Monday, March 30, 2009

A FanGirl Moment

On Friday at the NEC conference, I experienced a total fangirl moment quite by accident!

There were signs all over the hotel parking lot saying that my car would be towed if I was not a hotel guest. Since the conference was less than 30 miles from my home, I decided sleeping in my own bed would be a good thing. But I didn't want my car towed, so I was looking for a hotel employee in the lobby to make sure my wheels would still be there when I was ready for them. I asked a gal standing near the computer kiosks if there was a problem with me parking there.

And as the words were spilling out my mouth, I realized I was talking to LISA GARDNER! "Oh! You don't work here," I said and proceeded to tell her who she was! By this time, I was babbling profusely so I gushed about how I loved her work. She was very gracious and told me no one had asked for any information about her car when she checked in, so she figured mine was safe!

Don't you just love it when people you admire turn out to be as nice as you hoped they were!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On the hunt . . .

It's axiomatic that in the current publishing climate it's just as hard (some would say harder) for a new author to be offered representation by an agent as to find an editor willing to take a chance on a newbie. But that's just what I'm going to be doing this weekend at the New England "Let Your Imagination Take Flight" Conference. The agent of my dreams is attending and I have a pitch appointment.

Condensing 400 pages of sweat and blood into a bite-sized morsel is always a challenge. A hearing-impaired teacher speechreads a "murder-for-hire" contract on an MIT math professor and becomes the target of a serial "accident artist." When she decides to find out why the professor was killed, can she trust the homocide detective, who's also her cheating ex? Or the new man in her life whose secrets mount by the day? Or only herself?

Of course, I want to entice this agent with my story, but I also want to sell her on myself--my ability to consistently produce marketable manuscripts and help promote them as well. Publishing is looking for authors who work and play well with others.

Wish me luck!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Christmas Gifts that Last

When I was a child, there was nothing that would please me more than a new book. It didn't have to be expensive. Paperbacks were fine. The treasure was between the covers--that delicious transportation to a different time and place, a chance to try on someone else's life for a bit, to experience things I'd be too afraid to try for real. If I enjoyed the story, I'd read it again in quick succession, just for the joy of it.

So now that there's a recession on and money is tight, why wouldn' t I decide to give books as gifts? If you take the time to match the book to the recipient, it speaks volumes (pun intended) about how much the person means to you.

Forget the pricey gadgets. Leave the goofy holiday sweaters on the hangers where they belong. Give someone the gift of a whole world for under $10.

You just can't beat that.

Check out my DG's Picks page for books I've enjoyed.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Placing a Chase Scene

Chase scenes are a staple of fiction. Bad guys chasing the good guys. Good guys trying to catch the bad guys. You can count on at least one chase scene in any adventure flick. In an Indiana Jones movie, you'll lose count of them. But in writing HUSH, my first suspense novel, I wasn't going just for the thrill of the chase.
I was shooting for terror.
My hearing-impaired heroine, Megan, is caught in a game of cat-and-mouse with a killer who planned to shove her in front of a subway train. She flees from one train to the next, through the underground of Boston, shoving her way through flocks of people who are oblivious to the wolf in their midst.
Read the start of the chase from Sam Carbone, the assassin's point of view.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Frankenstein's monster--How to Love your Villain

For my first suspense novel, HUSH, I created a seriously creepy villain. A hero is only as strong as his adversary, so I wanted to give my story a villain so diabolical, he was a match for two heroes!

Meet Sam Carbone. Sam is, like Adolf Hitler, a frustrated artist. A superb draftsman, his reproductions of old master works are nearly impossible to tell from the originals. But that's just the trouble. Sam is incapable of being original himself.

Except in the experimental medium of murder. When it comes to the delicate art of the engineered accident, Sam is Picasso, Rembrandt and Monet all rolled into one. He's inventive, meticulous, and utterly without pity.

In the opening of HUSH, Sam's is the first head the story unfolds in. Like Alfred Hitchcock, who sometimes forces his audience into the killer's POV, I wanted my readers to know Sam from the beginning. You see, in Sam's own story, he is the tortured hero. He is motivated by his goal just as strongly as any protagonist. Unfortunately, his goal of being recognized as a serious artist is not going to be realized. Especially since the models for his work are all dead, dead, dead.

If only the New England Institute of Art had recognized his talent . . . The world might have had one more mediocre artist, but it would also have had one less serial killer.

For a peek inside the mind of a psychopathic assassin, visit . Sam will be glad to see you.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Redeeming a Cheating Spouse

In HUSH, my heroine, Megan, divorced her husband, Jake, after he confessed to cheating on her. He was her first serious boyfriend, the man by which she measures all others, and when the story opens, she is still plagued with feelings for him. She wishes there was a toggle switch in her heart so she could turn off her emotions.

When I was putting HUSH together, I wondered what to do with Jake. Should I make him a total jerk who just couldn't keep his pants zipped? Should he be a basically good guy who made a mistake? What kind of character arc can a cheater have? Cheating shows him to be weak. Can he find strength by the end of the story?

The primary question in my mind was whether or not he should be "redeemed." By that I mean, could he become a sympathetic character that readers identify with and even root for? What must he do to win Megan's forgiveness? Could he win her love again?

A marriage falters in the kitchen before it fails in the bedroom. What sort of garbage did both Meg and Jacob bring to their marriage? These were all questions I grappled with while I wrote HUSH.

Infidelity is an issue which effects many relationships. It rouses a visceral response because betrayal at such an intimate level rocks everything. What do you think? Is it possible for the unfaithful character to come back and wear a hero's mask?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Playing Politics for Keeps

Politics are supposed to be about making a government that works to fulfill the promises of our constitution. But too often, it's about personal power.

In my novel HUSH, the new electronic voting machines system has been compromised and an election is about to be sold to the highest bidder. Sometimes, I wonder if it isn't more truth than fiction.

The security of the secret ballot is the bedrock of our political system. And I'm all for a high voter turn out. If you don't vote, don't complain.

But, I'm concerned about what's happening right now in Ohio. People are being allowed to register and cast their vote at the same time. There is no opportunity for the state to make certain these people have a right to vote. They may be students whose actual residency is in another state. They may be illegals or convicted felons. Political activists are rounding up homeless people and ferrying them to the polls. I'd be interested to know what sort of identification and proof of residency are being required. When I applied for my most recent library card, I had to produce a valid, state issued ID and proof of residency in the form of a lease or utility bill. Are these early voters asked to provide as much as I did in order to check out a book?

Call me a suspicious fiction writer, but this has potential voter fraud written all over it!

If you know more about the particulars of this program, I'd be interested to know what safeguards are in place to insure a free and fair election. Anybody know what's going on? All I can find on the news is the political spin and the results of the court challenge. I'd like to know about the nuts and bolts of the program.