovely authors, who have become very good friends, both in Twitter and Facebook, I am going to write sometimes a post devoted to each one of them. First in my series will be author R.S. Guthrie, brilliant writer and good friend, since I just finished reading his second book.
I met Rob in Twitter by mere chance, many months ago. To be honest, I don't even remember how we started to follow each other, but I am sure it was a Serendipity thing. The fact is that it has been a complete pleasure to talk to him, share things, read what the other had written, and getting to know better such a wonderful person.
When I met him, I knew that he had written his first book, BLACK BEAST, the first in a series of three books with the same main character: detective Bobby Mac, a police officer who has to deal with a lot of horror and mystery things in his life and work. When I read a summary of the plot, I didn't feel very attracted to the story, since I am not really into horror things, but when I saw what he was doing with the proceeds of the selling of his book, I had to buy it. I just couldn't help it.
Rob was going to donate a percentage of his net proceeds to a boy who was suffering from Autism and Down Syndrome. The special school he was attending was very expensive, and Rob was helping his family to pay the fee. I felt so moved. I also wanted to make a difference, just as he does all the time. So I thought that such a compassionate person deserved me to buy his book at least, and maybe even read it. Once I read it, and I have to say that I read it just in one week, I was really glad I had happened to buy the book. It was brilliant!! The story keeps you wanting to know more, making it impossible to put the book down. I remember I stayed quite late reading the book, and looking forward to another free moment to keep on reading. I am not going to review the book here. But he got wonderful reviews that you can check and read in any Amazon website. It is amazing for a first novel from a new author.
And then Rob founded RABMAD (Read A Book, Make A Difference), a space for compassionate authors to meet and make a difference with their writing. It was quite a success, and I think that more than 40 different authors signed in to join RABMAD. What do they do there? Well, very simple. They are authors who care, and who really want to help others. All of them authors support any charity or organization, and they give a percentage of their net proceeds to them. We really must support and help to promote this Indie Authors, since they are doing a lot of good in this selfish world.
Rob has been working on his second book all this time, and at the same time he has been helping other authors to promote their books or blogs. We are lucky to have such a tireless promoter in him. His second book was going to be a sequel to BLACK BEAST, to continue with the Clan of Macaulay's story. We who have read BLACK BEAST are real fans of Bobby Mac, and we were quite looking forward to read the sequel: LOST. This second book was released on 1st January and it has been quite a success till now. I just finished reading it this evening and it is a so fantastic story that keeps you glued to the pages till you reach the ending of the story. Lovers of thriller and horror won't be disappointed. The story has the right pace and it just flows very easily to the ending. Its unexpected twists in the story made me gasp sometimes, both in horror or in surprise. It is a highly recommended reading, really worth of giving it a try.
To know more about R.S. Guthrie, you can either visit his website (http://www.rsguthrie.com), his blog Rob on Writing (http://robonwriting.com) or simply follow him on Twitter (@rsguthrie).
Thanks Rob for sharing with us those fantastic stories you write. Looking forward to the release of DARK PRAIRIES and the third Bobby Mac novel. But above all, thanks for being such a wonderful friend.