Friday, September 28, 2012

Crime Fiction Rocks at 2012 Bouchercon Mystery Conference!

by Jordan Dane @JordanDane  

I’ll be attending one of my favorite conferences is coming up on Oct 4-7 in Cleveland, Ohio. Bouchercon is a world mystery convention that has been taking place annually since 1970. It’s open to anyone and is a place for fans, authors and publishing industry professionals to gather and celebrate their love of the mystery genre. It is named for a famed mystery critic Anthony Boucher. During the convention there are panels, discussions and interviews with authors and people from the mystery community covering all parts of the genre. There are signing events for people to meet their favorite authors face-to-face and get books signed. Bouchercon also has the Anthony Awards which are also named after Anthony Boucher. These are voted on by the attendees and given out during the convention. For more, click HERE. Guests of honor for 2012 include: Elizabeth George, Robin Cook, Mary Higgins Clark, Les Roberts, Librarian Doris Ann Norris, and toastmaster John Connolly.  

Fellow ADR3er Michelle Gagnon and I will be on a YA panel for the first time. I’m really looking forward to that. If you are attending, I’d love to meet you.    

12:15 - 1:05 PM Thurs, Oct 4, 2012 Grand Ballroom B The Popularity of YA Books panel - How do authors appeal to young readers and keep them interested in reading? Book signing will be held in the dealer room following the panel. Joining Jordan will be Michelle Gagnon, Joelle Charboneau, Bev Irwin, and moderated by Keir Graff.

I’ll be on another fun panel featuring romantic suspense with Heather Graham, Lori Armstrong, C. J. Lyons, with Monette Michaels as moderator. We may have a mystery guest to round out our group. We’re still waiting to hear. Stay tuned.  

3:50-4:40 PM, Friday, Oct 5, 2012 Location: TBA
"I used to love her, but I had to kill her” Guns & Roses Panel - Moderated by author Monette Michaels, stellar panelists Heather Graham, Lori Armstrong, C. J. Lyons, and Jordan Dane will discuss romance in thrillers. Hallmark doesn't make a card for "I'd take a bullet for you, honey" but our panel of bestselling authors share their titillating secrets on how they spice up their thrillers with Guns & Roses. (Door prizes and giveaways for those in attendance. Grand prize is a NOOK color e-reader for one lucky winner.)

 Prior to this panel, Mike Bursaw will host a “Booze & Broads” signing event at the Mystery Mike’s booth in the dealer Book Room for the authors. Alcoholic libations will be served, a shot at a time.   HERE is the attendees list for 2012. Anyone else going to Bouchercon this year? Have any of you ever been? I’d love to hear from you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Comma Crazy? Then read like Ben Stein!

Okay, so if that title didn't scare you away, welcome. This post is gonna give you a sure-fire way to understand exactly where you should be placing the dreaded COMMA--and where you shouldn't.

About a month ago, I was fortunate enough to snag an internship at a publishing house (score! though, that score! would be SCORE! if it were a paying position...but I digress), and since then, I've had the pleasure of reading several submissions from some very talented writer hopefuls. Overall, said submissions have been well-written, with interesting plots and some great characters. But in almost all of them, the one thing that's been consistently lacking is, you guessed it, comma placement.

Now in no way am I saying I'm a genius when it comes to commas (or writing, plotting, characterization, get the idea). But I do think that the method I use helps (at least, it helps me). And I thought "Hey, this could maybe help other people, too." Hence, today's post.

Well that covers the "Comma Crazy?" part of this post's title, so let's move on to that whole "Ben Stein" thing, shall we? Now...this is where it gets interesting (or weird, depending on your level of sanity. Note: if you're not a tiny bit crazy, you may wanna stop reading.)

Ben Stein. We all know him, we all love him (if you have no clue who I'm talking about, you should really stop reading--and go watch Ferris Bueller's Day Off--RIGHT NOW.). We've seen him in everything from Ferris Beuller to Win Ben Stein's Money to kid shows like The Fairly Oddparents. The man has been everywhere, and we've enjoyed him immensely. 

And why, you might ask, is that? The answer is simple:

That Voice.

You might not recognize him walking down the street, but I guarantee you that if he spoke, you'd have no doubt. Mr. Stein has one of the most recognizable voices in the world, a raspy monotone that leaks into every part he plays. And it's that monotone that drives this post today.
(come on, who doesn't remember this?)

As writers, I'm sure we've all heard that reading your work out loud helps with things such as pacing, sentence structure and dialogue, right? But there's also a way for this tip to help with those horrifying little slashes known as commas. Sure, you might notice comma placement while reading aloud. But chances are you won't, since most of your focus will be on the aforementioned things. So I suggest giving it a read again.

Only this time, Read Like Ben Stein.

Yes. You read that right. If there's a particular line in your WIP that you just can't get to sound right, it could very easily be because of your commas. A comma not only helps with the way a sentence is structured, but also with the way it sounds. Putting a comma in to give a pause can add emphasis or dramatic affect, which will certainly help boost the mood you're going for in a scene, no?

So give that dry, humorous, brilliant monotone a try. Using monotone will help you avoid putting your own pause in, thus forcing you to rely on those commas. It will make it painfully clear if you've stuck one in the wrong place, because without dramatic inflection in your voice, your scene will sound like a really badly-structured one if those commas are incorrect.

But a word of advice?

Don't do this in front of others. If you do, you may get this reaction:

Might I suggest following the man himself, Mr. Bueller's lead, and just use the shower. You know, like a normal crazy person. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

SHADOWS Book Birthday!

Wow, can you believe it's been a year since ASHES?  Nope, me neither.  Well, your wait is over. SHADOWS hits 9/25 (9/27, for those of you in the UK). 

If it's been a while since you've read the first book, I'd suggest dropping by my website for a recap: SO YOU READ ASHES A YEAR AGOSHADOWS picks up where ASHES left off; it's a bigger, broader story with multiple storylines and new characters.  No wash-rinse-repeat here, and no recap in the book.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

A ton of blog stops and giveaways, too, both here and in the UK.  For the first half of the month, they are:

9/26: Bookspark (Live Author Chat & Giveaway, 7 p.m.)
         The Book Smugglers (Giveaway)

9/27: Teen Librarian Toolbook

10/02: Books and Bling

10/03: Hoobitsies

10/04: Emily's Reading Room

10/05: Hope, Faith, and Books
           Behind A Million and One Pages (Giveaway)

10/06: The Write Path Blog (Giveaway)

10/07: Karin's Book Nook

10/08: Always YA at Heart (Giveaway)

10/09: I Blog, You Read

10/10: The Librarian Reads

10/11: Guilded Earlobe

10/12: ParaJunkee

10/13: Novel Novice (Giveaway)

10/14: Book Sweets Book Review (Giveaway and Recipe O.o)

10/15: Just Bookin Around


10/13: Sheboygan Children's Book Festival (Sheboygan, WI)

10/19: Chippewa Valley Book Festival (Eau Claire, WI)

10/20: STEMfest (DeKalb, IL)

Friday, September 21, 2012

My First Heartbreak

(That's right, my YA thriller was just released!)
I'm part of "Epic Firsts" on Epic Reads, and they wanted us to blog about one of our personal "firsts." 
In the spirit of full disclosure in the public humiliation arena, here's what I wrote...
So I was what you might call a late bloomer, at least as far as my little corner of Rhode Island was concerned. Most of my classmates started going out with boys in the sixth grade. Not really dating, per se; mostly, they’d go to the movies or roller skating (frequently under parental supervision) and hold hands. But they were definitely considered couples by the rest of us, and we spent a serious chunk of recess and lunch periods discussing the trials and tribulations of Liana and Scott, Brad and Jessica, and all the other mini-marriages that popped up and dissolved around us with the frequency and rapidity of soda pop bubbles.

Not me. Partly because my mother insisted on cutting my hair herself (yes, by using a bowl) well into junior high school while simultaneously forbidding even a trace of makeup (not even mascara, to make my thin, blondish lashes look like they actually existed) to touch my face. And, to be honest, also because I was kind of a total geek, and everyone who had grown up with me knew it.

Then, in tenth grade, I switched schools.

This was my chance to reinvent myself, and I seized the opportunity. I blew all my babysitting and lawn-mowing money on a new wardrobe, then threw massive tantrums until my mother finally caved on the makeup thing. In fact, I was so persuasive (and such a pain in the butt), that she even went so far as to let me get a perm. (Okay, I know that doesn’t sound very attractive, but this was Rhode Island in the eighties. You’ll have to trust me when I say it was all the rage.)

Day One, I was pumped. And with good reason, as it turned out—I was switching into a tiny private school where most of the kids had been together practically since birth. They were completely starved for new people to talk to/look at/date.

I quickly set my sights on a senior. (Ambitious, but go big or go home, right?) His name (which has been changed to protect the relatively innocent) was Mark, and he was a slightly swarthier version of Tom Cruise in Top Gun, complete with the buzz cut and tinted aviator glasses. He liked cool bands (U2, UB40) and was knowledgeable about artsy movies that I’d never even heard of. We were in jazz band together (because it was obviously impossible for me to shed all my geekiness in one fell swoop); I played the clarinet, and he was the drummer.

And by the end of the first week, he’d asked me out.

I was completely elated. And terrified, because now I had to somehow convince my parents to let me make the quantum leap from makeup to dating. This, I knew, was not going to be easy.

But they turned out to be surprisingly amenable to the idea. With one caveat: we were only allowed to date in my house, under their supervision, for the first month. Which, of course, was pretty much a fate worse than death.

Mark was surprisingly sweet about it when I worked up the courage to tell him. He had a younger sister, so he totally got it. He’d do the same thing if he was a dad.

So that Friday, Mark drove me home from school in his beater Tercel and ate dinner with my entire family. He was funny and charming, and I could tell that my parents were entranced by him. So much so that they said it was okay for us to watch a movie—BY OURSELVES, no less—in the TV room.

We were halfway through a Fellini movie (that was boring me to tears, frankly, but I pretended to be enthralled), when my father abruptly slammed open the door and demanded to speak with us downstairs.

You see, innocently enough, we’d turned off the lights. (Mark claimed that watching Fellini in a brightly lit room was like eating caviar off a Ritz cracker, to which I nodded sagely while mentally making a note to check on why, precisely, that would be a bad thing.) But honestly, we had only been holding hands. Mark was so into Fellini that when I tried to talk to him during the film, he shushed me. We hadn’t exchanged so much as a chaste kiss yet.

Unfortunately, my father didn’t buy that for a minute. He proceeded to spend the next half hour lecturing Mark about how, for his day job, he worked with pregnant teenagers, while I sat there praying for an earthquake to swallow our house whole or some other major act of God to intervene.

Mark listened politely as the vein on my father’s forehead pulsed like a beacon. At the end, they shook hands, and Mark drove away. I then spent an hour screaming at my father that he was trying to ruin my life and ensure that I remain a social pariah forever. I stormed to my bedroom, locked myself in, and spent the rest of the weekend calling Mark’s house (life before cell phones; he never answered), sobbing uncontrollably, and giving my parents the silent treatment.

On Monday morning, I saw Mark across the courtyard before morning assembly. I rushed over with my little prepared speech, but only made it halfway there before I realized that (a) he was bending down to kiss that gorgeous girl who sat in front of me in chemistry class, and (b) everyone was whispering and staring at me.

I slowed to a walk, and my newly acquired friend, Terry, ran over, grabbed my arm, and informed me in a hushed whisper that news of my “insane” parents was all over school. Plus, Mark was telling everyone that crazy didn’t fall far from the tree, and that he wouldn’t be caught dead anywhere near me again, in case my dad decided to go after him with a hatchet. Oh, and he’d also mentioned that he hated perms.

I was totally devastated. I cried for days—not only because I’d pretty much already been picking out our china settings, but also because it was so unbelievably humiliating. And of course, I was convinced that not only had I been in love with Mark, but that I’d never, ever love anyone like that again.

I ended up learning a few things from that experience:

  1. I’d probably spend most of high school grounded if I didn’t get my parents to chill out and trust me a little.

  1. Terry was a true friend, and someone I’m still close with all these years later.

  1. Mark was kind of a jerk. And you know what? He friended me on Facebook recently, and he’s still single after all these years. Quite frequently, the cute boys in high school don’t age all that well. (That’s important to know, believe me.)

And that’s the story of my first heartbreak.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Possibly we all have one. The doll that creeps every single person who walks into the house out. Yes, my kids have had friends sleep over who have asked to be driven home in the middle of the night because of said doll.

“Wait, what?” my mom says. “I bought you that Jeri Anne doll from J. C. Penney years ago. I thought you loved her.”

Well, the truth is that she scares everyone. My daughter’s friends ask to have her not only moved out of the bedroom, but moved far, far away. Best if she’s up high on a shelf where she can’t get to anyone. My son’s friends insist she looks like a clown. A very scary clown.

But she’s only a doll. A sweet, little doll.

Okay, she is freaking creepy.

What is it about dolls that adds the complete creep factor?

I've decided to categorize dolls into a few categories for easy reference when you are including them in your next novel.

Imagine 21" Madame Alexander dolls when you think of this one. These dolls are trendy. They are dressed in the latest fashions. Their hair is styled exquisitely and may have jeweled barrettes holding it in perfect place. (btw, never brush this doll's hair.) They have fancy names like Scarlett and Cissy and Jacqueline. They know they are better than all the other doll.

Because of the beautiful nature of this doll, she is the creepiest when dripping with blood, has messed up hair, and when her gorgeous clothes have been torn. Her clothes may hand in rags on her, her panty hose may be snagged, but she always maintains something to show her beauty, such as the rhinestone barrette in her messed-up hair. It is the small, beautiful details that will stick with readers long after they have turned out the light.

 Part of my personal doll my bedroom.
I've only had a handful of nightmares.
Yes, I do have Star Trek Barbie and Ken.

This is the doll with the missing eyeballs and patchy hair. Her clothes may be long gone. She may have lived in a smoking house and have yellow stains from cigarette smoke. Her face may be bleached from the sun. Every single person who comes in the house averts their eyes when they see this doll, because why would anyone have her? She should have been land fill fodder long ago. But, by God, she is an antique, and there is no way her family is getting rid of her. She may have even come over on the Titanic and made it into a lifeboat.

In scary stories, this doll is best for close-up shots. She is already creepy enough without having to do anything extra special. Focus on the empty eye-socket. Use her to build up the creep factor before anything else happens.

Possibly we can superglue her?

This doll is taken care of so well, the family dog is jealous. She is dressed in perfect period clothes. She has a perfect period family, all dressed in clothes to compliment hers. She is always posed in a way that screams, "I am so sick of sitting here in this same rocking chair. Please free me." Her dress never has a wrinkle in it. It is steam ironed nightly and she is dusted with only the finest feather duster. Wherever she sits is not acceptable seating for guests. She gets first dibs.

Because of this infinite stage of posing, this doll is creepiest when her head spins around. Or when she suddenly is not in the same rocking chair she was in before but has somehow moved across the room to hang with the other dolls. She is subtle. It may take a few movements on her part to finally get noticed. And by then, it will be too late.

Do you think the tea is cold yet?

If you have a girl child, this is the doll she may consider her best friend. It may dress like her. It may look like her. You have probably spent many a hard-earned dollar making sure this doll makes your daughter happy. Your child may have tea parties and invite friends over with similar dolls so they can all play together. This doll goes on playdates with your child. This doll is almost like your child.

Because this doll is like a best friend, betrayal becomes the scariest thing. When this doll turns creepy, she begins to talk. She threatens her owner. She repeats canned phrases over and over again in the most horrific way. She does not want to be like her owner. She wants her own identity. She is sick of tea parties and matching clothes. This doll wants revenge.

Got any more categories for me? I'd love to hear them. 

And for those who can't get enough dolls, I leave you with...

CREEPY-ASS DOLLS by Stacey Leigh Brooks (Krause Publications, May 8, 2011)

DIARY OF A CREEPY-ALL DOLL by Stacey Leigh Brooks (Krause Publications, July 31, 2012)

Okay, this Tumblr cracks me the heck up!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I Want To Be A Spark Plug.

by A.G. Howard

Note: Despite the title and the picture below, today’s post is not about spark plugs.

But it IS a fitting analogy for an epiphany I had early on in my writer’s journey. And now it's really hitting home, since my debut, Splintered, is being offered to reviewers on netgalley and in hard copy ARC form. I'm starting to get reviews, be they positive or negative, and the spark plug analogy is keeping me sane.

Here’s the definition of a spark plug taken from Wikipedia: A spark plug is an electrical device that fits into the cylinder head of some internal combustion engines and ignites compressed aerosol gasoline by means of an electric spark.

In other words … it magically brings the engine to life. Vroom vroom. But there’s more than one kind of spark plug. So you have to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for choosing the right one to ensure it’s a good fit, or it won’t work. A bad fit means the spark won’t ignite, and there will be no vroom vroom.

A couple of years ago, when I was in the submission trenches with my first agent and my adult literary romance, we received feedback from an editor: I enjoyed the unique storyline and heroine, and I thought the author put a fresh twist on paranormal romance. But as I read, I just didn’t feel a strong emotional connection with the story, so it’s with sincere regret that I’m stepping aside.

I could whittle that entire explanation down into one phrase. No vroom vroom. I wasn’t the right fit for her, and there was no magical spark.

Ouch! That started me second guessing. Where did I go wrong? Why can’t I make everyone connect with my story? Surely, if my characters or storyline can’t capture every single reader’s affections, I have no hope of being a best seller or of winning a loyal fan base. Right?

Well, shortly thereafter I read a best-selling book at the time — one that I’d been chewing on for several weeks — and something clicked into place for me. The book had tons of sales, was well liked according to the majority of the reviews, and the publishers promoted it relentlessly (quite possibly the very reason why it had such great sales).

But upon closing that last page, I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Meh”. I mentally gave the book a 2 star rating out of 5. I liked the concept, and enjoyed the author’s writing style. But for some reason … and I could never put my finger on why … I didn’t connect emotionally with the MC. Actually, with any of the characters.

Yet I read that book front to back, just because the premise and writing style drew me in and held my attention. So I guess there’s hope; even without the vroom, sometimes people are willing to shift it into neutral and push on to the end of the road, if only to take in the scenery.

Some readers may not like my fantasy worlds or my plots, or they may not like my characters for their decisions or actions. My characters are flawed and human; sometimes they make mistakes, or don't think things through and act impulsively like real people do. If I write them in such a way to try to fit everyone's ideal, they become nothing more than cardboard cutouts. So, I have to stay true to my characters and my story, although it will mean losing some readers.

But even if someone doesn't like one element of my book, maybe they'll like another enough to read it to the very last line. That's an accomplishment in and of itself.

Maybe the science of writing isn’t quite as precise as the science of automobiles. But it occurred to me that subjectivity can be compared to finding the right spark plug (book) to fit the right engine (reader). Not everyone will love my stories, or my characters, or even my writing style. But all three WILL appeal to some and I will be a perfect fit for them. There’s just too many people with differing opinions and interests for it not to.

So, my hope now that my debut novel is finally getting read? That most readers will like at least one thing about it enough to push through to the end. But even more, I hope to be the spark plug some reader has been looking high and low for, that they'll connect to the story in everyway, and it will ignite their imagination.

And then: Vroom vroom … let the magic begin.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Linked Series

Carol Tanzman checking in!
I picked up best-selling Irish author Tana French’s books a few weeks ago to check out this adult thriller writer. I’d heard good things about the writing, her latest book, Broken Harbor is on several “best books” lists––and I love reading (and writing) thrillers. It wasn’t until I started the second book, The Likeness, however, that I realized she was going for a similar premise with her work as my Harlequin Teen’s WiHi series: linked books that are stand-alone thrillers.

Cool! Linked books, or companion books, are books in which there is always a new protagonist. Characters (and sometimes settings) from one novel appear in the next. However, each book has a definite ending. You can read them in any order and still enjoy each one. 

It’s a fun way to create a "series"—without creating a series that must be read sequentially, with the same main character in each novel. Most adult thrillers are centered around this specific character; usually a private eye––Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone comes to mind–– or a police detective like Irish-American author Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer (don't you just love this cover?)

It’s a great way to create reader buy-in. Since the main character’s job automatically leads to a suspenseful situation in each book, there are instant plot take-off points. It’s also fun to watch the characters change over the course of the series. Character growth, however, is not the main point of each book—it’s the thriller aspect that is primary.

In Tana French’s books, the continuing “character” is, in actuality, the Dublin police force–-not anyone specific. What she’s doing is playing a kind of leapfrog—a character who makes an appearance in one book becomes the main character in the next.

Her books also have psychological complexity (along with some gorgeous writing and great plotting). I would venture to say that is possible precisely because of the fact that there is a new protagonist in every book. A new backstory, a new family situation, new boyfriends and breakups… a new main character brings lots of things to explore. If you have to “play it out” over many novels, the impact is much weaker per book. Thus, having a linked series gives French the opportunity to explore character in the way many thriller series do not allow.

In terms of realistic YA, there are not, of course, “professional” jobs as detectives or private eyes that allow a continuing teen to run into dire straits all the time. Going “linked” seemed to be the best road for me. In the Wihi series, the school takes the place of French’s police force and each protagonist has to solve her own mystery in her own way. As a writer, it was a way to create some familiarity (the school, Brooklyn Heights, Tony’s Pizzaria), as well as having characters in one book reappear in the other.

As a reader, it’s fun to see Tana French do the same thing –to say, "hey, I know you" when a minor character in one book becomes the main one in the next. Or to find out that the sometimes jerky head of the Undercover squad is really a much deeper character, with a fascinating backstory, who becomes not only the focus of the next book, but a much more sympathetic character in that following book.

So readers, what do you think? Linked or sequential? Does it matter -- as long as the book thrills and makes you turn those pages? Do you find one more entertaining than the other? Just something to think about...

Next time: the importance of setting in a linked series.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Interview with ENTWINED Author Heather Dixon

By Dan Haring

Me again. Ilsa is under some crazy deadlines, so she asked me to take her turn this week. A few months back I did an interview with author Heather Dixon, and I thought I'd share it here, as she offers some great advice and information.

 I've been lucky enough to know Heather for almost 10 years now. She was a year ahead of me in the BYU animation program, and it was a blast getting to know her and working with her. If you follow her Story Monster blog, which I suggest you do, you'll find she has a wonderfully dark sense of humor. It's even better because it's hidden beneath such a sweet exterior. Her debut novel ENTWINED is a fantastic read. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did! (It's pretty long, so make sure you click through)

I had to research the 12 Dancing Princesses because I'd never heard of the fairytale before. First off, I have to say that it's pretty rad that you're on the wikipedia entry for it. High five for that. What drew you to this fairytale originally, and how did the idea for the retelling come about?

Ooo, I scored on Wikipedia? Awesome ^_^ I'll have to check that out. I started the story back at the beginning of 2006, when I was taking a bunch of dance classes and majoring in animation. The story, with its silver forests and ballgowns and waltzes, is intensely visual and when it struck me, I couldn't get it out of my head. I had to write it down. (It helped, of course, that I grew up in a large family--with 10 brothers and sisters, I felt a special connection with a story about 12 sisters ^_^)

You're also a storyboard artist. How does boarding inform your writing? Do you ever board out scenes before you write them?

I often don't board out scenes I'm writing (it's often more time-consuming than the words), but I do like to draw beat boards to the chapters--quick sketches that mark the mood, staging, and tension of the piece. Strangely enough that's been helping me with pacing, because once I sort out which beat boards to draw, those are the marker points in the story that need the most focus.  

That's a really cool method. In my own writing, I sometimes sketch out maps or layouts of buildings to help me keep track of where things are taking place. Do you do anything like that?

You bet! It's especially helpful with staging, & world-building too I think. Right now I'm working on a story with a steampunk ship, which involves looking up a lot of airship & seaship diagrams, then mapping out what this certain ship would look like. It makes the story & scenes quite a bit more distinct I think.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Are YOU an Indigo Child? Take a Test to See

by Jordan Dane

In my new HUNTED series with Harlequin Teen, a strong inspiration for book #1 INDIGO AWAKENING and the series is the idea that Indigo, Crystal, or Star children are the next evolution of mankind. I am very intrigued by the idea that despite what man might believe—that we are top of the food chain and can’t foresee a 2.0 version of us—mankind is bound to evolve into something beyond what we are today. And yes, there are many people who believe that these children (or Indigo Warrior adults) exist among us and are evolving into a more enlightened version of ourselves. Query “Indigo children” online and you will get over 61 million hits. The phenomenon of Indigo children or Indigo adults have inspired books, movies, TV shows, national news coverage, and been linked to the CIA and the Pentagon.

The tag line for the book is “They are our future, if they survive.” In my fictional book, these special psychic kids are being secretly hunted by the Believers, a fanatical church that fears what these children (and the Indigo adults who are protecting them) are becoming. A storm is brewing on the streets of LA.

But today I would like to see how many of YOU are an Indigo. At ADR3NALIN3, we think all of our followers are special and exceptional. Take the Indigo test and see if you are the next evolution of mankind and share your results with us in a comment too.

Do you see people's auras? Have you ever seen the dead or angels? Are you intuitive or have you ever had a deja vu moment that struck you as sooooo real? Do you know anyone like this?  

If you were an Indigo, what kind of psychic powers would you want to have?

If you have trouble taking the quiz on the widget below, click HERE for the link to the test, but please post a comment and tell us how you did. Some of you may not need a test to tell you what you already know. I have a very strong feeling--call me psychic--that our little community at ADR3 is loaded with exceptional readers.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Common Denominators -- Recurring Fictional Themes

by Jennifer Archer 

Writing for both the young adult market and the adult market is enough to make me feel schizophrenic sometimes! Next week on the very same day -- September 18 -- I have two books being released. My novel for teens, Through Her Eyes, will be available for the first time in paperback, and my Romance novel, Shocking Behavior, will be available for the first time as an e-book -- with a brand new cover.
Writers are often advised by agents and editors to develop a "brand" by focusing on one genre. While I know this is good career advice, I've always had trouble following it. I can't force a story -- I have to write the one that's knocking around in my head, trying to get out. Over the years, those stories have included paranormal romantic comedies like Shocking Behavior, quirky mainstream women's fiction, more serious mainstream women's fiction, and teen fiction like Through Her Eyes.

I used to spend a fair amount of time wondering why my books are so different, one from the other. I asked myself if I was too easily bored with writing the same "type" of story. Or if I was allowing myself to be influenced by whatever I was reading at the moment.  (I'm an eclectic reader -- I don't stick to one genre in that regard, either.)  

It wasn't until my agent pointed out that all of the books I've written have one thing in common --    a "continuity of voice" -- that I took a closer look at my body of work. When I did, I made a surprising discovery. My books have more than one common denominator. I revisit the same themes in my stories, again and again. 

For instance, more than one of my books have a past story and a present story taking place simultaneously. In these, history catches up to the here and now and affects it in some profound way. And many of my characters wear masks, literally or figuratively or both. These characters hide behind or inhabit a false persona or pretend to be someone else. Sometimes another character in the story falls in love with the "disguised" person's soul or personality -- their inside -- before seeing what they look like physically -- their outside.

All of these things are true of both Through Her Eyes and Shocking Behavior. On the surface these stories seem to be completely different. Through Her Eyes is a novel for young adults, a ghost story that deals with serious issues such as illness and death and dealing with change. Shocking Behavior is a novel for adults, a paranormal romantic comedy about a man who becomes invisible after stumbling upon his kooky scientist father's latest invention.  Through Her Eyes is serious with moments of humor.  Shocking Behavior is humorous with a subtle, serious undertone. However, look closer and the similarities are there. The ghost and the invisible man. The girl/woman who falls for each without ever really seeing him. A historical story that affects the present day story. The illness of a loved one and the changes that brings.  

Follow any author's work and I predict you'll find that I'm not unique. Every writer has his or her own themes that they explore in their writing, again and again.

How about you? If you're a writer, do you recognize recurring themes in your stories? And readers, can you identify the repeating themes of your favorite authors?

Every ghost has a story to tell . . .
The last thing Tansy Piper wanted was to move to the middle of nowhere in Cedar Canyon, Texas. Once there, her life takes a chilling turn when she finds a pocket watch, a journal of poetry, and a tiny crystal in the cellar of her new home.
The items belonged to Henry, a troubled teenager who lived in the house and died decades earlier. And Tansy, an amateur photographer, soon discovers that through the crystal and her photographs, she can become part of Henry's surreal black-and-white world.
But the more time Tansy spends in the past, the more her present world fades away. Can she escape Henry's dangerous reality before losing touch with her own life forever? 


When J.T. Drake is rendered invisible by one of his elderly father’s inventions, his father’s assistant Roselyn Peabody is the only person with the skills to possibly make him normal again. The beautiful, young scientist has never met J.T. and has no idea what he looks like, yet sparks fly whenever they touch. Rosy vows to help him regain his visibility, but when J.T. finally materializes, will their electric chemistry disappear or expose itself as true love?
Jennifer Archer's website