Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Thrill is Gone

... in a splattering bloody mess.

Yeah, I watched The Walking Dead. And I'll probably watch a few more episodes but only because an old buddy from my TSR days is one of Negan's henchmen. When my old buddy ceases to walk around with a pick ax--Ciao! In my opinion--my blog, my opinion--the storytellers took it too far with the popped-out eyeball and the smashed skulls. Blood without plot...well, not much plot. Blood. Blood. Blood. And a gob of flesh hanging from the baseball bat.

There was blood and gore and shock value. 
Battered characters. 
Crushed souls. 
But there was no real story to it. 

Sure, the writers can say they needed all the "ick" to affect the characters and to further the action in the remaining episodes.

But in this episode, I couldn't find the story. If I'm going to invest time in something--time is precious and once spent you don't get it back--I want there to be a story, a good plot. I want the action to move from Point A to Point B and eventually to Point C.

B and C were missing from that episode.

The thrill of that show, to me, is gone.

My friend Christine Verstraete has a much better zombie story, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter. It's got gore in it, and history, and it didn't jump that proverbial shark like The Walking Dead. It's got A to B to C. 

I put down books that don't get to B fast enough. 

I like to be thrilled...with movies, books...I want my entertainment to make me scootch forward to the edge of my seat. I want a book that MAKES me turn the page even if I'm tired and thinking about calling it a night. Tug me through the story, hang me at the end of a chapter. Keep me up. Keep me engaged with the characters.

Don't make me think I'm wasting my time.

Some of my fellow writers criticize Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code as not being well written. Sure, when I read it I wanted to take my editor's red pen to every other page. He's not an elegant writer. But what Dan Brown did right was pull me through the book, hang me at the end of a chapter. I had to keep reading The Da Vinci Code because he made me want to know what happens next. I don't care what happens next to Rick and his crew in The Walking Dead. It doesn't have me on the edge of my seat. I've read most of Brown's books, by the way, and studied his page-turning technique.

My current writing project is a thriller set under Rome. I like to read thrillers, so I thought I ought to write another one. I'm a little more than halfway done and I've just offed one of my characters. I let Christine Verstraete select who I "gave the ax" to. It's not a bloody ridiculous death, and I don't show you the body in all its awful detail. I don't need to...though I am more than capable of describing awful stuff.

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child write great thrillers...I've a bunch of them on my shelves. Raymond Benson can spin a thriller to make you say WOW and reach for his next book. Ridley Pearson, Stephen King, Ken Follett, Karin Slaughter, Gillian Flynn, Dean Koontz, Jack Higgins...they can deliver good thrillers. 

Kevin J. Anderson has put together a great bundle of thrillers...tinged with science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy. GOOD stories, edge of your seat stuff, make me turn the pages stuff...each one better (okay, in my opinion) than what the storytellers did in The Walking Dead. Seriously good reading. Thrilling reading.

And, yes, this is a plug to latch onto Kevin's Thriller Bundle. I've a book in it--Pockets of Darkness--which has gore and STORY in it. Donald J. Bingle has his excellent Forced Conversion in it too. Yeah, this is a plug so I can sell books. I'm a full-time writer, I make a living by selling books. But it's also an offering of good thrillers. I don't recommend bad books. I will never recommend a bad book. I used to recommend The Walking Dead to my friends. But I don't do that anymore.

The thrill is gone from The Walking Dead. But the thrill is here courtesy of Kevin J. Anderson. Here's the link to that Thriller Bundle.

Find The Dead of Winter, my new mystery, on Amazon here. 

And my Amazon author page here.  

My personal webpage is at www.jeanrabe.com

I have a newsletter filled with tidbits about my upcoming books, reviews of things I’m reading, and writing advice. You can subscribe here. SUBSCRIBE


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sex Made the Difference

...or rather changing the sex of the main character did.

When I wrote Pockets of Darkness, the main character was Gavin, an Irish thief with a teenage son dropped on his doorstep. Gavin was smug and cocky and didn't suffer the failings of his subordinates.

I sent the book to my friend Lucienne Diver, of the Knight Agency, and she emailed me that the book didn't feel right, but that she thought it would sing with a female lead instead.


Gavin became Bridget. The ex-wife became an ex-husband. The teenage son stayed the same. And the mother-in-law...I left her a witch.

Lucienne was right. The book felt much better. Bridget was a far better character than Gavin, and it was both delightful and onerous changing the lead's sex through the entire manuscript...and then double and triple checking to make sure all the he and she references were correct.

I really really really like Bridget. And I'm hoping you will too.

She's tough and driven, born in NYC and raised by the streets, a former gang member who used to sneak into a boxing club late at night to hone her physical skills. She's complex...and vulnerable. Gavin wasn't near so amazing as Bridget, not as deep, and not near as elegant. And when she "lays down the law" on the members of her thieving band, it is more serious and frightening than when Gavin tried to do the same thing.

Bridget is AWESOME and bad-ass.

I picked NYC because I like to watch cop shows set there, and thrillers. It is a big, bad city with lots of shadows and secret places. My NYC friends helped...providing blueprints of buildings, detailing what corner bodegas had to offer at 3 a.m., and pointing out which subway stops to stay away from late at night. Naturally, I sent Bridget to the scary parts of the subway. Bridget loves the subway. She's one of those "Yea though I ride through the tunnel of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because I am worse than whatever else might be down here."

I settled on Pockets of Darkness for the title 'cause I figured everyone has pockets of darkness in their souls, places where we put all the unfortunate things we've done and experienced. Bridget has a lot of those pockets.

Bridget--and Lucienne--made me rethink some of the other books I was plotting. I've a novel releasing November 1, The Dead of Winter. The protagonist is a woman, and a decorated Army veteran. She fits the story better than a male character would have...though the secondary characters in her life are all men. She's a bit bad-ass, too, but isn't dark and scary like Bridget.

Back in the day when I wrote fantasy fiction for TSR, a lot of Dragonlance books, I had several strong female characters, but the leads in my first two trilogies were men...the book department at the time wanted it that way because of the demographics of the readers. That third trilogy...about goblins...ah, Mudwort...she was pretty powerful. Gotta love strong female leads that are not cliches.

I am yippy skippy happy that Pockets of Darkness is featured in the Thriller Bundle so new readers will ride the subway with Bridget. She'll take them to the dangerous spots...those shadowy places are much more interesting, ya know.

I have two other books available from the wonderful WordFire Press:

You can find my blog at: http://jeanerlenerabe.blogspot.com/

Friday, October 7, 2016

Dogging It...Some Friendly Advice to Writers

Sometimes I dispense advice to writers. Today's tip: make sure you have a dog if you're working on a novel.

Yeah yeah yeah, I have writer-friends with cats. I'm not arguing dogs vs. cats. This is my blog, my advice. Get a dog. If they have blogs, they can dispense the "get a cat" wisdom.

My blog.

Get a dog.

Or two.

Or three.

Or four if you're taking care of someone else's buddy for a while.

One of the four-legged denizens felt under the weather at 3 a.m. this morning. This meant I had to get up, let him out, make sure he was okay. Then I started working on my book. If the doggie hadn't been ill, I would have missed out on three extra hours at the keyboard.

Get a dog...'cause sometimes they get sick.

Dogs play crucial roles in my mystery novel that releases November 1. Of course I'm going to mention it. There's a pre-release sale going on the e-version of it. If you're curious how I wove dogs into the plot, why not order it and find out. At the moment, you can do that for 99 cents.

There's a dog in my new author photo on the http://www.imajinbooks.com/home page. And there's a dog in my Facebook profile picture, my Amazon author page picture, and on my Twitter profile page. Some of my favorite authors had dogs in their publicity photographs--always Robert Parker, check out the Spencer and Jesse Stone books. And he put dogs in his mysteries too.

Get a dog 'cause they make you look better in promo photographs.

They are the impetus to get up from the keyboard for breaks. I'm writing this after taking the pug for a brief stroll. The next break will be to toss some tennis balls to the Labs and the Bossy Terrier.

Get a dog...or two...or three because they make you leave the computer, and when you come back you're refreshed and the words flow better.

Dogs can help you craft characters. Back in the day when I wrote Dragonlance fiction my editor approached me with the idea of a goblin trilogy. When I was finished, he pronouced it the best fantasy fiction I'd written. The goblins and hobgoblins...the ones in lead roles...their personalities were based on dogs who had shared their lives with me.

Get a dog 'cause they help with writing.

Dogs can also be inspiration. For example, I thought it was about time I wrote another blog. It was easy to come up with this go-round's topic. Writer advice: get a dog.

Get a dog 'cause they make everything better.

The shelters are full, why not look there?

Get a dog.

As I mentioned, there’s a pre-order special price of 99-cents for the ebook of The Dead of Winter. The price goes up sometime after the November 1 release.

I have a newsletter filled with tidbits about my upcoming books, reviews of things I’m reading, and writing advice. You can subscribe here: http://jeanrabe.us14.list-manage1.com/subscribe?u=89364515308e8b5e7ffdf6892&id=9404531a4b