Last Lines

I’ve seen blogs about first lines of a book and how they have to pull the reader into the story from the get-go. I just finished reading a novella and the last line of the last story struck a chord with me. The line was:

“…you could accomplish anything – if only you believed.” The story was PAINKILLERS in KICK @$$ and the author is Jacey Ford. I have to admit I hadn’t read any of her work before (too many good authors, not nearly enough time in the day), but I loved the message she presented. Which was (obviously) if you believe in yourself enough, you can do anything.

I needed to see/hear that bit of advice right now. As my debut novel, Grave Secrets, is scheduled for release August 3rd, I need to believe I can do a blog tour, set up personal signings, give talks and interviews, come up with witty lines to write on the inside of the book during signings, remember the names of people I haven’t seen in years (or decades) and the list goes on. I just need to believe that I can accomplish all those things and do them well. I have to if I want to promote my book. And I do. I love this story and I think everyone else will, too.

Okay. I have to admit this blog is a pep talk to myself. But that’s all right. I figured if I could use a pick-me-up, so could others out there in cyber land.

Don’t forget, sometimes it isn’t the first line in your story that the reader will remember, but the last. Choose your words wisely. ♥

Finding Sight

This is one of those posts with a question (or two. Or three) at the end. I hope you’ll answer.

I’m going to give you three examples.

#1- Blind Sight: A few years ago, I had an idea for a book about a serial killer that I called BLIND SIGHT.

He lived in a small town world (big surprise, huh?) and was killing women.  The small town world police force hadn’t figured out he was active, because the deaths of the women weren’t the same.

The funny thing about that story is that from the beginning, I just knew my heroine. Her name was Cassaundra, but everyone called her Cassie.

Cassie was a touch psychic. If she touched something someone else had touched who’d recently experienced an intense emotion, she lived his experience and emotions. But that was the only way to see through him, unless he was very close and experiencing extremely intense emotions.

Cassie does her best to NEVER see through anyone, because most experiences she picks up aren’t pretty. One day, Cassie touches something that the serial killer has touched in the bookstore where she works, and it’s as if she’s inside the killer’s body. She’s seeing through his eyes as he disposes of the body of a young woman.

After spritzing the round table, she cleaned the top and finally made the circuit pushing chairs into their proper places. Glancing down, she saw a cup left behind on a seat. As if in slow motion, it toppled off the edge. Without thinking, she caught it—then remembered she’d forgotten to replace her gloves.
 The vibration crashing through her was like thunder from a colossal drum, quaking long and hard and painful, deafening her to the sounds going on around her. A brilliant flash stabbed into her eyes and, as her irises contracted painfully, she nearly collapsed to her knees.
The bookstore disappeared.
Her body shuddering in the cool air of night, Cassie smelled dust and rain on the breeze. A feeling of devout piety stole over her as her heartbeat slowed to a sluggish thud. Casting her gaze downward, she saw a young woman, her face white and still as if it had been carved from alabaster, lying near the edge of a rocky crag. With hands that were not her own, she crossed the girl’s stiffening arms over her cold, unmoving chest, then straightened her skirt, pulling it to her knees.
As gently as if she were putting a child to bed, she slipped the body over the precipice where it crashed helplessly into a tree, flipped almost completely around, hit the ground, and rolled down the steep slope until it rested brokenly against a jagged boulder.

I’d never even heard of touch psychics until a few years ago, when I saw a movie called, “Vibes” with Jeff Goldblum and Cyndi Lauper.

Kind of a silly comedy, but I enjoyed it. 🙂 In it, Jeff Goldblum is a touch psychic. In one scene, he helps his girlfriend fold laundry, and when he picks up her clean underwear, he “sees” another man taking them off of her.

That movie cooked in my brain for a long time until I finally took that ability for my book.

Now, I’m working through this book a chapter at a time with my critique group. One day, Marilyn Pappano comes to critique and says, “Susan. Do you know Kay Hooper?”

I thought for a moment. “I went to school with Frances Hooper, and there’s another family of Hoopers in C-Town, but that’s all the Hoopers I know. Is she related to any of them?”

Marilyn shook her head. “No, Kay Hooper’s a writer. Ever heard of her?”

“Nope.” I always love discovering a great author. “Is she good?”

“Yes, she’s very good. She had a book come out not too long ago called, “Stealing Shadows.” It’s about a touch psychic who lives in a small town, where a serial killer is active. And get this–the touch psychic’s name is Cassandra.”

I was flummoxed! I didn’t know what to say. I’d never heard of the woman. Never read her books. Never even heard her speak at a conference or been in a class she’d taught, but I was in the process of writing a story that sounds as if I’ve lifted it from her.

How could that happen???

One thing for sure, I’m not psychic. I certainly didn’t channel my book from Kay.

I’ve since read Kay’s book, and it’s absolutely wonderful! She is a master writer and story-teller. Any similarity between my book and hers is merely superficial. (And a little hopeful on my part.)

I wouldn’t mind being her when I grow up. LOL.

#2–Several years ago a friend of mine wrote a story that had a terrorist attack mass killing as part of the story. She and her husband took a trip to the area where the story was set, she took pictures and notes and plotted how the attack would happen.

She worked hard on the book and had interest from an editor, who was working with her to get it ready for publication.

Before she’d finished the book, a tragedy just like the one in her story became headline news.

Upset and worried that A-people would think she was trying to cash in on that tragedy or B-the FBI might investigate her, thinking she had something to do with it (apparently it was nearly identical, at least in her mind) she stopped all work on that book and never did finish it.

As far as I know, to this day as talented as she is, she’s never sold a book.

#3 Another woman I know wrote about a death in her WIP. Not long afterward, a famous singer died the exact same way and made big headlines.

This woman considered changing her story out of respect for the singers family.

Question I hope you’ll answer. 🙂

  1. Have you ever written something and found it was at least outwardly similar to someone else’s story?
  2. Even scarier, have you ever written something, then had it come true in real life?
  3. What do you think the writer should do? Drop it or keep on trucking and hope to cash in?

Its the Final Countdown!

Tell me I’m not the only one who hears the epitome of 80’s synth when I hear that phrase! On a less random note, it is that final stretch of high school for me now. In 3 weeks, I’ll be free! and a week later? I’m a slave to the system again man! Alas, my thirst for knowledge doesn’t let me rest, so I must journey on, to Stillwater!(Can I get a “GO POKES!”?).

I’m so very very very very very busy the next few weeks: 3 blogs(woot!),  3 concerts, 2 Beta club meetings, 2 trips, 2 EOI/AP Tests, and 1 nerve-racking Graduation ceremony and Valedictorian Speech. Somewhere in there, I actually need to write said speech, and practice for those concerts. Also, I was ever-so-kindly volunteered by my friend Marce to help her prepare a baby shower, and I’m helping my best-friends-since-like-for-freakin’-ever Kelby and Chelsi to organize a going away party for Marce, who moves back to Mexico two days after graduation.

Le sigh.

I’m excited though. I’m filled with good energy. My creative juices are bubbling over, thus the rambling blog post. What about writing you ask? Well, I’m here aren’t I? I blog, when I decide to actually roll out of bed on Fridays. I wrote 3 poems this week in between classes. Its good practice for my AP Literature exam. I even officially started writing another story that’s been buzzing around in the ol’ noggin.

So with all the crazy stuff going on, I find that I thrive under pressure. Tell me though, How do you do it?

Bang, bang!!

Here’s that infernal blank page. And I’m late writing and posting my blog. Again. You see, my problem is I’ve been so caught up in the revisions on my current WIP, and reading a really good suspense, that I have a hard time getting anything else done. Including writing my blog. Sorry.

I write suspense. Y’all know that. But while reading this latest black ops book, I got to thinking about how the authors come up with the great storylines. You know, the ones that keep you turning the pages in spite of the fact you need some sleep, or (worse) work on your own story, because you’re so enthralled.

I wonder how they come up with the action…the danger they put their hero and heroine through. And how do they learn about the weapons? How to strap them onto the body, etc.? I guess you could say I’m jealous. I LOVE these types of stories, but I don’t seem to be able to write them. {{Grrr.}} I can come up with suspense. But it’s light compared to these.

Maybe one of these days, if I work hard enough, if I study the different authors enough, I can come close to what they’ve already achieved.  In the meantime, I’ll keep plugging away at my own stories. There’s danger. But it doesn’t fill every page. My tendency is to focus more on the romance than the intrigue. Which is okay. Really, it is. There’s definitely a market for that, too. (Yah!)

But I sure like to read the bang, bang, shoot ‘em ups. 🙂

Bad Guys Need Love, Too

I might have mentioned it before, but I’m a reader first, and then a writer. I’ve loved reading since before I started school, and that’s never changed. I think it’s getting to live other people’s lives that makes reading so enjoyable for me. Kind of keeps Terminally Curious calmed down. 🙂

Right now I’m reading Lisa Jackson’s DEVIOUS,

Official publicity photo for Lisa Jackson

and I’m enjoying the guts out of it.

The book is set in New Orleans (yep, one of my favoritest places in the whole world to visit) and much of it is set inside a convent. Want to know why I like it so much?

  1. I’m not a Catholic, so I’m learning new things about the religion.
  2. She delves into the mystery of nuns.
  3. She has an almost-nun (novice?) who’s psychic and looks as if she’s going to fall in love with a man.

And I’m LOVING the way she writes her villain. Lisa knows Bad Guys (antagonists) need love, too! More to the point, she knows the antagonist needs to make sense–in his own head at least.

Plotting classes (at least in the romance genre) nearly always ask for a GMC (goal, motivation and conflict) for the hero, heroine and villain. Why?

Because, those of us who enjoy reading murder stories like to figure out “who done it.” We follow the clues and see if we can tell who is doing the killing, and we like to beat whoever is trying to solve it in the book.

In order to do that, the killer has to have some kind of logic, even if it’s twisted logic.

And if it is twisted, it must consistently twist in the same way.

Why? Because all killers are humans.

And while most of us might not like some things about ourselves, all humans love themselves enough to at least sustain life. Villains do, too.

Just like everyone else, they are who they are because of where they’ve been and what’s happened to them in the past.

Something in his life (usually a combination of something during childhood added to events in adulthood) made him a villain. And he’s never a villain in his own mind. He’s nearly always doing the right thing–he thinks.

Even if he know what he’s doing is wrong, he has to have a reason why he has to do it. They aren’t just mad dogs that go around killing everything they get close to.

The author can’t change the M in his GMC in the middle of the stream. We are who we are. People almost never change who they are at their core. Villains don’t, either.

As I was saying, Lisa Jackson is doing a great job of loving her bad guy. She’s letting us inside his head, so we know how his mind works. (He’s a real bad one, too.)

She’s given us a red herring or two, I think. (The best part about a red herring is when you think it is, but you aren’t really sure. And she’s a master at that!)

I’m between halfway and three-quarters finished with the book. I have my fingers crossed that she’s going to start letting us into the villain’s head a little more, because the more we understand him, the more easily we can recognize him.

And I hope the bad guy is someone we’ve met, because if she drags someone in off the street we haven’t seen before, I’m going to throw the book at the wall. And that wouldn’t be good for my Kindle. (I hope the creator of Kindles knew about the way we throw books that cheat and were smart enough to make them bounceable.)

Now I have an important question for you–anybody know where the term Red Herring originated? I sure don’t. 🙂

PS: DEVIOUS is a great read. I recommend it!

Star rating? I give it a country night sky full of stars.


To explain the title, “head/desk” is how kids these days express the idea of literally banging their head on a desk. That is my week in a nut shell. Prom was awesome, and the 3 day weekends are spoiling me, but there were points this week I wish I had the ability to pop people’s heads like grapes with my mind. My computer is not allowing me to upload my prom pics, so that was the last straw for me. So what does this have to do with writing? It’s all about energy. Whether you can’t sit still and get the stupid grin off your face, or you’re sitting somewhere trying to focus on something enough to disintegrate it, you’re using valuable mental energy. That energy can be put to good use. As an author and a song writer I have found that negative energy can be channeled into something productive. The trick, at least for me, is taking the mental stance of “well, forget you, watch what I can do!”. What do you do to make negative things productive?


Once upon a time, there used to be an understanding the Internet is a good place to research, but be cautious of the information you got because it was only as knowledgeable as the person who posted it. For instance, I once discovered a very nice website with history about King Henry VIII of England. The information was correct, but it wasn’t a site I would want to list as a resource since the site was built by a fifth-grade class.

In this new day of blogging, it seems that people have forgotten the basic concept of “Let the buyer beware!”. The out-n-out nut cases aren’t that hard to identify, but it is the honest blogger who often set off undeserved firestorms based on misinformation or misinterpretation of facts.  And once an inaccurate fact is on the ‘Net, it is there forever. Even worse, the fact becomes like gossip…distorted, twisted until it no longer resembles the original.

So what does this have to do with writing? As authors, we are in effect, public figures. Oh, not like actors and, thank God for that or else I’d have to get a face lift. But even before we publish our first book, we should be building our public brand. And how do you want the public to see you?

As a shrill voice in the firestorm? Or the voice of reason? As a piece of fluff floating with the wind or the anchor against the tempest? Remember, every reader has a platform and you can’t stand on each one. So how you blog or respond to another’s blog puts a face on your writing.

Am I saying you can’t respond to injustice? No! The writer is one of the front line against tyranny. But remember, there are always authors who support dictators and there are writers who complain about the saints. Be the kind of author that readers know produce books that match their public face…someone they can trust to give them value for their buck.