Book Tours: Guest Post for Four Corners

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I’m hosting a guest post for the book tour for “Four Corners” today. Enjoy the guest post!


  1. At the risk of being crass, it’s all about ass-in-chair.  We all know that.  But it really is that simple.  It’s boring to stare at a blank screen, so at some point, words will appear.  It doesn’t matter whether they’re any good – at least not at first.  It just matters that they’re words.  After a while, they’ll take on their own momentum (we hope).
  2. This is a corollary of Tip #1.  Don’t wait for inspiration.  Inspiration is fickle.  It’s a gift when it arrives, but it can also come wrapped in desperation or frustration or all manner of misery, so don’t wait for it to appear in shiny paper tied up with a satin ribbon.  Just tear away at the desperation or the frustration or the misery and hope you find inspiration tucked away in there instead of a lump of coal.
  3. Don’t overwork adjectives or adverbs.  It’s tempting to let all those colorful words do the heavy lifting, but there’s a lot of power in a well-chosen noun and, of course, the forward motion of the sentence resides in a mighty verb.
  4. Vary the length of your sentences.  That makes for interesting reading because reading is very much about rhythm, even if subconsciously, and the brain enjoys variation in rhythm.  It’s a bit high-falootin’ to think about words as musical notes, but there is some validity to that.
  5.  Read dialogue out loud.  Words that a character speaks should sound like spoken words, not read like the written word.  Dialogue is not essay writing.  Often, the only way to hear dialogue properly is to actually hear it.  Read it out loud and see if the inflection and emphasis that best carries your meaning demand to be spoken as that meaning requires.
  6. Think cinematically.  Maybe that’s important to me because I worked as a screenwriter for so many years.  But I think the concept of thinking visually and thinking in scenes can only be helpful to any kind of writing. Cinematic thinking also provides a set of terms that can offer a new way of looking at your story: subtext, motivation, action of the scene and the conflict between any of those forces, all suggest a certain energy percolating under the plot.  When listened to, it can be brought to a decent simmer that is exciting and compelling.
  7. Don’t be afraid to break any rules you may have learned about structure.  Especially in your first draft.  Let the story – and more particularly, the characters – lead you where they want to go.  That’s what our asses are in their chairs for in the first place: that moment when the characters take on lives of their own and we’re just along for the ride.  That’s the fun that keeps us coming back for more punishment.
  8. Tell the truth.  The simple truth of the human heart regardless of the circumstances if finds itself in.
  9. Don’t be afraid to overwrite in the first draft.  That’s what first drafts are for.  They are meant to be vomit drafts.
  10. Writing is rewriting.  Sad but true.  And even worse – re-reading.


About the Author

Cary SmithCary Smith, the nom de plume of Greg Hawkins, lives in San Jose, CA. He became interested in books and writing because of a teacher. His favorite book is “Hocus Pocus,” by Kurt Vonnegut or “100 Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He is currently either going to finish his collection of short stories next or turn one of his short stories into a novel, which would be a new take on the ghost genre.

His latest book is Four Corners, Or a Book That Will Tickle Your Intellectual Nipple.

 Visit him on Facebook at

About the Book

Four CornersHigh school. Those two words, for some, instill fear and loathing and vivid memories of sadistic teachers, bullies, and bad lunches. For some happy few, however, high school remains a misty paradise, where a student’s budding dreams and aspirations were nurtured by brilliant, sympathetic teachers, guidance counselors and peers.

Cary Smith, the nom de plume of Greg Hawkins, clearly falls into the first group, as he describes in his hilarious new book, FOUR CORNERS, OR A BOOK THAT WILL TICKLE YOUR INTELLECTUAL NIPPLE.  With a keen sense of the absurd, Smith thrusts his satirical sword straight at the jugular vein of all things pretentious and pedantic that haunt the halls of the educational world. Nothing is spared as Smith takes on the institution of secondary education. Readers will wince in recognition at the cast of characters Smith has created – the brains, jocks, bullies, cliques, incompetent teachers and pompous administrators – who all take a good drubbing from the flat side of Smith’s sword.

“I don’t know why I thought that when middle school was over that high school would be a brand new place, a fresh start,” Smith writes. “Maybe it was because all my teachers in middle school were implanting their lectures about how in high school the teachers wouldn’t let you get away with this and that and that it would be a very different place. Well, as usual, the teachers of the system lied to me …”

For good measure, Smith creates another archetypal character – Brad Cruise, a symbol of the pseudo-intellectual critics and pedagogues who inhabit academia. If you spotted Cruise’s name as a mash-up of Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, that’s what the author intended.

Hawkins also points out that, while Cary Smith is the “satirical narrator” of FOUR CORNERS, “what we come to find out is that not only does he have a humorous side, he has a serious side, and he does, in fact, care, despite what he may say.”

Although much of Smith’s writing is clearly based in personal experience, Hawkins says the book is satirical fiction. The book’s style is steeped in hyperbolic language and literary hi-jinx that hark back to the 18th-century comic classic TRISTRAM SHANDY.

“I wrote FOUR CORNERS to entertain people,” Hawkins says, “not only to help people get through the turbulent time that is high school in America, but to make people feel OK about the time they spent during those years.” He adds:  “There is no one, to my knowledge, writing with this type of narrator, about this subject matter, in such a style and manner, and writing humorously. It is very hard to find a good book with a blend of the serious and comedic.”

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