Category Archives: Guest blog
Guest post by ELIZABETH HEITER
Getting inside the heads of the country’s most depraved serial killers, arsonists, and terrorists. That’s the job of an FBI profiler, and my heroine, Evelyn Baine, has been working toward the job since she was twelve years old and her best friend was abducted. Now, more than eighteen years later, Evelyn has been part of the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit for almost two years. She’s seen some of the worst of society, and the drive to find out what happened to her best friend Cassie is what kept her going through the long days and the challenging cases.
Now, after the first two books in my Profiler series (HUNTED and VANISHED), Evelyn has done it. She’s solved the case of her career and finally resolved Cassie’s case. It’s brought her some closure…and also some doubt. Finding Cassie has been the driving force in her entire life, and now she wonders: does she still have what it takes to be an FBI profiler?
In SEIZED, my brand new release, Evelyn isn’t sure. To make matters worse, her boss has been punishing her for some of the rule bending she did on Cassie’s case by assigning her BS assignments. The latest is a trip into a remote area of Montana, to interview a convicted bomb-maker. When fellow agent Jen Martinez approaches Evelyn with a request for a profile of a local cult, Evelyn sees it as her chance to finally do her job again…and to see if this is where she still belongs.
But things quickly take a dangerous turn in SEIZED. Martinez has been insisting the Butler Compound is more than it seems – that the FBI is missing a serious threat there. But the BAU has already evaluated them as a simple group of survivalists, looking to stay off the grid, but not a concern. When the group takes Evelyn and Jen hostage, everything changes.
Inside, trapped with group of anti-federalist white supremacists, Evelyn (who’s biracial) is in danger from the start. But she soon realizes Jen is right – this group is more than just a threat to her life. She thinks the group is planning a deadly attack and only she can stop it. The problem is, she’s never been more unsure about whether she can still do her job as a profiler. If she’s right, she has to get word to the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team agents surrounding the compound.
She’s secretly dating HRT agent Kyle McKenzie, and she knows she can get a message he’ll understand, telling them to breach the compound. If she does and the FBI comes in, she knows she’ll be the group’s first casualty. If she doesn’t, the group could unleash a surprise attack that will shatter the country.
To learn more about SEIZED and AVENGED (my new Profiler short story releasing a chapter a day for free), visit my website at elizabethheiter.com. You can also follow me on Facebook at elizabeth.heiter.author and Twitter at @ElizabethHeiter.
We have a special treat for the authors and aspiring authors among our followers today, a guest post by Jill Sorenson, who writes gritty, action packed, sexy romantic suspense. I love Jill’s books, so I’m thrilled to gain some insight into her process. She has some terrific tips here that I intend to try.
Dirty Drafting: 11 Quick Tips
Hello Kiss & Thrill! Thanks so much for having me back.
NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is just around the corner. I’ve never participated in this event because writing an entire novel in one month sounds like a nightmare to me. Drafting is my favorite part of the writing process. Why would I want to stress out and rush the most enjoyable step?
Writing fast is practically a requirement for romance authors, but the key for me is writing steady and delivering a quality manuscript. If you hammer out an incoherent mess in a month and it takes you six months to edit, you’re not getting to the finish line any faster than someone who works at a less frenetic pace.
I wrote my latest novel in three months, most of it while my kids were home on summer break. That’s pretty fast for me. Some authors write a lot faster. I follow people on twitter who do “1k in 1hr” sprints, 5k days, even 10k days. I don’t know how they do it, so I’ll just tell you how I do what I do. If drafting is painful for you and you can’t wait to tinker/revise, try NaNo. If you prefer editing as you go and writing a clean first draft, read on.
There is no one true way, just different ways that work better for different people. I’ve heard fast authors say that anyone can learn to be fast, and I don’t believe that. I believe that everyone can improve their speed, but we all have physical and mental limitations. If you’re a genius, your brain might be supersonic. Or you might be a slow genius. I’m not any type of genius. I’m more of an Emma Stone in Easy A than a Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. I want to be a commercial success, not a critics’ darling. I don’t have the natural ability to write 5k every day or the luxury to write slow.
So here are my tips for steady drafting.
1. Edit as you go (if you prefer) but always keep moving. Your first paragraph or chapter might make no sense by the time you get to the end. Characters change and develop over the course of a novel. Do what feels right in order to move forward, but don’t get bogged down by small details. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It will never be perfect.
2. Outline before you start. This is an important one for me. I research and do a detailed outline several weeks in advance. I’m constantly plotting, reworking and looking things up as I go, too. Stay flexible, but have a plan. An outline is a solid foundation that you can build on. You can also throw it out if you have to. Having plan makes it easier to move full steam ahead and avoid painting yourself into a corner.
3. Write every day, or almost every day. Taking long breaks will steal your momentum. Steady, daily progress is good.
4. Know where you’re going. Even if you’re not a big plotter, you can jot down notes every day before you start. Just a few minutes of concentration can make the difference between flying over the keys and staring at a blank page.
5. Don’t stop for the day at the end of a scene or chapter. Some authors stop mid-sentence. It trains your brain to keep thinking about the next sentence/scene/chapter, rather than closing the mental doors when you close the screen.
6. Take notes after you’re “done” for the day. This is my favorite tip for increasing speed and productivity. I love writing freehand notes. I remember things I forgot to do, continually reassess plot points, and jot down ideas for the next scene.
7. Get enough sleep. This is a challenge for me. Sleep well and your brain will function better, faster.
8. Beware of children. They require a lot of attention and feeding. If a childless person tells me that anyone can write 5k per day if they just try hard, I will twist her nose off and feed it to my child.
9. Exercise! I run almost every day, and I believe this has helped my output tremendously. It also helps keep me sane. If you spend too much time indoors, living with the imaginary people inside your head, you might end up with cabin fever, wielding a rubber mallet. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
10. Don’t force it. Sometimes you have to sit your ass in the chair and get it done. Sometimes you have to do the opposite. When you’re pulling your hair out, rewriting the same sentence fifty times, just leave it alone. Go do some laundry, get a snack. Switch to a notebook. Changing scenery can jog you in a new direction.
11. Keep a cuts file. I do this for every book, and it helps me when a scene isn’t working. I’ll save a copy of the problem section in my cuts file. Then I can delete and rearrange dialogue or paragraphs without worrying about losing any important bits. It’s a quick, efficient way to get unstuck and move forward.
So there you have it. 11 quick-n-dirty tips for those who prefer clean first drafts! As always, do what works for you, be passionate about your writing, and try to have fun. Remember that a writing career is a marathon, not a sprint. Find your own pace.
Are you a writer? Do you plan to attempt NaNoWriMo? Do you have any tips you’d like to share or thoughts on Jill’s tips? Share them. We haven’t had a craft conversation at K&T in a long time, and I LOVE talking craft.
Jill Sorenson is the RITA-nominated author of more than a dozen romantic suspense novels, including the Aftershock series by HQN. She lives in the San Diego area with her family. She’s a soccer mom who loves nature, coffee, reading, twitter and reality TV. Jogging keeps her sane. Riding Dirty is her first erotic suspense novel.
You can find her at www.jillsorenson.com.
Today we welcome back multi-published author, Stacy Green. And since I’m in the chaotic stage of unpacking hundreds of boxes after moving from Houston to FL last week, I asked Stacy to come up with something intriguing that captures the tone of her newest release: ALL GOOD DEEDS. Take it away, Stacy!
This question planted the seed for my newest character Lucy Kendall, a former CPS worker turned private investigator and vigilante killer of sex offenders.
The criminal mind is a fascinating place and oftentimes a mystery for investigators. Bundy, Gacy, Lucas–the worst of the worst–are almost easy to understand. They just aren’t wired right. Add a dose of lousy nurturing, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
But what about the outliers? The people who are good by society’s standards and then one day just snap? Did they have it in them all along? Do we all possess that shadow side that lurks, waiting for something to turn us bad?
I think any one of us are capable of killing someone–or at least doing serious bodily injury–if the circumstances are right.
Some of these are pretty straightforward: someone hurting our kid, our pets, our career. People have snapped over less.
But what about something that isn’t personal? Something that doesn’t directly affect you but is a sore on society? What would make you risk your freedom, and how would you do it?
Lucy Kendall snaps when a child killer walks free. But she doesn’t lash out in a clumsy, unorganized way. She thinks things through, figuring out the best method to do her work AND keep herself out of jail. And even as she figures out the most efficient way for her to end someone’s life, she doesn’t believe she’s a killer.
Her targets are men who have destroyed kids lives and will do it again. Lucy believes with her whole heart sex offenders can’t be cured, and her actions take care of a problem the justice system and society simply can’t–or won’t.
I believe that most if not all of us possess what Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung called the Shadow Side.
The shadow exists as part of the unconscious mind and is composed of repressed ideas, weaknesses, desires, instincts and shortcomings…These latent dispositions are present in all of us, Jung believed, although people sometimes deny this element of their own psyche and instead project it onto others. SOURCE
This theory was a major influence on developing Lucy Kendall. Although there is tragedy in her past, she is a normal member of society. But her shadow side has seeped through her veneer until it now rules her choices and ultimately, her life.
She’ll have to come to terms with being a killer, her real motives, and answer the ultimate question: now that she has fully engaged her shadow side, is she even capable of not killing?
Does her choice of victim make her exempt? If she’s caught, is she a hero or a villain?
Or does her methodology make her just as evil as the famous serial killers we have such a fascination with?
I don’t have the answers to those questions, but I do know that as I get older, I realize more and more that life is not black and white. Our systems are flawed and need changing, but whether or not there are any good alternatives remains to be seen.
I think any one of us could become a Lucy Kendall if the circumstances are right, and I will further argue that instead of moral code, it’s fear of punishment that keeps most of society in check. Score one for the penal system.
What about you, thriller readers and writers? Is life black and white? Should there be exemptions? And what would it take for you to administer Lucy Kendall Justice? Comment for a chance to win a copy of my new release, ALL GOOD DEEDS!
Lucy Kendall lived her life in a strange mixture of carefully calculated moves and impulse decisions. Cracking the skull of the man who molested her sister and attacking her was impulse. Spending half her teenage years drinking and acting out were calculated cries for attention from her narcissistic mother followed by impulsive rages at her lack of concern.
The decade spent working in Child Protective Services before becoming a private investigator taught her two truths. One, CPS failed miserably in protecting children. Two, Lucy was more than willing to do it for them, meting out her brand of dark justice in spite of her own fear of death. But Lucy’s crusade is compromised when a self-proclaimed sociopath offers to help—and leaves her no choice but to accept it.
When eight-year old Kailey Richardson is abducted, it sets off a chain of events linked to Justin Beckett, a suspect in a life-changing case in Lucy’s past. The path she’s chosen since dealing with Beckett has been dark and terrifying—but she has no idea just how deep she will go or where the twisted road will take her.
She’s about to find out.
About the Author
Born in Indiana and raised in Iowa, Stacy Green earned degrees in journalism and sociology from Drake University. After a successful advertising career, Stacy became a proud stay-at-home mom to her miracle child. Now a full-time author, Stacy juggles her time between her demanding characters and supportive family. She loves reading, cooking, and the occasional gardening excursion. Stacy lives in Marion, Iowa with her husband Rob, their daughter Grace, and the family’s three obnoxious but lovable canine children.
Thanks for being our guest today, Stacy! You raise some interesting points and questions. Readers: For more information on Stacy Green here are her links.
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Winner Announcement: And the winner of ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS KISS by Manda Collins is Patti Straight. Congratulations Patti! Please use our contact page to claim your prize and let us know if you prefer an e-book or print on release day. Please include your email and snail mail addy (if you want print).