Mr & Mrs - all in the family

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bradley Cooper proves Louis C.K. wrong in 'Inside the Actor's Studio' viral video

Bradley Cooper proves Louis C.K. wrong in 'Inside the Actor's Studio' viral video  As a writing instructor, I learned EARLY ON that you cannot ever count any given student OUT.  This video is a riot. I love seeing LCK get his cummupence!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Guest Today - NIKOLAS BARON - Expert on Proofing and Editing

Why Writing More Pages Makes Editing Easier

More Available Real Estate
When it comes to editing a large manuscript, anything that makes the process easier is welcome. There are many pages to get through, tons of ideas, themes, and characters, as well as different ways of tying it all together. But if you start with less words or pages, you could be making the editing process much more difficult on yourself.

            Having more pages or words available for editing makes it easier to identify which pieces need to go and which need to stay. It may crush you to cut twenty pages of dialogue, but you know that what’s left is moving the story forward and essential. There’s more available real estate to see what you were thinking as you were writing the story and how you constructed it. If you have less material, there’s less information to build changes off of. Even more drastically, if you end up cutting more than you expected, you will end up having to rebuild much of the story.

I like to dump all of my thoughts down on paper and edit as I go. I detest squiggly red and green lines, messed up grammar and punctuation, and confusing wording. I have to change it immediately or I feel like I can’t press on. However, this leaves me with tons of material since I’m constantly adding to my manuscript. I want to fix as I go, but I end up gathering up changes that have created more words. This actually helps my editing process because I can look back and see that the changes I made were either useful or steered me off course. I have more flowers to pick from in my field of papers. This is a great problem to have when it comes to editing.

More Jumping Off Points for Ideas

            Sometimes I have to resist the urge to cut material while I write. This comes in handy when I’m editing. While I’m writing and in the zone, sometimes I forget that later on, I may change my mind. I realize the ending I wrote doesn’t work or the characters would never say the dialogue on the page and now have to come up with new material. The fact that I didn’t cut out material before gives me more ideas to use for my changes. I could have deleted all that work but now I have a vantage point to start from.

            If I end up having a bunch of material that seems to clash, I keep it because I may need new ideas or similar ideas later. I may end up cutting half of the material that doesn’t work and only keeping what does. When you go back to grammar check and proofread your work and realize that you have more available material of substance, you have a better chance of starting fresh with new ideas, or being able to reach into your inventory of material from before.

It’s Always Easier to Subtract than Add

            One of my writing professors in college consistently told me that “it’s always easier to subtract than add.” When you have a finished book, a collection of ideas, it’s hard to go backwards to what you were thinking at the moment when you wrote a particular section. It can be done, of course, but it can also be a huge struggle. Taking away material that doesn’t add to the robustness of your storyline is easy. Bringing in new ideas that meld with your ideas that are already on the page and developing them is a ton of work. It’s like baking a cake. When you add way too much frosting, you can scrape some off and have a great cake. But when you add frosting and it’s the wrong color, you have to scrape it all off and start over with a misshapen cake.

            When I’m proofreading my own work, I like to use online resources to help me find errors I might have missed or suggest more appropriate words that fit my style. Grammarly is a resource I really love because it learns my style the more I use it, provides a thorough grammar check, and gives me the tools to learn more about writing. It also helps me see where I can scrape off more frosting that I don’t need.

            When it comes to writing, sometimes you have to resist the urge to edit while you write to make the proofreading process easier on yourself. Remember, it’s always easier to subtract than it is to add.

By Nikolas Baron
Replace “Nikolas Baron” with the following HTML:

Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Where in the online World is Rob Walker Today?

Here is where you can find info and more info on me, from me, about me, but truly directed at YOU...articles, blogs, talk radio, website, all of it so you can run me down....

My website

Kindle community forum thread “what moves kindle books off shelves” is at:






Online mag./articles:

My Facebook page:

My Twitter Page:

My Blog Talk Radio Interview:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Authentic Accuracy in Historical Fiction

Never Forget the Author in Authority, Authenticity

A Newbie just finished her first historical novel, and she asks: Just how authentic does it have to be? How much accuracy is necessary? How do you keep from making horrible gaffs?

My initial response in my head is that if you are going to actually use a jock strap in your Roman Gladiator story, you had better do the minimum to find out first if gladiators used jock straps, and secondly, if they did, you need to know what they were made from--certainly not plastics or some mysterious material dropped on the Romans by aliens (unless you are simply go for goofy, fun, crazy laughs such as A Funny Thing Happened to me on the way to the Colosseum). If it is serious historical novel the authentic Roman jock strap must be determined unless you choose not to use it - the strap.

The entire idea of Historical Fiction is a somewhat schizophrenic label, history meaning somehow ground in fact while fiction is (from the Spanish ficciones) a "pack of lies" even if it is to "prove a truth"... so we historical fictionlists no less than our sister schizoid science fictionalists (science supposedly being fact), we are in a dither, a conundrum as it were, but some keeping our feet firmly aground helps.

What does EB White's Charlotte's Web have in common with historical fiction and indeed all fiction, this wild fantasy we adults read to our children only to find ourselves so drawn in as to be the ones in tears when Charlotte doesn't make it (you won't read that book again because the ending's just too hard to take...). What indeed makes this FANTASY fiction believable and in fact mesmerizingly so, a tale so crazily unbelievable. Come on, a story of a pig and a spider having a full-blown platonic love for one another, a relationship we'd all like to have, one of unconditional and sacrificial love all taking place in our own backyard? What makes it work? What makes Stephen King horror work?

Accuracy, authenticity, the authenticated voice - alongside accuracy and authenticity in background, backdrop, props, and in short DETAILS. The Devil is in the Details. Detailed accuracy makes a believer of us all both in film and in fiction. Setting the stage with the proper accoutrement's is absolutely necessary to make historical fiction truly come to life.

Below are the two from the hip responses the young novitiate got from my good friend Pat Brown and then from me the same day she asked the question (isn't the Internet something?)

On Tue, 3/29/11, Pat Brown, author of Absinthe of Malice (a great read by the way) wrote:

I've started writing historicals recently. The first two I finished were set in 1929 in Los Angeles. I'm writing one right now set in New York in the late 1880s. All you can do in terms of research is the best you can. The
20s, being Prohibition and all it brought is very well documented. Unless you have a major blunder, like put the wrong President in Washington or have the Titanic sink in 1969 (Hi Rob!!) most people won't call you on.

Or if you're like me, you spend a small fortune on books and things like old Sears, Roebuck catalogues. I was also lucky enough to go to L.A. to get some research there. Not knowing where your novel is set I can't say much more. But really, story and characters trump research.

> To which I then wrote to support what Pat said on the same day:

I agree with all that Pat says here, esp. about story over research; research is part of the back-drop and like setting belongs back of characters and action as backdrop. Look at Gone With the Wind for an example. Scarlet's 'soap opera' is far more compelling and important than the lil ol Civil War, now isn't it? As for the best way to get CAUGHT in a blunder before it goes public, I have found my best avenue of defense are good early readers and editors - whom I love, one and all. I generally acknowledge them one and all on my ack page, and yes ebooks have ack pgs and dedication pgs if they so choose same as some having a eAutographed title page.

Like Pat, for props, I rely heavily on Sears and Roebuck but also Wards' Catalogues of the day along with all the many books consulted. If you have your character pick up a gun that does not yet exist, whoa, you will hear about it....sometimes you will hear about it and the person who flagged it is DEAD WRONG. But even if you do a contemporary novel as I did with my Edge Series and set it in a venue you have NEVER been to as in Houston, will rile some folks up if you fail to call the Canals running through the city Channels....or visa-verse as I forget which was correct now but I sure HEARD about it from ONE disgruntled reader who did acknowledge that it was the only problem bothering him in FOUR novels of 80-90,000 words, and he loved my main character, a Texas bred Cherokee Indian named Lucas Stonecoat.

So you do your best, you be as diligent about the research as humanly possible, and then you do like ten rewrites as your early readers pick it apart, going back to the well and your sources many times over. My problem with research is I always leap into the story and have to stop and start to go back to the research to be be sure....

PLEASE DO LEAVE a comment if nothing else to let me know you dropped by!

Rob Walker
Titanic 2012 - a hundred year old mystery with a horrific twist
Children of Salem - an ecumenical spy w/vendetta falls in love with the witch's daughter instead

Sunday, September 26, 2010

When Did You Feel Finally Established as a Writer? HA!

                           WHEN Do You Know You've Arrived as an Author?
Quick & Dirty Answer:  When Agents, Editors, Producers, and Saudi Kings are seeking you out.

But seriously....  Recently, this question was asked of me.  I had to take a moment, sit, ponder before laughter erupted. When indeed does an author feel secure, feel he has arrived, feel that he has some financial security or that he can reasonably expect to feed a family?

Hell, look at me at sixty-one and I am still the grasshopper while all the ants have accumulated their wealth and wealthy lifestyles. Writing is without guarantees or benefits or retirement funds. It is why I still teach.

I could never be truly established especially as I've always gone against conventional so-called "wisdom" in a flawed and often failed business model or system. One I have my entire career railed against. If you fail to play the game of being pigeon-holed and fit snugly into the idea that you are a writer capable of only wriitng one book over and over again and remain in one category, branded by your very name, then you never reach the gold ring. But writing the same book over and over, being a man of "one book" repeated has never been an option for me, and I have paid dearly for it. Closest I came to being a franchise was my Instinct Series and even there I had to fight over and over with agent and editor that each book be a stand alone and unique in and of itself.

Never once had an argument with a reader when I went tangentially away from the modern serial killer ME FBI format of the chase to do historical novels, or to do something like Titanic 2012 with dual time periods, historical and science fiction and generational horror rolled into one. But looking back, my early Brain Stem which they turned into the lousy title Brain Watch, well it was police procedural paranormal fall in love with an OCD ghost that has taken over your body! Then dovetail with Disembodied, Aftershock, Abbadon....all disparate from one another despite paranormal, woo-woo, and horror elements, each was shockingly different and not easily categorized, and imminently Turn Downable or rejected....

As to getting a foothold in ebooks to the point of enjoying some actual income well above anything I ever saw from paper book publising, now that took about a year to get to where I am having a blast counting coup and counting books sold (or rather readers reading). When I first put the books up a year and three months ago, I had such weak sales that I decided it was all just another head banging against the wall exercise, but even if only making fifty bucks a month, then eighty, then suddenly 899. Well then I got to do a happy dance, and now, well now I groan and bitch if I make less than what I am worth just as I did in the old system. Still, it is like a retirement deal for me as I have NO damn retirement funds coming in because I was and remain pretty much an itinerent teacher....something like one of Colbert's itinerent farm workers.

So for me it took close, close onto a year for my advertising on FB, Twitter, anywhere online at NO costs to me and promo deals like contests on my blog to truly begin to see any results. But man-o-man, I never saw any results with sitting about hoping my paper publishers' efforts at PR or marketing would pay off because there were no efforts taken on behalf of my books from not one of my 8 or 9 different publishers over the past thirty years.

Nowadays, I do a better job at online free publicity gathering, PR, BSP, marketing efforts than my publishers ever did--as they were always rather busy with their Kings and Queens and Jovanovich knockoffs.

My publishers never got around to understanding what they had in hand, even when their editors did....but now I am responsible for all of it, and I love the freedom of it all. Ebooks rock and Kindle is fact, Kindle can make a KING of anyone depending on the tastes of readers and what they say or fail to say. Sorry to say they do next to no Amazon reviews but hopefully more and more review outlets for ebooks will come about.

In the meantime, I will be putting up a fifth exclusive to Kinde Original full-length novel, again one too ambitious and too large for dead tree publishers, my Titanic 2012 - Curse of RMS Titanic  to be launched on or around Halloween. What a launch this promises to be.

Rob Walker - Free opening chapters of Titanic 2012 and Children of Salem

Saturday, September 18, 2010

FEAR of Being Sued Freeze Up Writers!

A newbie author about to place her book up on Kindle, all set to go, and suddenly she freezes up, terrified due to her having created “authentic” settings and naming real people, places, and things—issues like maybe the OJ case, Lady Gaga, Obama, Hanity, Beck, Stewart, Colbert or a local malt shop.  Come on, please!  Never let FEAR run your book.  Below my comments  on this issue are the “rules” or many of them (like never use more than six lines of a copyrighted song all in one block in your book), but before you read the “rules” know that libel is hard as hell to prove and malice aforethought nearly impossible to prove (what was going on in his mind when he ‘attacked’ her character?).  But by all means you cannot obsess over such an issue and hope to write a decent novel.

While Carla Rene (who has graciously added here the rules of the game to stir clear of being sued) is thorough below and absolutely correct, I have broken just about all of these "rules" of the road at one time or another and guess what, in fact, have never been sued for defamation on any score. While I use real places, real towns, cities in just about every -- no ALL of my fifty ODD books, no one has come charging after me. The Field Museum of Chicago is where a particularly ghastly "reincarnation" of my most awful killer, Mad Matthew Matisak is finally cornered and as he likes to collect human spinal cords for his unusual splatterpunk art showings, his death comes at the hands of a spinal column when he falls several stories onto the bony protrusions of a dinosaur display while all the monied patrons of the Field Museum are sipping their wine and listening to a private lecture this evening.  I do not expect to hear from the Field Musuem as they were in no way defamed.  If I have any prejudice it is against the rich--whom I privately do detest.

I have also routinely placed names of people in my books who have won contests to be there with the caveat they just might die in the book. Titanic 2012 a lead character has to go but her namesake won a contest I ran for the privilege. I also have a poker game going on while Titanic is going down and the band is playing wherein all the guys around the table are writer friends, all named by name. Year ago Steve Savile who is cranking out novels and novellas left and right now won a contest, so he is both in my books for two reasons, friend author and contest winner in more than one book, and I once armed Joe Konrath in an Instinct title, giving him a gun!  He is among those going down with Titanic around the poker game that deteriorates into a brawl that only Inspector Alastair Ransom can win.  Among the authors Ransom beats down is one named Walker as well.  I also pull the infamous/famous Capt. Edward Smith down from the pedestal that history and legend has afforded him in Titanic 2012. I could not have done that if I was paralyzed by fear that his ancestors today might come after me with a law suit for defaming a dead man. For that matter, the descendants of Nathaniel and Judge Hawthorn(e) or Cotton and Increase Mather or anyone named Putnam (maybe the publisher Putnam) will come after me for a writ of execution for what I said about these family names in Children of Salem? Sure...I am shaking in my boots. They're all long dead for one thing so even if I were malicious it can't hurt them!

There is hardly a product I have not used in my novels--just as Stephen King utilizes Excedrin and Coca-Cola, as serial killers and nutbags have to eat and drink and stave off those headaches as well as anyone. Aloha airlines gets pegged for bad service or poor peanuts if the setting is Hawaii, and if in London there are the shops now aren't there but I also created a cathedral out of a church on a certain street and cemetery only because I really loved the name of the place.  I don't attribute blame or cause to any of these places, and just because the killer is a big Elvis fan, I don't attribute his killings to have been motivated by Elvis' music or Gordon Lightfoot for that matter but they all run through my books as they run through life.

Bottom line is KNOW the rules as Carla has laid them out here and then judiciously put them aside because no one can write well worrying about them. I ignore them just as much as I ignore the worry that my mother will read this shit.  Fact is, my eighty-five year old mom DOES read all my books and she peeks over the top, checks me out, mentally saying, "OMG, did this come out of my womb?"

Anyone who remain at all interested in this subject -- just write your book without malice aforethought toward anyone--a thing near impossible to prove and trust that court costs will bounce back to any idiot who thinks otherwise.

Okay; here's what I've gleaned on the subject over the years from other published writers and publishers.

For writing fiction:

It's best advised to not use the name of a real town, real address or real persons.  However, you CAN use the real names of all of these, AS LONG AS you do not portray them in a negative light, worthy of libelous action.  (in The Gaslight Journal, I set the town in fictitious Faritown, NY (which some publishers do NOT like), but Isabella, my heroine, is just returning from Christmas break from Radcliffe--the first year they allowed women in their classes.  Along with her student status, however, that is the only time it's mentioned, so I've written nothing detailed enough for libelous action.)

If using the name of a public business, that's fine, as long as you do not write something libelous--you do not need permission. 

You can't portray the location or business in a bad way.  During the movie "Castaway," the FedEx people had a major heart attack AT FIRST, because it was their plane that went down, losing all that mail.  However, after seeing the treatment of their brand, they reaslied their brand awareness had risen dramatically in Asia and Europe upon the movie's release.  Kinda stands to reason THAT screenwriter didn't procure permission, did he?)

If you're using the name of a private business, then you need permission.   (I mention the names of several private businesses in The Gaslight Journal along Main street, and they are all fictitious names.)   Can't afford cat litter--automatically KNOW how much trouble a whopping-ass multi-million libel suit would skank up my day.)

For writing non-fiction:

Public names such as addresses, cities, street names and public business are fine.  Private business again, need permission.

From The Chicago Manual of Style 15th Edition:
Section 4.66 on page 132 under Author's Responsibilities:
"The author should also warrant that the work does not libel anyone or infringe any person's right to privacy." :-)
Streets can't sue you for privacy; however, town councils and city governments can IF the address of your specific street was the cause somehow, of something horrible that painted the town in a degrading light.  Now I'm not sure it was treated as fiction or non-fiction, which would make a different, but I'm positive that when the screenwriters for the movie Mothman Prophecies had to at least notify that city's council that they were involved in a screenplay treatment, because announcing to the whole world that an entire town comes equipped with its own monster/haunted entity, well, just wouldn't boost the church tourism, ya know??
However, again, it's non-fiction, then they play by their own set of rules.
It is the responsibility of the author to check out all these facts during the writing of the book, and not to rely on an editor, agent or publisher to sort those issues.
And of course, don't ever use real people in your stories.  Besides the obvious defamation and libel, another interesting reason:
But far more to the point in fiction copy, real people--taken straight over and put on the page of a story--are dull.
What this means is, real people aren't vivid enough.  Good characters have to be constructed, not copied from actuality.

Now as I, Robert W. Walker, once had someone come after me because she ‘thought’ she had a case but her lawyers knew better, I have had some close encounters. So sure weigh it all up but NEVER obsess to the point of freezing or becoming paranoid or paralyzed over these issues. The nonfiction writer has to worry FAR, far more over such things as the names of people , places, and things he writes about. But folks THIS IS FICTION, make believe, and no right-thinking person or judge in the land can tie it to malice aforethought or libelous action unless you left a huge paper or verbal trail that this was the intent of your book, to blow the lid off a company or to destroy a life or reputation.  That’s my Bottom Line on the subject and I hope some Write Adie for you. Gee…hope I don’t get sued for writing this blog…. hehehehe!
Robert W. Walker

Thursday, July 8, 2010

But Damnit, I'm too Old to Write...Not!!

Whenever you begin to tell yourself that you are too old to write, or too slow to write, or too young to write, or too whatever to write pull out these words from 87 year-old Jim Ingraham, Five-Star published author of Sahara Dust (the prestigious 5-Star Books, and Evidence of Evil, an title (work in progress: Duff Kerrigan).  Here's Jim in his own inspiring words:

"It's not how age affects me as a writer that's important. It's how it affects me as a man. Because I have shed many illusions about myself and my life and have accepted who I am and who I have been, my relationship to people and to my work is more sensible than it once was. I am no longer crippled by fears that I won't "make it." I know that "making it" is an illusion. The only important result of writing is the work itself.

I liken it to playing golf. Winning a tournament is fun, but trying to is not what keeps me playing. The real reward is striking the ball well, that feeling coming into my hands when I watch the ball sail down the fairway, when I watch it fall into the hole from 30 feet across the green.

If the reward of your work is something other than finding the right word, building a solid paragraph, turning out a well-crafted story, then you miss the true rewards of being a writer.

If I am true to myself, the results of my work will reflect the gains I have made over all the adversities that have plagued my life. I hope that readers grow from my work. It pleases me that others enjoy my stories. But I write, not to please others, but to please myself.

Jim Ingraham
   following is a photo of Jim and his son at the piano!

Wow, man...wish I had Jim in my creative writing class; what an inspiration.
Find Jim online at and look for Sahara Dust, Evidence of Evil and in future Duff Kerrigan.

As for my Titanic 2012 opus you can now get the first 14 chapters, 7 per each storyline of 1912 and 2012 for FREE, just click on it at