Friday, September 30, 2016

5 Tips to Writing Strong Supporting Characters

A book would be nothing without characters, and with such an important role, it’s vital that we create ones that are strong and rememberable. These include our supporting characters.

When creating your main characters no doubt you put much time and effort into crafting their personality, their history, their relationships with others, their personal tastes in all areas of life, their physical appearance, their desires and needs, their background, education, occupation, and the list goes on. To sum this up, you know your main characters intimately. The same should be said of your supporting characters.

You might be wondering why as they don’t have the same on-the-page time as do main characters, but here’s the reason: characters can make or break your book just as a bad actor or actress can kill a movie.

Consider for a minute how boring it would be if all your characters were black shadows walking through a cardboard city. That’s essentially how flat a story can be if the characters haven’t been fine-tuned. So how can you create strong supporting characters? The same way you create main characters.

Maybe the thought of creating strong characters makes you feel overwhelmed or you don’t know how to get started with this. Here are a few suggestions.

1) Interview the character with intimate questions that really tap into their psyche. Don’t just ask them, for example, why they chose a certain profession; ask them what emotions or external factors led to their choice? Don’t just scrape the surface, pry beneath it. By taking our character analysis to this deeper level, you will not only know who your character is, but why they are who they are. And by talking to your characters, no, you’re not going crazy. Your characters should be as real to you any flesh and blood person would be. If you don’t buy them as such, neither will your reader.

2) Go deeper. Once you know their background, how does this factor into their life choices and reactions to certain situations now? Maybe they had a hard childhood and were not allowed to express their emotions. They may not even be aware of their need to overcome this. Maybe they never saw their parents cry and, in turn, don’t show emotion themselves. They could bury it and possibly explode to a seemingly unrelated situation or breakdown in private. These are all things you need to know to deepen your characters and assign them believability. By knowing your character’s emotional make-up you, as the author, will be able to convey them even stronger on the page. They will take on a breath of life through their words, thoughts, and actions.

3) Write a scene (or more than one) in first person point of view with the character you’re endeavoring to know better. Doing so really puts you in their mind and lets you see things, people, and situations through their eyes.

4) Closely related to number two, characters grow and develop the more you write them, so when they encounter a situation they never have before, how do they react? Really dig deep to answer that and you will get to know them more.

5) Keep writing. There’s no doubt we know our characters intimately by the end of a book. Most times we don’t want to let them go. Use this deeper knowledge when you go back through to edit and re-write.

Now, get writing. : )

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Madison Knight Series Receives a Makeover

Trust me when I say there's a lot in motion and it only means great things for my readers! I want my readers to have the traditionally published experience when they download my books or read them in print. 

With this in mind, my covers for the Madison Knight series have changed--along with a slight modification in the name of the series. It used to be tagged "A Madison Knight Novel" but now the series will be known as the "Detective Madison Knight Series". This makes it clear to any prospective readers that they can expect a police procedural.

My interiors have also been professionally formatted to give an even more pleasurable reading experience--this goes for both e-book and print. While the Brandon Fisher FBI Series has had print versions released with these updates (both in 5" x 8" and 4" x 7" sizes), the books for the Detective Madison Knight Series are still in progress.

Without further delay, here are the new covers for the Detective Madison Knight Series. I hope you love them as much as I do.

I will keep you posted on the next in the Detective Madison Knight Series set to release the start of November.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Thank you!

Celebration Dinner 1 year ago
To my readers: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Today marks my 1 year anniversary as a full-time author. Not a single day passes without my experiencing gratitude. Please also know that I'm hard at work preparing more titles for fall/winter release. Be sure to follow this blog or sign up for my newsletter to keep informed.

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

When the victims have no voice... An Excerpt of The Defenseless #SampleSunday


Chapter 1
Current day
December 15th, 6 a.m.
Denver, Colorado

The plane touched down at Denver International Airport just after six in the morning. I was happy to have the tumultuous flight over with and thought it should have been canceled, but apparently those responsible for that sort of thing had cleared take-off.

Flying typically didn’t bother me, but high winds and various temperature pockets had buffeted the plane, rocking it almost like a ship at sea, only we were thirty thousand feet in the air. Land never looked so good.

Zachery slapped me on the back and had me lurching forward from the momentum. “We made it, Pending.”

Months into my probationary period but still not clear of it—something I was reminded of all the time by his beloved nickname.

Jack brushed past, leading the three of us through the airport, no doubt driven by the undying urge for a cigarette. Paige hung back, and when I turned, she pushed a rogue strand of hair from her eyes and dipped to the left as she shifted the position of her suitcase strap on her right shoulder.

We were called to Colorado because some old-timer detective by the name of Mack McClellan was confident the area had a serial killer. He believed it strongly enough we were convinced as well.

The label serial killer no longer fazed me, and it only took a few horrid cases to rub off its shock value.

Regular people, who didn’t have to hunt down murderers, lived life as if they were merely characters fabricated for entertainment purposes. The dark truth was, conservatively, there were an estimated thirty-five to fifty serial killers in the United States at any given time.

The local FBI office was to provide us with transportation, but it was the local detective who insisted on meeting us at the airport and bringing us up to speed.

Stepping out of the warm cocoon of the airport into the brisk winter air of Denver stole my breath. It had me wanting to retreat back inside for the warm, blowing vents.

For recreational purposes, Denver would be an ideal location to spend the Christmas season, with its mountain slopes and deep snow. Even facing the search for a killer, I’d rather be here, miles away from home, than facing the emptiness of the house on Christmas day.

This would be the first year without Deb. The only thing that could make it better was reconciliation, but we were beyond that point. Truth be told, I wasn’t even sure if I’d take her back. The divorce was already filed, and knowing my penchant for attracting negative events, it would be official in time for the holiday. It didn’t matter though. I had found a way to move forward in my life—at least I told myself that. Maybe I was burying my feelings, but I preferred to think I healed faster than most.

“Hey, there they are.”

A man pushed off the hood of a Crown Vic, the cup in his hand steaming in the cold air. At full height, he was all of five eight. His hair was sparse and reminded me of a Chia Pet just starting to grow, but what he did have was a dark blond. He wore a thigh-length wool parka, zipped up shy of his collar by about six inches. It revealed a white collared shirt and a blue tie with white dots. I wondered if he dressed this way all the time or only when the FBI was in town.

He put his cup on the car roof and came toward us with another man who wore a fur-lined leather jacket paired with blue jeans, which appeared stiff due to the mountain air.

It had me wondering which scenario was more uncomfortable, frozen stiff jeans or breezy dress pants. I experienced the latter and questioned the wardrobe I had brought, wondering if I’d be warm enough.

Curse winter and all that’s white.

“Gentleman, I’m Mack McClellan.” The man in the parka extended his hand, first to Jack. He must have sensed his authority despite the lit cigarette.

Jack took a quick inhale and blew a stream of white pollution out the side of his mouth as he shook the man’s hand. “Supervisory Special Agent Jack Harper and this is my team.” Jack left us to introduce ourselves.

McClellan’s gaze settled on me, and I surmised what he was thinking—I was the young guy on the team, the inexperienced one he’d have to watch.

He gestured to the man with him. “This is Detective Ronnie Hogan. He’s also with Denver PD. We’re not partners, but he’s of the same mind. There’s a serial at play here.”

Hogan bobbed his head forward as a greeting but made no effort to extend a hand. His eyes were brown and hard to read. Crease lines etched in his brow, but he also had smile lines, so there was some promise there. Not that we witnessed the expression.

McClellan grinned with a warmth that touched his eyes, giving me the impression he was used to Hogan’s aloofness. “Glad to see you made it all right. It’s quite the weather we’re having these days. How was your flight?”

Jack took another drag on his cigarette. “Over now.”

His retort killed the expression on the detective’s face. “A man who is all business, I see. So, the dead body. You know the name and details.”

Another pull on the cigarette and Jack flicked the glowing butt to the ground and extinguished it with the twist of a shoe.

“We know what the file says, but we like to go over everything in person.” Paige smiled at the detectives, no doubt trying to compensate for Jack’s crass behavior.

“Well, let us fill you in on the way to where the body was found. My, it’s mighty cold out here.” He rubbed his hands together and grabbed his cup before going around to the driver’s side. “For everyone to be more comfortable, two of you can come with me, and the other two can go with Hogan.”

McClellan seemed like an open book—what you saw was what you got. With Hogan, there was something about him, whether it was his skepticism or what, I wasn’t sure. A quality that should repel actually made me want to get to know him.

“I’ll go with Hogan.” Paige and I spoke at the same time.

Our eyes connected. In the past this symmetry in thought would have elicited a smile from both of us. These days our relationship was more complicated.

Paige stepped back and sought Jack’s direction. “I’ll go with whoever you want me to.”

“It’s fine. You guys go with Hogan. We’ll all catch up at the crime scene.”

She went past me and held out her hand to Hogan. “I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced.”

Hogan stared at her extended hand and, eventually, conceded to a handshake. The greeting was over quick.

As he was getting into the driver’s seat, I whispered in Paige’s ear. “He’s not really the touchy-feely kind, is he?”

I received a glare in response.

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Teaser from Silent Graves #SampleSunday

Excerpt from Silent Graves:

Prince William County, Virginia

He had promised her a time she’d never forget. It was why she sacrificed comfort and drove in her stuffy BMW into the countryside. The weather had such nerve to reach record heat waves in September. It scorched as if it were the middle of summer.

She glimpsed in the rearview mirror, angling it to better see her reflection.

“A woman has been reported missing…”

Those few words from the radio made it through to her ears. That was top news? Surely, there was a murder, or a stock market drop to report.

“…it’s suspected that she may be the victim of foul play. Police are urging women of the Washington, DC area to be careful.”

She laughed. Be careful.

A song came on, one she didn’t care for, and she commanded the radio off.

She had never been where he had directed her to go, but she was excited to see this Wooded Retreat. Usually, they’d meet up at her house or the Marriott, but he had wanted today to be special—personal.

She had long given up on feeling guilty about her marriage. Her husband was too busy with his prestigious law firm in central Washington. Really, it was his work that killed their marriage—his love for revenue his priority.

Her focus returned to the road and where she was headed. She wasn’t used to the country with all its color. She was accustomed to the shades of gray that were intrinsic to life in the city. Maybe there was something to be said for the simple things. She lowered the window and breathed deeply, ready to give the rustic experience a chance.

The air was fresh, despite the humidity, carrying with it the smell of greenery—but there was something else. She inhaled deeper, coughed, and raised the window back up. Damn blasted cows that polluted nature with their stench.

Why would he think she’d be in the mood once she got there?

The thought barely formed, and she had the answer. He was a fabulous lover. Thinking of his hands caressing her skin sent shivers through her and made her lower abdomen quiver.

She turned left when she noticed the rundown diner he had mentioned to her.

The gravel crunched beneath her tires as she went from the highway’s asphalt to an unpaved surface. The strip was narrow, barely wide enough to accommodate two cars if one came in the opposite direction. She studied the edge, anticipating the need to do just that. The soft shoulder appeared unforgiving as if it would suck in her car given a chance.

Fifteen miles.

She found it hard to believe this stretch would continue that long. Her eyes went to the woods, being cautious, watching for any deer or other animal that may decide to become a hood ornament. She checked her side mirror. All the dust being kicked up would wreak havoc on the wax job.

So much for showing up looking perfect.

She glanced in the mirror again and touched her fingertips to her forehead. She couldn’t let him see her like this.

Driving with one hand, she reached into her designer handbag on the passenger seat and pulled out her compact. She lifted the loaded brush and the air conditioning vent cascaded powder through the air. She blew to keep it from landing on her cream-colored pantsuit and began application. The scent of the powder made her sneeze.

As she reached for control of the wheel, the case dumped on the floor, going straight through her legs, barely missing her pants.

She slammed on the brakes. The mailbox he had told her to watch for, once a bright red, had worn from time. She almost missed the turn.

She couldn’t see the house from the road, but her heart beat rapidly now, anticipating what awaited her.

She fished into her bag again, this time for her gloss. She smeared some on with a finger, smacked her lips, looked in the mirror, and declared herself perfect. She was ready to go to bed with her lover.

You’ve reached the end of the excerpt, but this book is available from fine retailers.

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