Tag Archives: writing

courage_hi_resIn my last blog post, I mentioned that revisionist historians report that as many as one in four cowboys was black. Some estimates go as high as one in three and this is from new research since about the year 2000 into actual US Census data from that era.

This should not be a surprising premise since after 1865 there were thousands upon thousands of newly freed and unemployed blacks moving westward. I’ve also learned recently that between 1/6 and 1/3 of ALL frontier settlers are African or mixed-race ethnicity, that is, a mix of black, white, native, and/or Mexican.

But did you also know…?

A number of cowboy detectives were actually… women! That’s right. Alan Pinkerton established the Pinkerton National Detective Agency originally in Chicago. In the beginning his employees had a reputation of hired thugs with badges who busted organized strikes for the big companies.

Later, though, across the frontier, well-educated and highly skilled hunters and detectives were needed to help bring justice across the land. In fact, cowGIRL detectives were hired right along with cowboy detectives to do research and intelligence-gathering work to profile frontier criminals. These Pinkerton women were every bit as skilled with guns (some were even sharpshooters) and as educated as their male counterparts.

Get a realistic look at Pinkerton cowboy and cowgirl detectives in my new historical western Courage, as they employ their hunting skills against Jason Peares, the most notorious outlaw gunfighter in history, coming really really soon in ebook.

In my next posts I’m going to talk about the politics of the Indian wars, the famous Ninth Cavalry, and a Native leader whose name the army thought no one would ever remember. So follow me below on your favorite media for more revisionist history.

Want high-octane adventure with an edge? Sign up to get an email notification of the FREE pre-release historical western ebook “Warriors” and “Courage” (coming early 2014) at www.JeffreyPoston.com or find Jeffrey Poston on Twitter: @jeffposton or Google Plus: +Jeffrey Poston or www.facebook.com/JeffreyPostonBooks

There’s a lot of discussion on the Interwebs about the utility of professional editing for indie and self-published authors. I don’t think anyone would argue that such editing is essential for turning out a top-quality novel that rivals the production standards of traditional publishing houses. The main issue for indie authors is the not-insignificant cost of editing. I’ve paid for two rounds of pro-editing so far with “American Terrorist”, my latest thriller novel, and I also have proof-readers standing by.

But what’s all this talk I’ve been hearing lately about BETA readers, and what is it exactly? Really, it’s the same as beta testing new software or web services. You sign up and check it out to see how and if it works for you. You note bugs and send feedback about how awesome or terrible it is. Then the creator fine-tunes the product and fixes the bugs and releases the finished product into the world.

I first learned of this concept from Guy Kawasaki in his APE book (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur). He released his beta book to thousands of beta readers and he says the feedback he received was invaluable.

I saw the concept expressed a bit differently by Joanna Penn in her ebook “How To Market A Book.” She advocates releasing a beta version of your book to a few hand-picked readers that you trust.

The result is the same. You get feedback and so you get a better book. Personally, I think it’s an incredibly helpful part of your editing strategy, but I agree with the pros who say only release your beta version in its near-finished state.

As it turns out, I happen to be releasing “American Terrorist”, my new thriller novel, TODAY to beta readers. So if you want to help a fellow author create a more perfect novel, sign up at this link for your free BETA copy: http://eepurl.com/AqAQ1

Find Jeffrey Poston on Twitter: @jeffposton or Google Plus: +Jeffrey Poston or www.facebook.com/JeffreyPostonBooks

legacy_of_an_outlaw_hi-resAs an author of historical westerns it’s easy to get into debates about “what history was really like.” After all, it depends on what history books you read. What may be documented fact according to one source might be countered by the documented facts of another source.

Over the last 20 years or so, I’ve found that the trend is toward “revisionist history.” It seems that historians are setting out to debunk previously held historical truths, and they’re backing up their claims with, for example, census data from the era.

When I got my first hardcover western published by a major New York publisher (The Peacekeeper, 1997 – soon to be republished in ebook as “Legacy Of An Outlaw”), I had well known western authors tell me that my premise of a black outlaw-gunfighter was unrealistic in the American West. Now, however, revisionist historians report that as many as one in four cowboys was black. Some estimates go as high as one in three! These estimates are based on documented census data on file at the time.

This should not be surprising since after 1865 there were thousands upon thousands of newly freed and unemployed blacks moving westward. These folks scratched out a living doing the same things that everyone else did – Anglo, Hispanic, Native, Asian, etc. They wrangled cattle, sought gold, worked on farms or ranches or railroads, and they built towns. Some became outlaws and gunfighters.

Traditional historical assumptions derived from a narrow perspective and pre-1990 media reinforced what was commonly believed to be true. Readers nowadays, however, understand that revisionist history presents a new and more diverse set of possibilities, and I’m convinced that modern readers are looking for something just a little bit different from mainstream.

In my next posts I’m going to talk about women Pinkerton detectives, the politics of the frontier wars, the famous Ninth Cavalry, and a Native leader whose name the army thought no one would ever remember. So follow me below on your favorite media for more revisionist history.

Want high-octane adventure with an edge? Sign up to get an email notification of the FREE pre-release historical western ebook “Warriors” (coming early 2014) at www.JeffreyPoston.com or find Jeffrey Poston on Twitter: @jeffposton or Google Plus: +Jeffrey Poston or www.facebook.com/JeffreyPostonBooks

 

American_TerroristThey said be active on social media, so I did that. They said share useful content, so I did that. They said “engage but don’t pitch” so I did that.

But then something spectacular happened that completely changed my writing and marketing efforts. There’s a ton of useful blog articles on writing and marketing and book promotion, and I realized that I was actually reposting articles that were helpful to ME. I figured if it was helpful for me, then it might be helpful for other writers or published authors, too.

But all that knowledge isn’t helpful to me right now. And it’s almost impossible to download stuff or take notes or visit websites and keep all that knowledge organized for whenever I might need it later.

Then I discovered that by simply posting a blog article or useful website to Google Plus or Twitter, that post will always be on my “stream.” But blog writers are notorious for using witty but often useless titles for their articles.

The trick, then, is to assign useful hashtags to each article I repost so I can find it later. This way I don’t have to remember who wrote the article or what the title was. I can simply search my posts by hashtag whenever I need a particular topic. For example, #amwritingfiction is great while I’m in the writing phase, but #bookpromotion is more appropriate when I enter the marketing and promotion phase, even if I don’t need that information right now.

Using appropriate hashtags is a great way to organize the information that YOU will need now or later, but there’s also a side benefit. People out in the social universe will begin to associate you with the hashtags they’re searching for, and as you continue to repost useful content your number of Followers will begin to explode.

If you agree with this… FOLLOW me 🙂

Want high-octane adventure with an edge? Get the FREE pre-release ebook “American Terrorist” (coming Dec 2013) at www.JeffreyPoston.com or find Jeffrey Poston on Twitter: @jeffposton or Google Plus: +Jeffrey Poston or www.facebook.com/JeffreyPostonBooks

 

easy thrillersYears ago (when I was writing westerns) I learned that there is a “formula” for that genre, so it shouldn’t have surprised me that there is a similar formula or template for writing thrillers. If you ever wonder how the most popular authors in the genre continuously produce excellent thrillers, Rob Parnell [Google Plus: +Rob Parnell, Twitter: @robparnell] will tell you how in his latest reference, “The Easy Way To Write Thrillers That Sell.”

The thriller genre has changed over the last twenty years and Parnell discusses the how and the why of it, as well as the essential ingredients that must be in the modern thriller. Sure, you can deviate from the modern form and function, but you run the risk of alienating your readers. As Parnell points out, thriller readers are an astute bunch of folks and they have particular expectations.

“The Easy Way To Write Thrillers That Sell” is a short book and a quick read, but it’s stock full of useful tips and strategies for crafting a successful thriller. He didn’t invent this stuff. In fact, he gives plenty of examples of highly successful authors that write their thrillers this way.

For example, he covers everything from the essential combination of characters to how to create and maintain tension to the “right way” to do research to a nifty method of saving a lot of time and effort by plotting your thriller from the END to the BEGINNING. And he gives us a single continuous example as he creates a template for a thriller that follows the techniques he presents in the book.

Seriously, if you want to write quality thrillers the right way – that sell – this book is for you. Look, you can spend hundreds at conference workshops or you can get this ebook for less than $5US. It’s a must-read for thriller writers looking for success.

Want high-octane adventure with an edge? Get the FREE pre-release ebook “American Terrorist” (coming Dec 2013) at www.JeffreyPoston.com or find Jeffrey Poston on Twitter: @jeffposton or Google Plus: +Jeffrey Poston or www.facebook.com/JeffreyPostonBooks

Make your hero "real" and believable.

To make your audience really like and identify with your main character, you must make your readers journey emotionally with your main character as he or she tries to overcome a life-altering event. Your readers must feel what your hero feels and then truly believe the change process that the hero undergoes is realistic and reasonable as he or she goes on to save the day. If you can pull that off, then you have a first-rate hero.

Of course, anybody can kill off a minor character or an “assistant-hero.” However, in my upcoming book American Terrorist I really wanted to move my readers. I wanted to manipulate their emotions and make them sit up and say, “What the hell?”

So I killed my son… in the book. What I did not anticipate, though, was how deeply it would affect me, the writer.

Now, you have to understand that my adult son and I are very close in real life, so I gave my hero that kind of relationship. And when I wrote the scene of the death of the hero’s son, I put my heart and soul into that scene. I literally cried. In fact, I cry every time I edit that scene or even just read it or think about it.

I figure if my audience has even a fraction of the emotional reaction that I have had, then I have succeeded in creating a hero my readers can bond with, no matter what good or bad deeds he does throughout the rest of the book.

So… share with us what you have done to create a memorable hero or heroine?