Book Review: The Suspenseful Collection

I wish to extend my sincere thanks to Didi Oviatt and Kim Knight! I feel honoured to be  one of the lucky winners of their first short story collection!

The book consists of eight short stories, each written by both authors.  Author One writes Scene one, Author Two finishes the story in Scene Two. Only the authors know who wrote which scene, but the stories are seamless and well written.

This is a great collection of short stories, all of which I enjoyed, and like all anthologies, some I enjoyed more than others.

The stories are for mature readers only, something to keep in mind if you are bothered by books with sexual content or offensive language, this might not be for you. For those with an open mind, enjoy!

It was The First Time I Killed A Man.

It’s 1972 and New York’s first female serial killer Lisa Vanacilli is in the hot seat again, ten years after her conviction of murder to the first degree and innocent plea. The ruthless but sexy reporter Tiffany Low cracks Lisa for a confession… at a price. Lisa is strong, courageous and says it how it is. This story has been extended due to reader’s demand. And is only for adult readers.

I can’t say I loved this story, but that might have something to with Lisa being so hard to like. She’s just nasty! She’s crude, demanding and narcissistic. Contains sexual content and profanity.

Psychological Fiction: Every Time I Hear That Voice From The Basement.

George appears to be harmless. The local neighbourhood geek on the outside, married to Jolene. In reality, he’s a very disturbed man. His path crosses with Dana, the local check out girl. This is a psychological suspense story with a twist.

Ooooh…Creepy guy! He seems so innocent but one to definitely stay away from! What a great read!  Didi and Kim did a great job building up the main character.  I loved the scene with Jolene when she was getting cleaned up but I wonder if something more should have happened there?

Crime Fiction: The Entrance To The Tunnel Is His Only Way Out.

Juan is a wanted man, and an ex-gang member on the run from Atlanta to Mexico. With a hundred grand in cash stolen from his ex-boss, he meets an unlikely fate in Mexico. A fast-paced crime fiction story.

Loved this! I totally did not expect this ending! Well done!

Contemporary Romance: When His Hands Run Up My Thighs I…

Love has no time limit, age limit or use by date. Sarah now in her fifties is reunited with her long-lost love Joshua. They last had contact in 1961. In the present day, thanks to the advancement of technology their paths cross. A heart-warming and modern tale, about long distance love, that will leave you warm inside.

Loved this heart touching story of long lost love.  Beautifully told.

Suspense: We Only Said Goodbye With Words, I Died A Hundred Times:

In 1963 Russian Femme Fatale Mila Petrov is London’s top Madam. Her entertainment house is booming, she has a team of London’s strongest women behind her. Unfinished business from her past creeps up and haunts her. It’s nothing she can’t handle. A suspenseful historical tale, with a strong femme fatale.

Mila Petrov is a great character, strong and powerful.  What will she do and how will she handle the situation?  Really enjoyed this one!

Fantasy: The Ones Who Live At The Bottom Of The Ocean, Come To The Surface.

A beautiful coming of age story, featuring sixteen year old Zoe and her mother May-Li. Myth becomes reality, as Zoe finds out who and what she really is. Her mixed descent reveals more than what meets the eye. This fantasy story is set against the backdrop of a Greek island and Hong Kong, China.

I was surprised at the turn this story took, and I really enjoyed it! It was fresh and unexpected and made me want more. It would be interesting for the authors to continue another segment of this story.

 

Suspenseful Crime Fiction: Guilty As Charged, In Self-Defence

California’s sassy, tough, and likeable defence lawyer Catherine has taken on a case so high profile, if she wins she’ll become a partner of Martin Law Firm. Defending forty six year old Mrs. Chevelle. An ex Las Vegas show girl, now a Hollywood wife, on trial for the murder of her high-profile husband. She claims she’s innocent. Readers are taken on a fast -paced journey on a mission to seek the truth.

A female character finds her own strength to stand up not only for herself but for others as well.  The twist comes at the end when she finds that things aren’t always as they seem.

Contemporary Fiction: It’s A Man’s Man’s World:

A beautiful modern tale showing the love and appreciation of a woman. James Brown said it right when he said, “it’s a man’s man’s world, but it would mean nothing without a woman or a girl.”

A beautiful story about a man watching his mother pass and the cherished gift she gave him.

 

You can check Kim Knight’s blog out here and Didi Oviatt’s here.  Please go to their blogs and give them a follow if you haven’t already!

Right now, they are having a Flash Sale on The Suspenseful Collection!  Only $.99 (or .99P in the UK!) on Amazon. Here’s the link:  The Suspenseful Collection Volume One: Eight Suspenseful Short Stories Across Multiple Genres

 

 

Procrastination and Mental Health

Struggling with procrastination?

I scoured the internet looking for articles on procrastination and why we do it and these were some of the top reasons that I found:

Overwhelm

Fear of Failure

Depression/Anxiety

Small Tasks are Easier(tend to do these instead of a bigger task)

Lack of Motivation

Don’t know how to get started

Low Energy Level

I think in the last 3 weeks I’ve struggled with every single one of these! 

I was doing okay until a series of stressful events left me mentally and physically  stymied, I felt unable to move and go forward with life. Fatigue and pain…Yes! physical aches and pains, took over my body.

It was frustrating and hard to understand. How could this happen. I’m not that old!

I spent my days reading, and resting. I worked on writing my novel at least every day, even if it was only a few paragraphs that got written.

My husband took over making meals and grocery shopping. My son helped with vacuuming.

I was able to do small tasks, like laundry and tidying up.

I read my emails and the blogs I follow. I even tried to comment on them all but at times it was just too much. I would find myself unable to focus and overwhelmed with fatigue.

Blogging? That just didn’t happen.

Lack of energy and focus, perfectionism (because it has to be interesting and worthwhile reading!), blogging a post just seemed to be too colossal a task.

 

Despite all my best intentions, could not bring myself to write a single post. 

My Daily Walks, where I post photos that I take on my walk have been put on hold, I didn’t have the motivation, the energy to do it. And, I thought, nobody is really interested in it anyway. That’s depression talking. I know this. I really do.

I enjoy doing the Friday Posts where I share an excerpt from a book. But I couldn’t seem to decide which book to do. Indecision. For three weeks in a row.  The days snuck up on me, too! By the time I realized what day it was, it was, I felt, too late to even bother. I’ll just do it next week, I’d think. Friday Post fail.

Tips for when procrastination takes over:

  • Make a list of what needs to be done. It is very satisfying scratching things off when you complete them
  • Break the task into smaller chunks. Set small goals and do little bits at a time. You might even want to keep going and do more!
  • Understand that failure is okay. Most mistakes can be fixed and it’s better to try than not do it at all.
  • Just do your best. Nothing is ever perfect.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy, unprocessed foods, get enough sleep and at least 30 minutes of light exercise daily.
  • Set goals that are attainable.
  • Forgive yourself.

Here are some great articles that I found that might help if you are dealing with procrastination of suffering from depression and anxiety:

Six Tips for Overcoming Anxiety Related Procrastination

Four Main Causes of Procrastination Revealed

The Six Best Ways to Beat Anxiety

Four Things Not to do When Feeling Anxious

11 Ways to Overcome Procrastination

 

 

 

One Lovely Blog Award

  1. Thank the person who nominated you
  2. Share 7 facts about yourself
  3. Nominate 15 bloggers and inform them of the nomination

I was nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award by two lovely bloggers—Yellow Fuzzy Duck at Turtledesk and The Ink Owl! Thank you both so much! Ink Owl has a wonderful variety of posts including fiction and guest posts, Turtledesk is is full of creative, fun and inspirational posts. Please click on over and have a look at their blogs if you haven’t already.

Seven Facts

I’ve done a few of these tags recently, so I feel like I’m repeating the same things over and over again. So to make it interesting, for all those who already know that I’m working on a novel and that I love to paint, here are some obscure, kind of off the wall facts about me:

  1. I had my gallbladder removed over a year ago
  2. My Myers-Briggs personality type is INFJ
  3. I love plants but I always forget to water them
  4. I always drink coffee in the morning, tea after that
  5. I have been trained to Reiki Level 3
  6. I am half Polish, 1/4 Ukranian and 1/4 Scottish
  7. I finished off 3 weeks of the Atkins diet with 2 pieces of birthday cake.

My Lovely Nominees:

  1. Life Plan
  2. Caterpillars 2 Butterflies
  3. Paradigm Shifter
  4. Safira’s Journey
  5. My Instruction Manual
  6. Read Rant Rock & Roll
  7. Mel to the Any

 

 

I Messed Up Book Tag

 

 

Thank you Danielle at the Introverted Book Nerd for tagging me!

A character appearance that you misread or imagined differently.

Jamie from Outlander, I’m not really sure how I pictured him. I think I just had a hard time actually picturing him.  But I love Sam Heughan’s portrayal. He’s amazing as Jamie. I wish I got to watch the show more, I’m way behind!

A character name that you have been pronouncing wrong.

I think everybody might have stuttered over Hermione from Harry Potter, at least until the movies came out!  Even Viktor Krum had a hard time with it!

And then  there’s Laoghaire  from Outlander.   I always thought it was La-heerie but it’s actually LEE-ree.  Oops!

 

 

An overused trope that is your guilty pleasure.

The one who appears as the good guy is the murderer. I love a good plot twist!

A cliche character type that you like better on screen than reading about.

It’s the funny ones, like the Weasley brothers!  They are so funny in the movies, it’s really difficult to capture that humour with the written word.

 

Have you ever not read or completed a required-reading book for school?

Never!

Have you ever skipped (or wanted to) a chapter from the point of view of a character you weren’t interested in?

Of course, but I never do. It might be important to the story later on! I have read the last page of a book before, though!

Have you ever canceled social plans to read a book?

Oh yes.

I tag..

Two Gals and a Book

Darque Dreamer

Cassie Winters

Blame Chocolate

 

 

 

Unique!

I am so far behind on my awards and tags…can you believe that 6…yes, 6 awesome bloggers nominated Inspiration Pie for the Unique Blogger Award!  Holy Cow!

I’m going to do the best I can, but it’s kind of a long one, so be patient with me, okay?

Thanks!

So, huge thank you to Jennanicolee at Bookmark Your Thoughts! Jenna has  wonderful posts, from book reviews and bookish posts to her 52 Weeks of Gratitude.

Noriko at Diary of a Bookfiend has kindly adopted me as her aunt.  She is a sweet soul, always friendly and easy to chat with. She has awesome book reviews and she’s an all around great person.

Jay at This Is My Truth Now  is one of my very first blogging friends. He is an author (soon to be published!) with an amazing blog filled with tons and tons of reviews as well as his 365 Day Challenge.

Didi Oviatt  is another amazing author to check out, she has a wonderful blog filled with writing advice, inspiration, poetry, reviews and her own books!

SunSunny has wonderful, dog-loving inspirational posts that just make you feel good inside.

Stephanie of Stephanie’s Novel Fiction is a beautiful person who like a long distance sister to me.  She has an amazing blog with excellent reviews and bookish posts.

The Rules

  • Share the link of the blogger who has shown love to you by nominating you.
  • Answer the questions.
  • In the spirit of sharing love and solidarity with our blogging family, nominate 8-13 people for the same award.
  • Ask them three questions.

Questions from Jennanicolee at Bookmark Your Thoughts:

  1. What is your favourite Disney film and character (they don’t have to be from the same thing)? Why? I’m going to go with Maleficent here, for film and character.  She was just a great, strong character who was treated so unfairly, so cruelly that it was heartbreaking. Yes, she put a curse on Aurora, but in the end she did the right thing for everyone, including herself.
  2. How do you handle with your TBR list when it gets out of control? I just keep reading, one book at a time.
  3. What is your favourite type of post to blog about? I love doing my Friday post!  Linking up with Book Beginnings(Rose City Reader) and Friday 56 (Freda’s Voice).  You share the book beginning and an excerpt from page 56, it gives a great taste of what the book is like without actually giving too much away. It’s a quick and fun post, and I love reading what everyone else on the linky shares as well.

Questions from Noriko at Diary of a Bookfiend:

  • Out of five senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch), what is the most important to you and why? Sight, I think.  I love colour, and art and reading and I think it would be awful if I couldn’t do that anymore!
  • If you could recreate one food from your favorite books/films/TV shows etc., what would it be and why? Uma Thurman’s $5 milkshake.  I hear it’s a pretty freaking good milkshake!
  • What was your favorite and least favorite subject in school and why?
  • My favourite subjects were biology and chemistry, my worst, was English!

 QUESTIONS  from Jay at This Is My Truth Now:

  1. What talent do you have that people would be surprised to know? I think most people know that I write and paint. Other than that, I’m not really sure!
  2. What do you want to change about your blog? Oh, it needs to be more organized, and I need to get my art up there, too!  Hopefully that will happen this weekend, right Noriko?
  3. Where else would you want to live if somewhere other than your current country? I’d love to live in England.  Or France.  Either/or!

 QUESTIONS from Didi Oviatt:

  1. Are you an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert? I’m a fullout introvert, no question!
  2. What is your favorite weekend activity? Having breakfast in my pajamas!
  3. Could you survive without the internet? Oh yes, at least for an hour or two!

Questions from Sun Sunny:

 

  1. What is the last thing you ate? A cheeseburger from Wendy’s with no bun and a side salad.
  2. Who was your first crush? Shaun Cassidy!  Da Doo Ron Ron
  3. What kind of music do you like to dance to? (Remember, everyone likes to dance! Even if it is just swaying or nodding to the music!) Abba!

Here are Stephanie’s questions:

  1. What’s the funniest book you’ve ever read or movie/tv show you’ve ever watched? Or both? I’ve always thought Seinfeld was hilarious, I love their sense of humour! The Office is a close second.
  2. What is something that you’ve always dreamed of doing but never have? Become a best selling author.
  3. What author, living or dead, would you like to spend an entire day with? Why?Whenever this question comes up, I’ve always said JK Rowling. But, just for a change, I’m going to say Harlen Coben. I love his mysteries! And he seems to be a pretty easy going kind of guy.

 

 

 

Okay, now I have to come up with three questions for my nominees!

  1. What is one thing you would like to change about your blog?
  2. What is your dream job? Are you doing it now?
  3. Are you an introvert, extrovert or ambivert?

I’m nominating some of my newest followers, I apologize in advance if you’ve received this award already! There is no obligation to participate, just know that I was thinking of you and wanted to share some blogging love!

Just Brittany Moments

Dancing Alone

Books Bejewelled

Momentum of Jo

 

 

Some Sunshine!

collage (2).jpg

I was nominated by two wonderful bloggers for the the Sunshine Blogger Award!  Thank you to Lana at Lana’s Life in Words and Lyrics and  Ink Owl for thinking of me! I’ve been following these two wonderful bloggers for a while now.  Lana has tons of great, honest book reviews on her colourful blog. Ink Owl has beautiful creative writing with lot of guest posts.  If you haven’t already, you really should check these guys out!

What is the Sunshine Blogger Award?

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive and inspiring, while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.

How Does It Work:

  • Thank the person(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or on your blog

These are questions from Lana:

Is there something you can tell readers about yourself and your blog?

Okay, when I was young and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say, and artistic author. I wanted to be an artist and a writer. And, mostly kids my age would say, there’s no such thing.  You’re either one or the other.

Well, I still want to do both!  So, I write, and I blog and I paint.  There!

What satisfaction do you get from blogging?

I love sharing what is going on in my little corner of the world. Even moreso, it’s pretty cool meeting other people, near and far, hearing their stories and what’s going on in their world!

How do you bring traffic to your blog?

Traffic? I live by ‘if you build it, they will come.’

But seriously, I find interacting and commenting on other bloggers posts is the best way to build relationships, and with those relationships, your blogs grows.

What’s something that you’d like to improve on this year?

I’d like to improve my writing skills and get more organized with blogging.  Right now I take a willy nilly approach when the mood moves me lol.

How do you get motivated to blog?

This is actually Lana’s answer, but I’m stealing it because she said it perfectly!

It’s not the motivation, it’s time I’m lacking at the moment. I have so much tags I’m behind on, it’s getting awkward.

Do you have any favorite books this year?

Oooh, yes! Both of these books were amazing:

 

Are there any songs you’re into right now, or music artists?

I honestly don’t listen to a lot of music, which is weird because I grew up loving music. I know they lyrics to most 80s songs lol.  But now, I find music distracting and I prefer quiet. I hope its just a phase!

What do you like to do with your spare time?

Read, paint, write, camping, taking photos with my iPhone.  I have a good camera but I’m too scared I’ll drop it or something.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I’ll have a couple of novels on the New York Times Bestseller list.  Oh, and I’ll be rich. And travel a lot.  Why not aim high?

If you could choose ONLY 5 subjects to read on other blogs, what would they be? (Books, music, film, health, etc.)

Books, Art, Movies, Health, Travel

Do you make money from your blog? If not, do you have plans to try in the future?

Um, no.

Okay, these are the questions from Ink Owl:

What is your favorite season of the year?

Autumn!  Love that fresh, crisp air and the colours of the leaves.

What do you do when you’re stuck in traffic?

Listen to the radio, usually CNN. Or Forensic Files, that’s always good.

How do you prepare your space to write?

I sit down and open my laptop!  But first, I have to check email and Facebook.

Name one of your obsessions.

Chocolate. But I’m doing Atkins right now, so no chocolate yet.  Another obsession is King Arthur.

What music can you not live without?

I haven’t been listening to a lot of music lately, but I do love Abba and Fleetwood Mac.  I also like Brand New.

What time of day is the most conducive for writing?

Morning or late at night. For some reason, everyone here is going to bed and I’m just getting rolling!

How do you push yourself to finish a story?

Sometimes, it will hang there for a while, and I just get it in my head…finish the darn thing!  That doesn’t happen too often, though, especially if I’ve been away from writing for a little while. It’s hard to get back in the mode.

What is an irrational fear you have?

Heights.

What’s your favorite character you’ve written so far?

Merlin.  He’s a bit of an asshole, but he’s pretty cool, too.

Do you have a perfect happenstance in time you remember? What happened?

I think meeting my husband on a Sunday afternoon.  We’d been friends for years, but the timing was never right. Until that day. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I was feeling sorry for myself and dwelling on being alone.  He was going to Dairy Queen for a Blizzard, but he changed his mind about that and the two of us went for a nice long walk in the park.  The rest is history!

What is your favorite part of summer?

Ahhh…having breakfast out on the deck with a fresh cup of coffee.

Okay! Here are the 11 questions for my nominees ( I stole some of these from the questions above! Shhhhh!):

  1. Is there something you can tell readers about yourself and your blog?
  2.  What’s something that you’d like to improve on this year?
  3. Name one of your obsessions.
  4. What is one of your favourite blog posts to write?
  5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  6. What are your favourite books this year?
  7. It’s the perfect evening.  What are you doing to relax?
  8. Do you have any pets?
  9. If you could choose any career, what would it be?
  10. What’s the first think you check when you go on your computer/tablet?
  11. What author would you like to have lunch with?

My Nominees:

  1. Invisible No More
  2. Lois Reads Books
  3. Two Gals and a Book
  4. Susan Loves Books
  5. Sherina Speaks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Versatile!

Thank you so much to Caterpillars 2 Butterflies for nominating me for this award!  She has an incredibly inspirational blog, if you have’t already had a look at her blog, please do so now. She’s a beautiful soul and will change the way to look at life.

RULES OF THE VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARD:

1.) Thank the bloggers who nominated you and share their links.
2.) Nominate at least 10 bloggers for the award and provide links to their blogs.
3.) Also inform them about their nomination.
4.) Reveal 7 facts about yourself that your readers may not know.

Well, here’s 7 things about me:

1. I love to write.  I do enough rewrites that I think I am actually getting better at it.

2. I’ve been working on the same novel for about 5 years. I have 2 other novels I have written as well, all in the first draft phase with multiple rewrites.

3.  I painted with watercolour for years and several years ago switched to acrylic for a change. It is very different and challenging for me!

Here’s a watercolour I did years ago.

4. I am obsessed with the legend of King Arthur.

5. My favourite colour is teal/turquoise but its been changing to purple lately.

 

6. I  struggle with anxiety and depression.

7. I’m doing the Atkins diet right now. It’s going well, but I swear, it won’t be long before I will never want to see another egg for breakfast again.

 

My Nominations:

  1. The Geeky Book Lady
  2. FrogDiva Thoughts
  3. DoniW
  4. Robbie’s Inspiration
  5. Unfolding from the Fog
  6. Being Lydia
  7. Plants and Beyond

 

Supportive Bloggers, 2nd Poem

Love this girl! <3  Check out her poem for her supportive bloggers!

Didi Oviatt

I’ve created a beast now it’s time to keep feeding it,

As the first bloggers poem I wrote is still getting hits.

With a hundred fifty views and counting my gratitude grows,

If you could see my face for real, I’m confident it shows.

I’ll start with Jo-Ann and her love of creativity,

She’s positive, uplifting, and so great to me!

Our shared love of books makes me sniffle and sigh,

If you look for well rounded you’ll find it at Inspiration Pie.

Stephanie has the most impeccable liking,

If there is a great YA book out there, she’ll hunt it down like a Viking.

The adventure in this blog is jam packed, a precious vault,

To find a young readers quality, stick with Teacher Of YA.

I can’t go on any farther without throwing Danny in,

If you’re one of his thousands of followers then you’re in for the win.

His posts are inspirational and so very supportive,

If you want a touch of the heart then go now to Dream Big.

I have one more today and Susan is her name,

Or you can call her the twitter dominator, its all the same.

To find the best book reviews, you can never go wrong,

By checking first at Books From Dusk Till Dawn.

The scratching of surface has still only just begun,

Hang tight for poem three, more praises will be sung.

Six Simple Reasons Our Story Sucks & How to Fix It

Why is it so many new novels are—to be blunt—crap? How can we find an author we love with one book, then all the love goes away with the next? What’s going wrong? What’s missing? Where did everything go wrong?

How can we learn and do better?

First and foremost, to be an author it’s imperative to embrace some healthy sadism. We’ll chat briefly on this so the “wrong turns” in story can become far easier to spot.

We MUST Go Against Our Nature

Humans have all kinds of intricate biological wiring that propels us to AVOID CONFLICT/PAIN. Now this is great namely because our desire to avoid pain is what keeps us alive and gainfully employed. It’s also how many of us are able to endure the holidays when forced to see family.

This said, it is human to avoid conflict and to smooth everything over and civilization would implode if we didn’t heed our biology. We feel the rising anxiety and our nature steps in to “fix” everything and return to a nice comfortable homeostasis.

Avoiding conflict and pain can be healthy in life, but it spells death for fiction.

So here are a couple reasons your story might suck. Btw, remember while I have one finger pointing at you? Three are pointing back at me. I use these guideposts in my own work when I sense it’s starting to seriously suck.

#1—We Have Decoration Devoid of Substance

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Novels are not pretty sentences or even pretty words. Sure, it’s nice to have them, but they’re not entirely necessary.

It’s like a cake. Some cakes are so intricate they’re literally works of art, but cake is meant for people to EAT. So I’d much prefer a plain cake that is so yummy angels sing than to bite into a work of “art” and get a revolting mouthful of sugar-laden lard.

Same with stories. Stories, too, are meant to be ingested, to FEED us emotionally.

Fiction is about one thing and one thing only—PROBLEMS.

PROBLEMS are the “cake” of story.

I don’t emotionally connect to a cerulean sky or a painstakingly accurate description of a forest or an 18th century tea setting. I have zip-nada invested in an outfit, a garden or the layout of a room (that’s “icing”). Most people prefer cake with icing and readers like stories with description, setting, superlative prose etc. (though to the degree varies with reader preference).

All that “stuff” can make a story better, but they are NOT story, just like icing is not cake.

#2—We Have No Plot

Plot is basically a fancy way of saying we have a core problem in need of resolution (cake) and a plan (recipe) to do just that.

I cannot connect emotionally with a detailed description of a designer outfit, but I can connect with the woman who’s wearing this outfit. I don’t care all that much about the outfit, I care about the woman and the why behind the outfit.

What is she hiding? What is she up against? What must she face to become whole?

Is she in this outfit because she desperately needs a job? Because it hides the bruises from her emotionally and physically abusive husband who controls her life? The one she must find the courage (and job) to escape?

This is why I’m a huge believer in writers being able to articulate what their story is about in ONE sentence. If we can’t do that? Odds are we have icing and no cake. Or maybe a cake that’s half-baked or missing key ingredients.

#3—We Have No Clear Plot Goal

All stories have ONE CLEAR FINAL goal. And I don’t want to hear the BS copout of:

“Well, my story is literary and character-driven. Her goal is she wants to find out who she is.”

Aside from the fact that literary and character-driven stories don’t automatically get a pass on a plot, why do we care? What happens if the protagonist doesn’t find out ‘who she is’? Why is it important? What are the stakes? Why should I (the reader) root for her?

Besides that is the wrong question entirely.

Regardless of genre, the protagonist is never finding out who she is, rather what she is made of.

For that to happen? We need a PLOT PROBLEM.

Clear plot problems offer context. If I (reader) have not been clearly shown the story problem, then I’ll be quickly bored because I lack context that makes any setback a setback.

It’s like showing me a guy driving off for a destination and not telling me where he’s going. Yet, if I know he’s driving to Canada from Texas, then accidentally turning down I-35 South because he’s arguing with his ex on the phone MEANS SOMETHING.

I can clearly SEE he’s headed for MEXICO, not Canada. The wrong turn means something and so does every setback which creates bigger and badder problems (which turns pages, btw).

By DEFINITION a setback can only happen when there is an actual goal.

We need a Death Star, a Mount Doom, and a Labyrinth or….meh.

Same in character-driven stories. We root for Evelyn Couch in Fried Green Tomatoesbecause we know the final goal is her growing a spine. We know she has “won” when she stands up to her bullies and to the husband who’s disrespecting her.

Bad situations are not a plot. It’s soap opera writing. Soap operas get forty years and go into infinity. Novels don’t have that luxury.

#4—Too MUCH SUGAR

We’re being way too nice. I see way too many new manuscripts and the reason they’re boring the paint off the walls is nothing is happening and everything is too easy. Everyone gets along is super sweet and lots of colorful pretty descriptions and empty calories that make us sick.

Humans have fears and faults and failures that will collide, especially under pressure. I see far too many manuscripts where nothing is happening. People talking.

Description not friction. No friction? No traction.

#5—We’re Making it TOO Easy

Yes, your protagonist has ONE core story goal in need of resolution, but there should be a ton of hardship, suffering, setbacks and pain along the way. Our protagonist must work for everything and earn every reward, even the small ones with blood, sweat and sacrifice. NOTHING should be easy. Ever.

Authors deal in solid gold rewards, not plastic participation trophies.

If our protagonist is being spoon fed the answers (dreams, journals, letters, flashbacks, “super helpful” ancillary characters) that’s cheating. If the protagonist is rescued constantly by others and it never pushes any pain points? Where’s the glory in that?

When I was in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, most people don’t last a month. Most females never make it past white belt. It takes a YEAR to earn blue belt. I had to do this grappling men twice my size.

It took me a year and a half of busted lips, blood, bruises, and strains. It also cost me a broken nose and a dislocated knee…but guess what’s framed in my office?

I can tell you that had I been handed a blue belt for attendance, it would be in some junk drawer along with the piles of other worthless awards.

Same in fiction. We revel in the protagonist’s victory only when the title of “HERO” is earned.

#6—We Forgot to Turn on the Heat

The greater the stakes the better the story. No heat and we don’t have cake, we have batter. Same in fiction. Turn on the heat.

A friend of mine had a brilliant idea for a story, but her niceness kept killing it. She emailed me that her story is about an artist who has five years to make it in NYC or he has to return to his family’s house-painting business.

I replied: NOOOOOOOOOOO!

If our artist has five years in the beginning? We aren’t too worried. There’s time. But if we know he’s at the end of five years and has only one final narrow window? Everything changes.

If the stakes are he returns to an occupation close to what he loves (painting) and also limited seasonally (house painting in NY) it isn’t that big of a deal. He can dream away what he longs to create while on a ladder touching up eaves. He also will have seasons he can still create art.

But, what if he’s returning to a job that is not only the opposite of what he loves, but can potentially drain every creative molecule from his soul? A stressful occupation that might just kill him with seventy-hour work weeks (accounting firm)? Or physically endanger his hands/ability to paint (family auto repair business)?

And while we are at it? He’ll have to return to a family that never really was supportive and will be delighted he failed and relish rubbing it in.

NOW we have a story 😉 .

Crank up that heat. Shorten timelines and up the stakes, both physical and emotional.

If your protagonist fails, it isn’t simply a failure, it needs to be an extinction event.

In the end, I have a mantra: Make it worse until you make it weird.

What are your thoughts? Have you been too easy on your characters? Maybe indulging in flashbacks to “explain” why a character is a certain way instead of making the reader work to uncover it? Have you been too nice? Unclear? What ways can you wind that tension tighter? Shorten the timeline or up the stakes? We only will value what COSTS a lot. No one values free and easy 😉 .

I love hearing from you!

The Suspenseful Collection

Congratulations to Didi Oviatt and Kim Knight on the release of their compilation book of short stories!  

Click to be taken to Amazon.com
The Suspenseful Collection by Kim Knight and Didi Oviatt

These two very talented and lovely suspense authors have the most interesting way of putting their stories together.  One author starts the tale, the other finishes it.  How cool is that?  They live on opposite sides of the Atlantic, which makes it even more fun.

 

I’ve been intrigued by these stories since before they released it.  Confession: I did try to preorder but my Amazon account was all wonky that day and because well, life’s distractions, I just never got back to it.

I did enter their Rafflecopter contest however, and guess what!  I won a copy and I’m so excited to read this!  I’m mean…look at that cover.  It’s gorgeous!

Thank you so very much, Didi and Kim for the opportunity to win this and read your book!

I will be posting my review soon but I do hope everyone will go ahead and check this book out for yourself.  It’s already gotten some great feedback!

Here is the blurb from Amazon with a little summary of each of the short stories:

For Mature Readers Only:

A suspenseful novel with a twist. Eight short stories, by two suspense authors, from diverse backgrounds. From opposite sides of the Atlantic these stories have been created. One author started the tale and the other ended it. No discussion, no pre-planning, but yet their stories are seamless. With just creativity and the use of writing prompts, to craft one tale, with two different writers. This anthology of suspenseful, fast paced and engaging tales covers multiple genres. From heart felt romance, crime, fantasy, and steamy historical fiction. There is a story for everyone!

Steamy Historical Crime Fiction: It was The First Time I Killed A Man.

It’s 1972 and New York’s first female serial killer Lisa Vanacilli is in the hot seat again, ten years after her conviction of murder to the first degree and innocent plea. The ruthless but sexy reporter Tiffany Low cracks Lisa for a confession… at a price. Lisa is strong, courageous and says it how it is. This story has been extended due to reader’s demand. And is only for adult readers.

Psychological Fiction: Every Time I Hear That Voice From The Basement.

George appears to be harmless. The local neighbourhood geek on the outside, married to Jolene. In reality, he’s a very disturbed man. His path crosses with Dana, the local check out girl. This is a psychological suspense story with a twist.

Crime Fiction: The Entrance To The Tunnel Is His Only Way Out.

Juan is a wanted man, and an ex-gang member on the run from Atlanta to Mexico. With a hundred grand in cash stolen from his ex-boss, he meets an unlikely fate in Mexico. A fast-paced crime fiction story.

Contemporary Romance: When His Hands Run Up My Thighs I…

Love has no time limit, age limit or use by date. Sarah now in her fifties is reunited with her long-lost love Joshua. They last had contact in 1961. In the present day, thanks to the advancement of technology their paths cross. A heart-warming and modern tale, about long distance love, that will leave you warm inside.

Suspense: We Only Said Goodbye With Words, I Died A Hundred Times:

In 1963 Russian Femme Fatale Mila Petrov is London’s top Madam. Her entertainment house is booming, she has a team of London’s strongest women behind her. Unfinished business from her past creeps up and haunts her. It’s nothing she can’t handle. A suspenseful historical tale, with a strong femme fatale.

Fantasy: The Ones Who Live At The Bottom Of The Ocean, Come To The Surface.

A beautiful coming of age story, featuring sixteen year old Zoe and her mother May-Li. Myth becomes reality, as Zoe finds out who and what she really is. Her mixed descent reveals more than what meets the eye. This fantasy story is set against the backdrop of a Greek island and Hong Kong, China.

Suspenseful Crime Fiction: Guilty As Charged, In Self-Defence

California’s sassy, tough, and likeable defence lawyer Catherine has taken on a case so high profile, if she wins she’ll become a partner of Martin Law Firm. Defending forty six year old Mrs. Chevelle. An ex Las Vegas show girl, now a Hollywood wife, on trial for the murder of her high-profile husband. She claims she’s innocent. Readers are taken on a fast -paced journey on a mission to seek the truth.

Contemporary Fiction: It’s A Man’s Man’s World:

A beautiful modern tale showing the love and appreciation of a woman. James Brown said it right when he said, “it’s a man’s man’s world, but it would mean nothing without a woman or a girl.”The Suspenseful Collection by Didi Oviatt and Kim Knight