Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Novel by New York Times bestselling author CJ Lyons

Most of the readers I know are constantly searching for new authors, especially those who know how to entertain us with a good book. C.J. Lyons is a pediatric ER doctor now writing full time. I discovered her books a couple of years ago and was delighted to find someone who knew what they were writing about and had the ability to craft a gripping story.

Number one New York Times bestselling author Lee Child has called CJ Lyons' work "Everything a great thriller should be--action packed, authentic, and intense."

That kind of praise is about as good as it gets, especially when coming from someone like Lee Child. Lyons has also been on the New York Times bestseller list, and we can expect her to repeat this feat with her current offerings.

Lyons is currently busy on her Thriller series about Lucy Guardino, an FBI agent who is able to balance her careers and still have a life. Her just released novel SNAKE SKIN is now available at Amazon.

Here is a brief description of her book:

Just your average Pittsburgh soccer mom, baking brownies and carrying a loaded forty-caliber Glock... A loving mom and wife, dutiful daughter, consummate professional, and kick-ass federal agent, Lucy Guardino is living the perfect life, until the day she comes up against a predator more vicious and cunning than any she's ever tackled before, one who forces Lucy to choose between the life of the young victim she is fighting to save and her own daughter's....and Lucy's dream life is shattered. "Combine Dirty Harry with a loving wife and mother and you might end up with Lucy Guardino…You won't be able to put this one down." 4 1/2 stars, RT Book Reviews

Click on the title of this article to sample or buy SNAKESKIN

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Little White Lies

Regardless of the type of novel I am writing, the emphasis is always on the human relationships between the characters. Murder mysteries, spy novels, and all the rest would not be worth my time if the reader was not emotionally impacted by the relationships.

One of the best police procedural novels I am aware of involves the murder of a street person that seemed not to have a past. No one knew him, no one loved him, but his death affected the homicide detective deeply. The police officer’s marriage was falling apart and the author created a poignant contrast between his failures as a husband and the derelict on the autopsy slab in the morgue.

Human relationships are important, and I often draw from what I observe in the real world. Here is a recent incident that will probably appear in one of my novels.

Five young women, probably in their early thirties, were blocking the center aisle in Wal-Mart as I tried to squeeze past. The man with them said, “You girls take your time. I’m going to the automotive section and prowl while you’re shopping.”

Megan: “Rob, do you know how insulting that is?”

Rob: “What did I do?”

Megan: When a woman passes her twenty-fifth birthday she doesn’t want to be called a girl.”

Rob: “I thought you were twenty-four on your last birthday.”

Megan, with a smile climbing slowly up her face: “Just take your time Rob. I love you.”

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Three Rules For Writing a Novel

W. Somerset Maugham said, “There are three rules to writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

I think fellow author Jack Bludis came close to discovering the first rule when he said, “I think a writer must like what the writer likes before he can please anyone else.”

Most authors spend a lot of time trying to analyze books that sell well, attempting to discover that tiny element that creates a ‘bottled lightning effect’ and sends sales soaring into the stratosphere. There are all kinds of tweaks that we can give to our manuscript to improve the story, but if you don’t like the darn thing yourself, then why should someone else?

The writers of the television series, ‘Breaking Bad,’ came up with an improbable scenario. A science teacher has a desperate need for money for cancer treatments. He produces and sells methadone to meet that need. This story works because the writers sell us on a character caught in a desperate situation. A similar state of affairs is the character in Stieg Larsson’s novel ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.’ Lisbeth Salander is everything a character should not be, but she grabs the reader’s attention with a vengeance and doesn’t let go for the next 700 pages. If you analyze Larsson’s writing, scene by scene, you discover that he is far from being the best writer around. He is a storyteller who knows how to create an adorable character, and he does that very well. So maybe the question we should ask ourselves is not about our new marketing plan, but about the story itself. 'Do we like what we are writing, or have we fallen into the habit of producing a certain kind of story because they seem to be moving well in the marketplace.'

I’m going to back up to the opening scene of my current WIP and examine all of the characters afresh. I want to fall in love all over again with Lori, Sandi, and Chris. I hope in the process of doing so, the reader will catch that magical spark and fall in love with them too.

You can view Jack Bludis novel, Dirty Work, by clicking on the title of this article.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bad Romance Chinese Style

I love all things Chinese, their culture, their lyrical language, and especially the wonderful people who run our local Chinese restaurants. I was somewhat surprised when I ran across a video of a group of senior citizens performing their version of Lady Gaga’s musical hit, Bad Romance. They have changed the words of the song, but they seem to be having as much fun as I had in listening to it. Click on the title and watch the video. You’re going to love it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Death of the computer monitor?

There are bad ideas and then there are BAD ideas. The video linked to the title of this article is one of those ideas that I hope never catches on, but you never know. Microsoft is developing a computer control system that doesn’t require a monitor or keyboard. A projector contained in a device attached to your shoulder transmits a keyboard on any surface and you can use this image as a touchpad. You can use your hand, the office wall or your picture of Lady Gaga as a screen, rather than having that troublesome monitor and keyboard in front of you. One of the selling points in the video is the suggestion that you can walk over to the office wall and perform your work there.

Experts who have studied the effects of engineering on society have determined that a lack of innovation can be very detrimental. The assertion has been made that Germany lost WWII because they were too inflexible with their designs. It was too hard to work new developments into their assembly lines and they quickly fell behind as the Allies introduced a steady stream of improvements into the war effort. But there is a flip side to development and this is the point of this article. One thing that has a crippling effect on progress is the desire to reinvent the wheel every Monday morning. Examples of this are all around us in the workplace and in our homes. Take a chair for example. Chairs have been around somewhat in their present form since the time of the Grecian Empire. Despite the efforts of companies to change the basic form of a chair, the fact remains that chairs fit the human body and you mess with the basic design at your own peril.

Some brainiac at Microsoft has evidently forgotten the fact that sitting in a chair in front of a keyboard and monitor is the best way to get most computing task done. I don’t want to project a keyboard on a wall or the palm of my hand. I can type 60 words per minute on a keyboard, and there are a lot of words in a novel. Most of them have to be typed over and over in the creation of a manuscript -- a process that takes months or perhaps years to complete. Before the guys at Microsoft become too giddy, they should realize that some task performed on a computer are much more complicated than composing a message on Twitter. ‘mte u n clelnd ths wknd’ might not be the message to get the job done.