Tag Archives: book

Plots and Socks: a writing process

(2014 re-post)

I like my plots the way I like my socks. Tight and free of holes.

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And, let me tell you, it isn’t easy.

I never really thought about ‘my process’ until this past weekend, when my husband and I had some friends over. I am one of those people who never really talks about their writing unless asked because I will go on and on and on until you are sorry you ever asked the question.

But, at some point during the many conversations, some unfortunate soul made the mistake of asking me how I come up with ideas for my books.

After the initial, “I don’t know,” it got me thinking about how, thus far, my stories have ended up nothing like the way they started out. And that lead me to the realization that I am an odd-builder.

Yes, I said odd-builder.

Let me explain it you you, reader, like I explained to my company:

I start with The End. It’s an image in my head, or a feeling that I get about a certain situation or story. Usually sparked by some event I read about or see taking place within the lives of people around me.

Then, I hit the internet. I search blog after blog, read endless amounts of advice on the creative process and the proper way to structure a story. But then, after a week or so–less if I’m really inspired–I remember that my brain won’t let me do it the usual way. I cannot tell you how many unfinished outlines I have stored in my computer.

Then, I jot down all the ideas about my ending (how it might have been reached and by whom) into a spiral notebook which then finds it’s way into my bedside table. It’s like binder after notebook after binder inside my nightstand.

This is my only form of organization when it comes to writing. Each idea, each plot, and character that graces the pages of my  books gets it’s own section in a binder. The binders are labeled with the wroking title and the notes on plot or character are tossed in there like a paper salad. It’s messy, but it works for me.

From there, I go back to whatever it is I am writing at the time. I try to finish one project before moving along to the next. This way I dont have a million manuscripts I feel pressured to finish.

Then, once I have had time away from the idea, I go back to my notebooks and re-read everything. If i am still stoked about the idea, I start constructing.

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UNDER CONSTRUCTION 

This is where it gets a tad messy. See, I have my ultimate ending, but I don’t know who the characters are yet. So here is the place where I begin the inquisition. I ask myself

What events must happen for the story to reach it’s ending?

What motivates the characters to make the choices they must make to lead to the end?

What type of person makes those choices? A pschopath, a lonely girl, a guy who’s strapped for cash…the posibilities are endless.

Who do I want my character to be? What age and/or gender would fit best with the situations presented?

What traits do they have that I can relate to? What type of upbringing would they have that might influence their choices?

And the list goes on. These questions are also helpful when I reach that point in the story where I’m not sure what the character should do. I can go back to these questions and find an answer.

Once I reach a point of comfortable familiarity with my main characters, I begin free-writing. And through the process of turning on the voice in my head and letting it flow to the page, I find out who they really are, beneath the choices.

Well, that’s my crazy process.

Sneak Peek at Force, Releasing 10/10!

Here’s an excerpt from my forthcoming novel, Force, the sequel to last years, Inertia … this is from the non-copy-edited version, but it’s still awesome!

Enjoy!!


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A massive blue funnel stretches up from the ground. It’s at least five times the size of the one in Ivanhoe. As it materializes, stretching up to the clouds with its heat and wind, snaking gracefully between the buildings, coating the bricks in heat and soot, I’m mesmerized.

The firm lines of the buildings beyond it bend from the heat. The mouth of the burning cone doesn’t face the ground like it did in Ivanhoe. It faces upward like it’s waiting for Daemon who’s still drifting in free-fall.

Are you really going to jump off a building? I ask myself as I take in the scene, trying to recall how many flights of stairs I climbed chasing Daemon. How many stories? Couldn’t have been more than seven. Maybe eight.

That’s survivable. Right?

“Sack up,” I tell myself and then take a gulp of air and hold it. He’s got my stones, not my balls.

Daemon blurs into the rainbow interior of the gateway. And I leap, just like he did, only less dramatic. I dive headlong after him rather than placing my arms out at each side like a moron.

After I’ve flung myself into the scorching storm, as I’m sailing through the blazing wind, that’s the moment I realize how stupid this is.

The rocks are what protected me from the gateway. I’m not in their protective bubble. I’m outside the funnel, contorted by the violent blue fog that burns and pushes me back from the upturned opening instead of suctioning me inside.

I’m not falling, but twisting and thrashing through the wind, making for the window that hovers high above the ground. Moving my arms and legs like I’m swimming against the current.

Hope rises as the rainbow wheel looms closer. I’m going to make it!

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I’m screaming on the inside as I fly through the mouth of the vortex just as it starts shrinking. My skin feels too thin, but the rainbow wheel inside the tunnel is beautiful as ever.

And then it’s gone. I’m surrounded by darkness, folding into a forgiving surface that feels moist and smells of wet earth. I splatter like a pile of laundry hitting the end of the chute.

There’s no sound except the shuffling of feet as I get up.
My eyes adjust quickly and I don’t feel sick. This is good, makes it easier to keep pace with Daemon. And I do keep the pace right behind him, kicking my legs high.

Reaching for the tails of that damn jacket, I’m glad he’s still wearing it. I’m about to close-in on the fabric, about to feel it sweeping against my fingertips… and then the tell-tale blue fog appears again, with the crashing sound of the gateway opening.

The rainbow wheel illuminates the night ahead. I leap inside right after Daemon.

The next world is bright. Warm rays of sun are blinding. I shade my eyes and keep kicking, noticing that everything looks normal, older than the 1990’s, but normal.

My legs are stiffening from all the running while Daemon’s stride is still vigorous and quick. When I trip over a surprised kid on a huge skateboard and fall a half-block behind while getting up, I know that without a huge stroke of luck there’s a good chance he’ll get away.

A black Saab pulls up to the curb just ahead of me. A woman wearing a wide-collared power suit hops out of the drivers’ seat and casually walks around the other side of her idling car to pop a stack of mail into blue drop-off box on the curb.

My father used to say that luck is there for those that need it. He also used to say that success was for those who recognize opportunities. The empty Saab looks like both to me.

The engine purrs, smoothly shifting into fourth as I hit the intersection, taking my chances at the red light. I can see Daemon up ahead; hard not to notice a huge bald guy with a snake head tattooed on his bare scalp. He’s still on the move but looks to have slowed a little, assuming that he’s lost his tail.

He spots me at the perfect moment. Right as he comes up to the next intersection, when there’s a break in foot traffic on the sidewalk. I see the way his eyes widen when the Saab jumps the curb.

The victorious thunk of the tires hitting their target is short-lived. I don’t know how, but instead of thrashing over him, Daemon somehow ends up on top of the hood.  His big ugly beard blocks my view of the road as I veer off the sidewalk and back into traffic, nicking at least one other car.

A few screams. More horns. And a black stare from the man that killed my father. I make sure to look him directly into those beads of emptiness as I make for the side of the nearest building and give my parting words.

“See you in hell.”

He glances behind him, sees the wall he’s about to munch, then turns back to say something that sounds like he’s asking if I can swim. But that can’t be right. I mean, I can swim, but what does water have to do with—

A huge vortex opens and I’m going too fast. It’s all there: the bustling city, then rainbow colors, the heat, and blue fog.

In a heartbeat it’s gone, replaced by water. Lots of water. Everywhere. Gushing in through the doors and windows.

Shit.

The car is completely submerged and filling fast. I take a deep breath and brace myself, trying to think through the surprised panic.

It’s just water. Rushing into the car through open half-open windows. It’s filling with bubbling cold and Daemon is gone. Through the windshield, I make out his wavy form getting smaller and higher as the car sinks and he swims away.

Between Octobers is FREE today only! On Amazon

Yep! That’s what this whole seond post is about.

My first book, Bewtween Octobers, (womens fiction with some suspense and romance) is FREE TODAY ONLY.

Click the cover to go to amazon and grab your free kindle copy!

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SOME REVIEWS:

“Lovers of both thriller and romance will enjoy Between Octobers. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars and will happily be reading the next book in the series”
“I went into this book thinking it was going to be a run-of-the-mill thriller. I was pleasantly surprised when the book began seamlessly alternating between suspense and love story. I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever read another book like it. Just when I was getting the warm fuzzies from the developing relationship, Rivera switches back to Grace’s current danger and I found myself instantly on edge again. This book also comes fully equipped with an ending that I did not see coming, which is my favorite kind of ending.”– 4/4 STAR REVIEW, onlinebookclub.org

“I have found yet another author to read…. I really enjoyed this book. There were some parts that got particularly angsty but I love that. I found myself really immersed in this one…I absolutely loved Rhys and Grace… I love that we got to see the whole story of the relationship. Usually in the books I read, marriage in endgame. It’s white noise beyond it. You are left to assume there is no trouble, no bickering and all is happy sunshine times…. Some of this book was gutpunchingly angsty but it was so well done.”–5/5 STARS, Books Like Breathing


WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

Happy endings have often eluded Grace Zuniga. Now, as she finds herself facing down deadly trouble, she is hoping and praying the pattern will change.

When Grace wakes up in a dark, confined space with no memory of how she got there, the fear is nearly crippling. There are two thoughts keeping her from losing her head. First, her children: she is all they have left after losing their father. They need her to survive. Though Grace is not sure she can, she’s determined to try. Second, figuring out who took her and how she ended up, trapped, alone, and at the mercy of a person who will do anything to keep her from escaping.

Stumbling through these bleak circumstances, Graces’ mind wanders over her last life-changing year, from one October to the next. She relives the most precious and heart-rending moments that led up to her sudden kidnapping.

The previous October, when Grace stepped inside an elevator and into the life of sexy, enigmatic actor Rhys Matthews, it all began. But Grace must ask herself, “How will it end?”

Book Trailer: INERTIA Book 1 The Threestone Trilogy

FINALLY!

The book trailer for my first science fiction novel is complete!

Feel free to take a look-see and tell me what you think!

Book Review: A Pound Of Flesh By Sophie Jackson

A Pound of Flesh by Sophie Jackson
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Romance

Orange Is the New Black meets Jennifer Probst’s New York Times bestselling Marriage to a Billionaire trilogy, featuring a strong-minded prison tutor who discovers that her sexy bad-boy student is far more than he appears to be.

Haunted by nightmares of her father’s street murder fifteen years ago, Kat Lane decides to face her fears and uphold his legacy of helping others by teaching inmates at a New York prison. There she meets arrogant Wesley Carter, who’s as handsome as he is dangerous, as mysterious as he is quick-witted, and with a reputation that ensures people will keep their distance.
As teacher and student, Kat and Carter are forced to leave their animosities at the door and learn that one should never judge a book by its cover. As Carter’s barriers beg
in to crumble, Kat realizes there’s much more to her angry student than she thought, leaving them to face a new, perilous obstacle: their undeniable attraction to one another.
When Carter is released and Kat continues to tutor him on the outside, the obstacles mount. Can they fight the odds to make their relationship work? Will Kat’s family and friends ever accept her being with someone of his background? And will Kat’s discovery of Carter’s role on the night her father died force them apart forever…or unite them?


I really liked the premise of this book: wide-eyed young woman with a heart of gold teaching inmates Shakespeare? Come on! The story could go in any number of directions!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading it even though I could tell it was going to end with a happily ever after. The author has a way of shaping her story to make me want to keep reading. Sophie Jackson is just a wonderful writer. I think any story she chooses to tell is going to be fantastic because that is just her style.

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First, we meet Kat. She’s had a tough go of it; her father being murdered at a young age was tough enough, but Kat was with him when it happened. Still, she manages to grow up and become a productive member of society.

Then there’s a Carter. Wesley Carter, actually. He’s smokin’ hot with a ginormous chip on his shoulder, only it’s not one of those unattractive “the world owes me something” type of chips. It turns out to be sort of legit, which I appreciated.

When I read a book–especially one that is tagged as Twilight fan-fiction, my standards are going to be extra high. The reason being that you bite off of someone else’s idea. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the obsession. I loved the Twilight books. I love Rob Pattinson. But I wouldn’t bite off Stephanie Meyers characters and write a book about them. If you are blessed with the ability to write, make up your own characters.

That’s what I loved A Pound Of Flesh. I mean, Carter is nothing like Edward. Kat is definitely NOT Bella. (The real selling point might have been that they aren’t vampires.) It might have been developed as fan-fiction, but the characters are totally Sophie Jackson’s.

There were parts to the story that felt like red herrings, certain characters in Kat’s life whose devilish ways could have been much more harmful then they were. But maybe that is the authors way of leaving the story open, so she can go back and write these characters again. I would definitely read that.

There are some steamy scenes in this book, so reader beware. But they are beautifully written for the most part. There isn’t as much foul language in this as I expected, which was nice. I mean, when considering the setting and characters involved, you expect some language. The story was strong. The pacing was just right. I was not left feeling like anything between the characters happened too quickly. In fact the way the story was structured and developed, I expected it to go a lot faster, and was still pleased when it didn’t.

If I could change one thing about this book, it would be Austin. I wanted him to play a slightly bigger part in the overall plot. The way that plot line played out felt a little too easy.

Oh, and the cover. I would take it away from this book and slap it on one of mine because it is freaking awesome!

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This one gets 4 out 5 stars!

 

Havin’ A Little Fun . . .

It’s finally Friday! Time for a little fun:

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Suit-UP

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A Closer Look

INERTIA_1_COVERIn honor of my upcoming book release (10/15/15), I’m posting a small section of Chapter One, entitled, BEFORE

I walk up the main road, cane in hand, trying to ignore the pain in my hip as I swerve through the witless crowds.
Getting closer, I can feel the shifting forces in my bones; the familiar power of the stones already at work. The earth groans beneath my feet.
Today is important and if I’m not mistaken—which I’m not—three streets over on the corner near the potted Palm trees will be the place.
I hate being here. I don’t want to see him again. I don’t want to remember.
Regret is the most difficult and probably the worst part of getting old. Through all the things I’ve seen, the cyclical mistakes I swore I’d never make again, I’ve come to accept it is my legacy—this regret—for there’s more of it than anything else.
As I come upon the last corner, I spot the potted grouping of Palms. And it’s there. The humming, as familiar as my own hands. Not an audible noise, no, but a slight vibration in the inner ear that I’ve learned to recognize because of those regrets I mentioned. This is numbered among them. It is the sound of the gateway opening.
I move off to a side street and try to disappear behind another pluming cluster of trees.
No one sees him coming. They only see him burst onto the road—hands out in front like he’s been flung from a moving vehicle. He probably was. For them, the ones blessed enough to be ignorant of this man and his secrets, the burst is instantaneous. For me, it’s like a scene from my own life playing out at half speed and I don’t miss a thing.
The energy overflow makes gravel of the pavement. I imagine the pain of pebbles digging into his skin, lodging under a fingernail. It hurts when that happens. It’s petty, but I hope that’s what’s happening to him right now. I hope dozens of pebbles get lodged under his skin so deep, he can’t pry them out. And I hope they swell with infection.
This man who’s flown through unseen portals, seemingly appearing from nowhere—he’s wearing the same tattered trench coat I’ve come to identify him by. I watch his shoulder blades slam together as his body meets the ground, grating bone against bone. The plastic guards strapped to his legs slam against the man-made street. The sound is like shattering glass. Despite his efforts in deflection, the man’s chin hits next. I smile a bit seeing his neck snap back, knowing his mangled beard is no help against impact—only road rash and hiding scars. When you travel this way, one of the first things you learn is how important it is to keep your face away from the impact zone. My teeth sliced straight through my tongue once. After that, I started using a mouth guard. Either this guy was in a hurry or he’s new to the game. He’s not even wearing a helmet. I keep watching the crash as seconds seem to stretch, feeling like minutes, as intemperate energy pitches him into a roll.
This scene is so familiar. Bile rises, coaxing my breakfast into my throat. How I loathe and regret his part in my life. I’m not looking forward to our next meeting and wonder how many collisions he’ll endure before his body breaks down completely. Like mine. We’ve both walked away from things no one has a right to.
This section of road is now a shallow crater—the impact marking his entry into my world. His body limply tumbles another twenty feet before hitting a concrete step in front of what is supposed to be a flower shop. Blood spatters onto the ground as he coughs, turning his head for a look around. I feel the black, like an aura surrounding him as the bearded mans’ face twists into a misplaced grin. He loves a violent landing.
A normal man would be dead, but this one—this Keeper—is like me. We aren’t normal, only men in the classic sense that we were born and one day we will die. But not before I take the thing that keeps him going—those three, precious stones that make him so capable and dangerous.
This man has many names—the one he gave me many years ago was Nahuiollin. As he grew, he began calling himself Serpent and Revenge. His tribe was also called the Keepers, for they were the protectors of the Threestone. His father was Guardian to the Sacred Powers, a title that was supposed to fall to his son when he passed.
To me, this man is Death Incarnate because his purpose is my destruction.


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Hey, nice stapler. . .

Well ,you heard wrong, Milton, from Office Space. I’m still working on the trailer, but thanks for asking.