My personal blog on my life.

Steven King and the Art of Suspense

steven-kingIt’s almost verboten to admit it. Many people look down on one of my favorite authors. So, I’ll just come out and say it. I’m a proud possessor of a B.A. From Washington State and I think that Steven King is a great suspense and horror novelist. There, it has been said. But, it is true.

I love good suspense and horror novels. If you’ve read much of this genre you will know that way too many of the books suffer from bad pacing, predictable plot-lines or one dimensional characters. Steven King is all too often lumped in with these truly second rate authors. In this way, he has been a victim of his own popularity. Too many educated people forget that there is a good reason for his extreme popularity. Read more »

Work at Home Writers can Follow Exercise Plans That Provide Energy and Help with Writer’s Block.

I am an inspiring writer, mother of two children, who works from home. Life is hectic and I do my best to juggle my home responsibilities along with my writing ones. After a while, this hectic lifestyle can take a toll on my creativity and my energy level. Some days, my mind tends to get preoccupied and my brain gets fuzzy. These are the days where my writer’s block decides to show up.

writersblockageI thought about ways to combat my writers block and gain energy at the same time. I figured, I could do some type of exercise at home to get my blood pumping. I did some research on exercise plans and found one that I could adapt and fit into my daily routine. Soon, I made the exercise plans needed and followed through with it. To my amazement, it helped me gain energy, feel confident as an inspiring writer, and eliminate writers block. Out of all the exercise plans I researched, here is what I came up with.

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Ann Rule: Every Breath You Take – The Divorce Gone Wrong

every-breath-you-takeAnn Rule is famous for writing award winning true crime novels, but this is the first time she has ever written one at the victim’s request. The chilling true crime novel, “Every Breath You Take”, is written at the request of the murder victim, Shelia Bellush. Ann Rule is known for her deep coverage of the crimes and the events following the crime, but in this novel she takes readers back to the marriage of Shelia and Allen Blackthorne.

To help make following this convoluted plot slightly easier, the author included a three page listing of everyone involved in the murder. The case crosses two states, includes several ex wives, ex business partners, multiple family members, and several different law enforcement agencies. It is a confusing and utterly frightening story.

Every Breath You Take:

Readers learn early on that Texas millionaire, Allen Blackthorne is a sociopath. He is wealthy, attractive, and cruel. Allen Blackthorne’s own father was quoted as saying that he was not a fan of Allen Blackthorne. In 1992, Shelia and Allen Blackthorne were married. Shortly after, Shelia began to realize her husband was a cold, calculating monster. They did have two daughters together, Stevie and Daryl whose boyish names allowed Allen the possibility of using their social security numbers. This is just an example of the extreme measures Blackthorne was willing to take to always get his own way.

By 1993, Shelia had successfully divorced Allen Blackthorne and remarried Jamie Bellush. Two years later, in 1995, she gave birth to quadruplets and they moved to Sarasota, Florida, with Stevie and Daryl. Allen Blackthorne had been stalking Shelia ever since their bitter divorce and her move to Florida seem to cause him to act. With the help of a friend, who knew friends, he decided to scare Shelia and perhaps even kill her. Jose Luis Del Toro agreed to do the job for Blackthorne, breaking into Shelia’s home shooting her in the face and slicing her throat in front of her quadruplets. Her body was found later by 13 year old Stevie.

Ann Rule’s Success:

The success of Ann Rule’s novels can be partially attributed to the cases that she picks, and the sensitive way in which she tells the victim’s story. Her books are told from the victim’s point of view, and her real life villains are always fascinating. Her choice of villains may stem from her early friendship with convicted serial killer, Ted Bundy. Ann always maintained her surprise over never knowing Bundy’s true nature. This might also explain Ann’s fascination with what makes a killer. In her books, she tries to explain the series of events that can shape a person’s life. This is the real reason that her books are so popular. Everyone wants to try and understand how one person can become a cold blooded killer.

Every Breath You Take was begun at the victim’s request. A first for Ann Rule. Shortly after the murder, Ann received an e-mail from Shelia’s sister asking her to investigate Shelia’s murder. Ann was told that Shelia had stated that if she were ever killed, have it investigated and written about by Ann Rule. Within days interviews were being conducted, and Ann began researching this frightening tale.

The Evolving Villain: Yet Another Example Of Art Imitating Life

hero-villainWhen we look back across the expanse of cinematic history, we find that a lot of our film heroes have leaped out of the silver screen and taken their rightful place in our heroic pantheon. John Wayne, the actor, for example, quickly morphed into John Wayne, the swaggering and rugged cowboy that our boys have tried to model themselves after for decades

Evolving Hero, Evolving Villain

Soon there was a new form of hero emerging in the person of Dr Jack Ryan, the protagonist from Tom Clancy’s “Patriot Games” and “The Hunt For Red October”. America began to tire of the rough and tumble maverick that was better with his fist and his Colt 44 than he was with his thoughts or his speech. Jack Ryan’s character added the intellectual prowess and international flavor to our hero-type that was far less evident in the earlier versions of American heroism. Clancy’s hero is a well-dressed, well-educated international man that is just as comfortable in a ballroom as he is in a bar room brawl. Yes; Americans were beginning to conjure up their answer to Britain’s legendary, albeit fictional, James Bond, aka agent 007.

With James Bond, the suave and debonair British secret agent, author Ian Fleming was introducing a new element to the action hero genre; the equally fascinating villain. Fleming intuitively grasped Don Piatt’s truism that “a man’s greatness can be measured by his enemies” and this resulted in an approach to spy novel writing in which the protagonist’s character is greatly enhanced by the qualities of his antagonists. This has given birth to some fascinating and fiendishly brilliant villains that almost have the reader wanting them to “get away with it”.

Meet The Anti-Bond

One such villain in the James Bond saga is Donavan “Red” Grant. The hard-nosed sociopath and enforcer for the Russians code named ‘Granit’. Aside from his taste for hard liquor and his penchant for committing a murder every full moon like clock work; Red Grant had exquisite taste in watches; lethal watches.

In the 1963 movie “From Russia With Love” James Bond’s arch-nemesis, Red Grant, sports a curiously attractive, and useful, Girard-Perregaux swiss watch that possesses some particularly novel and relevant features. Click here to view examples of these wonderful timepieces that any villain would love to possess. On the face of the timepiece we find a stylish lunar cycle display feature, which comes in handy for tracking Grant’s routine monthly murders. Also a small metal ring on the edge of the watch offers him quick and easy access to a concealed garrote wire; which, of course, is useful in allowing Grant to carry out his murders in his signature fashion; death by strangulation.

It is interesting to note that the life of Red Grant, from his illegitimate birth in Ireland to his spartan villa back in Russia, is notably lacking in value or importance. His wardrobe, his home, even his sparse possessions that he traveled with are distinctly NOT James Bond. It is as though Ian Fleming deliberately created Red Grant to be everything that James Bond was not; a Yin for Bond’s Yang, if you will.

Fictional Evolution As A Guide To Human Evolution

At any rate, whether this formula was intentional or merely intuitional, James Bond has become a far greater hero by means of his encounter with his arch-nemesis, and anti-thesis, Donavan ‘Red’ Grant.

The process of matching our fictional heroes against ever more devious, menacing and, I dare say, discriminating villains, is yet another example of art imitating life. As man slowly evolves in order to better combat his human trials; his literary characters undergo an evolutionary transformation as well, and, hopefully, from this process we can draw some hope that our fictional trailblazers will eventually point us to a place that we may just want to arrive.

Suspense Novels and Writer’s Block

suspense_novelsI knew I wanted to be a writer, yet I didn’t know what I would pen until I was part way through my degree. My lecturers had told me I would experience writer’s block and it was normal to feel the frustration of not knowing what to say or how to communicate my thoughts as I wanted to. I had experienced writer’s block more often than I cared to imagine so I was relieve to learn I was not the only person who suffered from the paralysis during the creative process.

Popular writers had always inspired me to produce my best work and I hoped I would follow in their footsteps and become an inspiring suspense novelist in the future. I prayed my writer’s block would clear long enough to finish completely my first novel.

If you suffer from the same feelings of paralysis there are plenty of things you can do to overcome your fear to produce the best work imaginable. It is wise to give yourself a break and read works by established authors to help encourage your creative juices to flow more effectively during the writing process. All writers develop new ideas as they scrawl old ones across the page. The characters may prefer to follow a different path from the one you wanted them to explore at various stages of their journey.

While it is important to meet deadlines it is equally important for you to take your time when writing a novel otherwise you will produce work which few people will wish to read. It is necessary for would be and established authors to relax whenever possible to ensure they are ready to work when they need to do so. Friends are also a great source of inspiration and support as they can often see your story far more clearly than you assumed they did.

Scribbling down ideas can turn your vague ideas into a story in its own right which you can expand on when you are ready to do so. Brainstorming can free your mind of its inhibitions as you concentrate on the possibilities which enter it faster than you can jot them down. It is important for authors to develop a plan as it prevents writer’s block from occurring as they structure the story the way they wish to. It is wise to be as detailed as possible during the planning stage otherwise you will waste valuable time deciding what to write.

Knowing who you are writing for helps you to shape the story from an age, gender, class, race or cultural perspective with little effort. In conclusion passion for the written word will help you keep those nagging doubts as to your ability to create quality work from dominating your mind.

Writing and self-publishing technology

kindle-publishedI had always wanted to become an author, yet no matter how hard I tried I could not find a publisher who would willingly accept my work as I hoped he or she would. I had never considered the idea of following the self-publishing trend as many of my friends had done in the belief the traditional method was the only way to achieve success.

My academic friend knew I would never consider self-publishing my work as a genuine option without emphasizing how he had achieved greater success than he ever thought he would. Project managers had also tried to convince me to use modern publishing technology to achieve my dreams without success. A long-term project manager once asked why don’t you consider you consider publishing your novel on kindle as though the answer was important to him. I gave my usual reasons for remaining a traditionalist, yet I began to see what was obvious to everyone else.

I had worked on my latest suspense novel for two years; however, I had only managed to write a few paragraphs which were basic at best. It was as though my hand couldn’t or wouldn’t pen my scrawl across the page for fear of failure. The protagonist was little more than a cardboard figure, rather than a living, breathing being in a world of intrigue for audiences to appreciate. I could and still cannot explain what drove me to change attitude towards self-publishing my work. I just knew I had to do something if I was every going to see my work in print. It wasn’t long before I found kindle and as I began to read the publishing guidelines I realised the importance of using the technology for my purposes.

I quickly downloaded the necessary software knowing I was one step closer to becoming a published author with more works to come. I took advantage of the electronic and other editing services throughout the writing process knowing every one would lead to a polished work which was worthy of publication.

I soon found I could direct my friends to a link as well email them a copy of the manuscript as I had done in the past. I knew I would receive a soft, yet fair critique of my work which was all I ever asked for. My friends often provided me with suggestions as to how I could create a believable protagonist as well as a greater level of suspense. My work often lacked body which meant it did not grip readers from start to finish. While a dark, sombre cover would encourage people to open an e-book it did not guarantee sales unless the plot and characters entranced readers to explore all kinds of worlds to their conclusion.

My friends rarely felt emotionally connected to my mystery novels which made it difficult to keep their attention as other texts did. Professionals said the key to publishing your novel on kindle was to accept advice from industry leaders and to take advantage of their marketing services when they were offered to you. Kindle software presented my novels as well as any traditional publisher in the world. In conclusion I found myself experimenting with the page layout until I finally submitted my creation for publication.

How to Write a Suspense Novel

Having grown up in the Washington State, I always enjoyed the atmosphere and the mystery that often surrounded the area. The suspense novel is a great format and has been popular as a way of experiencing the darker side of the art form of the novel. In this article we will look at how one can create an interesting and dynamic suspense story, that uses a location such as the Washington state as its main point of focus.

Washington as a setting for a suspense novel


Washington is a location that is rich in American politics, and is a great location to set a suspense novel. A number of ingredients can be used in a good novel when set in this location, such as dirty political scandals that effect individuals in dark and dangerous ways. Murder and crime can also happen in this areas and are a good ingredient, and should work well in a novel of this style.

How to create a suspense novel

The suspense novel is somewhat similar to the murder mystery style, however both have subtle differences that can be focused upon. Both styles are similar in that they focus on a crisis. the difference is in how the crisis unfolds through out the story. In a mystery novel, the crisis often takes place at the beginning of the story, with clues unfolding through out the rest of the story as to the true nature of this issue. In a suspense novel the crisis often builds up through out the story and develops into a climatic situation.

The villain

One of the main ingredients in a suspense novel is the use of a villain. An evil villain is always important, and will add to the drama within the story. In a suspense novel, the villain will be made apparent from a very early stage and will be very apparent through out the rest of the story, by causing trouble and terror to the innocent individuals, and keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. A villain in a mystery novel is different in the fact that the character is often in the background and is a mysterious element, until the end of the story.

The hero

In order to weigh up a good suspense story, a hero is required that can be a good balance to the force of the villain in the story. A good hero will be a deep person that the readers can fall in love with and trust through out the story. A suspense novel often builds in intensity through out the story, and a hero needs to be a be to deal with this increase in intensity. a good balance of will and emotions need to be extracted from the character through out the story, so as to keep the reader enticed.

Tension is one of the most important factors when creating a good suspense novel, however other factors, such as the ability to create unexpected events are also crucial, so as to keep the reader wondering what is next in the development of the plot. The vast depth of Washington in both its political and cultural values means that this place is an ideal setting for a suspense novel of the highest caliber.

Medical Thrillers of Michael Palmer

michael_palmer_the_fifth_vialMichael Palmer was one of the premier authors of medical thrillers. There is no doubt that the fact that he was at one time a practicing physician helped a great deal toward making his novels believable. That fact also added a chilling sense of reality to each novel that he wrote, making the reader stop and think several times throughout the book about how plausible it might be that something of a similar nature could actually happen. The one certainty when reading his novels is that there is always a point where the reader must stop and ask the question about the propensity for things of such a nature to occur without anyone ever knowing about it.

The gifted author was able to weave his knowledge of the medical field and his love for creating literary masterpieces into a combination that is truly unique. Many people have questions about the medical community and may even fear visiting a doctor for one reason or another. Palmer was always able to tap into that and exploit those fears in a way that few others can accomplish. In addition, the following that he developed turned into something that was more of a cult following than anything else. Novels like “Natural Causes” tap into the fear of anyone who has ever carried a child with the idea that there might be something very wrong with the new life that is growing inside. However, it takes things step further and links that possibility to the very supplements that are often given to pregnant women in order to help them have a healthy pregnancy. Further unnerving his audience, he makes the doctor that prescribed the supplements completely unaware that there is a problem with them until it is too late. This definitely makes many people think twice about putting supplements or any other types of medications into their bodies and brings to light the fact that even physicians do not always have all the answers.

Another of his chilling novels, “A Heartbeat Away,” exploits the fears that many people have in today’s world regarding bioterrorism and people who are willing to destroy innocent individuals in order to get what they want. He also discusses the fact that it is sometimes difficult to know who to trust, as he brings up the subject of political adversity and forces one of the main characters to barter with the United States government in order to regain his freedom for a crime that he never committed in the first place. The worst part about it all is that the government was fully aware that he was not responsible for the crime to begin with, yet pinned the crime on him. This comes back to haunt the administration, as the people who were initially responsible for the crime then turn their terrorism on the very people who put an innocent man in federal prison.

One of his most notable novels, “Extreme Measures,” involves a young doctor that thinks that he has finally made it to a point in his life where he can enjoy all of the hard work that he has done in the past. However, the corruption and the deceit that follows by his colleagues makes it apparent to him very quickly that everyone is in danger, including himself. This novel was so popular that it was eventually made into a movie.

Imagine if Michael Palmer could have lived long enough to write a book concerning the ever present pursuit of youth and perfection. So many people are afraid to have an age spot or wrinkle that they are willing to go to any measure necessary to erase virtually all visible signs of aging. Society wants to look youthful, regardless of the costs. As a result, imagine a story where a woman who has always prided herself on her beauty discovers that even she cannot escape the aging process. Distraught by age spots, she visits a doctor to have these visible signs of aging removed. She even has some moles removed in the process. Imagine then that she looks as beautiful as she did when she was in her prime, but then she is suddenly struck down and dies without the opportunity to complete her life. In every way possible, the quest for eternal youth betrayed her and resulted in her premature death. When you carefully consider everything that is at stake, there is no greater irony. There is also no doubt that Michael Palmer could have worked wonders with such a storyline.

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