Peter Pollak

About Peter Pollak

Author of five thrillers, Pollak is working on number six, tentatively entitled “Inauguration Day.” Learn more at petergpollak.com.

Articles contributed by this author
Peter Pollak

PETER POLLAK

Aulthor of The Expendable Man (2011); Making the Grade (2012); Last Stop on Desolation Ridge (2012); In the Game (2014); & House Divided (2015)

3-23-17   SOME WRITERS YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE HEARD OF   I spent the week-end of March 11 & 12 at the Tucson Festival of Books, the third largest such event in the country. My goal was to learn from the best and the brightest, knowing from past experience that a number of hot, new writers come to Tucson to introduce their works to the world.

I was not disappointed and am happy to share with my LateLastNightBook followers the names of some authors you might want to give a try.
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Peter Pollak

PETER POLLAK

Aulthor of The Expendable Man (2011); Making the Grade (2012); Last Stop on Desolation Ridge (2012); In the Game (2014); & House Divided (2015)

Emily St. John Mandel’s Utopian Dystopia: A Review

2/23/2017: Why do I call Emily Mandel’s Station Eleven a utopian dystopia? Her story echoes the tradition of dystopian novels from 1984 and Brave New World to more recent books like McCarthy’s The Road and Veronica Roth’s Divergent by positing a pandemic that wipes out the vast majority of the earth’s population in a matter of days, but the ending, which I will get to, is more optimistic than most.

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Peter Pollak

PETER POLLAK

Aulthor of The Expendable Man (2011); Making the Grade (2012); Last Stop on Desolation Ridge (2012); In the Game (2014); & House Divided (2015)

Chanukah Guilt by Ilene Schneider: A Review

Chanukah Guilt is the title of Rabbi Illene Schneider’s first cozy mystery. The heroine is a female rabbi whose persistence in seeking answers about the supposed suicide of a young woman leads to the discovery of a double murder.

The Chanukah connection is an artificial overlay to the story and other than being “cute” due to the fact that Guilt almost sounds like Gelt, the title has nothing to do with the story.

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Peter Pollak

PETER POLLAK

Aulthor of The Expendable Man (2011); Making the Grade (2012); Last Stop on Desolation Ridge (2012); In the Game (2014); & House Divided (2015)

Short Story versus Novel Writing

I consider myself a novelist not a short-story writer. In fact, I’m not satisfied with any of the three-dozen shorts in various stages of development that occupy a directory on my harddrive. Writing short stories is very different than writing novels. Some people think it’s best to start out with shorts and then move on to novels. That may work for some, but to me it’s like thinking you would be good at bull-riding because you can ride a horse.

A novel is not just a long short story. Psychologically it requires a much greater commitment because it can take months or even years to complete a 90,000-word novel. Most short story writers don’t need help deciding when their story is ready for public consumption. Many novels are so complex that to offer one’s novel to the public without first having others read it is asking for trouble. In a short story, you might have half a dozen to a dozen characters, and are unlikely to spell a person’s name two different ways in the course of the story. Novels can have dozens of characters, which means it’s easy to misspell a character’s name not to mention having a Tony and Toni in the same story. Of course, names that are very similar is something to be avoided.

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Peter Pollak

PETER POLLAK

Aulthor of The Expendable Man (2011); Making the Grade (2012); Last Stop on Desolation Ridge (2012); In the Game (2014); & House Divided (2015)

My Take on Plotting versus Pantsing

A common writers’ conference workshop topic is “Pantsing versus Plotting,” a reflection of the fact that many writers struggle with how to plot out their stories. If that’s you, perhaps my breaking down this issue will help you gain some insights into how to avoid some of the pitfalls of poor plotting.

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Peter Pollak

PETER POLLAK

Aulthor of The Expendable Man (2011); Making the Grade (2012); Last Stop on Desolation Ridge (2012); In the Game (2014); & House Divided (2015)

8/25/16 — What Rachmaninoff Can Teach Us About Writing

Tamsin Silver, writing for the Magical Words blog, asked recently whether too many books on writing, too many classes and too many rules can interfere with one’s creative instinct. Clearly that’s a danger, a trap to avoid. Her post also got me thinking how Rachmaninoff might have gone about composing his third piano concerto and whether that sheds any light on Silver’s question.

Writers who seek to improve their skills are naturally drawn to books, classes, workshops, critique groups, etc. While all of the above can be beneficial, it’s also possible to drown in the deluge of available resources, many of which promise to reveal the secrets of a successful writing career––i.e., one that pays the bills and the occasional vacation. By drowning I mean being unable to move forward because of conflicting advice or a fear one is not doing it the way a teacher, author or critic recommended. Following a rule rather than one’s instinct can lead to dead-ends and writer’s block.

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Peter Pollak

PETER POLLAK

Aulthor of The Expendable Man (2011); Making the Grade (2012); Last Stop on Desolation Ridge (2012); In the Game (2014); & House Divided (2015)

If you read any self-publishing magazines or blogs, you’ll come across dozens of columns on how to build your brand, use the latest marketing techniques, and approach your writing as a business. Anyone who is a business person first and an author second will decide what to write about based on their analysis of what the market is looking for. They will plan their marketing campaign early in the process, and spend thousands on pre-release publicity, on an audio version, and on a marketing firm that promises to put their book on the shelves of bookstores and libraries.

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Peter Pollak

PETER POLLAK

Aulthor of The Expendable Man (2011); Making the Grade (2012); Last Stop on Desolation Ridge (2012); In the Game (2014); & House Divided (2015)

PGP977_face0If you asked me ten years ago what genre I’d be writing when I started writing novels, I would not have said thrillers. Yet from a dozen false starts, I picked a thriller for the first novel I tried to complete. That became The Expendable Man, which some still rate as my best story. And what is the genre of the story I’m working on today? You guessed it––a thriller.

Thrillers are one of the most competitive genres these days in terms of sales and numbers of books published––along with romances and mysteries. Why? What is it that attracts both writers and readers to this genre? I have some ideas. Let’s see if they make any sense.  (Continue reading)

Peter Pollak

PETER POLLAK

Aulthor of The Expendable Man (2011); Making the Grade (2012); Last Stop on Desolation Ridge (2012); In the Game (2014); & House Divided (2015)

Many, if not most, authors love their main characters because to some extent they are a more perfect version of themselves. Your protagonist may be the person you wish you were, particularly if you made him or her brave, resolute, compassionate, and clear-headed. However, after sharing your hero’s story with the public, have you been surprised when readers don’t love your character as much as you do?

Have readers said they liked your plot, but were not sold on your protagonist? There’s a reason this happens and there are things you can do in your next book or short story to create characters your readers will love––perhaps even more than you. (Continue reading)