The Corsair Uprising #2: Nightstalkers Has Been Released on Amazon!

The Corsair Uprising #2: Nightstalkers Has Been Released on Amazon!

Nightstalkers Released on Amazon

That’s right, now you can own the second installment of The Corsair Uprising Space Opera Science Fiction Series! Nightstalkers has hit the Kindle shelves and now you can get the first in the series, The Azure Key, for just 99 cents for a limited time.

Also, to promote the release of my newest novel, get my science fiction thriller Symbiote for Free on Kindle through 3/18/2015! Symbiote has been related by critics to works by John Grisham and has garnered rave reviews from readers. Don’t miss this chance to add it to your collection for free. Read it. Tell a friend. Review it on your social media site of choice. If you like my writing, please check out The Corsair Uprising series!

Nightstalkers Synopsis:
“Two months has passed since the battle for Garuda Colony, and Captain Liam Kidd is tired. His crew has worked diligently to retrieve a stolen artifact, but all of their efforts have failed. Finally, during a brutal boxing match, a lead has surfaced. The clue comes with entangled rumors of a nefarious Ansaran research facility on the Planet Narra, and a new danger from the Kraven Throng that threatens to destroy them all. Even stranger is what they find when they land on the wayward planet. Will Captain Kidd and his crew discover the truth before it’s too late? Or will they fall prey to the NIGHTSTALKERS?”


Tips for Writing Popular Fiction Part 3:

Welcome to part three of this ongoing series addressing how to write popular fiction (successfully). To catch up, start with Part 1 and Part 2, or continue straight into Part 3 of Writing Popular Fiction if you like to live dangerously.

Writing Popular Fiction Part 3:

The Fallacy of the Love Triangle. Let me start with this: how many teen romances, chick flicks, and garden-variety romances have you read or seen that utilize the love triangle? Probably more than you can count. While I can understand the practice in circumstances like a movie in which there is limited time to tell a story, doing so in a novel willy-nilly is flat out lazy. Hear me out. Why have some soap operas been on the air for 40+ years? I would argue it’s not their use of cutting-edge writing teams, but rather their ability to play at the emotions of their viewers. I would argue that if you have time to create a love triangle, you have time to make a love quadrangle. Why is this better? It allows the story to take on a new dynamic. Now there are the interconnections between four characters which can up the ante when it comes to urgency.

A love quadrangle need not be as complicated as it sounds. Circumstances could prevent two characters from being together, and that means those feelings may prevent them from jumping into the sack with yet another character. The reader might have a preference for who a main character ends up with, (Team Jacob), but the reader shouldn’t always get exactly what they want (Any page from A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones). The love triangle has been used over and over because it happens in real life. All. The. Time. What’s more confusing for your character, though? Choosing between two men, or choosing between two men who are also being courted by another female. If she chooses wrong she may lose the chance to be with the one she chose, and then how likely is the other guy to be okay with being the leftovers? In my opinion, there’s a lot more places to go with this dynamic, even if the fourth character isn’t a character at all, but a situation that adds to the dilemma.

The Red Herring. This technique used to be a lot more common, but I think it has fallen out of favor by an abundance of audiences that wants everything handed to them on a silver platter. The concept of the Red Herring is that a clue, character, or some other plot device is introduced to throw off the reader and ends up having no effect on the conclusion of the novel. Why would you want to use this technique? The classic case is the Scooby Doo mystery, in which midway through the story a character is introduced and all signs point to them as the perpetrator of some crime, only to have those signs be misleading. (Obviously it was the caretaker of the lighthouse the whole time!) While this isn’t used as heavily in novels these days, it is used in TV Shows. If you don’t believe me, watch any police procedural on TV today. If they “catch the killer” and there’s still fifteen minutes left in the show, they are a Red Herring. Every. Damn. Time.

Here’s the context in which I think this should come back. Most popular fiction these days is too predictable. Nothing can ever happen to the good guys that will cause them lasting harm and who the bad guys are is generally pretty clear from the outset. (In the case of Twilight, *SPOILER* there really are no bad guys of importance, only a situation that is easily fixed if Edward wasn’t such a wimp. There, I said it). Instead, I like to introduce characters and give them backstories even if they don’t end up playing a major part in the plot. If everyone is described well, everyone could be important. It makes the reader pay attention more. In my upcoming book Nightstalkers I introduce several new characters. Some of them will never be seen again, and some others will go on to play major roles in the lives of my characters and in the overarching story of my series. Why? In real life, if you go through your day you meet all kinds of people. At the time, you never know who’s going to end up being important. You could meet your future spouse in passing, but you’re just as likely to meet someone at the grocery store who ends up cutting your hair years later (though you’d never know it). By introducing these characters I not only get to introduce important characters under less than important circumstances, I can introduce small plot devices in the beginning of a story that don’t resurface until much later, even if they are just to confuse my characters, or you, my loyal readers.

My advice: take a chance, use a Red Herring for something other than a perp walk or Scooby Doo-esque mystery. While you’re at it, create a web of love that’s hard to untangle. You never know what side stories might come to you as a result. This is the kind of stuff that makes a series successful. Readers will come back time after time to see what happens to your characters if you give them a reason to care. It’s more interesting to write and it’s more interesting to read. I call that a win-win.

Tips for Writing Popular Fiction: Part 2

Update: Click to read Part 1 or Part 3.

Writing Popular Fiction: Part 2

Last week I talked about writing at an accessible level to expand your audience and the art of subtlety in writing. This week, I’m moving on to two new tips that I’ve found to be really successful in my own writing. Perhaps you already use them, perhaps you’re only now being introduced. Either way, using these tips for writing popular fiction are a great start toward pushing your craft to the next level.

1. The Cliffhanger.  Everyone has been reading that book that always seems to be begging you to read one more chapter to find out what happens. Why is this? Usually, it’s a factor of the author using psychological tools to leave the reader, you, wanting more. How do they do it? You’ll often find that chapters end in the middle of a dramatic scene or right before something big happens. In television, this is known as the commercial break. It’s something that’s been used on the small screen for decades to build anticipation to ensure you won’t change the channel when you’ve seen your third Charter Spectrum commercial in a row (This actually happened to me once and the theme song is still in my head. Curse you Charter!)

How can you as a writer build this into your story structure? It’s simple. As you’re writing your scene, imagine it as a TV show. If you were watching a TV show, where would the producers pause for a commercial? Use this trick as a basic guideline and it will take you a long way. The key here is not to do it every single time because it can be a bit formulaic if every chapter ends in the same way. This is where it’s good to throw in some twists. Instead of ending just before a big reveal, end a little further back, but put in some choice words so that the reader knows it’s coming, whetting their appetite to continue reading. This method is how you get readers to pick up your book and be unable to put it down until they are finished. In case you haven’t been paying attention, that is rarely a bad thing.

Note: If you are writing in a series, it is paramount that you put in at least some kind of cliffhanger to get the reader to click ‘buy now’ on the next book in the series. This doesn’t have to be epic, but the reader must know that there is more to the story and that they would benefit from continuing on this journey with you. Readers who have already read one of your books are incredibly more likely to read more of your work, especially if there is a series involved. Why? If a reader has already invested time in an author and if that author is any good, readers would rather read more work by an ‘acceptable’ author than to venture into unknown territory. Prior readers should be one of your main target audiences.

2. The Audience. Literary Fiction has its function. It is meant to be thought-provoking, but at its core it is all about the author. The author is expressing a feeling from deep within and is writing a story without regard to the reader. It is, perhaps, the loneliest genre an author can write. Popular Fiction is a different story. Popular Fiction exists because of the reader. The story and the emotions of the characters are far more important than what is under the surface in popular fiction because it exists for a different reason. Popular Fiction exists to evoke emotion in the reader, to get them to care about a character or situation, and to spin a story that will live on in their memory as though it were their own. While Literary Fiction can manifest some of these traits, its purpose is not to do so. The reader’s desires are under the surface. When writing Popular Fiction, it is important to always have your audience in mind. Why are they reading this? Are my characters likable, and if not, is that intentional? Your audience can differ depending on what genre you choose to write (or combination of genres), but truly it doesn’t matter, as long as you know who you’re writing for.

Very few people write a novel without the expectation or desire that someone will read it (mostly academic types). A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself as you’re writing if this is something you would read as an objective reader. If it is, great, keep it up! If you aren’t sure, you might want to take some time and read a few books from the genre you’re writing. I don’t say this so you can write a carbon-copy of something that’s already out there. Instead, you should see what elements worked and what elements did not work for you. Find out what drew you into the story, or perhaps what did not draw you in. Perhaps you’re writing in a genre because you haven’t found a story (say about vampires) that you really enjoy. Maybe the book you’re writing is exactly what the market needs to freshen up that genre, giving birth to a new sub-genre. In that case, you won’t know until you publish (and likely years after you publish).

For example, a novel I published five years ago has recently seen a second life and the sales have spiked. It’s taken a while (without much of a marketing plan) for it to begin to shine. That novel is particularly polarizing, where many people like it, but the writing is not for everyone. I drum this up to some experimental styles I used with an interrupting narrator that is a subconscious voice within the head of my main character, inspired by Kurt Vonnegut. Was it commercially smart? Probably not, but it sure was fun. The point here is that writing for your audience is generally a smart thing to do, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the right thing to do. You see, maybe that strange thought in your head is just crazy enough to resonate with that very same audience. Maybe they don’t know they want it because they’ve never seen it before. The only way to know for sure is to publish and engage in what I like to call “The Long Wait.”  If you’re not interested in waiting, I’ve learned some great marketing techniques that can help to boost your sales.  I’ll update this post with a link when I’ve written that post.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for next week’s post, Tips for Writing Popular Fiction: Part 3, in which I discuss the Fallacy of the Love Triangle and the Red Herring.