Gender-Swapping: Some Writing Tricks for Taking on the Other Sex

GendersDuring my blog tour for Permanent Spring Showers (my last novel) I had an interesting question from a reader. It really inspired this post.

Here is the quote:

I always am amazed when a man writes from a woman’s perspective or a woman writes from a man’s perspective so convincingly. I was wondering how the author found writing from the opposite sex’s POV.

I don’t want to claim I’m an expert on this. That would be naive, because truly no one knows what it is like to walk in another’s shoes (or high heels), but I’ve experience doing this in my books and I have some tricks that work for me.

In my new book, I have a few female main characters (including one that has diary entries); and there is my book Megan which is entirely one afternoon in one woman’s life. So if you are thinking of writing a work where the “other” gender is the main POV, well, maybe my advice can help.

Oh yeah, and I’m the dude who wrote an entire book with Jane Austen as the main character… Again, not saying I know everything, but… come on! Jane Austen! That gives me some cred, right? I mean… freaking Jane Austen!?! Continue reading

My Week Without Coke Zero

The bad boyI am not a man of vices.

When compared to other writers I would be considered very tame, like comparing a cocker spaniel to a mountain lion. If I do luckily find any success for my books and someone decides to write a book about me, I pity them the experience. Seriously, there is just nothing there.

  • I don’t drink or hunt or act suicidal like an Ernest Hemingway.
  • I have never done drugs or partied like a beatnik writer.
  • And I have not left a trail of scandalous relationships in my wake like a romantic poet.

I’m just a boring normal Joe, happily married, who just happens to be an author as well. Sorry. Heck, I didn’t even enjoy the occasional drink until recently when my wife and I discovered the great mix book Tequila Mockingbird by Tim Federle (my current favorite drink being “Crime and Punish-mint.” Seriously, check this book out). Again, future biographers- sorry.

The only vice I could ever be said to have had is so minor that I’m sure Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda would have laughed at me. Nope, I’m not talking about my fandom of Doctor Who or Final Fantasy video games. Or my interest in bow ties. Or maybe my possibly embarrassing fascination with Disneyland or collecting Peanuts comic books.

No, no, no… I’m talking about Coke Zero.

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The Troll Under the Bridge: How to Write a Good Bad Book Review

A TrollFor the last few months I have been happily on top of my bridge.

My new book A Jane Austen Daydream had been out for a while, and to my relief it was getting great reviews, even from the Jane Austen Center and AustenProse (two reviews I was scared about). And on GoodReads I was averaging above 4.25 with a majority of my reviews being 5-stars. Happily, the responses there seemed to be between loving it and simply enjoying it. Yes, there were one or two that didn’t enjoy it, but that is fine. That’s life! Suffice to say, I had let my guard down and that is when trolls like to jump and grab you. And one finally did on Amazon:

When will I learn not to trust a book’s 5-star ratings? If they aren’t written by Momma, then they’re paid for.

If you prefer low-level reads (around  4th or 5th grade in reading difficulty), and poor writing, you might be able to  slog your way through this. For me, not even Jane Austen could force me to finish it.

Glad I borrowed this and kept my money. Then again, Amazon makes it easy to return garbage books.

After reading that review I was understandably angry, which was exactly what the troll wanted to have happen (kudos to him, he succeeded). I think what bothered me  the most is that it crossed a line by attacking the other 37 reviewers of my book (at the time of this writing), claiming that they were paid for and shouldn’t be taken seriously by readers. Of course, this is not true, and I have even written a post on this site (here) discussing my disgust with that practice.

Whatever the case, I kind of feel sorry for the reviewer because, frankly, he doesn’t know how to write a bad book review and in the end the review makes him look worse than me or my book… he just doesn’t realize that yet. See, like most things in writing there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Here are some things to remember when you have to create the dreaded bad book review.

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Book Review: Summer Morning, Summer Night by Ray Bradbury

Since the passing of Ray Bradbury, I’ve been re-reading his books (or reading ones for the first time), trying to find a lost classic, a gem I had not discovered before.

So far I have reviewed three of his books (Something Wicked This Way Comes, From the Dust Returned and The Halloween Tree). This review is on Summer Morning, Summer Night, published in 2008.

I have attempted to write this review three different times. Frankly, this difficulty is because I am uncertain what kind of a book Summer Morning, Summer Night by Ray Bradbury is exactly attempting to be.

  • Is it a sequel to the great Dandelion Wine and the embarrassingly bad Farewell Summer?
  • Is it a collection of unpublished short stories?
  • Is it new work?
  • It is old work?
  • Is it an insight into Ray Bradbury’s notebook? A collection of unfinished ideas and unused snippets?

The frustrating answer is yes and no to all of my questions.

The best way I have discovered to explain this book is to think of your favorite CD. You know how artists will sometimes include an additional CD in a boxset? It might include demos, songs that were cut from the album, and early versions of the songs you love? Well, in many ways, Summer Morning, Summer Night is that additional CD for Bradbury, and like one of those collections there is good and bad, and a little of everything within it. Continue reading