Tension

Okay, I just read a blog post by James Scott Bell, and he explained very well what I’ve always felt, but in a vague–somewhat nonverbal–way.  And he made it SO clear.  Every book has to have tension, or no one would turn the pages.  It’s easy to point to the tension in a thriller or suspense novel.  The bad guy might kill someone or lots of someones if the hero doesn’t stop him.  Same for horror, only who knows who or what the villain might be.  In a mystery, a hero is trying to solve a crime and restore justice.  But what’s the tension in a romance?  Or a literary novel?

Bell says that conflict is best if there are “death stakes” for the protagonist/s.  But he divides death stakes into physical death, professional death, or psychological.  That makes so much sense!  In a romance, every time the hero and heroine can’t work things out, it builds tension.  If they can’t get together at the end of the book, they suffer psychological death–the death of happiness:  http://writershelpingwriters.net/2017/03/conflict-and-suspense-belong-in-every-kind-of-novel/?utm_content=buffer7ce91&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Conflict drives a story, moves it forward.   And the stakes have to keep getting higher every time the reader turns a page.  That’s why there’s the old adage:  Things can always get worse.  They have to, or your story stalls.  During the set up, the author says what the protagonist wants, and he spends the rest of the book making sure he has to work harder and harder to get it.  Here’s a good link by Samantha Stone to build conflict:  http://www.creativewritingsoftware101.com/articles/how-to-create-conflict-in-your-story.php

I used different types of tension in my romances than I’ll need for my cozy mystery, but I still want a romance subplot, and I want to work hard at developing characters readers will care about.  I enjoyed writing Babet and Prosper so much for urban fantasy that I’d like to do something similar for my River Bluffs novels.  I want my characters and setting to be as fully formed as the mystery.  We’ll see how that goes:)

At my writers’ group last week, one of our members tried to decide what each of us needed to do to write a bestseller.  I give him credit.  He believes in all of us, bless him.  And I think we’re all good writers, too, but I have less faith in finding the “secret” that makes a book sell.  Lots of advice says that you need to write a “big” book.  The higher the stakes, the more readers you’ll attract.  That might be true.  I don’t know.  I think the heavens have to align and there’s a lot of luck involved.  And I found this article that sort of agrees with me.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-winkler/how-to-write-a-bestseller-formula_b_1542587.html

In the meantime, happy writing!

 

My webpage:  (a free snippet from SPICING THINGS UP–our March 21–and a free short mystery):  http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

author Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/

twitter:  @judypost

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiddles!

I’ve started playing with plot points for my 6th romance.  I say playing because I’m still in the “Will this work?” phase.  And that’s exactly why I like tinkering with plot points in the first place.  I’m up to thirteen of them, and the whole damn story is sagging.   I mean, there are plenty of things going on, and they feel pretty interesting, but are they bringing the protagonist and her romantic interest together?  Not unless Karli would marry the one and only man who’s ever shown any interest her.  The chemistry, so far, is zippo.  And the main reason?  Keagan is about as exciting, so far, as white bread.  I’ve done a crappy job of bringing him to life.

The nice thing about doing plot points, for me, is that they show me what DOESN’T work, where the holes are, where the story peters out.  I started with an idea that really excited me.  I had characters who caught my attention and didn’t let go.  I still like the premise and both characters, but are they dancing to life on the page?  Not so much.  And they started out great…for about four or five chapters.  And then?  There wasn’t enough tension between them to keep me from yawning.  But the good news is, my plot points made that obvious.  I can fix it in the planning stage instead of the rewrite and weep stage when I’m sick and tired of the whole thing and want it done.

Once I hit chapter twelve, I could see I needed to up the conflict, too.  An easy fix.  I added another character who, hopefully, readers will love to hate.  I’ve just met him, and I’d already like to smack him with a two-by-four, which makes him perfect:)   I could also see that I needed to add more of a feel for Mill Pond into the mix.  Another easy fix.  After all, the residents of the little resort town love interfering in other peoples’ lives.  Oops, I mean they love to help and lend a hand.  Anyway, I’m up to plot point thirteen, and I’m so happy I bothered with them, because they’re going to save me a lot of work once I start putting words on the page.

I know plot points aren’t for everyone, but I blog about what I’m up to at the moment.  And on this particular day, I’m singing the praises of planning my books out. You have to find what works for you, but a few sign posts here and there can come in handy.  Whatever you come up with, have fun and happy writing!

Writing: My Experiment

I’ve put up 12 free chapters on my webpage for Babet & Prosper’s short novel RIVER CITY RUMBLE.  I have at least nine more chapters plotted.  It might go longer.  And I have to say, this has been an interesting experiment.  What have I learned?

  1.  As far as marketing, I’ve read on other blogs that offering free stories on your webpage helps increase sales.  I thought that if readers liked the chapters and free Babet and Prosper stories in the side column, they might spring for some of the bundles on Amazon.  I’ve gotten the occasional hit, but I’ve had better luck paying for advertising than offering free stories on my webpage.  I’ve had a lot more visitors, but that hasn’t translated into sales.  For now, I’m just happy I have more visitors and reach more people, so I’m okay with that.  But as a marketing tool, advertising seems to work better.
  2. As for writing, telling a story as a weekly serial has made me really concentrate on what I put in each chapter.
    1.  Have I kept the characters interesting and alive in the reader’s mind?  It’s been a week since they’ve thought about them.  Do they remember Viviane, Jacinta, or Hennie?  Have I made them distinctive enough?  How do I jump start their personalities again?
    2. Something significant has to happen in every chapter.  There are no “down” chapters that link from one event to the next.  Whatever happens has to be important enough to hold the reader for another week.
    3. Is there enough variety?  Yes, a chapter has to be significant, but I can’t write a battle for each of them.  Yet I want an event that’s significant, that makes the reader feel satisfied that it’s going to impact the final outcome.
    4. Have I offered the reader a variety of emotions?  Have I made the characters complex enough that they care about them?  Worry when they’re in trouble?  Be surprised about how they react?  Have I offered some laughter or amusement to buffer the tense moments?  Some warm or poignant moments to touch the heart?
    5. I try to permeate the feel of River City into the story.  I hope to show the bond between the protagonists who live there, so that each character is part of the whole.  The series is long enough, the cast of characters has grown, and it’s hard to give them each a part and let him/her shine.
    6. Am I cranking up the conflict and tension, so that things just keep getting worse, so that the final showdown will be big and bad enough to satisfy the reader?  Zanor won’t go down easily.  Defeating him has to test the protagonists past anything they’ve done before.

I’ve written other serial stories, but they’ve been short–four or five chapters, and I like them because they challenge me.  This is the first time I’ve tried a serial novel, something longer with more characters and events.  And it’s challenged me, too.  But I’m enjoying it.  Whatever you’re working on, I hope it stretches your writing muscles AND brings you joy.  Happy Writing!

 

http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

https://www.facebook.com/JudithPostsurbanfantasy/

Rewrites–Oh, the joy!

I’ve stepped away from my novel long enough to be able to look at my critique partners’ comments and plunge into rewrites. I’m no longer as fond of my words, my chapters, my “babies.” I’m ready to dig in and make my manuscript better.

When I’m in writing mode, I have to be passionate about my characters and story. I “hear” them and I’m excited about what they’re doing and why. Sometimes, they endear themselves to me a little too much. When I go back to edit, they weren’t always as witty as I thought they were, and the time they spent bonding together in the car gets a little long and dreary. If I were a reader, I’d be saying “When will we get there?” If a scene doesn’t have enough tension, if it doesn’t move the plot forward enough, I need to be objective and cut it. More especially for me–since I tend to write lean–I need to fill in more internal dialogue and description so that the reader can hear the same character inner thoughts that I’ve been listening to since I started the book. I try to remind myself, during edits, that readers turn pages because of tension and emotional impact. Plot’s great. It drives the story, but it’s not enough. Have I delivered? Did I make my characters believable and real? Would a reader care about them enough to follow them through a second book, if I’m writing a series? Will the readers miss them when the story’s over?

A fellow blogger whom I read has developed a novel approach to editing. The linear, from start to finish approach, isn’t enough for her anymore. She has some great tips on editing, ways to make the middle of your story stronger. https://suebahr.wordpress.com/2015/07/13/a-rebel-with-a-cause/. Rewrites, for me, are about honing a novel until I’ve made it as good as I know how to. It’s when I look at the foundation of the story, as well as the fine points.

Did I start with a great hook? It can be in your face or subtle, as long as it grabs you.
Did I deliver the set-up soon enough? Anymore, lots of books state the protagonist’s big problem in the first paragraph or by the end of the first page. It tells me what this book is about.
Did I create the perfect setting? Will it flavor every nuance of the story?
Did I create protagonists the reader will care about? Are the stakes high enough? Does my main character have to struggle and change to achieve his goal?
Did I people the story with minor characters who have goals/problems of their own? Are they distinct? Memorable? (I read a post on Writeonsisters.com that gave great advice on creating characters. I like it for more than just POV: http://writeonsisters.com/writing-craft/5-tests-for-writing-multiple-povs/)
Did I add enough sub-plots to keep the story afloat? For a novel, I like to have at least two sub-plots, more if the book’s really long.
Did I add enough tension in EVERY scene to keep the pacing tight?
Were the plot points strong enough to keep the story afloat? Did I have an inciting incident, then two twists, and finally a final showdown and wrapup?

I’ve talked about all of these things on this blog before, but I’m in rewrite mode. All of the above is floating around in my head. And those are just the foundation pilings. Grammar, language, and imagery all come into play, too. That’s why rewrites take time. And that’s why they’re so wonderful. Rewrites help you tweak your tale from the basics to the “much, much better” and, if you’re lucky and persistent, topnotch.

(I’m still playing with my writing experiment on my webpage, and I’m still having fun with it:
http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/)

Writing: the elusive tease

I just finished reading The Awakening: Book One of the Judas Curse, by Angella Graff. The book mixes Mark and Judas from the Bible with Greek gods–an intriguing idea, at least to someone like me, who loves myths and legends. Graff went one step further and wrote Ben, a protagonist, as a detective who rejected all things religious and faith-based. His sister Abby, however, chased down miracles and stigmata. Their opposing approaches proved interesting until they felt contrived. The brother and sister rarely discussed their views or the WHY of how they chose them. They just fought about them, over and over again. The repetition felt stuck in for the plot, but didn’t contribute to character development. A missed opportunity. Yet this book had some original, offbeat slants that I enjoyed.

My main problem with the book was that the author kept teasing us with information that she’d almost tell us, but then withhold. She wanted us to hang in there to find the answers. That only works for me for so long, and then I get frustrated, and then I don’t care. My opinion? This technique doesn’t work. My big complaint, though, is that she NEVER told us why Mark and Judas were cursed and who cursed them. I’d have been able to identify with the characters’ struggles a lot more if I understood their history and burdens more. I’m not even sure what the curses actually were. Graff hints that Judas’s curse is that he can heal. Okay, I can buy into that maybe. Not totally. People would mob him and some would want to use him, but Mark’s curse was even more vague to me. Mark kept saying that he brought death and wars, but I never really understood why. The hints just didn’t cut it. Graff introduced enough interesting, odd events for me to hang in there to the end of the book, but the withholding of information began to feel like a carrot dangled in front of a donkey. And the donkey, this time, was me.

I’ve seen other writers use this technique to keep readers turning pages. Hell, when I first started writing, I used it until an editor dashed off a quick note that informed me that I’d build more tension if I just spelled things out. “This is what the protagonist wants and what he’s dealing with. This is who the antagonist is and what he’s doing. Watch them collide and see what the protagonist does to achieve success.” At first, that seemed so simple to me. Too simple. Wouldn’t it be more interesting if I didn’t give the reader all the information he needed? If he had to add things up? But no, the editor was right. The readers weren’t intrigued. They were frustrated. I was cheating, withholding information from them that they needed. I’m not saying that a writer can’t create characters readers aren’t sure are trustworthy or a plot that looks like it’s going in one direction and then takes a surprise twist (that’s been foreshadowed, but we didn’t expect). I’m just saying that a writer has to play fair. We give readers vital information and THEN we try to trick them. Agatha Christie excelled at this. She gave us the significant clue, but tricked us into looking at something else. Or, in the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling makes Snape look like a villain, but he’s actually trying to protect Harry. But the information was there, on the page. She gave it to us and let us decide. She didn’t try to play hide-and-seek with it.

Angella Graff created an interesting, unusual premise for a series. She came up with one thing after another that I didn’t expect, but her book would have been stronger–for me–if she’d trusted her own writing more. She didn’t need to tease me into turning pages. Her characters and plot were enough to make me do that.

http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/
https://www.facebook.com/JudithPostsurbanfantasy
twitter: @judypost

Writing: Character-driven plots

I’ve repeated probably too many times that I’m a plot driven person, but if my clever twists and turns aren’t driven by characters that readers want to spend hours with, I’m in trouble. When the last page is read and the book hits The End, what do readers remember? I’d bet on characters. With that in mind, I’ve paid more attention lately to character-driven books.

My friend, Karen Lenfestey, writes women fiction. The plots of her books aren’t driven by murders or battles (two of my favorite things:), but by how characters deal with life-changing challenges. The conflict and tension are more internal than external. How do you build a plot based on emotions instead of good vs. bad? I invited to her my blog to tell us how she does it.

How would you define women’s fiction?
I’d say women’s fiction is about the complicated relationships in a woman’s life: the dynamic between a boyfriend or spouse, children, siblings and girlfriends. Once, at a writer’s conference, I said that the main character needs to be likable and the mystery author beside me disagreed. He said, “My main character is a horrible drunk.” For me, if the character doesn’t have some redeeming qualities, I’m not willing to invest my time to follow her on her journey.

Who are your favorite authors in this genre?
I like Liane Moriarty (What Alice Forgot), Elizabeth Berg (The Art of Mending), Ellen Giffin (Babyproof), Anna Quindlen (Blessings), Susan Wiggs (Just Breathe) and Claire Cook (Must Love Dogs). I also love a good suspense novel written by Harlan Coben or Alafair Burke.

Do you outline a novel?
I spend a lot of time mulling things over in my mind. I try to create a character to whom I can relate and a problem which will challenge her. Usually I jot down ideas of what I want to have happen at some point in the novel, but it’s not that organized. I do try to keep roadblocks coming and increasing in intensity for my characters. I get bored if I’m reading a book that goes on for pages about what the scenery looks like. I want action!

How do you do your research?
The truth is, my real life is rather tame, so I’m forced to do research. I like to interview people and read about unfamiliar topics. For example, in my Secrets series, Bethany’s boyfriend, Parker, seems to be everything a woman could want: smart, kind and handsome. He also has Huntington’s disease. For me, this created dilemmas about whether he should get married and have kids. I did a lot of research on-line and I have a friend whose father had Huntington’s disease. She was gracious enough to share her experiences with me so that my book could ring true.

Any clues for someone who wants to try to write women’s fiction?
I aim for characters that feel real—like your neighbor or a good friend. I then give her some flaws and make her desperately want something that she can’t have. I write “Happy Endings with a Twist” because readers appreciate surprise endings.

Are you writing another 3 book series?
For some reason, I keep writing trilogies. I didn’t plan to, but my friends wanted to find out what happened next to everyone they’d fallen in love with in “A Sister’s Promise.” So, I wrote “What Happiness Looks Like.” When I wrote “On the Verge” which is about a newlywed who hits his head and his personality drastically changes, I invented new main characters, but my old favorites slipped back in there. I do think I’ll keep writing series because I’m not ready to walk away from my characters after just one book. Now I’m working on a brand new series. For me, this is the hardest stage. . .creating book 1.

Who are some of your favorite female characters in novels?
I’m not good at remembering names, but I like smart, witty and capable women like in Jennifer Weiner’s and Claire Cook’s novels. I just read a novel where the main character was a police officer, struggling with diabetes, when her mother got kidnapped. I loved that she had such a powerful job despite her medical condition.

Care to tell us about your new release?
In “A Mother’s Conviction” a doting foster mother competes against a less-than-stellar birth mother to win a little girl’s heart. Here’s the blurb: Single mom Bethany Morris loves her 6-year-old foster daughter, Willow, as if she were her own. When Willow’s real mother is released early from prison, Bethany isn’t ready to let the little girl go. She wonders if people really can change and tries to justify her reluctance to say good-bye by digging into the mother’s shady past.

Across the state line, Willow’s half-sister lives with her dad, Conner Walker, a man who never stays in one place for too long. When he returns to the town where he grew up, he realizes he’s been cheating his daughter out of a place to call home. For the first time in years, he wonders if he should keep running or risk making a stand in court.

To what lengths will Bethany and Conner go to keep their families together? Read “A Mother’s Conviction” to find out!

Thanks, Judy, for inviting me to stop by.

And thank you, Karen, for sharing with us!!

http://www.karensnovels.com
facebook.com/karen.lenfestey.3 Twitter: @KarenLenfestey I’m also on GoodReads

You might want to check out Karen’s new release, “A Mother’s Conviction,” available both in e-book and paperback at Amazon at this link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YQOPWQS

Writing: What motivates your character? Does it work?

First off, I have a summer cold, so if ideas don’t always blend together in this blog, my head’s a little fuzzy. But here goes:

I just finished reading a book that I loved, but sometimes, I had to MAKE myself keep turning the pages. Sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? It was, and I had mixed feelings about it. I loved every scene, every character. The villains were deliciously complicated, and sometimes, I actually felt sympathetic to them–the sign of a good writer. But sometimes, the decisions the main character made felt forced. They worked for the plot and led to tension and battles, but I kept thinking there might have been a better way to handle the situation, and that the character was smart enough to think about something less dangerous. True, the bad guy is forcing her hand, but the story felt like she was reacting to one threat after another without ever saying, “Hey, what if…..?” But then that might be just me. I usually think first, act later. My daughter read the same book and said it was her favorite in the entire series. But then my daughter has no fear. Just goes to show you. But my reaction to the story made me think.

A character’s motivations have to feel REAL. He has to want something enough that he’ll take risks to get it or achieve it. But the risks have to make sense. It’s hard for me to follow a hero who doesn’t care, who’s so blase’, he just goes through the motions to see what happens. I have just as much trouble following a hero who takes risks he doesn’t need to, someone who puts himself and his friends in trouble when there’s a better way to solve the problem. Conflicted motivations are really hard to pull off, and that’s where I ran into trouble in the book I read. People are complicated, and I like that. But when a character is so complicated that I can’t decide what he’s trying to achieve, I waffle.

The other thing that slowed me down in this book was the nonstop action. After three fight scenes back to back, I just got tired. I had to put the book down to take a break. Don’t get me wrong. These were some of the best fight scenes I’ve ever read. But there were a LOT of them. Books need tension, and that tension has to build and build and build. But sometimes, I need to catch my breath.

Did I love this book? Yes, but not as much as the last one. Will I read the next book in the series? A big yes. Did this book make me think about writing and what works for me and what doesn’t? A resounding yes, because I kept asking myself, How can each scene be so good, and I need to put the book down for a minute?

Reading other writers, really good writers, are such great learning experiences. Hope you find authors who push you to be a better writer.

Writing: Is enough “worse” enough?

Every writer’s heard the advice, “Things can always get worse.”  But every once in a while, for me, enough is enough.  I don’t need to have my protagonist bloodied to a pulp before I turn the last page of a book.  Sure, he has to work to fix whatever problem whacked him out of kilter in the book’s first chapter.  He has to try and fail a few times, or else his problem only deserves a few pages.  But there are lots of ways to build tension in a story. If you don’t believe me, check out this article by Elizabeth Sims:  21 Fast Hacks to Fuel Your Story With Suspense.  http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/21-fast-hacks-to-fuel-your-story-with-suspense

Antagonists, opponents, competitors, and arguing love interests can add tension in scenes. Heck, even weather or nature can add stress.  The stakes can rise in more than one area of the protagonist’s life, so that he’s buried under an accumulation of problems, and he has to dig his way out before he can finally solve the book’s big problem.  Lately, some authors I admire have gone one step further, though. In their series, the protagonist has to get beat up, hurt, or bludgeoned more with each book.

I’ll use a mystery writer whom I enjoy as an example.  I won’t name names, but I read her because I enjoy her humor.  Okay, she has to kill somebody to make the story’s stakes serious enough, and then she has to hunt down the murderer, but she fills her books with eccentric characters and offbeat situations, and I chuckle as I read them.  Until I get near the end. And then she raises the stakes so that the almost amateur sleuth has to suffer enough to make readers feel like they got their money’s worth.  It’s been a while since I read the first book in the series, but I think the protagonist got roughed up a little before someone showed up, and she could save herself.  In the second book, she got beat up pretty badly at the end, and in the third book, she got shot.  I stopped reading.  What’s next?  Torture?

Who says that a protagonist has to suffer more at the end of each book in a series? Because I don’t like it. Some of my favorite urban fantasies do the same thing.  There’s always a big battle at the end of those books.  Two of my favorite heroines (in two separate series) got pounded pretty good before they won hard-fought victories at the end of their book ones. In books two,  they ended up in hospitals. In books three, bones got broken.  And they almost didn’t survive books four.  How much worse are things going to get?  I don’t need that kind of drama, but obviously, most readers must want it.  Not me.

What’s your opinion?  Does a trip to the ER or a near-death experience make for a better ending?  I know the protagonist has to face near impossible odds, but those can build as the story progresses.  I don’t need my protagonists crippled at the end of the book.  What do you think?

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twitter: @judypost

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Writing: being a hero isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

I just finished the final polish for my new Babet & Prosper novella. This story features Babet’s father, Gazaar. He was a warrior angel before Lucifer and his band of rebels were thrown into the pit. Then, someone needed to keep guard over them, and he volunteered. In time, more angels dropped from the heavenly ranks, some turning to evil, and the pits filled with more demons. Gazaar got promoted to gatekeeper to make sure everyone stayed where they were supposed to be. Now, I ask you. Who’d want that job? But when Babet asks her father why he took it, he shrugs and says, “Someone has to do it.”

That’s the way most urban fantasy heroes are. They take on a conflict out of a sense of duty or responsibility. When I’d run, they stay and face the foe. They have the strength or knowledge or skills to, hopefully, survive and defeat the bad guys. Most of the protagonists take on a challenge to protect other people. They aren’t looking for power, but it’s often a by-product of the struggles they undergo.

Defeating villains makes a hero dig deep and changes him. A long, long time ago, I attended a mystery conference where Mary Higgins Clark was the keynote speaker. She explained the elements needed to write a woman in jeopardy story. It’s been too long ago to remember subtle points, but the main ingredients were: a good woman is living an ordinary life; a bad guy is bent on a journey of destruction; the two collide; the woman has to struggle to survive; and she’s forever changed by coming into contact with evil. Even though she didn’t choose her journey, she chose to do everything in her power to survive it.

Stakes have to be high, and body count isn’t enough. The reader has to care about the victims, or a body sprinkled here, and another one there, just feels like a plot ploy. I’ve read books and watched movies where every time the pace slows a bit, I know another person’s going to bite the dust. Sometimes, it works–if I learn something from the death or there’s a ticking clock or the victim was sympathetic. Sometimes, it doesn’t–when I feel like the writer didn’t know what else to do so killed someone. The deaths have to provide some kind of emotional impact.

Not all heroes face fierce enemies. When I wrote the short, romance novellas for The Emerald Hills collection, the heroes’ goals often involved chasing dreams. The hero in the romance I wrote for my agent was chasing a dream, too. I can relate to that. But achieving a story’s goal can never be an easy undertaking. Things go wrong. Nothing’s as simple as it could be. The goal has to be earned. The stakes have to be high, or the book’s tension is low.

In Demon Heart, a demon escapes one of Gazaar’s pits when he’s off-duty. Babet hopes the demon stays far, far away from River City, but Prosper and his fellow detective, Hatchet, hope it comes to them. As Prosper says, “Who else can deal with him like we can?” Babet is every bit as much of a hero as Prosper. She’s just a reluctant one, and when the demon comes, she doesn’t back down from the fight.

May your heroes have plenty of conflicts and survive them all. (I like happy endings). And happy writing!

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Writing–ready to go

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My third Fallen Angels novel, BLOOD LUST, will be online soon. Michael Prete at http://vertex10.com/ is designing another cover for me, but I used this image to help me create Feral. Interesting villains make for interesting books, and I found Feral particularly intriguing. She was just devious and crazy enough to push a lot of Enoch’s buttons. In this book, Feral comes to Enoch’s home city–Three Rivers–to open a vampire nightclub, but she follows all of the rules “good” vampires abide by. Enoch, a fallen angel, respects rules, but discovers those rules leave plenty of holes for serious problems. Feral listens to classical music, and Enoch decides “She must fancy herself as cultured, as if listening to Mozart lifted her to a higher rank. That would be like sprinkling diamond dust across a cesspool. It didn’t change the disgusting mess underneath.” I enjoyed creating Feral.

In this book, I wanted to focus some attention on Voronika. Enoch has chosen a vampire as his mate. Voronika hates what she is. She sometimes comes off as cold and self-centered, but when her mortal friend, Maggie, tells her she’s pregnant, Voronika struggles to be happy for her. Vampires can’t procreate. She’ll never have a child, and she tries not to feel jealous.

My last goal, in this book, was to write an urban fantasy that didn’t involve one battle leading to the next. I like battles, but I wanted this book to have different conflicts and tension. I got mixed reviews from my critique partners on that, so I bumped the stakes higher and was happy with my characters and story line.

For my next urban fantasy–the third book in the Wolf’s Bane series–I’ve typed out 28 plot points, and the story calls for enough battles to make up for my cat-and-mouse games in BLOOD LUST.

I’m making this blog post shorter than most. My grandson’s staying with us over Thanksgiving holiday before he heads back to college, so I’ve been cooking and playing more than usual. I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving. And happy writing!

P.S. I found a new blog post about plotting that I thought was especially good. Thought I’d share:
http://storyfix.com/story-structure-dummies

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