What the…? How did I get here?

I know.  My blog looks different.  I gave it a full makeover.  But don’t worry, I’m still talking about the same stuff – writing and historical research – just in a different way.  I’m doing this for you, dear audience.  I’m trying to make your lives easier.

There are a few reasons for this change.  1) During my research on blog topics, I found what you probably found, a ton of writing and history blogs.  I became a little worried that my blog could get lost in the shuffle.  2)  Many writers/researchers have asked me, “Where do I find good information?”, “How do I know it’s a good site?”, and “What is a good resource for my topic?”  Well, I thought that instead of being another writer dishing out advice, why not go through the information for my audience and tell them what’s good and where to find it.  Thus, the new blog was born.  Think of me as your own personal writing adventurer bravely hacking through the wordy vegetation bringing you informational treasures to help showcase your talents.

The page titles are all the same and the topics in each will be similar:

Inquiring Minds Wanna Know:  Who am I?

Crafting the Craft:  Advice on writing techniques and tools.

Word Around the Bookshop:  Breaking news in the publishing industry and books.

Tea Reads:  Reviews of fiction and historical nonfiction books, craft and publishing books.  I focus on how you can learn from these books and use them to benefit your writing.

The Sampler:  My fiction and examples of writing techniques and tools.

Fact-Finding Mission:  Where can you find historical information?

Age of the Techie:  Reviews of good writing websites, apps, podcasts, blogs, etc.

Hold On, I’m Coming:  My upcoming publications.

MSRP Café Menu:  Hire me to do your research.

Please let me know how you like this new format and if you find my blog helpful.  For those who have visited my site before, which format do you like more, the new one or the old?  Leave a comment and let me know.  I’m off on another writing adventure!

Need help?  Want advice?  Want me to write about something specific?  Like something?  Don’t like something?  Let me know.  Like all authors, I am interested in decorum and critiques, not put-downs or criticisms.  Post a comment or email me at jcooney.writeresearch@gmail.com.

Categories: Home | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

First Time

I am a little nervous about it.  I’ve never done it before.  So many people have.  It’s all over the media, especially this time of year.  That’s right, I’m talking about New Year’s Resolutions!  New year, new you, and all that jazz.

Like I said, I’ve never made a New Year’s Resolution before.  So this year, I decided to try it.  I like the idea of starting new and fresh.  It gives me a boost of energy.  This is my list:

  1.  I want to put together a proposal for my nonfiction book.
  2. Finish my new fiction book.
  3. Rewrite one of my fiction series for the umpteenth time and actually send it out.
  4. Read more books.
  5. Create better organization for writing/time management.

Five goals are a good start, I hope.  What do you think?  Have you ever succeeded in your New Year’s Resolutions?  What are your resolutions for this year?

Categories: Crafting the Craft | Tags: | Leave a comment

Miss Me? I Missed You!

Hello world!! I’m back!  Miss me?

I just finished a big project that took up a lot of my time, including all writing time.  But it is done now, so I am able to return to my normal writing schedule.  Hooray and huzzah!

So many things have happened since we last saw each other.   How did your NaNoWriMo go?  Any success stories out there?  I’d love to hear them.  Since NaNoWriMo is over, have you continued your writing frenzy?

The writing world is still as awesome as ever.  I look forward to bringing you more news on the writing front.  I have so many tips to share with you, stuff I just learned myself.  Be sure to check back often!

*Sigh* It’s good to be home!

Categories: Word Around the Bookshop | Leave a comment

Happy NaNoWriMo!

Happy NaNoWriMo everybody!  I hope November is writer-ific for you!

Have you decided to join the NaNoWriMo community?  Are you nervous?  Scared?  Overwhelmed?  Many have done it so you are not alone.  I believe in you!  You can do it!

I wish you and yours a happy, healthy, NaNoWriMo!


Categories: Word Around the Bookshop | Leave a comment

The Devil’s Mistress

My new raw-publish piece just came out in this month’s AAWG eZine!  It’s called “The Devil’s Mistress”.  If you are interested in reading it, you can find it at http://aawgezine.atspace.cc/.  I would love feedback if you want to give it.


Categories: Hold On, I'm Coming | Leave a comment

Editing Mistake? Well, It Can’t Be As Bad As These!

Ever notice a stupid typo or error in your work that you should have caught but didn’t? Don’t feel too bad.  At least you aren’t some of these guys in The Guardian‘s article called, “The World’s Worst Typos — in pictures.”  I don’t want to give any of these away because some of them are so horrible that you have to shake your head.  Or if you are like me, you make a poster out of it to put on your wall with a quote saying, “Well, at least I’m not that bad.”  It is my rendition of the kitten hanging from the branch saying, “Hang in there.”

Check it out at http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/gallery/2012/oct/25/worst-typos-pictures.

Categories: Crafting the Craft | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Warning! Bubble Bursting About to Commence in 3…2…

As writers, we compulsively visualize ourselves taking the publishing world by storm.  We imagine opening the mailbox and getting that contract.  We see ourselves sitting on a couch across from Craig Ferguson (insert your favorite talk show host’s name here) talking about our latest bestsellers.  We walk into bookstores thinking of the day when our books are prominently displayed front-and-center as fans eagerly snatch our books like it was Black Friday.  There will be long lines for our book signings.  Our names will be prevalent in any given household.  And to solidify the big F.U. to those who didn’t believe in us, Hollywood comes knocking.  We will be the Justin Biebers of the writing world!  What could be better?  How about looking in the mailbox and picking up an advance towards your next book!  Our publisher knows we can hit the jackpot again!

I’m sorry for having to be the one to tell you, but our dreams of the advance are in jeopardy.  When I first started out in writing, I was always told that an author didn’t have to pay back an advance.  Let me tell you friends, not true.  No, it’s in the contract that if you don’t deliver the manuscript or if you’re late, you have to pay that money back.  Oh, and if the publisher is no longer wants your work, yeah, you still have to pay the money back.  How do I know this is true?  Businessweek told me.  The word around the bookshop is that Penguin Publishing Group is suing some authors for the return of small advances plus interest.  Allegedly, the authors named in the lawsuit either never finished manuscripts or didn’t meet the deadline.

Businessweek’s article “Penguin Group Sues Writers Over Book Advances” by Claire Suddath probably describes the situation the best at http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-09-27/penguin-group-sues-writers-over-book-advances#p1.  NPR ran a story about it called, “Publishers Sue Authors Who Didn’t Produce Books” which can be found at http://www.npr.org/2012/10/09/162551944/publisher-sues-authors-who-dont-produce-manuscripts.  The Smoking Gun talks about it on their website in an article called, “Book Publisher Goes To Court To Recoup Hefty Advances From Prominent Writers” at http://www.thesmokinggun.com/buster/penguin-group/book-publisher-sues-over-advances-657390.

I’ve got two questions.  Will publishers start suing us if our books don’t make it on the bestseller list?  Will this cause even more authors to flock to self-publishing thus destroying the publishing industry as we know it?

By the way, that slow hiss you hear is the deflation of your dreams.

Categories: Word Around the Bookshop | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Grammarly: The Backseat Writer I’ve Been Looking For

Chris Martin’s post is pretty awesome! It’s useful for both newbies and advanced writers. The information is important so I asked Chris if I could reblog it. Done!

Chris Martin Writes

If you are a writer, you’ve been there. You finish up a marvelous, long chapter and sit back with a sigh of relief. You never dreamed so much creativity could be hidden inside just aching for the opportunity to burst out. Unfortunately, that is the easy part of writing a story. It’s the editing that will almost suck the life entirely out of you. At least, that’s how it is for me. I would prefer to take a fork and shove it into both eyes than edit my writing. I can go over a passage a hundred times and still miss the slightest of errors. Time and time again, I will email my mom a chapter with the feeling that I had nailed it perfectly, and she will send it back with fifteen different corrections.

I love to write, but utterly despise the editing process.

Enter Grammarly. (http://www.grammarly.com/) This is a…

View original post 390 more words

Categories: Age of the Techie | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Almost NaNoWriMo!

Where has the time gone!  Look at the calendar people, next month is November which is NaNoWriMo!  To translate, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month.  It’s not just some obscure holiday like National Name Your Car Day on October 2 (http://library.thinkquest.org/2886/).  Wait, that’s today!  Hmmmm… What to name my car… What to name my car…

Anyway, NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organization set up to promote the writing of a complete novel within one month.   It is a community of writers who help fellow writers get their novels written.  Don’t worry,  it doesn’t have to be publishable by the end of November, it just has to be written.  If you want, there are groups of authors around the country that meet to show solidarity and to give each other encouragement.  You can sign up and track your progress on the site.  This event is a huge deal!  I suggest you try it at least once.  They just set up a website for it at http://www.nanowrimo.org/.   Check it out!

Categories: Word Around the Bookshop | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Mike Rowe Just Schooled You!

Do you remember in grade school watching the film strips with the slides of pictures of drawings of people doing something boring?  Our teacher excitedly turned down the lights and designated the kid closest to the projector as the lucky one to change the slide when the sound recording prompted.  We sat there in the dark listening to old garbled cassette tapes waiting for the ding of the bell as the cue to change the slide.  We looked forward to these days for three reasons:  1) we could sleep in class without being noticed because the teacher was busy doing something else, 2) it was a free trip to Daydream Land, and 3) when it was the end we made shadow puppets against the screen while the teacher yelled at us to stop and turned on the lights.

I just got done watching the Discovery Channel, a channel that has moved away from the educational to the sensational.  No matter in this case because I watched this awesome show called How Booze Made America.  It stars Mike Rowe, a man you may know from such shows as Dirty Jobs, the voice-over guy for Deadliest Catch, and spokesperson for Viva Brand paper towels.  He was also on QVC Late Nite back in the early 90s (Videos are available at www.youtube.com.  They are great for procrastination).  Like Dirty Jobs, How Booze Made America presents history in a way that only Mike Rowe can.  It is fun, funny, and functional not dry, dull, and damn boring like those awful slides.  This show is not like that.  Not even a little bit.  I mean if my history classes were taught like Mike Rowe does the show… well, I still would have gotten A’s.  Anyway, if more history classes were presented in a similar way (minus the vulgarity for the sensitive ears*), I think more people would remember history as kick-ass awesome.  OK, maybe not kick-ass all the time, but definitely awesome.

I watched the second episode which covers the years between the times of Manifest Destiny to the Shootout at the O.K. Corral.  You see such classic scenes like George Washington flipping the bird.  Watch as men gun each other down in the streets in Arizona, 1881.  I was only slightly disappointed that Doc Holiday looked nothing like Val Kilmer in Tombstone.  Hear how Johnny Appleseed wore many pairs of crotchless pants layered on top of each other while planting apple seeds east of the Mississippi.  Good classic fun!  If you think I’m kidding, I’m not.  Watch the show.

Only Mike Rowe can offer these bits of historical enlightenment with his brand of wit and sarcasm.  Couple him with some graphics reminiscent of Monte Python, and out comes a winner of an educational show.  If you don’t watch it for the educational value, watch it for the comedic genius that is How Booze Made America.  Get schooled at http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/how-booze-built-america/videos .

*How Booze Made America is rated TV14 for DLV.

Categories: Age of the Techie | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Psst! Excuse Me, But Your Research is Showing.

The Jillian Larkin series, The Flappers, published by Random House, is a set of three books that take place in the 1920s.  I wasn’t even going to buy her first book, Vixen.  But when Borders was closing its doors, Vixen stared at me, inviting me in.  I gave in and bought it.  I don’t think I’ve ever read a book so fast and sacrificed so much sleep to get to the end.  I was impressed.  I bought the second one, Ingenue.  It was fabulous.  The character development was great.  I pre-ordered number three, Diva, on my Nook Color and voraciously read that book with an unquenchable appetite on the day it popped up in my library.  The rising action had me in a stranglehold.  I bit my lip; they are not going to do what they are going to do…  Oh here comes the climax when… SKREEEEEETCH… My ears were bleeding!  The world began to spin.  There it was on page 193 of my Barnes and Noble eBook edition of Diva.

“Then you changed your game.  You fell off the radar…”


I was completely taken out of the book.  I could suspend reality no longer.  I felt betrayed.  Sad.  I couldn’t believe that this story was set in the 1920s.  It sounded like it was just a couple of kids playing dress-up.  I was so into it, but this just killed it for me.  The story was ruined, quite possibly, forever.

For those who don’t know the significance of this blasphemy, allow me to explain.  This series is about teenage relationships and culture in the early 1920s.  Radar was not invented until 1941.  Excuse me, but your research is showing… or the lack thereof.

There are other blasphemies in Diva, like using the term “the fuzz” for police (pg. 164).  The slang nickname didn’t appear until somewhere between 1925-1930 (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fuzz).  The end of the book, before the epilogue, takes place in 1924 (pg. 209).  Nitpicking?  Maybe.  But it happened.

If I noticed these errors, will a reader notice inaccuracies in your work?  Probably.  Take the time and care to research the background of your stories.  If you are using slang, make sure that the slang is of the correct time period.  Dictionary.com can help with determining if a word is in your time period.

Are there more blood-curdling horrors in the series?  I don’t have the heart to look.  I want to remember the first two books fondly.  Have you noticed a factual inaccuracy in the books you’ve read?  Was any one of them something that caused you to stop and beat your head against the wall?  Drop me a comment.  I wanna know.

Categories: Fact-Finding Mission | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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