Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Book Review: The Rewritten World, by Aggie Villanueva

The Rewritten Word: How to Sculpt Literary Art, No Matter the Genre, by Aggie Villanueva

Paperback: 60 pages
Publisher: Cielos Rojos Publishing (October 6, 2010)
ISBN-10: 098259142X
Rating: (1 to 5 *): ****

Book Review: The Rewritten Word, by Aggie Villanueva

Writers are told from grammar school on that in order to polish our work, we need to rewrite, revise, repeat. However, not everyone knows what it is they're supposed to be doing when they rewrite a piece. Never fear! The Rewritten Word: How to Sculpt Literary Art no Matter the Genre, by Aggie Villanueva, can help.

Aggie's book is a quick read that can fit in your pocket. However, it is packed with useful information, with a step-by-step guide on what to look for when you rewrite. It even includes examples and instructions on how to take a piece you have written and make it better. Her techniques apply to all types of writing, from fiction to web articles.

While the author may seem a touch self-aggrandizing at times, the book is so well balanced with her humbling herself by pointing out where she could have done better with her own writing that it's hard to fault her for it. As she points out, every piece of writing can improve with rewriting, even those written by the best.

The Rewritten Word: How to Sculpt Literary Art no Matter the Genre is an excellent tool for any writer who needs help in making their writing shine.

Stay tuned for an interview with the author, Aggie Villanueva!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Guest Post: Aggie Villanueva

Today, we have a special treat! A guest post from Aggie Villanueva, a long-time published author, book promotor, and expert on writing and writing for the web. She graciously agreed to share some of her expertise with us. This is part two of a three-part white paper called "Writing for the Web". You can purchase the rest of this paper, or any of her other papers on writing, at I will be interviewing her and reviewing her book, The Rewritten Word: How to Sculpt Literary Art, No Matter the Genre, later this week, so come on back!

Writing for the Web:

Nobody Reads Anymore; They Scan.

Make it Easy for Them

Nobody reads anymore; at least at first glance. They scan.

Make it easy for them to scan on screen, or a mobile device, and decide in a moment if they want to read your post. They’ll love you for it and most likely come back the next time they need to find your niche information in a hurry.

Make it Easy to Scan

 Try to keep the overall article short and to the point. Mobile devices load slower than computers, but even laptop users get frustrated with long load times.

 Use lots of bulleted/numbered list. This is especially important if your blog post is over 300 words. If you’re covering information intensive topics it is much easier to scan itemized lists.

 Use Subheadings. I’d also add, make the subheading slightly larger than normal to be easily seen at a glance.

 Break it up. Break up long paragraphs into easy-to-read chunks. This goes against everything taught in our English classes of old. But when writing for the Web break up a paragraph, if possible, after only 2-3 sentences, even if your are continuing the same thought.

 Never use long blocks of text on your blog. Keep the mobile reader in mind. Nowadays 50% or so of your visitors are reading it on a mobile device. A long paragraph would run two-three screens on a iPhone.

 Get rid of most white space. This causes added scrolling. I used to do page design and typesetting. Back then, when people read from a virtual page we were taught to use white space as a form of graphics without an image. Not so in a blog post. The only white space I’d recommend is what is freed up by indented and bulleted lists.

 Eliminate the use of symbols such as *, or even smart quotes and accented letters such as รก because many mobile device browsers don’t support them.

Writing a blog for the web is a whole different animal than the writing we were taught in school. But it's not so hard if we just keep our reader in mind, which is, after all, the oldest and wisest of writing instruction.

Thank you for your great advice, Aggie!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Review: Tales from the Gundarland, by Hank Quense

Tales From Gundarland: Eight humorous stories from the land of the incongruous, by Hank Quense

Paperback: 326 pages

Publisher: CreateSpace (June 25, 2010)
ISBN-10: 1452871264
Rating (1 to 5 *): ****

Book Review: Tales from the Gundarland

Elves, dwarves, dwelves, yuks, trolls...all living in peaceful harmony? Well, maybe not so much, but they sure have some interesting adventures! Tales from the Gundarland, by Hand Quense, comprises several short stories and two novellas set in this fantastical world.

Quense specializes in humor writing, and it's obvious he has a sense of humor that inspired each one of these stories. Whether it's the story of a dwarf named Romeo and his star-crossed lover, an elf named Juliet, or a musical competition where combatitiveness and cuteness are part of the scoring, or a clumsy hero who saves the day despite himself, each story has its own rich cast of characters who take the reader on a fun adventure. While some are inspired by traditional tales, others (as far as I know) are purely the author's invention.

Hank Quense's stories put a unique, fresh and fun spin on the typical fantasy tales. The format allows for the reader to read a whole story in a short period of time, but they are just enough to leave you wanting to read more about the characters. They are complex, quirky and know how to have a good time...the sort of book I love to read in the bathtub!

Disclosure of Material Connection: The author provided a free copy of this book for review purposes.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Author Interview: Hank Quense

Today we'll learn a little more about Hank Quense, whose guest post discussed the trials and tribulations of writing humor. Be sure to come back to read my review of his book, Tales from the Gundarland!

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your other writing projects, past, present and future.

Hank Quense: To date, over forty short stories and fiction writing articles and four books have been published. Fool's Gold is a short novel that retells the ancient Rhinegold myth as scifi rather than fantasy. Tunnel Vision is a collection of twenty previous published short stories. Build a Better Story is an ebook on fiction writing. Finally, there is Tales From Gundarland.

My next book is a novel, Zaftan Entrepreneurs. In it, an alien mining ship discovers Gundarland. That will become available around the holidays. At the moment I'm working on a novella based on several of Shakespeare's works. The main characters are Hamlet, Othello and Falstaff. The plots (sort of) follow Shakespeare's plots.

Jennifer Walker: What was your inspiration for creating Gundarland?

Hank Quense: It wasn't inspired. It just grew out fantasy stories I wrote. Each one added a bit more knowledge about the place. Over a few years, I ended up with a geography, cities, races, politics etc. Despite being located in a parallel universe, there is a lot of commonality with our world. The people and the politicians certainly act similarly.

Jennifer Walker: Why did you choose to write a collection of short stories, rather than one novel?

Hank Quense: I didn't chose it. I kept writing short stories and novellas that intrigued me and, after I had a pile of them, I decided producing a collection was better than trying to sell them one at a time.

Jennifer Walker: Do you have interest in writing any other genres?

Hank Quense: Nope. Humorous fantasy and scifi is all I do and all I have an interest in doing. Occasionally, I write an article on some aspect of fiction writing or marketing books, but that is like work while writing fiction is fun. My only other writing interest is blog posts. I've created the Faux News Network as a way to lampoon our modern world. I have fun writing these satiric pieces.

Jennifer Walker: Whatare your favorite books to read?

Hank Quense: Humorous scifi and fantasy. I also read historical fiction

Jennifer Walker: What was the hardest part for you, writing the book or publishing and marketing it? Why?

Hank Quense: Marketing it. I believe my biggest problem currently is that I'm unknown. Getting a reputation as a humorous writer, one that's worth plunking down coins on a book, is my toughest gig right now

Jennifer Walker: At what point in your life did you decide to become a writer, and when did you conceive this book?

Hank Quense: On my fiftieth birthday. I took stock of the situation and decided it was only a matter of time until I got kicked out of my sales manager office to make room for a much younger worker. That's when I decided I want to write fiction in my next career.

Jennifer Walker: Do you work with a mentor or writing group to discuss your ideas or polish your work?

Hank Quense: I'm a member of Critters workshop and an other smaller group of writers who critique each other's work.

Jennifer Walker: Where is your favorite place in the world to visit?

Hank Quense: Rome. After that it's either Paris or Barcelona. I can't make up my mind which one is better. I'll have to spend a few more days in each one to decide. My favorite North American spot is Quebec City.

Jennifer Walker: If Gundarland existed on Earth, where and when would it be?

Hank Quense: It'd be one of the British Isles. In fact, I strongly believe the British Isles are modeled after Gundarland and no one ever paid me a licensing fee.

Other good stuff to know about Hank and his work::

Youtube link to trailer:

Where to buy:

The book is available at Amazon, Amazon UK, B&N and Smashwords. Bookstores can order it (ISBN 9781452871264), or visit Hank's website at

Monday, October 18, 2010

Guest Post: Hank Quense

I recently read Hank Quense's Tales From Gundarland: Eight humorous stories from the land of the incongruous. While I work on my review, here's a guest post to whet your appetite a bit. Author Hank Quense talks about writing humorous and satiric fiction. Much of his post is based on Chapter 8 from his ebook on fiction writing, Build a Better Story.

Humorous stories are difficult to write. Besides developing the humor, these stories must have all the other elements of a non-humorous story. To state it differently, a comedic story must have a protagonist, a plot problem and an antagonist. A big reason why many humorous stories fail is because the author assumes the addition of humor will negate the need for one or more of the other story elements. This is always a fatal assumption.

A major part of the problem with writing humor is that humor is very subjective; what one reader sees as hilarious, another will view as stupid. Thus no matter how good a humor writer you are, you always have the disadvantage that many readers will think your stuff is dumb. While this caveat applies to all writing, it is more pronounced with humor and satire.

A mistake I see a lot in short stories, and one that I'm prone to make, is a failure to tip off the reader early on that the story is humorous. The author has to let the reader know this at the beginning of the story. If the story starts off with a serious tone and then changes to a humorous one, the reader will get confused and many of them will get annoyed. Just as annoying is a story that starts off humorous and then bogs down in a serious plot problem. This happens frequently with movies. They start off hysterically funny and then degenerate into a more serious tone that has only a few smiles in the second half of the movie.

Humor doesn't come from mocking a character's disabilities or deformities. A reader will see this as cruelty, not humor or comedy. Humor comes from oddball behavior caused by bizarre inner characteristics in one or more of the story's characters, not through their physical appearances.

A writer can use oblique references to get across these physical deformities and disabilities without actually describing them. As an example, I used the Wyrd Sisters (from Shakespeare's MacBeth) in a short story. The sisters in my story are middle-aged, ugly and obese, but I never directly mentioned these features during the story. Instead I mentioned their tent-sized robes and used the panicky reaction of men when they met the sisters. These reactions told the reader a lot about how the sisters looked without actually describing them.

Like all fiction, the humorous story is about characters. As far as the character's physical appearance goes, that is straightforward and easy. The real effort goes into the inner workings of the character. A comedy character needs quirks, eccentricities and insane motivation. Once the plot drives the character into a serious situation, the quirks and eccentricities take over and force the character to respond in ways that normal people would never consider. The knack to doing this is to visualize what a normal character would do in a certain situation and then twist it to what an un-normal character would do. As an example, consider the basic rescue story involving a hero and a princess. Rescuing the princess is what would happen in an ordinary adventure story and what readers expect to happen. Twist that around and, suddenly, the princess is insulted to be rescued by a commoner and voluntarily returns to her captivity until a noble rescuer shows up. That unexpected turn of events produces humor.

In another story I used two traditional Western heroes (Zorro and the Lone Ranger) and changed them into characters with few if any chances of winning. That gave me opportunities to exploit their situations for a few laughs.

In summary, humor writing involves developing characters with bizarre ways of thinking and acting. The author then throws those characters into situations that will allow the characters' bizarre behavior to take center stage.

Visit Hank's website for more information on his writing and his books. His latest, Tales From Gundarland has become a best seller on the planet Zaftan 31B

This week's book give-away!

From our friend, Linda Weaver Clarke:

Interview with Historical Romance Author Sarah M. Eden

Book Give-Away October 18 - 25: for those interested in Courting Miss Lancaster, leave a comment about this interview with your e-mail at U.S. and Canada.

Courting Miss Lancaster is an historical romance set in the era of Jane Austen, Napoleon, and Mad King George. It will make readers laugh and sigh, but probably mostly laugh. And, of course, it has a happy ending.

Monday, October 4, 2010

This week's book giveaway!

From our friend, Linda Weaver Clarke:

Interview with Mystery Writer Linda Faulkner

Book Give-Away October 4 - 11: for those interested in Second Time Around, leave a comment about this interview with your e-mail. U.S. and Canada. Visit

Second Time Around was an Award Finalist for best Mystery/Suspense fiction 2010. This mystery is set in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana. Timmie Campbell asks herself what she’s going to do when the dead body she stumbles across winds up belonging to her father, the father she thought abandoned her in infancy. Her mother has been lying for years about her father’s abandonment, about him not contacting them, about a lot of things. Unfortunately, Timmie can’t dwell on her mother’s deception because bodies begin piling up and she needs to stop the killer before he wipes out her entire family.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Blog Goddess Award!

I am so honored to have received the Blog Goddess Award from Suzanne Alicie! Thank you, Suzanne for your recognition of my work. This blog is a lot of fun, and I'm happy to give a little promotion to my fellow authors.