Writing News and Tips

First off, I want to share this pretty picture of a sunset sky in Texas that I took a couple of days ago. I do love the beautiful way Mother Nature splashes color across the sky at sunrise and sunset. 

Next, I want to let readers know that I am one of the sponsoring authors for a great summer contest at Kindle Book Reviews. There are some great prizes! A few lucky folks will win either a Kindle Paperwhite Travel Bundle ($200 value), Kindle eReaders ($160 value), an 8″ Kindle Fire HD ($100 value), or a $25 Amazon eCard. Just click the link and enter (everyday if you want). It’s easy & fun. If you love #reading, enter now; giveaway ends Aug. 31, 2018. Click here for details

With all the negative stuff in the news of late, I decided to share good news today.

I’m a member of Sisters In Crime, SinC, and I received this press release the other day:

Sisters in Crime is pleased to announce the winner of the Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award for 2018 — Mia Manansala. Making the announcement, the judges stated that, “Manansala exhibits sophisticated genre awareness and playfulness with genre conventions and we believe the manuscript—which features a very funny, millennial, Filipina-American protagonist—makes a new, worthy, and worthwhile contribution to crime fiction.”

The award, which honors the memory of pioneering African-American crime fiction author Eleanor Taylor Bland with a $1,500 grant to an emerging writer of color, was created in 2014 to support SinC’s vision statement that the organization should serve as the voice for excellence and diversity in crime writing. The grant is intended to support the recipient in such developmental and research activities as workshops, seminars, conferences and retreats, online courses, and other opportunities required for completion of their debut crime fiction work. Past recipients include Maria Kelson (2014), Vera H-C Chan (2015), Stephane Dunn (2016), and Jessica Ellis Laine (2017).

Congratulations to Ms. Manansala and all the past winners of this award.

Next up is a short lesson in writing from C.S. Lakin who was a guest on Kristen Lamb’s blog the other day with an article about plot twists. The following is just a short excerpt from the post, which is most helpful.

Often, the trick is to set up hints, or foreshadowing, in earlier scenes, so that when the truth of the twist is discovered, your reader won’t get mad because they feel cheated or tricked. Having a new character show up at the climax to save the day for the hero will do just that.

No setup, no believability (and no satisfaction on the reader’s part).

If your novel has twists at the start of the story, immediately misdirecting due to appearances, that’s fine . . . again, so long as it’s believable. We humans make assumptions and come to conclusions about events we experience, and it’s believable that we may misinterpret what we see and hear.

For Example:
Your character is walking down the street of her city at dawn. Two men come running out of a bank, holding black briefcases. The bank alarm is blaring. She hears screaming from inside the bank, then an explosion. Not wanting to stick around, she runs . . . only to turn a corner, where she crashes into the two men . . .

Your reader might reasonably presume these men are bank robbers. And what transpires upon encountering them may also reinforce this belief when one points a gun at her and tells her to get lost and quick.

It’s only later, when she is pouring herself a stiff drink and trembling behind her locked apartment door that she sees on the news that a gang of Goth girls, sent by a mob boss, robbed the bank, using plastic explosives to blow up the vault.

This plants doubt in your character’s head: Is the news wrong or did I misinterpret what happened?

Later in the story, events may unfold that have her realize the men she encountered were not the “bad guys” but, rather, secret agents who, tipped off about the impending robbery, managed to get the highly classified plans from the safe-deposit box in time, before the Goth girls entered.

But then, another twist might show that to be false information given to the police. The men are actually from a rival mob, and they have even worse plans.

I really liked the fact that the opening action in the example could have so many possible twists. Taking the reader down the path the first twist goes, only to “twist” that into another possible path, and another, and maybe even another, is some good plotting. As Larkin says in the post, don’t give the reader the expected. Surprise them every step of the way.

Have any of you read a book recently that did just that? Please do share with a comment.

That’s all for me, folks. Have a safe and happy weekend.

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