Monday, September 29, 2014

A #Pricedrop for SILVER LAKE - #amazon #oneclick

My debut novel, SILVER LAKE, is now two years old (where did the time go?) and when books hit this milestone, my publisher gives us the option of a price reduction for electronic formats.  I'm thrilled with the option, since older books often need a lower price point to stay competitive in a market filled with new releases.  SILVER LAKE is now available on Kindle (and nook and iPad) for $2.99, almost half of its original $4.99 price!  A fancy coffee costs about the same thing, so it's a great bargain for hours of entertainment.

The premise of SILVER LAKE is a reunion between former friends who became estranged when their friend Brandy disappeared their senior year of high school.  Five years later, the group agrees to reunite at a lake house from their past in a final attempt to solve the mystery of her disappearance.  Rain Anderson, the main character, is determined to find closure for Brandy's terminally ill mother, and she's also anxious to try to reconcile with Jason Lansing, the man whose heart she broke back in high school.  As the paranormal activity escalates throughout the summer, it soon becomes clear that Brandy's ghost has a message to share...and she's willing to put her friends in danger to expose the truth.

I recently typed up the original Goal, Motivation, and Conflict charts for three of the characters: Rain, Jason, and Brandy (yes, the ghost has an agenda too!).  You can find the GMC charts here - I posted them for a class I'll be teaching on writing fiction.  Don't worry, no spoilers...just more insight into the characters.

If you'd like to grab a copy of this ghost story/reunion romance at the new lower price point, the links are above under each device format, and I've posted them below as well.  October is around the corner, and it's a great time for a spooky read...and it's always a great time to experience first love again, as two people fight for a second chance to be together--while wading through the secrets of the past to finally expose the truth behind Brandy's disappearance.

Enjoy the story if you give it a read!  Links:


A little excerpt from one of my favorite scenes!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Goal, Motivation, & Conflict - #amwriting GMC

Anytime I'm asked in an interview to suggest a "must-have" tool for aspiring writers, my answer is always the same: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, by Debra Dixon.  This book lays out the framework for commercial fiction in terms of those three building blocks, known as GMC.  Every character needs a chart, even minor characters.  Maybe their goals won't receive much time or attention in the actual novel, but if the character is in your book, he or she is there for a reason.  That character plays a part.  As writers, we need to develop every character, by giving them solid reasons for their actions and urgent goals that must be met.

As Ms. Dixon points out in her book, goals, motivations, and conflicts can shift throughout the story.  One goal may be achieved, only to set the character on a new path with a new set of GMC.  Smaller GMC scenarios may exist within the larger, overarching GMC for each character.  For maximum tension, heroes and villains should have GMC charts that directly oppose each other--if one character gets what he/she wants, the other character will fail.  Adding urgency to a goal is another way to maximize the impact.  And characters should have both external (the "outer goal" - something physical) and internal (the "inner goal" - involves emotion) goals.

I make charts for every character, using Ms. Dixon's examples as guides.  I'm sharing a few of the charts I made for Silver Lake, my debut novel, with the participants in a fiction class I'm teaching.  I've copied them below as well for reference, and I was careful to include only the major GMC arcs for the three characters I've highlighted; the smaller GMC scenarios are not revealed (no spoilers).  If you'd like to read the blurb first to get an idea of what Silver Lake is about, you can find it here.  But a simple one sentence description (it's good to have one of those too!) would be something like this: When Brandy Pierce vanished during their senior year of high school, Rain Anderson's tight-knit group of friends slowly unraveled; five years later, they agree to reunite at a lake house from their past in a final attempt to solve the mystery of her disappearance.

Each set of numbered GMC points should fit into the following sentence:  (Character) wants (Goal) because (Motivation), but (Conflict).  For example, Rain wants to find out what happened to Brandy because Brandy was her best friend, her terminally ill mother needs closure, and Rain is haunted with guilt--but the mystery is now five years old, and while Brandy's spirit seems to want help, there are barriers to communication.

A simpler, internal GMC would be: Jason wants a romantic relationship with Rain, because she's still the one he loves, but she wounded him once before, and he currently has a girlfriend.

I've bolded things within the charts that add urgency to the dynamic. 

1.      Find out what happened to Brandy
1.       Earn Jason’s forgiveness
2.       Maybe earn his love again?
3.       Renew old friendships
1.      A)  Brandy’s mom is dying and has asked for help=Closure
B)  Brandy was Rain’s best friend
C)  Guilt over the missed phone call
D)  Disturbing dreams seemingly sent from Brandy – she’s being haunted
E)  Help her friend’s spirit rest in peace
1.       She still feels guilty over the choice she made – she hurt him badly
2.       She’s still attracted to him
3.       She’s recently divorced and extremely isolated…misses her old friends
1.      A)  The unsolved mystery is now 5 years old – few clues
B)  Brandy is a ghost – seems she wants to communicate, but is unable
      1.     Heartbreak leaves deep scars
2.       It’s unlikely he’d make the same mistake twice
3.       There are still secrets and suspicions lingering between them…and they’re not the exact same people they were in high school

1.      Keep Rain Safe
2.      Spend time at the lake
1.       A romantic relationship with Rain (even though he does not want to admit it to himself)
1.      A)  He’s a black belt in Karate; owns a studio; it’s what he does=KEEPS PEOPLE SAFE
B)  He still has feelings for Rain
2.      A)  He’s done nothing but work 24/7 since starting his own business after college
B)  Brandy’s mother asked them all to participate in the reunion
C)  He wants time away from his girlfriend
1.       He loves her – she’s still the one.
1.      A)  He’s up against supernatural forces – how to fight a ghost?
B)  He can’t stay at the lake house all summer – work
2.      Reuniting with former friends—especially Rain—will bring up difficult emotions
1.      A)  Pride
B)  His current live-in girlfriend
C)  Fear of another rejection

1.       Be found
1.       Expose the truth of what happened
1.      A)   Allow her spirit to rest in peace
B)   End her mother’s suffering before she dies
1.       A)  People can finally heal
B)  Brandy can let go and move on
1.       She’s a ghost; barriers to communication
1.      Her friends need to be together to provide energy for her spirit to draw from and summer is almost over

I hope these charts help demonstrate the importance of GMC when developing characters.  Even Brandy, the ghost, has a goal with valid motivation and frustrating conflicts.  Of course, Allie and A.J., the other two friends at the lake house reunion, have charts as well, but in the interest of space, I left them out.  However, you can find their GMCs within the pages of the book--plus, you can experience the additional conflicts Rain and Jason must face as they struggle against their attraction and face the danger of a ghost willing to put her friends at risk to expose the truth. SILVER LAKE is now available electronically for only $3.99 on Kindle exclusively, as this title is now an Amazon Encore Imprint.  Print copies are available from the original publisher, The Wild Rose Press, and also on Amazon as well.

Now that I'm used to analyzing characters and plots within this paradigm, I see GMC everywhere.  Not surprisingly, if I don't see it, I'm not usually interested in continuing reading or watching.

I love comments, so please feel free to chat about this topic...Happy writing!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Building A #Soccer Goal - Friday #Fitness 9

Maybe we shouldn't be doing this, considering this year our older son broke his leg playing soccer, and then six months later, our younger son broke his thumb playing soccer.  Both breaks were bad enough to require surgery--our insurance is all but ready to drop us.  But my kids love soccer, and I'm a big believer in fitness.  And finding fitness you enjoy makes all the difference.  In addition to writing paranormal romance, I teach classes every morning; both jobs combine my passions with a small paycheck, which is fantastic.  My husband competes in triathlons, which is a special form of torture I'm still trying to understand.  But it works for him, and our rescue dog Otis loves the running part of training.

So, inspired by our neighbors, who had built one on their own for their kids, we (and by we, I mostly mean my husband and role was essentially looking stuff up on Pinterest) took on the challenge.  Sure, we could buy one, but they cost a lot of money.  Plus, where's the fun in that?  My husband and youngest son got to use the Pythagorean theorem as they calculated the measurements!  Who says we never use math anymore?

Lots of math & measurements

It was a cloudy Saturday anyway, so a great time for a big project.  There was PVC pipe, yardsticks, a hack saw, scribbled measurements, PVC primer and glue.  Once they got the base formed, they had to pull out stepladders to hold the final pieces together as the glue dried.  By the end of the day, the PVC frame was complete.

I got to watch my hubby flex
while holding the pieces to dry...
Also note my son's cast...he helped
The final piece was locating a net that would fit the rather large frame correctly.  After an internet search, my husband chose one from Net World Sports   Thankfully, it fit just fine, both length and depth-wise as well, and we didn't have to go through returns and more searches.

The total cost after all this came to  than $150.  It would have been less if we used a more narrow PVC pipe, but we wanted it to be as sturdy as possible.

The finished product is a big hit!  Even Otis approves:

We're not a particularly handy group, so
the success of this project was very satisfying!

Forbidden Love & #Supernatural Secrets - New #YA Release

I can't believe it's been over a month since my first Young Adult Paranormal Romance released!  DIVINE FALL is a bit of a departure from my usual ghost story/romance combination--this new novel is about a Nephilim, or a Fallen Angel.  The Nephilim are the offspring of male angels ("Sons of God") and female humans ("daughters of man") mentioned in the Bible's Book of Genesis, as well as in the Book of Enoch.  In Genesis, the passage about this errant race of "mighty men" is directly followed by God's decision to cleanse the earth of the wickedness of humanity with The Great Flood. 

The best thing about writing fiction, especially fiction that deals with fantasy or paranormal, is that the writer can let his or her imagination run wild.  I have a particularly active imagination, so I had fun extrapolating the three long sentences that make up Genesis 6: 1-4 into my character's history.  In my novel, destroying this unnatural race is one of the major goals of The Flood; once the earth is repopulated, biological safeguards are set in place to prevent the conception of another Nephilim.

Until the birth of Dothan Reed.  How did it happen?  Well, I don't want to give away too much of the story.  But as DIVINE FALL's blurb notes, he's the only one of his kind; an outcast in both worlds.  His very existence is forbidden.  And he's fine with that, as he has only one goal: revenge.  He's willing to give up his life once he completes his deadly task.

But there's more than a few obstacles in his way, of course.  And Jamie Brandt, the girl unfortunately connected to his plan, is a big one.  Ultimately, he must make a difficult choice...and as Jamie figures out what he's hiding, so will she.

If you enjoy forbidden love and supernatural secrets, why not give DIVINE FALL a try?  At $3.00, it's less than a fancy coffee or a rented movie, and you'll get hours of entertainment!  And I love to connect with readers, so find me on FaceBook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  Here's the Pinterest board for DIVINE FALL so you can get a look at inspiration for the characters and my mind, Dothan looks like Travis Fimmel from Vikings in his early modeling career.

Enjoy the blurb below, and find links for all formats of DIVINE FALL.  Happy Reading!

After tragedy tears Jamie Brandt’s life apart, her only goal is to finish high school so she can leave her small hometown behind.  In the meantime, riding her horse is her main source of solace, until a mysterious stable hand shows up at the barn.  There’s something not quite right about the handsome new employee, and the more Jamie sees of him, the more determined she becomes to figure out what he’s hiding.

Dothan Reed came to historic Huntsville, Maryland, for one reason—revenge.  But his plan can’t move forward until he finds the missing piece he needs to enhance his powers.  As the only surviving Nephilim, Dothan is not only weaker than full-blooded angels; his forbidden lineage makes him an outcast in both worlds.  When he discovers Jamie is the key to locating an ancient weapon, he’s forced to interact with a vulnerable human girl—a task that becomes more appealing with each encounter.

Jamie soon learns Dothan isn’t the only one with a dark secret.  Each new revelation further threatens her safety, and Dothan’s betrayal shatters her heart.  Forgiving him seems impossible, but the thought of turning her back on him is equally painful.

As their connection deepens, Dothan will have to make his own difficult choice: continue on his path of vengeance, or protect the girl he loves.  And when Dothan’s actions thrust Jamie into an unforeseen danger, he must seek the help of his enemy…or risk losing her forever.   


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Defining Genres in Fiction - #amwriting

I’m teaching a Fiction Writing class at the local college this fall, and the other day I set out to make a list of genres, with definitions and examples.  I ended up getting sucked into a black hole, spending hours trying to contrast and compare different lists that varied greatly from one source to another.  Some insisted one genre was actually a subset of another, another source declared the opposite.  Dozens of subgenres muddied the waters as well. 

Those of us who are writers know that most books don’t fit into one tidy genre anyway—there are blurred lines and overlapping traits.  But that doesn’t help the new writer with an assignment to pick their favorite genre and study it.  So this is MY attempt to classify some popular genres; I’m not claiming there are no other ways to do so, and if there’s one singular master list accepted by all, my hours of searching did not locate it.  One thing I noticed is that Erotica was rarely given its own genre—it was usually listed as a subgenre of Romance.  Maybe it’s because I’m a Romance author, but I think that’s wrong.  One key component of Romance is the HEA, and while some Erotica will incorporate that, it’s not a requirement.  At my press, we have two different websites to showcase our offerings: one for Romance, one for Erotica—and both genres have huge followings.  So I gave them each their own category.  Feel free to weigh in on how you organize and define the genres!  Keep in mind the word “usually” should always be implied, and that I didn’t think it feasible to list every subcategory.  OK, here we go!

The genre refers to the constructs of the story; things regularly done and expected in terms of technique, tone, and content.

A.   Mystery/Detective/Crime Fiction – focuses on the investigation and solution of a crime, the unraveling of secrets.

·        Cozy mystery usually involves a woman who is an amateur sleuth; these are fun reads with quirky and likeable characters in a small town setting; not very graphic in terms of violence and sex.  An example would be Lillian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who…series.

·        Hardboiled detective fiction tends to involve a professional detective with a cynical attitude; more graphic and gritty; city setting with a focus on action.  An example is Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe.


B.    Thrillers/Suspense – incorporate twists and suspense along with fast-paced action; provides a rush of emotions; main character is often a man whose occupation or career leads into the plot.  An example is Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code.

·        Occupational Thrillers encompass subgenres such as Legal Thrillers (John Grisham), Medical Thrillers (Robin Cook), etc.

·        Many other subgenres, including Ecothrillers, Espionage, Paranormal, Political, Psychological, Technothrillers.


C.   Horror strives to evoke fear, dread, and shock; purpose is to frighten readers; often involves some supernatural elements.  Example is It by Stephen King.

Stephen King is my
favorite Horror author -
I love his Fantasy novels too

D.   Speculative Fiction – fairly difficult to define.  This genre revolves around real or imagined science or technology; the world (or society) tends to be different from ours in a fundamental way; laws are different; world-building very important.

·        Science Fiction deals with the more plausible make-believe scenarios; science that might exist in the future.

·        A few other subgenres are Dystopian, Apocalyptic, Post apocalyptic, Alternative History.  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is an example of Dystopian.


E.    Fantasy – almost always deals with something magical.  An imaginary world, animals or people with unexpected powers; world-building very important.  An example is C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.


F.     Historical Fiction – aims to immerse the reader in a specific time period.  This genre is set in the past; the plot comes from the writer’s imagination, but the setting and details of the time period are accurately portrayed.  Sometimes includes real historical figures interacting with fictional characters.  This genre requires a great deal of research.  Ken Follett’s The Century Trilogy is an example.


G.   Romance – fairly easy to define, as two key criteria must be met: the relationship between the 2 main characters must be central to the plot, and there must be a satisfying, happily ever after (HEA) ending, or at least happy for now.  The Romance genre is about two people overcoming significant challenges to be together; allows the reader to experience the crackling chemistry, the sexual tension, and the emotional roller coaster of falling in love.


·        Lots of subgenres, including Paranormal, Historical, Sweet, Christian, Romantic Suspense, Contemporary, Time Travel, etc.  Nora Roberts is a well-known and prolific Romance author.


H.   Erotica – features sexually explicit details designed to arouse the reader.  It is not pornography, there is a plot and developed characters.  The plot may or may not include a relationship; the characters may or may not have an HEA.  Captive in the Dark by C.J. Roberts is an example.


I.       Women’s Fiction – includes topics that are important to women, i.e. all types of relationships and friendships, love, careers, family, hopes, and dreams.


·        Chick Lit is a subgenre that promises a fun read with realistic, modern characters.  The covers tend to be bright and distinctive.  An example is Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding.


J.      Young Adult (YA) Fiction – targets the 12-18 age group; protagonist falls within that age range.

·        “Edgy” YA deals with controversial or difficult issues.

·        Other than that, the same subgenres of adult fiction apply, i.e. Divine Fall by Kathryn Knight (me!) is a YA Paranormal Romance.

Young Adult
Paranormal Romance
is a popular genre
Finally, a note about Literary Fiction – this encompasses novels that are not genre fiction; stories that defy categorization in a genre; the emphasis is often on the prose itself.  An example is The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

There you have it, my attempt at defining genres in commercial fiction.  I hope it’s more interesting than confusing...I love comments, so weigh in with your opinion!