Sunday, September 6, 2020

To Cliffhang or Not to Cliffhang. That is the Question.


I'll fess up: my first book, THE DEVIL OF LIGHT, ends with one heck of a cliffhanger. A character's life hangs in the balance, another character's professional future is uncertain, some of the minor baddies scatter, and the big baddies escape unscathed.

Reviewers love it or hate it, regardless of the star-rating they give the book. I still love it, but I know what happens in book two, and I kind of know what's coming down the pike in future books and how the story weaves together.



Reviewers who hate it say I left too much hanging. That the book can't stand on its own. The mystery isn't completely solved. That you have to read the second book to get closure. Er, yep, you do. 'Cause this is a series and that's what I intended.

Is that a bad thing? Since this is a series, I don't think so. (But I would think that way, wouldn't I?)

I love to read books in a series, and I don't mind at all when characters and conflicts hang over from one book to the next. In fact I love it when a portion of a character's history takes several books to unravel, as in the DI Lynley novels by Elizabeth George. I don't remember how many books in the series I read before George told me that the limp afflicting one of the minor characters was caused by a careless moment by Thomas Lynley. Or that the wife of Lynley's best friend was once in love with Lynley. George hints at these aspects of backstory for several books, and her hinting makes me crave the information, helps me keep reading.

But we're talking cliffhangers here. Books where the author leaves key elements of the plot unfinished. Think HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE by J.K. Rowling or Harlan Coben's TELL NO ONE. Both have terrific cliffhanger endings, and I love them both.


 
But I'm curious to hear other voices. What do you think? To cliffhang or not to cliffhang? What is your preference?





 

photo credit: State Library Victoria Collections The Pinnacle, Grampians via photopin (license)

photo credit: byronv2 The Reader via photopin (license)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Cass Elliot #Crime Novels are #FREE and 50% off during the #SmashwordsSummerSale through July 31

Ahh, a holiday. What could be better than diving into a new book? Settle in for some great summer reading during the Smashwords Summer Sale! You'll find loads of books on sale - many for free, including the first book in the Cass Elliot Crime Series.

Grab a few books (on sale!) for your vacation and find new authors to love!

The first book in the Cass Elliot Crime Series, THE DEVIL OF LIGHT, is FREE! Books two and three, AVENGERS OF BLOOD and A CASE OF SOUR GRAPES, are 50% off!



Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Lost #Art of Listening #amwriting

Confession time: I'm an eavesdropper. Even worse? I'm shameless about adapting what I hear for use in a novel. The truth is, if you're in earshot, your conversation is fair game.

Listening is a rare skill these days. Life has always been full of distractions, but the advent of perpetually-available rich technology has made us even more easily distractable.


I'm as guilty as anyone else of the sin of distraction. Of cocking half an ear while trying to carry on a text conversation or answer an email. Multi-tasking doesn't work. Not for me, anyway. But I've found a wonderful cure for these modern day distractions: putting that dang technology away. It's so beautiful because anyone can do it.

If you've read my posts, you'll know that my dad had Alzheimer's and was in a nursing home. Every night, my brothers and I took turns being there around supper time to feed him. Convincing him to eat, watching to make sure he swallowed, giving him small sips of thickened liquids worked wonders for my listening skills, mostly because I couldn't feed my dad and scan BBC news or Facebook updates at the same time. (Not that I didn't try.) My dad's willingness and ability to speak deteriorated quickly, which meant we had to listen really hard when he did talk. Visiting with him and with others in that nursing home opened my heart and honed my listening abilities; that ninety-three year old man who used to be a preacher doesn't have many years left to talk, so I took time to listen while I could.

My dad was in that nursing home for almost three years, and you know what I've realized? Listening is a choice, pure and simple. I have to choose to shut up, choose to put the phone or tablet down, choose to focus on the speaker. This actually gives me hope for myself and everybody else who spends too much time hooked to technology.



 It also, selfishly perhaps, reminded me of how much life the elderly have lived, and how many amazing stories they have to share - and the stories they live on a daily basis! From tales of the Memory Care residents who go crazy with the full moon, crawling under tables looking for something that only they can see and starting pillow fights, to stories from a former constable about the crimes he helped solve back in the day - all were pure magic and full of life.





One resident offered a finder's fee if I'd help her locate a man who likes money and sex. I figured that would be easy money, but I must confess, I didn't try too hard. We had a great time talking about her future beau; her continent-hopping dad and thanks to him, all the places she'd experienced as a child; and all the lovely scarves and hats her grandchildren brought her (and that she proudly wore - purple was her favorite).



Their antics and memories are priceless on a heart level, but also in terms of the richness they've added to my life and my writing.

What about you? What tips do you have for finding ways to listen with intention? Where are some of your favorite places for listening?



photo credit: Vincents Ear via photopin (license)
photo credit: ruifo Moon (20:59) via photopin (license)
photo credit: .through my eyes. time. via photopin (license)

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Cass Elliot #CrimeNovels are a Bargain during #Smashwords #AuthorsGiveBack Sale!

For many of us, some of the best escapes are found in books - this is definitely true for me!

During this bizarre time in our world, take a break from all the Coronavirus news and stress and escape into a Cass Elliot Crime Novel - on sale now until April 20, 2020 during Smashwords' Authors Give Back Sale!

The first book in the series, THE DEVIL OF LIGHT, is FREE! Books two and three, AVENGERS OF BLOOD and A CASE OF SOUR GRAPES, are 60% off!