Tag: Indieauthors

Editing Montagnard: The Beta Version

Have you ever used beta readers for a writing project?

For my first novel, Serpents Underfoot, I did not use beta readers. I did the editing myself with a great deal of help from my mother. Neither of us was a professional editor.

Needless to say, it took several content uploads before I had eliminated all of the typos, etc. And, I have to thank several of my early readers for pointing some of them out to me. I think Serpents Underfoot is in pretty good shape now, but you never know, there might be one more typo lurking in the shadows, ready to spring out on some poor unsuspecting reader!

Even as short as Adirondack Bear Tales is (only fifty pages or so), it took two rounds to get it to what I hope is now a typo-free state!

For Montagnard (the sequel), I am doing something new

I have read and re-read the draft of Montagnard several times. I have run through Microsoft Spellcheck and Grammarly several times as well. Unfortunately, I am sure there are still a few typos, punctuation errors, homonyms and homophones, and probably even too many adverbs.

So, sending a copy out to five beta readers is a bit intimidating. While these are readers whose opinions I respect, I certainly don’t want them to think, “Egad! How’d he miss this!”

On the bright side, I am hoping that if there are any plot holes, sections of the story that are confusing, or parts that simply suck, these five individuals will let me know. And the end result will be a much better novel … and a sequel to Serpents Underfoot.

Then the final step …

I figure that once I have gone through all the observations and edits suggested by my beta readers, I will be ready to send the manuscript to my editor for its final edit. When she is through with it, it will surely be ready to publish.

And, while all this work is being done, I should have time for some pre-release marketing, etc., as well as getting started on my next book project, a story of family, love, and sacrifice during World War II.

While you are here, check out a few of my other blog posts by clicking here!

A Highly Emotional Page-turner!

PROMISES TO THE FALLEN

A Vietnam War Novel by Glyn Haynie

Promises to the Fallen

In the jungles of Vietnam, innocence is the first casualty of war…

Nineteen-year-old Eddie Henderson is a private in the U.S. Army. His parents are deceased, and he has no one in his life except his platoon brothers—Porter, Rocky, and Professor. His fellow soldiers are his family now. But none share a bond as close as he and his best friend, team leader Mitch Drexler.

In the heat and jungles of Vietnam, each man does the best he can to survive. Battles are fought, friends lost, and promises made to the fallen. But when the enemy fatally wounds a platoon brother in a deadly attack, the dying soldier makes Eddie promise to fulfill a final vow… A debt of blood that could change the course of his life forever.

When Eddie and his friends’ tours are over, they return home to a world they barely remember. But Eddie is still trapped in the past. He has no family, no home to go back to. Just a nightmare he lives over and over again. A dark vow he made to a dying friend. And one question, burning in his mind…

Will he keep his promise to his friend? No matter the cost?

My thoughts …

While I served in the U.S. Army several years after the war in Vietnam ended (from 79 to 83), I have always been fascinated by the Vietnam War. I certainly saw enough on the news to be curious about what it must have been like, and this has led me to read a great deal on the subject. Add to this the fact that, later in life, I had a few good friends who were Vietnam veterans, and who would occasionally share snippets of their experiences during the war, which only served to increase my desire to try and understand the background and circumstances.

I have read all four of Glyn Haynie’s books. Each one has been excellent and a real pleasure to read. While the first three were memoirs, Promises to the Fallen was Haynie’s first foray into the world of fiction. It did not disappoint.

This novel is an incredible read! Haynie puts you right in the middle of the Vietnamese jungles, the smells, the mud, the villages, the people, and their rice paddies. It is almost like you are there, and with those young men who find themselves in another world, an insane world full of danger, death, fear, courage, loyalty, and sacrifice. It is also a world of hope and hopelessness, where you can’t tell your enemies from your friends, and you anxiously count the days, hoping you survive until you get to go home.

The author draws on his own experiences in Vietnam and in close infantry combat to make this book one heck of a page-turner. And, for those of us who have served in the U.S. military, whether it was during the Vietnam War, other conflicts, or even during peacetime, Haynie’s narrative will bring to mind memories and experiences of your time in the service of your country.

To those who haven’t served, this novel may help you to understand why those who serve in the military are the way they are … their pride in their service, this country, and its flag. And yes, even its problems and shortcomings.

The bond of brotherhood that exists between those who have served together is a real bond that stands the test of time. When you cut through all the hyperbole, it is really about the man (or woman) in the foxhole next to you. While politicians, the media, and Hollywood love to talk about defending our country, baseball, apple pie, etc., it is really about defending your buddy while he or she defends you.

I found Promises to the Fallen extremely difficult to put down. It took me through a broad range of emotional responses as it laid bare the authentic, unadulterated experience of the American soldier in Vietnam; the good, the bad, and even the ugly. I highly recommend this book to all.

Now, on to Leora’s Letters by Joy Neal Kidney, another book I have been anxious to read! What great books have you read this winter?

Montagnard: Chapter Sample #1

Setting the stage …

In this sample, we jump into the past to find young Dish, a Montagnard warrior and ally to the American’s during the Vietnam War, narrowly escaping certain death at the hands of the Viet Cong.

Dish is the adopted brother of Mai, a Vietnamese woman and mother to the main character in this exciting sequel to Serpents Underfoot. He plays a key role in this new tale of kidnap, rescue, redemption, and revenge.


17 September 1967

Dish leaned his back against a tall Dalat pine and struggled to quiet his heavy breathing to listen for sounds of enemy pursuit. The ambush had been perfect. Dish, as point man, had been allowed through the kill zone. Somehow he’d missed it, which meant that whoever laid that ambush was also damn good; because Dish was damn good.

The terrain had not allowed for the typical L-shaped ambush, or the Viet Cong’s favorite, a V-shaped ambush. But the Green Beret A-team he was scouting for was now caught in a deadly cross-fire from both sides of their position. Separated from the team by a dense hail of bullets created by both the ambushers and the Green Berets who were returning fire, Dish tried, unsuccessfully, to circle back and rejoin them. Unfortunately, he ran directly in to a group of a dozen or so VC that were moving up to reinforce the right leg of the ambush. Spotting Dish, the group opened fire, and he could do little more than turn and flee back down the trail. The excited VC, forgetting their mission, took off after him, following in hot pursuit.

Reaching up, he removed his Boonie hat to wipe his sweaty brow with the sleeve of his olive drab jungle fatigue jacket. Listening , he heard nothing.  

There’s no way I lost them, Dish thought. Maybe I outran them? He doubted that was the case and was sure they’d be along. More likely, they were moving cautiously.

Finally, he risked a swallow of water from his canteen, relieving the dryness of his throat. Placing the canteen back in its pouch on his left hip, Dish returned the Boonie hat to his head and crouched down, shifting his grip on the M-16 rifle he carried. He listened for several long minutes. Had he lost them? It still seemed unlikely.

That question was answered a few seconds later when Dish heard a twig snap a short distance to his left. He froze. A hushed admonishment in Vietnamese immediately followed.

Then, his eye caught a movement. Dish held his breath as two black-clad figures stepped out of the brush and into a small clearing just a few yards down the slope from where he now stood, pressed against the Dalat pine. Both VC carried AK-47s and wore bandoliers with extra ammunition hanging sash-style over their shoulders. Each wore the trademark conical straw hats as protection from the sun, which luckily at this moment was directly behind Dish.

He felt a bead sweat run down the back of his neck. More sweat stung his eyes. Dish could do nothing; even the slightest movement might give his position away. To his surprise, the two enemy fighters never even glanced his way. Their attention seemed focused on something downslope. Seconds later, the two continued to carefully work their way down the hill and away from where Dish was willing himself to become part of the tree. Then, like jungle ghosts, they were gone.

Turning, Dish began running along an outcropping of rock that was partially concealed by the Dalat pine against which he’d rested. There was a shout. An AK-47 fired, and a spattering of bullets ricocheted off the rock just behind him. They were right on his tail. Dish spotted an outcropping of rock just ahead and raced toward it. Hearing his pursuers closing in behind him, he ducked behind it.

I hope this isn’t a dead-end!

There was no place to hide. The crack created by the outcropping was narrow and not very deep. Perhaps five feet wide at its opening, in narrowed to maybe eighteen inches where it ended in a rock face.  It was seven or at feet deep at best with a thick growth of leafy scrub brush at the base of the rock face. It was a dead end.

At twenty-three years old, Dish had been fighting the North Vietnamese and their VC allies for seven years and had witnessed much of their evil brutality. He was determined not to be taken alive. Moving quickly to the rear of the crack, he pressed his back into the brush and checked the action of his M-16 rifle. Dish had ten fully loaded 30-round magazines available in his rucksack but doubted he’d get a chance to reload very many times.  When he died, several of them would come with him.

Pressing the magazine release, he quietly slid the partial magazine from the well and replaced it with a full one. Working the charging handle as noiselessly as possible, he moved back as far as he could into the split in the rock. Turning to face the opening, Dish leaned back into the brush, wanting to feel something substantial behind him. Nothing. He shifted back just a bit and pressed back again. Still, there was nothing. Crouching, he worked himself farther back into the scrubby growth and suddenly tumbled over backward.

Getting to his feet, Dish looked back at the crack. He was now standing on the other side. The rock face in front of him was solid, but there was a hole, probably cut by water at its base. Stooping, he peered into the hole and estimated the rock wall to be several feet thick. The scrub brush concealed the hole, and he had luckily fallen right into it. Dish listened but could hear nothing. The VC were cautious in their approach, suspecting they had him trapped and in no rush to get themselves killed. Even a trapped rat will turn on its pursuers, and Dish was no rat, more like a tiger.

Dish quickly took stock of his situation and could see he was in a big bowl cut by falling water. He spotted a rocky wash on his right that led up a steep, almost vertical, bank.

The only way out of here is up, he decided.

He slung the rifle across his back and started climbing up the wash, making as little noise as possible. He’d climbed about a hundred feet or so when the wash suddenly turned out onto a rock ledge. Flattening himself out, Dish lay on the shelf and quieting his ragged breath, listened. He could hear the VC below him, now searching for him, calling out to each other in Vietnamese.

“Fan out! He can’t have just disappeared. Poh! Use your bayonet and check that brush.” There was the sound of a bayonet snapping into place on a rifle barrel and then being thrust repeatedly into the brush.  

“I tell you he isn’t here!”

After a time, the perplexed group of VC moved on, their voices fading as they drew farther away. They’d completely missed the hole into which he’d fallen.


I think my readers will find real improvements in style and substance in this new release, due out next summer … a result of lessons learned while writing my first novel.

I have gotten great feedback in emails and reviews of Serpents Underfoot, and I always take that feedback to heart as I strive to improve my skills in my chosen craft as a writer. I am looking forward to hearing from my readers about this second novel when it is released.

Poll: Montagnard Book Cover

First Cover Design for Montagnard

The sequel to Serpents Underfoot

Here is the first attempt at a cover design for Montagnard, the action-packed sequel to Serpents Underfoot. It was created for me by a freelancer on Fiverr.com

I am working very hard to make this second novel a lot better than my first (which from the reviews … wasn’t that bad).

But I did learn a great deal from my first book, and those lessons learned promise to make this second release just that much better.

That should also include the cover! So, please let me know what you think!

montagnard

Buy This Book – you won’t be disappointed!

It takes work, but success will come!

Wow! Sales of Serpents Underfoot are growing. I knew enough to know that writing and publishing my own books would be hard work, and that any reward would be slow in coming. I mean … I am not exactly Tom Clancy!!

Also, there is a pretty long learning curve. How do I use Twitter or Instagram to market my books? How about Facebook, other book reviewers, book signings, etc.? And then, there is the mystery of Amazon Ads! It has taken time and work, but I am beginning to see the rewards.

I won’t lie. While the income certainly helps, for me the biggest reward and kick is simply knowing that someone read my work and got real enjoyment out of it. That makes being a writer really worth while for me!

More great new reviews for Serpents Underfoot

Newest Amazon Review

books by dc gilbert

Buy this book – you won’t be disappointed

A multi-generational story of perseverance, intelligence and craftiness, you will most likely find yourself rooting for Ajax and saying to yourself about the bad guys, “Uh oh – they shouldn’t have done that. Now I’m waiting for the sequel …”

Sharon Fowler

Thank you, Sharon Fowler, for the awesome 5 STAR REVIEW! Click here to read the entire review on Amazon!

The Prairies Book Review

I also recently received an excellent review from The Prairies Book Review. Tina S. at Prairies Review writes:

Full of Navy Seal action, the book will enthrall fans of action thrillers…

The book has it all—authentic detail, breathless action, vividly drawn settings, and an exhilarating plot. Action thrillers fans will be rewarded. Readers will wait eagerly for JD and Ajax to come together for another treacherous adventure.

Tina S.

Thank you, Tina, for the awesome review! Click here to read the entire review at The Prairies Book Review!

The sequel is coming!

The sequel to Serpents Underfoot, titled “Montagnard,” should be released at the end of this year or early next year. Serpents Underfoot was my first novel and it is doing amazingly well. But, I also learned a lot writing this first novel, so I promise that Montagnard will be even better!

However, you will want to read Serpents Underfoot before you read Montagnard, so I’d think about getting your copy pretty soon! It is available in Kindle format as well as paperback and hardcover.

Wonderful! Another 5 Stars for Serpents Underfoot!

First, a short preamble!

wonderful

I first became acquainted with Cristina Pugh a few months ago. Cristina’s late husband, Johnny F. Pugh, is the author of Through Smoke-Teared Eyes: The Vietnam War I Fought. Cristina contacted me through Authors.com. She asked if I’d read her late husband’s book and perhaps post a short review of it online.

I did so and a few weeks later, posted my review of her late husband’s book on Amazon.com. This is a wonderful and amazing book. In addition, it is a winner of several awards! I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the infantryman’s experience during the Vietnam War. You can read my review here if you would like to.

Yesterday, I received a wonderful surprise!

Cristina wrote a wonderful Five Star review of Serpents Underfoot on Amazon.com calling it

“An intelligent current-day spy novel with a love story that dates back to the Vietnam War.”

You can read the entire review here. I have included an excerpt:

wonderful


In summary, Serpents Underfoot is a very well-written novel that exhibits Gilbert’s passion for and extensive knowledge of military history, martial arts and spy sagas. It quite effectively blends these themes with terrorist threats from well-financed middle-eastern extremists and current-day foreign government meddling into controlling and financing United States presidential campaigns. Any reader who loves spy novels combined with an exotic love story that goes back decades will certainly enjoy this book. D.C. Gilbert is currently working on a sequel to this, his first work of fiction, and I am looking forward to reading more by this very talented and skilled author.

Cristina Pugh

All I can say, Cristina, is thank you for the wonderful review. I am so glad you enjoyed the book.

To read other interesting posts on a variety of topics on this blog, just click here!

Twitter Marketing for Aspiring Authors

Self-published indie authors are always looking for new ways to market themselves and their books. There are several social media tools available for this purpose. Instagram is one such tool that I covered in an earlier post. Twitter is another.

Can you use Twitter to market your book(s)?

Like with Instagram, the short answer is … yes. You certainly can. However, again like Instagram, you do have to understand a few key things going in to it.

Unlike Instagram, with Twitter, your post can link directly to your book’s page on Amazon.com or any other web page you choose. You will probably still not generate a lot of sales tweeting away on Twitter, but you will generate some. However, like Instagram, Twitter is a valuable tool for establishing yourself as an author and networking with other indie authors, publishers, or editors … sharing ideas, experiences, and writing tips as well as promoting your book in those same circles.

While Instagram is more visual, Twitter is about crafting a clever message in 280 characters. You can include images (and I usually do) but the real trick here is to try to get the reader to click the link in the tweet. Below are a few sample Tweets I created and sent out into the Twit-O-Sphere!

Note the hashtags …

twitter

Again, it is about putting your name and your work in front of a growing audience in a way that builds your brand recognition and establishes you as an author to be remembered. And, like I stated earlier, you may actually even sell a few books.

twitter

Other aspects to consider on Twitter

  • Hashtags – Use hashtags before relevant keywords in your tweet to categorize tweets and help them show up in Twitter searches. Clicking or tapping on a hash-tagged word in any tweet displays other Tweets that include that hashtagHashtags can be included anywhere in a Tweet. Examples: #SerpentsUnderfoot #AdirondackBearTales #writingcommunity #amwriting
  • Tags – You can also tag a specific Twitter handle to ensure that user gets the Tweet in their feed. Examples: @darrencgilbert @AdirondackAlmanac.

    This is very basic. There are some other, trickier aspects to using the @ sign in a Tweet. For more information on using the @ symbol in Tweets, just click this link here!

Twitter also has some strong and welcoming communities for writers and readers. These folks are always willing to share ideas, critiques, etc. There are groups that run little writing contests based on “prompt words” that can help you improve your writing skills … especially since you only have 280 characters!

So, jump in and get started! Join the writing community, try your hand at a few word prompts, and mostly … have fun.

One last thought …

Don’t get caught up in the race for followers. You will have offers to grow your following by the thousands … for a fee of course. Let your following grow naturally. It is far better to have 300 followers that are really interested in you and your work, than to have 3000 followers you paid for and who don’t give a rat’s ass about what you are doing.

For other interesting posts on a variety of topics, click here!