Trials and Synop-ulations

For anyone who’s been keeping track, I’ve been a bit out of the loop lately.  Several things are going on in my life and I find myself even more scatter brained than usual.  I blame the medication I’m now on, but faced with the alternative, I’ll take it.

That’s why you’ve been reading not much more than the ongoing saga with the working title of Kristen’s Thriller (you can read it via the link).  Other than that, I’ve been focusing my writing on two things: the book blurb that I shared last week and a synopsis for The Red Dress.

Let’s pause there for a second and contemplate what that means.

No, I’m not talking about trying to find a publisher or literary agent.  Nor do I mean the trials and tribulations of the modern publishing world.  What I am talking about is the same thing that generations of writers before you or I knew.

Writing a synopsis sucks.

There I said it.  I’m sure that will get me blacklisted in some markets or with some people, but I’m going to stick with it.  Synopsises Synopsi Whatever-the-plural-of-synopsis-is (synopses) are a pain in the hiney to write.  You need to boil your heart and soul and all that wonderful phrasing that you and your mother are so proud of into a mere five hundred words while keeping all the passion alive. Writers talk about killing your darlings.  Synopses are the ultimate in mass murder.

I’m not good at it.  I want to shove all my dry humor and wit into a document that is shorter than the majority of my blog posts.  Not to mention the interpersonal dynamics and the dramady that is the Hawthorne household.  It doesn’t work.  Well, it does, but it isn’t easy.

That is why—yet again—I highly suggest that anyone and everyone who wants to take writing serious and make it more than a hobby find a quality editor.  Susan Hughes is mine and I would recommend her any day of the week.  She kicks me when I need to be kicked (I do need it sometimes and that is a GOOD thing she does it), supports me in more ways than I can count, and—best of all—knows her craft.  Between my synopsis and my book blurb, she’s been invaluable.

But she can’t do the work for me.  That’s why I’ve been obsessing over it and keep going over and over and over and over and. . . .

You get the point.

Your synopsis and book blurb.  Take it from a rank armature, they are not easy.  Even more so, you need to practice and practice them.  Write them out for your favorite movies or television shows.  Par down all those novels you read as a kid to 500 words.  Do it over and over again.  Maybe then you might be ready to write one for your book.

I certainly wasn’t.

But I’m giving it my best shot now.  There is no halves in the the publishing world.  If I want to do this—if I want to make a living putting words on the page—then I need to focus on each word.  Study and judge each line for fat and turn the couch potato into the world class Olympic gold medal athlete.

That isn’t easy and more than once I’ve wanted to run and hide in a closet or break down and cry. But I know I have to get over it.  However, that isn’t the hard part. The hard part was and always has been my utter refusal to put on my big boy underoos (the ones without Spider-Man on them) and get to work.  When things get hard and I want to scream, I tend to give up. It’s a life lesson that I never learned as a kid and now I’m paying for it.  Still, this hasn’t stopped me.  I’m flexing muscles that I never knew I had.

And they’re getting stronger.

So pardon me while I get back to my proverbial weightlifting.  The words wait for no one. Nor does my wife, and she wants to know what happens next in her thriller.


The Final Book Blurb

It took a long time, but I’ve finally done it. I’ve crafted a book blurb that I’m happy with. Did it all by myself—

Yeah, I can’t keep a straight face either.

So many people helped in crafting this that it’s practically impossible to thank everyone.  But there are a few people I want to send a shout out to:

Rachael Ritchey

Kyle Hughes

My editor Susan Hughes

and above everyone else, my wife Kristen.

Without these people, I wouldn’t be so happy.  So thank you everyone. This goes out to you.

Now, here we are—the big reveal.

I present to you, the final book blurb for The Red Dress:

Not everyone can run a private detective agency with their spouse, but Daniel Atwell loves working with his wife Stephanie Hawthorne, despite the constant competition from her romance novels and her homemade sweaters which look like the worst styles from the 1980s combined with a Jackson Pollock painting.  Sure, they make a great team, but he’d go crazy if he didn’t push her buttons as often as he could.  Perhaps that’s why he agrees to see Andrea Swope, an old girlfriend who wants help in curbing her husband’s infidelity.  Yet the old flame doesn’t care who she upsets, so Daniel isn’t surprised when Stephanie kicks her out.  When Andrea is murdered in a botched robbery that night, the police kick off a citywide manhunt for the killer.  It appears to be an open and shut case.

Months later, the police are stumped and the grieving widower turns to Stephanie for answers.  Stephanie is more than willing to help—for an exorbitant fee.  Soon Daniel learns enough about his old sweetheart that he wants to lead the lynch mob himself.  Yet, not everything is as it seems.  Daniel soon has his hands full with a shady animal shelter and an uncooperative local political campaign.  Now if he could only figure out what it all has to do with a certain missing red dress.

Does it sound interesting to anyone else?

Currently, I am sending out query letters. My fingers are crossed that you will see The Red Dress in print sooner than later.  What do you all think?


Kristen’s Thriller: Part V

Let’s admit it, by now, you should know what’s going on.  😀

Each week for Rachael Ritchey’s #BlogBattle, I’ve been posting parts of an ongoing story that I’m writing for my wife—hence the name.  Kristen’s loving it, so I will continue to write it.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that this story is going to run a lot longer than I originally thought.  But that isn’t the bad news.  The bad news is that I’m going to be focusing on it more for a novel length release rather than these fun #BlogBattles.  So our days loving this story are slowly coming to an end for the time being.  But I promise that I will finish it and you all will have a chance to read it and find out what happens to Carter, Ivan, and Samantha.

But until then, enjoy this and the previous parts you can find here in one convenient place.


Kristen’s Thriller: Part V


With all of the force he could bring to bear, Carter thrust his head forward in a short jab.    Fresh, sharp pain pushed its way through to the front of his consciousness, and Carter had to force his way through a wave of dizziness which threatened to halt him in his tracks.  Still, he pushed through it, instead trying to get to his feet, the bonds making his progress awkward.

The blow had missed Carter’s intended target, his forehead connected with Ivan’s chin.   Stumbling back two steps, the Russian—at least Carter assumed he was Russian—tumbled back onto the bed.  Carter didn’t watch long enough to see how long his captor stayed down, turning toward the stairs.  Then, with a jerk, he felt one of his feet pulled out from under him.

He collapsed to the floor.  The back of the chair hit the back of Carter’s head, sending stars floating across his vision and adding its own pain to the rest of his body’s.  Fresh pain, ten times that which he’d felt before, screamed through his body as his left shoulder hit the floor with a pop.  A scream bubbled up from his chest, and no matter how much he wanted to hold it in, the dislocation was too much.  Wordless howls tore at his throat.  Agony multiplied their ferocity.  It seemed like the pain would never end.

Then a pair of black dress shoes appeared through his haze of stars and tears.  Two unseen hands lifted the chair and set it on its legs again.  Ivan stepped around the chair and stood amidst Carter’s hazy vision, sitting once again on the bed.

“Now, now,” he said, touching gingerly at a split lip, “that was uncalled for.”  Blood dotted his fingers and a small line of it dripped down to the point of his chin.  He wiped it away with a hand.  “But perhaps you see now why I had to keep you tied up like this?  Had I not, then you’d be well on your way out of here.  My associates and I cannot have that.”

As if they were summoned, two men appeared.  One approached Ivan while the other one kept a wary eye on their prisoner.  Only then did Carter realize how much time had passed.  Minutes had only been seconds, and he’d need longer than that to get out of this mess.

“You ok boss?” the first asked, a blond man the size of a dump truck.

The second, a tall beanpole with brown hair flecked with grey, poked Carter in his dislocated shoulder sending renewed waves of pain up his shoulder.  “Should we take him out back?”

“No,” Ivan said, covering his face with his hands.  “Go back downstairs.  I’ll need one of you in a moment, but I’ll let you know when.”

“Then why don’t we just—”

With a growl, Ivan pulled an automatic pistol from an inside pocket, pointing and firing in one swift motion.  The beanpole yelled in surprise as the bullet grazed his left cheek and imbedded itself into the wall next to his head.

“You coulda killed me!”

“I wasn’t trying.  Now downstairs before I start to care that I missed.”

Both thugs gulped and disappeared behind Carter and out of the room.  Two pairs of feet thudded down the stairs, fading as they reached the main room.

“Good help is so hard to find,” Ivan said, replacing the pistol.  “Where were we?”

“You’re like some cross between a Bond villain and some comic book super villain.  Who shoots their own men?”

“That worm, my man?  No.  As I said, he’s just some hired help.  Local thugs hired to introduce me the locals and all that nonsense.  Odds are,” he paused to glance at his watch, visably count to three, then looked back at Carter, “they should be dead now.  Though I will have to talk to someone about letting them up here in the first place.”

As if to punctuate his words, two dull thuds drifted up from the bottom of the steps.

“My men know what I expect without having to ask.  Now, where were we?  Ah.  I remember now.  You and this thing you might roughly, possibly consider something akin to an escape attempt.

“That was a foolish move.  You know very well that I’m going to have to retaliate for that, yet you tried anyway.  Brave of you, but foolish nonetheless.  The real question is how.  There really are so many delicious choices.  Do I punish you just enough to get my point across and make you compliant, or do I force you to understand the extent of my abilities and break your spirit right from the beginning?”

Ivan pulled a decade-old cell phone from his left pants pocket.  He flipped it open and pressed a button before lifting it to his ear.  A moment he spoke one word in a language that Carter didn’t recognize.  Perhaps German.  Carter wished that he could confirm that one way or another.  Waiting long enough for a response, Ivan nodded absently and closed the phone.

“I will admit that this may not work, but I suspect that for someone like you, Mr. Andrews, who spent your life protecting the innocent and the nation that you hold so dear, that it might.  You see, I have people everywhere that I even remotely might need them.  Or not.  As you know well enough, you don’t always need to be present to sow chaos.  A well placed bomb can work too.  But don’t you worry, there’s no bomb quite yet.  Only a bullet.  I’m afraid that your dear old mom won’t wake up from that nap she was having down at Pleasant Oaks.  Shame that you had to ruin that beautiful duvet.  At least the colors matched with that red and blue floral dress you bought her last year for Christmas.  The colors really—”