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Indie e-Con: Foreshadowing

Today I am going to talk about Foreshadowing your Mystery. Just in case some of my non-writing readers are following my posts this week, when I say “Foreshadowing” I am not talking about a shadow. I.e. The one Peter Pan loses and chases around Wendy’s bedroom. I am talking about laying the groundwork for surprises, for the big reveals, for the shock “I did NOT see that coming” moment we all love in a good story.Tumblr_n2ew2i5INU1qhcrb0o1_1280 Yes, we want to be surprised…but, let’s face it, we like to know it’s coming, and when it arrives, we NEED to know that it makes sense. Back to my authors, this post can be applied to any story in any genre, whether you are writing that timeless Detective mystery, a romantic thriller, suspense, a fantasy or science fiction story with a mystery weaved throughout…every story, every one that is well-told, will have foreshadowing.

First, let’s talk about some of the best surprises in literature. Whenever I think of a POW moment in fiction, I almost always think of The Hunger Games. That moment when Peetae375eaa7-4f14-49c5-8a52-04562c813ec7 says that Katniss is pregnant? Even though I  know it’s coming because I’ve read the book before…I still LOVE that moment. I’m totally surprised, because Katniss is totally surprised. She wasn’t let in on the secret. However, the play makes sense because the author had previously established that Peeta has a way with words and people. You believe this amazing twist of Peeta’s because the author FORESHADOWED that he has the gift for surprise moments like this. Every time he opens his mouth, you feel like grinning because you know what he is capable of. Peeta isn’t just the baker’s homely, quiet son who’s going to try to kill his opponents with big sacks of flour. And the author gives us glimpses of this as she spins her tale and develops his character.

You-know-luke-and-leia-27817111-1280-854For my fellow geeks, another big reveal I’ve always loved in fiction is when we find out that Leia and Luke are siblings. (Let’s not get into the whole, I kissed my brother thing, because that’s just gross). When you get to that moment, you’re like: That makes so much sense! I believe this! The reason for this is because George Lucas knew this plot twist when he began writing the story and he PREPARED us for the revelation.

IzhPlo9One of my favorite screen writers is M. Knight Shyamalan. He has such an amazing gift for suspense, and the way he foreshadows the stories he is trying to tell…truly, it’s brilliant. My two favorites are The Village and Signs. Have you ever sat down and watched Signs for the pure pleasure of tearing it apart? From the moment Dad sits up in bed because he heard something outside, to the rumors being spread around town, to the last moment when he  and his brother look across his living room and see all the glasses Bo has left around that he can use to defeat the alien that’s about to kill Morgan…who survives because of the asthma that was clearly threaded into the story…it’s brilliantly done. Every step is planned, every twist is prepared for. If you’ve never seen this movie, you seriously need to.

The most important thing to remember as you are making your big reveals is that you need to prepare for them. Leave bread crumbs. Don’t spoil the surprise, but use the other resources you have at your disposal to prepare us for the shock.

  1. Use your character development, like we talked about with Peeta. When your characters do something shocking, we should already see the signs that they are capable of doing the shocking thing. Don’t give us a sweet heroine who never raises her voice above a whisper who suddenly faces an angry mob and shouts them into submission. Because…eh…we won’t buy it. We need to see her losing her temper with her pesky brother earlier in the story. We need to see her saying something quiet but sarcastic to her slightly annoying love interest. We need to see her quietly standing up for a friend in need. Then, by the time we get to the climax where she has to put herself out there and quiets an enraged mob…we will BELIEVE it.
  2. Use your setting and descriptions to set the tone. It’s totally fine to shock us, but set the stage with appropriate descriptions. Let us know the night is quiet and still but in an eerie sort of way, so when the assassin melds out of the shadows we alreadycoverfinal4 copy believe he could be there because you told us something wasn’t right when you described the setting. Here is a snippet from a favorite book of mine, So Sang the Dawn. From the moment I read these first lines…I knew what kind of a story I was getting into–I could feel the tension and the drama…and the lion plays a huge part in the story. But Miss Pavese doesn’t just throw a giant lion at us in the middle of the action sequence. No, she begins from the very first word of the story. Literally.

“A lion.

A massive lion, as tall as a house…Its fur was as black as the surrounding night itself, swallowing any light that dared to reach out and touch it.”

So Sang the Dawn by AnnMarie Pavese

3. Plan ahead of time. I’m a terrible panster who has had to learn the necessity of plotting. If you know ahead of time where you are going, it is so much easier to plan for it. You already KNOW what you have to foreshadow, what kind of clues you need to lay out for your readers, and even where you need to put them. It’s easier to plan and then remove later than to get to the end, realize you have a problem, and then try to figure out a way to fix it.

I could say a lot more on the subject, but time is running short. To summarize: Know where you are going and plan how you mean to get there. Use the resources you already have in place–your characters, your setting, your dialogue, your mood and tone–and don’t forget to leave us those bread crumbs.

Your readers will be thankful you did.

Blog

Indie e-Con: “Love Triangles”

Writing Romance is like navigating a rough sea. It’s almost impossible to do it smoothly, or perfectly right, or in such a way that you make everybody happy and nobody sea-sick (or love-sick, as the case may be).

Some people like it sappy. Some like it raw and real. Some like the Forbidden Romance. Some like any story as long as it has romance in it somewhere. Some don’t like it all.

Today, I am going to talk about one small niche in the Romance genre: the Love Triangle. And you will have to forgive any unintentional ranting on my part because…well…I hate the Love Triangle. But I’ll explain why and be sure to tell you how to write a Love Triangle that I CAN enjoy, so don’t despair if you are a writer of tangled triangles.

Gale_or_Peta_

First, let’s talk about what I don’t like about Love Triangles. I’m going to share some of the most popular move triangles just for kicks and giggles as we go along, so hang in there. Some of you will be groaning along with me, and others will be like, “Aw, I love them.” And that’s okay. No judging here.

Why I don’t like Triangles:

  1. Someone always loses out. Yeah, I’m an empathetic romantic who doesn’t like anybody suffering a broken heart. I want everybody to get their happy ending.
  2. The party who loses out is often painted into a villain just to “justify” their losing out. I’m like, It’s bad enough the poor guy doesn’t get the girl, but we don’t have to make a villain out of him to prove she doesn’t belong with him.triangles-pirates_610
  3. It’s cliche. It’s been done. SO MANY TIMES.
  4. I just don’t get the whole “I can’t choose between these two guys” thing. I mean, is it even POSSIBLE to be kind of in love with two people at once? I don’t think so, not if you’re focused on the heart rather than the physical attraction. You may disagree with me, but love is a choice, and you have to commit to it. I just can’t wrap my head around the idea that someone can be so torn between two guys or girls that they don’t know which one they like better. casablanca-love-triangle
  5. If your characters are married…just don’t go there.

NOW. You’re all wondering how this article is going to be helpful and constructive. Hang in there, for me, we are about to get there. Let’s talk about a good Love Triangle, the kind that won’t make Savannah groan in agony and roll her eyes. If you’re a writer thinking about using a Love Triangle, keep some of these ideas in mind for those of us who have a difficult time with them.

  1. Two potential love interests early in the romance. This is a big one. This means, nobody is in love yet. There is no snogging Edward, and then turning around and smooching on Jacob, and then changing our mind and going back…ugh! None of that. We’re talking friendships here. Just normal, healthy relationships that COULD turn into romance. I dig these. But once you start developing a romance, let that poor, superfluous soul slip to the sidelines and accept their defeat gracefully.Edward-Bella-Jacob-twilighters-31600408-500-356
  2. Keep it realistic. Draw on your own life experiences and things you’ve actually witnessed. Most of us don’t have half a dozen guys/girls chasing us around wanting to be our Valentine. So, don’t write that Drop-Dead Gorgeous Heroine with a long line of pining suitors. Give her one or two followers and that’s it. She doesn’t need a harem.
  3. And this is my big one…make your Triangle original. For example, I am writing a story right now that kind of has a triangle. I know, I already told you I hate them, but I love the RIGHT kind of triangle. In my story, I have a girl who has a crush on a boy, but he isn’t interested and never will be. Girl has a life long friend who is sweet, kind of homely, who has been in love with her since they were practically in diapers. She is clueless and has no idea how he feels. So there is no “I kinda like them both,” no “well, let’s see who’s the best kisser,” no “let’s duke it out with our fists and see who can win her.” It’s just a simple crush from a naive girl who needs to grow up, put aside her romantic notions, and realize that the right guy for her might not be the one with all the muscles and the cute dimple but the one who has been there her entire life. And, yes, Sabrina is one of the few Love Triangles that I absolutely adore. I enjoy the remake as much as I do the original.

    So, the moral of today’s little rant is this: if you’re going to use a Triangle, try a fresh approach, something that will make your readers respect and cheer for your characters as they navigate the dangerous waters of romance. We will all love you for it.

     

 

 

Blog

Indie e-Con Scavenger Hunt 2018 – Stop #6

Clue graphic

Welcome to the next stop on our Scavenger Hunt! Today, I have the lovely Ms. Katy Huth Jones joining me to discuss an overlying theme that crept into all her books. Enjoy learning a few things about her as you search for the next clue on your hunt. I am stop Number 6, so be sure to go back to Kandi J Wyatt to start at the beginning, if you haven’t already. You can also find the full list of participating bloggers right here!

Now, let’s hear from Katy!

My Writing Theme

by Katy Huth Jones

Katy Huth JonesI didn’t realize until AFTER I’d published eight novels that they all had a similar theme of “finding hope and light in dark places.”

Only one of those eight (Treachery and Truth, my historical fiction about Saint Wenceslas) was written before my own journey through darkness: fighting cancer twice, grief over losing my father and several dear friends to the same monster, then grief over losing my mother unexpectedly the day before we were taking her to Hawaii, and still more grief when my husband lost his job after 24 years and we had to leave our home in a comfortable small town to move to an unfamiliar big city.

My mother, who’d been a bookstore manager when I was in high school, had told me when I first started writing for publication at age 28 that I needed to “live more” in order to write powerful fiction. At the time, I didn’t understand what she meant. I wrote nearly 100 short stories but only published a few of them, and I didn’t realize why until I experienced darkness later in life; I was focusing more on plot than character. After that, all my stories began with characters, with the story growing from their hopes and dreams and fears, not forced upon them.Light in Dark Places

Even after beginning with character, my stories didn’t become “powerful” until my father was diagnosed with lung cancer in January 2011. I knew I would have to be strong for him and my mother while I helped them both on his final journey. It was an agonizing eleven months watching helplessly while my larger-than-life Army Colonel Dad, my hero, fought desperately, even past any hope of winning, to defeat the cancer. In order to keep from losing my sanity, I took my second (unpublishable) novel out of a drawer, threw away all but the opening scene, and asked the characters to tell me their story.

I never planned to publish this story. It was purely a writing exercise to help me through my grief. But the words literally poured out of me; all the anguish I was feeling transformed into the suffering of characters I came to know and love. Finally, I learned how to turn my heart inside-out and put those emotions, from elation to despair, onto the page as written words.

I love how my content editor put it. He said, “You’re a writing alchemist; you transmute pain into gold.”

At the urging of my critique group, I did eventually publish the story, which became a five volume series, He Who Finds Mercy.

http://katyhuthjones.blogspot.com/

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Wow. Such an inspirational story. If you haven’t read any of Katy’s books yet, you really should pick one up. I read Mercy’s Prince last year and really, really enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by, Katy!

Scavenger Hunt Giveaway Package:

  • Ace Carroway 2-Book Set 3 random ebooks from Indie e-Con authors
  • Cover Design by Alea Harper
  • Bookshelf Necklace donated by Rachel Rossano
  • (Please note that the Ace Carroway Paperbacks and the Bookshelf necklace are US only.)

Alrighty! I hope you found the Clue. Your next stop is going to take you to Rachel Rossano who will be sharing a few interesting facts about me and will have the next clue on your list. Have fun, adventurers!

Blog

Paperback Sale

In honor of Indie e-Con this upcoming week, I will be hosting a sale on most of my paperbacks. For those of you who may not know, Indie e-Con is an online writer’s conference. It’s an amazing way for authors to hang out with other souls like themselves, make new geeky friends, learn a thing or two about spaceships and how to kill dragons, and most importantly, find new books to read. On Saturday, we will be having a Meet and Greet so that folks can get to know some our participating authors. If you’d like to take advantage of the fun and some of the giveaways, you can join the Event here. At 8pm EST, I will be opening up a Sale thread for all of our authors to share their freebies and book sales. You will definitely want to check it out. I think we have seventeen authors joining us for Saturday’s festivities.

To order your paperback, email me at dragonwriter84@gmail.com.

ON SALE May 19-31st

After Final Kindle CoverAFTER, a gritty Christian Fantasy about a spook trying to protect his brothers, will be on sale for $14 including shipping. US residents only, please.

Ebook Also Available in KU!

WHEN RAVENS FALL INTERNET VERSIONWHEN RAVENS FALL, a Beauty and the Beast retelling inspired by Norse mythology, will be on sale for $10 including shipping. US residents only, please.

Ebook Also Available in KU!

Mythical DoorwaysMYTHICAL DOORWAYS, an anthology of short stories by eleven amazing authors, will be on sale for $10 including shipping. US residents only, please.

Ebook FREE from Most Digital Stores

Interviews

Interview with Kristina Mahr

Kristina Mahr head shotToday I invited Kristina Mahr to join us and talk about her newest release, All That We See or Seem.

About Kristina:

Kristina Mahr devotes her days to numbers and her nights to words. She works full-time as an accountant in the suburbs of Chicago, where she lives with her two dogs and two cats, but her true passion is writing. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and waking up at the crack of dawn every weekend to watch the Premier League.

Website: http://www.kristinamahr.com

Facebook: @AuthorKristinaMahr

Twitter: @Kristina_Mahr

Instagram: Kristina.Mahr

Now some questions!

How did you come up with the idea for All That We See Or Seem?

Luckily for me, my sister has the most vivid possible dreams! So one day, way back in February 2014, she told me about a dream she had about a girl who falls in love with a boy she meets in her dreams. As you can imagine, it sparked a lot of questions in my mind. Who was this girl? What were these dreams like? Was it all happening inside of her head? What hope was there for her and this boy? All of these questions haunted me in that lovely way that story ideas do, until the pieces that came to form All That We See Or Seem fell together.

Which books or authors have influenced you the most?

One of my foremost influencers is Marisa de los Santos. She writes adult fiction, but she has the most beautiful, lyrical prose. Specifically, her novel Belong to Me is full of lines that make me want to dramatically clasp my hands to my chest and fall to my knees, they’re just so gorgeous.

My other biggest influence is Maggie Stiefvater. Not only is her writing style also right up my alley with the poetic feel to it, but her characters come to life so vividly and distinctly. Scorpio Races is one of my all-time favorite novels because of this. Reading it is like stepping into the pages and being part of that world.

And then, I absolutely have to mention Tahereh Mafi. Her Shatter Me series… goals. Absolute writing goals. She essentially writes poetry in prose form, and she does it so stunningly, I have to pause every now and then to reread lines over and over again just to marvel over the way she manages to arrange words.

What is your writing process like?

I start with an outline, but I always laugh while I create it, because I know there is simply no way I’m going to stick with it. But it gives me an idea of the story I want to create. Along with the outline, I like to know the world in which the story will exist. And, most importantly, I like to understand the main characters – who they are and what they’re trying to accomplish. From there, I’m ready to start writing! The first 10k words or so typically spill out of me onto the page because there’s nothing like beginnings. They’re exhilarating and exciting. But then, inevitably, I hit a wall. I refer to my outline and see how far I’ve strayed, and now that I know my characters better, I reevaluate what’s to come. I create a plot map to have a visual of upcoming scenes. I do the majority of my planning at this point, now that I’ve got a beginning.

I’m also the type of writer who cannot stand to write a messy first draft. I edit as I write, and I have a hard time leaving a scene behind unless I’m completely happy with it. It might make the first draft take a little longer, but it helps a lot in terms of revisions.

What gave you the most difficulty when writing All That We See Or Seem?

Bran was probably the trickiest character for me to write. I know Reeve backwards and forwards, and Arden was just so much fun, but Bran… he was a tough nut to crack. He keeps his emotions very in check and has some pretty high walls built up, and especially when writing first person from Reeve’s perspective… well, she has no idea what he’s thinking a lot of the time! But as the writer, it was my job to break him open and let the reader (and Reeve!) get a glimpse of what makes him tick. What he wants, what he fears. How he became the person he is. I hope I succeeded. I certainly feel like I came to know him and love him! (I’m heavily biased, though. I love all of my characters.)

What is your favorite writing fuel?

Iced tea! So much iced tea. I need it to start my days like other people need coffee.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from this book?

I hope that the strongest theme in this book is – hope. Even when circumstances seem impossible to navigate, and there is absolutely no reason to have hope, I am a firm believer that anything is possible, and you can see a lot of that belief of mine in Reeve. None of us are stuck on our path. We don’t have to play the cards we’re dealt – we can find new cards. Better cards. The cards we want most. And we can play those instead. (Is that how card games work? I feel like it’s not. But this is the metaphor I’m sticking with.)

What’s your next project?

While I wait on edits to come back to me for A Dream Within a Dream (the sequel to All That We See or Seem,) I’m in the early planning stages of a novel based on a short story I wrote a couple of years ago called Heartfire. You can find the short story here: https://bandofdreamersstories.tumblr.com/post/142534503879/heartfire. I am so excited to write this book and dive back into the world I built two years ago!

About All That We See Or Seem:

All That We See Or SeemEvery night, seventeen-year-old Reeve Lennox finds herself under a noose.

By day she is a lady of Acarsaid’s royal house, daydreaming of adventure and love. But every night in sleep she wanders through a nightmarish city, an invisible witness to the screeches of monsters and the screams of their victims. Her only consolation is Bran, a battle-torn young man with a selfless heart and eyes that reflect the stars.

Yet while Reeve falls deeper into her dreams, in truth she is engaged to Arden, a mercurial nobleman who has long been cured of his belief in love and breathes fire and flattery like other people breathe air.

Torn between two lives, Reeve struggles to remember what’s real. Until night and day collide, with a revelation that threatens all of Acarsaid.

Purchase your copy today and don’t forget to add it to your shelf on Goodreads!

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Reviews

Review of Iron Core by Rebekah DeVall

Iron Core CoverIron Core by Rebekah DeVall

Wow. This is a short, gritty, action-packed little story. I must confess, I sat down and read it one sitting and simply flew through it barely remembering to breathe. There truly isn’t a dull moment in this story. My biggest regret is that is was so short, but I’ll get to that later.

First, what I liked:

  1. Lunetta – The main character is both brave and fragile at the same, a girl who lived in prison her entire life because of a crime her mother committed before she was born. I liked the contrast of strength and weakness in her character. I liked her determination against insurmountable odds. She is so determined to escape and wants desperately to bring her mother with her—qualities I really loved in her. You can’t help but want this poor girl to escape from these terrible circumstances.
  2. The pacing – This story simply jumps right in and takes off and you’re barely given time to wrap your head around what is happening as you are pulled deeper and deeper into the story. Seriously, you will fly through this story and read it in one sitting.
  3. The characters are flawed – I know, this one sounds a little crazy. But I love flawed characters—their quirks and mistakes are what make them real and relatable. I think every character has something about them that could be improved upon, sometimes slight, sometimes major.
  4. I also liked Persa and the baby – They were a sweet but painful touch to a brutal story. I don’t want to go into details because of spoilers, but I hope we get to see their story developed more and find a happy ending for them. A story this grim needs a few happy moments to carry us through.

What I would have liked differently:

  1. The pacing – Okay! I know, I know! I listed this as a POSITIVE. But because the pacing is so fast, I felt as if the world building and character development suffered a little. I have so many questions about the world and how it works and what it looks like…I think it would have been a good idea to make this short story into a full-length novella and flesh out the world and characters more. The author could have continued the “serial” nature of the book and still given a broader scope of the world and characters she was presenting.
  2. The gritty nature of the story – Because this is a serial and not a complete work of fiction, this first installment is painfully grim. The main character is definitely angry at God. I like gritty stories, so I almost hesitate to mention this, but I think folks should know going into it that THIS installment won’t end happily. I think I can speculate the that the story AS A WHOLE will brighten with the light of the message the author will bring to it, but readers will have to slog through some grim events to get there. I think it might have been a good idea to introduce a lighter/hopeful theme a little stronger in the first installment of the serial, to let us know that there will be hope for this world and the characters we are beginning to like. I would have also liked Lunetta’s mother to have presented her case for her faith more strongly, to help us understand how a woman in such horrific circumstances could discover her faith in prison. It would have added a rich layer of sub-characterization to the tale. I have hopes that this will be revisited in future installments.
  3. The anxiety attacks – This is going to sound a little weird, so please don’t laugh at me, but I think the anxiety attacks weren’t grim enough. Yes, I just said how gritty the world was and how I would have liked some more light in it and now I’m saying to make it grimmer. My reasoning, anxiety attacks are MESSY. I’ve experienced them. I’ve witnessed them in those I love. They’re painful, messy, tearful, horrible things…and I think Lunetta handles hers TOO well. She’s a prisoner with almost no comfort in her life and the fact she is able to control her anxiety right from the beginning almost seems too convenient. I would have liked to see poor Lunetta struggle with her anxiety more and learning how to talk herself down from the ledge, etc.

I can’t tell you enough how intense this story is. You’ll truly be captivated from the first page. If you like stories like the Hunger Games, I think you will enjoy this one. It’s tight, punchy, grim, and compelling. You’ll wish you’d waited until the entire serial was published (like I do!) so that you wouldn’t have to wait for the next installment. Buckle your seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen, because this story is one wild read.

I rate this story a high PG-13 for Thematic elements, hints of abuse/rape/violence (almost all shown off stage). This one is not suitable for young children and may be disturbing for abuse/anxiety victims.

Get your copy of Iron Core today!

Interviews

Interview with Rebekah DeVall

Author PhotoToday we have the lovely Rebekah DeVall stopping by to tell us a little bit about herself and her newest release, Iron Core, the introduction to a gritty serial which is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

About Rebekah:

Rebekah DeVall prides herself on being the girl who wrote 200,000 words in 21 days. She’s a Christian author with a penchant for killing characters and a love for writing real female protagonists described as “the example of a Christian hero that young readers need to see”.

Contact Rebekah: 

Now, some questions for Rebekah!

  1. Why do you like to write stories?

I like to write stories because I love to live vicariously. I love to explore lives outside my own and dig deep into themes and issues that I’ll never experience in my life. There’s something special about digging deep and touching topics that many people are afraid to touch.

  1. If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and why? What would you do together?

I would probably spend the day with Erec, the mentor character in Iron Core. I feel like he’d have so much wisdom to share. But knowing him, I’d probably also end up miles underground in the prison where he works, so I doubt this would be a good idea.

  1. Would you want to live in your story world? Tell us why or why not.

OF COURSE! I’d love to experience the world alongside Lunetta, my main character. She’s so naïve in so many ways that it would be a pleasure to follow her around and just watch the delight in her eyes.

  1. Can you recommend any authors/books that have inspired you and your style of writing?

Hope Ann, the author of the Legends of Light series was the first to make me realize that Christians can write other things that aren’t strictly Christian fiction.

AnnMarie Pavese, author of So Sang the Dawn, taught me how to feel things in my writing and make my readers feel it too.

The Bible actually inspired the original plot of this story! There was a prophet in the Old Testament that, when he refused to lie to please the king, was locked up in a pit in the ground. While a lot of the elements didn’t stay in this story, the underground dungeon certainly did!

  1. Can you share one lesson you have learned from your writing with your readers?

Do it afraid.

  1. If your writing style could be compared to weather, what would it be?

I’m a thunderstorm writer. My writing is the kind that shakes the earth and thunders in your ears. And as my friend Annie says, “there’s lots of random lightning strikes and lots of people die.”

BONUS: You come face to face with a dragon…what do you do?

I’d like to say I’d have the bravery to be like Hiccup and reach my hand up to it – but I’d probably freak out and pass out.

Iron Core Cover

 

Iron Core Blurb:

Everything will be okay.

Deep in Brancaleone, a prison carved from the mountainside, eighteen-year-old Lunetta plans her escape. Raised behind iron bars, all she wants is freedom – and to take her mother with her.

Get your copy of Iron Core today!