What Henry James Taught Me about Writing Suspense

What Henry James Taught Me about Writing Suspense

If you’ve read any works by Henry James, American-born British author (1843-1916), great suspense probably isn’t the first thought that leaps to your mind. Consider the all-important first sentence of his famous novella The Turn of the Screw. The story had held us, round the fire, sufficiently breathless, but except the obvious remark that it was gruesome, as, on Christmas Eve in an old house, a strange tale should essentially be, I remember no comment uttered till somebody happened to say that it was the only case he had met in which such a visitation had fallen on a child. That’s sixty-two words in the first sentence alone. By today’s standards, such writing is “wordy” at best and “frankly hard to read” at worst. But writing styles come and go just like the bell-bottoms of the seventies, and during James’s day, this was cutting-edge stuff. Perhaps the economical writing so popular today…

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Book Review: Ends of the Earth by Tim Downs

Book Review: Ends of the Earth by Tim Downs

Book Summary Nick Polchak must stop a terrorist from causing a global ecological nightmare. Two beautiful women from Nick’s past are competing for his heart. He’s not sure which impending disaster makes him more nervous. When forensic entomologist Nick Polchak is called to the scene of a murder on a small organic farm in North Carolina he is astonished to find that the victim’s estranged wife is an old friend, a woman he once worked with, a woman he once had feelings for. When she asks Nick to investigate her husband’s drug-related murder, Nick seeks the assistance of Alena Savard, the reclusive dog trainer known to the people of northern Virginia as the Witch of Endor.Alena jumps at the chance to renew her relationship with Nick, but when she arrives in North Carolina she discovers that she’s not the only woman who has her eye on the Bug Man. Soon Nick…

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Fatal Illusions for Kindle only $1.99 this week!

Fatal Illusions for Kindle only $1.99 this week!

My publisher, Kregel Publications, is holding a special sale this week. Fatal Illusions is only $1.99 this week for Kindle and select e-readers. If you haven’t read my first novel, a real labor of love, here’s your best chance! If you purchase a copy, write a comment below to tell me so, and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a free e-copy of my second novel, the sequel, The Tenth Plague. Other Formats:  Google Play (can be used for Nook)

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Speech Tags or No Speech Tags?

Each novel manuscript I edit for my day job is a learning experience. It either reveals what doesn’t work in fiction writing or reinforces what does. In this post I want to talk about the speech tag. I briefly wrote about it in this post, but I wanted to expand on some key ideas here. Why? Because strong dialogue is so important for good fiction. It reveals character, it depicts drama, it reveals vital information, and it pushes the story forward. Used correctly, it can do so much for a story. But use it unwisely, and it can really be a drag. Of course, the primary purpose of speech tags is to ID the spakers, but I’ll just come right out and ask it. Are speech tags even necessary? What do they accomplish other than giving the reader more words to read? Because, I would argue, there’s a better way…

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