More than just a mystery!
Carrie, an IT tech for Fairview Resort, is asked by the VP of Security to find a college student who’s disappeared. She agrees to help find the girl, but she also leads a group that calls themselves the “Rescue Rangers” who help victims of domestic violence. Add the new attorney, Drew Martin, to the team and suddenly things get… complicated.
As her search for Gwen narrows, Carrie worries she may be in need of help from the Rangers, too.
It turns out to be just the tip of the iceberg and puts Carrie squarely in the crosshairs of some dangerous people.
Should you or shouldn’t you purchase a new cover? That is the question. A good cover isn’t cheap.
Here’s how to determine the answer:
Does it portray your genre?
Is it working? Is it bringing readers to your book?
Do your reviews reflect that?
A hard-edged thriller cover should be a stark as the content. A fantasy cover should let the reader know whether it’s epic/mythic (landscapes, castles, swords), urban (edgy, usually dark, street views), heroic/tolkienesque/arthurian (pastoral, swords, magicians), historical, or a combination thereof. (Two of my favorite authors write a mix of heroic and urban fantasy, quite successfully). Mysteries should convey whether they’re ‘cozy’ (small town, armchair, teapot) or hard-boiled, noir, or police procedural (dark and edgy).
Many books convey some or many of these elements, but they aren’t the main focus.
For example, one of my books is a mystery with thriller elements and an edge. There is a romance in it but as part of the story, not the primary plot. Unfortunately, while the cover was dark-edged, at the center was a couple. To many readers, it came off as a romance with a touch of mystery, rather than a hard-boiled mystery with a little romance.
And it showed in the reviews. The comments weren’t direct – unless you viewed them from the viewpoint of romance readers expecting something lighter.
So here’s my suggestion…covers aren’t cheap, so shop around. Look at what the cover artist has to offer. If 99% of their samples are fantasy or romance, they may not be a good fit for your book. A cozy mystery about a chef won’t work well with a cover that features a couple in a torrid embrace. Try a good pre-made cover. Most pre-mades are the cover artist trying out different things or promotion for their work. Some are really good. They’re not free but they are cheaper than custom made. That will allow you to publish your book while you search for another, better one, and save the money to purchase it.
Or, you may find that pre-made cover works perfectly.
Posted on Sep 23, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments
The terrible events in Canadensis, PA – the fatal shooting of one state trooper and the wounding of another – and the Ray Rice scandal brought back a lot of memories. You see, a shooting like the one in Canadensis – although not of state troopers but of his neighbors – was an unspoken ambition of my ex-husband. Unspoken to anyone but me. I had grown up in the Pocono Mountains, and that’s where I returned – as Cam does in Dirty Politics, and for the same reason. It had been home to me, a refuge. Much of the events in both Dirty Politics and The Last Resort were inspired by real events in my life. That refuge would be tarnished. Like many victims of domestic violence, I was young – just twenty – and I had already been a victim of another act of violence. When I met the man who would become my ex-husband, he promised that no one else would ever hurt me. No one but him, that is. To look at him, no one would have pegged him as an abuser. He was handsome, with thick, dark hair
and blue eyes. His best friend was on the local police force – which many would be shocked to find is disturbingly common. It’s difficult for the victim of domestic violence to go to the local police when one of them is your spouse’s best friend. A claim of battering would all too likely have been met by disbelief. If it came down to it, my ex’s plan was to walk down the street shooting. This despite the fact that he claimed to truly like one of the neighbors – an elderly black woman who had always been kind to him. (Closet racism was alive and well then as now.) If cornered he would go out in a blaze of glory. Death by cop. In those days, domestic violence was just rising to the national awareness thanks to movies like ‘The Burning Bed’ and The Facts of Life actress Nancy McKeon’s A Cry for Help. Or the Julia Roberts movie Sleeping with the Enemy – which showed that socioeconomic status wasn’t an indicator of domestic violence. It’s not just poor or middle class women who deal with it – as Ray Rice’s new wife proves. Having survived domestic violence, I had high hopes, but over time – and certainly over the last few years – I’ve grown cynical. That was the reason why I had written both The Last Resort and Dirty Politics. I wanted to raise awareness, but even more, I wanted to bring a sense of hope to women who had been through domestic violence. I wanted them to know that they hadn’t been forgotten, and that they still had a chance to find happily ever after with the right person. I didn’t want to write the usual ‘victim’ story – and so I wrote The Last Resort – as an entertaining way to help people understand that domestic violence is…complicated. One of my least favorite questions about that time – and one of the reasons I don’t talk about it much – is this one… “How did someone like you….?” The assumption being that an intelligent woman wouldn’t have found herself in that situation. As if all abusers came with a big red “A” tattooed on their forehead, rather than many being charming, if subtly controlling. I’ve learned not to talk about it for another reason – the inevitable comment that follows any domestic violence discussion. “Why do they go back?” The answer to that question is as myriad as the women who wore Ray Rice jerseys to football games. First, of course, is an entire culture that caters to the idea that women need to be protected rather than learning to protect themselves, and that bad boys will be reformed by the ‘right’ woman. That only happens in fiction. It’s one of the reasons I dislike both Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, for perpetuating that myth. The reality is that bad boys don’t reform, that if he lies to you once, he’ll lie whenever it’s convenient. As far as going back? What choice do victims have, really? In most cases, their spouses controlled the money. As bad as the situation is, going to a shelter can seem worse over time. The victim has no income. They’re not just poor, they’re destitute. They uprooted their children. They not only lost their home, but they may have left their pets behind. A pet the ex can threaten. And where can they go? Home to their parents, where their spouse can find them? That spouse can also claim visitation rights. Most shelters help victims fill out protection from abuse orders, but any cop will tell you that those orders are only worth the paper they’re written on. The only purpose for filing them is to have a record of the claim. If they’re lucky, that order is used to keep the abuser away. If they’re unlucky, it identifies the victim’s killer. How many times have you seen that in the news? The victim left, but they still weren’t safe. In one case locally, the victim got remarried to a police officer. Her ex broke into the house and shot them both. The abuse may be bad, but living is a persuasive argument. Even the abuser’s situation is complicated. Even police officers abuse their spouses. It’s a question of money and power. In cases like Ray Rice’s, there’s the whole football culture. Growing up, I remember that there was a status to being a star player. I also remember the warnings. Only cheerleaders had the status to date the quarter or running backs. And even the cheerleaders were taking their chances. So is it any surprise when you take a talented and handsome young man, give him a lot of money, and women throwing themselves at his feet, that he thinks he’s on top of the world? Look at Justin Bieber. So the dialogue about domestic violence begins again – after the law that funded it has been gutted. Abused spouses are flooding hot lines, the NFL is pouring money into help centers, and hopefully into shelters and training programs. More importantly, though, we need to end the culture of blame for both victim and abuser, to get them the help they need – the spouses to redevelop their self-esteem, and for the abusers to learn better ways to express their anger. Then, and only then, will domestic violence come to an end. At least the NFL is stepping up, but we need Congress as well, and that’s not going to happen.
20% of all proceeds from the sale of The Last Resort will go to domestic violence shelters. Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0052UX3V6 Kobo – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-last-resort-19
Posted on Aug 22, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments
Are tropes too trite?
For those of you who don’t know, a literary trope is the use of figurative language – via word, phrase, or even an image – for artistic effectsuch as using a figure of speech. The word trope has also come to be used for describing commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs or clichés in creative works. For a time, old 70-80s TV programs had a list of standard tropes – the identical twin to one of the heroes, one of the heroes (there were only heroes then) goes blind, or develops amnesia.
In fantasy one of the tropes is the young hero on a quest or becoming the savior of the world. In mystery novels it’s the lead characters problem with alcohol or love of esoteric music (especially jazz), and the uptight woman who melts for him but turns out to be the murderess. There’s also the Sherlock type hero, or the brilliant psychopath as the enemy. In romance it’s the HEA or HFN (happily ever after or happy for now) ending, and the ‘misunderstanding’ or downright deceptive hero who doesn’t tell the heroine something important. That’s where I’m at right now. In my current WIP it just happens that the hero has a good reason for withholding information from the heroine… but it’s a commonly used trope, but it works for the book. But has that trope been overused?
Posted on Jan 14, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments
The problem with ‘message’ novels is that – unless they’re actually non-fiction – they can be a exactly that, all about the message. There are people who like to read them. Not me. Boooring. Depressing. Or they can be the stuff of romance novels, movies or TV shows, like Sleeping with the Enemy, or countless detective stories. Not exactly accurate. It goes in fads, and lately its been about domestic violence. After all, you’ve got this charming, sexy, good-looking guy who would give the shirt off his back to someone who needs it. He’s protective – maybe a little over-protective, but what’s wrong with that? If there’s an argument, he’s apologetic, bringing flowers or other little gifts. It’s straight out of Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey. If he pulls away a little, though, it’s understandable, if a little unsettling, but like Bella or Ana it’s internalized. It’s their fault for upsetting him. It becomes more and more about self-worth and self-esteem, his need to feel strong and manly, in control, and hers to be considered loved and lovable. Consciously or unconsciously, he uses that. Little things start to set him off more and more quickly. Oh, you didn’t realize that we weren’t talking about the hero… Recently a new friend called me about getting together for coffee, then mentioned that she’d invited an old boyfriend over…and during the conversation added that he’d once given her a concussion. He was sorry, he said, he’d changed. Something happened though to give her second thoughts, though, and she told him to leave, finally having to resort to threatening to call the cops. She was done with him, she declared. I was relieved, but a little stunned and even a little angry that she’d brought him back into her life. I get it, though. It’s tough going it alone. Even if you have good friends, it’s not the same. Women still define themselves more by their relationships than their accomplishments. And, you get lonely. You want someone in your life. Someone who will help carry the load, too. As accomplished as we are, we also want to know we’re capable of being loved. It’s even more difficult for women with children. That one in three? Somewhere I read that one in three people know someone who is the victim of domestic violence. So when I decided to write my ‘message’ novel, I wanted to make it entertaining, informative and accurate. Talking of accuracy, there’s Sleeping with the Enemy. First, where did she get the money to run? The first thing married abusers do is take control of the finances. Second, almost every woman who runs goes home. Where else is she going to go? And it’s the first place that an abuser is going to go to find her. It’s also the most dangerous time for most women – when they leave. There’s countless tales of women who’ve fled and been killed by their ex-spouse – with others as collateral damage. Here in Ohio a woman took a friend with her to meet her ex in a public parking lot. He shot the friend, and then himself. Another married a police officer after escaping her abusive spouse – who then broke into the house to shoot and kill them both. Not all abusers are stalkers, although many are. And most don’t look like the sleazy guy from a cop show. In fact, you may have had one in your home as a guest.
So, I didn’t write your standard domestic violence novel. First, I did my research. No case is ‘typical’, although there are similarities. Years ago I read a newspaper article about a woman who ran a group that rescued domestic violence victims and I filed the thought away. So that became part of the story. Also, I didn’t want to do the usual ‘poor-pitiful-me’ or ‘rescue-me’ novel. That last because it so rarely happens, and when it does, someone else gets hurt as well. I also wanted to show someone who was empowered, capable and a survivor. There’s romance, too, healthy and real. By the way, count yourself as one of those three now. The reason I know so much? I was a victim, too.
20% of all proceeds from the book – after costs – will be donated to domestic violence shelters.
Valerie Douglas is a prolific writer and genre-crosser, much to the delight of her fans. She reads and writes classic fantasy, romance, suspense, and as V.J. Devereaux, erotic romance. Who knows what will pop up down the road!Happily married, she's companion to two dogs, three cats and an African clawed frog named Hopper who delights in tormenting the cats from his tank.Valerie Douglas is the co-founder and one of the administrators of the 11,500+ member Indie Author Group - supporting writers around the world.She blogs at her own blog, The Indie Author Group, [email protected] Author Group and Two Midlist Indies.