Deception

A blog I contribute to recently used deception for its October theme. What better topic for October? The month of trick…or treat.untitled-design-1

Which will it be? A trick or a treat? Writers specialize in sleight of hand. Mystery writers in particular. We plant clues in plain sight. Playing fair is part of the canon of mystery-writing. We give the readers all the tools to solve the mystery, but we don’t paint them neon orange. Even if it is Halloween.

How do we do it? Sometimes better than others.

In a perfect book, all the clues are carefully laid out. Often beginning on page one. Gotta watch those writers, they’re a tricky bunch. But the clues are disguised as ordinary dialogue, or mixed into a list of items too commonplace to stand out. The clue has been dropped, a few pages later, the red herring usually follows. Red herrings are clues used to take the protagonist, and the reader on a chase to a dead end. So, if the complainant tells you it was a silent night on the moors (red herring), and you happen to be Sherlock Holmes, that’s a huge clue, eventually. In the meantime, the reader, Holmes, and Watson are led on a merry chase considering and discarding suspects until the red herring is revealed as a clue.

How do writers make that work? I have no idea how Conon Doyle did it, but I’d love to ask. If you Google him and look at his picture, you’ll note he has an amused glint in his eye. I’m betting he’s not talking.

How do I do it? Well, first let me warn you. I have never known who done it until the second draft. Sure, I’ve finished the books in the first draft, but the endings never satisfied. During the editing process, I discovered that my clues let not to x but to y. Stop the presses. Red herrings fool authors and readers. That’s a good thing. It tells me my clues are properly planted. So are my red herrings.

halloween-blogBack to the process. I start each book with the victim. I learn all I can about him—or her. In the process of dissecting a life cut short too soon, I uncover clues. I make a list of those clues. Why did that person need killing? Why did the villain think the victim needed killing? Then I decide where in the book those clues will have the most impact, and how to hide them. At the same time, I work up three (or more) alternate scenarios. Who else has motive, means, opportunity? Then I bullet point outline three (or more) different stories, each with a different ending.

Once all the background work is done, I write my book. The book is not outlined. I’m a pantser in that regard. Instead, I write from chapter to chapter letting the characters tell me the story arc. In the end, I have a beginning, middle, and end that work. But usually points me, and often the reader, to the wrong character. In the editing process, I follow the clues again and finally discover who really done it.

It’s all about the deception. The characters always control the story, and they do not play fair. Not with this writer!

Author photos 009Kait Carson lives in an airpark in south central Florida with a pilot husband, eight tropical birds, and six rescue cats. By day, she’s a practicing probate and litigation paralegal, in the evening, legal pads give way to a keyboard, and she spins tales of murder and mayhem set in the tropical heat. Kait writes two series, the Catherine Swope series, set in Miami, and the Hayden Kent series set in the Fabulous Florida Keys.

Kait loves to hear from readers, check out her website at www.kaitcarson.com; follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kaitcarsonauthor, on Twitter at @kaitcarson, or e-mail her at kait.carson@gmail.com.

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My Rocky Journey to Publication

by Christina Hoag

I was incredibly excited when I landed my first offer of representation from a literary agent for what was then my novel “Skin of Tattoos,” a literary thriller set in the gang underworld of L.A. I’d sent out about 90 queries, had received a few requests for pages but no bites and I was starting to despair.skinoftattooscover

Then I got the call. During our conversation, the agent said, “I don’t really like agenting. I’m just, sort of, doing this.” It struck me as odd, but I couldn’t turn her down. What if I didn’t get another offer?

I signed and we met. During the conversation, she told me that a publisher had agreed to take one of her books but had never followed through with the contract. Again, it didn’t paint her in the best light, but I figured that could happen to any agent.

Several months later, my book had been rejected by about 10 houses, and she stopped submitting. Then I got an email – she had submitted to one more publisher. Relief. Then I waited. Was she submitting it to more? Was this really it? Wasn’t she supposed to keep submitting? Or maybe this agent didn’t have a very deep bench? I recalled her previous comments. She didn’t like being an agent and she couldn’t close a deal. It was dawning on me that I hadn’t made a good choice.

Nevertheless, I soldiered on. I told her about my second novel, “Girl on the Brink,” a YA about a teen romance that turned abusive that was inspired by true events. She seemed excited, and I pounded out a draft in several months and submitted it, hoping for a meaningful critique that would help me develop it further, a la Maxwell Perkins. That’s what agents do, right?

Nope. She was scornful about my manuscript, but couldn’t articulate what was wrong, instead telling me to read “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden,” which I’d heard of but never read. I looked it up. It was published in 1964.

She made it clear she didn’t want to read revisions–“It’s not good for us to read the manuscript multiple times.” Huh? Instead, she recommended a “book doctor” so I called the person. By now, my eyes were far less starry and I asked discerning questions. The “doc” had no publishing background. She’d been a screenwriters’ agent and her YA credential consisted of having a 15-year-old daughter. For $500, she’d read my manuscript and give me a critique over the phone. She repeatedly stressed the phone part. Talking, of course, is much easier than spending time writing a detailed critique.

girlonthebrinkcoverLuckily, I wasn’t convinced. I got off the phone and immediately felt the crushing disappointment of realization that I had simply signed with a lousy agent. My depression lasted a week, then I realized something else.

What I did have were two detailed critiques from top editors at major New York publishing houses. I studied what they said, pulled “Skin of Tattoos” apart and rewrote extensively, now making it an adult book which worked far better.

By the time my contract expired six months later, during which time I never heard again from the agent (She never even responded when I sent her a polite email thanking her but stating I wouldn’t be renewing the contract.), I had a new manuscript.

I started seeking an agent once again. This time I honed my search carefully and eventually landed an agent whose name I had plucked out of the Acknowledgments section of two crime books published by major houses. This agent really was a professional. She loved the book and promised to keep sending it out until we got a deal.

While this novel was on submission, I rewrote and rewrote and rewrote the “Girl on the Brink,” working on the voice and inserting more suspense elements, turning it into a romantic thriller with a social message. My agent didn’t want it so I submitted it to publishers on my own and eventually got a deal.

To my great disillusion, however, “Skin of Tattoos,” didn’t sell after about 40 submissions despite garnering some real praise from top houses. I realized a hidden truth about publishing – the quality of the writing didn’t necessarily matter, nor even the story, as much as whether it was deemed commercial and fit neatly into a genre.

Eventually, I started researching publishers and sent lists to the agent, who sent it out to those she deemed worthwhile. But after two years, the agent told me she could do no more.

I went back to the manuscript yet again, cutting about 12,000 words, deleting stuff that both agents had told me to include but really didn’t fit the story, again paying attention to the few worthwhile things rejecting editors had said, and mostly to my own gut.

Five months later I had a contract with a small publisher and I wondered if I had done the right thing. Should I have just shelved the manuscript? Waited until I landed a major publisher and developed an audience and then dusted it off?

I’m so glad I didn’t. Both “Skin of Tattoos” and “Girl on the Brink” were published in August and have received excellent reviews from Kirkus Reviews, as well as from readers. It had been an unbelievably long journey but I am thrilled I never gave up. There are far more routes to being published than the traditional one.

AUTHOR BIOchristinahoagauthorheadshot

Christina Hoag is the author of Skin of Tattoos, a literary thriller set in L.A.’s gang underworld (Martin Brown Publishers, August 2016) and Girl on the Brink, a romantic thriller for young adults (Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books, August 2016). She is a former reporter for the Associated Press and Miami Herald and worked as a correspondent in Latin America writing for major media outlets including Time, Business Week, Financial Times, the Houston Chronicle and The New York Times. She is the co-author of Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, a groundbreaking book on gang intervention (Turner Publishing, 2014). She lives in Los Angeles. For more information, see www.christinahoag.com.

Skin of Tattoos is available in ebook and paperback on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2bSRjqP

Girl on the Brink is available in ebook and paperback on:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2aRFsVZ

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/657690

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2bFrCGQ

 

 

 

 

Conventions Exist for Good Reason

By Ellen Behrens

Ever read a book but run into spots where you scratch your head, then flip back a few pages, thinking you missed something? Me, too. I recently picked up a nearly 500-page paperback novel set in South Dakota. I like reading books set where my husband and I have traveled, and I was looking forward to a rare Black Hills novel. Alas, I nearly gave up on page 5.

The author had me with an intriguing opening line: “Didja ever notice old folks’ homes smell exactly like funeral homes?” Hmm. Never thought of that. The narrative voice sounded sassy and honest, and I liked that.

I overlooked being introduced to the main characters by their first names only, assuming the author had a good reason to break with the convention of using full names.

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Then, on page 5, I bumped into a reference to another character, this time by last name only. I couldn’t remember reading anything about that character, so I interrupted the flow of the story to thumb through the first four pages, hunting through each paragraph in search of the reference to this character I must have missed. When I couldn’t find it, I re-read the sentence that had catapulted me out of the story: “Also very much like Martinez’s various security setups.” Yep. That was the full mention of this “Martinez.”

Wha–??

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So I started over again, looking more closely for an explanation of who Martinez was and what I was supposed to know about Martinez’s “various security setups.” Nothing. At this point, I’d read the first five pages at least three times.

Frustrated, I scanned the back cover of the book to see what (other than the setting) had compelled me to buy it.  And there it was: a reference to Martinez as the main character’s love interest.

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The back cover is not where I should have found the missing details. I realized the book must have been part of a series. Earlier books no doubt filled the gaps I kept falling into, but nothing on the cover said I should read earlier books to make sense of this one.

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Five pages into a 500-page novel, I was disoriented. Not a promising start. I really wanted to like the book. I’ve been traditionally published, but now I’m self-publishing my own mystery series and wanted to financially support a fellow novelist. I know from my own frustrating experience how much blood, sweat, and gut-wrenching determination it takes to finish a novel (and I’ve never written a 500-pager).

Sadly, my “suspension of disbelief” was gone – I was paying more attention to how the book was written than to the story itself. But it was a valuable reminder of why certain fiction conventions are still valid, and why they’re especially important to follow in series books:

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1) Introduce characters by full name early on.

2) Re-introduce characters from earlier books if they reappear. Don’t assume readers know the characters or their backstories.

3) Never, ever confuse your readers. They’re more likely to abandon the book without finishing it if they get disoriented or become more aware of how a story’s written than the story itself.

4) Oh, and if you catch me doing something that fouls up your appreciation of one of my books? Let me know. Please!

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peabody_coverYuma Baby, the second in Ellen Behrens’ Rollin RV Mystery series (following Pea Body) featuring Walt and Betty Rollin, full-time RVers who solve mysteries, is coming soon. A former fiction editor and the recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship, Ellen and her husband have been full-time RVers since 2009 – living and writing back and forth across North America. Learn more about her books at www.ellenbooks.com or drop her an e-mail at ellenbehr[at]aol[dot]com if you’d like. She loves mail!

 

 

What We (Really) Found

By Kris Bock

Many writers are inspired by real events or people in their lives. This makes difficult situations a form of research. “This stinks, but maybe I can use it in a book!” I write romantic suspense for adults as Kris Bock and middle grade novels (for ages 9 to 12) as Chris Eboch. In most of these books, the connection to real life experiences isn’t obvious.

But one of my adult titles, What We Found, was inspired by a true case of murder.what-we-found

Two friends and I were exploring the mountains, looking for some suitable gravel to try gold panning (because, why not?). We found a likely spot and were about to take a sample when the guys smelled something horrible. A glance in the right direction showed them a dead body hidden just out of sight of the path.

The next hour passed in a surreal blur. None of us had a phone on us. We got back to our phones and then had to find a place with reception. We called 911, waited for the police, and led them to the body. Later that night we were interviewed by detectives. By the following day, they had identified the body as a woman who had been missing. Seeing her picture on TV and learning about her family made the situation real in a new way. We wanted justice for someone we’d never met. Fortunately, they already had a suspect, but it took nearly a year to resolve the case.

It’s All Research

As a writer, I knew I was getting rare first-hand experience into something powerful. I took pages of notes during that first week, even though I didn’t know how or when I might use them. I was fortunate to be with two men who talked openly about their experiences: the nightmares, the guilt over violence against women, the anxiety that came from now wondering what you might see in the bushes.

Three things struck me most strongly. First, we all felt deeply invested in the case, even though we’d never met the woman in life and didn’t know anyone else involved. We followed the news stories, and when the murderer was finally sentenced … well, I wouldn’t say we celebrated; more like we relaxed.

mad-monkSecond, it affected every aspect of our lives for weeks. Even though the likelihood of finding another body, or even witnessing a different crime, was extremely slim, we were on high alert at all times. It was a struggle to put it behind us while still honoring the memory of the victim and holding on to what we had learned.

And finally, we heard from someone in law enforcement that often people don’t report crime scenes like these. How could someone walk away from that? I started thinking about all the reasons someone might want to cover up their discovery, even if they had nothing to do with the crime. And that inspired What We Found.

Turning Truth into Fiction

Several years passed before I felt distant enough from the experience to fictionalize it, but I still had all those notes and memories to draw on. Some elements of What We Found, mainly the emotional ones, are taken directly from that experience. Most character and plot elements are completely fictional.

This isn’t an experience I would wish on anyone, but we’re glad we helped bring a crime to light and a murderer to justice. And it led to what I consider my most powerful and personal novel to date. After all, one benefit to being a writer is that the worst experiences are still valuable as research.

That’s the truth behind What We Found.

What We Found is currently free on Amazon,

What We Found

When Audra goes back to her small hometown after college, she just wants to fit in, work hard, and protect her 12-year-old brother from their overbearing mother. Finding a dead body in the woods changes everything. Her former crush, Jay, insists they don’t report the body. But the dead woman was murdered, and someone starts targeting Audra. She has to stand up for herself in order to stand up for the murder victim. It’s a risk, and so is reaching out to the mysterious young man who works with deadly birds of prey. But with danger all around, some risks are worth taking. This title stands alone and is not part of a series.

“Another action-packed suspense novel by Kris Bock, perhaps her best to-date. The author weaves an intriguing tale with appealing characters. Watching Audra, the main character, evolve into an emotionally-mature and independent young woman is gratifying.” Reader Ellen Rippel

This title stands alone and is not part of a series.kris-bock

Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance with outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. The Mad Monk’s Treasure follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. In The Dead Man’s Treasure, estranged relatives compete to reach a buried treasure by following a series of complex clues. In The Skeleton Canyon Treasure, sparks fly when reader favorites Camie and Tiger help a mysterious man track down his missing uncle. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town.

Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit her Amazon page. Sign up for the Kris Bock newsletter for announcements of new books, sales, and more.

Keep the Mystery in your Fiction!

By Glenna Mageau (Writing as Maggie Thom)

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You’ve finished writing your novel and now you find yourself with the prospect of having to write a catching back cover blurb that will hook the potential reader and draw her/him in. Unfortunately, writing this brief but vital info seems to be a mystery for many authors. What to include? What to leave out? Where to begin? How to make it interesting?

It’s no wonder this task so daunting. You’ve just written 60,000 words, or 82,454, words or 102,383 words, and now you want to give a glimpse inside the meat of your story in only 200 words? The thing is though, for an author 200 words is really not that difficult a task to write. Where the problem comes in, is that authors of fiction tend to look at writing the book blurb as a summary, as a “this-then-that” kind of article, when really it’s not.

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The key to the fiction blurb is that you want the reader to know they are departing on a grand adventure, an exciting and thrilling journey! But where will they actually go? That, you want to keep a mystery!

To give the reader a taste of the experience they will experience while devouring your book, you want to offer them a glimpse inside the pages and connect them to your protagonist and her/his journey without giving away too much of what lies ahead.

Sounds easy, right?

pulling out hair

I sure didn’t find it that way when I first decided to be Indie published. I had little idea how to write the effective fiction blurb, and no idea how to make it something that would pull the reader in and capture her interest. That frustrated me to no end. So, I set out to learn all that I could about what makes a such a blurb intriguing. Here are some vital points of what I have learned:

Where to start?

Keep the focus of the  blurb on the protagonist. Who is this character? What makes him/her unique? Why have you chosen this particular character as your protagonist?

What to include?

You want to include the struggles, the problems that the protagonist faces. And you want to include the major conflict that your story is about.

What to leave out?

You really don’t need to include all of the events and situations that happen. You don’t want to spell out the climax or ending. And you don’t want to mention too many secondary characters by name – maybe 2 or 3 at most.

Now that you have the reader’s attention, you want to pull them into the mystery of where the story is going.

How to make it interesting?

This is where you will use the climax and ending to hint at where the story is going. You want the reader to wonder, “Will the protagonist succeed or fail?” and what might happen if they fail.

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If you ensure that you include the above information in your blurb, you are giving a good sense of who the protagonist is, what’s going on for him/her, and how they are handling it all. That’s what will grab the reader and connect them to your story. Then, when you tack on the mystery of how and where the protagonist ends up, you’ve got their attention–and better yet–you’ve got them wondering where the story is going. You’ve hooked them!

Remember–keeping the mystery in your blurb will pull the reader into your story, and won’t let them go!

I’m doing a free webinar – 5 Steps to a Compelling and Interesting Fiction Book Blurb – on Nov. 9. The best way to keep informed and get more tips on writing a fiction book blurb is to sign up for my free ebook – 3 Keys to Creating a Compelling and Interesting Fiction Book Blurb

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About the author:Glenna Mageau is an award-winning suspense/thriller author who works with Indie/Self Published authors to create attention-grabbing blurbs. Her first attempts at writing fiction book blurbs were dismal, time-consuming and stressful. Over many hours of trial and error she finally figured out the keys to writing interesting, compelling and attention-grabbing back cover copy. This led to the author’s course – Mastering the Art of Writing the Catchy Fiction Book Blurb – to help all Indie/Self-published authors learn this vital art. You can learn more here: http://www.glennamageau.com/

Glenna’s motto: Escape to read… Read to escape… and Write for the Freedom!

Connect with Glenna at:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GlennaMageau

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thewritesuccess/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/glennamageau/

cj Sez: Your autumn wardrobe must-have: Tall leather boots from . . .

By: CJ Petterson

Oops. Wrong headline, and yes, here I am, in a state of flux. Caught somewhere between the beginning of fall (the autumn equinox occurred Sept. 22) and the end of daylight savings time (if you’re on it, it ends Nov. 6 at 2 a.m.). On a downward slide to the end of the year. Think about it. Right now, many stores have displays up for the generic harvest time and fall colors as well as for every single one of the upcoming holidays. So Happy HalloThanksHannukMasKwanzYear!cr-carter-more-friendsbundle-cvr

Now, if you’re a writer who likes a challenge, here’s another event to anticipate and celebrate: The beginning of NaNoWriMo—November, the National Novel Writing Month; the month where authors challenge themselves to write fifty thousand words in one month, that’s 50,000 (it looks bigger in numbers). Let’s see, “30 days hath September, April, June, and November.” That means you’ll have to write an average of (just a minute, calculations going on) 1,666.6 words per day to reach the goal. Whew!

If you’re going to take the challenge (I’ll admit only to “thinking” about it), now is the time to pre-plot, if you haven’t already started the process. Deciding to take the NaNoWriMo challenge is one of those times where it isn’t a good idea to jump right in and begin writing. In order to accomplish 50,000 words in thirty days, you will definitely need some pre-planning. You’ll need a basic idea of how you want the action to progress. Especially important to speedwriting is to know something (better would be a lot) about your characters, what their emotional and developmental arcs will be.

The plus side of all that pre-plot/pre-plan work is not only will you have a better chance of successfully completing the NaNoWriMo challenge and creating the nucleus of a new story, but it’s also a good bet that you’ll need a lot fewer rewrites to make that first draft into a viable, saleable novel. (How’s that for a sentence that leaves you breathless? On many levels.)

If you’re not in a support group (they are very good for encouragement and motivation), there are multiple sources of helpful forums and advice online. There is even an official organization: http://nanowrimo.org

So, what are you doing reading this? You should be plotting and planning! Put pen to paper or fingers to keyboards and get started on developing those characters and plots. There are only ten days left until Nov. 1 (I counted them). And now that I think about it, since I get paid monthly, I have only two more paydays until Christmas. Aarrgh!

You-all guys keep on keeping on, and remember, if you opt to enter NaNoWriMo, I’m rooting for you…even if I chicken out. Let me know how you do, okay?

cj

PS:  Thanks so much, Kait and all the authors at MotiveMeansOpportunity, for giving me an opportunity to do a guest post on your blog. I’m coming back to study your tips on “How to Write a Private Eye Novel” . . . your insights are just what I need. Thanks again for hosting me.  cj

AUTHOR BIO:marilyn-johnson

Author “cj petterson” is the pen name of Marilyn A. Johnston. An incorrigible wordsmith who is published in several genres, Marilyn was born in Texas, retired from a career in Michigan’s automotive industry, and now lives with her family on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. As cj petterson, she has authored two contemporary romantic suspense novels—Deadly Star and Choosing Carter—and several short stories . . . the latest short is a historical fiction piece scheduled for publication in a Western anthology, The Posse, in February 2017. Her novel-in-progress (about 100 pages done) is a female, private detective mystery (her first true mystery), and she’s promised herself the case will be solved before Christmas.

Follow author cj petterson on her blog site at www.lyricalpens.com and at

cjpetterson@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/CjPettersonAuthor

Amazon Central Author Page:  http://amzn.to/1NIDKC0

THE BOOK BLURB:

When you ask cj about her contemporary romantic suspense Choosing Carter, she’ll give you its Jane Bond elevator pitch in less than twenty words: “Somewhere in the mountains of Colorado, a woman must choose between the man she loves and her terrorist brother.”

Choosing Carter is one of the six romance novels bundled by publisher Crimson Romance in an offering they call “More than Friends.” The bundle is available on Amazon from now until February 2017 for 99 cents (sometimes less, sometimes free) … a great gift idea for the “holidaze” (or Valentine’s Day) for yourself, BFF, or writing buddy … hours and hours of entertainment for less than a buck! Check it out at http://amzn.to/2dnqnLJ

 

 

Author Connie Cockrell releases Troubled Streets, a Sci-Fi Mystery/Thriller!

First, I want to thank Michael Helms and Motive Means Opportunity for the invitation to post here. Isn’t it lovely when you’re invited somewhere? Michael was kind enough to notice I’d just published a new book, Troubled Streets, and offered up this blog to talk about it. It was too good an offer to pass up.

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Where did the story for Troubled Streets come from? It was prompted by one of those on-line memes I see go around every once in awhile. We’ve all seen them, rants about why honest, hard-working, taxpayers should pay for food, shelter, medical support of drug users, criminals, you get the picture. Anyway, I’ve seen these rants for years but this particular day it got me thinking: What would a society that decides they aren’t going to support their “undesirables” look like?

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I could have set the story anywhere, modern day, a fantasy location, but since my favorite genre is science fiction with a dash of mystery and thriller added to the mix, I decided to set the story on a planet far away and in the future. That’s what Sci-Fi is for, after all—looking at current events in a way that makes it safe to consider alternatives.

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The story of Troubled Streets originated as a flash fiction. I like to use short stories, even flash fiction (1000 words or less) to explore story ideas. My heroine, Zoe Ohale, is seventeen. Her parents, declared undesirables, are both dead and she’s been on the streets since she was twelve. There’s no support on her planet for the children of undesirables. She’s running from the local police (Law Enforcement or “Lees”) because she was engaged in illegal commerce. She was trying to trade some copper wire for credits (money). But she was set up and in the end, was captured. I called that flash story, “Betrayal Moon.” Later I expanded it to a full short story and subbed it to a few ezines and contests. There were no takers but the story had hold of me so in 2015, I used the short story as my base and wrote Troubled Streets for my November National Novel Writing Month story.

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And that’s it. My process is to set a story aside for a while to let my brain forget it. I pulled it out in July and began the rewrite and edit process. Now, here we are, a brand new book, first in its series, Zoe Ohale. I have plans for Ms. Ohale. Oh yes I do. I hope you enjoy her story as much as I do.

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Synopsis of Troubled Streets

Zoe Ohale has had a hard life on the streets of Baia Mare. It’s about to get a whole lot harder.

A gang of credit thieves has come to the city, and Zoe is tasked with finding them. She makes some progress in her quest, but who should she tell? The gruff cop who might be her ticket off the streets? Or the underworld crime boss who can kill with a word? Neither side can be trusted, and Zoe is left dangling in the middle with no way out.

But when a young girl from her orphan gang is kidnapped by a ruthless mobster, it becomes personal, and it’s up to Zoe to navigate the treacherous streets and bring her back. Going it alone brings more trouble than Zoe expected, and soon she is forced to rely on her own allies to help even the score… including assistance from the most unlikely of places.

As the debts owed pile up and blood starts to spill, Zoe has precious little time to figure out how to balance the scales and bring justice to Baia Mare. From the rich and powerful in their lofty council halls to the downtrodden folks on the dirty streets, the city is heading for a rude awakening – and at the center of it all is Zoe Ohale.

My Bio: A 20-year Air Force career, time as a manager at a computer operations company, wife, mother, sister and volunteer, provides a rich background for Connie Cockrell’s story-telling.

Cockrell grew up in upstate NY, just outside of Gloversville, NY before she joined the military at age 18. Having lived in Europe, Great Britain, and several places around the United States, she now lives in Payson, AZ with her husband: hiking, gardening, and playing bunko. She writes about whatever comes into her head so her books could be in any genre. She’s published fifteen books so far, has been included in five different anthologies and been published on EveryDayStories.com. Connie’s always on the lookout for a good story idea. Beware, you just might wind up in the next one!

connie-cockrell-img_4629-small    Author Connie Cockrell can be found at www.conniesrandomthoughts.com or on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/ConniesRandomThoughts or on Twitter at: @ConnieCockrell