Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Warning Signs

You know you're a thriller writer when...

...your coffee table books are Forensic Autopsy: A Handbook and Atlas and America's Most Famous Serial Killers. text your doctor cousin at midnight to double check what drugs paramedics would give to a certain trauma victim. tell your mother you can't have lunch today, because you're having lunch with a forensic psychiatrist to discuss psychopathy. the past year, you've read more books about criminology, sociopathy, and weaponry that most people read in their lifetimes.'re on number five of your blog on "you know you're a thriller writer when," and you've already used the word "forensic" twice. feel pretty sure you're on several government watch lists based on Google searches and/or book purchases you've made while researching your WIP.

Do signs of your work appear around your house?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Where Did I Put Those Oxygen Tanks Again?

So, the first draft is finished. What now?

*cue the theme from Jaws*

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to your's time for...revision.

It's a word that strikes fear into the hearts of writers everywhere. It can make even the most confident, veteran author break out into a cold sweat. But revise we must, because as every writer has learned the truth somewhere along the way: you can't write solid gold the first time.

So what sorts of things do I look for on my first pass of edits? Here's a short breakdown:

1.) Characterization- Have you ever read a book where a character who NEVER curses drops a random bomb in the middle of the story? *laughs* If not, you've never read a first draft of one of my stories! However, that's one good thing about first round editing: you can intercept those moments where a character does or says something that deviates from his or her usual behavior at a time when a deviation isn't necessary or driven by the story.

2.) Mood Consistency- If you're reading a sexy scene, the last words you want to read are how, "Her skin slid under his fingertips like a giant squid slides through water." Okay, so maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but mood consistency is important nonetheless. I double check when I'm reading each scene that if the scene is action-packed, that my words are action packed. If it's a steamy love scene, I check that my analogies or character's internal monologues, etc. don't detract from or change that.

3.) Word Choices- If Susie walked down the hall, how did she do it? Did she trudge? Skip? Stumble? Amble? In any given situation, there are words that can be used, then there are better words that should be used. I try to check through my manuscripts to make strong word choices that will convey feelings in a given scene to a reader.

4.) Pacing- This is the last on this list, but certainly not the least. In fact, it's probably the biggest thing I'm looking for when going through a first pass. Is everything that is happening in my story moving the plot forward? Is every scene where it needs to be, both to make sense and move the plot forward. If it's not, no matter how much I love the scene or think Susie is adorable when I have her say xyz, I cut it. It might be painful. I might even cry a bit. But if it's not helping my story, there's no good reason I should be so in love with it in the first place.

There you have it! Those are just a few things I look for during my first pass of edits. What do you look for in your first draft?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Celebrate Good Times, Come On!


Over 50 viewings of The Taking of Pelham 123
Twenty or more boxes of Ice Breakers Mints
5 months
98,000 words...

The first draft of my new thriller, The Trade, is complete!

*screams and throws confetti*

Now, on to the edits!
(after some cake and a party!)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Thrillers, A History

This writing about writing thing is a new adventure for me, so I've found myself a bit lost as to what to tackle first. The more I thought about where to go next, the more I decided to tell you a little bit about what sort of thrillers I'm attracted to most.

I found out I was a thriller girl when I was pretty young. In elementary school, before I ever knew Carolyn Keene was a pseudonym used by various ghostwriters of Nancy Drew, I found out that the Nancy Drew Files line was my favorite series, because it always involved murders. (Creepy, huh?) I didn't want to hear about Nancy finding old clocks, dang it! I wanted more action, more danger, more intensity...more blood! It wasn't long before I started stealing Mary Higgins Clark's books off my mother's bookshelves. Mary Higgins Clark's character of the moment became the new Nancy for me, and I tore through everything of hers I could get my hands on.

Then, in college, I started reading James Patterson's Alex Cross series, and it's safe to say that my love affair with the thriller was in full force. I adored James' short chapter bursts, the high octane suspense he offered up, the deliciously insane killers. I also loved the strength of his characters, and I came to think of Nana Momma as nothing less than my own flesh and blood.

I'm not sure what drew me to my first Lisa Gardner novel, but she quickly became another staple in my thriller collection. This is when I realized one of my favorite staples of a thriller is when it's not necessarily a true series--you can pick up any book of the lot and read it and have it makes sense--but the characters are "running." I love knowing a character from the start, the trust I have in them. I love knowing their strengths and weaknesses from page one.

However, I have to say, for me, characters are a bonus, but when I pick up a book, be it thriller or otherwise, my reasoning has to do with plot, plot, and more plot. It's the same with my tastes in movies, actually. They can have a character I love or all the brilliant actors alive, but if the plot doesn't intrigue me, I won't pick it up. I'm usually not caught by buzz words like "shocking" or "secrets," and I can't stand vague plot pitches on the backs of books that promise "someone" doesn't want "someone" to learn "something" for "some reason." But when a book like one of my stand alone favorites, 24/7 by Jim Brown, promises a cool-concept story about a reality show that is high- jacked by a demented mastermind who kills the person voted off the island every few days, you better believe I'm going to blaze through that puppy!

What about you? What draws you to a story?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Glitter and Gore

Most people who know me in person weren't shocked to see me at the theatre last weekend wearing my latest find: a pair of fluffy, white boots, style name, "Fluff Mommas." After all, some of my friends joke that I sweat glitter and own more pink than Elle Woods and Barbie combined. This would also be why some are surprised to find out that I don't write chick-lit or read Confessions of a Shopaholic. Nope. Not me. Most of what I read and write has at least one dead body in the first five pages and another blood spatter or eight in the next twenty.

Yep. This five-foot-one, blonde dancer writes thrillers.

It wasn't exactly a conscious decision. Since I can remember, I've always liked reading action and murder more than romance. It's not that I can't delve into a different genre here or there, but if I go to the bookstore, nine times out of ten, I'll pick up something with the words "serial killer" or "conspiracy." It's the same with movies. In fact, my DVD collection probably has more Denzel Washington than Denzel Washington's house does. After all, "badass" is one of my favorite non-words.

For a long time, I've kept a humor blog over at Spittin' out Words Like a Llama as a place where I can cut up and joke when I'm not working on a manuscript. However, while writing my latest WIP, I've had several times I've found myself in interesting and sometimes funny situations (such as discussing poisons with my cousin to a point where her husband may or may not have seen her google searches and feared for his life) when I've thought, "Hey! I ought to blog about this!"

So, here I am, on my brand spankin' new writing blog. I still plan to laugh a lot over at the old place, but over here, I hope you'll join me as I post about the craft of writing, books I read, and the publishing industry!

Stop by in the comments and introduce yourself! Are you a reader or a writer? What genres?