Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Trespass, by Marla Madison

New Release – TRESPASS





Today my blog is the first ten pages of my newly released suspense novel, Trespass, next in the Private Investigator TJ Peacock & therapist Lisa Rayburn series, available now on Amazon.com.
Here is a brief synopsis. I hope you’ll find the story intriguing.

A deadly house explosion nearby lures investigator TJ Peacock to the site of the fire where she meets Gemma, a woman tortured by the death of a friend who died in the explosion.
Gemma, struggling with the ghosts of her past, is convinced the explosion was deliberate, and hires TJ to find out who murdered her friend. TJ takes the case and returns to the work she loves, despite feeling guilty about the responsibilities of motherhood and the attitude of her long-time lover, Detective Richard Conlin.
When a series of attacks and a murder take place in the same neighborhood, TJ unearths a bizarre connection to a sixteen-year-old double suicide of a couple who were partnered in a swingers’ group. A killer is trying to eliminate everyone who had been players in the group.

Prologue
Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
11:33 p.m.

Escaping the confines of its closed system, a heavy gas diffused into every corner of Norman Teschler’s basement and slowly began to permeate the upper floor. Natural gas, odorless in its original form, contains the additive mercaptan, which lends it a repugnant odor for early leak detection.
             Norman returned from a run, proud of the distance he could still cover after turning seventy. Night running was something he didn’t do often these days, but tonight his head had felt foggy. Unable to focus on his writing, he had taken off into the night for a run along the parkway to clear his head.
            Invigorated by the exercise, he stepped out of a hot shower, pulled on a pair of sweats, and headed to the kitchen for a quick snack before getting back to the new chapter. The refrigerator held nothing of great appeal. Since losing his sense of smell, eating didn’t have the same enjoyment it once had. Strange how important the scent of the food was to hunger, a fact he had never given any thought to when he could still be tempted by the mouthwatering odors of things like popcorn, pizza, or a steak on the grill. Most of the foods he ate tasted bland these days.  He grabbed a bag of extra spicy Cheetos and an iced tea, and then returned to his writing.
            Three pages into the new chapter, Norman could hardly keep his eyes open; the gas had soundlessly seeped into his study, its sulfurous warning odor useless to Norman’s impaired olfactory sense. He thought his body was sending him a message, telling him it was time to call it a day. He’d had a busy week at the agency and reasoned that his late nights spent writing had taken their toll. He turned off the computer. Tomorrow he would get an early start.
The humidor on his desk, a rare antique of carved oak, held his favorite cigars, Cuban Montecristos. He raised the lid, withdrew one, and then took a seat in his well-aged leather recliner where he picked up a book he had been reading. The smoke had become an end-of-day ritual, one he savored since giving up cigarettes. Enjoying a cigar every night kept him cigarette-free. He reached for his lighter. Norman pushed the recliner back to elevate his feet and realized he barely had the energy for the movement. The chair clicked back into its upright position as he leaned forward. It was never a good idea to smoke in a position so conducive to sleep. Feeling like he had done the safe thing, Norman flicked the lighter.
The gas ignited, instantly destroying the house and all its contents. Giant clouds of brilliant orange edged in tongues of white-hot flame leapt toward the sky.
             
1


Famous or not, Mancusi was an asshole. TJ Peacock knew it was too late to back out of the gig; she had already been well paid to protect him for three days. But if the slimy bastard didn’t quit eyeballing her breasts, she would pop him. Arlie Mancusi, everyone’s favorite comedian and star of a weekly sitcom that had been running on a prime TV network for nearly ten years, wasn’t making her laugh.
Mancusi had pumped up his personal security while he was in Milwaukee because he had a stalker. TJ studied the photo of the stalker, Carolyn Alberty, an attractive woman who obviously had shitty taste in men. Alberty had recently been acquitted of a stalking charge despite the evidence against her. TJ figured the whole thing could be a publicity stunt. If you’re a big name, any publicity is good publicity.
Mancusi had arrived in town for a sitcom he was guest starring in that featured a Milwaukee locale. TJ, a local PI, had been added to the entertainer’s in-house security staff during Mancusi’s stay. The group was gathered in his suite, discussing the best way to protect him. The head security guy dismissed her. “We’ll stay with Arlie. You scope out the hotel and let me know if you see the bitch hanging around.”
As a licensed private investigator, TJ hadn’t expected to be a token on the coattails of Mancusi’s herd of security beef, but the money was good. There wasn’t much she could do for him as a member of the herd, and the fact that she was the only one designated to lobby patrol reinforced her suspicion that the whole stalker thing was a stunt.
“I’ll get right on it, sport,” she replied.
She moved to the elevators, pulling a wheeled suitcase behind her that bounced in her wake. Dressed like a tourist, she wore jeans, a tank top under a gauzy white shirt tied at the waist, and a small shoulder bag that matched the luggage. There was nowhere to hide her piece in the outfit she wore, not that she would need one for this farce. She wheeled her bag into the gift shop and bought a People magazine she carried with her to a loveseat she found in the lobby where she could keep an eye on the crowd.
           She hadn’t even gotten to the article on Jennifer Lopez she wanted to read when she spotted her—Mancusi’s stalker—her dark hair in long, Lady Godiva curls and, like TJ, pulling a small suitcase with a matching bag. She looked about five feet nine in high, platform sandals and wore a slim, chocolate-brown dress that reached her ankles. TJ left the sofa and caught up with Carolyn Alberty as she was about to join the line in front of the registration desk. “Ms. Alberty, step over here a minute. We need to talk.”
           Alberty, feigning annoyance, followed TJ to a spot off the lobby in front of a darkened restaurant. Her eyes shifted nervously. “Who are you?”
           “I work for Mancusi. You’re in violation of a restraining order. Get arrested again, you could do jail time.”
           The stalker studied TJ. “I can’t help it. I love him.”
           TJ scoffed. “Yeah? You know what I think? I think you’re full o’ crap.”
           Alberty’s perfectly made-up eyes widened. “You don’t have to protect him from me, I’d never hurt him.”
                  TJ looked her over. Her appearance seemed too showy for a stalker who should be attempting to remain unnoticed. “Tell you what. I’m gonna do you a big favor. I won’t call the cops, but you’re leavin’ town. Next flight out, your ass is back to C-A. I’ll escort you personally and even wave good-bye as your plane lifts off.”
           Alberty took a moment to review her options. “All right. But I have to make a call first.” She pulled a cell phone from her purse.
           TJ snorted. “You’re a real piece o’ work. You wanna tip off the press an’ get your face on the news tonight, right? Hand over the cell phone. Now.” TJ didn’t give a rat’s ass if the stalker got her moment in the limelight and suspected Mancusi wanted the press coverage. Tough. TJ had already been paid. After she and Alberty arrived at the airport, TJ would give her the frickin’ phone. She just didn’t want a welcoming committee waiting for them.
    Pouting, Alberty jammed on a pair of dark glasses and passed over her phone.

At home that night, TJ relived the scene at the airport. She hated being in the spotlight, unlike the stalker who had made the most of every second in front of the cameras.  She hated security work, too, especially when the job felt as ridiculous as this one. Criminal investigation is what she really wanted to do, but she’d given it up when she became a mother. Supposedly temporarily.
           Richard Conlin was sleeping soundly in her bedroom. He and TJ had been together for years; the only break in their relationship occurred when she had been on a quest to prove to the Milwaukee police that too many missing women added up to a predator on the loose. The investigation had put a strain on their relationship, a strain that led to her becoming close to Jeff Denison, the husband of one of the missing women. A killer who had made Jeff’s death look like a suicide, murdered him before TJ had even known she was pregnant with Jeff’s child. She would never know what might have happened if Jeff had lived, whether or not their feelings for each other would have ended in a lasting relationship.
She and Richard had gotten back together after Jeff was murdered, and since the baby had come, Richard stayed with them nearly every night, although he had yet to give up his own apartment. He adored one-year-old JR, Jeffrey Richard, named after his biological father and Richard. Richard had insisted on the sequence of the names.
TJ’s home and office were in an old two-story brick duplex off State Street in Milwaukee’s Menomonee River Valley. It was a large building. Her apartment on the second floor had three bedrooms, a kitchen, dining area and living room, and the entire first floor she used as office space. The short street the home sat on ended at a bluff crowned by a wealthy area of Wauwatosa, its aged brick homes regal. TJ sold her condo in downtown Milwaukee after finding out she was pregnant. A high-rise was not the place to raise a child. So far, she was enjoying her new neighborhood.
A Milwaukee detective, Richard had come off a late shift that night and stayed up with her only long enough to watch the ten-o’clock news. They were starting to behave like an old married couple. He hinted around about marriage every now and then, something TJ didn’t even want to think about yet. She loved JR with a passion she never knew possible, but motherhood hadn’t doused her love for investigatory work or her need for independence. Facts she had yet to admit to Richard. Richard felt that TJ should stick to security work during JR’s first few years.
An hour later, TJ gave up on the mundane offerings on TV and headed for the liquor cabinet. A drink would put her to sleep.
The blast hit just as she reached for a shot glass—a blast that felt like a bomb had landed somewhere close by. Her ears popped and the house trembled. The glasses inside the cabinet were still rattling as TJ ran out the front door to see           the night sky above the bluff had turned a brilliant orange. She rushed back inside and tried to wake Richard, who told her in a voice heavy with sleep that they would find out about it in the morning. She should come to bed and get some rest.
Sleep wouldn’t happen anytime soon, not with her heart racing from what she’d seen outside. She checked on JR once more before downing a shot of tequila and leaving the house on foot.


2



Gemma
I’m in that elusive state between drifting off and actually being asleep. My horror mounts when, once again, unseen hands clutch me in a deathlike grip. I’m aware of the room; I see it through a sepia wash like an old photograph. I’m lying on my side, held tightly by an invisible presence in my own bed. I feel him pressed tightly against my back, his raspy breath scorching the nape of my neck.
I fight to waken, but I can’t move or make a sound. I’m moaning, but no one can hear me.
           Endless seconds pass. I remain paralyzed. The visitor’s weight is pressing heavily against me. I know he’s only a phantom, but his hands on my body feel all too real.  When the strength of my frantic efforts to call out finally frees me of the paralysis, I sit up in bed, gasping to regain control of my breathing.

The room hadn’t changed; everything is as it was. My books are lined up on the shelves, the throw pillows on the bed are neatly stacked on a chair in the corner, and my lovely blue Tiffany lamp sits by my bedside, its brilliant shades of blue and teal gray in the soft light from the streetlamp outside the window.
           I need to find a way to end these episodes. There have been too many nights when I’ve awakened in terror, then lain awake in dreaded anticipation.
           There is a name for what happens to me. It’s called sleep paralysis and isn’t really uncommon. It’s blamed on everything from demonology to pepperoni pizza eaten before bedtime. I’ve never believed in demons and I seldom indulge in pizza or other spicy foods, so why this is happening to me remains a mystery.
But I have to make it stop.
           Fear of another episode left me pacing until I decided I had to do something—now. Desperate, I opened my laptop to research therapists and discovered a multitude of them in the area, some grouped together in clinics, some with stand-alone practices. Most of them don’t list their area of specialization, and even if they did, I didn’t think that sleep paralysis would be one of them. I should have checked for a heading under “witch doctors” since sleep paralysis is considered by many to be a paranormal event akin to seeing ghosts or conducting séances.
There were too many therapists to choose from; tomorrow I would call my doctor and ask for a referral. Longing for some fresh non-AC-cooled air I poured myself a glass of wine and walked out into the screened porch. The humid evening air enveloped me like a warm cocoon. Through the trees in my backyard, I could watch the parkway along the river. It was quiet now, after eleven. Even the runners were home in bed.
           The wine slid down my throat, sedating me into sleepiness. I leaned back on the rattan sofa and raised my feet onto the cushions, then curled myself into a circle of warmth like a cat and dozed off.
           I was awakened by a sound so powerful that it shook the entire house. Alarmed, I rose from the sofa to see the night sky muted with a brilliant light.  Forgetting I was dressed in only my sheer nightgown, I ran outside and circled to the front of the house where a tower of flames like a giant bonfire had replaced the house across the street. Every nerve in my body screamed out as I realized the house obliterated in the explosion was that of my best friend—my employer, Norman Teschler. 
I walked like a zombie to the edge of the curb. I felt the intense heat of the fire on my skin, and its acrid smell stung my nostrils. The bricks and debris that littered my yard must have singed the soles of my feet with every step, but I felt nothing. A crowd of neighbors was gathered at a cautious distance from the blaze. I barely noticed them. I didn’t understand how it could have happened—Norman had to be the most careful person I had ever met, anally fussy about everything in and around his house and yard.
The fire trucks arrived in minutes, the onlookers pushed back as the area of the explosion and the next-door neighbors’ houses were roped off. Minutes later when the police arrived, one of them made his way through the crowd, asking us if we knew whether anyone had been in the house when it exploded. I heard a neighbor say she thought Norman had been home. I edged farther back, not ready to submit to their questions—it would be too painful. I kept seeing Norman as he’d been the last time I visited his home, happily bragging about the book he was working on and his plans for Cityscapes, the advertising agency he owned.
Despite the heat, I suddenly became aware of the light nightgown I wore; it would be nearly transparent in the blazing light of the fire. I must have been quite the sight. I usually dressed to downplay a body that brought attention my way, yet here I stood on display for the entire neighborhood.
A woman who had been talking to the firemen approached me. Her eyes, a vivid violet blue, twinkled in the golden haze. Dressed casually, she didn’t appear to be with the police or the fire department. She said, “You okay?”
My stupor must have been obvious. I nodded. Words wouldn’t form in my mouth.
“Stay here,” she ordered. She pushed through the crowd to the paramedics’ van and returned with a ratty but clean scrub top that I quickly pulled over my head. My tongue loosened. “Thanks. Are you with the police?”
“Used to be. I live a few blocks over and came to see what happened, see if I could help.” She frowned. “Maybe the paramedics should check you out.”
“I’m fine.”
She didn’t look convinced. “I’ll walk you back to your house. Here, put these on.” She handed me a pair of booties, the kind doctors wear for surgery. I slipped them over my scorched feet.
The woman appeared to be concerned about my well-being and I felt strangely relieved I wasn’t alone. We left the scene, and she walked with me back to the porch. I picked up my empty wineglass from the table next to the sofa and turned to her. “I need more of this. Want one?”
“Got any tequila?”
I poured her tequila, neat, and we sat in a comfortable silence until I said, “My name’s Gemma.”
She raised her glass. “TJ.”

____________


Dear readers,
I hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak preview of my new book. If not, let me know why you didn’t find it engaging so I will know what to do better the next time!
Thanks for stopping by,
Marla




Wednesday, September 24, 2014

WHAT DOES IT COST TO SELF-PUBLISH?

WHAT DOES IT COST TO SELF-PUBLISH?






It is possible to spend next to nothing on the self-publishing process, and it is also possible to spend thousands of dollars. Looking at just the pubbing process, not the marketing, here are the basics:

1.     Editing. Editors are a big expense. You can find an editor for a few hundred or spend thousands of dollars. I’ve never used one. (My critics might say I should have!) Without paying an editor, it is critical that you use resources such as beta readers and writing support groups to be sure your story line flows as it should.

2.     Copy-editing. Again, expensive, but necessary. A copy editor checks grammar, writing style, and obvious errors in your storyline. I paid my last one about $500. You may find one less expensive, but quality matters. Get a good one. This is not a step to scrimp on. Once more, if you cannot afford one, join a critique group or share with other authors of your genre.

3.     Proofing. I do know an author who does her own proofing, but she was an English teacher in her first career and is a rare exception to this rule. It is hard to see your own mistakes, and readers are not forgiving of more than a few errors in a novel.
Some copy editors will do a second run-through, doing the final proofing as part of their fee. The thing about doing it that way is the two processes will be consistent, but the drawback is a second person as proofer may find things your copyeditor missed.

4.     Formatting. I keep vowing to learn how to do this, but formatting
your own work is a skill requiring a lot of patience. Not my strong     suit! To have both versions of a book formatted, eBook and printbook, costs about $300. There are formatters out there who charge less, but the good ones are booked months in advance. This is one step where you can save money by taking the time and effort to do it yourself.

5.     Cover art. This is another expense that is possible to do yourself
if you have a good eye for graphics. There is software out there to make the job easier and many sites that sell premade covers. A good cover artist will charge about $5OO for doing both your ebook and print book covers. You can find some that are cheaper and do a good job. And you can spend thousands of dollars. If you keep it simple, it’s possible to do it yourself, and if money is a concern this will be a skill, like formatting, that is worth developing.

6.     Putting an eBook on Amazon. This step is free!

7.     Print book copies. If you use a print-on-demand service, you will pay for just the books you need. Createspace, an Amazon affiliate, is the most popular because it syncs with Amazon. The cost will vary on the length of the book, but an average novel will be about $6.oo a copy plus postage.

8.     All-inclusive services There are places that will do the whole package for you for a lump sum. My spouse used one for his print book and was very satisfied. He paid about 1k, but I think generally they run more than that. The upside of this is that you only deal with one person, simplifying the process.


Dear Readers,

I have vowed to do my own formatting the next time I publish. There are now templates available to make the task easier and they are not all that expensive. I did find a cover artist I liked who is very reasonable, keeping my expenses for this book to a about $1,000.
One area I never skimp in is proofing. They say attorneys who represent themselves have a fool for a client, and it there is probably a similar adage for writers who do their own proofing, although I’m sure many of you will argue that point.
Good luck with your writing!


Marla

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Older Author - Do you have what it takes to be successful?

The Older Author

Do you have what it takes to be successful?


 


There is no time like retirement or hitting fifty to start a writing career. Your time is your own, your children are grown, and your job doesn’t interfere with your creative thought process. You keep hearing about people who are jumping into the self-publishing arena and are wondering: Why not me?
         It pays to give it some thought before beginning a writing career. The first thing you have to ask yourself is why you want to write? If the answer is for your own pleasure, then get right at it, no need to plan. You might enjoy taking a class in writing at a local college.
         But if your goal is to make money as a self-published author or have your writing reach a large audience, there are a few things you will need to take stock of first.

1.    You must have basic computer skills. And be comfortable communicating online. Familiarity and ability to use social network sites are a big advantage. If you hate computers and all things digital, self-publishing is probably not for you. If you are lacking in those skills and still want to write, take a class in computer basics and one in networking.

2.    Own your own computer. Using your husband’s, your children’s or one from a local library just won’t work. If you cannot afford one, used computers are available. Just don’t use one that is too old to be compatible with the things you will need to do online.

3.    Time. If your schedule is packed with things like traveling, golfing, taking care grandkids, having company, and socializing with friends, you will have to decide where writing will fit into your life. For some writers, an hour a day is enough, and others spend eight hours a day writing and marketing. But you need to write regularly. If your lifestyle won’t accommodate that, you may need to reset some priorities in order to free up some time.

4.    A quiet workspace. There are writers who claim to be able to work no matter what the distraction. But most of us need a quiet spot for writing. If you don’t live alone you will need a work area you can call your own.

5.    Be a reader. If you aren’t a reader, writing will not come easily. And it will be hard to decide just what genre you want to write in. Most writers have been avid readers and write in the genre they enjoy the most. Familiarity with the genre you will write in will help you be successful because you will have an idea what those readers are looking for.

6.    Be a goal setter. A writing career is a huge endeavor. Make a list of the things you need to do in order to get started and follow through, beginning with the basics. Establishing daily and weekly goals force you to keep moving forward.

7.    Have determination. Without this, you cannot be successful. If you think you can just slap your book on Amazon.com and be “discovered,” think again. The chances of that happening are about as likely as winning a multi-million-dollar lottery. It requires a lot of hard work, both in honing your writing skills and marketing your writing, in order to obtain an audience for your work.



Dear readers,
As more and more of us who are no longer twenty-one get into writing, (along with everyone else!) it is important to recognize that the competition for readers’ attention is fierce. If you feel you have what it takes to write and self-publish or at least want to give it a try, it might help to join a writers’ group or take a night class for people who want to write. Either one will not just help improve your writing, but will give you a lot of valuable input from other writers. Good luck!


Marla

Saturday, July 26, 2014

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS AND THE INDEPENDENT AUTHOR

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS AND THE INDEPENDENT AUTHOR




Do independent authors need to be concerned about being politically correct in their writing? Or does anything go if they’re writing fiction?
The short answer is that you can’t be too careful. In fiction, it may be realistic to have a character who spouts politically incorrect statements. But do it too much and you could be offending some of your readers. In description, stay away from anything the least bit offensive.
I do understand that sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the latest terminology. Be aware that is easy to inadvertently say the wrong thing. In researching my second book, I discovered that it’s no longer correct to say a person is an albino: That person has albinism. Do your homework when in doubt.
It’s safest to avoid getting involved in anything political or possibly offensive to minority groups while you’re on social networks. Fiction authors work hard to build an audience. It’s a daunting task, sometimes taking years; you can’t afford to put anyone off.

Tips to stay out of trouble with your readers.

1.                    Limit any politically incorrect commentary to character dialogue, and only if it’s necessary to the story. Limit it to one character, one who is unsympathetic.
2.                    In any descriptive passages, remain neutral.
3.                    When uncertain, do your research.
4.                    Keep your social networking social—avoid anything political.
5.                    When in doubt, leave it out.


Dear Readers,
None of us wants to offend a reader, even with a well-intended comment. I’ve had the advantage of being in a critique group with a person who was very politically correct. I was called to the carpet on things I thought were just factual, but could have been interpreted the wrong way. I learned to rewrite it or leave it out without any problem in the storyline.
I hope all of you are finding time to enjoy the beautiful weather we’ve been having here in the Midwest.
Marla



Friday, July 11, 2014

At Least We Met Joe Konrath

At Least We Met Joe Konrath

How successful were our Muskyfest book sales?





Myself and six other authors (Me, above with Dave Tindell and Rob Bignell, a rose between two thorns.) rented enough space for three tents at a local craft fair in Hayward,Wisconsin called Muskyfest.
            It became apparent early the first day of the two-day event that our book sales weren’t going to be what we’d hoped. Discouraged, we comforted ourselves with cashew turtles, home made ice cream, ham and cheese paninis, Famous Dave’s ribs, and deep-fried cheese curds.
            On the afternoon of the first day, I heard a man’s voice coming from Donna Glaser and Marjorie Doering’s tent. He was talking about self-publishing and from where I sat, sounded like a know it all.
            Lesson learned? Never make hasty judgments. Joe Konrath, one of today's most successful independent authors, happened to be in the area, and once I met him, I couldn’t have been more impressed. He took the time to speak with each of us authors and even whipped out his phone and ordered every one of our books right on the spot.
            After he left, we all decided (especially Donna, who’s never one to be too contained when excited, and danced with glee) that if nothing else, we enjoyed a lot of good food and got to meet Joe Konrath.
It’s only fitting, while on the subject of Konrath, to pass on some of his advice to independent authors. If you have already heard it—read it again—it’s worth a reminder.
1.     Butt in Chair Time spent not writing is wasted. The best way to     promote your work is having a lot of it out there.
2.    Make your work entertaining.  Cut anything that is nonessential to the story.
3.    Write before editing. Tell your internal editor to shut up until you’ve written the last page.
4.    Keep writing. Refer back to number one.
5.    Write what you like to read Good authors are readers.

To see all forty-two of Konrath’s tips for writers, take time to read Marelisa
 Fabrega’s interview. daringtolivefully.com/writing-tips-from-j-a-konrath

            Konrath’s blog: jakonrath.blogspot.com


Dear readers,

Looking at Konrath’s tips reminded me that the most important thing for writers is to write. It’s so easy to get caught up in online marketing and book promotion events. The other sad reminder was all the time and money I spent in the event in Hayward. Konrath said he gave up all such things a long time ago and feels they do little to actually promote sales. I’d better get butt in chair and go back to my wrting.
Till next time, take care,


Marla

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Character Lists

A thing of the past, or the latest trend?






            Many books in the mystery, suspense, and thriller genres have dozens of characters. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy comes to mind anytime this topic comes up; it’s myriad characters nearly had me taking notes. My own suspense novels have been criticized as having too many for the reader to keep up with. A reader told me she actually did take character notes when reading She’s Not There, my first novel.
            A friend who also writes suspense is adding a character list to her latest novel and I’m thinking of following suit. These lists will be added to the end of the book for those readers who care to use them.

Some things to think about when adding a list:

1.     Only list a character that will be appearing more than once in the book or the list will get too long.
2.     Include the entire name, title, and nickname of each character if one is used.
3.     Add the list to the end of the book for the benefit of the person reading the digital version. It won’t clutter the opening pages, and will be easy to refer to at the end.
4.     Be sure to include it in the contents as you would a chapter so the reader knows it’s there and where to find it.
5.     Make each character description brief, but be sure it explains their purpose and also their relationship to the main character.

  
Dear Readers,
Please let us know, if, as a reader of books, you would appreciate having a character list for reference, and also, if you are aware of other authors using this tool.
            Character lists were common in books during the forties and the fifties, but seem to have lost their popularity ever since. As an avid reader myself, I’d love to see them make a comeback!
            Thanks for stopping by. Hope you are all finding time to enjoy the beautiful early-summer weather.


Marla

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

NYPD RED 2 - Entertainment sells books!

Entertainment Sells Books!

   


NYPD RED 2


James Patterson’s books are a prime example that the entertainment factor sells books. Say what you will about his methods—they work. Patterson’s books entertain the reader. How?
            Patterson leaves out the fat. His books use a bare minimum of things like character and setting description, narrative, and back-story. At the same time, they always have an action-packed plot!
Readers can’t get enough; Patterson has a new book on the top ten NYT list at least once a month.
            NYPD RED 2 begins when police in NY find the body of a woman (dressed in a hazmat suit!) on the carousel in Central Park.  Turns out, she’s the fourth in a series of similar crimes. Detectives Zack Jordan and Kylie MacDonald search for the killer amid things like public pressure, and political and personal secrets. The story is a great suspense read.
            Is NYPD RED 2 a literary masterpiece? Of course not. But it’s definitely five-star entertainment.

What writers can learn from Patterson’s style.
1.     Scarcity of description, both of characters and scenes, make for an easy read. Many readers (myself included, I’m afraid) will skim right over any that are more than a few sentences.
2.     Short chapters, while they don’t guarantee a successful book, make it easy for a reader to set the book aside when necessary. Few readers have the luxury of reading a book nonstop for a long period of time. Personally, I find short chapters addictive. Often breaking off in the middle of the action, I have to see what happens next.
3.     Series books  Readers love series books, and Patterson has at least nine different series, each one with a new story at least once a year.
4.    Multi-genre offerings Writing in more than one genre opens your writing up to a greater number of readers.
5.    An occasional flop Patterson does, now and then, publish a book that disappoints his fans. Granted, taking a risk isn’t nearly as chancy when you’re cranking out as many books as he is, but the lesson to be learned is: we can’t be afraid to publish an occasional book that might not be everything our readers want. We need to learn from it and move on.

Dear Readers,

     I know I’ve written about Patterson before, but there is so much to be learned from his writing. Patterson is in the business of writing, and his goal is book sales, a goal many of us share. His work is worth checking out for those of us struggling to get readers’ attention.  Sure, there are some authors out there whose goal is literary perfection rather than sales. But in my last post I talked about the need for books to be entertaining and no other author exemplifies that point better than James Patterson.
     Hope you’re all writing productively and also finding time to enjoy the beautiful weather we’re having.
 Marla