Alfred Hitchcock: Master of Suspense

vertigoIn honor of Halloween, I’m spending the day as a couch potato, watching an Alfred Hitchcock marathon. Vertigo is on now. Jimmy Stewart is an actor I never tire of watching, and Hitchcock is a director I never tire of studying.

I’ve studied the craft of writing for years and, as a writer, you’ll find inspiration and nuggets of wisdom flying at you from every direction. I saw an interview with Hitchcock many, many years ago where he described HOW to create suspense. He said imagine you have two men sitting at a table in a cafe. If the writer/director knows there is a bomb under the table, the writer/director feels the suspense, but the key is to show that bomb to the reader/viewer – without showing it to the character sitting at the table. Instant suspense.

I try to follow Hitchcock’s advice. In Fatal Impulse, I wanted the reader to know who the bad guy was, to see where the danger was, but I wanted Andi to miss the clues. She is a broken individual, who doesn’t look at things the way most of us do. She has been abused for so long, she can no longer see things clearly. Relationships are skewed in her mind. But the reader knows she is walking into danger, and wants to scream at her to stop.

The same thing is happening in my new novel. Sophie is totally different from Andi, though. Sophie is a tough survivor, who grew up in foster homes. But the reader sees danger where Sophie does not.

I’m certainly not comparing myself to Alfred Hitchcock, but I hope I’ve learned something from his methods.

Have you ever watched Hitchcock? If so, what’s your favorite movie (or episode)?

Why WriteScouts?

novel-idea-generator-coverYou may have heard me talking about WriteScouts. What the heck is it anyway? Well, you’ve heard of the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts, where kids learn skills that make them better people, right?. As I began taking my writing seriously about 13 years ago, I started by stumbling along. I wrote and thought it was amazing (oh, the joy! I was going to be rich! Everyone would be blown away by my brilliance!), but a writer friend (Hi, DaLynne!) pointed out places where I could improve my writing and I was crushed. but determined to do better.

I read blogs, craft books, magazines. Essentially, I needed to know how to do everything. I started a novel and sent a few chapters to a writer I met online who agreed to give me feedback. Yeah, that feedback was kinda brutal. I worked and reworked and revised, but got stuck in perfection stasis. I couldn’t get past 25K words.

Then I found National Novel Writing Month and learned how to lock up my Internal Editor and get that first draft DONE. That was huge for me, because you can’t edit a blank page. The second year I did NaNoWriMo, I met a fantastic group of people and a few of us started a critique group. That was in . . . 2005, I think. We are STILL meeting and those women are some of my closest friends.

Together, we’ve learned all kinds of things about characterization, plotting, suspense, pacing, setting, etc. I discovered that there are a myriad of skills that need to be learned to make one a better writer, and then I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a group that would teach you those skills, and help you keep track of the skills that you learn (and, I have to admit, I kinda like the idea of earning badges)?

WriteScout was born.

To celebrate the birth of this new program, I’m giving everyone who signs up a copy of my Novel Idea Generator. This is the exact method I use when I’m brainstorming ideas for a new book. The workbook contains step-by-step instructions, a series of exercises that will help you find the book that YOU are meant to write.

Do you want YOUR Novel Idea Generator?

Are you interested in learning the skills to make you a better writer?

What are you waiting for? Sign up today.

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Want to Write a Novel? Introducing the Novel Idea Generator

Drum roll, please (go ahead, I’ll wait . . . )

I’ve been working so hard over the past few months putting together some exciting things for you and, tonight, I’m happy to show you the very first offering of my new WriteScout school. People often ask me where I get the ideas for my novels. The answer is . . . in me. The nuggets of ideas are within me, just like you have nuggets within you. That’s how two people can write two different stories based on the same basic premise. But the trick is to mine those ideas, to unearth those gems. And I want to help you do that.

novel-idea-generator-coverAre you ready to find the novel within YOU?

I use a set of questions when I get ready to write a novel, so I put my ideas together in a series of questions that can be used over and over again, in workbook form. The Novel Idea Generator is available on Amazon, but . . . you can get your Kindle copy FREE.

If you’ve ever wanted to write a novel, but didn’t know where to start, this workbook will get you started. Are you ready?

Get your FREE Novel Idea Generator!

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If you’ve signed up for National Novel Writing Month, but you don’t know what your story is, this workbook will give you at least three ideas for to make you a WINNER. These are the step by step techniques that helped me write ten novels, three of which have been published. The exercises are designed to give you characters, settings and plots that combine to form the story that YOU are meant to write. Now . . . are you ready to start YOUR novel?

Get YOUR free Novel Idea Generator workbook now

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Happy Birthday to the Hubs

dscf0730Today is my hubby’s birthday (obviously, that’s not him above – that’s me, several years ago. Don’t look at the mess.). It was a low-key celebration. Sunday we went out to eat and I (hopefully) surprised him by having our daughters (and their significant others) meet us there. Tonight, we met after work and had dinner at Texas Roadhouse. Nothing spectacular, but I hope it has been a good day for him. I wish I could’ve done more for him, but $$ is tight right now.

But it isn’t always about money.

This past year, I had one of the best birthdays I’ve had in years. And it was low-budget. I picked up a Papa Murphy’s pizza and beer and we watched the movie, Paul (click HERE for a clip). It was relaxing and fun. Truly a good night, and a good birthday.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me about a good birthday you had. 🙂

Trump . . . and the normalizing of abuse’t worry. I’m not going to get all political. Vote for whoever you want. I won’t judge you. That’s the great thing – we don’t have to agree to be able to get along or have a reasonable conversation. But this election gives us a reason to discuss an important topic.

Trump made news last week for a hot mic video that surfaced of him engaging in what he describes as “locker room talk” about women. When I wrote Fatal Impulse, I did a lot of research about abuse. Here’s the thing about abuse – it isn’t all the Burning Bed kind of abuse (if you haven’t seen that Farrah Fawcett movie, watch it – it’s powerful). Sometimes the abuse is more subtle, emotional abuse, where the woman is put down so much, she starts to believe it. This isn’t something that only affects a certain demographic or economic class. The man has the power in the relationship, and he uses that power to take what he wants, regardless of how it affects the woman, or how she feels about it. She is not an equal partner in the relationship. That use of power is wrong, plain and simple. No means no. Consent is required for any type of sexual contact. If it is not welcomed, if it is not wanted, don’t do it. Plain and simple, but men who think of themselves as powerful see women as objects don’t get it. The way we fix that is to talk about it, to recognize that it happens, and to acknowledge that it is not acceptable.

Though Fatal Impulse is a work of fiction, the abuse it describes was inspired by real events. Though there are some protections in place for women who strike back at their abusers, it isn’t always cut and dried. There are women sitting in jail right now because they fought back, but the system didn’t protect them. Women who are in an abusive relationship don’t always see a way out. It’s not as simple as getting a divorce. The abuser often isolates his victim, and denigrates her to the point that she doesn’t see any option but to stay with him.

If you are in an abusive relationship, reach out for help. Tell someone, call someone, make a plan and get out. Start HERE.

You deserve better.

(By the way – abuse can happen regardless of gender. I use his/her here simply because that is the most common domestic abuse.)


Fall Forward

sdrandco-37As I drove to work yesterday, I noticed one of the trees along the drive was turning a brilliant orange. Such a beautiful, striking bit of nature . . .


Summer is over. And that sucks. Gone are the days of floating in the pool while reading a book all afternoon long. Gone are the long days of sunlight. Vacation is over (Gatlinburg . . . Pigeon Forge . . . Margaritaville . . . Sugarlands moonshine . . . ). The Star Trek convention is over (wowzers, that was a fun, fun, fun weekend!). Penned Con is a memory.
So, what is there to look forward to now?

Fall. Painting pumpkins. Scarecrows. Ravens. Roaring (electric) fire. Hot cocoa. And reading. Though I love reading during the summer, there’s something about it getting dark earlier that makes me want to curl up in a comfy chair with a warm throw, a cup of tea and a good book.

And that’s what I think I’m going to do right now . . . any suggestions for what to read next?