Tuesday, October 27, 2015

4T Olio -- readers, I need your help deciding something!

photo credit: The Quest via photopin (license)
I recently did this post on Magical Musings, and would love to get reader input here too.

I’ve been re-reading one of my favorite mystery writers lately–Rex Stout. Stout began writing his 1/7 ton, orchid-loving gourmand genius detective Nero Wolfe in the thirties (just after the end of Prohibition, Wolfe’s first recorded words are, “Where’s the beer?”). But the stories are lively and readable for today’s audiences, thanks to entertaining narrator Archie Goodwin, Wolfe’s feet, eyes and ears on New York–and ours, too.

I admit that I was worried that I wouldn't enjoy reading Stout as much, since my author training means I see the puppet strings and the puppeteer behind the words.

photo credit: Puppet via photopin (license)
But no. I actually enjoy Archie and Nero more, because Stout’s such a freaking great writer. There’s an impact difference between a teacher telling about the tools of writing (even with examples) and seeing a genius use those tools. Don’t believe me? Think of any occupation where you’ve seen someone blow you away. For me it’s Brett Favre, whatever you might think about his career. I see anyone throw a football and it’s caught and I think yay, amazing, because frankly I can’t throw a ball a half-foot to a receiver dressed in two-sided tape. But Favre…when he threw the ball, the receiver didn’t catch it so much as Favre seemed to slide the ball directly into the receiver’s hands. Artistry, poetry in motion.

Anyway, the point to all this is that Stout made me reconsider one aspect of writing that has plagued me my whole career. What makes something mysterious? Frankly, I always thought you had to write vague unsettling creepy stuff.

Here’s what I now think is true, and this is what I need you to confirm or not: The way to be mysterious is to be crystal clear about your mystery.

Example: Which is more mysterious?
  • Jen thought she saw a shadowy figure in the dark bushes.
  • Jen saw the bushes stir. Not a cat-size stirring, but man-size.
Or this:
  • The victim wrote something in her own blood before dying.
  • The victim wrote “rache” in her own blood before dying.
So which is more mysterious to you? First or second point in each example? Please let me know!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

3T Writing Tidbit

"Hi." "Hi." "How are you." "Oh fine..."
*yawn* Can we throw in vampires now?

Dialog isn't just speech. If it were, half of most books would be like the above.

No, dialog has a purpose. Actually, it has one of three purposes.

Move the story forward.
Reveal something about the character.
Show conflict.

Good dialog has two out of three. Brilliant has all three. But if your dialog doesn't seem to do even one of these, cut it. Then see if you're missing anything. If you are, it's one of these three things but very subtle.

More on dialog next month!

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

October 1T Status Update

First there was Logan's story in Biting Me Softly, then Synnove's in Beauty Bites. Now meet his brother Luke and her sister Alexis as they struggle to find their way in Biting Love book 9 Passion Bites.

A broken vampire and a driven doctor, seized by a passion neither can afford.

Dr. Alexis Byornsson has her hands full in the ER when her patient’s uncle blows into the exam room. Stitching up a five-year-old’s cut is hard enough without a blond god distracting her all to hell.

To say she’s furious is putting it mildly—not that anyone would notice. Not with the legendary control that’s earned her the nickname “Dr. Frozen”.

Luke Steel never knew a woman chastising him could be so sexy. But for the first time in three hundred years, passion stirs in his gut—along with panic. Since his wife was taken before his eyes in a brutal attack, he’s sworn he’d never feel that powerless again.

Almost before either Luke or Alexis realize what’s happening, they’re sharing a blazing kiss that shatters her logical armor and unleashes his wholly unwanted mating instinct. And spurs a closer-than-skin enemy to put into motion a devastating plan for revenge.

Warning: This book contains a hot doctor and a hotter vampire messing up sterile surfaces. The usual rogue shenanigans, but this time covering deeper motives. Hang on to your stethoscopes at what’s revealed!

Preorder now!
Kindle | Nook | Samhain | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play | All Romance | UK Amazon | UK Nook

I have to admit, I wasn't sure if Luke's story would ever be written. I usually write first loves because I'm deeply committed to grand passion, to love that lasts an eternity. Luke, as series readers know, has lost his wife. How did I deal with that, help him heal emotionally?

Strangely, it was a woman whose own emotions are clogged who finally emerged from the pages as Luke's savior. But just because Dr. Alexis Byornsson's emotionally frozen doesn't mean she doesn't have feelings, quite the opposite! ...although she does her darndest to deny them.

Bringing these two together was the hardest and yet most beautiful and fruitful thing I've ever attempted. The finished story still brings heartbreak and finally tears of joy to my eyes. And of course the usual Meiers Corners laughs and cold-drinks sex too.

Have I succeeded? Please read Passion Bites for yourself and let me know.