Tag Archives: Fiction

Wired for the Weekend


A Jade Weekes Art Mystery

A Jade Weekes Art Mystery

Wired went live on Smashwords in the early hours of March 15th, and is already flying off the virtual shelves. It’s available for Free through March 29th as I tweak the formatting, cover image, and promo copy. While there are a lot of moving parts to coordinate for the official launch, I’m excited to finally have it available, and look forward to feedback from readers.

Wired is the first installment of the Jade Weekes Art Mystery series, with the 2nd novel, Enigma, scheduled for release late 2013. Set in Paris, St. Pete, and Chicago, this mystery unravels an organized crime gang, solves a murder, and reveals the haunting past of main character, Jade Weekes.

Here’s the promo copy from Smashwords:

Short description
Read for FREE through March 29, 2013! Jade Weekes emerged from the oily wash of the Seine five years ago with no memory of her life, but an uncanny knowledge of fine art, museum security, and a knack for walking away with priceless treasures. Now she’s tracking an elusive Van Gogh with ties to an underworld struggle that will reveal her forgotten past.

Extended description
Jade Weekes leaves Paris to track a priceless Van Gogh from St. Pete to Chicago. Her contacts are shady and she is beginning to think there is more to this job than a buyer wanting a gift for his wife. Otherwise, why would Simon Morrell, a rival thief, cross her path just as the FBI begins asking questions?

Caught up in the six billion dollar international art theft industry, she enlists help from unlikely sources: film actor Alex Ford, and veteran FBI specialists Stewart Connor and John Young.

No one is who they seem, most of all Jade Weekes.

You can download Wired for your e-reader here.

The Red PencilLook for me to return to blogging on a regular basis as I vet ideas for novel number 3 in the series (working title The Missing), and ramble on techniques for character development. Enjoy your weekend, and get outside to soak up the extra sunshine. ;)


Let’s Talk About the Weather


August 26, 2011

 
The skies this morning were mostly clear, however, the air remains thick with tropical moisture. A hot wind scatters sun burned leaves. This is late summer in North Carolina. Two months of scant rain is forcing trees to drop shade while occasional “cool days”, as in under 90F, lets you imagine chilly football games and Halloween costumes. This is hurricane season.

Just days after a rare earthquake felt in tiny to moderate rumbles from Toronto to South Carolina, we’re bunkering down for Hurricane Irene. I’m fortunate to not be in the direct path; rather my neighborhood will experience stiff 50 mph winds and rain. That’s normal for an old-fashioned thunderstorm in this part of the country.

Now here is how it relates to writing. Hold on to your laptops….. your characters experience earthquakes and weather. Shocking, I know.

I’m a weather junkie. If disaster is falling from the sky, I’m glued to the Weather Channel and taking pictures. Freak 2-foot snowstorm? Documented. Standing in the eye of Hurricane Fran… got that too. Just think how powerful your hero’s scene would be if he/she crawled through a wind savaged parking lot, trying to rescue their loved one? How do I know they’re crawling? Have you tried to stand up when the wind speed is over 60 mph?

As writers, we can use our real life experiences during extreme conditions and situations to tighten the tension in our stories and add realism that draws in readers. Add details that involve the senses. How does the air feel on their skin? What color is the sky? After a hurricane, the sky is amazingly clear, and the tropic induced sunset is breathtaking. That’s the reward for surviving nature’s battering.

A snow storm plays a critical role in Perfect Copy, while the conclusion for my WIP, Anatomy of a Lie, is shaped by a hurricane. Take a moment to think of where in your story your characters could be helped or hampered by weather conditions. Have you described your character’s frustration, joy, the forces shaping his/her actions?

The eye of Hurricane Fran moved through central NC, right over my apartment. Power went out around 11pm as winds intensified. From my upstairs window, we watched green flashes silhouetting the bent trees as electrical transformers exploded. During the night, the steady howl calmed, drawing myself and neighbors outside to see the damage. Trees lay across cars, but it was too dark to make out much more. We were standing in the eye. Moments later the east side of the side began to pass over and dump over 16 inches of rain and $2.4 Billion in damage. I lived without electricity for a week, grateful for a gas stove and water heater:)

Rain, sleet or snow… weather facts have built-in drama.

Outer Bands of Hurricane Irene, Central NC


What Inspires You?


This past week, I’ve hiked the Blue Ridge Parkway, played car games and most importantly listened to my daughter recount stories from the kindergarten classroom and her perspective on life. She is an amazing storyteller, inspired by envy of the boy with 64 crayons to her modest 16 and complaining that her pen is not “participating” as she tried to write in her new diary. (She considers writing a personal relationship between herself and her writing implements. I am so proud.)

It caused me to reflect on what inspires my writing. Not the ideas that turn into stories, but the need to put the ideas on paper.

First, it’s cheaper than therapy.

Kidding aside, it lets me explore life through a focused lens. I can take an experience and examine it through a character and learn something about myself or express an emotion that I’m inhibited to share in reality.

We are the sum of our experiences: childhood, friends, schools, teachers, parents and family, co-workers, pain, joy and extreme sorrow. There will always be the question, “what if…” in our lives, challenging the choices we’ve made and the paths taken. What if you could travel those roads to where they go? Which roads would you chose?

Writing in any form is cathartic and even the tiniest bits of ourselves laid to paper heals our wounds or takes weight from our shoulders. My need to write comes from an OCD necessity to create stories. A fair amount of emotion from my own roller coaster life lands in the mix. One of my greatest sorrows landed in “Perfect Copy”, my need for adventure in “Wired”.

As writers, do we sully our emotions by using them in our fiction? No. It’s a means to safely share the deepest part of ourselves and connect with others. Our characters are real because they are a little bit of us and a little bit of everyone we’ve ever known.

The most important inspirations for my writing and life are my daughter and husband, both who keep me grounded. Without them, I would never have experienced my greatest happiness.

What inspires you?


Stepping Out…And In


Now that I’m over 40, not saying how far over, I’m sporting new progressive bifocal glasses for reading and driving. I think they make me look taller. Anyhow, it reminded me of writing. Pretty much everything reminds me of writing.

This creative process is a stepping in to handle the details and a stepping out to see how it fits as a whole. I edit with a bifocal approach:

  • Wave 1 – Typos, passive language & obvious mistakes
  • Wave 2 – I read it through at least once from each character’s perspective
  • Wave 3 – I use info from wave 2 to address overall plot issues

I won’t go into an explanation of Wave 1. It should be your number 1 mission to get a clean manuscript.

Wave 2 is helpful on several levels. First, I’m making sure the character’s thoughts, words and actions in the beginning are building to where they are in the end. Are there subtle clues to what they’re hiding? Have I built their personal story enough for the reader to see a person and not a caricature? Second, every character has a plot that pushes and pulls them in relation to the main plot and theme. Real characters, like real people are a sum of their experiences, relationships and we all have baggage. This wave strengthens the characters and in turn strengthens the overall novel and plot.

After Wave 2, the challenges in Wave 3 should be easy to fix. Wave 3 is the stepping back. You’ll see from your characters that they either have too much information or not enough. You’ll see if they need more angst, urgency or perhaps another plot line woven in. You’ll know in your gut what to do and you’ll have the fortitude to follow it through.

Now, hand your book to strangers (family and friends will lie to you) and be prepared for honest feedback. Take it like an adult; they want to make you better. This is the ultimate stepping back as you let go of your emotional attachment and consider how to best engage readers.

At last you can relax. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished. It took guts, hours of labor, early mornings, late nights and heartache, but you are now a novelist for the rest of your life.

My bifocal approach works for me, it helps organize my thoughts and keeps the small details of my writing supporting the bigger picture.

Ever notice how jigsaw puzzle pieces look alike? I think of most things in life as a puzzle. I like to really look at the pieces and see if I can make them fit together in new and better ways.


Best Seller for a Day


This is an innovative program founded by the Indie Book Collective, @IndieBookIBC for those of you on Twitter. The idea is to spread the word about a single author and title and drive significant 1 day sales. It started with 2 women, added in a few volunteers and through Twitter’s word of mouth power, has worked.

Coming up on April 6th it is Rachel Thompson’s turn with “A Walk in the Snark”. This hilarious non-fiction look at life and the quirks of relationships and parenting is amazing. If you want a peak at Rachel’s flavor visit RachelintheOC.com.

On April 6th, the ebook price will drop to just  99 cents on Amazon. In addition, you can take your purchase confirmation code to BestSellerForADay.com and enter to win up to $50 in Amazon Gift Cards.

Why does this work? Because there are thousands of reading options available, but unless the world knows where to find you you’ll sit in the 500,000+ ranks listening to crickets. Best Seller for a Day simply spreads the word with one huge shout to create awareness. It’s so effective that IBC co-founder, Carolyn McCray is now an ongoing contributor to Digital Book World’s newsletter and New York agents and publishers are taking a second look at their marketing model.

Contrary to the popular misconception, you do not need a Kindle to read an ebook from Amazon. Trust me, whatever you have, there’s an app for that.

I am a big supporter of BSFAD. When Amber Scott’s “Irish Moon” went on sale, I purchased a copy for myself and gifted a copy. It’s 1-click Whishpernet technology, what can be easier than that?

Looking for more? Use the links above and follow the stream here:

@IndieBookIBC

@RachelintheOC

@CraftyCMC

@AmberScottBooks

@KimberlyKinrade


You know you’re a writer when….


That sentence can be finished off a thousand different ways. When did you figure out you were a writer?

For me, it happened early. Once I started reading, my imagination wanted to create its own stories and I found these stories took me beyond the small town where I grew up and allowed me think what could be possible.

I had a magical playground with a beach that appeared and disappeared on command, unsolvable mysteries that only my heroine could crack, then the next day travel to distant galaxies. I was never without a journal, paper or pencils. I collected bookmarks. I took my stories and bound them between cut out cardboard and illustrated the covers.

Once you become a writer you’re changed forever. It’s a mindset really, you’re going along and BAM, there’s two ancient ladies walking along a busy stretch of road, arm in arm and your mind has to give them a story. You crave learning because you can use the experience and knowledge for your characters. You get 2 hours alone and instead of taking a nap, you write blog posts about writing.

A few years ago, I picked up a cute book titled You Know You’re a Writer When… by Adair Lara. Inside are truisms for the writer’s life and it lets me know I’m not alone. That’s the thing with writing; for the most part it is not a group activity. You’re all by yourself with only your characters to talk to.

I know I’m a writer when I’m writing, but also when I quiz people on their life stories or jot notes about strangers and what they’re wearing. Some time back, while driving from Charlotte to Raleigh, NC I noticed a man jogging the paved paths in a cemetery. That was too good not to work into a story.

Here are a few ways I can finish the sentence:

You know you’re a writer when….

• You stalk people in public and use them for character descriptions.

• You rewrite EVERYTHING you read including the cereal box.

• Your genealogy research turns into a plot line.

• You read Beowulf for real (unlike high school) and discover the movie Alien was a complete rip-off.

• You have sentimental attachment to old pencils.

How do you know you’re a writer? Just know that you’re not alone, there are a lot of us out here talking to ourselves and making up words.

~~~

You Know You’re a Writer When… by Adair Lara  |  2007  Chronicle Books, San Francisco, USA

Recommended reading for writers feeling lonely; especially pages 16, 54,  #4 on p 21, oh heck, just read the whole thing, it’s really entertaining.


“Having Her Say” a guest post by Jade Weekes of Wired


“Third person point of view can be subjective,” considered Jade Weeks. She was in the process of casing the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg.  The near axis of sun to earth felt like a suffocating heat wave after the cool mornings in Paris. However, the geometric, yet flowing, organic feel of the building set her at ease and she began to notice patrons standing in shadows, fleeing unconsciously from the solar outburst.

“My point of view is private and public,” she had told Morrell. He had cornered her in their hotel lobby, intent upon discerning her intent. She didn’t care for his bragging tones as he tried to out-exploit her exploits.

“Preferably, she story should unfold to the observer without your intervention. Unless you are genuinely engaging, do you think readers really want to know your deepest secrets?” She was prodding his ego. She could tell it injured him.

“Those who follow me,” she continued, “hear my thoughts, see my reactions and make up their own minds as to whether I’m interesting.”

Morrell, red-faced, had tried to justify his first person point of view. Jade had walked away.

Now, as she reflected on the conversation, she decided maybe her words were too harsh. Everyone is entitled to their own point of view: objective, subjective or even first person.

She found a bench outside the café. Settling in with an iced latte and travel-worn paperback, she deliberated over which selection would grace her wall. Dali’s Paranonia would be most fitting.  A smile was the barest hint to her pleasure.  The novel in her hands bordered Dali’s profound genius: “Time Machine” by H.G. Wells, a shifty POV if she ever read one.


“What’s Your Point of View?” guest post by Simon Morrell of WIRED


While on a recent excursion to Chicago, I ran into Jade Weekes. She had the audacity to claim that I am self-centered. Granted, I like to talk about myself and at times write about my brilliant exploits. I can’t help it; my story is told in the first person narrative. It’s MY story.

As the first person in a first person narrative, I have no choice but to reveal my thoughts, fears and deep longings. It’s also my curse; I can have no secrets from you.

I try to maintain my privacy, but still, you were there as I slipped a razor blade through paper and peeled the dry, paint flecked images from their frames, again and again until six master pieces lined a cardboard tube.

Less than two minutes later, you watched me drop it into the wooden crate, latch it shut, and affix a shipping label to the outside. In the next and most clever plot twist, I added a forged manifest to the clipboard for the morning outgoing stock and opened the door. Alarms rang instantly.

Running through the deserted streets, I looked for a Peugeot idling in the dark. A car swerved, blocking the road, lights flashed too quickly to be luck, and then hands threw me against the car almost before it stopped. I was flung face down on the hot wet metal.

I twisted my head to look; it was not the Paris police, but the Gendarme.

Did you help as you watched my story through the words on the page? Sadly, non. You can tell many stories in first person, letting you, the voyeur, tag along inside the hero’s head. If only my story were a romance rather than a mystery, my secrets would be less incriminating.

Chronically in love with himself, Simon Morrell makes his living acquiring art and artifacts for his employer. On occasion, he simply steals for fun. Although he resides in Paris, his frequent international travel is often monitored by authorities.


In Your Dreams


I had planned to write about Narrative POV this morning, but it’s 6am and I haven’t had my coffee. My head is still foggy with images and plot twists from my dreams.

I remember distinctly, at age 5, thinking dreams were like movies. The nights always sped by too quickly and I wanted to stay in the story. It is still like that for me. My dreams have involved plots with mystery, conflict and at times, a touch of the bizarre. They are my feeding ground for writing. Nightmares give me intense, first-hand knowledge of terror that I can use with my characters. Stress dreams translate as puzzles to be solved and then there are the truly bizarre dreams full of whimsy and fantasy.

The un-censoring mind you have when you first awake knows exactly what to do with this gift. Write. A psychologist would best be able to explain the connection, but I’ve found that the same part of my brain that generates these image-rich dreams also generates fluid prose. For a brief time, the inner critic stays at bay and words spill in an organic motion across my screen.

Great thinkers of our time have credited dreams with problem solving and discovery. The mind really is an incredible place to explore, but it seems we have access to more of its computational prowess at night and mere moments to hold on to it in the morning.

Last night was a murder mystery that took place in a pre-school and for some reason Dr. House was on the case. He was not nice to the children. As a writing prompt, I’m going to go with it and warm up my fingers and brain.

I’ll be back later to talk POV and the role it plays in genre; until then sweet dreams.


Hoarding Time


It was a dark and stormy night.

It was a dark and stormy night...

It’s inky and wet outside, the pink and steel-blue sunset is hours gone and stacks of clean laundry abound, awaiting the wee faeries that will arrive after midnight to fold and distribute the crumpled mass to the appropriate dressers and closets. Yes, my imagination is running wild. It must be after dark, and I must be writing.

In a busy house with responsibilities and a full-time job awaiting me in 8 hours, all I can think about is writing. Found moments are like diamonds wrapped in chocolate. An hour in the morning or a few extra minutes after everyone is asleep is priceless. I can write without worry, edit endlessly, and firmly plant my feet on a forward path in regard to my writing goals.

I’ve become a collector of sorts, I hoard found moments. I learned years ago, that unless you put your goals on your daily “To Do” list, they just won’t happen. I make lunch dates with myself to write. One favorite nook is the General Aviation Terminal at the airport. I am not kidding. It has a small cafe, a great view of the runway, sleek private planes and is nearly silent. If I have writers block, I can look out at the small jets with red carpets and expensively outfitted passengers and imagine a fresh scene for my story. Actually, any place that’s quiet and serves coffee works for me. All it takes is one or two lunch dates a week to add significant word count or give the push for a final copy-edit.

At night, I sit with my daughter as she falls asleep and in addition to having the bonus snuggle time, I use my iPad to write, research and catch up on Twitter. Then when I manage to head off to bed, I set my alarm for 5:30am. Sometimes I get up. Sometimes it’s my snooze button. Even 20 or 30 foggy minutes of writing keeps me motivated.

I use my drive time to construct scenes and play out plot turns until I know which one I’ll write down….once I find the moment. I watch people all around me, piecing together an imaginary back story and wonder if any of the revelations might work for my characters.

So often writers say they can’t find time to write. All things are possible. You may have to plan it, schedule it, take a vacation day to claim it, but the time is always there. As writers, we are sometimes too creative in what we let get in the way.

Years ago, in my broadcast days, a co-worker with several small girls and a budding music career gave me candid parenting advice. (Note-I was not married at the time nor had children.) She told me to “Just go in the bathroom, lock the door and turn on the fan. No one will ever ask to come in or when you’re coming out.”

Writing is hard, but for some reason we keep going at it like an addiction. The more we write, the more we MUST write. The more we write, the better we write. The more we write, the easier it becomes and then all those moments build up to a finished manuscript. That is worth the extra effort and persistence.

I’m sure you have your tricks to reclaiming time. I’d love to learn from you.


Copy Writing Part 2: Show Time


You’ve finished your novel, copy edits included, and you’re ready to send it out into the world. Now’s the time for the next big step: writing your synopsis.  This single page of compelling, tightly written copy is the basis for a lot of your future marketing and pitch plans.

Your synopsis should give the complete story, including the snazzy surprise ending. If you’re taking the traditional route, this will go out with your query letter to publishers and agents who will evaluate if the story is engaging enough to equal sales. It is also the smartest writing sample you’ll have, outside of your novel.

Know from the start, if you can take a 300+ page novel and write a cohesive 1 page synopsis, you are prepared to write ANYTHING.

Open with a hook that captures the tone, genre and setting.  If the opening line or two of your novel is to die for, consider using that as the setup for the synopsis.  Then go through and write a compelling line for each major plot turn.  I can’t emphasize enough, how important it is to make your words work for the right to be on the page.  Cut your adverbs and adjectives.  Eradicate “was”, “that” and especially “have/had”.  Passive language kills momentum for your reader.

Once you’re done and realize you have too many pages, it’s time to cut.  (Did you really think you were done with all that editing.)  What are the most pivotal plot points?  Keep those and sharpen the lines to be active and intriguing.   Are you showing how your plot is moving forward? How about character development?  Your characters grow throughout the novel, they should show growth here too.

If you have a friend or family member who is a great editor, reader or writer, call in a favor and get their opinion.  You may even want to pay a professional to look it over and make edits or suggestions.  This is usually a minimal fee (usually less than $40) and well worth the money.

In the end, you have a top-notch synopsis that is the base for your book cover, elevator pitch, author page, website, etc.  Let’s see how this translates.

Book Cover/On-line Point of Purchase
For the potential reader, you don’t want to give away the ending.  The twists, and surprises along the way is what makes reading a great novel so much fun.  Start with your incredible synopsis and look at the hook.  It’s there right at the top. Finish with an intriguing summary line that hints at a satisfying ending. In addition to becoming jacket copy, you now have your product description for on-line point of sales such as Amazon.

Tweet It
Pull pithy prose and twitter it to your followers.  Use links to your web site or point of purchase.

Pitch It
The elevator pitch should be for anyone nice enough to say hello.  Don’t wait for an unsuspecting agent at a writers conference.  Pitch your novel to your friends, your hair dresser, your daughter’s preschool teachers and anyone standing still long enough to listen. Before you know it, the pitch will tumble out naturally and with confidence. EVERYONE is a potential reader and so is everyone to whom they pass your name and novel.

Did I Mention Press Release?
The news wires and free release sites are great, but there are even greater avenues for distributing the news about your writing.  Regional writing organizations such as the North Carolina Writer’s Network promote press releases, web sites and readings to their members.  Contact local independent book stores and find out how to be involved in an author event, panel discussion or book club.  They will appreciate your professional and prepared approach.

Best of luck!  Comment and share your experience and advice for fellow writers.


Copy Writing Part 1: Introduction


There’s a lot of psychology that goes into how we receive messages and which message will motivate us to take action.

Take into account the environment where your message is encountered. Each has a unique personality that goes with the medium and a ‘reader patience threshold’. Our media saturated brains want to process information faster and craves bullet points and directness. As related to writing, I’ve grouped ad copy outlets into two categories:

Book Jacket/Back Cover copy/Online Book page (point of purchase)
You have about 5 minutes to convince a potential reader to buy your book. They may be reading the copy online on your author page or inside a book store. You have a hook at the beginning of your novel to reel in your reader; you need a hook in this copy to pique their interest.

Twitter & Social Media
140 Characters and that’s it. Luckily, you can send multiple tweets and build up a profile of your work. Even so, you need to be compelling and interesting. You may hold a reader’s interest 2 minutes. If the message works, they’ll click a link and spend much longer than that on your website or point of purchase site. Same with Facebook and similar social media: if you’re updating on a regular basis and entertaining, you’ll build a loyal following.

Tease & Entice: How do you shape the message?
This is where I step back to my writer/producer role and you become my client. My first question to you is what is your goal? Understanding the end goal up front helps you work backwards to a starting point for your promotional efforts, then you build in the steps to get you from here to there.

Identify what is unique about you and your work. You want to be fresh and differentiated from the masses shouting for attention. You want to present that in a way which is also fresh and differentiated.

Copy writing is powerful because it is precise. You need to make every word in every sentence earn the right to be there. Use words that carry double duty by being active, descriptive and mood setting. When you think what you have written is fairly tight, go back and cut some more. The bones of the message should be there, not the flesh which is what you deliver in the novel.

Don’t be afraid to tweak and test. There are many tools available to measure click-through on tweet links so you know right away if your message works. When you find something that resonates, tweak it for another medium, perhaps a Facebook update, or blurb on a forum signature line. Expand on it and test it on your book page.

Advertising is a growing, changing, moody animal. What worked for a particular company 50 years ago may still work today and in the same breath, what is hot today may be irrelevant tomorrow. Know your audience, put yourself in their place and think hard about what would make them want to read your work.

Next Time
Copy Writing Part 2: Copy Writing for Your Book Cover

This will concentrate on how to pull the best from your novel to make your jacket copy as compelling as possible.


(I’ve spent over 20 years working in media with 13 of those in advertising. My producer credits range from 30 minute programming for sports franchises to award presentations, Internet marketing and thousands of television commercials. I’ve learned a lot over the years, mostly how to listen to my clients. After all, it is the client (aka YOU) that knows their product the best. Now, go write something.)


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