Sunday, September 26, 2010

Shadow Heroes

I know, I know. I should write more commercial. More accessible, but...

I like to challenge myself. More over I like to surprise my reader.

Now sometimes that tips over to shock, horror, or even revulsion, but hey, it surprised them! LOL :-)

To accomplish this by picking unusual heroes. Or at least make you think they are an unusual hero.

Many times my hero has to be so eccentric or I have such a large paradigm shift coming up that my hero has to stay hidden.

Hence the 'Shadow' Hero. I don't want to spoil anything for anyone who HASN'T read Plain Jane but know that everything is not as it seems. which is exactly how I like it.

I love having a shadow hero. I love knowing something the reader doesn't. I love writing two people from the hero's perspective.

One appears to be the obvious hero. They are usually out front and center. But secretly I know that another character is the true hero. I know that they are the ones to fulfill the true hero's arc which makes it much more exciting to write.

Still confused? Think Star Wars. Classic Star Wars. Episodes 4,5, and 6

Over the course of the trilogy Luke is clearly the hero. He has a large, clear arc. He rocks.

However, if you look at Episode 4 (A New Hope) Luke has very little arc. He is enthusiastic. He wants adventure. He is chomping at the bit to get some action.

That never really changes throughout the film. Yes, he begins to get glimmers of his potential and uses the Force but his overall his arc is unchanged. Events happen around him rather than inside of him.

The 'Shadow Hero' in Star Wars Episode 4? Han Solo. He has a HUGE arc. He is selfish. Self-centered. Devil May Care.

No, you say! It can't be true!

Let's check. The standard way to check a character's arc (which can be done for any character, it is just that the Hero should have the steepest arc of all) is to ask the same question of your character at the beginning and at the end of the story.

"Would you risk your life and sacrifice for someone else."

At the beginning of Star Wars, Luke would have answered; of course. Yes. At the end of the movie his answer still would have been... Yes, of course.

Ask Han that same question of the beginning of the movie his answer WAS 'Hell no." By the end though, he comes through.

Solo's arc is far greater than Luke. Hence the shadow hero!

Of course there is another shadow hero as Vader, but that's another blog!

For any of you that have read Plain Jane, why don't you hit me up with a DM on Twitter with who you think is my shadow Hero.

Anyone that hasn't read it yet.... What in the heck are you waiting for?

Read 50 pages for free then pay only $2.99 for a chill to the bone thriller? #crazycheap
Click here to get started!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Villain

A.K.A. my nemesis

No, really, not just in the literary sense, but in a I-struggle-with-writing-them kind of nemesis.

I don' t like to spend a lot of time in the villains POV. Cuz, well, I don't like them.

I have to keep reminding myself that your Hero is only as strong as your villain. I guess I just like to keep the villain as much as a mystery as possible.

This even creeps into my television watching. Case in point I LOVE the L&O series. I even LOVE Criminal Intent. What do I not love? Um, the whole criminal part.

I hate knowing who the bad guy is. I don't really want to know their process or thoughts or feelings. I want to find all of that out from my Hero's perspective.

It is HIS (or HER) story not the villain.

Yet, I know a lot of readers really relish knowing exactly how bad the bad guy is and why they are that way.

So my deal with myself if one book has a prominent villain, the next has on 'hiding in plain sight.'

If you haven't yet read Plain Jane #howcome??? No seriously, if you haven't yet, I am going to tell you that I this is my favorite of all my 'in plain sight' stories.

No one yet has been able to figure out the killer by page 280. Think you are a better sleuth than that? Then head over to Smashwords and read the first 50 pages of Plain Jane for free and here's a 50% off coupon: RH88E to read the rest for just $1.50!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Indie Book Collective

Going Indie was a big decision for me.

I could have gone traditional small press, but I looked at the numbers and they just didn't add up.

First off, with the low advance, there was no way any house was going to put any marketing money into the book.

So basically I would have had to market the book myself anyway.

However to have the "privilege" of being in print, I would give up my digital rights. Now that Amazon has crossed the 1/2 way point and is now selling more (most likely FAR more by next year) digital books, I could in theory actually lose money on a traditional publishing deal.

I took a deep breath and choose to go indie.

Then the reality hit me. I had no one to blame but myself if the book failed. I couldn't point my finger at a marketing department or grumble about my placement on shelves.

I had entered the digital world.... ALONE!

Holy crap! What was I thinking????? LOL

Luckily I do social media professionally so quickly I realized I wasn't alone. There were a bunch of us Indies out there, selling our own books.

Quickly we gelled together and realized that we could create a type of marketing co-op to expand our readership and build out our sales platform... together.

So head on over to @indiebookIBC and our website and blog to learn more about how you can get your book out into the cybersphere and if you are a reader, find enough books to quench your thirst!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Writing in a "Man's Genre"

With only a few exceptions, guy authors rule the roost when it comes to thrillers.

I know that I was encouraged to adopt initials rather than use a clearly feminine name on the front cover.

What is that about?

The sad fact is thought that guys, for the most part, will only read books by guys. Weird, right?

I mean, clearly this must be some kind of primordial/reptilian brain type thing because it certainly doesn't seem that any rationale and let's be clear, well-read man, who stands at the bookshelf and consciously think... Oh, that's is written by a woman... the lesser sex, clearly it will not be a good read.

Yet, that is exactly what happens in the marketplace.

What I find weird is, shouldn't guys find reading about death and sex written by a woman titillating? Shouldn't their reptilian brain go - chick= good?

Alas, that is not how it goes.

And above all else I am a realist.

While I choose to use my feminine name, that doesn't mean I can't put a set of sexy eyes on the cover. When creating my cover I looked at a lot of pictures and many were far more "Plain Jane," than the ones I choose.

Why? Um, I've got to have something to entice that reptilian brain :-)

How is it working? Well, my readership appears to be about 50/50 so either the male thriller reader has become more evolved and will to read a female (unknown) writer or the sexy eyes are doing their job :-)

If you would like to read 50 pages for free of Plain Jane click here & here's a 50% off coupon code in case you want to read the entire thing: RH88E

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I have a love/hate relationship with them.

I love going back to favorite characters, but always fear that the author/filmmaker has run out of ideas of what to do with them.

You know the term 'sophomore slump' and have seen or read it many a times. It is where the first book/film kicks serious ass, but then the next attempt, is just that... an attempt.

The plot feels like a retread. The characters feel like they are just phoning in their roles.

Since I knew that Plain Jane was just the first in hopefully many Harbinger novels, I knew I needed to address this issue.

I couldn't have my Hero go through a full arc. I needed to have him grow, yes. But be healed? No!

However the reader wants the sensation of an arc completed. You HAVE to have it or no matter your intentions, no one will read book two.

Luckily I have some writing under my belt and I developed a 'shadow' hero.

This is an apparently secondary character who is actually the one completing the traditional Hero's arc, only in the background.

All eyes are on the Hero, and let's be clear I had to make sure Kent went through ALOT, but if you notice, he is more sensitive in the end, he is not radically changed.

My challenge to those of you who have read Plain Jane is to tell me who my 'shadow' Hero is.

If you haven't read Plain Jane... Um... why not??? LOL

Click here to read 50 pages free and use this 50% off coupon RH88E in case you want to read the entire book!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I love to get some action!

To write of course. #duh

If I could just have a book that ricocheted from action sequence to sexual tension back to action I would be one very, very happy girl.

Yes, I know I need all the other stuff like characterization and scene setting and oh I don't know logic, but wouldn't that be a wonderful world?

Why do I like to write action?

I think it is because it so comes alive as I write it. Honestly no matter how well or in detail I beat out an action scene, it always surprises me as I write it.

The writing is so 'in the moment' that new ideas, prospects, and avenues open up to me. I can't tell you how many times I thought I 'knew' exactly how a fight scene would go only to have it turn on a dime and go in the complete opposite direction.

In the heat of battle my heroes come alive. During those moments they are the most 'bossy' and demanding of me to live up to their potential.

I think this is why I don't really find my characters until the end of the 2nd Act. The darkest moment. I need to see them at their rawest to really know who they are.

So, here's to action... and you know all that other stuff in between :-)

And yes, Plain Jane has plenty of action to check out so you should follow this link to read 50 pages for FREE!

Until next week!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I love scene setting... #thatisalie

I know how important it is. I get it. I know when it is missing in fiction that I read.

Yet, I still find myself pulling up short when it comes to this type of prose.

Now orienting you to the room, I am great at. Where is everyone. Does the action make sense, that stuff I am all about.

But telling you the shade wall paper or the stale smell in the air or the shabby curtains?


My brain just doesn't work that way. I think a part of me thinks that every part of writing gets to be fun.

That somehow if everyone ELSE would just suck it up and use THEIR imagination, I wouldn't have to set the scene.

Which is, of course, retarded. Because if someone else did set the scene, I am sure I would be pissed they didn't set it the way I wanted it!

So yes, would I love to just dive into dialogue and action? Of course.

Do I have to sit there and rack my brain for a more literary way of saying shabby? Yes.


So you will see in Plain Jane I luckily (or quite astutely) set the story in a rather grungy inner city. A nice noir setting with a palette of grays and blacks with only splashes of blood red.


To see what I am talking about head over to Plain Jane where you can read 50 pages for FREE and then if you wish to read the entire thing, here is a 50% off coupon code: RH88E

Until next week!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Character Work

As much as I love my leads, I actually relish writing my supporting characters. Especially in a crime drama.

I mean, come on, we've all seen the blustery police lieutenant/captain. Whenever I encounter a chance to write such an iconic character like this, I think, how can I make them 'pop?'

I mean, I need a stern supervisor to bust my Hero, Kent's, chops, but how can I write them so that you don't feel like you have 'seen' it all before?

In Plain Jane I wanted the guy (I could have chosen a woman for this role , but I liked Nicole - Kent's Love Interest - awash in a sea of men) to bring something extra to the table.

That is when I came up Captain Glick. I combined a more standard male captain, with all of his prerequisite impatience and anger issues, but infused Glick with a more traditional female insight.

Most of the time this cartoonish Captain character fights the current that the Hero generates. He even at times denies the current is even tugging him and everyone else downstream.

So I thought, I want a more proactive Captain. I want a Captain that knows there is not only a current but a dangerous undertow beneath it. He not only knows it but his job is to steer the ship so that everyone doesn't run aground.

And though Glick may balk at the speed and danger of the trip, he also realizes that without Kent and his riptide, they would never get to their destination.

Want to see if I accomplished what I set out to do with Glick?
Read 50 pages of Plain Jane for FREE:
And here is a 50% off coupon in case you want to read the entire thing: RH88E

Awesome and if you have already read Plain Jane and have a review up, leave a comment, I would love to promote your site! :-)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I have officially lost my mind.

As I mentioned on the stream I am working on a new project. Writing nearly 16 hours a day, trying to make up for someone else being 5 weeks past a dead-line (guess it was more of a 'we might kill you'-line).

I am eating, breathing, and dreaming of this story. I love it, but...

It seriously has taken over my brain.

I was thinking about going out in the ocean in a new swimsuit and honestly thought to myself...

"No," she thought, "I will debut it tomorrow when the surf is calmer." Of course the fact that she was simply delaying wearing the bathing suit did not escape her. No matter her sincere intentions, that suit would not see the light of day tomorrow or ever.

Okay, I just want to be clear that entire paragraph, I thought... about myself! In 3rd person no less!

I had to stop myself and say 'think thoughts' rather than pre-writing them in your head!

You know it is bad when you have to remind yourself your life is not a fictional novel.

But I can't complain. The new story is going great. I am doing what I love (maybe a little bit too much as evidenced by this blog) and so far I have caught myself before such words actually escape my lips in public (you guys don't count :-)

How has writing affected you? How has your story warped your brain?

Leave a comment!

Thanks so much for stopping by.

Hopefully everyone knows that Plain Jane is available as an eBook in every format known to mankind at smashwords: Where you can read 50 pages for free. View a kick-ass book trailer or listen to an entire chapter's audio excerpt:

And I am on GoodReads and would love to hook up with you there!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Police Procedurals

How I love them. Well, how I love to YELL at them.

If I am going to watch a show based on, oh I don't know, police procedure, I would like to see... actual police procedure.

Folks, this isn't the X-files. You can't just make up the science and then expect me to believe it.

Ok, for the procedure 'lite' shows like Castle, The Mentalist, etc, fine. Do what you want. I am not watching those for the nitty gritty realism. Honestly I am watching for the hot lead and fun dialogue.

But come on, C.S.I., L&O, etc. You guys should know better.

One of my absolute pet peeves is when cops burst into a house or room and 'clear' it. Without, of course opening a single closet, or looking under the bed. Then they are like, SHOCKED, when a suspect attacks them.

Um, you do know that criminals have the ability to, I don't know... HIDE.

Or they find a child witness holed up in locker. Um, again, maybe we should have looked there first before we heard the whimpering.

Basically if a space is larger than a bread box, how about we check it, just to be sure?

I don't know. Just a thought :-)

But until then, I guess I will just have to keep yelling at the television!

Hopefully when writing Plain Jane I practiced what I just preached :-)

To watch the book trailer (it has been described as super creepy and evocative) or listen to an entire chapter's audio excerpt (narrated by amazing actor @actingnodrama) or read up to 50 pages of Plain Jane for free, follow this link:

And just for reading this blog, here is a 100% off coupon code! ZQ53W

That's right! Just for being so awesome and checking out my blog you can read Plain Jane for FREE! All I ask is you leave a comment below that you cashed in the coupon and then once you've read it, please post a review on Smashwords (and GoodReads if you are a member).

Good, Bad, or Ugly, I don't care. Just give your honest review!

Thanks so much!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Girl Power

I love writing men.

Um... I am sure you are going "What????" This is a girl power blog. And it is. Sorta.

I tend to write a lot of action with, you know bullets and blood flying around (even my romance is using taking place in some dark warehouse and someone's got a machete).

And I am going to say something that I am sure is going to piss off some people off (especially women) that men are simply SO much easier to write for action.

Even male reluctant heroes are usually bursting at the seam with testosterone. You know they are going to open up a can of whoop ass at some point.

But writing strong, independent women? Wow. So much harder. Because just like in life, they tend to come off as sharp, brittle, and well, let's just say it... bitchy.

Plus I like to write as real and grounded of characters as possible. Which means that in reality there are far fewer female cops than male cops and well... again I've got to say it, they tend to come off as masculine or bitchy.

So what to do? I like my female characters living in their feminine energy. I also like them all the stronger for it.

Which means writing a little on a tightrope. I need them gutsy but vulnerable. I want them tough but supportive.

Hopefully in Plain Jane, with Detective Nicole Usher I have succeeded in at the least capturing some of the essence of a not just a cop but of a women, as complicated as she would be in real life :-)

#ornot #Iamokaywiththattoo :-)

Intrigued? Read 25% of Plain Jane for free at and just for being a sport and reading this blog let me give you a 50% off coupon! RH88E (enter at checkout)

Thanks again, and I'd love to get feedback so leave a comment :-)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I swear My Hero is not a real life person...

He is definitely not one of my exs. #ok #fine #Kentisamashup

It is funny sometimes I get readers who say "there's no way anyone is that arrogant."

Um, wow, I actually toned DOWN the arrogance of my ex's for Kent.

I also love it when readers say "There is no way someone as professional as Nicole would fall for someone as arrogant as Kent."

Um, again, wow, I am a post-doctoral college graduate and trust me I've fallen for plenty of Kent-esque men.

I think women who pride themselves on their intellect are even more susceptible to the likes of the Kent types.

To meet someone who is not just your match in the brains department but can school you?

Oh, how I hate to admit it, but that is a rush like none other.

Now just BEING arrogance doesn't cut it for me. You have to be able to back up your strutting. If you act all that then can't deliver, I'm out of there (as would be Nicole).

But if you can talk the talk, then walk the walk? It is like heroin in my veins.

So for the record, Kent is completely fictional. I just had a lot of real life inspiration for him! #lotsandlots

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cross-Promotion: A Writer's Best Friend :-)

Since I love cross-promotion so much and I love blogs so much, I thought, what the heck, let's do a blog about cross-promotions!

If you are reading this then more than likely we are in contact regarding cross-promoting our novels. Which sounds great in theory, but how do we put that in practice and make the most out of our social media connections?

First off, a little about me. I do social media professionally and have over 12,000 followers across my own accounts (which I can promote whatever the heck I want). If you add in clients streams that ups the number to over 50,000 (for these accounts to promote your novel, the book must be a good fit and my client must approve the promotion ahead of time).

So even though @cristynwest (and @thrillersrock which I will describe in a minute) are little, tiny 'baby' accounts, they will not be small for long, plus they have their bigger sister accounts @craftycmc, @writingnodrama, @zerotosold to expand their influence to promote both "Plain Jane" and your novel :-)

@Thrillersrock (right now, it may still be under @Rollinsrocks but it will convert soon) was started as a fan site for James Rollins, but I got so many people asking for referrals to other thriller writers, I converted it to @ThrillersRock where I will be reviewing both established and up and coming thriller novelists and actively promoting on the stream those 'lesser' known authors to a very active buying stream.

Ok, but what does this mean to you?

If we decide to cross-promote, these are my general ideas on how I can help you...

Once I have a copy of your book in hand I will...
Immediately announce (very excitedly of course #becausethatishowIroll) on @cristynwest and @thrillersrock that I have the book and I am going to read and hopefully review it.

Your book will go into the 'que' for the larger accounts and be announced when I have a promo slot is open (@craftycmc, @writingnodrama, @zerotosold)

I will present your book to my clients and if they accept, you book will go into their 'que' as well to promo when a slot is open.

If you are on GoodReads I will immediately friend or fan you and put your book into my 'to be read' list and give a little excited promo note. (I try to stay active on this site and be a 'trusted' source so that people check out my stream frequently).

If you are on smashwords, I will download either a sample or if you give me a 100% coupon, I will download from there even if I have a copy already just to help your numbers go up. I will also leave a note about how excited I am to try your novel.

If you have other sites in which you wish me to promote, let me know and I will try and accommodate.

I will add you to my website's 'What I am Reading" page as well.

Once I have read your book I will...
Let you know what I thought. If I don't feel I can give it 3 stars or more, I will simply make an announcement through @cristynwest and @thrillersrock that I read it and encourage others to as well. I will also mark the book as read on GoodReads and leave it at that.

However, if I like it well enough to give it 3 stars or more (which I hope every book falls into that category :-), I will basically do all of the above again, but this time with snippets of my reviews.

I will post my review through @Thrillersrock and to any other site you would like (in addition to Smashwords and Goodreads which automatically go up).

Also during this process...
I am completely open to guest blogging, give-aways and promotions. I have a variety of coupons that you could add to any review of my work to give your followers added value :-)

Hopefully if we are cross-promoting you will do some or all of the above for me!

Thanks so much for your time and I am so excited to have the opportunity to cross-promote with you!!!! #toldyou #thatishowIroll :-)

Here is my smashwords link:

Here is the reviewer's 100% off coupon: ZQ53W

Here is my GoodReads link:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

What's the fascination with Serial Killers?

The short answer? Um...Why wouldn't I be?

The longer answer is that my Mother was fascinated by them. But then the question becomes why was she fascinated?

Then the larger picture kicks in, why, as a society, are we fascinated by them?

The answer is as simple as would you rather watch a deer play or a lion hunt. It appears our Neanderthal brain is wired to pay attention to the predator.

The deer might feed up but the lion might eat us so we pay particular attention to the one higher up the food chain then we are.

Serial killers are like sharks, usually smart, driven, meticulous sharks. If they didn't, you know, kill people we would value their work ethic.

Then to vicariously be able to feel empowered enough to catch one of these uber predators?

You can see how easily the serial killer thriller got such a strong foothold in the American psyche.

My hope is that "Plain Jane" honors the Pattersons and the Harris yet takes readers to an even deeper, more terrifying place.

For my new readers here is the code to my Smashwords page where you can read over 25% of the novel for free:

Along with a coupon for a dollar off bringing the price down to 1.99 for the whole novel: TF93S

And lastly a humble request if you do read the novel if you could please review it on Amazon, Smashwords, and GoodReads!

Anyone who posts to all 3 sites will get a full 50% coupon for my next novel "Betrayed" out next month!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Indie Marketing Collective

CreateSpace, Kindle and other on-line eBook distributors have blown wide open the Indie Book Market. Now you don't need a publishing house to get your book into print or into the on-line stream.

Great! Perfect! Now you can sell to your heart's desire...

Umm... Well... The only problem with that is how are people going to find your book (now that they can buy it and all?)

That's where the Marketing Collective comes in.

To begin, my vision is to gather 10 dedicated, on-it, promotion-minded indie authors and form a marketing collective.

How would this work? By cross promotion. Across Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, Smashwords, blogs, etc. We would coordinate with one another and rotate which book was 'featured' every day (or week).

I got the idea after forming a 'blog tribe' to help drive up our blog numbers and comments and it has worked great. The only problem is, none of my tribe has a book (yet) so that we could move to the next level together.

I thought after this initial collective worked out all the kinks, we would each branch out and form new individual collectives while still being connected through our 'super collective.' Then once that collective is cohesive, we branch again. Building influence in an ever-growing outward network.

I am basing this model after my successful "BlogTribe" on my personal account @craftycmc. Feel free to contact anyone on the blogtribe list to see how it feels to be part of the tribe :-)

Here are a few parameters I was thinking of...

You must solemnly swear that you are up to no good -- Oh... wait... wrong pledge.

The Indie Book Marketing Collective Pledge:

I commit to growing my Twitter account by at least 500 followers/month (preferably 750--if you don't know how to do that, I can help.
My company does Twitter workshops all the time and I extend free workshops to anyone active within the tribe to give them the Twitter tools they need to grow their accounts and would extend the same to the collective :-) )

I commit to write at least one blog a week (ok, maybe you get a week off if you break your arm, or space aliens land, but it better be a good excuse!).

I commit to RTing everyone in the collective's #MentionMonday once each week (we will limit the collective to 10 so we don't exhaust our non-blog/book followers and you should space out your RTs so it isn't a cluster-f :-) ).

I commit to review each member's book on Amazon, goodreads, smashwords
, (up to 5 sites and yes, you can use the same review for each site).

I commit to providing each member of the collective a free download of my book for review and understand the review is not guaranteed to be positive (although, of course, respectful).

I commit also to growing my GoodRead friends by at least 25 per week.

If these terms sound completely awesome to you, then leave your vow of chastity... oops... wrong pledge again...

Leave a comment below, DM me at @writingnodrama or email me at

Rock On!

Crap, I always hate when I think of something uber important AFTER I put in a great ending!

But, in case you don't know what #MentionMonday is, here is the link to the primer :-)

You Rock!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Plain Jane

Ah, another day, another blog.

I really hate it when I have to follow my own advice.

An author needs a blog. According to me, apparently completely separate from her other kick-ass blogs.

So here I am starting from zero #again.

But for such a good cause. Plain Jane.

A thriller that well, is pretty damn thrilling. (a NTY Top 10 Best Seller said so).

In future blogs I will talk about how Plain Jane came to be, why I wrote her, why I self-published, and then decided to 'go for it.'

Here is the Smashwords page: where you can read over 25% of the book for free!

Below is the book trailer.

If you were looking for my funnier side, check me out on Twitter @craftycmc, and for writing advice @writingnodrama and lastly for marketing @zerotosold

Thanks for stopping by and can't wait to talk all Plain Jane, all of the time (that is until Betrayed comes out :-)