Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Making The Best Of It~IWSG

A huge 'THANK YOU' goes out to this month's Insecure Writers Support Group's co-hosts Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham, Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, and Gwen Gardner!

I've decided to wrap a recent adventure I had into this month's optional question: How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/ finish a story?


Sounds logical, right?

Technically, I didn't achieve a writing goal recently. I did have a new book released for each of the past two years. And I really never took an official break or a reward or what-have-you. This really isn't a break either. Call it more of another diversion in life. Our family car dealership has been getting busier, so I decided to be more hands-on at the dealership - paperwork and all that fun office stuff.

BUT . . . a few weeks back, the dealership needed drivers to pick up some vehicles we purchased and deliver them back to us. (Quick FYI on dealerships: one way most used dealerships purchase vehicles for sale is through live or online-live auctions.) An out-of-state-adventure sounded like a DO SOMETHING OUT OF YOUR BOX  reward. I also considered it research. #wink-wink

Before the crack of dawn - think it was 5:00AM - I took off from central Maine with two other drivers, heading for New York. Where in New York you ask? I honestly knew this answer before the journey. After, I didn't even care. 

Here's the deets in bullet point form:
  • Left central Maine at 5:00AM
  • Arrived at New York dealership at 11:03AM (Yes, we were driving a tad fast.)
  • Dude at the NY dealership greets us, and we tell him we're there to pick up a Honda Pilot. 
  • He response, "Uh, that vehicle shipped to Utah yesterday."
We respond with *deer in the headlight eyes*
  • He leaves to check again.
We all scowl at each other.
  • Dude returns and says, "You'll think this is funny. The vehicle is here. It was just the keys that got shipped to Utah."
Yeah, we thought that was funny. #NOT
  • Says, "No worries. I'll have a new key made up right now."
90 minutes later we still have no key.
  • Dude comes back and says, "Your key is almost ready."
We're now considering hot-wiring the Pilot.
  • Continues, "Oh, and the Pilot is technically not here at the dealership. It's at the airport down the road."
Now we want to ram this guy's face into the table. But we don't. Because we're nice Mainers.
  • We sit for a few more minutes, but the other two drivers with me still have an hour and a half left to drive South to pick up another vehicle. This delay already puts them at getting back to Maine around 10PM. The NY dealership agrees to drive me to this airport to get the Pilot, so my other two drivers can head out.
  • As they are leaving, the other dude shows up with the newly made key.
YAY! We toss confetti! #notreally
  • The three of us drive to the airport. Look for the gray Pilot. Can't find it.
  • We finally determine that the vehicle is supposed to be black, not gray, and we find it.
We toss snow into the air instead of confetti. That's all we had available. Don't knock it.
  • I jump in the Pilot, while the other two drivers finally get to leave for their next destination AND . . . the Pilot's battery is DEAD!
Can you imagine if my other two drivers would have left me there alone with some strange salesman dude that I don't know in NY??? OMGosh... I'm telling you. I have angels. 
  • It gets better. The dealership won't let us borrow jumper cables. #seriously
  • We finally get the vehicle started, the two other drivers leave to drive another two hours south and then back to Maine for another ten hours of driving, and I head to a gas station.
Can't turn the Pilot off.
  • I'm afraid if I do the battery will die and I'm all alone. So this means I have to drive eight to nine hours without stopping to PEE! 
NEXT: a two hour delay in traffic. I drive 3 miles in two hours. #ugh
  • I will end your misery here. I did eventually get home. Around 9:30PM. 
And no, I never did stop to pee. I am a champion.

Ever have an Out Of Your Box Adventure like this?

Monday, February 12, 2018

Elements of a Mystery & Amber Hart's WICKED CHARM

Hi Everyone!

How many of you enjoy reading mysteries?

*raises of hands*
Shouts of "Ooh, me!"

Perfect! Because today I have a special guest who's, not only celebrating the release of her brand new book WICKED CHARM, but she's here to explore what makes up a good mystery. Read on as young adult author Amber Hart shares her thoughts on writing a mystery. Take it away Amber...
Mysteries are meant to invoke that what’s-going-to-happen-next, feeling. The most important elements of a mystery novel, for me, are that they’re unpredictable, exciting, and razor sharp. They keep you guessing. What difficulty will arise? Who is responsible? And setting is a big factor for me. The settings are usually eerie. Deserted roads. Sleepy islands. A sprawling, empty house. The setting itself becomes a living thing, with a heartbeat of its own. For Wicked Charm, it was a spooky swamp in the deep, dense woods. 

Let’s not forget that the characters are sly. A mystery never fails to give you a mischievous character. You can’t figure out what they’re really up to, and that’s a good thing. Parts of them are hidden and secrets are everywhere, little breadcrumbs to keep you going—the story unfolding at a slow but entrancing pace. Which makes everyone is a suspect. You can’t help wondering if each character has an ulterior motive. They probably do. Most do. The main characters in Wicked Charm, Willow and Beau, both live where all of the murders are happening, and especially for Beau, this is problematic since he’s connected to the victims. The characters often get inside your head. They cut straight through and make you think. I wanted the reader to question everything they thought they knew about Willow and Beau, and the other characters as well. There are often surprise twists. It was important to me to keep the budding friendships, romance, family ties, and eerie setting, while still making the reader look over their shoulder, wondering what’s coming next. The killer could be anyone. Even Willow or Beau. You’ll have to read Wicked Charm to find out. 

Thanks for having me and allowing me tell you a little about Wicked Charm! I hope you love it as much as I do.

You're welcome, Amber! Such an intriguing view into writing mysteries and how those elements draw readers in. Thank you for sharing.

Now, let's take a peek at her beautiful book baby. From the moment I saw this cover (& read the blurb) I knew it had to appear on Writer's Alley. 


Wicked Charm 
by Amber Hart
Publication Date: January 30, 2018 
Publisher: Entangled Teen

Nothing good comes from living in the Devil's swamp.

Willow Bell thinks moving to the Okefenokee area isn't half bad, but nothing prepares her for what awaits in the shadows of the bog.

Girls are showing up dead in the swamp. And she could be next.

Everyone warns Willow to stay away from Beau Cadwell—the bad boy at the top of their suspect list as the serial killer tormenting the small town.

But beneath his wicked, depthless eyes, there's something else that draws Willow to him.

When yet another girl he knew dies, though, Willow questions whether she can trust her instincts…or if they're leading to her own death.

Amber Hart resides on the Florida coastline with family and a plethora of animals she affectionately refers to as her urban farm. When unable to find a book, she can be found
writing, daydreaming, or with her toes in the sand. She's the author of several novels for teens and adults, including Wicked Charm, the Before & After series, and the Untamed series. Rep'd by Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group.

For more on Amber and her fabulous new book baby, check out her other tour stops or visit her on social media.

So readers, what's your favorite mystery novel?


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