Thursday, September 24, 2015

Guest Post with Jack Horne

How do I become the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King?

I guess that’s the question we’ve all asked (no doubt even Rowling and King once wondered how to be as successful as their writing heroes). I’ve never guest blogged before so I asked a friend for advice. Suze appeared in my last novel, Cyber Vamps, and she is full of ideas. She’s not a writer - but, as she’s just reminded me, she writes when she takes part in conversations in internet chat rooms. She decided to write this for me (I’ll have to remember to delete the cuss words before submitting this to the eTreasures blog!)

Wotcha. It’s Suze here and I’ve volunteered to talk to you all. How can you become a famous writer? Well, first, you have to write your freaking novel. Then you have to find a publisher. Ain’t that obvious?

As Jack Horne would tell you, if I let him write this: even getting some editors to take a look at unagented work is like buying a lottery ticket and getting six numbers (and you can forget about getting a literary agent until you are world famous! No one wants to back a loser. Savvy?) If you can’t steal energy like I can, it will probably drain you as, time after time, you hold your breath and sweat, your pulse racing as you open the letter or email…and it’s another “we’re sorry but this isn’t quite right for us” reply. You can tell them what you think of them (I would), but know-it-all Chaucer (he’s in the Cyber Vamps book about me) says this isn’t the right response. Well, he would. Creep. Anyway, eventually, after a series of rejections, you’ll get an acceptance. You just have to trust me on this, and keep on sending out that manuscript (or to put it another way: if you give up, no one’s going to publish your book and you’ve wasted your time writing it).

Okay. Let’s jump ahead. So, you’ve found a publisher and you think it’s all plain sailing from now on! Your literary masterpiece will be an international bestseller, made into a blockbuster film, and the figures on your bank statement will look like telephone numbers. Ah, the sweet smell of overnight success…Har!

Now for reality: Friends and acquaintances will gush with congratulations, and tell you what a good writer you are and that they always knew you could do it…and they’ll expect freebies. Freaking tightwads. Just like those guys that ring your doorbell and try to sell you double-glazing or vacuum cleaners or whatever, you won’t win any friends by trying your sales pitch everywhere you go (let’s face it: people will avoid you!) So, instead of making your first million, you sell very few or no copies. Sound familiar?

So how do you become the next big writing star? Well, if I had the answer to that, I’d tell Jack Horne and some young wannabe would want to be like him. (He deserves a break. Poor sad loser!) I’d be richer than old moneybags Aurelia (she’s in Cyber Vamps too) as you’d all pay for my advice.

Look, I didn’t say I had all the answers! Sheesh!

Okay, let me break it gently to you: no one is going to read a book if they don’t know it exists (in printed form or in the cyber world). So get your freaking name out there. If you’ve found a publisher with time and money to waste, I mean, lavish on just you, you won’t have to do this (and you can write this blog, smart ass). Please note this is very unlikely for an unknown author, so you’d better be prepared to work on your own publicity. “Okay, Suze,” you say, “but how do I do this?”

Blogs seem to be a good way of getting noticed. Do lots and lots of blogs. Have your own website and make sure people know about it (as with the book, they won’t look for something if they don’t expect it to be there - the Loch Ness Monster, Martians and the perfect man are the exceptions). Try to get interviewed by the local press. That can be as hard as finding an agent, but, hey, you won’t get if you don’t ask.

When you’ve done all that, and people notice you, they’ll be too freaking curious not to read your stuff. Even if they just hope your books will be garbage (word replaced by Jack).

Anyway, I can’t stick around here all night talking to you. I need to feed. Perhaps I’ll find a nice famous writer to drain tonight. Hey, relax; you’re safe - I said I was looking for someone famous. Har!

Catch ya later. Let me know when you’ve made it and I’ll come calling. You owe me one. 

Note from Jack: I think I’ve deleted all the bad language. My apologies if Suze has offended anyone. Although it seems like pretty sound advice. I wish you all luck. Thanks for reading.

Jack Horne

Suze said I should put my website link here: signature

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

How to Make a Hollowed-Out Book

We have all seen the movies where the characters are discussing something hidden "for all time" and suddenly someone pulls out a book, opens it, and there is the missing object! Not everybody wants this really cool hiding place, but many would love to know how to make their own hidden book hole for their secret stash of favorite items. Luckily, we also wanted to do this super cool project, and you can learn from our mistakes!

Step One: Acquire a large hardcover book.

For this step, we found a copy of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare at the thrift store (don't use an expensive book if you are just going to cut it up anyway). It was huge, and the pages were thin so it was easier to cut. However, it was harder to glue because of the type of paper in the book.

Step Two: Gather your supplies.

Now you will need an Exacto knife, Modge Podge (we used the Gloss kind because we had it on hand, but Matte would work better), a brush to spread the glue, wax paper, and something heavy.

Step Three: Begin the gluing process.

Yes, process. First, decide where you want your hole to start (ten pages in should do it) and where it ends (do you want it to go to the back cover or leave some pages free?). And glue the inside of the pages at random intervals. Close the book, being careful with glue, and put something heavy on top. Wait for it to dry before you continue gluing. Once your glue is dry, separate the pages you want free from the glued pages. Use the brush to spread glue on the sides of the pages. Make sure to apply the glue liberally here to avoid the pages coming apart too much (if a few do that is fine). Place a piece of wax paper in on top of the pages you just glued and put something heavy back on top. DO NOT close your book! Wait for the glue to dry completely before moving to the next step.

Step Four: Cutting a hole which should be easy, but it is not.

This step is surprisingly difficult. Not only can you not cut all of the pages at once, the deeper you go the harder it becomes to keep the cuts even with the previous ones. This part is messy, so learn from our mistake and put your book on newspaper first and keep a garbage handy. Try to leave about an inch of space on each side of the page while you are cutting to prevent the pages from coming apart. Make sure you have a very sharp blade, again learning from our mistake with a slightly used blade, and begin cutting. Keep cutting until you have a nice, rectangular hole in the pages you have already glued.

Step Five: More gluing!

Once you are done cutting and are satisfied with your work, glue the inside of the hole and glue the pages to the back cover or back pages if you left extra. Put another piece of wax paper over your hole and close the book. Put your heave object on top of the book and wait for it to dry.

You now have a finished hidey-hole book! Make sure to keep your secret chocolate stash in there and give the book an inconspicuous place on your shelf.

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