Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What's your writing formula?

Years back before I seriously started writing I had talked with an author who just sold his first novel, a thriller as I recall.  He commented that with his first book out, the rest would be easier. When asked if he meant establishing himself as an author meant easier sales, he said, "No. The next books I write will follow the formula."

I didn't give it much thought back then, but recently it hit me that I have a formula. My middle grade mysteries follow it, and I've refined it for my later mysteries, including Claws of the Griffin,  from Cool Well Press, and my current work in progress. I will share some of the formula here.

The main POV of the hero is done in first person.(This came after the Penelope Mystery series.)  I add a third person POV for another character who has the next strongest plot line.  Then I add in a few minor third person POVs to round out story. What I like about this approach is the reader gets the intamancy of reading a first person account, and the broader perspective of multiple third persons. Be warned it can be tricky.

Beside the hero and villain, I have a "bad ass" character, who's goal is to give the hero a rough time and side track her. To balance things out, the hero has a counselor, someone who keeps her on track with advice and small helps. Since I write mysteries, the hero, aka detective, has sidekicks.  The rest of a mix is diverse characters.

Toss in strong "red herring". Sadly the art of deceiving the reader with false clues seems to have died. Even when the reader knows its a red herring, it helps to muddy the waters. Just play fair.

Those are some elements of my recipe for writing a story.

So, what's your writing formula?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Interview with Joleene Naylor author of Ashes of Deceit

June 15 - Top Shelf Books - http://www.the-top-shelf.com/
June 16 - Ron D. Voigts - http://rondvoigts.blogspot.com/
June 17 - Barbara G. Tarn - http://creativebarbwire.wordpress.com/
June 18- Stephannie Beman - http://stephanniebeman.com/blog/
June 19 - The Williamson Vampires - http://julihoffman.wordpress.com/
June 20 – Lariats and Lavender - http://www.lariatsandlavender.com/
June 21 - I Smell Sheep - ismellsheep.blogspot.com/
June 22- Reena Jacobs - http://reenajacobs.com/
June 23 - Lindsay Downs - http://ajessicasalesnovel.wordpress.com


A book blurb tells a lot about a book. Can you tell us something about your book?

Katelina is a human woman whose fate has become intertwined with Jorick, a dark, enigmatic vampire. Ashes of Deceit is the fourth book in the Amaranthine series and picks up where Ties of Blood left off. Katelina and Jorick are supposed to be readying for a trip to the tropics. Instead, they have to rescue a vampire who’s been captured by humans. But how could humans have captured a vampire? Meanwhile, Jorick’s vengeful fledgling, Oren, plans to attack The Guild. Though Jorick refuses to help him, he and Katelina find themselves drawn into a battle of confused loyalties. Can they rise from the ashes, or will they be consumed by the inferno of destruction?

Though there is romance in the series (and sex), I wouldn’t call it a primarily romance series. Since romance novels sell the best, I might be shooting myself in the foot with that statement. 

Covers are the first things that get seen when book shopping. Can you tell us about your cover’s design?

The covers for the series are kind of a mixed blessing. Normally, a vampire cover is black. There’s usually a girl or a “hot” guy, a full moon, a cross, etc. Instead, mine are white with an “anime-style” drawing. Though I’ve gotten some derogatory comments from PNR fans, I do attract anime/manga fans and readers who say “I don’t normally read vampire books, but…” I’m also an anime lover and, though I love vampires, I’m not crazy about most of the modern vampire books. Like a lot of authors, I started the series for myself, and since those are my credentials, that’s my target audience. So far the covers seem to be attracting that audience, despite the dogging they get.

For me the first few paragraphs tell me if I want to read the book. How does your story open?

From Ashes of Deceit:

Katelina walked out of the truck stop and eyed the dented, ugly carpet van. It stared back, like a dragon that wanted to swallow her whole. A blast of winter wind rattled her and she brushed her blonde hair from her face. She’d been volunteered to drive to Michigan and the Institute of Supernatural and Unexplained Sciences to help rescue a vampire, while Jorick and his fledgling, Oren, were going to sleep in wooden boxes in the back.

She wondered if it was legal to transport vampires over a state border. There should be a law about that, she mused silently. Maybe there was. The Guild, the vampires’ government, had laws for everything else, and they used the Executioners to enforce them. As the name implied, there seemed to be only one penalty for misconduct.

How have you been marketing your book? What works best for you?

I ran a ten day contest on my blog, giving away different items every day (t-shirt transfers, stickers, etc.), that pulled in some blog views, though I can’t say if it gathered new readers and I am currently in the midst of my first blog tour. I’ve also made a new facebook author page. The best promotion tools are ones you enjoy. If you hate doing it, that’s going to show, and that’s why I don’t do much with Twitter. My main promotions include my blog(s) because I love to blog and read blogs, and free short stories because they are so fun to write. I have eight or nine of them on Barnes and Noble and I’ve gotten emails that say “I enjoyed your short story(s) so I’m going to buy your full length novels now!” I actually sell as many, if not more, books through B&N as I do Amazon, and I’m sure it’s the freebies that do it.

What are you now working on? Can you give us some hints what to expect?

My current projects are finishing up the Vampire Morsels collection – these are the aforementioned short stories about some of the side characters in the Amaranthine universe. I am going to bundle them together and release them as a collection. I am also working on a novella about Patrick, which is a prequel to the first Amaranthine novel, and of course the fifth Amaranthine novel, tentatively titled Heart of the Raven. I hope to the have Vampire Morsels published this summer, Patrick by early autumn (if not sooner) and the novel finished this winter. (whoo!) 

Heart of the Raven picks up where Ashes of Deceit ends and *should* see Katelina and Jorick travel to Munich, Germany to see the True Council. After that, they *should* meet Jorick’s up-to-now-unknown fledgling and *should* run into the treasure hunters, who will be looking for the heart of the raven (this is an “ancient vampire artifact”, believed to be Lilith’s heart). I say *should* because the characters don’t always do what I want them to.

When you are not writing a book, what do you do for fun?

When I’m not writing, working on the Terrible Turtle Conspiracy web comic, creating book covers for other authors, formatting, or playing Sims on facebook, I like to take photos, play Final Fantasy, watch anime and Dr. Who and splash in rain puddles. Sadly, it doesn’t rain a lot in southern Missouri, so I don’t get to do that as often as I’d like. I might try to talk my husband into a kiddie pool.


Joleene Naylor is an independent author, freelance artist and part time photographer. Her published works include the fun eBook 101 Tips for Traveling with a Vampire and the Amaranthine series available at Amazon. She's also written a slew of short stories and poems, and has been published in The Blue Turtle Crossing eZine and Target Audience Magazine. Her photographs have been featured on travel sites, cooking sites and have even made the homepage of Digg.


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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Review of THE LION, THE LAMB, THE HUNTED by Andrew E. Kaufman

I joined Amazon Prime shortly after getting my Kindle Fire this past April.  Membership allows one book per month, so I get picky about what I’m going to read. One book caught my attention. A sinister pair of eyes stared out from the cover beckoned me to look further. I clicked the "Look Inside" and read a few paragraphs.Immediately I was hooked and had to read more of  THE LION, THE LAMB, THE HUNTED: A PSHYCOLOGICAL THRILLER by Andrew E. Kaufman. 

The book follows two seemingly unrelated stories with a common thread—Patrick.  He takes the reader on a frightening journey of growing up with a mother that makes the evil stepmother in Cinderella look like a saint.  The excerpts of his life are dispersed neatly throughout the book and every atrocity done by this woman is only exceeded by the next.  The other storyline follows Patrick’s investigation into a cold case kidnapping/murder spurned on by some unusual artifacts he finds in a box from his mother’s estate. Every step uncovers bizarre events that don’t add up and possibly an innocent man being executed for the murder.  As Patrick closes in the killer, it soon becomes apparent that he is the hunted. A brutal psychopath who will stop at nothing wants Patrick dead. How do these storylines come together?  You’ll have to read the book to find out.

This is the kind of book that’s hard to put down and I found myself staying up late into the night just to catch a few more paragraphs of what will happen next.  The writing flows and Kaufman weaves a superb thriller that will keep the reader hanging on until the end. Currently the book is #71 in Paid Kindle Store.  For Mystery and Thriller fans this is a great read. I give it four thumbs up.