Category Archives: on writing
Welcome YA fantasy author Sharon Ledwith to the blog. Sharon is a great writer and supporter of other writers! Take it away, Sharon. 🙂
WRITING A SERIES
By Sharon Ledwith
Face it. If you’ve written a great book filled with equally great characters, readers will want more. Much more. And the sooner the better. Then, you start to panic. Sweat drips off your face and onto your keyboard. You’re committed now. Legions of readers are waiting in the wings for your next installment.
You’ve got this.
The most important thing to remember in creating a series for any genre is to connect the dots, create a common thread to tie your individual stories together into a nice, shiny bow at the series end.
Complicated? Not really. Read on…
First: Make sure your characters have enough problems going on both individually and together to carry through at least five books. The entire series needs to get from A to B to Z dragging your characters along (sometimes kicking and screaming) until, by the end of the series he or she or they need to come out changed. They need to have shown growth, they need to have evolved through the course of their adventures.
Second: Don’t put any elements into your first story that you don’t want to live with through five or more books. It’s a long haul to drag unnecessary fillers such as a troublesome pet, a psychotic boyfriend or an ongoing health problem for the ride. Like they say, “Use it or lose it”.
Third: Don’t solve the big mysteries or resolve all their problems in the first book. Too much, too soon. The idea is to hook’em with that first book, and get your readers begging for more. Your characters should still have dreams and goals and ambitions to work toward through the length of the series. Oh yeah, and as you do answer the burning questions and resolve the terrible conflicts, make sure you replace them with additional—hopefully more serious—ones.
Fourth: Remember—it’s all about building relationships between your characters. Throw obstacles their way and create the necessary tension between them to get your readers to care about them. It’s all about the journey and how they work together to resolve their problems. You want readers to be as invested at the end of the series in how that relationship is working out as they were in the first book.
Fifth: Keep a series guidebook stuffed with all the vital information on your main characters— and recurring side characters. The color of their hair and eyes, their brother’s or sister’s names, or any allergies is vital to log. Believe me readers know when something is amiss and will call you on it.
Sixth: Make sure you’re writing a series for the right reason—because you love your characters enough to tell their story over a period of years to come. And hopefully, that could be a long, long time.
Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, available through Musa Publishing. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, yoga, kayaking, time with family and friends, and single malt scotch. Sharon lives in the wilds of Muskoka in Central Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, a water-logged yellow Labrador and moody calico cat.
When 13-year-old Amanda Sault and her annoying classmates are caught in a food fight at school, they’re given a choice: suspension or yard duty. The decision is a no-brainer. Their two-week crash course in landscaping leads to the discovery of a weathered stone arch in the overgrown back yard. The arch isn’t a forgotten lawn ornament but an ancient time portal from the lost continent of Atlantis.
Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers–legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial–Amanda and her classmates are sent on an adventure of a lifetime. Can they find the young Robin Hood and his merry band of teens? If they don’t, then history itself may be turned upside down.
Want more info on The Last Timekeepers series? Check it out on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Last-Timekeepers-Time-Travel-Series/373953795955372
Happy Birthday Bob
In a handful of days, my muse will be turning a quarter of a century old. Some people might think this is weird since a muse is supposed to be an ageless sort of thing. Mine, however, is not. Today, I’m going to tell you about Bob. Yup, I named my muse Bob. I’m not a fan of the name myself, but that’s what he said to call him. Something about having a basic, generic, sort of name makes him more pliable for the different roles I put him in.
Bob makes an appearance in all of my books. Sometimes he’s the main hero (IE: The Dragon’s Saga). Sometimes he’s the third part of the love triangle (IE: Vala). And other times, he’s the vital secondary character who supports the hero (IE: Battlefield). In the future he will be a villain, perfect romantic hero, and a sex pot. He’s very diverse in his skills.
I adopted Bob as a muse roughly three or four years ago. At that point in time, Bob was technically twenty-twoish, but in my head he was eighteen. You see, Bob is based roughly around a real person. When I saw this real person, the muse version came to life. He was born in a flash of lightning, and he has characteristics of this real person, but also a whole mind of his own.
For the past three years, Bob has been eighteen. Kind of little kiddish, sweet, innocent, but also manly and strong. That stage of life any person goes into where they feel caught between being a child and an adult so they maintain characteristics of both. That was Bob for a long time, which made him be able to take on a lot of different things.
Now Bob is slowly morphing into an adult man. He’s more rough, wise, and experienced. It’s starting to show in my writing too. As he matures, so do I. It’s been a great adventure, and I’m so glad that he’s stuck around to work with me. I’ve had other muses, but they’re kind of fickle. They come and go with the wind. Bob is the one who stays. He’s made himself comfortable inside of my head. And even though he’s older, he sometimes still gives me a younger version of himself to work with. Sometimes, he’ll inspire multiple roles. Like I said, he’s talented and diverse.
How Bob Works:
- Bob always starts by giving me a concept of a character. He whispers in my ear who he feels like playing for that day.
- As details emerge, Bob starts to show me actions and give me words. Kind of like he’s acting out some kind of a play in my mind.
- If Bob is playing more than one part in a story, he morphs his appearance, but I can always tell when it’s him and not another muse (I do have more than one, but like I said, the others are fickle).
How to spot Bob in a novel:
- Bob has blue eyes. That’s usually the first give away. He could have red, brown, blue, black, or pink hair, but the eyes always stay the same. Only in “Battlefield” does he not have blue eyes.
- He’s usually average height, and average in size. While he’s a good looking muse (especially in reality), his appearance is also that of an obtainable man.
- His build is lean but developed.
- Most of the time he does have dark hair.
While Bob may be based on a real person, when I see him he’s always a faceless shell. If I look into his blue eyes, those are all I see. Sometimes I can focus on just his smile, but the rest of him is like a faded memory. And I like it this way. It helps with making him malleable for my projects. That’s what makes him a good muse and I think that’s also why he’s stuck around for so long. He keeps all of the other muses in line too.
So Happy Birthday Bob! Welcome to adulthood!
or her website:
How To Write A Series Without Missing Any Details.
Thank you, Lisa, for inviting me to your blog! I don’t do many guest posts and am honored to be here.
I’ve been writing professionally since the age of eighteen when I lucked into a part-time journalism position, and my love and enjoyment of working with the written word has only grown through the years. Now, I am glad to say that I write fiction full-time, and I self-publish most.
My current writing obsessions include my paranormal romance series featuring the Dardanos, Co. characters and my romantic suspense series featuring members of the PAVAD division of the FBI.
Here’s a quick sum-up of each series.
They’d inhabited Gaia long before humans, the Dardaptoans, the Lupioux, Demons, Warriors alike. They’d lived, loved, and battled through the millennia. Now, the time has come for them to stake their claim on the world they loved—before it was too late. The vampiric Dardaptoan race had settled in the mountains of Colorado, where they’d existed in peace with their human neighbors. Until the human Leo Taniss started hunting them. Now the leaders of the Dardaptoans have to do what they must to protect their people…even if it means eliminating Taniss’s granddaughters one by one…
PAVAD: PREVENTION & ANALYSIS OF VIOLENT ACTS DIVISION:
PAVAD—the Prevention & Analysis of Violent Acts Division is a special directorate of the FBI, located in St. Louis due to its central location, and ran by Deputy Director Edward Dennis. PAVAD was formed by Edward Dennis to combat today’s modern crimes in a modern nation. PAVAD consists of only the best of the FBI’s best, and addresses cases involving everything from kidnapping, money-laundering, extortion, all the way up to RICO violations. The PAVAD unit consists of more than a dozen teams ready to mobilize at a moment’s notice to every corner of the United States…
At this point, each series has at least ten books planned and in the works. The second installment of the PAVAD series will be released Friday, Oct. 12th, and the tenth story in the Dardanos, Co. series will be released around Christmas time this year.
One thing I’m often asked about—and complimented on—is how I keep the details of both series straight throughout the books. It isn’t easy, that’s for sure. Especially since I am not a writer who plots. I tend to write off the cuff and go back and fix any problems in later drafts. Sometimes…sometimes a character grows a few inches between chapters, or his eyes change color…or I reverse his name. All kinds of things.
Once I started to notice this happening—and after some very last minute edits to a few books—I decided I’d better get a system in place.
So I made a series bible. A series bible for a writer is kind of like one for a television show—it has necessary details and written-down visions and basic ‘oh-yeahs’ for the writer to use at later dates.
At the absolute beginning of my ‘bibles’ I have a list of one-or-two paragraph summaries of each story I have currently planned. I also include a short tidbit of which later book this book needs to set up. Then I move on.
In this bible I have a section for character descriptions of every character that I think may be used in the entire series (I have a tendency to create a character then decide he/she needs her own story, too). I will list things like height, weight, hair, eyes, dominant personality traits, etc. Anything that might come up later.
For the paranormal series, I have a HUGE section devoted to the ‘rules’ of the world I’m developing. In my Dardanos series, my vampires tend to freeze to death if the temperature around them drops lower than fifty degrees. Probably because they only have a fraction of the blood in their bodies that humans do! In my ‘bible; I go into great detail about why this freeze can occur, how to recognize the signs, what the healers might do, etc.
Why? Because I can’t have the healer treat the condition one way in a book, then totally contradict myself in a later book. That is not the world I want to create for my readers. The best fictional series are ones that are consistent throughout. That’s what I wanted.
Another thing I have noticed in my series writing is that I tend to have overreaching storylines that tie later books to the earlier. These storylines occupy a quarter of my ‘bibles’. Anything that may later appear has to be noted. Maybe not in great detail, but it should serve as a reminder of my intentions at that point of writing it down.
In the PAVAD series, for example, I have Evan Stephenson. Evan Stephenson is kind of a favorite character for me. He’s not well liked, though not because of anything he has done. But he does turn out to be a heroic character in a couple of later books. Right now I am making notes of him and what he needs to do in early books to set up for later books—including his own!
In the final fourth of my ‘bibles’ I leave a section for notes/research and miscellanea. In the paranormal I have very detailed maps of the demon world that a few characters travel to in Awakening the Demon’s Queen. In the PAVAD section I have a detailed list of FBI agents on each team. (Think Criminal Minds’ profilers!)
These ideas are not foolproof and I don’t always keep up with the ‘bibles’ like I should, but it does help me jog my memory when needed. And hopefully, keep things straight as these fictional worlds keep getting bigger and bigger!
For a taste of some of my ‘worlds’ (and to see if I kept the details straight!) my blog has several reads, including The Blood King (first in the Dardanos series, now free!), The Healer’s Heart, and The Wolf God & His Mate (full-length novella!). I’m also in the process of writing a free PAVAD read-in-progress that can be found hiding on my blog.
And to celebrate the upcoming release of WANTING, the second book in my PAVAD series, the first in the series (WATCHING) will be available at $1.29 until Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012! (Amazon and Smashwords Only!)
People who preyed on those weaker and more defenseless than themselves deserved whatever punishment was thrown at them.
That thought drove Dr. Georgia Dennis in every decision she made, personal and professional. A profiler with the Complex Crimes Unit of the FBI, she was tired of being second-guessed by her boss Michael “Hell” Hellbrook. Once they caught the sociopath responsible for stoning teenaged girls, she was gone from Hellbrook’s team faster than the ink could dry on the transfer papers.
Georgia and Hellbrook are hot on the trail of a sadistic killer targeting women and girls with brown hair and brown eyes—women with a striking resemblance to Georgia.
Hellbrook will do anything to protect his team, even the woman he never wanted on it in the first place. By keeping her at his side, he grows closer to her until the flame between them erupts and consumes them both. As they get deeper involved with the case and with each other, they do not realize someone else is watching, someone whose descent into madness threatens everyone around them.
Is this watcher their killer, or someone much closer?
Carrie Sparks was phenomenal at her job as a special agent with the Complex Crimes Unit of the FBI’s PAVAD directorate, despite her being on the autistic spectrum. Just because Unit Chief Sebastian Lorcan first met her at the lowest point in her career didn’t change that fact. Couldn’t. Wouldn’t. Still, he had every right not to like her—just like she had every right not to like him.
So if they had a mutual dislike agreement, why was the catlike man at her door late one night?
Lorcan needed help finding a friend’s missing daughter, and with his team out of town on a case, Carrie Sparks was the only resource he had…
Carrie agreed to help him because she saw herself in the young runaway. She’d help him, but she didn’t have to like him.
But while they’re searching for Ashleigh, someone else is searching for Carrie. Does he mean well or does he have far more sinister plans?
Whatever his intentions, one thing becomes increasingly clear to Sebastian and Carrie…You can’t always get what you want…
Red and whiskey accents against a warm cream. Like her. Agent Sebastian Lorcan looked around, taking in the interior of the hallway. It suited the woman he’d come to see, and surprised the hell out of him. The door finally opened a portion; red hair and whiskey eyes were just visible in the gap.
“Agent Lorcan, what are you doing here? I don’t have people from the Bureau at my home. Ever.”
Her words were low and he strained to hear. Her tone was anything but welcoming and he didn’t blame her. He’d not exactly gone out of his way to be friendly with her over the past few months.
“I need to talk to you. It’s urgent.” He pushed the door back and stepped into her apartment. She jumped back to avoid touching him. Like she always did. It irritated him every time.
Her loft apartment was definitely not what he’d expected. He’d always thought she’d eat, sleep, and breathe surrounded by her precious computers—in a small, cramped little hovel only minutes from the Bureau. This place was close to the Bureau, but that was the only thing he’d been right about.
He’d never pictured her in this luxury apartment with granite countertops, leather furnishings, and expensive accents. This woman had some serious dough, somewhere. Curious. “Nice place.”
“My place. So why are you here?” She didn’t glare at him, but Lorcan thought it was pretty damned close. She stood between him and the two small steps that led up into the living area off the kitchen.
“I need your help.”
“With what? Don’t you have someone on your team who can work a simple computer program? I doubt you’re an agent short.” She blocked him with her body when he would have taken those steps into the living room. Her body was taut, and her hand firm where she rested it against his arm.
“I can work the damned computer.” He looked down at the woman nearly pressed against him. She smelled wonderful—almost enough to distract him from his purpose. Almost, but he reined himself in.
He’d always found Special Agent Carrie Sparks distracting.
“So what? A case?” She bent and lifted the black cat that rubbed against her leg. She cuddled the beast against her chest. It purred. Lorcan couldn’t blame him. He’d want to purr next to that chest, too. His body tightened at that thought, a state he was accustomed to being in whenever around her. “I’m off for the next four days. I’ve built up too much paid time off for this month.”
“I know. This isn’t through the Bureau.”
She still eyed him warily, suspicion clear. “Then I can’t help you.”
“May I sit down?” He didn’t wait for her permission, slipping passed her and approaching the couch. He glanced over his shoulder just as annoyance slipped over her face.
“Sure. Go right ahead. May I get you something to drink; beer, soda, water?”
It was the first he’d ever heard sarcasm from her. It surprised him; he’d always thought people with Aspergers were incapable of it. “Soda sounds fine. Thank you.”
She opened the fridge and pulled out two green cans. He settled on her couch; it was as comfortable as it had looked. She plopped his soda on the end table, before perching on the glass and chrome coffee table. The cat hopped up beside her, climbing into her lap. He stretched one paw over the woman’s lap, and looked at Lorcan. His eyes were glowing with what could only be interpreted as possessive claiming of his mistress.
Lorcan repressed to urge to say anything to the woman—or the cat. “Thank you.”
“Why are you here?” She repeated her question, and he wondered if it was just her customary speech pattern, or a product of her own annoyance at his intrusion.
“Seven days ago this little girl ran away from home.” He pulled a small picture out of his pants pocket. She took it from him warily. “Her mother called a friend of mine. Who called me.”
“And the police have nothing?”
“She’s fourteen and has had trouble before. Frankly, I don’t think they’re looking that hard.”
“So why can’t your team help you?” She returned the picture to him, and looked out the window at the St. Louis arch, an odd expression on her face. “Why me?”
“She wasn’t abducted. Case doesn’t fit the parameters required for my unit. My team is still with the rest of yours in Nashville. And you’ve also been given mandatory leave. I have no one else available. This shouldn’t take long. I want to find her, I need to find her. I’ve known her since she was six.”
She bit her lip and looked at him. “I don’t know. What do you need?”
She was close to capitulating. It was in the way she looked at the photograph in her hand. He leaned forward, but kept his shoulders relaxed. Unthreatening. “Please, Agent Sparks. She’s just a child and woefully unprepared for the world outside on the streets. I need to find her.”
She sighed and Lorcan knew he had her cooperation. She squared her shoulders and looked at him directly, making eye contact. “I’ll do it.”
At her words, the tension that had plagued him for the last three hours lessened slightly. He needed her skills, and now he had them. “Thank you.”
“What do you know so far?” Carrie moved, sitting beside him. Her shoulder brushed his. Lorcan felt that ghosting touch and his whole body went on alert. This enigma did something to him faster than any other woman on the planet, and with any other kind of woman he would have acted on it months ago. But not Carrie Sparks and not just because of her obvious differences. She was not the kind of woman a man like him ever fooled around with. Too many consequences would be involved.
He knew and would just have to remind himself of that. “First, the computer. Her mom said she spent quite a lot of time online. Blogs, emails, social media. Then I want to talk to her parents, in person.”
Carrie nodded. “I can start on the internet searches from here. My computers are in here.”
He followed her to the back wall. Just visible was the outline of a built-in sliding door. It so seamlessly blended into the cedar wall around it that had she not opened it, he would have missed it. One more indication that this place was pretty damned pricey. And that didn’t fit with who he thought she was. Junior agent, living on a beginning federal employee salary—it wasn’t enough to afford a place like this. Where was her money coming from? “How long have you lived here?”
Carrie watched the man invading her home and couldn’t help but feel the irritation that he always caused. It was so much worse than usual; this was her sanctuary. And he’d invaded. If it hadn’t been for that little girl…
“Eighteen months.” She flicked the switch to power the lights and the six screens that were housed in the small room. It had once been a bathroom, but she’d repurposed it. Her pair of laptops that she carried with her on cases were her babies, but this room was her heart. Four higher-than-state-of-the-art hard drives were lined up like neat little soldiers under a long table. She’d built the hard drives from spare parts. Two wireless keyboards were configured to operate any drive.
The room had no windows; she hated glare on her screens when she worked. It seemed smaller and darker than she knew it to be. She attributed that to the man crowding behind her; she could hear his breathing over the steady hum of her machines. The hum usually comforted her as much as Linux’s purrs, but not this time. Not with him in the room. “You need to understand something. No one has ever seen this room. I need your word that you won’t disclose its location.”
“Why? Do you keep this quiet, I mean?”
“I’ve had burglaries before. And they’ve stolen important code. This was in Virginia, and I was asleep in the other room. I wasn’t able to stop them, though I tried. Do I have your word?”
“Of course. I won’t tell a soul.” He nodded, though Carrie suspected he didn’t understand. But the night that her old apartment had been broken into had left an indelible memory, just as strong as the sight of her mother dying in front of her when she was nine. Carrie needed a safe place, especially in her own home. This was it.
“What is the girl’s name and do you have her email address?”
“Ashleigh Cavanaugh.” He repeated the email address he’d been given. The room surprised him, but not as much as his anger at her need for it. She would have been extremely young when living and training in Virginia, only twenty-three or twenty-four. Vulnerable. The idea of a young Carrie sleeping in her bed and some strange, faceless man breaking into her home aroused all his protective instincts and he forced them back down. She brought out the caveman in him so easily. Did she realize that?
“I’ll track her internet paths. Since she’s over thirteen, she can open her own social media accounts. If I can find her communications, you can profile her posts to see if we can get a read on what’s going on.” She spoke with confidence, not repeating herself even once. It surprised him; she always took the background with her team. She was part of the Complex Crimes Unit of the FBI, and her team was a team of Bureau superstars. Lorcan’s team was the number three team—the other two teams were older—with the CCU. In the two months Lorcan had been assigned to St. Louis, he’d had plenty of opportunity to observe Carrie and her team.
She was the least experienced, and in Lorcan’s estimation, the most vulnerable. She’d proven that the first time he’d met her, having been the victim of an attack by a former colleague that left her battered and in a leg cast.
He still didn’t understand why Hellbrook, her team leader, didn’t keep her confined to the police stations they visited. It was where she belonged, safe behind her computer screens. And that’s where her strengths were. Carrie was phenomenal with computers, but she had certification by Quantico to be in the field, having gone through the Academy with honors. He’d checked her file the first week he’d been in St. Louis. He’d been curious about her from the moment he’d first seen her.
Hellbrook required every member of his teams to be investigative agents, as well as any specialist position they may be qualified for. The CCU had former police investigators, two psychologists, a media specialist, the top pathologist in the nation, and a former ATF agent. Plus Carrie, with her computer skills.
She continued speaking. “In my experience, these kids always leave hints, or trails. They very rarely keep it entirely to themselves.”
“Your experience?” How much experience could this beautiful neophyte agent possibly have?
“Yes, in my experience…Ten years ago, I was one of them.”
Coming Friday, Oct. 12, 2012
Calle J. Brookes is the author of several paranormal romances set in Dardanos, Colorado and of the PAVAD romantic suspenses. Her work can be purchased at every major ebook retailer, including Barnes and Noble and Amazon. She can be found lurking around the web at www.callejbrookes.wordpress.com.
It is my pleasure to welcome writer SS Hampton to the blog today! I read his story, The Lapis Lazuli Throne, and I really enjoyed it. Horror and suspense are mixed with grim reality. Now, here’s more from SS on Halloween and one of his books.
Fall. Fall leads into Halloween.
The days grow cooler and shorter. The clouds are grayer, and the full moon hangs in the night sky like a silent, all-knowing observer. Tree leaves change color and drift with the wind, or tumble noisily along the chill ground. The silent trees take on a skeletal appearance, harbingers of that vestige of the mysterious, haunted past cloaked in the modern word, “Halloween.”
Today Halloween is an unofficial holiday when youngsters traipse in costumes through the streets with all manner of goodie bags, wind their way among flaming eyed jack-o-lanterns, and knock on doors with a cheerful, “Trick or treat!” And for the older celebrants, there’s wild, sometimes erotic costumes, good drinks, and good food at Halloween parties—sometimes followed by more delectable treats after the party, all to the musical accompaniment of Gareth Williams’ “Halloween – Main Theme.”
Yes, Halloween has something for everyone. It always has. It always will. It has haunted graveyards, ghosts, spirits, warlocks, witches riding broomsticks, headless horsemen, devils, imps, goblins, even—more darkly to some puritan natures—succubi and incubi.
But suppose there’s something to all of this? After all, if you dig deep enough into myth and legend, there’s usually a kernel of truth buried somewhere. Even—in a world where science has explanations for everything—a sometimes inconvenient truth.
So, maybe there is one time of the year when an unknown, long-forgotten doorway creaks open just a hair. What might creep through that opening? Would you see it and recognize it as something horrific? Or perhaps it’s unseen. Maybe it’s hovering nearby, recognized only by a cold chill down your spine, or the hair suddenly standing up on the back of your neck. You have an urge to look over your shoulder, but you hesitate because your gut feeling tells you not to do that. Or, maybe you smell something unpleasant in the air. It lingers for an awful moment, then it’s gone, and your legs tremble because something terrible had just passed you by. Perhaps you’re walking through a quiet building, and you think you hear footsteps behind you. But there’s nothing there.
And that’s in the daylight! After all, time and place may not be the same to other…things.
So, when the afternoon grows darker and the air chillier on Halloween, pay careful attention to your surroundings. Perhaps you might see something in the shadows—just a tiny movement that betrays a silent presence. Or maybe someone (something) is looking at you in a peculiar way, as if studying you, or assessing you.
As the afternoon shadows lengthen, and brittle tree leaves tumble past you within the grip of a cold breeze, you never know what you might encounter. You might even run into something unknown cloaked within the disarming anonymity of an ordinary person that looks like you and I. Then, you might just have enough time to scream.
Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy
“An Appointment in the Village Bazaar.” Danse Macabre: Close Encounters with the Reaper Anthology. Ed. Nancy Kilpatrick. Edge SF & Fantasy, Forthcoming October 2012.
EXCERPT: “We isn’t in fuckin’ Kansas no more,” Sergeant First Class Robert “Chief” Nottingham, a half-Cheyenne Indian, chuckled from behind his dark ballistic eyeglasses and a puff of sulfurous smelling cigarette smoke, as Sergeant Caleb Justus staggered up the steep trail. Caleb stopped when he saw the rolling, rocky landscape of a thin forest with broken and splintered trees. Visible beyond the trees was a ruined village nestled below a low gray rise littered with skeletal trees. A chill wind moaned across the rugged, haunting landscape.
Behind them, such a deep contrast to the land before them, the valley they emerged from was a lush garden of green grass, brush, and trees.
“No shit,” Caleb, who usually didn’t swear, gasped as sweat, mingled with the cold thin drizzle that fell from gray clouds, trickled down his face. The platoon spread out and eyed an ancient narrow trail that wound through the trees to a wide, rutted path that led to the village.
As the soldiers slipped through the trees, Caleb thought they resembled unearthly creatures moving through a blighted medieval landscape; each wore a camouflaged Kevlar helmet, Individual Body Armor weighted down with heavy ammunition magazines, first aid kits and combat knives, and grayish-green Army Combat Uniforms with dark elbow and knee pads. Each wore the trademark dark ballistic eyeglasses that hid the eyes and gave the impression of emotionless, less than human faces. They carried M4 Carbines with Close Combat Opticals, M249 Light Machine Guns, and M203s, a 40mm grenade launcher mounted under an M4.
He knew that in their minds, and in reality, they were the meanest SOBs in the valley, or any valley. He felt safe in their presence. It was a much needed feeling after almost being killed by an Improvised Explosive Device three days before.
“Don’t know how much drawing you’ll get done on a shitty day like this,” Chief commented as he ground the cigarette under his boot heel.
“That’s why I brought my Nikon,” Caleb patted a black bag nestled against the side of his IBA and first aid kit. His drawing kit dangled against his right hip, just above his holstered 9mm pistol. “If I have to I’ll take photos, maybe do some color pencil drawings…”
An Appointment in the Village Bazaar
SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 grandchildren, and a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). He served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004; he was mobilized for active duty for almost three years after his enlistment. He continues to serve in the Guard, where he holds the rank of staff sergeant. He is a published photographer and photojournalist, an aspiring painter, and is studying for a degree in anthropology—hopefully to someday work in underwater archaeology. He has wanted to be a writer since he was 15 years old; his first short story was published in 1992, after which it wasn’t until 2001 that another short story was published. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy (forthcoming), Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, Ruthie’s Club, Lucrezia Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. As of December 2011, he became the latest homeless Iraq war veteran in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you! My name is Lisa Orchard and I’m guest blogging today courtesy of Lisa. I want to take a moment and thank her for allowing me to be here. Thanks Lisa! (Great first name by the way!)
The last time I was here I talked about being a pantser, a seat of my pants writer. Today I’d like to touch on the special considerations that an author must think about when writing for the Young Adult market.
How is writing for the young adult market different than writing for the adult market? That is a very good question. First of all, when I write for this market my lead character should act as a role model for my readers. So, I have to make sure that she doesn’t condone bad behavior. I know what you’re thinking…how would I get someone to read my stories if they were high-brow moralistic dribble? That my friend is the question, how do I get someone interested in my story to read it, teach them a lesson and entertain them at the same time? A tough job for sure! Especially in today’s world, teens are looking for edgy books that reflect the issues that they’re facing today.
The way that I do this is by putting my characters in situations where they must make decisions. Sometimes they make good decisions and sometimes they don’t. When they don’t, I show the consequences of those decisions. By doing this, I’m hoping the reader learns the life lessons that are being illustrated right along with the characters.
I also hope that I’m showing young readers that they can survive a bad decision. I want them to know mistakes are actually valuable lessons that can be overcome. Everyone makes them, but not everyone learns from them.
So, how do I do the above and make the story one that my readers will want to read? I turn it into a suspenseful thriller that will have them on the edge of their seats. My stories have twists and turns that keep the young reader guessing. Below is a direct quote from one reader.
“The Super Spies are like Nancy Drew of the twenty first century but MORE FABULOUS! A must read for all ages.” A review from Paige.
As you can tell she really enjoyed the story, I think any tween/teen would. Right now I’ve got two available. The covers and blurbs are below. Check them out and let me know what you think! I’d love to hear your comments.
Blurb for Lisa’s latest book:
This book opens in a small town in Michigan where Sarah and her sister Lacey are now living with their Aunt and Uncle. Still reeling from the fact her parents have disappeared, Sarah starts the school year with her new friend Jackie Jenkins. When Sarah learns the school has been bombed, she’s filled with dread. Uncle Walt is a teacher, and he was in the school when the bomb exploded. Taking matters into her own hands, Sarah decides to search for him. The rest of the Super Spies are right behind her. When a fireman chases them away from the school, Sarah becomes suspicious. She decides to investigate. The FBI arrives on the scene. Sarah realizes this bombing could have even bigger implications. Searching for the bombers, Sarah is introduced to the world of terrorism. She fears that the bombing and her parents’ disappearance are connected and terrorists are involved. To make matters worse, the bombers are determined to finish the job. Can the Super Spies find the bombers before it’s too late?
Check out Lisa’s other book in the Super Spies series, too. 🙂
Find out more about Lisa Orchard and Buy Her Books:
“The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer”
“The Super Spies and the High School Bomber”
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