Wednesday, April 29, 2020

WRITING (OR TRYING TO) AND WAITING FOR SUMMER


Spring in California

 by Jamie Freveletti

I wanted to start this post with a beautiful picture of nature, because a little beauty is a balm at times. This blog is about all things writing, and I'll try to stay on point even through the current world circumstances. Like everyone else these days, I'm sheltering in place and trying to keep my mind on work, while also keeping an eye to the news of the day. Needless to say, every day is a challenge. That's why I greatly appreciated the suggestions of Bryan E. Robinson Ph.D, author of #Chill, Turn Off Your Job and Turn on Your Life, and friend of fellow writer Kim Howe, who offered some excellent advice on how to calm oneself during this crisis. You can read his suggestions in his recent guest post here.

I'm also reading the tweets and facebook posts of other authors lamenting their inability to write and it gives me some comfort knowing that I'm not alone in this affliction. Writing is, under the best of circumstances, a solitary pursuit, so one would think that this situation allows for plenty of time to crank out words. But alas, that's not the case for some of us. I have three projects that I'm juggling and the attention span for less than one, so you can imagine how things are going.

So, what am I doing besides writing my greatly reduced word count? Sifting through my stack of DVDs and books, running like mad, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning and, like everyone else, waiting and hoping that this situation takes a turn for the better.

I want to thank everyone who has been contacting me about my published books, both on social media and other platforms, to tell me how much they enjoyed them. Some have had the books on their shelves for a while and just now reached them in their To Be Read pile, others have ordered them online, some checked them out from the library and some are rereading them. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You brighten my day and give me the determination to keep going.

And back to those projects. My concern was that they would seem trivial under the present circumstances. That the stories wouldn't hold up under the weight of our current world predicament. I'm glad to say that they still capture my imagination. And it's interesting to see how they're morphing into a different tenor. One, a historical, went "on submission" to the editors right before the stay at home orders hit, and of the other two one is at 40,000 words and the other at 65,000 words. The average thriller is between 80,000 and 100,000, give or take, and mine usually land around 95,000, so I have a way to go on both of them. Those two are both set in present day.

Finishing them will take longer, though, and I've had to pare down other commitments to narrow my focus to the work in front of me. You'll find me on a "hiatus" of sorts, and while not exactly in a writing cave, definitely paring back. I imagine a lot of us are doing the same, no matter what our jobs and commitments.

But even so, I'm sticking with them and still tapping out the chapters that I can while waiting for summer. And if you're like me, waiting for summer and wondering what the future holds, I hope that I see you on the flip side and that you and yours weather this situation and emerge intact, happy and healthy.

All the best, 

Jamie

Sunday, April 26, 2020

STAYING CONNECTED

by: Karna Small Bodman

During these challenging times when many of us are “locked down” so to speak, we are lucky if we have the companionship of a spouse, a friend and especially a dog! In fact, in what must be “sympathy for our solitary status” our little “Cammy” figured out the best way to self-quarantine under my desk. 

However, especially at times like this, we all want to figure out the best ways not to hide, but to keep in touch. In fact, ever since the dawn of time, there’s been a yearning (and necessity) to stay connected. From smoke signals, carrier pigeons, and the telegraph, we finally were blessed with the brilliant Alexander Graham Bell, the Scottish born American scientist and engineer who invented and patented the first practical telephone. He also co-founded AT&T.


How did this brilliant man find the inspiration for an invention that changed our lives? It turns out that when he was 12 years old, his mother began to gradually lose her hearing. The boy tried to learn a manual finger language and became so preoccupied with his mother’s condition that he started to study acoustics. He first performed experiments with sound. He even trained his dog to emit certain sounds he could analyze. Finally, in 1876 he filed a patent for a telephone; the Bell Telephone Company was created in 1877 and by 1886, more than 150,000 people in the US owned a telephone. Headlines were made at the opening of the long-distance line from New York to Chicago in 1892.
Fast forward to creation of the internet and cell phones. While billions of people were now connected, over in China there was an 18-year-old young man desperately in love with a young girl who lived 10 hours away by train. He could only see her twice a year. His name was Eric Yuan. He longed to see her face, not just talk to her.” He needed a solution. When he had some ideas about creating new ways to connect, he wanted to move to America to work with software engineers here. The first time he applied for a US visa, he was rejected. It took NINE tries! He finally arrived and began working with 40 engineers to launch a new platform. But he couldn’t find ANY investors, so he borrowed money from family and friends to launch Zoom.com in 2012. Today with the coronavirus front and center, as founder and CEO, Eric has made nearly $4 billion in 3 months as conferencing skyrocketed and his company began being used by doctors offering virtual treatments, researchers collaborating on vaccines, teachers and universities conducting online classes… all of this due to the dedication of a young man whose motto is: “Hard work and stay humble.” If you haven’t signed up yet for Zoom, just go to that website and create an account – it’s FREE.

Since major conferences where we Rogues always got together were cancelled, we planned to have our own meeting…a “Retreat” at my home in Naples, Florida. But alas, travel plans had to be cancelled as well. Besides, for the first time ever, our beaches were also closed.


What to do? A Zoom conference, of course. And so we gathered and dialed in from our homes across the country --from California to Maine to talk about our novels, spreading the word about upcoming releases, inviting guest authors to write blogs for our website, analyze requests we’ve had for interviews or reviews, and so much more. But the best part of our Zoom conference was the sense of STAYING CONNECTED.


We look forward to finding ways to keep in touch with you, our friends and readers as well. Visit us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (symbols are at the top left of this page)

Now, please tell us about how you are staying connected as we move through trying times. And thanks for visiting us here at Rogue Women Writers.

Friday, April 24, 2020

AND THE ROGUE RECOMMENDATION WINNERS ARE....


Every time The Real Book Spy brings us a Rogue Recommendation, one of the Rogue Readers who comments, shares or tweets the clue and posting is entered into a drawing to win a free copy of the author's book.

The February Rogue Recommendation was Meg Gardiner for THE DARK CORNERS OF THE NIGHT, and the winner of the book is...

@HashtagSpiruli

When we notified him, he said:

“Hiyas! Currently in hardcore reading mode in the Bay Area aka shelter in place during the CoronaVirus Era. Basically, I'm an equal opportunity reader. Thrill me, kill me. Read P.Hawkins, G. Flynn, JK Rowling (as Galbraith), KJ Howe, Hanna Jameson and Kathleen Kent. I enjoy thrillers, great dialogue, and not necessarily happy endings. Anything from David Morrell to Chandler to Stephen king and Clavell, Michener, but there are so many (new ones). Into the Black Nowhere was a great page turner in the Hill Country and made me hyper click to enter the giveaway. =) When not getting lost in the pages of a book, I am a Technical Delivery Manager with Canines, a TV series Marathon addict (Breaking Bad vs The Wire: don't get me started) who loves to connect with the community and dotes on Pizza, Cashews, personal fitness, and a good drink.”

The March Rogue Recommendation was Don Bentley for WITHOUT SANCTION, and the winner of the book is..

Tom Dooley
@Duells06

When we notified him, he said:

"I like to read crime,thrillers and non-fiction the most. When I'm not reading and weather permitting I like to ride my Harley,BBQ and watch football."

The April Rogue Recommendation was Jack Carr for SAVAGE SON, and the winner of the book is...

Julie Watson
@juliewa43117224

When we notified her, she said:
“These authors wrote about my world of DC. They had the character of the hero and his posse as right on the mark. The patriotism, the brotherhood, the do or die attitude. Give it your all, sacrifice, many missed deaths, weddings, births of their kids, loss of spouses and death of their brothers in war. These writers are telling accurately the tale of these stalwart, stoic supporters of the special forces and intelligence communities. I read these authors because they tell the true story of how these unsung heroes lived and how some died.”

Congrats to all the winners! We're glad to send the books your way. We'll look forward to a review!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

DAILY WRITING RESILIENCE DURING COVID-19 ANXIETY

by K.J. Howe

          I've had the honor of calling talented psychologist Bryan Robinson my friend for many years. He's always a calm port in any storm, a supportive and kind person who offers insightful advice, no matter the problem. In these unprecedented times, it's difficult not to feel unmoored, unsettled. How do we manage to stay focused--and calm--when the world seems to be spinning off its axis? I immediately knew who I wanted to reach out to for suggestions. Meet Bryan, a regular contributor at Forbes.com, Psychology Today, and Thrive Global--and the thriller author of Limestone Gumption. 

Daily Writing Resilience During COVID-19 Anxiety 

Bryan E. Robinson, Ph.D.
by Bryan E. Robinson, Ph.D.

If you follow social media for any length of time, you might feel like going to bed and pulling the covers over your head. Long-standing research shows that chronic TV watchers and news followers have elevated fears because everything they see starts to feel like it’s happening outside their front door. The coronavirus pandemic is here. Unfortunately, some news feeds tend to exaggerate fears. One major network continues to play ominous background music as they update reports: school closings for the remainder of the year, banning social gatherings over 10 people, the stock market plunging, social distancing, travel bans, medical personnel dying.

Is your heart slamming against your rib cage yet?

I think the network producers missed their calling. They should have been thriller writers! Don’t get me wrong these are serious times, and we must take all precautions seriously. Minimizing the virus isn’t good preparation, but neither is overkill, overblown coverage and over-reactions. It’s easy to freak out when you see these drastic changes and face uncertainty. The key is to remain level-headed, sensible and avoid stressing yourself out. In some cases, panic due to the drastic changes and the unknown are traveling faster than the coronavirus itself.

What continues to get buried underneath many of the news reports is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe the risk of COVID-19 to the American public remains low. Experts tell us that 80% of the population won’t require any or minimal medical care and that there is a high transmission rate with a low mortality rate. Still, it’s important to remain vigilant, calm, and level-headed and follow recommendations from the experts whether it’s washing your hands or wearing a mask.

The Psychology Of Uncertainty: The Sulfuric Acid For Fear

Underneath the news coverage, the psychology of our country is at stake. And as thriller writers, your personal psychology is at stake. If you’re like most people, uncertainty can cause you tremendous anxiety. In fact, I always say uncertainty is sulfuric acid for fear.

Why? Your lizard brain (or survival brain) is constantly updating your world, making judgments about what's safe and what isn't. Due to its disdain for uncertainty, your lizard brain makes up all sorts of untested stories hundreds of times a day because to the mind, uncertainty equals danger. If your brain doesn't know what’s around the corner, it can’t keep you out of harm’s way. It always assumes the worst, over-personalizes threats, and jumps to conclusions. (Your brain will do almost anything for the sake of certainty). And you’re hardwired to overestimate threats and underestimate your ability to handle them—all in the name of survival.

When certainty is questioned, your stress response goes haywire, instantly arousing your fight-or-flight response, kicking you in the ass in an attempt to spur you to action and get you to safety. Waiting for certainty can feel like torture by a million tiny cuts. Sometimes the brain prefers to know an outcome one way or another to take the edge off. Studies show that you’re calmer anticipating pain than anticipating uncertainty because pain is certain. Scientists have found that job uncertainty, for example, takes a greater toll on your health than actually losing the job. Statistics also show you're more likely to maintain the stamina to continue taking risks after a car crash than after a series of psychological setbacks. And British researchers discovered that study participants who knew for sure they would receive a painful electric shock felt calmer and less agitated than those who were told they only had a 50% chance of getting the electric shock.

The Rx: Keep Your Perspective In Check

Someone we all know and love was diagnosed with the COVID-19. Tom Hanks and wife, Rita Wilson, announced they contracted the virus while filming in Australia. Their response was calm and level headed:

“Hello, folks. Rita and I are down here in Australia. We felt a bit tired, like we had colds, and some body aches. Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers too. To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the coronavirus, and were found to be positive. We Hanks’ will be tested, observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no? Take care of yourselves!” The sixtyish Tom and Rita are now thriving again back at their home in Los Angeles.

Your perspective during the pandemic is the most powerful weapon you can control in a situation beyond your control. Yes, these disruptions are scary, but fear, panic, and worry are not preparation. They add insult to injury—another layer of stress that can compromise the immune system and paradoxically make you even more vulnerable to the virus. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing singer/songwriter Rhonda Ross, daughter of icon Diana Ross, for Forbes Magazine after one of their performances. Here are her wise words about perspective during these uncertain times:
“It’s all about my perspective and what I have control over? I have control of how I see it, how much I focus on it, how much energy and time I give to it, how much mental space I give to it. I can’t stop a global virus. I can be stressed or scared or tense about it, which will only hurt me in terms of high blood pressure or depression and other mental and physical problems. Or I can look at the parts of it that are not as scary like how many people have recovered from it. And I can do the things in my life that help me feel in control or give me back my power. I can wipe down the phone, keep my hands clean, I can keep my immunity up. I can get sleep and drink water and make sure I’m not running myself ragged. One of the things that gives me power and control is to not think about what’s going to happen two weeks or six months from now because no one knows. I can focus in the now, be present and know that for right now I’m healthy and safe.”
Yes, things are going to be different, but ask yourself if it’s the virus that scares you or the drastic changes, the uncontrollable and uncertainty that scare you. Meanwhile, once we stay informed and follow what the experts tell us, our best ally is to find the opportunity in the difficulty, the upside to a downside situation beyond our control, and stay in the present moment. Find something you can control whether it’s cleaning out your basement or doing an act of kindness for someone else. And make the best of an inevitable situation one step at a time—just as the “Hanxes” did.

My warmest wishes to all of my fellow writers, especially you rogue writers, as you protect your well-being so you continue to being well.

Thank you, Bryan. Deeply appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to offer these insights. Readers, what changes in your life during the COVID crisis trouble you the most and how are you coping?

Sunday, April 19, 2020

CELEBRATE OUR 4TH YEAR ANNIVERSARY GIVEAWAY!

Rogue Women Writers are celebrating their fourth anniversary on May 18! To mark the occasion we have put together a huge giveaway bundle for one of our loyal Rogue followers to stay positive and enjoy their summer’s ‘staycation’!

Drawing includes:

Signed copies of:
  • THE LAST MRS. PARISH by Liv Constantine
  • DARK WATERS by Chris Goff
  • SKYJACK by K.J. Howe
  • THE BONE CHAMBER by Robin Burcell
  • THE KILL ORDER by Robin Burcell
  • MASQUERADE by Gayle Lynds 
  • BLOOD RUN by Jamie Freveletti
  • SUFFER THE CHILDREN by Lisa Black
  • TRUST BUT VERIFY by Karna Bodman 
Plus all this swag! 
  • Soup Can Safe
  • Rogue Women Writers coffee mug
  • Rogue Women Writers baseball hat
  • A set of Invisible Ink pens
  • “And off she went to change the world” bag
  • Book-reading rubber duckie and a spring bunny
  • K.J. Howe luggage tag 
  • Liv Constantine diamond-shaped pin
  • Laser snorkel torch
  • A set of CIA fun stickers
  • UR Strong magnetic bookmark
  • Caution: Crime Scene lanyard
And a Bottle Breacher bottle opener with RWW logo, hand crafted from decommissioned 50 caliber rounds by Active Duty service members and Veterans.

All in a beach bag tote that unzips to a beach mat!

To enter: TYPE YOUR EMAIL in the box on the sidebar so you can receive our blog, then VERIFY your signup when you receive your opt-in email.

From then on, you'll never miss any of our stories about our lives and adventures.

IMPORTANT: If you've ALREADY signed up to receive the blog by email, YOU ARE NOW ENTERED into the drawing.

Drawing will be held May 24 and winner will be contacted. Good Luck and welcome aboard! JOIN THE CELEBRATION.

Friday, April 17, 2020

THE REAL BOOK SPY'S APRIL 2020 ROGUE RECOMMENDATION IS...

by The Real Book Spy

For two years—ever since his lights-out debut novel, The Terminal List (2018)—I’ve been telling everyone who will listen that Jack Carr is the next big star of the thriller genre . . .

And I stand by that now more than ever.

Whereas most authors in the genre stick to a type of “branded book” after tasting success, Carr tossed out the rulebook and has forged his own path. Each of his first three books are all very different. Make no mistake, they’re all very much part of a series and star James Reece in the leading role, but each title has its own theme. The Terminal List was all about revenge, while his second book, True Believer (2019), dealt with the idea of redemption, and what that might look for in a guy like Reece.



SAVAGE SON, though, is just that—savage—and deals with the darkness and evil man is capable of.

Falling somewhere between Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game and David Morrell’s First Blood, Carr’s latest novel follows Reece as he’s pulled into a twisted game of human hunting, forcing him to go toe-to-toe with a former operator who’s taken to killing people for sport. It’s the ultimate showdown of Hunter vs. Hunted, and Carr delivers in a big way with another up-all-night reading experience.

A former Navy SEAL (just like his character), Carr brings plenty of been-there-done-that authenticity to his hard-hitting thrillers, but he also excels at coming up with creative storylines, forcing Reece into situations that’ll test him in more ways than he can imagine, and Savage Son is no exception. Even more than his last two books, Reece finds himself surrounded by danger with little to no room for error. One mistake could be the difference between life and death, and that tension helps make Savage Son the rare type of book that could be read over and over again.

For my money, Jack Carr is the next Vince Flynn or Brad Thor, and if you enjoy either of those guys, you’ll absolutely love this book.

by Jack Carr

Jack Carr
I was, and remain, a student of war and of the hunt. Experiences in combat and in the backcountry helped shape me into the citizen, husband, father and writer I am today. The one has made me better at the other. I suspect it has always been this way. It is the feelings and emotions from those most primal of endeavors, coupled with a reading experience from my youth that form the foundation of my third novel, Savage Son.

I was first introduced to Richard Connell’s masterpiece, The Most Dangerous Game, in junior high school. Connell, a veteran of World War I, published his most celebrated short story in Collier’s Weekly in 1924. Upon that initial reading, I was determined to one day write a modern thriller that paid tribute to this classic tale, exploring the dynamic between hunter and hunted.

Providing for and defending my family and country are hardwired into my DNA. Perhaps that is why The Most Dangerous Game resonated with me at such an early age, or maybe those primal impulses are in all of us which is why Richard Connell’s narrative continues to endure almost a century after it was first published.

Fast forward thirty years. As I prepared to leave the SEAL Teams, I laid out all my ideas for what was to become my first novel, The Terminal List. The plot for Savage Son was among several of the storylines I was contemplating as I decided how to introduce the world to James Reece. For that first outing, I knew my protagonist was not yet ready for what I had in store. I needed to develop him through a journey, first of revenge and then of redemption, before I could explore the dark side of man through the dynamic of hunter and hunted via the medium of the modern political thriller. Is James Reece a warrior, a hunter, a killer? Perhaps all three?

One of the most intriguing passages in The Most Dangerous Game is this exchange between the protagonist, Sanger Rainsford, and the antagonist, General Zaroff, where the central theme of the narrative is revealed:
“I wanted the ideal animal to hunt,” explained the general. “So I said, ‘What are the attributes of an ideal quarry?’ And the answer was, of course, ‘It must have courage, cunning, and, above all, it must be able to reason.’”
“But no animal can reason,” objected Rainsford.
“My dear fellow,” said the general, “there is one that can.”
It is this most ancient and primal of contests I set out to explore in Savage Son.

Jack Carr
As a student of the genre I am indebted to all those who, unbeknownst to them, were my early professors in the art of storytelling. In addition to The Most Dangerous Game, readers will recognize the inspiration of Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male, David Morrell’s First Blood, and Louis L’Amour’s Last of the Breed. It is with great humility that I stand on the shoulders of these giants who all moved the genre forward through their dedication to the craft. I see it as my responsibility to them and to readers to not only improve with each and every project but to carry both the odyssey of Navy SEAL sniper James Reece and the genre, forward.

Jack Carr is an author and former Navy SEAL sniper. He lives with his wife and three children in Park City, Utah. He is the author of The Terminal ListTrue Believer, and Savage Son. Visit him at OfficialJackCarr.com and follow along on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at @JackCarrUSA.

Thank you to The Real Book Spy and Jack Carr. We hope you enjoy this great pick!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

WHAT TIMES WE LIVE IN! But what d'you do if you're peed on?

In World War II, innovation in style ruled!
by Gayle Lynds

I’m proud to be a human being.  I like that whether we’re authors or food servers or teachers or business folks, we have a crazy (as in, crazy like a fox) drive not only to survive but to use what we have at hand to make things a bit better. Or easier. Or even fun.
  
I have fond memories of my mother in the early 1950s when we had little money (it wasn’t until decades later that we had some money) drawing lines up the backs of her long legs with an eyebrow pencil to mimic the seams on hosiery, which well-dressed women were expected to wear when they went out.

There was no money for hosiery, but a single eyebrow pencil could decorate the eyebrows, the eyes, and the backs of legs. A bargain. And dancing ensued.

Then there was the time Mom brought home a roll of aluminum foil, which I’d never seen before. Giving the whole thing to me, she showed me how to crinkle it, fold it, cut it, and make shapes with it. What a fabulous toy.
   
With great parental wisdom, she left me alone to create people the size of paper dolls and a boat for them to sail in, and a crown for me to wear. She took me outside, crown firmly on my head, and set me down at the base of our buckeye tree where she arranged my creations around me. Finally, despite my protests, she put my baby sister in my lap. I’d had experience with my sister and knew this was a dangerous (for me) situation.

Britain's National Bread was a staple of World War II
But mom was all smiles and pride as she took a photo. I, however, screamed. My sister had wet her diaper right through to my summer dress.  Mom gave me a lot of sympathy and a clean sundress. As I learned that day, life would go on.

Now in my old(er) age I feel a lot of pride in how so many of us around the world are pulling together to feed, clothe, house, educate, and support one another in numerous ways. These commonsense acts of humanity help to abate the horror and the worry of our times.

One of the latest contributions I find personally wonderful is the revival of Britain's National Loaf, created in 1942. “As politicians invoke memories of World War II’s ‘Blitz Spirit,’ some of the nation’s bakers are taking a more direct cue from history,” according to NBC News. The National Loaf is “a nutrient-dense whole wheat bread. Today, as was the case back then, a scarcity of ingredients and a concern for public health are challenging the culinary status quo.” And darker bread is better for us, too.
    
Since I grew up smelling the delicious aroma of my mother’s homemade bread baking in the oven, just reading about the National Loaf brought back wonderful memories.
Disney is keeping the magic alive with classic recipes


At the other end of the food spectrum is dessert. Restaurants, stores, and food companies are revealing special recipes and donating cartons and crates of eaters’ favorites.

“The parks may be closed, but Disney has been unveiling special surprises since social distancing measures were introduced,” says People magazine.

Recently, Disney shared the recipe for its famous fan-fave frozen nondairy Dole Whip, made with only three ingredients that you may already have stocked for quarantine. It's easy to make, and a sweet way to relieve those quarantine blues.

How's life for you these days, dear Rogue Reader?  Please share your thoughts and experiences.  We'd love to know! 

Sunday, April 12, 2020

APRIL'S ROGUE RECOMMENDATION -- CLUE #1

Don't miss your chance to win a hardcover 1st edition by The Real Book Spy's April Rogue Recommendation!! Share, Comment, Tweet and you're in the drawing!

CLUE: "This author likes knives, and not only in the kitchen and wide open spaces."


A quick recap for those of you scratching your heads. 

In May of 2019, Rogue Women Writers and The Real Book Spy formed a lethal alliance dedicated to bringing you a monthly ROGUE RECOMMENDATION.

What's that mean? 

On the third Friday of every month, the Rogues team up with The Real Book Spy to bring you a  reading recommendation, highlighting a thriller that sizzles with entertainment, breaks boundaries or in some way stands out as "Rogue." Written in the unique voice of The Real Book Spy, recommendations may include, among other things: author interviews, author blogs, reviews and photos.

This is your chance to win more than just bragging rights! 

Do you like to win books? If so, there are three ways to enter into the drawing!

1. Post a comment below and you'll be entered into a drawing for a copy of The Real Book Spy's APRIL ROGUE RECOMMENDATION

2. Visit our FB page and share the clue with friends and fellow thriller buffs.

3. Tweet out the clue on Twitter. 

Game on!

Friday, April 10, 2020

JEFFREY WILSON GOES ROGUE!

by K.J. Howe

It is with great pleasure that I welcome my friend Jeff Wilson, a Renaissance man (just look at his bio--yes, jet pilot and trauma surgeon!), to the Rogue Women blog. Jeff and I go way back, as we met at Thrillerfest many moons ago. Jeff co-writes with Brian Andrews, but he also flies solo as well. Today, Jeff is going to share his thoughts about short stories. I have sincere admiration for people who write them, as when you write short, you need to be succinct and connect readers with your character quickly. Hats off to Jeff for having those skills among so many others.

The Challenges of Short Fiction

by Jeffrey Wilson

Jeffrey Wilson
A million years ago, as a kid, I began my fiction writing journey, crafting short stories and comics. In the beginning, I wrote fan fiction shorts based on my favorite TV shows. That led to me trying my hand at original fiction, and I published my first short story at fourteen. For the next twenty years, I wrote continually—sometimes with serious passion, sometimes for stress release from the rigors of professional life. But during it all, I always wrote with an eye towards short stories. The reason was simple: I didn’t think I had the discipline or the attention span (as my bio will attest, I change careers like some most people change socks) to write a full length story. The idea of filling hundreds of pages with my words seemed a daunting, if not insurmountable challenge.

All it took for that to change was a spark.

In 2005, I forward deployed with a FRSS team—a mobile surgical unit at the forward edge of the battlefield to give rapid surgical care to wounded Marines. In between crises, I found myself with chunks of down time to write. Then one day, after treating a badly wounded soldier, a story came to me—about a Marine, mortally wounded in combat, who finds himself transported to another life as a father, husband, and school teacher in middle America, far from the war that haunts him. Unfortunately, visions and dreams from his wartime reality keep intruding, forcing him to confront which “reality” is real and which is not. After writing five or six thousand words, I realized this was simply not a story that could be told in five to six thousand words. The story was so much bigger than that. The characters demanded more than a vignette; they wanted to be heard! So, I gritted my teeth and decided to try my hand at a novel length project. Less than a year later, that spark became my first completed novel, Fade to Black.

From that experience, I learned that writing a full-length novel was not as daunting or overwhelming or terrifying as I’d thought it was. In fact, after decades of short fiction writing, I found it to be a luxury. Without the constraints of word count, I grew my characters to levels never before achievable for me. I could develop relationships that evolved over time, showing different aspects of the characters. I could build suspense that went on for hours or even days for the reader, instead of only minutes. Being a novelist was writing unrestrained (yes, I know my editors and my TIER ONE co-author Brian Andrews would love to see a little more restraint). Now, I’m not saying that novels are better than shorts; not as a writer and certainly not as a reader. What I am saying is that long and short fiction satisfy different appetites. I hunger, as a reader, for both of these—just as a foodie hungers for seafood one night and steak another. As a writer, the same turns out to be true. 


These days, I find myself in the opposite position. Brian and I have published ten full length novels together as Andrews & Wilson. When we decided to release a series of novellas featuring our favorite Tier One Series characters (TIER ONE ORIGINS) it felt like turning back the clock for me as a writer. Because, writing short fiction is a challenge. It’s hard! It takes a real gift for the written word to bring the intensity and action and character to only a handful of pages. Wrapping up a trip from A to B in your plot and your characters in only fifteen thousand words is real work, and for me harder, now, than writing a novel! It is writing restrained, but it brings as much joy even as it does its challenges. It forces you to keep your story simple, to unburden your plot from multiple layers of geopolitical intrigue and interpersonal arcs. In a short, you must focus intently on crafting truly character driven prose. Yes, in all of the series we write—and our individual books—we tend to write very character driven stories. But here, with less than a hundred pages to take you on a journey, we are afforded the luxury of focusing on one, seminal event in the life of these characters, and explore the impact that had on them in that moment, to create the characters that are now in the pages of the Tier One Series novels. What a rush and what a joy.

In writing the first novella, by exploring John Dempsey’s past, we’ve gotten to know him even better than before, and we hope that these stories allow the reader to know a side of our hero they’ve not seen before. There’s no room for wasted prose, no time for distracting subplots, and the story must be told with an economy of words. It made me realize how much I miss my many years of writing short fiction, and I hope, for our readers, it gives them a brighter glimpse of how our characters became the people our fans have learned to love in Tier One novels. And, maybe, we will help our die-hard thriller novel fans find a love for short fiction in the process.

Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson
 Jeffrey Wilson is half of the Andrews and Wilson co-authoring team behind the #1 bestselling Tier One thriller series and the companion novella series Tier One Origins, as well as the upcoming Sons of War series from Blackstone Publishing and the The Shepherds series from Tyndale House, both coming 2021. He is the author of three, award winning supernatural thrillers and the faith based, inspirational war time drama War Torn. Jeff has worked as an actor, a firefighter/paramedic, a jet pilot, and a vascular and trauma surgeon and is a US Navy veteran with multiple deployments with an east coast based SEAL Team in the war on terror as a Combat Surgeon with Naval Special Warfare.

Jeff, his wife, Wendy, and their four children, call southwest Florida home. 

Thanks to Jeff for joining us today. Loved learning more about writing succinctly. Writers, readers--do you prefer novels or short stories--and why?

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

REDEEMING THE TIME IN SELF ISOLATION


by Liv Constantine

          If only I had more time I would…how often have we uttered those words? Many of us are now faced with what we may feel is too much time. While this pandemic has afflicted us with fear, anxiety, and uncertainty, it can also be a time to reflect upon our blessings and to accomplish some of those “one day” agenda items we never seem to get to. While we’re all self-isolating, here are a few ideas of how to give your day more structure and content:

  • Take an online course on a subject you’re interested in or want to learn more about.

  • Go through your cookbooks and try those complicated recipes you’ve never had the nerve to try before.

  • Listen to Ted Talks and learn something new with over 3300 videos.

  • Punic Wars? Mythology? Pre-Raphaelites? Geography? Classic Noir? Indulge your interest and study it like you have to pass an exam.

  • Go through your old photos and organize/label them.

  • Make online photo books from all those trips where you took loads of pictures but never did anything with them.

  • Keep a daily journal. A professor of history suggests keeping a record of life during a pandemic. This could become a piece of history in the future. 

  • Visit historic sites online. Here are a few of the places that offer virtual tours on their websites: The Louvre, the Sistine Chapel, Guggenheim Museum, Yosemite and Yellowstone, The Great Wall, MOMA, British Museum. The San Diego Zoo has a live cam tour here: https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/live-cams

  • Write a letter (or letters) to mail later. 

  • Start an online book club with your neighbors or other friends. 

  • Learn a new hobby like origami. Everything has a “how to” on Google!

  • Get out in nature if you can. Take a walk. Bird watch.

  • Fun science experiments for kids that are easy to do at home and use ingredients most of us have in our pantry can be found on this site, as well as other activities for kids to do at home: https://www.kiwico.com/

  • Get some SUN every day. Twenty minutes of sunshine per day triggers your body to release over 200 antimicrobials that fight fungi, parasites and viruses.

  • Think of ways you might help someone, even if it’s only to check in with someone who lives alone. A friend of mine mowed the lawn of her neighbor––a recent widow in her eighties. There are ways to help without exposing ourselves or others.

  • If you’re a praying person, pray for our health workers around the world and for the vulnerable everywhere.

  • And of course, as Henry James said––“only connect”. Whether through phone calls, Facetime, Zoom, Skype, or Texts – we all benefit from social contact, even from a distance, so stay connected to family and friends.

“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”
W.H. Davies

What are some of the ways you’re managing in this challenging time?

Sunday, April 5, 2020

WHAT ROGUES ARE READING NOW

by Karna Small Bodman

          With most everyone hunkering down at home (when possible) during this challenging time, at least we can read a good book. And with that thought in mind, I asked fellow Rogues what they are reading right now – what books are on the night-stand? I thought you might like some recommendations. Here is the list:

From K.J. Howe:

THE WIFE STALKER by Liv Constantine

Given I tend to write more action/adventure thrillers, I’m so impressed when I read a very well executed psychological thriller—that the author was able to pull off a nail-biting tale without any firearms or roundhouse kicks. Just the other day, an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) of the highly anticipated THE WIFE STALKER landed in my mailbox. I opened the novel and started reading. Well, let’s just say that was the end of my workday! I basically devoured the book in one sitting.

As someone who likes to predict what the kicker will be, I kept searching for clues as to the major twist, but I was definitely outmatched by a talented sister team who wowed me with their shocking ending. I bow to their brilliance, their intricate planning, the breadcrumb trail of clues, and the devious plotting that led to me flashing back to many turning points after that lightbulb moment when the truth was revealed. It truly takes a master to manage to make an ending both inevitable and surprising, and they nailed it. Kudos to my fellow Rogue on another unforgettable read. This novel is available for pre-order and will be out in early May.

From Lisa Black:

CITY OF ENDLESS NIGHT by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

When I first read one of their Agent Prendergast books I was captivated, until I realized that if I met the main character I would feel wholly inadequate, and I'm egotistical enough that that gives me pause On top of that he is often snippy to the point of rudeness, and there's only so much of that I'm willing to tolerate despite his softer moments...unfortunately police detective Vince Agosta doesn't have that option when there's a diabolical serial killer loose in New York. All in all, I think Prendergast is the kind of character I would have fallen madly in love with at, say, fourteen. As an adult, though, I'd have reservations.

Of course, all of that is a very minor beef when the plot is so fascinating that I can't put the book down and then neglect all my other duties just to pick it up again!

From Lynne Constantine:

HE STARTED IT by Samantha Downing

I’m reading an advanced copy of Samantha Downing’s HE STARTED IT, a riveting and deviously fun thriller that I’m devouring. I’m also reading THE SCIENCE OF SCREENWRITING: The neuroscience behind storytelling strategies as I dip a toe into the screenwriting waters.

From Gayle Lynds:

MYSTERY TRACKS IN THE SNOW by Hap Gilliand
The snow this winter in Maine has been abundant and beautiful, which means John and I snowshoe almost every day. Animal trails crisscross our backyard and forest, mostly made by white-tail deer. Sometimes we see them, but often not. We’ve always been curious about what other animals were making tracks, too, until one day last month we were deep in the woods and spotted perfect imprints in the snow – Big paws. Sharp claws.

Wow! Time to do something about our ignorance. We guessed what the animal was, but we wanted to be sure. So, I went looking for research books. My number-one, go-to favorite has become MYSTERY TRACKS IN THE SNOW by Hap Gilliland. I love his drawings of animals, and his stories of encounters. As for the animal making the big tracks here that started all this – it was a coyote – and we have at least two. With book in hand, we’ve also identified a lot of other wild animals, including fox, squirrels, raccoons, and porcupines. Highly recommended! That cover art is on my desktop.

From Valerie Rees:

THE BODY by Bill Bryson

THE BODY explores every aspect of the body’s anatomy and function and does it in a way that makes it humorous and the science easy to understand. (Add photo The Body) There are fascinating stories and astounding facts throughout the book, and he writes too of our body's remarkable ability to heal itself. I’ve always loved Bryson’s writing style––his keen insights laced with his customary wit. THE BODY is another winner. 

From Jamie Freveletti:

THE MEMORY POLICE  by Hoko Ogawa

I just started this book, but the idea of "Memory Police" who can wipe your memories and a novelist fighting to preserve the stories that are ours and make us who we are is so compelling that I had to read it! Here's the official description: On an unnamed island off an unnamed coast, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses—until things become much more serious. Most of the island's inhabitants are oblivious to these changes, while those few imbued with the power to recall the lost objects live in fear of the draconian Memory Police, who are committed to ensuring that what has disappeared remains forgotten. 

When a young woman who is struggling to maintain her career as a novelist discovers that her editor is in danger from the Memory Police, she concocts a plan to hide him beneath her floorboards. As fear and loss close in around them, they cling to her writing as the last way of preserving the past.

From Chris Goff:

A SPY FOR ALL SEASONS by Duane R. Clarridge

I’ll mention two I’m waiting with baited breath to read: First, A SPY FOR ALL SEASONS by Duane R. Clarridge He was a former Deputy Director of the CIA who provides a behind-the-scenes look at the American intelligence community, the Reagan administration’s secret war against the Sandinistas, the covert operations he conceived, and the battle against world terrorism.

Also, I’m super excited to read PAPER SON A Lydia Chin/Bill Smith Novel by S. J. Rozan. I love this series, and it’s been a few years since she’s had a book out.

Finally, from me, Karna Small Bodman: 
DEEP STATE by Chris Hauty

I just finished reading a riveting thriller recommended here on our Rogue site several weeks ago, DEEP STATE by Chris Hauty. Talk about timely – this is a story set in turbulent, partisan times in Washington, DC about a plot put together by ruthless members of a president’s own administration, thus the title.

It begins with the murder of the White House Chief of staff. A brave and tenacious young intern discovers a single clue to explain his death while becoming a target herself when she tries to find the culprits and warn the president of the continuing threat. The author is careful to be “non-partisan” in terms of the politics of the various characters (a difficult fete these days) which means this book will appeal to a broad spectrum of thriller readers.

Question: What are you reading these days? Do you have recommendations for us and our readers? Please let us know. Meanwhile to all: Please take care….and stay safe!!