Novel Building with Snowflake Pro

Snowflake-Pro-Software.gifKeeping with a recent post I did on writing tools, another resource I've grown fond of is Snowflake Pro, created by Dr. Randall Ingermanson. Aside from the fact I'm somewhat of a nerd and commend Randy for building a tool that runs using Java and simple XML files (makes the data footprint lightweight), I also admire the program can run on multiple operating systems (Windows, Linux and Mac). Being a software engineer, I've written a program that actually allows me to aggregate the information with the file using a web service because it does use Extensible Markup Language (XML) as its data core. Finally, when I'm finished I can produce a full, professional, publisher-ready proposal for an agent or editor (or even an internal reference) if I'm looking to take the traditional publishing route for the book. No having to worry about format and such, it all comes out in a nice, neat package. You can even customize the basic look!
Using Randy's "Snowflake" method I can build my story in bits or define the entire structure from start to finish. I can define all of my characters first through the form-based character sheets, as little or much as I like, or write up a full treatment, or jump anywhere else in the writing and planning process. Moreover, this software gives me a centralized location to keep my information, and allows me to refer to it at any time during the writing process. Most of all, it responds fast and I haven't had it crash once on me! There are also audio tutorials by Randy on every page as he takes you through the process, so you're really getting an audio help guide along with the software.

Randy has written a book that details his Snowflake methods for building a novel. Now look, I know there are other very similar tools people use, some of them even a little cheaper (certainly Scrivener comes to mind) but there's something about those other programs, each of which I've tried, that just prove too distracting. I've also found they take a lot of time to learn because they have so many great features. Those features introduce complexity, in my opinion.

Snowflake Pro keeps it simple and straightforward, and I've found it to be flexible enough to use no matter where in the process I need to begin. While I've never been much of a planner when it comes to novels—I write by the seat of my pants and that's surprising since I'm a programmer and planning is normally an important aspect of my work—this software has actually made me more of a planner and helped me to craft better plots and characters. In fact, it's been vital to help me create Dreadfall. I've also used it to get to know more about my characters before I start writing, which speeds my overall writing process. That means I write much faster than I used to write, a true joy since I hate the actual process of sitting down and writing! Believe it or not, it's true. You see, I love to create but I despise writing.

Some of you might find the very idea of "planning" your novel awkward, perhaps even impossible. I did for a long time. In the long run, I've found it's easier to write when I have some type of road map to follow. Others may be turned off by the price tag but if you look carefully through the Snowflake Pro page at Randy's site you will find a way to reduce that cost by 50%! If you want something to help you plan a novel, even something to better organize your thoughts, I recommend Snowflake Pro. It's proved another valuable tool in my writing arsenal and I can't say enough good things about it.

If you still have any questions about it, or hesitate to buy it, Randy or one of his assistants are readily available to answer them. Give a try.


Book Marketing: Fail!

I was on the phone with my good friend (and author) Tim Tresslar the other day discussing a possible collaboration project when we got on the subject of book marketing. The question we pondered was why do most efforts to market our books fail and why should we, as authors, not spend too much time doing it? If I had the perfect answer to either of those questions, I'd be one of the richest and most successful people in the world. Unfortunately, I don't have that answer and you shouldn't be surprised to learn that most writers don't. And no, I don't give a flip what they tell you in their ad copy! You know the ones I mean. They sell you their books on Amazon.com for $5.99 or their marketing programs for $49.95 to tell you how they got rich selling e-books on Amazon. So many unwary, desperate authors break out their credit cards not realizing that's exactly how those successful authors have become so successful —or at least rich. Hey, I call it like I see it! And incidentally, how many of those you've encountered have ever offered you a money-back guarantee if you didn't make it following their advice? Maybe one in a thousand? One in ten thousand? Yeah. That's what I thought.


Brian Drake's Interview of Linda Pendleton about the Executioner Series

The release of the new ebooks of Don Pendleton's Original The Executioner: Mack Bolan series is on December 16, 2014.  Thirty-seven books of the original best-selling series published in paperback from 1969 to 1980, are now offered by Open Road Media in ebook format at various online retailers: Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks.   They are on preorder this week and available for download December 16. 

I was happy to be interviewed by author, Brian Drake.  You can read the interview at Brian's Blog 

As I told Brian, I always enjoy talking about my late husband and his works.  We're happy that fans, old and new, can now enjoy Bolan's war against the mafia, once again.

~Linda Pendleton


Don Pendleton's "Mack Bolan" is Now Film Franchise

On August 12, 2014, successful Hollywood screenwriter, producer, Shane Salerno (Savages; J.D. Salinger; Avatar4;) announced the film franchise of Don Pendleton's Mack Bolan best-selling series.  A few days later, Shane Salerno closed a deal with Warner Bros. Studio, and the franchise is set to have Bradley Cooper star, and Todd Phillips, direct.  

In the 1970s, at the height of Don Pendleton's success with the original Executioner series, Don had this to say about his Mack Bolan books:  "I do believe that I have managed to utilize highly, highly dramatic situations, perhaps bordering on the melodramatic to bring out the deeper values that are inherent in all human life.  I’m very strongly aware that many young and impressionable readers read my books and I feel a sense of responsibility there.  I work very hard to see that my hero is a truly three dimensional person with very high purpose.  I try to present the things he does in the context of tremendous meaning."
"I will never apologize to anyone for my Executioner books.  I feel they are a testament to the human spirit of mankind and I find it personally gratifying that the books have evoked such a wide response in the American reader.  And it has been a wide response, not just in the numbers of books sold but in the cross section of American society who happen to be reading the books.  The readers are professional people, white collar workers, blue collar people, military people, men, women, children from age twelve to age ninety four.  The books are more than simple escape literature.  The books do actually involve the reader in a rather high cause–the perpetration of human excellence, high human values, and besides that, they are just entertaining, that’s all."
"Beyond that, I don’t know how to evaluate the books.  I doubt very much that any writer can really give a purely objective evaluation of his work.  The only sort of gauge I have is in the way I feel when I write those final words, The End.  If I have a good feeling when I put those words down, then I feel I have accomplished my objective.  I’ve said what I’ve started out to say and told the story I started out to tell, and if I finish the book feeling good then I have to assume that the reader will finish the book feeling the same way–and that’s really my primary goal."
"I want to entertain and along with the entertainment, I do want to include something that does dignify the work a bit.  That doesn’t mean that the time spent reading the book is lost time-completely frittered away–but that along with the entertainment there has been a few moments of perhaps introspection on the part of the reader, perhaps a little bit of understanding of the world about him."
"I don’t suppose the books will ever go down in the big registry of great literary masterpieces, as certainly, they’re not that.  I could only hope that Mack Bolan will take his place along with such American fictional heroes as Mike Hammer, Travis McGee, Perry Mason, Matt Helm, and of course James Bond, who is not an American hero but an Englishman, but nevertheless, in the same genre.  And I hope it can be said that Mack Bolan is his own man–his own type–and he does stand apart from the other heroes, perhaps no better than they are but unique in his own right, and aside from the hope that the books will have continuing acceptance, that they will continue to sell, this is about the most I could ask for."

~Don Pendleton. 
The photo I took of Don Pendleton autographing a book for the young boy was at the Mack Bolan Convention in San Francisco in 1985.  
Read more at my previous blogs on the 40th Anniversary of Mack Bolan, in 2009, beginning with Part One, The Birth of Mack Bolan
~Linda Pendleton


Marketing: A Word from Bill Craig

Due to some mysterious technical difficulty I may never understand, my friend Bill Craig was unable to receive my direct invitations to become a contributor to this blog. So, I’m posting this on his behalf. Thanks, Bill, for taking the time to share your experiences!

Sometimes I see things which as a writer upset me. One of those things is when so-called small presses try to bully their writers into doing things beyond the scope of writing, such as voting for awards that the publisher controls so they can be viewed as having some sort of legitimacy.

Another thing, and this is something I am seeing more and more of, especially from certain genre small presses, is that they want to writer to put out blood sweat and tears to get them a product, and then let it sit on a shelf for years without ever doing anything with it. Sure this might have worked for publishing houses in the past, but now in these days of self-publishing that model is out-dated. Several friends have been going through similar issues.

I did a little work with a couple of them and had similar experiences to what the original pulp writers went through. Churn out the work, not get paid, and then it sits on a shelf, or rather these days in a computer file.

As a self-published author, I have control over my work from story conception to cover art. I do the interior design, get the story edited, make the necessary corrections, format it and get it out there. I market here aggressively and I network daily with readers and authors.

I do continue to work with on house because they do what the publisher is supposed to do, they market my new titles when they come out, and I generally produce 3-4 books a year for them. They took two titles I had self-published and got them selling, then when I brought them the Marlow series, they snapped it up and catapulted it to a best-selling series on Amazon.com

In the ever-changing market of indie publishing, sometimes the author has to take the time to do it themselves. If you don't know a lot about marketing, find someone who does and pick their brains, then apply what you've learned. Country music artist Taylor Swift was one of the first to use Social Media to propel herself to fame by using My Space to preview her music and build a fan base.

It takes hard work and perseverance to make yourself a success in this business. I'm a writer, writing is what I do, It's who I am.

—Bill Craig, Author