Politics to Further Story vs. Story to Further Politics. Difference?

Hi Jim,

I’ve read through your blog and have followed some of your work. I wanted to ask though… in numerous posts, you talk about politics and social commentary being used in pretty much every outlet and how it’s destroying escapism. I recently read one of your books, Magnifica: The Last Enchanter. Throughout it, your protagonists deal with being in a mixed relationship at a time when elves aren’t highly thought of. You fairly explicitly tackle racism in this story.
I’m not criticising your work, I actually liked the story, but I was hoping that you could reconcile your words here online vs. what you put into your story. Do you see this as hypocritical? I hope you don’t think I’m trying to attack you, I’d just like to get your position and logic on this.

Thanks,
Burke.


Hi Burke,

Great question and thank you for picking up Magnifica. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed it. Don’t worry about it, I don’t offend easily. In fact, it’s a very understandable question and perhaps one I should have done a better job clarifying sooner.

If you go back through my posts, I’m less worried about politics being included in every facet of our lives, as much as I am it being included in places where it really isn’t appropriate.

Consider for a moment; If you’re a company, is it really a good idea to put a political message into your advertisement, especially if it’s one that is highly divisive and contested?
While you’re fully within your rights to do so, it may not be the best business decision on the planet. This is something that Budweiser and Pepsi discovered the hard way.

When it comes to stories like Magnifica, I think there’s a stark contrast between a sociopolitical theme being used in a story to further the plot and a story that uses the plot to further a sociopolitical theme.
After reading the story, ask yourself… if there was no bigotry against elves, would the story of Toby’s and Lia’na’s relationship be anywhere near as interesting? Would they have even had a chance to build a relationship?

That’s not to say that the other way can’t work as well. One of my other stories, Divinity, was essentially just that. It was meant to be a critical commentary on the leadership of the church and the dangers of organized religion.

That being said, in both cases, the story takes priority over the political message. Yes, they exist in the story, but they don’t bring it to a screeching halt. In too many stories these days, we see characters going out of character and stories being stopped so a character can get on a soapbox and preach. In other cases, character personalities that have existed for a long time, are suddenly changed.

You said that you liked Magnifica, right? How would you feel about the story if, years from now, someone else obtained the rights and created a sequel where Toby essentially became an adulterous sexual abuser and Lia’na turned into a shotgun-wielding, weight-lifting, foul-mouthed, bad-ass who then turns on him, kills him, and at the end of the story, get’s on her soapbox, says that rape is bad, and then accuses large groups of people of being no better than rapists simply because of a difference of opinion?

I guarantee you that most of the people who’ve read Magnifica would throw that book across the room if they finished it at all. Why? Because one, chances are some of the readers are the people that the writer equated with rapists. Two, because that is completely out of character and arguably the least likely way they’d turn out after Gravestalker.

Now granted, this is a bit of an extreme example, but similar situations have taken place in comics, literature, and movies, and it’s only getting worse. Characters, good stories, etc. are all being sacrificed to push a narrative as hard as possible. That is where my problem lies and that is what I’m wholeheartedly against.

I hope this answers your question, but please don’t hesitate to reach out again if you’d like to discuss this further.

Readers- I’m interested in your opinions as well. Please feel free to leave a comment and keep the discussion going.

Thanks!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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Metal, Always!

Hi Jim,

I’ve been following you for a while. I’ve always found your musical posts intriguing. It’s always been interesting to see where someone get’s their inspiration from. I was just wondering though… why metal? Most of what you post is metal and you make no secret of that. I’m not judging, but as a non-metal head, when I listen to some of your musical recommendations, some are great, but others sound like a clash of various styles and are hard to follow. I don’t think I hear what you hear. Can you shed a little bit more light on what you hear in metal that get’s the juices flowing?

Thanks,
Tye


Hi Tye,

No problem. Truth be told, metal isn’t for everyone. In some cases, it’s an acquired taste. I was honestly very surprised at all the positive responses I got from people who knew and liked the same kind of music. I always felt like I was in the minority.

I have to admit that your question is a very difficult one to answer. It’s tough to describe what I hear vs. what you hear, but I’ll do my best.  What you hear as a disorganized mess, I hear as harmonious. In many cases when you hear different instruments that you normally wouldn’t think of together, you kind of have to listen past what you’d normally expect and actually consider the harmony. I think this is something metal fans have learned to do over time.

In metal, more so than any other musical form IMHO we see a marriage of various styles, instrumentation, and vocal ranges. Things we never would have thought of, actually going together. We hear people singing in vocal ranges we never thought possible, we hear instruments pushed to their very limits, and beyond. Now I will grant you… often times it doesn’t work and you’ll get a song or album that is thoroughly unlistenable. Lord knows I’ve come across a few in my lifetime… however one success is so great that it’s worth a thousand failures.

As for the why… well to be honest… It’s my drug. Literally, every page I’ve ever written was done so while listening to metal. You feel like you’re being taken on an adventure in a new world you never even imagined before. Every single story I’ve ever written, I’ve come up with by pulling meaning from the melody of a song or songs. Metal songs are supercharged with so much energy, it’s almost radioactive. Whenever I go out to exercise, it’s a metal song that pushes me to run that extra mile. When I suffer writer’s fatigue, if I really need to get another few pages done, it’s a metal song that makes me continue to strike the key with vigor.

When I’m drowsy in the morning, it’s a metal song that keeps coffee from ever staining my teeth.

… … okay I think I got a little preachy there, but hopefully, you and all the other non-metal heads in my follower pool now understand a little bit better. Who knows, maybe this will give you the urge to give metal another try? Or at the very least, open your eyes to another way of looking at music.

 

Either way, let me know in the comments. Readers, what type of music (if any) helps you write? Why? Let us know!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

A Little About Cover Blurbs.

Hi Jim,

I’m getting really frustrated with my writing. I’m trying to write a cover blurb for a book I just finished. I have used several others as examples and templates of what to do and what not to do. However, every time I think I’ve got it down, I go back and rewrite the whole thing because it doesn’t convey what I want people to know about my book.

Do you have any insights on writing one of these? I’m getting ready to throw my laptop out the window!

Thanks,
Margie


Hi Margie,

There’s an old saying in IT circles;

Violence and technology are not good bedfellows. 

Don’t throw your laptop out the window! It hasn’t done anything wrong and, despite the momentary feeling of satisfaction, it’s not worth it.

Laptop-Crying-Eye-Contact

Stop technology abuse!

Okay, on topic. Believe it or not, you’re in good company. Writing a blurb is the bane of almost every writer out there. I know many writers who would rather bang out a 400 page manuscript then write a 2-3 paragraph blurb. It’s tough because, in addition to being a brief summary, it’s also a sale’s pitch. This is the difference between a synopsis and a blurb. A synopsis just gives you a detailed summary of a book without giving too much away.

A blurb does the same to a lesser extent but also attempts to draw the reader in.

Your timing couldn’t be better as I’ve decided to revisit my blurb for The Orphans of Haven.

You’ve already done part of the work by looking at other samples. So what’s next? Well…

I think the first thing you should do is introduce the conflict. What problem are your characters facing? Spend a sentence or two addressing that. Make sure your first sentence is powerful and can effectively draw someone in so that they want to read more. A lot of people rarely read past the first sentence. If they’re not hooked right away, you’re not as likely to make a sale.

The next step is to introduce your main character(s). At a minimum, you need to introduce the main focus of the story. Give them a name and a brief, one-sentence- description of who/what they are. (veteran, police officer, normal guy, etc.)

Next, establish your hook. This really needs to be done in the first paragraph and near the beginning. The whole idea of the blurb is to entice the readers. Give them something that will make them want to rip that cover open.

Next, establish setting and mood. Give your readers a brief peek into the world your characters live in. Let them experience it for themselves.

Finally, leave the reader on a cliffhanger. Leave the reader wondering what will happen. You can do this easily by asking a question “Can our hero beat his enemy?”
“What will happen if he cannot solve the crime?”
“If he fails, reality as we know it may not survive.”

In this case, it is perfectly fine to leave the reader hanging.

Don’t be afraid to use a lot of hyperbole. Treat this like a sale’s pitch. Using big, exciting phrases will help you to draw your reader in. Try to keep your sentence short. This isn’t always possible, but there are ways to break up a longer one.

Finally, keep it short. Do not write a book to put on the back of your book. Three paragraphs at most IMHO. Establish what you need to and then end it.

Now, what should you avoid?

Well for starters, don’t give too much away. If you tell the reader too much, what’s the point of reading your book? This one cannot be overstated. You shouldn’t tell the reader anything past the introductory chapters of your book.

Secondly, leave out irrelevant details. This should be a given, based on how little space you have, but I see people put in distracting details way too often.

Finally, avoid misleading language. Don’t put anything on the back of your book that could be easily misinterpretted. You don’t want to give a reader the idea that your book is one thing, only for it to turn out to be completely different.

Anyway. I hope this helps a little. Good luck with your blurb! Readers, if I’ve missed anything or you have advice on how you write a blurb, feel free to leave it in the comments!

Thanks!

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Confident Writing, Learning to Let Go, Resources, Personal Writing Advice and Tips… and whatever else I could cram in!

Jim,
I love the blog, and I read it as much as possible. I’ve always been a writer, it never really mattered what I was writing as long as I was writing.  I’ve done lots of journaling and short stories but I really enjoy writimg comic books.
I was curious if you had any tips as I have what I’ve been told are some incredible scripts but I always doubt myself and rewrite and rewrite; it just seems to be my process!
I have one script that’s getting a lot of traffic and noticed amongst some indie publishers and I think there is always room for improvement.
Can you recommend any books, online course in creative writing, or just any tips you may use to better yourself.
I’m almost 40 and I think I knew I was meant to write; it’s part of my corporate job, but I’m just looking for ways to be the very best I can because it looks like one of my most recent scripts is definitely a go. As soon as we finalize a few small details, and one very big one, an artist, lol, i’ll submit my first 12 issues.
It’s not my first published work, but definitely will be the most recognized and get the most exposure, so I want to go back and spend another week or two just cleaning up some dialog and I’m looking for any tips I can get. I read as much as I can and always ask for constructive criticism, so anything you got, please share!
Best Regards,
David Conine

 

Hi David,

Wow… that’s a pretty huge ask and I have to admit that I’m slightly out of my element when it comes to the process of comic book creation. Though I have danced with the idea a few times myself. If I’d been able to find an artist who would work for… well whatever profit we’d made… Drakin and Soul Siphon would likely have been comics. That said, I pride myself on giving my readers something to work with.

So let’s go through your asks one at a time. So it looks like you’re already halfway home in that writing is part of your job. Honestly, I’ve never really had professional training. I simply had a lot of great ideas and was lucky enough to be surrounded by the right connections and the right experienced people to help me navigate the waters. It’s something I’ve tried to pass on here. Since you have that, you’re off to a good start.

I actually want you to look at a few statements you made:

“I’ve been told are some incredible scripts but I always doubt myself ”

“I’m almost 40 and I think I knew I was meant to write; it’s part of my corporate job”

“It’s not my first published work, but definitely will be the most recognized”

“I have one script that’s getting a lot of traffic and noticed”

One of these statements doesn’t belong with the rest. Can you guess which one? If you said the first one, you’d be right. You’ve got four things pushing you forward and one holding you back. Build your confidence. Especially if you’re already getting traction.

Whenever I get apprehensive about something, I usually just shrug and say, “Hey, the best view of Heaven is on the Highway to Hell.”

Basically what I mean by that is that even if you go on a path that will likely lead to crashing and burning, at least you tried and you gained valuable experience… and probably had a great time doing it.

“I was curious if you had any tips as I have what I’ve been told are some incredible scripts but I always doubt myself and rewrite and rewrite; it just seems to be my process!”

There really isn’t any trick here. In most cases, when a writer gets stuck in this sort of rabbit hole, the only way they break out of it is to move on to another project. The best thing you can do for yourself is to do 6… maybe 7 drafts and then say, “You know what? It may not be perfect, but it’s good enough.”

And if your mind says, “Well no it isn’t.”

You just have to put the pen down and be like, “No it is. That’s it, I’m done with this one.”

It’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s the only way you won’t drive yourself insane. An artist will never be 100% satisfied with his work. NEVER! The trick is to get yourself at least 75% satisfied and be able to be happy with that. Find a way to pull yourself away, distract yourself, whatever.

I know that’s not much to go on, but you’re talking about something that literally all writers, artists, and musicians have suffered through at some point and none of us have found the perfect answer in how to deal with it.

“Can you recommend any books, online course in creative writing, or just any tips you may use to better yourself. “

I can’t really recommend any books on writing. I’m not really an academic in that way. The few books I’ve read with writing advice and techniques… I’ve found to be extremely arbitrary and in most cases, their methods will only work for one or two small groups of people that think a very specific way. So some of my readers may disagree with me, but instructional writing textbooks may not be the way to go.

I also haven’t taken any online courses. That being said, I have gone to several writing workshops/classes at both the local state and community colleges in my area. These are usually fairly priced, or in some cases, free. I’d look into something like that. Though if you’re looking for something a little more online-community, goodreads.com is worth a peak. They have all sorts of resources and message boards to help writers.

As for tips, I’d recommend going back through my blog. I have a whole library of FAQs, writing styles, etc. that should be able to assist. However to give you at least one piece of advice… I’ll give you the one I always wrote.

I remember when looking for interesting books to read… Most everything was disappointing or hard to get through. Then I watched an interview with someone who helped Tolkien write his novels. Tolkien essentially wrote his novels because there was nothing out there that he found interesting. So he wrote stories he’d want to read.

That’s essentially how I do it. I write for myself… people just happen to like what I write. So when writing, write for yourself. Write something you’d enjoy reading over and over. If you write something you really love, your readers will pick up on it. Don’t worry if other people will like it or not. What is the worst thing that can happen? It get’s some bad reviews, one stars, panned off the interwebs, and you go back to the drawing board. That’s all.

“I’m almost 40 and I think I knew I was meant to write; it’s part of my corporate job, but I’m just looking for ways to be the very best I can because it looks like one of my most recent scripts is definitely a go.”

I don’t know that there is much more I can tell you. You seem like you’ve already found your success. I would just say that you need to work on your confidence. Remember, when writing, it’s not you against the world. It’s not you against other writers. It’s simply you against you. How far are you willing to go? How hard are you willing to work? How much will you endure? If you have the stamina, you can do anything.

Just don’t sweat the small details. Let your editors worry about that.

“It’s not my first published work, but definitely will be the most recognized and get the most exposure, so I want to go back and spend another week or two just cleaning up some dialog and I’m looking for any tips I can get. I read as much as I can and always ask for constructive criticism, so anything you got, please share!”

I would say that it’s time to leave it alone. If it’s already a go, then you really shouldn’t have to do much more. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel here. Make sure it goes through editing (Other than you!) and then submit it to whoever has shown interest…

And please let me know when it goes on sale and if I can get an autographed copy ;)!

I do collect comics, as well as rare/unique/autographed/1st editions. So something like this would greatly interest me… especially if anything I did helped you along the way.

Readers, do you have any advice for our new friend here? Let him know in the comments.

David, please feel free to follow up with me if you need any further advice.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Spam Comment Spring Cleaning.

 

 

I don’t know why I do this every year, but it gives me peace of mind. I know it may be a little childish, but I thought I’d share some of the more hilarious and/or cringy ones with all of you… because misery loves company!

We’re going absolutely low on the spelling/grammar/relevance scale here, people. Be very afraid.


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… okay? Well, thanks for sharing. Hope you figure out your daddy issues there.


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Okay, well… again thank you for sharing. Hope you figure out your daddy issues.


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Well thanks, you must be very proud of yourself.


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… and that someone just had to be me, right? Okay, well thanks for the share.


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Wow… okay what’s the best way to handle this… I’m going to have to go with a classic…

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*Facepalm*

Yes… it does really seem like that, doesn’t it? You know that’s not really a profound statement when it’s… what actually happened?


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… how did you know that I was trying to lose weight? Oh no, they’re on to me…


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… I’m starting to see a pattern here. There seems to be a connection between spamming and daddy issues. Do we have any psychologists or psych students among my readers? You should totally get going on a research paper!


 

Readers, I invite you to go through your Spam comments. Are they as ridiculous as mine? Feel free to post a few!

Thanks,
Jim



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

In the Circle… Circle of Writing!

Hello Jim,

I am working on a story of my own for quite a while already. From several sources, I’ve heard that self-published writers are quite friendly community that often can share advice with one another. I’d like to discuss the writing process and the joys and perils that come with us with like-minded people but I have no idea at all where to start.

I wondered if you know and could point me in the right direction?

Tomas


Hi Tomas,

So if I’m understanding this correctly, you’re looking for a writing circle. I think that’s a great idea and I definitely encourage it. Bouncing ideas off of other writers who are looking to get their work out there, or may have already gotten their work out there is a great way to get started.

The two places I frequent when looking for such people and groups is either right here on WordPress, or Goodreads. WordPress has a lot of writers out there looking for, and giving advice on various topics. Check out the #Writing tag on your reader list and you should be able to find others out there offering their advice.

For a more personal touch, Goodreads has several groups for writers and readers alike, including writers circles. Feel free to check them out here.

You can also consider starting your own here on word press. I’d recommend putting the word out for other readers and then perhaps do a once a week Skype chat or create a message board. I’ve personally been beating the idea of doing one myself, but at the moment, I don’t have the necessary time to commit to it.

So I really hope this helps in some way. There are plenty of resources out there. I’d consider checking with your local library as well. Often times they offer workshops, forums, and writing circles through there.

Thanks,
Jim



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Drafting and Re-Drafting the Draft of the Book you want to Publish.

In your experience, how many drafts does a book go through? Your post above seems to indicate four drafts, total. Thanks!

 

Thanks,
Laura Beth


Hi Laura,

The answer stops being wrong after 3. Beyond that, there is no wrong answer.

First Draft: You just finished writing your book. This is the draft where you literally typed ‘The End.’ No edits, no proofing, nothing.
If you publish this, all I can say is… “Bless your heart.”

Second Draft: You’ve done the first round of edits. You’re confident that you’ve caught everything you can and even run the book through editing software like Grammarly or the horrid MS Office Spellcheck.
If you publish this, you may find a major plothole later, as well as sentences that sounded better in your head than they do to others.

Third Draft: You’ve passed your second draft off to someone and they edit it for you. They make spelling/grammar/coherency checks and give you their recommendations. You’ve made said corrections and are now all set.
This is, IMHO the minimum you need to do before publishing… THE BARE MINIMUM! I would recommend repeating what you did on the second draft and then pass the book off to someone else for additional edits to spelling and grammar, but that’s up to you.

I performed the spelling and grammar checks, and then handed the book off to a friend for spelling and grammar, now I’ve submitted it to my editor for coherency, plot, and additional spelling and grammar checks. When I get it back from him, I’ll probably do the checks a few more times before publishing.

Three is the absolute minimum and I do not recommend it. That’s a pretty major risk and should only be taken if you’re pressed for time. You could reasonably expect your book to go through 5-10 drafts before it’s anywhere near publishable.

Writers, what do you think? How many drafts do you put your work through before you’re confident in its publishability? Let Laura know in the comments.

 

Thanks,
Jim



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim