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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

WIP Wednesday - Colors

I often say that I am a product of my environment, as colors tend to have a dramatic effect on me. I’ve noticed the same thing happens to readers; much of it is subliminal.

For example, suppose you have a scene where two people have just entered a room. The walls are pastel, robin’s egg blue with bright white trim. Photographs on the wall depict beach scenes and serene seascapes. A pair of flip-flops is beside a cottage chair, and a beach towel is draped over a white-washed kitchen chair.

Now stand at the threshold again. As you enter the room again, the walls are covered in a burgundy and gold wallpaper. The trim is walnut. Photographs depict black and white villages of times gone by, of a law office, doctor’s office and five-and-dime from the early 20th century. Beside an over-stuffed chair is a walnut curio table, upon which is a crystal decanter. A dining room table sits off to the side; it is also walnut, and the chair cushions are burgundy and gold.

How did you feel as you envisioned the first room? How was that different from the second room?

A good writer can evoke feelings in the reader simply through the description of their surroundings. The events that follow, however, must tie into the scene that is depicted.

Has there been a scene in a book that has stayed with you for years after reading it? How did the description affect the feelings it invoked in you?


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuesday Teaser - Does Age Matter?

Does Age Matter?

I noticed something as I was reading a romantic suspense novel. The main character—the heroine—was fifteen years old. And I just couldn’t get into the story. This was not a YA novel; it was definitely meant for an adult audience. But the main character was not only young; she was completely immature. Her reactions were that of a girl, not a woman, and I couldn’t put myself in her shoes.

I think it’s important that the reader can identify with someone in the book—either the male or female lead. They have to be able to place themselves in their shoes, to feel what they’re feeling.

In The Tempest Murders, Rian Kelly begins the story in Ireland at the age of 29. Flash forward to Ryan O’Clery nearly two hundred years later, and he also is 29 years old.

Twenty-nine is the perfect age. It is young enough for both the male and female to be fit, sportive and energetic. Yet they are old enough to have been around the block, to think clearly and with maturity, and to know the consequences of their actions.

In the Black Swamp Mysteries series, the main characters—Dylan Maguire, Vicki Boyd, Brenda Carnegie and Christopher Sandige—are all in their twenties. They have their entire lives ahead of them, yet they are still young enough to be in peak performance.

What age do you prefer the main characters in the books you read?


Monday, October 14, 2013

The Release of The Tempest Murders

On September 30, The Tempest Murders was officially released. This week marks the start of a three-month virtual book tour, in which I'll be participating in interviews, guest blogs, and you'll read a number of reviews of this book, my 16th release.

This book is tied with Dylan's Song as my favorite. It actually means a lot to me personally, and when I wrote it I thought that women would enjoy it much more than men. It has surprised me, however, as men have really enjoyed it more than any other book I've written, and are eager to see it as a series.

The book has been nominated for the 2013 USA Best Book Award as well as the 2014 International Book Award, both in the cross-genre category.

It is the story of Irish immigrant Ryan O'Clery, who is a detective working a series of murders when he stumbles upon a journal kept by an uncle who died nearly two hundred years earlier. Rian Kelly detailed the same type of murders, and as the case unfolds, Ryan realizes the victims, the unique method of death and even the killer's description matches his ancestor's almost perfectly.

What's more is at the height of the worst storm in Ireland's history, Rian Kelly lost his soul mate to the killer. Now, as Hurricane Irene barrels toward the North Carolina coast line, history is poised to repeat itself.

This is the story of soul mates found, lost and reunited... And of the lengths one man will go to change their destinies.

Follow my first virtual book tour here, where you'll see each stop listed toward the bottom of that page. The book is carried by all fine book stores. It is available in the UK on amazon, and is also available on amazon in the United States in both Kindle and Paperback editions.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

WIP Wednesday - On Political Thrillers

I am putting the finishing touches on The Pendulum Files, the fifth book in the Black Swamp Mysteries series, before it leaves my hands for the editor's. The book is a political thriller and as I've seen events play out with the government shut-down in America, I am reminded once more of how polarized our country has become and how important it is to resist the temptation to convert fans to a particular point of view.

For the record, I am an Independent. I thoroughly research each candidate I vote for, whether they are local or national. I look at their past voting record, the bills they've sponsored or blocked, and I look for candidates who I believe will place America on the best track. I often vote for both Republicans and Democrats in the same election (for different posts, of course) and I do not believe in partisan politics.

When I write my political thrillers, I am very much aware of the divide in this country. I know if I made the bad guy either Republican or Democrat, I would lose half my fans in either case. I don't believe readers have come to my books to learn of my political leanings or affiliations, so I check them at the door. What I believe does not matter within the pages of my books.

When writing political thrillers, I am careful not to mention party affiliations for either the good or the bad characters. I stay away from polarizing topics in which readers can guess which party the characters follow. I look at democracy as a whole and those things we as Americans hold dear - and also those things we fear.

But I have to admit, I long for the old days when politicians would reach across the aisle and compromise for the good of the nation. We need to stop identifying ourselves as this party or the other. We just need to be Americans and learn to work together.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tuesday Teaser - Diallo Delport

Advance readers of my latest release, The Tempest Murders, have told me that serial killer Diallo Delport is one of the most frightening adversaries they've seen - on a par or exceeding the terror of Joseph Gabucci, the hired assassin in my book, Exit 22.

Diallo Delport resembles another killer, one who lived nearly two hundred years earlier and half a world away - in Ireland. When he shows up in Lumberton, North Carolina, Hurricane Irene is barreling toward the Atlantic coastline and Irish Detective Ryan O'Clery is trying to solve a series of murders. Ryan suspects from the moment he meets Diallo that he is the killer, but he has no evidence. While he attempts to gather it, more murders take place - and Ryan's lover, Cathleen Reilly, becomes the killer's next target.

There are two physical characteristics that immediately set Diallo apart: he is an albino, and his face bears a scar just beneath one eye that is round and raised like a keloid the size of an ice pick. Coming from that scar is another, long, narrow one that ends in a teardrop shape on one cheek. It looks identical to a description of the killer in 1839, except that killer's scar was a birthmark.

Ryan enters his passport information in both domestic and international databases: 6 feet 4 inches tall, 245 pounds, thirty-five years old; and Ryan notices he sports a muscular frame like a serious bodybuilder. He is a formidable opponent - both physically and strategically.

Who would I want to play the role of Diallo Delport, should The Tempest Murders be made into a movie? It would require a transformation to make him albino with light cornflower blue eyes and that distinctive scar, but hands-down, Joe Manganiello has the presence to pull it off.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

WIP Wednesday - Darkness

It's hard to believe that it's already October. In a few weeks, we'll be turning ahead our clocks and within a month, it will be getting dark by 5:00 pm.

I used to dislike winters because of the number of hours of darkness. As a suspense writer, however, I find them inspiring.

Who is afraid of something in broad daylight with a bright, cheerful sun shining down upon us?

Take us to the same location, however, in the dark of night with tumbling, roiling clouds that block the moon, owls hooting in the distance or wolves howling, visibility down to barely seeing your hand in front of your face... And now you have the makings of a spooky setting.

There is also something sinister about trees that have lost their leaves, especially when their skeletal limbs are shown against a full moon... Something evil about the wind howling past us, bending the trees toward us as if they are reaching for us in the darkness... And the snap of cold as it claws at our skin. These are the things that make us look over our shoulder, shiver against the dark and the cold, and walk just a bit faster...