Tag Archives: novel

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

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.

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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