Today we have author Gary F. Jones visiting. Welcome!
What would you like to tell readers about yourself?
* According to Gary Jones, his life has been a testament to questionable decisions and wishful thinking. His wife of forty years, however, says she knows of nothing in the record to justify such unfettered optimism. Jones says the book is a work of fiction; that’s his story, and he’s sticking to it.
* He’s part of the last generation of rural veterinarians who worked with cows that had names and personalities, and with dairymen who worked in the barn with their families. He’s also one of those baby boomers, crusty codgers who are writing their wills and grousing about kids who can be damned condescending at times.
* Gary practiced bovine medicine in rural Wisconsin for nineteen years. He then returned to graduate school at the University of Minnesota, earned a PhD in microbiology, and spent the next nineteen years working on the development of bovine and swine vaccines.
* Doc’s Codicil is the bronze medal winner of Foreward’s INDIEFAB Book of The Year awards, humor category.
Today Gary F. Jones will be talking about the best and worst pieces of writing advice he ever received.
* The best advice I’ve been given on writing is to state what I want to state as clearly and as concisely as I can. That can only be done if I use words with economy and precision. To write with precision requires that the most suitable noun or verb be used. That avoids the temptation to overuse adjectives and adverbs. A rule of thumb I’ve used is that use of more than one adverb or adjective per verb or noun should be unusual and use of three rare.
* Economy requires that the writer limit descriptions to what the reader needs to imagine the setting, to advance the plot, or to flesh out a character, and do so efficiently. Don’t describe the same thing repeatedly, don’t be redundant, don’t describe the common or mundane unless it’s critical to the plot, don’t use unusual words when a commonly used word is suitable, and don’t describe what readers should assume. Let them use their imaginations.
* Economy also avoids use of filler words, words that add nothing to the meaning of a sentence. For example, avoid writing that a seated character “stood up.” Is there a difference between standing and standing up? Other words that frequently add nothing to a sentence include, “all,” “any,” “very,” “really,” “then,” “suddenly,” “just,” “over,” and “so.”
* Economy requires that there be tension or conflict in dialogue and that the dialogue leads to a decision or resolution. Cut the chit-chat. Don’t use tags when it’s clear from the context who is speaking, and use words other than “said” or “asked” sparingly in dialogue tags. Use context whenever possible to describe how the dialogue was spoken. Use contractions liberally, especially in dialogue. It’s not only more efficient, it’s also closer to natural speech.
* I think the worst piece of advice I’ve been given was to avoid omniscient narrator. I’ve been told that modern readers don’t like it, successful authors no longer use it, it puts your reader at a distance from the characters, and it is difficult to master. Shortly after getting the advice, I read three books on the New York Times bestseller list that were written in omniscient narrator. Writing in omniscient narrator is not as easy as it first appears. This isn’t helped by an apparent disagreement on how it should be done. The descriptions of omniscient narrator I’ve found in books on writing are not in agreement. However, I use omniscient narrator because it’s a particularly effective point of view for writing humor in the thriller or mystery genre. For that, I’m willing to risk putting too much distance between the reader and the characters.
A look into…
~ Blurb ~
* When Wisconsin veterinarian Doc dies, his family learns that to inherit his fortune, they must decipher the cryptic codicil he added to his will—“Take Doofus squirrel-fishing”—and they can only do that by talking to Doc’s friends, reading the memoir Doc wrote of a Christmas season decades earlier, searching through Doc’s correspondence, and discovering clues around them. Humor abounds as this mismatched lot tries to find time in their hectic lives to work together to solve the puzzle. In the end, will they realize that fortune comes in many guises?
* Doc’s Codicil is a mystery told with gentle humor. It tells the story of a veterinarian who teaches his heirs a lesson from the grave.
~ Excerpt ~
* The house was dark except for the pool of light thrown by a lamp behind my chair and small multi-colored Christmas lights surrounding the window on my left. The lights gave a dim but cheerful glow to the edge of the room. The crystal, silver, and pastel globes on the Christmas tree standing against the opposite wall reflected that light, and as the furnace kicked in, the reflections danced across the wall, betraying currents of warm air moving gently about the room.
* Heat, wonderful heat. I gave my wine glass a twist to celebrate feeling my toes again. The liquid ruby swirled round the glass, as I offered a silent toast to Mary, may she sleep soundly tonight. On the second glass, I was startled by a swoosh of air exhaled by the cushion of a wing-backed chair to my left. I glanced at the chair, but couldn’t bring it into focus. Contacts must be dirty, I thought and returned to my book.
* I . . . poured a third glass. This had to be the last. Tomorrow would be another fourteen-hour workday. I took another bite of Stilton, crumbly yet creamy, a pungent and savory blue with a background of cheddar, when I heard a throat clear.
* I put my book down and looked around the room. Empty.
* . . . A shadow moved in the dining room . . . “Who’s there? What the hell is going on?” I whispered.
* A man’s voice came from the kitchen. “Cripes, some host you are.”
Thank you for joining us here today, Gary F. Jones! It was a pleasure getting to know you and your story.
ANNOUNCEMENT! Gary F. Jones will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour! So be sure to leave a comment AND use this RAFFLECOPTER LINK to enter the drawing. Also, visit the other tour stops for a greater chance of winning!