Category Archives: author tools

My Amazon Author Bio

 

The following is my Amazon Author Bio, you can view the full profile here. Only the picture at left is different. I would be honored if you read it and offered your comments for improvement.

Outlaw, Missionary, and Author, M.(Mike) Matheson was born on an Army base, Fort Huachuca, Arizona. It was not the end of the world, but you can see it from there. Dad was a career military man and Mom stayed at home, the norm for the 1950s.
In 1966, when Mike was ten-years-old, his Dad died suddenly and without warning.

Lacking their real-life hero as a stabilizing force, the family of two bounced from chaos to dysfunction like a severed sparking wire trying to find its ground. The result: a putrefying swamp of true life stories from which Mike creates his many great tales.

Mr. Matheson has been blessed to take a wide bite out of life from motorcycle outlaw to pastor of an inner-city church and international missionary evangelist.

Mike’s editor, Beth Hercules, says it best, “He uses his wry humor and an uncanny skill set to draw the lighter side of life from the seething underbelly of an outlaw world. Even in the midst of murder and mayhem, his positive spirit shows through.”
Writing from his own experiences as an outlaw, missionary, and world traveler, M. Matheson taps a deep well to craft stories that swing from darkness to light and tragedy to humor.

In addition to two novels, Mike has written dozens of short stories. The latter he gives away for free on his website here.

No More Mister Nice Guy, his first novel, is an allegory of life better lived dead, Flatline is his latest book. The next book he is working on, Taking Jericho, uses his own astonishing story to encourage others to climb the mountain of bad odds stacked against them and leave a lasting mark on our crazy world.

Who’s Your Literary Hero? and Who is Their Hero?

I surely don’t mean your favorite writer even if they could be one in the same. What I intend is who sparks your creative ovens?

I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

My Literary Hero is Stephen King, not as much for his subject matter as for his incredible gift and skill. The man can flat tell a story. No matter the topic or setting, he can hold your attention in the palm of his hand. On top of that, he’s as prolific as a rabbit on a typewriter producing more than 50 novels in the past 50 years, all the while reading up to 75 novels per year according to his book on the craft of writing named On Writing. That’s some amazing statistics.

Before I read his book on writing, I was already a rabid fan reading his work long before I was a published writer myself devouring Mr. King’s novels for their resident darkness resonating within my own dark soul. Even now that I’ve read nearly his entire bibliography, and my soul is fifty shades lighter, I still cannot put down his books or stories.

Now, when I admire a famous author, actor, or artist, I like to dig into their past and find out whose past the idolized or were inspired by.

Stephen King’s literary hero is the great Richard Matheson. Imagine that, we share the same last name.

Richard Burton Matheson is best known as the author of I Am Legend, a 1954 science fiction horror vampire novel that has been adapted for the screen four times, and you thought only Will Smith did the movie. The Will Smith version bears little resemblance to the novel. Matheson also wrote 16 episodes of The Twilight Zone for Rod Serling, including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “Steel“. Also, Duel a movie directed by a young Stephen Spielberg.

I must admit that Matheson’s works were not unknown to me, but him as the author of same was nearly an unknown in my psyche. Matheson has penned many great works of American fiction, mostly Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror.

There you have it. Now show me yours.

Peace

The Power of Ion

the-power-of-ionDuring my morning prayers, as I went through the list of things, I was struck with a thought: While reading my prayer list and asking God to do or help myself and others with things placed on my heart, the suffix -ion leaped into my lap (as a writer of fiction that’s the way I see it). Fiction, there’s another -ion word.

-Ion is a suffix appearing in words of Latin origin, denoting action or condition. It is used in Latin and in English to form nouns from stems of Latin adjectives (communion; union), verbs (legion; opinion), and especially past participles (allusion; creation; fusion; notion; torsion).
A few thoughts thumped and bumped in my head:
-Ion changes things like an adjective to a noun. It takes a modifier and makes something out of it.

-Ion is an action word; it gets things done.

-Ion ends one of my favorite words, FICT-ion. One of my passions is writing, reading, and dreaming up fict-ion-al tales.

AND

ION is a noun used in Physics and Chemistry:

Defined as an electrically charged atom or group of atoms formed by the loss or gain of one or more electrons, as a cation (positive ion) which is created by electron loss and is attracted to the cathode in electrolysis, or as an anion (negative ion) which is created by an electron gain and is attracted to the anode. (A lot of God words in there)

The same process is used in batteries to store and release power.

Batteries have three parts, an anode (-), a cathode (+), and the electrolyte. The cathode and anode (the positive and negative sides at either end of a traditional battery) are hooked up to an electrical circuit. The chemical reaction in the battery causes a buildup of electrons at the anode.

Those definitions tell me that I-O-N has power

So when you’re praying for, vision, direction, provision, passion, or protection, you are activating powerful forces.

Fiction does a similar thing releasing the power of imagination and, if it’s good fiction, it speaks truth to the parts of our soul that only God can reach.

Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie.” – Stephen King

“Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity.” ― G.K. Chesterton

“Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” – Albert Camus

 

5 Inspirational Books on Writing

I’m big on inspiration. I believe most writers are unless, of course, you write plumbing manuals, and then you still need a smidgen of inspiration to keep your readers awake through a paragraph. I once belonged to a writers group whose conscience was that authors shouldn’t read other people’s work lest it influences their own writing… The active word here is that I ONCE belonged to that group. After all, could you imagine a Professional Basketball player who never watched any basketball games other than his own?

The group leader was a published author, and fairly good. I read his book–that’ll teach him…

Like I said, I was once a part of that group, and since then I have participated in a group moderated by a nurse in the cancer center I went too. It was based on the idea that writing could be a healing art. Tremendous. I met some great influences, was inspired, and learned a great deal along the way. My most notable connection was a man who had a degree in Spanish Literature which he told me he was still trying to find a use for—the degree not the literature. He turned me on to one of the better authors I’ve ever read, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a famous author and Pulitzer Prize Winner.

Some like data. Some like facts. I’m an inspiration junkie.

forest-green-bike

There’s a great story here… Romance or Tragedy?

JUNK-IE
A person with an insatiable craving for something.

Like the gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, only one was of the mystic variety. Whenever he mentioned himself, he used the disciple that Jesus loved to describe himself and his relationship with Christ. Not that he was loved more, but that was his frame of reference. He loved inspiration, and in my arrogance, I think everyone else should too.

So, without any more of my drivel, here are the most inspirational books on writing I have read up to date.

I’ve listed them in order of their impact and influence on me personally. I hope it’s helpful.

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle

As writers, paintersmusicians we desperately need what MS. L’Engle has to say.

Madeleine L’Engle was an American writer best known for young-adult fiction, particularly the Newbery Medal-winning, A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels.

I have read her YA novels; they are tremendously great reads for anyone, but it was this book I read first. Shared with me by an artist friend, it was chock full of mind-altering, paradigmbending inspiration. The magnitude of what she was saying had to be taken in small bites, and chewed slowly to let it digest properly; it took me six months to finish reading this small paperback.

Walking on Water altered my thinking on the entire creative process. 

We as artists, authors, or… can create anything–there are no limits–we can walk on water.

From AMAZON: Through L’Engle’s beautiful and insightful essay, readers will find themselves called to what the author views as the prime tasks of an artist: to listen, to remain aware, and to respond to creation through one’s own art.

The next two are a toss up for second place- so I’ll give deference to my hero, the best storyteller on the planet… Stephen King



On Writing: a memoir of the craft by Stephen King

on-writing-stephen-kingPart autobiography and part inspiration, ‘On Writing’ has many reflections on his own personal tragedy. It quietly bursts with tips on the mechanics of writing and lots of good simple advice. He wrote this book while recovering from nearly being killed when a motorhome ran him down as he was out for a walk.

From WIKIPEDIA: The first section of On Writing is an autobiography, mainly about King’s early exposure to writing and his first attempts at it. King talks about his early attempts to get published, and his first novel Carrie. King also talks about his fame as a writer, and what it took to get there. This section includes his relationship with his wife, the death of his mother and his history of drug and alcohol abuse.

The second section is also autobiographical, in which King discusses the 1999 accident in which he was struck by a vehicle while walking down an isolated country road. He describes the injuries he suffered, his painful recovery and his struggle to start writing again.

WHAT I TOOK FROM ‘On Writing’:

Stephen King’s definition of when you can actually call yourself a [talented] writer. I Win. Goodreads Records it as:

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check and if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce. If you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” I remember it saying, “then you can call yourself a writer.”

Somehow King manages to read 60-75 books a year and still produce more than one epic book every year. AMAZING!!! But, if I lived in a big house on a lake and wrote for my sustenance, perhaps I could too. Still Inspiring.

Nuts and bolts: After you have finished what you think is the final draft of your book or story, get out the scalpel and shorten your book by 10%. There is at least that much worthless stuff. Personally, I have a hard time NOT making it longer, but ever since I read King’s book, his voice rings in my ear as I take a hatchet to my precious prose.

The line that rings in my ear comes to me quoted by Stephen King‘s literary hero, Richard Matheson: “Kill your darlings.” Literary hopefuls are told to learn that maxim.

More simply stated, take a merciless hatchet to your most darling and self-indulgent verses for the greater benefit of your work.

There’s a lot more to On Writing, but it’s much less tangible and shows up when needed.


Tied for Third Place:

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott  is certainly hard to pigeonhole into a class or category. If you’ve never treated yourself to her raw style, do yourself the favor and find any one of her many books. I think what does it for me mostly is her transparentness. She is very candid about her own failures and struggles with life. I’m a whole-hearted subscriber to the idea that a rough life makes great writing.

“If you don’t die of thirst, there are blessings in the desert. You can be pulled into limitlessness, which we all yearn for, or you can do the beauty of minutiae, the scrimshaw of tiny and precise. The sky is your ocean, and the crystal silence will uplift you like great gospel music, or Neil Young.” -Anne Lamott

Excerpt from Google Books

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by Bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

“A gift to all of us mortals who write or ever wanted to write… sidesplittingly funny, patiently wise and alternately cranky and kind — a reveille to get off our duffs and start writing “now,” while we still can.” — “Seattle Times.”

The following description from Wikia  is what endears me to Anne Lamott, the author and narrator of the Bird by Bird.

A former drug addict and alcoholic, Lamott has become an author, teacher, mother, and devout Christian. She is heavily influenced by her author father’s bohemian lifestyle. She believes that writing can help create community and lead to personal satisfaction. She also believes that writers are an integral part of society and must have a moral perspective.

AMEN!!


Remember, the main point of this piece is to share the books on writing that inspired me… There are many fine books on grammar and style, but inspiration is an elusive beast and frame of mind is everything to a writer.


Zen in the Art of Writing:

Releasing the Creative Genius Within You by Ray Bradbury

Before I knew I was a writer, Bradbury’s stories were working insidiously to turn me into one, and before I was a teenager, his Illustrated Man carved its deep mark in my soul. I still make it a point to reread some of his books every year. His short stories are my favorite, and I suppose that has some connection for me to my writing as I love penning a short story or a long short in my case.

As it says in the title, there is a Zen to writing, and as all these authors I’ve listed have said in their own way, If you write to be rich and famous quit now.

“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.” ― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

Most memorable in this book was how he fed dimes to coin-operated typewriters in the basement of the LA public library writing and submitted stories not only out of ZEN but because he had to eat. It drove him to improve and hone his craft. That form of Zen was inspirational in that his only formal education was high school.


The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop: A Guide to the Craft of Fiction by Stephen Koch

I read this book a long time ago, and it helped me immensely to grow as a writer. But, the standout thing in my mind’s eye is the green cover and this quote:

“The cat sat on the mat’ is not the beginning of a story, but ‘the cat sat on the dog’s mat’ is.” 
John Le Carré

At the time I didn’t even know who JohnLe Carré was, but it caused me to search and opened another treasury of incredible reading.

I was a raving fan of Kurt Vonnegut since my teen years and I’m sure it was his blurb that caused me to pick this from the countless books on writing:

“Make [your] characters want something right away—even if it’s only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time.”Kurt Vonnegut

So there you have it. That’s my list. Be inspired. Keep writing.

M. Matheson

How Do You Spell Grammarly?

The Big Prize Contest:
Leave a comment at the end and post a link to this blog on your Social Media. In 30 Days I will select one person at random to receive one month of free Premium Grammarly service (a $37.95 Value).
Email me a link to your post to increase your chances of winning.
Contest ends January 31, 2016

M. Matheson, that’s me, alias Mr. Skeptical but always looking for a deal and a shortcut. I took a chance on a program called Grammarly. It was hard to believe that a free program could do a better job of checking Spelling and Grammar than good old reliable Microsoft Word.

Such is the future.
http://tr.grammarly.com/SHV3
How does Grammarly work? (From the company’s FAQ)
Grammarly is an online grammar and spelling checker that improves communication by helping users find and correct writing mistakes. It’s easy to use: 
  • Copy and paste any English text into Grammarly’s online text editor or install Grammarly’s free browser extension for Chrome and Safari.
  • Grammarly’s algorithms flag potential issues in the text and suggest context-specific corrections for grammar, spelling, and vocabulary. Grammarly explains the reasoning behind each correction, so you can make an informed decision about whether, and how, to correct an issue.
  • In addition to the online text editor, Grammarly also offers a free browser extension for Chrome and Safari, which corrects over 150 types of errors. Grammarly for Chrome and Grammarly for Safari bring Grammarly’s powerful algorithms straight to you wherever you are writing online, including Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Tumblr. You can correct mistakes in your text with a single click.
My description/review. (Mildly more entertaining.) Like your High School English teacher or that smoking hot College Professor, Grammarly follows you wherever you go with a ruler in her cute little hand ready to smack you on the back of the head. Only instead of leaving you shriveled and cowering Grammarly shows you the error or errors of your ways.
Anything that you write in your web browser, emails, social media posts, and even this blog, Grammarly runs her fingers through its wordy hair looking for disgusting little nits. Nits that may make you look stupid or more stupid, present company intended.
The free version corrects grammar, spelling, and contextual issues. Even the Pro Version won’t write for you or create prose out of thin air, but it does recognize the puking passive sentence.
The Pro version works overtime for you and has settings to differentiate between modes of writing from personal, business, or novel writing. You can set it to irritatingly high levels or plain passivity. What it doesn’t do is pester you with every missing period or doubled space. After all is said and done, she leaves you with your ego intact.
I drove the free version for several months until I got deep into the third edit of my second novel, Flatline. The offer was good with varied plans from monthly to yearly subscriptions. The yearly is by far the better deal, but you didn’t need me to tell you that. If, within seven days, you don’t think it is a great value, Grammarly offers your money back no questions asked.
That deal is hard to beat, a real win-win.
My Conclusion: If you do any writing online, you can seriously up your game by subscribing to Grammarly. It is a solid FOUR Stars, and I rely on it daily if not hourly. They have a very responsive customer service team.
Do not forget to leave your comment for the Big Prize Contest.

Hootsuite Certified Professional

Hootsuite Certified Professional I’m happy to announce that I recently completed the very educational HootSuite University Pro Certification course – and now am a HootSuite Certified Professional! I have used HootSuite for quite a while and thought I was already well versed. I discovered many new great features that I was unaware of – such as search, keywords, geolocation tools and analytics. I wasn’t even close! If you are a serious social media marketer, consider Hootsuite University. It will up your social media marketing game. You do have to be a Pro level member ($9.99 per month) to access the advanced features that are discussed in the course. Click here to learn more. If you’d like to leave a comment and find the form tedious you can comment on my twitter feed @mikeyznsacto or Facebook M. Matheson