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    I am the author of LETTERS TO A DANDELION. It is available at Amazon.com in the kindle version.
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  • July 2018
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Joshua Ludeker


Joshua Ludeker


The “Wow” Factor

The “Wow” Factor

As entertainment goes, there is a level one must ascend to reach to bring an audience. No matter the genre of the book, no matter the genre of the movie, the writer must bring something to the table that is different or fresh. This is no easy task, to say the least.

I have been given the ability to predict the outcome of any book or movie. I know I’m not the only person with this ability, and I’m sure most can predict at an earlier time, but the fact is, this ability is a curse. I want to be “wow”ed, I want to put the book down immediately to attempt to comprehend the turn of events, and I want to leave the theater saying, “Wow, I never would have guessed.”

I don’t believe this is a “born-ability”, I believe what makes this possible is that I pay attention to detail. Of course, most writers drop hints for the reader or viewer to keep them interested. This works, but there must be more ambiguity. Let me explain.

Predicting plot twists does not feed my ego. I get frustrated that I was even able to predict the outcome in the first place because I want to be “wow”ed. The plot, characters, and setting must intertwine beautifully and punch me in the gut with something so off-the-wall it leaves me saying “wow!” I wrote a post earlier about writing blind and I believe this works well with ambiguity.

If the author is writing blind, with only one or two scenes plotted out ahead of time, then the author might be surprised with the turn of events. If the author is “wow”ed, the reader will also be, without a doubt. The author needs to let go and let the characters take them wherever they please. Feeding off the characters, one might be surprised on where they proceed.

Keep in mind, plotting a book ahead of time with multiple twists may also fall victim to predictability. If the author knows how the book is mapped out, he/she won’t be interested in the journey because he/she already knows where it’s going.

As cliched as it is, writing a completely normal world, with the day to day activities normal and interactions normal, but ending it with the main character in a psychiatric ward and all of it was in his head, still works out well; if written well. The reader or viewer is immersed in the characters “normal” world with the “normal drama” tagging along with it, but then is T-boned with a plot twist only leaving them with a dropped jaw and the word “wow” slowly, methodically spilling out of their mouth.

Plot twisting “wow” factor must be handled with care. Too many twists will leave the reader confused and frustrated, too little may result in boredom. I’m not here claiming that books with twists are the only good ones, because that is not true. If and when you plan a plot twist, avoid predictability.

Joshua Ludeker

Author of Letters to a Dandelion, available at Amazon.

Letters to a Dandelion is Published!

I know what you’re thinking, this isn’t true. Oh, but it is true. And I’ll prove it!

First of all, I’ll state here that it is self-published through Kindle. Now hold on, don’t leave me just yet. Let me explain myself, maybe you’ll agree.

I didn’t spend a lot of time sending my manuscript to publishers and literary agents. I did get a few rejections and I took them in stride. A couple of those love notes actually had a few personalized comments pinned neatly inside. Want to know what they said? The market is tight, money is tight and we can only take on so many authors. This says nothing about your work specifically, we’re too loaded down!

I’m willing to accept those statements. First of all they were personalized and not a rejection template with my name edited in. Second of all I believe them. Today’s economy has put a hurt on businesses everywhere, not just the publishing industry.

So that got me thinking, where can I go with my book? When I was sending those query letters I had no thought whatsoever that I was doing any of it for fame or money, or just to be published for that matter. The question arose then, why am I doing this at all?

I love to read, I love the ever-advancing innovations of the written word. Ebook readers allow owners to read, carry, and buy virtually any amount of books they want. Hell, Barnes and Noble’s Nook has an in-store feature where you can read any book for a certain period of time, for free. Now, unknown self-published authors can reach millions of readers completely skipping the middleman.

I chose to do this for two main reasons; 1) with the advancements of modern technology allowing readers and authors to connect via the internet, I wanted to join that camaraderie for the art, rather than money; and 2) I wanted a cheap and easy way for readers to get their hands on a thrill ride from an unknown. Honestly, if you were to send me a message right now, I would be inclined to send you the book for free. It’s the art I love, not the exposure or money.

Changing gears; here is my proof.

Being this as it is, there is only one way to read my book and that is through Kindle’s product. Now you’re screaming, “But Josh! I want to read your book but I don’t own a Kindle!” No Kindle, no problem!

There are multiple Kindle applications:

All downloads are free.

If you don’t own any of these and still want to read my book, don’t forget, I’ll most likely send a PDF freebie on request.

One request I would like to make, if you read it, please rate and review on Amazon.

Also, look me up on Goodreads Authors here.

Hopefully by the end of the week I will have a Facebook Fan Page. I will keep you posted.

Thanks to those who have checked it out and if you’re leery, go check out my Letters to a Dandelion page with a book trailer, summary, and preview.

Ludeker, out!

Vampires Suck; Not Another Book Review

Today’s media is great. Speaking of the movie industry, whenever there is a massive, multi-billion dollar movie made that is widely popular; there is always a team of haters patiently waiting for their time to shine. Star Wars had Space Balls; all the popular teen movies had Not Another Teen Movie (and many more); and now Twilight has Vampires Suck.

The days of bashing Twilight are simmering out, but I thought I’d voice my opinion here anyway. My wife was a Twilight fan for quite some time. Apparently, my looks of disapproval, heard by divorce lawyers everywhere, had gotten the best of her; or she grew up, not sure which. She obsessed over the books, obsessed over the movies, and went as far as battling pre-teen girls for the midnight showing tickets. To each their own, but she finally grew out of it (thank, God.) Not that I don’t have my own quarks she must deal with, but that’s neither here nor there.

A friend of mine (shout out) bugs me every day about how much she loves Twilight. It’s all in good fun, but I decided to dedicate this post to her on why I won’t, and can’t read it.

To set the record straight, I am in no way bashing Stephanie Meyer, I am actually a bit jealous, but happy with her success. Here is the first paragraph and my breakdown. (Source)

My mother drove me to the airport with the windows rolled down. It was seventy-five degrees in Phoenix, the sky a perfect, cloudless blue. I was wearing my favorite shirt – sleeveless, white eyelet lace; I was wearing it as a farewell gesture. My carry-on item was a parka.

First of all, the first sentence is incredibly weak. I know from the start I won’t like the writing style. It doesn’t grab my attention, it doesn’t snag me by the throat, and it doesn’t even give me something interesting. How about start with a vampire bite, immediately. I may be more interested to continue. Then she continues on about the weather. Don’t start with weather, please, I don’t care about weather but now I’m told the actual degrees. Also, the third sentence can be broken down to two separate, strong standing sentences. There is no need for the semi-colon.

Now that we’ve trudged through bleakness, I get to learn about the clothing of a character that I don’t even know their name yet. And the last sentence of the first paragraph, more clothing. Here’s where ninety-five percent of the male readers are put off in record time.

I tried, I really tried to continue from here and it is unfortunate I couldn’t get much further than the first chapter. Reading it hurt my eyes, literally. Every other sentence was chopped up in dashes, colons, and semi-colons. I like seamless execution. I want my eyes to never leave the page. Overall, I want to be told the story like it was coming from the mouth of the author. In real life, full sentences are not spoken in the middle of another full sentence; unless in certain circumstances.

As I continue reading further through the first chapter, I’m clogged down with emotion-stating dialogue enders (wow, not sure any of that made sense, but I’m leaving it). When stating how a character said a particular piece of dialogue, “he said” or “she said” is perfectly acceptable, if not encouraged. “Said” is the only word I don’t mind being repeated three-gazillion times throughout a novel. “My mom said to me”, “I lied”, “She insisted”, “I urged”, and “He said, smiling as he automatically caught and steadied me” are telling me how they feel. Show me through what they say and how they say it, don’t state exactly how they feel. It takes away from the reader.

Again, this is my personal opinion of the first chapter of the first book, as it continues on gaining new readership and loyalty. To that I say kudos to Stephanie Meyer.

I am now off my soap box. Good day.

What Makes Good Storytelling?

What makes good storytelling?

I was having a discussion on one of my favorite forums (shout out) with a fellow aspiring writer about what makes a writer a good storyteller. I decided to dedicate this post to the art from a reader’s aspect, rather from a writer’s.

Telling, not describing.

There are books out there where I cringe and trudge through acres of text describing scenery, or a characters clothing, or a dog. What inspires me to continue on is hopes that the author will dig the reader out of the describing hole and onto more entertaining plot lines. The problem I see is that the author ran out of interesting scenes and focuses on an object, just to get the words onto paper. This is what a rough draft is for (or three or four).

Instead of describing these nuances to the reader, tell them to me. The reader needs to have an imagination or the concept is depleted. If the author creates an evil antagonist and wants, no demands us to hate him for his evil deeds, the author has failed on giving the character a fat chance in ever changing his ways. I love villains for two reasons; I like to see and understand why it is he is evil, and I want to see how he changes throughout the course of the story. If the author wants us to hate him for his evilness, we will and the story has a plotted dead-end.

There is a master of the art (I humbly apologize for not remembering his name) who once said; If you present a gun in scene one, that gun better fire in scene two. This is wonderful advice because it is completely true. Readers do not want to read a four paragraph description of an ice cream truck if it never gets blown up. These little chunks of text need to be thrown into the pit because the reader is now bored and asking why. So, if your antagonist picks up a gun from a pawn shop, impatiently waiting for the legal time limit, he better walk out of that shop firing.

Too many adjectives.

There is such a thing as too many words. As I trudge through writing novels, in the back recesses of my cob-webbed mind, I worry about word count. Yes, worrying about such trivialities take away from the art itself, but it’s a sickness I can’t help. I’m sure there are many others that think about the same issue and, unfortunately for the reader, these extra adjectives come out clunky and thick.

As I said above, this is what rough drafts are for. Write, write, and write until you physically can’t anymore, then cut that baby until she bleeds. Most times I’m unsure and unaware myself that I’m using too many adjectives and adverbs. One helpful tip is to read the text out loud. If it doesn’t roll off the tongue it will have the same effect on paper.

In essence, I enjoy reading a novel that tells a wonderful story. I don’t chuck a hardback for not using commodious words, nor do I throw it out if it describes too much. There needs to be a gap between the author describing an object and the reader filling in the blanks. Writing is a crazy art, but you know you love it.

Book Review: ABC’s Castle, Heat Wave

ABC’s hit show Castle, starring Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle and Stana Katic as Kate Beckett, roused my interest from the pilot episode Flowers for Your Grave. Richard Castle is a murder mystery author who, by pulling strings by a poker buddy judge, gets to “ride-along” with Detective Kate Beckett for research for his upcoming novel, HEAT WAVE.

The pilot promised an interesting spin on the average police story drama. On their first day together two murders are committed and are eventually formed back to Castle, as the murderer is playing out one of his books verbatim. As a writer myself, I would be professionally flattered and morally disturbed.

Castle is now readily approaching Season 3 and has long lost the originality of a detective story. Even still, I thoroughly enjoy the series and applaud the show as they take their media to a whole new level.

HEAT WAVE is written by Richard Castle in the show, but also published and “written” by him in the real world. Here is the summary:

Mystery sensation Richard Castle, blockbuster author of the wildly best-selling Derrick Storm novels, introduces his newest character, NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat. Tough, sexy, professional, Nikki Heat carries a passion for justice as she leads one of New York City’s top homicide squads. She’s hit with an unexpected challenge when the commissioner assigns superstar magazine journalist Jameson Rook to ride along with her to research an article on New York’s Finest. Pulitzer Prize-winning Rook is as much a handful as he is handsome. His wise-cracking and meddling aren’t her only problems. As she works to unravel the secrets of the murdered real estate tycoon, she must also confront the spark between them. The one called heat.

If you have seen the show, you know Castle boasts about a juicy sex scene he created due to their spark, which is hilarious on all kinds of levels I didn’t even know existed. Like I said, I applaud their effort and they are denying the real author, still giving credit to the fictional character, Richard Castle.

Overall, the book was good. I’m not a big fan of watching a movie, then reading the book. But, in this case, I knew all the characters, knew all their mannerisms and facial expressions, and actually read it that much faster. Also, if you have seen the show, the book’s outline is identical to an episode.

Here are the first ten chapters of Heat Wave, and yes it is also in bookstores.

During the summer break from the show, Richard Castle is at it again giving one chapter hooks to his next novel, NAKED HEAT.

Bravo, ABC, bravo!

My rating: 3.5 out of 5

Book Review: The Killer Inside Me


                                          The Killer Inside Me

Lou Ford is the deputy sheriff of a small town in Texas.  The worst thing most people can say against him is that he’s a little slow and a little boring.  But, then, most people don’t know about the sickness–the sickness that almost got Lou put away when he was younger.  The sickness that is about to surface again.
An underground classic since its publication in 1952, The Killer Inside Me is the book that made Jim Thompson’s name synonymous with the roman noir

Originally published in 1952; republished 1991.

My Take:

To come up with an original first-person prose is arguably one of the most difficult aspects at writing genre fiction. For my writing, I generally shy away from such a task due to obvious physical and one-character emotional deprivation. The author is attached to the protagonist to his current surroundings and emotional standings.

There is one way to succeed, and that is writing psychological thrillers. The title says it all. A small town deputy sheriff battles himself and his “sickness”, simmering yet not outwardly showing signs of psychosis. Brilliant.

Yet, how far and how many can I read? Not all that many, but this particular gem satisfied that specific genre. Jim Thompson beautifully portrays a believable first-person prose murderer who battles his almost sane imperfections.

When I was in the middle of this man’s warped mind, I slanted on believing him and agreed with his asinine reasoning and arguments. After I put the book down, I half wondered if I had just read something in my own mind but am arguing with myself that that is impossible.

My rating: 4 out of 5

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