I’m blogging again at Maria-Claire Payne’s–check it out:
I’m blogging again at Maria-Claire Payne’s–check it out:
Try it, you’ll like it
Of this romantic suspense story one top reviewer said, “fans will enjoy this fine, at-sea mystery.”
Here’s where you can get it:
Here’s what it’s about:
The cruise from hell…
Gen X meets Agatha Christie on the high seas of the Bermuda Triangle when Sherry Case, gofer for the battling bigwigs in the family-owned firm Genesplice, arranges for a team-building cruise aboard the yacht Swashbuckler. The mismatched group of passengers feuds even before the yacht has left the harbor.
A rogue wave, faltering navigational instruments and a trio of sharks continue to challenge Sherry and her new lover, the yacht’s Captain Freeman. But Free and Sherry aren’t fazed until a passenger turns up dead in her locked cabin. The vicious murder throws the ship, its crew and passengers into panic. Who could the killer be? Suspects and motives abound.
Ordinary twenty-somethings thrown into an extraordinary situation, Sherry and Free must solve the mystery, defeat the myriad dangers of the triangle, and reach land before the villain can kill them.
And here’s a snippet:
He turned the tap counterclockwise. After waiting a couple of minutes for the water to heat, he stepped into the oversized shower. He admired its custom glass-block construction and four shower heads, which rinsed the blood from his body quickly and efficiently.
He preferred to kill naked. Blood-soaked garments were a disposal problem and, if found, easily traceable evidence. Though he avoided ruining good clothes, getting blood out from under his fingernails was a bitch.
This is the Lucky 7 challenge according to author Julia Kavan:
Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript
Go to line 7
Post on your blog the next 7 lines, or sentences, as they are – no cheating
Tag 7 other authors to do the same
Now, I don’t know why this is supposed to be lucky–the instructions didn’t come with those internet promises/threats like, “If you edo this in the next 7 minutes, a leprechaun will show up at your door with the proverbial pot of gold, but if you don’t, your hair will fall out, your face will sprout pustules and you’ll never get laid again.” But here goes:
When she’d seen the cave first, it had been strewn with garbage, old clothing, sea-wrack and the like. Now it was strewn with bodies.
Scattered bits—heads, arms and so forth—were tossed willy-nilly. Blood oozed, its stench mingling with the miasma of rotting seaweed. Bile rose in her throat and her body convulsed.
Dugald sprinted for the cave’s mouth. She heard the splash of water beneath his boots, heard the crash of waves. Turning her head away from him, she gulped in a deep breath of fresher air. Her muscles loosened as her body relaxed.
So what you think? Would you read this book? That’s the real question, hmm?
This is to celebrate the impending re-release of Sherry, Baby, previously published by Five Star as Triangle, where it sank without a trace as though it had been lost in the Bermuda Triangle, where the book is set. With a few revisions, it’s now ready for prime time.
In it, twenty-nothings Free and Sherry discover they can foil a killer, save a ship and fall in love.
BTW this isn’t yet edited so the final version may be different. And the cover you see here is the draft.
Sherry went to her quarters to brush her hair and her teeth, then donned a sweater against the cool October evening. By the time she went topside, full night had fallen. The only light illuminating the main deck of the Swashbuckler came from the salon; a smaller lamp in the wheelhouse enabled the pilot to guide the craft. Above her, a match flared, briefly illuminating someone seated on the deck that topped the wheelhouse.
“Come on up,” Free said.
She eyed the metal rungs soldered to the outside of the wheelhouse, deciding that they looked simple and sturdy enough for her to negotiate. She climbed up and found Free slouched on a built-in bench, smoking a hand-rolled cigarette. A beer was balanced on the railing next to him. He offered her the cigarette.
“What is it?” she asked.
“A spliff. Try it.”
“Jamaican and tobacco.”
“Oh.” Taking a chance that the mixture wouldn’t sear her throat, she drew a hit deep into her lungs. She let the smoke out slowly, waiting for the marijuana to calm her. She hoped she wouldn’t get the munchies. She’d had a good diet day, though it had been tough. Chaz was a crazy culinary genius who could destroy her body singlehandedly.
Free knocked on the floor—which was, she realized, the ceiling of the bridge—and a hand holding another bottle of beer thrust out of one of the wheelhouse’s open windows. Simmons, she guessed, engaging in a routine familiar to both men. Free handed the beer to her and, in a surprisingly amicable silence, she and Free finished the smoke and sipped their beers.
Finally he spoke. “Quite a scene, down at dinner.” He tossed the roach over the side of the boat.
She watched the tiny red ash disappear into the roiling water flowing past the yacht. “Yes, they have their spats.”
“What does Blair Armstrong have on Dr. Rankin?”
“What do you mean?”
He hesitated. “When I went outside, she seemed to be threatening him with something. He almost went for her throat.”
“Nathan? Hmmm. That’s strange.”
“What do you think of Nona and Orlando?”
She laughed. “They’re perfect. I can’t believe we haven’t seen them satirized on Comedy Central.”
“So your Board of Directors thinks that Hippy and Dippy can teach Philip, Blair, and Nathan to make nice?”
They both laughed.
“And Blair seems to have brought her private agenda,” Sherry said. Nathan usually spent most of his time in his lab, using assistants to keep Blair at bay. Here, Blair could pressure him constantly about her fertility, which everyone at Genesplice knew was her fixation.
“Hell, everyone on this trip has a private agenda.”
Sherry rubbed her cheeks, hoping to hide her guilty flush from Free.
He asked, “So what’s your game? I noticed that you and the good Dr. Rankin seemed pretty chummy.”
She hated the way her face gave away everything she thought or felt. “He should be.”
“Have you slept with him yet?” Free’s tone was casual.
She glared at him. “You have no right to ask that question.”
“Don’t get your panties in a bundle. If anyone’s playing musical beds, the captain and crew need to know in case of emergencies.”
“Oh. Well, we have.”
He cocked a brow at her. “You don’t sound all head-over-heels to me. Is he good in the sack?”
She nearly fell off the bench. “That’s none of your business!”
“Okay, he’s lousy. So why do you bother?”
Whoa. After maybe fifteen seconds of analyzing her relationship with Nathan, Captain Freeman had nailed her to the wall, defining the issue in a nutshell. Nathan was as single-minded in pursuit of orgasms as he was in pursuit of his scientific goals, and after he got what he wanted in bed, he was done.
Regardless of whether or not Sherry had gotten what she wanted or needed.
Crap. She didn’t want to discuss this with Free, did she? Why would he care?
This was one of the strangest conversations Sherry had ever experienced, even while under the influence of multiple substances. But the pot had made her a little loose and chatty, so she said, “I care about Nathan, but—”
“He doesn’t ring your chimes.” Free’s voice was rough.
She blew out a breath. Tipping her head back, she regarded the stars. “He’s my best chance.”
“Your best chance at what?”
“To get out of the hole I’m in. My job stinks. I can’t do anything else. I need to get married, and fast.”
“So what’s your hurry? Pretty girl like you ought to be playing the field.”
Sherry wondered if Free meant playing with him. She said, “I’m nearly thirty. Washed up. Getting old. If I can’t find a secure situation soon, I’m toast.”
“Why don’t you get a better job? These jerk brains treat you like garbage. You know, there isn’t enough money in the world to make me put up with these people for any longer than this cruise. I don’t know how you do it.”
“I can’t get a better job.” Fury, shame, and sorrow made her spit out the words. “I barely crawled through high school.”
“I don’t believe that. You’re not stupid.”
“Yes, I am. I was diagnosed with a learning disability when I was nine. My mother told me that my face was my fortune, and I’d better marry well. Nathan’s my best chance.”
Free started to laugh, then guffaw. “I’ve never heard such a crock of shit in my entire life.”
“It’s true.” She heard the bitterness in her voice, but she didn’t care what Free thought.
“You want to be Nathan Rankin’s trophy wife? Come on. You can do more than type and screw.”
“How do you know?”
“I’ve watched you. You handle a group of very difficult people with tact and aplomb.”
“Aplomb?” She turned that over in her mind.
“Yeah. Aplomb. What about the poofters?”
“Poofters?” Free’s change of subject momentarily startled Sherry. “Oh, Philip and his latest fling. Philip can be as mouthy as Blair, but he’s really a fangless snake. Slimy but harmless. Greg is just his meal du jour. Philip chews ‘em up and spits ‘em out on a regular basis. He’s quite a piece of work. He loves shallowly, hates deeply, and holds a grudge forever.”
Free leaned back and eyed her. “We’d best keep an eye on Philip, the crew and I.”
“Yeah, but don’t let him get the wrong idea.” Sherry shrugged. “Heck, for all I know, for you it could be the right idea.”
Even in the starlight, she could see astonishment all over his face. She was seized by a fit of the giggles. The pot had definitely kicked in.
“I’ll have you know…” Free started. “Aw, what the hell,” he said, and jammed a hand into her hair, bringing her close. Their lips were no more than a hairsbreadth apart.
He drew back. “No,” he said.
“N-no?” She searched her feelings, trying to figure out if she was disappointed or not.
“No.” He sounded firm. “You think men value you for your looks, and that you have nothing else to offer. I’m going to prove you wrong.”
Picking up his Red Stripe, he left the upper deck.
How Well Developed Are Your Storytelling Skills?
by Lois Winston
Without a good plot and well-developed characters, you don’t stand a chance of selling your manuscript, no matter how well you’ve honed your technical skills. You can have the most beautifully crafted sentences the publishing world has ever seen, but if your plot is mundane or your characters are cardboard, your chances of publication are nil.
Plot is story, and story is about what happens in a book, specifically what happens to the characters who populate that book. Characterization is what drives the people who populate the story.
Every scene in a book must do one of two things — either advance the story (plot) or tell the reader something essential that he or she needs to know about the characters (characterization) at that particular moment. If a scene does neither of these things, it’s filler and doesn’t belong in your book.
Plot and characterization go hand-in-hand. Even though some books are more plot driven and others more character driven, a good book needs both.
Both the plot and the main characters in a novel must feature growth of some sort. The story must have a beginning, middle, and resolution. That’s the plot arc.
When it comes to characters, a story that begins and ends with the main characters having the same attitudes and in the same place emotionally and psychologically (and sometimes even physically) is not a successful story. The main characters need to learn and grow from their experiences and the impact the other characters have had on them throughout the course of the story.
Another way to look at plot and characterization is to break them down in terms of the characters’ internal and external goals, motivations, and conflicts. Plot deals with the external GMC; characterization deals with the internal GMC. All characters in a novel, no matter the genre, must have both internal and external goals, motivation, and conflict. Without GMC you have melodrama, not drama.
So ask yourself the following questions:
Who are the characters in your story?
What do they want?
Why do they want what they want?
What’s keeping them from getting what they want?
You must be able to answer these questions for all the major characters in your story, both the hero and heroine or protagonists, as well as any villains or antagonists. Once you break your story down in this way, you should be able to see if you’ve crafted a solid plot and characters that a reader will identify with on some level.
This doesn’t mean that all characters have to be likeable. If a character pushes a reader’s buttons, that’s a well-written character. You’ve successfully drawn the reader into the world you’ve created and made her have feelings about the character, even if it’s negative feelings.
If you can’t answer some of the above questions for some of the characters in your story, those are the areas of your manuscript that are weak and need work.
Here’s a little about Lois and and her books:
Death By Killer Mop Doll: Overdue bills and constant mother vs. mother-in-law battles at home are bad enough. But crafts editor Anastasia Pollack’s stress level is maxed out when she and her fellow American Woman editors get roped into unpaid gigs for a revamped morning TV show. Before the glue is dry on Anastasia’s mop dolls, morning TV turns crime drama when the studio is trashed and a member of the production team is murdered. Former co-hosts Vince and Monica—sleazy D-list celebrities—stand out among a lengthy lineup of suspects, all furious over the show’s new format. And Anastasia has no clue her snooping has landed her directly in the killer’s unforgiving spotlight.
Bio: Lois Winston is the author of the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries published by Midnight Ink. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist and has been nominated for a Readers Choice Award by the Salt Lake City Library System. The new year brings with it the release of Death By Killer Mop Doll, the second book in the series. Read an excerpt at http://www.loiswinston.com/excerptap2.html. Visit Lois at her website: http://www.loiswinston.com and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog: http://www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com. You can also follow Lois and Anastasia on Twitter @anasleuth.