Jurassic Park meets Inception in New Thriller Book

I am thrilled and relieved to announce that The Emerald Tablet, the second book in the Christa Devlin series, is now available as an ebook and print book on Amazon. Check out this description of what I’ve been working on for 2+ years:

Click cover to buy it now.

Click cover to buy it now.

NEW HIGH STAKES THRILLER FROM BEST-SELLING AUTHOR ASKS READERS, WHAT DO YOU DREAM?

Trapped between a man who vows to save her future and a lover from her past, Princeton historian Christa Devlin is thrust into a heart-pounding quest for one of the world’s most dangerous and powerful artifacts. . . the Emerald Tablet. Last seen in the hands of Alexander the Great, the Emerald Tablet can open the portal between life and afterlife, between man and spirit and, Christa hopes, between her and the traumatized mind of her beloved father. Her ruthless adversary will stop at nothing to find the Tablet first and weaponize its power using the mind-controlling nanobot technology at the island’s prototype Dream Resort. Christa races through the jungle-choked island where the imagined becomes real, prehistoric animals morph into nightmarish beasts and love can twist into evil. She must find the Emerald Tablet and solve its ancient puzzle before the world spirals into a catastrophic future and she loses her father forever.

FROM THE AUTHOR: What if technology could tap into your inner thoughts and make the imagined become real? Some might develop this as the ultimate amusement ride or, taking it deeper, realize that it’s a portal to our inner soul, a way to strip away physical limitations and discover what truly makes us human. But this concept is as old as humanity. I knew little about the Emerald Tablet before writing this book. The more I learned, the more it emboldened me to weave its history into an action-packed adventure that, I hope, inspires as well as entertains. It’s a thrill ride through history, from Merlin and dragons, to the Greek Minotaur, to a mysterious vanished Mesoamerican civilization, looped together by the Emerald Tablet.

Thank you to all my readers and friends for your support! If you choose to buy it, I hope you enjoy it. If you enjoy it, I hope you review it on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

TheHungerGamesMockingjay

The Surprising Secret of Thrillers Readers Love

 

As thriller authors and fans, we scour the virtual shelves for stories that weave in several key elements, but which is the one that keeps you turning pages? Is it…

High Stakes  Often, the future of the world is held in the balance, whether it’s an evil conspiracy to control financial markets, a bio-weapon unleashed in the water supply, or a powerful artifact that will alter the destiny of humankind. I wove all three into my first thriller, The Seventh Stone.

Seemingly Impossible Odds  As in some of my favorites: Indiana Jones and his professor dad against the Nazi juggernaut; Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s Agent Pendergast against his clever but deranged brother; a teenage girl who must fight to the death to survive gladiatorial-style games in the Hunger Games.

Universal Theme  The search for truth about the fundamentals of the Christian faith, the utter determination of an innocent hobbit to right a wrong, underscoring the value of human life by risking, sometimes sacrificing, your own.

The Ticking Clock, the Moral Struggle, the Larger-than-life Characters and more are all ingredients for a successful thriller covered in the many writing books, conference workshops and how-to articles on thriller writing.

But, surprisingly, one key element barely merits a mention. It is the driving force not only of a compelling story, but what makes authors want to write that story and readers eager to turn the page. It motivates fiction and real life. It steers our choices and the story’s characters’ choices of what to eat, wear and say. It’s why we do what we do at work and in play.

The Surprising Secret of Successful Thrillers is:

The Desire to be Loved.

Romance is the most obvious use of this core element. Readers flock to the Mockingjay trilogy for the dynamic between Katniss and Peeta. Indiana Jones begins and ends the search for the Ark with Marion. And James Bond (well, need I say more?). But the desire to be loved can motivate the hero’s search for truth about faith to confirm the love of God or the villain’s need to control the world to gain his twisted father’s approval. Even when it is beneath the surface of the story, buried like the troubled past of Teddy Daniels in Shutter Island, the desire to be loved is why the reader connects to the characters and keeps reading.

What books have you enjoyed where you kept turning the pages not only to see what happens, but to find out if the character fulfills this fundamental desire to be loved?

 

 

How Leonardo DiCaprio Makes Thriller Writing Fun

I want to be like Castle on tv. He is an amazingly successful fictional fiction writer who spends as much time finding ways to have fun as finding clever plot twists. But since we don’t live in tv world for more than an hour or two at a time, I struggle as a thriller writer to create a world that will both compel and terrify my readers.

I’ve been obsessing lately with the danger of genre-bending, specifically wondering if a thriller toeing the edge of fantasy and science fiction is doomed for failure or destined for greatness. If you ever read my notes to myself, you might think I need a therapist, not a critique group (actual note: “I am having massive trouble with making this understandable and believable. Like the traps. The traps should already be in place. From the mysterious builder of the Dreamworlds. Why hasn’t anyone seen/visited the island, especially if it had castle, Parthenon?”). So on days like these, I take the Castle approach. Take time out for fun, like googling the “most handsome movie actors.” I’ve downloaded their photos to my writing software, but will not post them here for fear of being sued.

Time for some casting decisions:

As Braydon Fox, the rogue FBI agent who wants desperately to love my heroine, but she is terrified of loving him back – Leonardo DiCaprio, as he appeared in Blood Diamond.

As Leonard Lathe, my heroine’s competing lover, a brilliant man whose growing obsession with the power to manipulate people’s thoughts is causing him to lose his own mind – Johnny Depp.

As Damian James, the wealthy heir who only wants to be a good husband and dad, but feels he has to prove that he is worthy of his father’s money – Hugh Grant, wearing glasses.

Have you made any casting decisions for your novel?

 

How to Take Charge of Your Novel: Write it Now 4 Review and Scrivener Shout Out

I was a juggler on a tightrope balancing over a pool of crocodiles. I had way too many balls in the air–complex plot, historical references, multi-layered characters, puzzles, action scenes, spiritual themes, challenging settings, dynamic relationships. I was struggling to remember who had done what, who knew what, and did I change that yet in a previous chapter? The crocodiles were hungry to snap up anything that fell.

I could struggle through with Word. I’d written my first novel in Word, using global finds to locate my last stopping point with “start here,” or “changes needed,” or highlighting my notes to myself in red. I had a separate Word doc with character profiles, and another with chapter summaries, among others.

I knew there had to be an easier way. What I didn’t know is that writing software would change my entire approach to writing a novel.

One of my main reasons for investing $70 in Write It Now 4 was for the Story Board feature. It looks like this:

The non-colored column of boxes on the left are “parts” of my book. The columns of color-coded boxes are chapters within those parts. To use the story board format, I had to start thinking of my novel in a different way. Instead of one long manuscript, I had to separate it into major parts. This immediately helped me focus on the vital turning points in my story.  It also forced me to organize scenes into more manageable parts. I can rearrange scenes simply by dragging them into place.

Any change I make on the story board is automatically transferred to the main writing/editing sections of the program. Pull down tabs also take you to whichever chapter you need to work on next.

And those colors? I designated a color for each POV character. An overall look at the storyboard showed me who was being neglected. Speaking of characters, I can go to character tabs I’ve created to add personality traits, important dates, relationships and more. The program generates a character graph with relationships, like this:

Write It Now 4 also has global find/replace, a thesaurus, a character name generator, writing prompts, a timeline feature, and tabbed sections for settings, ideas, and notes among its features.

It’s not so much a program for writing, as a program for inspiring, organizing and expanding upon ideas.

Writing programs like this won’t work nor appeal to every writer, but I do recommend it to thriller writers and others with way too many balls in the air (hmm, maybe that is every writer).

And to those out there who use other writing software, like Scrivener, I’d love to hear from you and share your thoughts in the comments, below.

the-war-of-art

The War of Art – One Key Element to Success in Writing

Cover of "The War of Art: Break Through t...

Cover via Amazon

UPDATED April 25, 2012 – Are you afraid of writing? In response to a writer’s request for advice on what to do about being afraid of using your gift of writing, I tracked down the following post I wrote for my other (neglected) blog, www.womenthrillerwriters.com. I realized that I had originally written this post on October 21, 2011. On November 7, 2011, I published my thriller novel as an e-book. Today, The Seventh Stone is on three Amazon top 100 bestseller lists. Sales continue to grow. So to those of you who are afraid to pursue your passion, I understand completely, but know that you have to take that risk, because it could be the start of one of the most amazing adventures of your life. To help overcome that anxiety, check out the following book:

Original post from October 21, 2011:

Several speakers at writers’ conferences recommended Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art before I broke through my resistance against touchy-feely self-help books and bought it. Pressfield talks a lot about Resistance, portraying it as a powerful entity that stops us from realizing our dreams. I had always blamed time, mainly lack of it.

I was thankful that The War of Art was a compact book, broken up into short pieces that I could read while waiting to pick up my kids from band, etc. I soon realized it was much more than that.

I’ll be sharing some of Pressfield’s ideas in future posts, but one that particularly caught my attention today was his one-page insight that Resistance is Most Powerful at the Finish Line. He used the story of Odysseus, so close to home after overcoming dreadful obstacles. His weary men could see the fires of their beloved families on the beach. Odysseus, thinking he was safe at last, lay down for a nap.

His men tore open an ox-hide sack they thought contained gold and treasure. But the sack held the Winds, given to Odysseus by King Aeolus. The Winds blew Odysseus’s ship far away. Odysseus had to endure many more trials, losing all of his men, finally returning home years later.

Pressfield cautions that since Resistance makes us afraid of success, the danger is greatest when the finish line is in sight. My goal is to e-publish my thriller in November. Even now, I can hear “Resistance” telling me that I’m stealing too much time away from my other obligations to write, that The Seventh Stone can’t possibly compete with so many other thrillers, that people who know me will think I’m delusional if I think I can tell a good story. I could go on, but that would give Resistance the power of the Winds.

So don’t let Resistance stop you from pushing through to that finish line and crossing it. Or you will never know what waits on the other side.

What Van Gogh Can Teach Us About Writing

During my recent visit to New York’s Museum of Modern Art, a crowd gathered around one painting. We were drawn to it, as if in a dream. It was Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. Most people recognize it as a famous painting, worth millions. Perhaps they know that this painting inspired the song by Don McLean that immortalized Van Gogh’s troubled but brilliant perspective on life.

But what compels us to spend time before The Starry Night?

The Starry Night is more than a painting. It tells a story that opens our eyes and minds to what may exist beyond life on Earth.

Van Gogh told his story using the medium of paint, but he teaches a valuable lesson to writers. Our stories need to reach beyond the sleepy, peaceful villages of our everyday life. We know, at our core, that something more exists out there, something wonderful, something magical, something spiritual.

We want to believe.

During his time, Van Gogh was little known, but his work endures and compels because he expressed what he believed in. He honed his craft, followed his passion and put down on paper a story that compels us to look at the starry sky of our soul and wonder.

This is what we should strive for as writers.

Five Mistakes Writers Make in the First Fifty Pages

The first reaction to this post’s headlines may be: What? Only five? No, I’ve made many more than five mistakes when writing my first fifty pages of my thriller novels. We’ve all heard not to begin a novel with description, dialog or a dream, but here are my most frustrating mistakes:

1. Endlessly rewriting the first fifty pages before soldiering on and finishing the novel. It’s almost an addiction. I can’t stop myself from rewriting. Of course, I have valid reasons, like trapping my hero at the top of a volcano, only to realize that he has no reason to be there in the first place. I try to monkey wrench in the setting. Maybe he needs to stop explosives from blowing up the volcano, or he needs to steal the remote transmitter that will signal in the villain’s strike force. I feel that it’s too good a scene to simply abandon, but it’s just not working. The good news is I think I’ve found a cure. More on that at the end of this post.

2. Making a walk-on character too intriguing. In the opening scene of my current work, my beta readers, the men anyway, all love the wisecracking, edgy pilot. I love him, too. But he is just a device to land my heroine on the mysterious island and into the middle of the action. Still, I just may bring that pilot back in the end. A character who was going to be a walk-on in my thriller, The Seventh Stone, made himself so valuable that he is now in my work in progress.

3. Writing a prologue. The debate rages on this one. But with Ebooks, I think more than ever you have to start right off with your hero in the action. When potential readers “Look Inside” your Ebook on Amazon, you have very few pages to involve them in the story. The easy solution to this “mistake:” Replace the word “Prologue,” with two words, “Chapter One,” and tie it to my cure for endlessly rewriting the opening scenes, which I reveal below.

4. I’m not entirely convinced on this one, but more and more I’m seeing that the traditional “front matter,” including the copyright page, should come at the end of your Ebook. Many readers do not want to scroll through pages before reaching Page One. Wherever you decide to place the copyright page, include a link to your website.

5. Trying to weave in too much backstory too soon, while neglecting the main focus of the story. Often, writers do a great job with a hook in the first paragraph, only to backpeddle and try to justify it with backstory in the paragraphs that follow. Keep the story moving forward. Once the reader is strapped into the rollercoaster, let it rip, and don’t stop until the end of the ride.

Now for the cure for endlessly rewriting those first fifty pages. I stumbled upon this while reading a Writer’s Digest article by Jeff Gerke, who wrote Plot Versus Character. He writes: Make no mistake: Your book is about what your main character decides at her moment of truth. Everything else is just the vehicle to drive her to that penultimate moment. (Writer’s Digest, February 2012 issue)

I now know just what to include in my opening pages and why. Every line has to tie in with this main focus of my story. If you’re struggling with a scene that just doesn’t feel like it’s working, ask yourself if it is focused on propelling your main character, and your reader, to that moment of truth.

Thrillers That Make You Think

I posted this Listmania List on Amazon. I’d love to hear what YOU think and if you have any recommendations to add to this list. I’m always looking for thrillers for thinkers!

Thrillers That Make You Think

A Listmania! list by Pamela Hegarty “pamelahegarty” (New Jersey)
The list author says: “If you’re looking for more than a murder to solve or political crisis to resolve, try these page turners that take thrillers to a new level.”
The Seventh Stone
1.  The Seventh Stone by Pamela P. Hegarty
The list author says:
“I love to read these types of thrillers so much that I wrote this one. It has the action of Indiana Jones and the history of Dan Brown, but mostly I wanted to leave readers with a question: What do you believe?”
$15.99
4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Blasphemy
2.  Blasphemy by Douglas Preston
The list author says:
“I am an enthusiastic fan of all of Douglas Preston’s books. This is a page-turner that toes the line between technology and religion.”
$10.38   Used & New from: $1.01 3.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (223 customer reviews) | 5 customer discussions
The Da Vinci Code
3.  The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
The list author says:
“By the sheer number of this book sold, you’ve probably already read it. The writing may be simple, but the concept still sparks controversy and discussion. I like to think that this doesn’t challenge religion as much as challenges us to know our religion. Plus it’s just plain fun to read.”
$9.99   Used & New from: $0.01 3.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4,017 customer reviews) | 28 customer discussions
The Book of the Dead (Pendergast, Book 7)
4.  The Book of the Dead (Pendergast, Book 7) by Douglas Preston
The list author says:
“This is just one of the Preston/Child books to feature a favorite and fascinating character, FBI Agent Pendergast, a sort of modern Sherlock Holmes. But the other characters are equally vivid and the story is engaging. I recommend all the Pendergast novels. This is the third in a trilogy. Read the others first.”
$7.99   Used & New from: $0.01 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (220 customer reviews) | 4 customer discussions
Pentecost. A Thriller.
5.  Pentecost. A Thriller. by Joanna Penn
The list author says:
“I read this to support the author who has a tremendously helpful website for other authors. I’m glad I did. It is a quick read, with a smart heroine, plenty of action and great history woven in.”
$8.59   Used & New from: $7.36 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
The Last Oracle: A Novel (Sigma Force)
6.  The Last Oracle: A Novel (Sigma Force) by James Rollins
The list author says:
“I enjoy all of James Rollins’ books. I chose this one for this list because I went to Greece last summer. I always enjoy the way he weaves history and science into his page-turning stories.”
$10.78   Used & New from: $1.70 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (123 customer reviews) | 5 customer discussions
The Amber Room: A Novel
7.  The Amber Room: A Novel by Steve Berry
The list author says:
“I like Steve Berry books because of his research. I always enjoy reading fiction that teaches me something interesting about history.”
$9.99   Used & New from: $0.01 3.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (130 customer reviews)

Review of God’s Lions: The Secret Chapel

Or Why I’m Thankful for the Amazon Publishing Revolution

I bought God’s Lions: The Secret Chapel because it was one of the titles listed under The Seventh Stone’s  listing on Amazon as “people also bought.” Usually, I’d be skeptical of a story with a priest as its action hero. Not that I would have had the choice. In the traditional publishing world, this book may never have been published. This is why I’m so thankful of the publishing revolution that opens a new gateway between writers and readers. God’s Lions kept me “turning pages.” I found myself finding time to read what happens next. I wanted to join the hero priest and other characters for lunch,preferably the lavish buffet by the pool. The writing style was easy to read. The story moved along at a good clip. The history was deftly woven into the plot. I would have given it five stars, but I wanted the author to flesh out several extremely dramatic situations. I won’t put in any spoilers, but some of the events that happen both on and off-screen are terrifying to ponder, and I would have liked them to have more impact on the characters. Overall, a great read.

Should Indie Publishers Offer a Goodreads Giveaway?

If you are wondering if a goodreads.com giveaway is worth a try, the short answer is Yes!

I love the idea of reaching readers directly. I offered one signed copy of The Seventh Stone as a giveaway on goodreads.com for a time span of two weeks to give it a try. I tweeted to spread the word about the giveaway four times. In total, 548 people requested to join the giveaway. Now, 94 people have added The Seventh Stone to their “To Read” lists. And the lucky winner is someone who is an avid reader and enthusiast of thrillers. I was thrilled to send her my signed copy, and if I’m lucky, she might want to write a positive review on goodreads.

To sum up the Goodreads Giveaway:

My Cost of Giveaway: Price of one print paperback plus shipping

Time of Giveaway: Two weeks

Tweets about Giveaway: Four

Readers clicking on The Seventh Stone to enter giveaway: 548

Readers who added The Seventh Stone to their To Read shelf: 94

Lucky Winner: 1

Sales generated: This is the big question mark. I don’t know if this will translate into more sales, but I am extremely pleased with the exposure of The Seventh Stone to readers. It is definitely worth a try if you’re promoting your book.