Category Archives: readers

Writing a Prequel, or, What the Hell Was I Thinking?

It wouldn't be long now...

 

So A Killing Truth is out (yay!) and early feedback is encouraging, which is a huge relief. Why, you ask? Because the book is a prequel and had two enormous tasks:

1: it had to hew closely to everything I’d written about Leine’s early life in the other books (my thoughts of which tended to be along the lines of Oh, holy crap, what was I thinking???), and

2: it had to strike the right tone and not be just a rehash so that readers of the series would still be intrigued enough to read it. Aka: Reader Expectation.

Okay, so let me dig a little deeper into the first, seemingly insurmountable task. As many of you know, my writing process is a hybrid of sketching out a rough outline combined with a seat-of-your-pants, cross your fingers and hope for the best, kind of style.

But I wasn’t always that organized 🙂

For example, when I wrote Serial Date, most of that novel came out in a torrent of mad writing sessions with a freaky dream as the catalyst. It’s filled with all sorts of, “Hey! Let’s make Leine loath tattoos. Why? Hell, I don’t know, maybe something happened in her past.” Followed by, “Well, what happened? I know! It should have something to do with an old target named The Frenchman, who of course almost killed her.”

And do you think I left it at that? Nope. Then I had to think of a reason that Leine and her old boss were no longer on speaking terms-the reason she left the Agency and ended her career as an assassin. What could Eric (her boss) have done that was so heinous that she should have killed him off? And why didn’t she? So I created what I thought would be a good explanation and left it at that. But I hadn’t thought through the logistics because I didn’t have to.

You know, because the book was going to be a standalone.

Bonus writing tip: Always think of the book you’re currently writing in terms of an over-arching series, even when it’s not. Because dollars to donuts, if you don’t, it will become one, guaranteed.

Female showing on map vintage photo

Must. Plan. Next. Time.

 

Okay, so readers wanted more Leine and I was happy to oblige, but I wanted to tackle current issues. Although the subject of Serial Date is reality shows, which is a current phenomenon in our culture, the book has an irreverent, satirical tone and I couldn’t figure out a way to satirize human trafficking without coming off as an asshole.

You see my dilemma.

So, I changed the tone of the second book (Bad Traffick) to hard-hitting, traditional-ish thriller and we were off! (Bonus writing tip #2: Always think of the book you’re currently writing in terms of an over-arching series. This includes consistency in tone.) I added a few more details to Leine’s backstory throughout the next three books, this time with the idea that I would someday write a prequel.

And here’s where it gets gnarly. The horrible transgression Eric committed was having Leine do something she would never, ever do if she knew all the details.

Leine’s a smart woman. In A Killing Truth, she’s at the top of her game as an assassin and takes pride in eliminating the worst of the worst. Eric had to make sure she was off-balance and would more likely make a mistake, or at least not be aware of his duplicity, which could royally mess with his plans.

Luckily, after much tooth-gnashing and pulling of hair, I was able to craft a realistic scenario that would incorporate all the little clues my subconscious had deposited throughout the series. I even had a couple of aha! moments that I surely didn’t see coming. Which brings me to Task #2.

Reader Expectation.

The only way I knew to be sure the story matched or exceeded reader expectation was to write a fast-paced, explosive plot, with Leine as the central character. Yes, she’s younger and a bit less damaged (until the end), but the narrative tone is still vintage Leine, ensuring that longtime readers of the series won’t be disappointed.

I refuse to post spoilers here but if you’ve read Serial Date, you’ll have an idea of the heinous thing Eric has Leine do in A Killing Truth. And since I’m not a fan of back story in my novels you’ll also learn a whole lot more about her early life. And, as promised, I reveal why the hell Leine hates tattoos.

Go ahead and read A Killing Truth and tell me what you think. It’s on sale everywhere for the super-special launch price of $0.99. (see links above, on the right).

Do you enjoy reading prequels? If so, which ones really nailed it in terms of story and tone? If not, why not? Inquiring minds want to know.

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Konrath Fisks Child

Marlene Dietrich Stage Fright Trailer 2

“Is this THE END?”

Here’s an interesting post by indie author JA Konrath, in which he fisks an article by author Lee Child regarding Amazon’s push for 299 brick-and-mortar bookstores, apparently resulting in the end of the world as we know it.

I’ve never understood authors who rail against Amazon and yet still sell their books there. But then again, I don’t much understand hypocrites.


And We’re Off!

Holy schmoley! Excitemente! and all that! This morning I woke up to not 1, not 2, but 3 awesomely fabulous reviews for Cargo 🙂 Now, if that isn’t a GREAT way to start a new year I don’t know what is. If you’re interested, the links are below. (Feel like leaving a comment? You’ll be entered to win  a $10 GC from either the ‘zon or B&N. See? I share 😀 )

Hope. Dreams. Life… Love

A to Z Reviews

Writer Wonderland

I was going to post a photograph of some fireworks or something new-year-ish but this little guy (re: slender mongoose) was featured on the front page of WikiMedia and he pretty much nails how I’m feeling right now…

Galerella sanguinea Zoo Praha 2011-2

 

**Note: I just updated this post to mention Cargo instead of The Body Market. Apparently I didn’t have enough coffee this morning 😛


The Body Market Named Notable Indie Read

Shelf Unbound Notable 100 BadgeGREAT News! Shelf Unbound has named The BODY MARKET as a “Notable 100” indie read for 2015! Leine’s in pretty fabulous company, so if you’re looking for an indie book vetted by an award-winning e-magazine, head on over to Shelf Unbound. The BODY MARKET’s listed on page 95.

From their website: “Shelf Unbound indie book review magazine features the best of small press and self-published books. Each issue reaches 125,000 avid readers in more than 70 countries. A 2015 Maggie Award WINNER for Best Digital-Only Magazine, Shelf Unbound is known for its in-depth interviews with authors ranging from unsung talents to Pulitzer Prize winners, as well as to what Publisher’s Weekly described as its rich design.”

Have a fantastic rest of your week–I know I will 🙂


A Little of This, A Little of That…

So I thought I’d save up and share the tidbits that have been happening recently with one post. Yes, it would have probably been better for my stats if I’d parceled out the news, but I find lots of little posts day in and day out pretty annoying on other blogs (who has that kind of time, right?). Since I  don’t want to annoy you guys, I’m not gonna do that here. And, you know, why would I post more than once in a blue moon–don’t want to get TOO
crazy.. 🙂word bank logo

#1: Today I’m being interviewed on the fabulous Jeri WB’s blog. Her questions were thought-provoking and I even share a couple of marketing tips. Jeri’s blog is a treasure-trove of writing and editing tips, so if you haven’t been there yet, why not click on over today and join the conversation?

cover for The Body Market audiobook#2: YAY! The Body Market is available as an audio book! The fantastic Kristi Alsip is back to narrate what has become one of my bestselling thrillers, and again, she totally nails Leine and the other characters. If you’re looking for a suspense-filled listen for your commute or workout or cleaning spree, then this might be just the ticket!

#3: Due to circumstances I was unable to post yesterday, so thought I’d do it now: if you haven’t picked up Serial Date yet, for a limited time it’s still free. Free Kindle Books & Tips included it in their offerings yesterday. There are some awesome books available at this link, including other thrillers, sci-fi and fantasy, but make sure when you click over to download that they’re still free or on sale.

#4: You know I like free, right? Well, for a limited time, I’m giving away the first book in each of my series–all you need to do is sign up fcover for the kate jones thriller series vol. 1 box setor my Readers’ List and you’ll be able to download both Serial Date and The Kate Jones Thriller Series, Vol. 1 (box set of the 1st four novellas in the series) for free! Like I said earlier, Serial Date is  currently gratis on all platforms, so if you’d rather you can go to your favorite retailer and download it there. But the box set isn’t free anywhere else, so if you’d like to give Kate Jones a try, go ahead and give it a whirl. I usually only send a few emails a year–and when I do you can be pretty sure there’s something free happening 🙂 (Plus, if you get tired of me you can unsubscribe.)

That’s all for now. Time for me to go back into my writer cave and continue wrestling the Leine Basso prequel into submission. Have a fantastic week!

 

 


Trick or Treat

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

(Okay, okay, I know it’s not here quite yet, but still….)

Are you ready to listen to some scary stuff? How about win some seriously spooky audiobooks? Well, have I got the event for you…

Come to our virtual Halloween party! Beginning this Friday, October 30, at 4:00pm PST and running through the weekend to the Grand Finale Extravaganza at 4:00pm Pacific time on Sunday, November 1,  a select group of authors has joined forces with me to bring you some amazing stories! Looking for something to read on cold, scary night? Come take a look at these audiobooks. You just might win one of them!

Don’t miss this opportunity! Click this link and join:
Trick or Treat
Trick or Treat Banner

Here’s what to expect:
Friday, October 30th at 4:00pm PST – Sunday, November 1st at 3:00 PST
You’ll read excerpts, listen to voice clips and watch trailers from our books.
Want to increase your chances to win them?
Then like, comment, or share our posts on the event page.
Grand Finale Sunday, November 1st at 4:00 PST
Want to know who won our books, and have spooky scary fun?
Come to our Halloween party!
Haven’t joined us yet? What are you waiting for?
Happy Halloween 1!

Winners will be chosen at random at the Grand Finale on Sunday. Here’s a sneak peek at the fantastic books that will be available:

Janet Morris & Christopher Crosby Morris
 Can’t wait to see you there!

Where Did Summer Go: Part 1?

Holy cow! Where did August go? That’s the first time an entire month whooshed by so fast I was caught unprepared for the next. When I finally lifted my head up and realized it was September, I decided to take stock of the month to see why I was stumbling around in a daze with my coffee cup held out as I blinked from the blinding sunlight. (I’ve now switched to straight espresso and wear sunglasses…hasn’t helped.)

Cargo 3DAugust 1st saw the release of CARGO, the 4th Leine Basso thriller. Book launches always seem to consume more time and energy than I remember from the last one, and CARGO was no different. Add to that putting the finishing touches on the new website, signing off on new covers for the series, and making SERIAL DATE permafree, not to mention my parents being here for an extended visit, and the first week barely registered.

The second week of August had me scrambling to get everything into place before the big promotional push for SERIAL DATE, which was August 11th. I was lucky enough to score an ad with both Bookbub and EreaderNewsToday and can I just say, WOW.  The amount of downloads was stunning, with sales of the second, third, and fourth books shifting at a brisk pace (including print, eBook, and audiobook). Peripherally, the Kate Jones series also picked up several new readers. I’d decided to make the first in the series permafree across all platforms, and would do it again in a heartbeat. Sales continue on all of the sites, as do new reviews.cover for Serial Date

Which brings me to the one caveat I have in doing this kind of promotion for a free book: you’re opening said book up to a LOT of people who will download and read it, even if it’s not in their preferred genre, which is great and all, but keep in mind that book is, in all probability, going to start racking up some not so great reviews. As of this writing, the book has garnered a few 1- and 2-star reviews from folks who, in no uncertain terms, REALLY did not like the book. I’m absolutely fine with that, since SERIAL DATE has a boatload of profanity and some seriously twisted scenes. Unfortunately, I can’t control what people think (except in my books 🙂 ) and always expect differences of opinion, most obviously with this book. But, be prepared–especially if you’ve written something that isn’t exactly all kumbaya…

Next, I took a break from August 14-16 to drive up to Mount Rainier with my family, where we stayed at Paradise Inn for two nights. We all had a fabulous time: the food was great,

dining room at Paradise Inn

photo of Paradise Inn at Mt. Rainierthe weather was phenomenally clear (we saw the mountain all three days, which is unheard of–she makes her own weather and her peak is generally obscured by clouds),

photo of Mt Rainier

and the hiking sublime.

DV hiking

The first night we went to to a presentation by a couple of visiting astronomers and it was clear enough to see the Milky Way and several different constellations–we were at the tail end of the Perseid meteor showers, too, and saw a plethora of shooting stars. The next day Mark & I hiked the Skyline Trail and got up close and personal to Nisqually Glacier. As an Eagle Scout Mark had hiked the trail many times with his troop, and hadn’t seen the glacier for several years. He was shocked by how much it has receded. Still and all, it was an amazing visit.photo of Mark on Skyline Trail

A day after we got back from Rainier, I flew to Appleton, Wisconsin to attend the fabulous Writers’ Police Academy. Stay tuned for Where Did Summer Go: Part 2 tomorrow…

 

 


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