Category Archives: Thriller

Monday already? ACK! Chapter 1 of PROPHECY

Okay, I have to say, Marathon is going well so far. I posted my first chapter of PROPHECY in the past tense and it went over really well. I had 7 votes and 6 of them were ‘yes’, so I get to move on to my next chapter. I am goign to post the chapter as it was written for marathon here, and later this week will put up my revised version. Tell me what you think!

Chapter 1

The whispers were quiet as I slipped out the back door. For once, I didn’t have to worry about the siren call from the woods behind our house.

Momma was in the kitchen doing the dishes and humming her favorite song: Ode to Joy. She always claimed it made her feel like she was doing something exciting and dramatic instead of the mundane chore of cleaning up after Daddy and me.

I skipped over to Amos’ pen, thrilled to have a few minutes alone with the black and white hound. He jumped against the fence as I opened the lock with a clank. He bounded out of the kennel and knocked me to the ground, licking my face. His wet tongue tickled my face even as the fresh cut grass prickled my bare arms and legs. I giggled, but tried to be quiet. Momma didn’t like it when I went outside by myself. She always worried about something or other and made me feel nervous and awkward.

Her protective hovering made me feel like some impending doom was lurking nearby. It also made me feel like a freak. Other kids never had to suffer the over protectiveness of my Momma. After all, why should I have to hold her hand when I was just in the backyard?

But today, I was free, if only for a few minutes. Free to play with my dog and feel normal for a change.

Pushing Amos’ happy face to the side, I looked up at the beautiful white puffy clouds the floated through the sky. I smiled with pure joy at the day, the freedom, and the silence that came from the woods.

I struggled for a moment to get Amos off me, even though I knew my young body couldn’t hope to push the forty-pound dog to the side. Wagging his log, whip-like tail he backed off anyway. He was a good dog who always knew what I wanted even if I didn’t say a word.

“You’re a good boy, Amos.” I hugged him around his middle smelling the sun and his unique doggie scent. He never acted as if I was anything other than a seven-year old. He never treated me with kid gloves, nor as if I was about to do something a seven-year old shouldn’t.

He bounced away from me, acting like a puppy instead of an old dog, and I chased him around the yard.

Like a crash of thunder washing over me, the whispers began. The strange murmur from the trees just beyond the yard filled my senses.

Amos’ reacted instantly. He jumped in front of me and glared into the woods. His growling overwhelmed the whispers, but then they rose in volume and pitch. My dog’s ears pressed back tightly to his head and his body shook in anger or fear. He was the only one who ever heard the voices other than me. I tried to calm him by placing my hand on his back and murmuring nonsense words into his ear. Normally, that was enough to calm him down. This time he only tensed more and pressed his body back against me, causing me to stumble to my knees behind him.

I looked to the woods, trying to see why he refused to calm down, but they looked the same as they always did when the whispers began. Shadows under the trees grew longer despite the sunlight and moved in sensuous dances without benefit of the wind. The wooded area took on a dark menace.

Then the light dimmed and blackness crowded the puffy clouds from the blue sky. The yard darkened and a cold wind began to blow from the woods. My skin tingled with gooseflesh and I held tight to Amos, getting a small comfort from his warmth despite the racing of my heart.

My confused thoughts swept over me. I wanted to go to the trees, to follow the sounds to their source, but even more, I wanted to run back to the house and shut the noises out. The chaos in my mind froze my limbs and locked my mouth shut so I couldn’t even call for Momma, or to the woods, though I wanted to do both.

Words began to creep through the wind, words I heard not only with my ears but also with something deep inside of me. They touched my fear, yet they promised an approval I have never felt before. Absolute acceptance.

“Scottie, come to us.”

“It is your destiny.”

“We are as you are.”

“You will be treasured among us.”

“You are the child we have been waiting for.”

The words scared me but also intrigued me. They seemed to know how much I wanted to feel normal, to not be the freak my parents feared. The uniqueness, the intelligence, the almost adult in a child’s body, that worried my Momma and that my Daddy denied, felt cherished. And wanted. The feeling behind the words promised a future far greater than anyone would believe. It promised that I was different for a reason.

My muscles unlocked and I moved toward the calls.

Amos slid from my arms and threw himself on top of me, hurling me to the ground. Pain flared in my cheek where I landed but my eyes never left the woods. Amos’ growls and barks vibrated through me as I tried to shove him off me. His weight shifted slightly, brining his full weight down on my legs. With a surge of power, I pushed him hard and he fell off me with a whine. He struggled to his feet, but moved with a deliberate slowness that showed I had injured him in my escape. I wanted to comfort him, but I stumbled forward towards the woods instead. My stiff body fought against me, but step by step, I moved to the call.

With a painful sound Amos jumped at me again, teeth sinking into my shirt. He pulled me back, but I shrugged hard and felt my shirt rip, leaving only shreds in his teeth.

I broke into a shambling run, screaming inside to stop. I didn’t want to go into the dark woods, but my body refused to obey me. Amos limped in front of me again, but I threw him to the side, hearing a crack as he broke a rib when he landed. I looked at him; stride breaking as I rebelled at myself for causing him pain. I longed to go to him, to apologize to him, to help my faithful friend, but I couldn’t stop my legs from running faster to the trees and the voices that called me. I choked out a scream, partly for Amos, and partly for me.

Warm, familiar arms swept me up from behind. Entranced by the woods, I never heard Momma running for me. Amos’ attempts to slow me down gave her enough time to catch me. My own shout had alerted her that something was very wrong in the yard. The spell of the woods eased slightly as I smelled her perfume and felt her embrace, yet still I tried to pull away from her.

“Scottie, where do you think you are going? If I hadn’t heard you scream and Amos bark, I wouldn’t have known where you were!” Her voice strained to almost a shrillness that shocked me into looking at her. She clutched me close to her chest, and turned her body toward the house as I peered back at the woods. She jolted as she stepped into a small hole or something. The movement forced me to break eye contact with the calling words. Their power over me weakened further and I could breathe again.

“Momma, let me down. I want to go to the woods,” Words not my own escaped my lips as I looked into her beautiful chocolate brown eyes. Fighting her embrace, and myself, I turned myself so I could see the trees. Their powerful call washed over me again, filling me with unbelievable yearning.

Momma’s face clouded over, darker than the skies above as she looked deep into my eyes. “Why Scottie? Why would you leave me and go into the woods?” She tightened her grip around me so I felt like I was being crushed by a bear. Stumbling in her haste, she took several steps away from the trees and toward the backdoor.

“The trees, Momma they call to me. I want to go into them; I need to go into them.” The words forced themselves through my clenched teeth, lying and telling the truth in the same moment. The woods petrified me, but I wanted to be in them more than anything else in the world.

“Cherie, Scottie? Are you two out back?”

Momma’s breath whooshed out of her at the sound of my father’s voice. Her body started relaxing immediately and I could breathe again. I pushed against her, but only with half my strength. I didn’t want her to let me go, even though I wanted to be free.

“Jackson, we are back here!” Her stressed voice cracked, yet there was a measure of relief in it.

Daddy hurried around the corner of the house, his face set as though preparing for a fight. His golden hair shone in the sunlight and he looked like some avenging angel intent on protecting the poor mortals: Momma and me. Seeing no apparent danger, he slowed his pace but scanned the yard with eyes that missed nothing.

I wriggled and finally escaped from Momma, but instead of the woods, I ran to my Daddy. He could protect me. He could keep me from doing the thing I longed and hated to do.

Amos stopped growling when Daddy picked me up, but he didn’t stop looking at the trees.

“What are my two favorite people in the world doing this afternoon?” Daddy’s voice, warm as honey, did not show any anxiety, but he gently touched the rip in my shirt made by Amos’ teeth. His mouth tightened and he asked silent questions to Momma with a lifting of an eyebrow.

The whispers grabbed me with their power and I pushed hard away from Daddy who gave a surprised grunt, but didn’t let me go. From the corner of my eye, I saw him look down at me, though I focused my attention on the woods. The call from the trees all but overwhelmed me.

“So, little man, what have you been doing?” His false tone betrayed his anxiety, as did the tightening of his arms around me. “You and Amos been playing?”

Amos struggled to rise from the ground, whining softly. His eyes stared at the trees and he barked a sharp staccato sound then ended with a howl of pain. My heart felt like it broke. I did that to him. I hurt my dog.

I buried my face against Daddy’s chest, tears overflowing. Daddy lifted my chin with a finger.

“What’s been happening, son?” His serious tone forced words from my throat, words that sounded false even in my own ears.

“Daddy, Amos and I were playing, but I think I hurt him. I didn’t mean to, I was listening to the woods.” I cocked my head to the side, realizing that the calls had faded away. “They are quiet now, but Amos didn’t like them. He tried to keep me away from them.”

“And you hurt him?”

“Daddy, it was an accident. I didn’t mean to. He just wouldn’t let me go into the woods. Can you fix him up?”

Daddy frowned. “Well, I’m a doctor right? I’ll do what I can tonight and take him to the vet tomorrow. But why were you going in there?”

“The woods called to me. I wanted to walk under the green trees, smell the soil, and talk to the wind.”

A soft murmur arose from the trees again. I looked toward them and leaned away from Daddy’s body, transfixed by the music that tugged at my heart.

“Scottie, Scottie. SCOTTIE!” The sharpness in Daddy’s voice awakens me from my trance. I slowly looked up into his eyes, still half enthralled. He stared down at me, his forehead a severe line. I reached up a single hand and tried to smooth it away. He opened his mouth to speak, but I interrupted him before he could begin.

“Daddy, don’t look so upset. I would be okay. The woods want me there.” I glanced back at the woods, and the siren call of the trees settled over me once again. “I would be fine.” I tried to climb down out of Daddy’s arms, wriggling and pushing with all my might. “I will be fine.” His arms tightened around me more as I reached toward the music. “I will be fine.”

He will never let me go. He and Momma don’t understand. I don’t understand. What is wrong with me? I want to stay with my parents. How can I want to run to the woods as well? The woods, they call me…call me…

Daddy looked over my head at Momma, where they exchanged a look they didn’t think I could see. I wished I could see inside their minds to know what they were thinking. Daddy’s arms shook with effort as he tried to keep me contained. Or maybe there was another reason, perhaps some hidden emotion. I stopped wriggling to get down, accepting I couldn’t get away, but still my voice whispered, “I will be okay.”

“That’s not the point, Scottie,” Momma said. “It’s not safe in the woods. Not safe at all. Especially not for a little boy.” Her voice trembled and sounded distant as though lost in a memory; one that scared her more than anything in her life.

Questions swirled through my mind.

What did she know about the woods? How could she think that I would be hurt there? Could she possibly hear the voices that called me? Did she know that I really belonged there and simply wanted to keep me to herself? Why would she keep me from my destiny? Is it really my destiny?

My parents were keeping something from me. They appeared too nervous, too scared about me going into the woods. Something must have been in there that they didn’t want me to see. Something they thought would hurt me, even though I knew better.

The question spilled out of my mouth.

“What do you mean? I know the woods will not hurt me. They told me so.”

“Okay, let’s go inside,” Daddy’s voice was hard and strained. The frown on his face would have made the fiercest animal run. It had the same effect on me.

“Let me down, Daddy, I can walk.” Although willing to go with my parents in order to learn what they knew, I couldn’t help but look back to the woods as the calls from them slowly faded into non-existence.

“Scottie, stop squirming!”

I stopped moving, but cowered as Daddy carried me into the house. What would he do with me once we were in there? He never raised his voice at me before, but this time…

“You will never go into those woods, Scottie. Never.” Momma’s voice cracked with fear as she choked back tears. I looked at her, afraid of her as well. Something was terribly, terribly wrong, and soon I would know how wrong things could actually be.

She was right, though. I would never go into the woods, not of my own will,

But would my determination be enough to keep me away?

Always,

Dawn

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Pillars of Writing

Okay, so today I want to talk about what makes a good novel, especially a thriller novel.

To begin with, it would help to define what a thriller novel can be.

A Thriller is a moral tale. Yep, you heard me right, a moral tale. Despite the negativity that is often applied to such a term, a moral tale is not a bad thing. The moral does not have to beat you over the head like the last 15 minutes of Happy Feet. It can be far more subtle than that. A good morality story teaches you about morals without you even being aware of it at the time. Let me give you an example. Who here hasn’t read a Harry Potter book? Okay, so most everyone has. Think about it for a minute. All the Harry Potter books urge people to follow in Harry’s (and Hermione’s and Ron’s and Dumbledore’s) footsteps by standing up for what is right and good. Yes, it is a morality tale. And a damn fine one at that. Did you even realize you were getting a message when you read it? I didn’t.

Okay, so a thriller is a moral tale. Great. Now, what kind of books can be thrillers? Well mysteries, horrors, paranormals, science fiction, fantasy. All of these can be counted under the thriller definition I am using here. The most important thing is that it is a moral tale, that’s it.

Now, on to the pillars. (I am using the term pillars because it is the term James N. Frey uses in his How to Write a Damn Good….  series. I recommend How to Write a Damn Good Thriller to anyone writing in a genre listed above.

All of these Pillars help to make a cohesive novel that is interesting and even fun to read. Remember you don’t want to hit people over the head with morality though. This is not Happy Feet. (Yes, i keep using that example, mainly because I loved the movie until the last 15 minutes, where it irritated me, a proud conservationist. if you haven’t seen it, I suggest you just skip over the end when it gets really preachy.)

Okay, without anymore ado, The Pillars.

1.) High Stakes– This is important, though the definition of high stakes can differ. It does not have to be the life and death of all humanity to be high stakes (though it can be). It could just as easily be the survival of a child, the savior of an immortal soul, or something else that is important. In all this is a pretty straight forward pillar. Don’t think about it too hard.

2.) Unity of Opposites– Okay, this sounds complex. It  isn’t. Of course, neither is novel-writing. Hard, definitely, but not complex. Unity of opposites, with everything else stripped away, is basically the reason your hero can’t just pick up and leave. That’s it. What is keeping your hero from saying, “The heck with it!” and getting out of Dodge? it can be morality, or even physically being stuck somewhere. Just make sure the reader isn’t asking why he doesn’t just leave.

3.) Seemingly Impossible Odds– The hero may not make it against the odds, and definitely for a period of time the reader doesn’t think he can. Usually, however, the hero does eventually overcome the odds. Usually, not always.

4.) Moral Struggle– Easy enough. There is a good side and a bad side. Your hero is on the good side. Think Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. The movies would have been completely different if told from Darth Vader’s point of view. (Notice I said Vader, not Anakin).

5.) Ticking Clock– There has to be a deadline for the hero’s actions. This is über important for the thriller to have a sense of urgency. I mean if there is no deadline, there is no reason for the hero to try to solve the problem and defeat the villain.

6.) Menace– Simply put, your hero and other sympathetic characters are in danger through most of the story.

7.) Thriller-type Characters– Your characters, hero and villain alike, must be clever and resourceful as well as larger than life. Think about Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker again. Although both are believable characters (in the Star Wars universe) they are both bigger than life, and incredibly clever. Same with Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort (yes, I said his name).

Incorporating all these Pillars into your novel will make it stronger and a far more interesting read. If you leave even one out, you run the risk of losing your readers, and we all know that is not a good thing.

Remember a thriller can be just about any type of novel, not just a murder-mystery or a zombie book.

Good luck, good writing!

Always,

Dawn

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Write Something With Lots of Feeling

Write some back home, come on writing

That comes from the heart

Write somethin’ with lots of feelin’

‘Cause that’s where writing has to start

— corrupted version of “Mountain Music” by Alabama (sorry guys!)

If there is one thing I have noticed, it is that when I read something, anything, I want to feel it inside. I don’t want a clinical blow-by-blow description os the way someone’s hair blows unless that makes me want to run my fingers through it, or something like that.

So writers, I beg you, I  implore you, please watch the info dumps and the lengthy in-depth descriptions of a single action. It is a really great way to get me to put your book down and not pick it up again. I know some people will disagree with me about this, and there are some Masters who do it, but I can’t read it. I need to be able to feel your characters.

One other things, keep your character’s development consistent. Don’t have them do something out of character. I just pisses me off and makes me want to throw the book at the wall.

I have an example.

FLESH EATERS – by Joe McKinney

Great book, until the last few pages when the MC takes the money that was in the bank. (Sorry for the spoiler) It is just not consistent with her character. The book left a mark on my wall. And another one when my husband read it. Not good form Mr. McKinney.

Anyway, that’s all the time I have for ramblings today. I still have a lot of writing to do AND I am working on an in-depth crit for someone.

Always,

Dawn

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Filed under author, character traits, characters, conflict, crit, critique, editing, feeling, growing, ideas, novel, paranormal, rules, story, Thriller, Writer, writing, Writing a Paranormal Novel, writing novels, writing process

Two Awards, Two Books, and Monday Musings

Okay, today being Monday, i have lots to talk about. If you follow this blog you may have noticed a decided lack of interviews last week. To this I can only apologize and say that there were personal issues in the way. So this week I will be posting interviews on Tues, Wed, Thurs, and Fri. I am also working on a list of interviewees and when their interviews will go up on the blog. This will be found in its own tab on the site.  It should be up today.

First off I would like to thank Suzanne Payne for awarding me these two awards! So check out her blog!

Suzanne Payne

 

“I give the Blog on Fire and Leibster Blog Award to Dawn G. Sparrow at  Write Away.  She’s just beginning to stretch her ‘writerly’ wings in public, which is a H-U-G-E step.  She’s got the support of the #goatposse behind her, so there’s no way she can fail.  Love ya’ Dawn! 🙂  She also tweets @DawnGSparrow  Follow her and all the rest of my award-winning peeps!  You can’t go wrong with this crew. ” 

Now I am, supposed to give these awards out myself, but I honestly have no idea who to give them to! So the first 5 people who contact me via email, DM, or comment can have these awards! I will do a write-up for each one of them and post it later.

Next item on the agenda today– 2 Books.

This week I have read EATS, SHOOT & LEAVES by Lynne Truss.

Finally I am starting to get a handle on my arch-nemesis, the comma. I have been fighting the comma since I started writing. It seems the rules I grew up with have completely changed over the course of time. Suddenly, I am left staring at the tadpole shaped mark and wondering  ‘Do I put it in, or do I take it out?’ It will be a slow process, but now I have some rules to guide me. So this is definitely a good book for me.

I am about half-way through Steven Harper’s WRITING A PARANORMAL NOVEL. It is a good book, especially for people who are writing ‘traditional’ paranormal characters. i.e. vampires, werewolves, fairies (faeries) and the like. However, my paranormal is completely different from what is traditional for this genre. I am still finding useful and helpful information. Best of all, there are exercises that can help you to develop your protagonist and antagonist into more well-rounded and realistic creatures/people. So I would definitely look this book up if you are in need of learning how to develop a character, deciding what powers your character should or should not have, as well as learning about world building.

I definitely recommend you add these two books to your list of reads.

Now, finally, some Monday Musings.

The last week has taught me a lot about who my friends are, and who they aren’t. I went through a very bad situation  and lost some friends. The ones who are sticking by me in spite of my life are the ones I treasure. I want to spend a moment and thank just a few people for being there for me. Thank you.

Jen Martin

April Williams

Reid Undant

Lela Gwenn

Imran Siddiq

thank you guys, very much.

Now all I have to say, is that I can’t wait until Labor Day! Right after that holiday my son goes back to school and I can finally concentrate on getting my second novel down on paper. I enjoy working in peace and quiet. I rarely even listen to music, instead I hear only my characters’ thought and voices. This is extremely hard to do when all day you hear “Momma, are you done yet?” “Can you help me find something to do?” “I’m bored.”

Soon, very soon.

Always,

Dawn

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Further Education for Writers

Not all writers realize that continuing education is a must for a writer. Think about it. No matter if you are agented, published, or still looking for beta readers, is your MS the BEST it can be? No. Emphatically no. There is always room for improvement.

My grandfather used to ask my mom when she was in school, “Was that the best you can do?”

No matter how well you write you can ALWAYS improve.

Now, writers write, and good writers write more. Practice makes perfect after all. Or maybe, practice is just one more way to make you better.

There is another way that is very important when you want to improve your writing. Read.

Now reading, in itself, will help you learn to develop flow and characters better, but I am talking about reading about writing.

This weekend I got to go to Barnes and Noble bookstore. This is always a dangerous thing, and this time I brought a credit card, even more dangerous. But, I went on a mission. It was time to get a book on writing, or actually on grammar. (My comma skills are woefully out of date!) So I walked into the bookstore looking for a specific book.

EATS, SHOOTS & LEAVES- The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

This book has been recommended to me several times because of my complete incompetence with commas, so it was definitely time to get it.

Unfortunately it was in a section dedicated to writers. (Here’s where the credit card came into play!)

As I started looking at all the wonderful books, I realized there is more that I can learn. Much more. And it was all staring at me from the shelves. How could I resist?

I couldn’t.

So I came home with not only EATS, SHOOTS & LEAVES, but also:

WRITING THE PARANORMAL NOVEL by Steven Harper

HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD THRILLER by James N Frey

and FROM FIRST DRAFT TO FINISHED NOVEL by Karen S. Wiesner

I also picked up a special bookmark (I have a soft spot for bookmarks) that has a quote by Winston Churchill– “NEVER, NEVER, NEVER QUIT”

Perfect!

So now not only do I have a novel to write, I have a lot of great books to read as well. Next, I will get books on the business of publishing….but that is another blog post.

If anyone else has read these books and has any advice on them or on other books to read, just let me know!

Always,

Dawn

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