The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across the keyboard.

Showing posts with label novel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label novel. Show all posts

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Ready? Steady. Go! Getting Started on Your Novel with USA Today Bestselling Author H.B. Moore

Hi Fiona.
Thanks for hosting me at ThrillWriting.

In new novel POETIC JUSTICE, which I hope will be a start to a great series. I traditionally write historical thrillers, and POETIC JUSTICE is my first contemporary thriller.


Claire Vetra is looking for two men. The first man she’ll kill. The second man she’ll also kill after she makes him watch her destroy everything he’s ever built.

This is only the start of her revenge against the World Alliance Organization that held her hostage for a year and subjected her to live human testing all in the name of medical science.

But when Claire begins to unravel her past, she discovers that unlocking the memories of what happened to her might destroy the remaining shreds of her sanity.

Fiona Quinn asked me to share a little about my writing journey, and so I thought I’d talk about how to start your book.

When I meet writers who are looking to get published, they often ask me how I decide where to start my story, who the characters will be, and how I plot.

So as I’m preparing to write my next book, I thought I’d give you some insight into my process.

1. Thinking. Maybe mulling is the more correct word. I have to have the main character pretty well defined in my mind before starting to write. The secondary characters come into the story to support the main character—and sometimes they surprise even me.

2. Creating a schedule. Writing, of course, is not always controlled by that effervescent muse (Fiona—I’m probably using effervescent wrong). Writing is part creativity, and part science. Editing definitely falls into the science category, as well as actually completing a book. Like any writer, I’m constantly pulled in different directions. But once I decide on a book, I need to create the schedule to get it completed, and limit any other stories in my head that are trying to derail priority number 1. For example, if I decide to turn in a book on December 1st to my publisher and I start on August 1st, I divide the word count by the number of writing days. And I leave a couple of weeks in for editing. August: 25,000 words (average 1,000 words a day, 5 days/week). September: 25,000 words, October: 25,000 words, November: 10,000 (2 weeks), 2 weeks of edits.

3. Character sketching. This is an evolving process and changes and grows as I get further into the writing process. For instance, when I write my first draft, my character motivations aren’t usually ironed out. I’m writing mostly plot and dialog. About half-way through draft 1, I’ve had to make solid decisions about my characters, so I’m adding information to my character sketches as I go. So during the 2nd draft, I’m inserting more characterization to the beginning of the book.

4. Point of view & tense: I take into consideration who my audience will be and who the most important characters are. Will the story happen in real time (present tense) or past tense? Will my characters speak in first person (ideal for YA), or third person? It’s a lot of work to change this part of the process, so doing your research beforehand will save you a lot of time later.

5. Conflict. This goes hand in hand with character sketching. I have to ask myself what is the main conflict of the book, and of each character.

6. Beginning. Now that I have some basics going and I actually sit down to write, I usually concentrate on where I want the story to begin. Not to say that the first chapter I write will be the actual first chapter of the book, but I start pretty near the beginning. Before I start a chapter/scene, I ask myself: “What is the point of the chapter? What will be accomplished? What will it show that may/may not be relevant to the story as a whole?”

7. Creating a scene. I create scenes in several phases. Phase 1: writing and not caring too much about “fleshing out” the characters or the description, but I am nailing down the direction of the scene. Phase 2: revising the scene and inserting more description, making more concrete decisions about the character. Phase 3: this will happen when the whole book is drafted and maybe new developments have happened along the way. So I now have to go back through each scene to make sure the story is properly directed. As you can see, creativity has just been replaced by careful analysis (science).

Okay, looking over this list makes me wonder why I even start a new book. Every writer has what works for them. My style might be convoluted, but you never know, it might work for you as well.

About Me:

I write thrillers under the pen name H.B. Moore. My latest thrillers include Slave Queen and The Killing Curse. Under Heather B. Moore, I write romance and women’s fiction, and my newest release is Condemn Me Not: Accused of Witchcraft. She’s also one of the coauthors of the USA Today bestselling series: A Timeless Romance Anthology.


Facebook: Fans of H. B. Moore


Instagram: @authorhbmoore

Twitter: @HeatherBMoore

Thank you for stopping by today. Remember when you buy HB's and my books, you help to support future articles on this blog!


Friday, January 2, 2015

Easy Evil: Interview with Crime Reporter Doug Cummings



Fiona - Hey, Doug. I guess the street lights are just popping on in the windy city.

Doug - ...and the crickets are chirping.

Fiona - I've spent a little time in Chicago - I wish it were more. Can you tell my blog-readers
            how you spend your days and maybe give them a little of your background?

Doug - In reverse order... I grew up in Kansas where I went to college and worked as a deputy
           sheriff for half a dozen years. I got a degree in radio-TV and had interned at a local TV
           station. I was getting tired of cop work, as sometimes happens, and one night I had a
           reporter from a radio station as a ride-along. He was leaving the station to go to law
           school. I asked if his job had been filled, and it hadn' I had the perfect segue.
           I ended up working at the station, and he became a deputy while in law school. I think
           they make TV shows about things like that nowadays. I worked as a crime reporter in Kansas City
           for two years, and then I moved to Chicago and spent fifteen years covering crime and disasters
           in this area.

Fiona - Did you have to go through a police training program to be a deputy sheriff?

Doug - Yes, training is required...more now even than back then. With regular weapons qualification and
            continuing education. I completed about half the work for a Masters in Criminal Justice, in fact.

Fiona - Because I have a lot of international readers, can you explain the differences between a sheriff and a
            police officer? Link to more information about sheriffs

Doug - The differences are mostly in name. Sheriff's are elected officials.
            The name comes from the old English, I believe...shire-reeve. If
            you remember Robin Hood...Anyway the sheriff is the chief law
            enforcement officer of most counties and his deputies usually
            have authority in unincorporated areas of the county.

Fiona - Shire-reeve. Now there's a fun little tid-bit of information that I
            can drop at  my next cocktail party.

Doug - Police officers typically patrol in cities. Having said that, some states countywide police departments
           and the sheriff is relegated to administration of the jail. It depends on where you live.
           In Kansas and Illinois, sheriffs are elected county officials and have police and jail administration

Fiona - So, I know that guns are near and dear to your heart. Have you ever had to use one in the line of
            duty? Or for self-protection?
                                                              This is Doug's Colt Python

Doug - Thankfully, no and I hope I never get into such a situation. I was on my way to a shootout once...
            but  the bad guy was killed before I arrived. I appreciated the timing.

Fiona - No kidding! That must be an odd experience to have the adrenaline flowing and then know that it
            was over - but badly.

Doug - It's not uncommon...I've certainly been in hairy situations that weren't diffused quickly enough for
            me to avoid them.

Fiona - Okay, give me a hairy example, LOL.

Doug - Well, the hairiest was a chase and head on crash. We were chasing a couple of armed robbery
            suspects (we thought), and they turned around and came back at us. It was odd to have the right,
            front fender appear three inches from your head while sitting in the passenger seat.

Fiona - No kidding! YIKES! Was everyone okay?

Doug - My then partner still has back issues but other than that everyone was fine. Yep, wrecked a squad
            car with only a couple of hundred miles and all new equipment tho.

Fiona - I bet that went over big with the budget office. Okay, I'm going to throw out my typical question -
            what in books, TV, movies etc. do you see being portrayed incorrectly, and it ticks you off?

Doug - What annoys me most...when cops are portrayed as bumbling or stupid. While I have met some
            book stupid cops, most of the people I've known in law enforcement are street smart, really care
            about the work and put 100 percent into it. With 500-600 hours of basic training now, and
            sometimes 40-60 hours of in service training every year, they know the business.

Fiona - But they also aren't super-heroes. No one should expect a cop to shoot a gun out of a perpetrators
            hand with eagle vision. They can't take down a whole gang single-handedly. So how can a writer
            write a cop correctly?

Doug - I think research can be as easy as finding a real cop in the town or area the author is writing about.
            Going on ride-alongs or enrolling in a citizens police academy are good resources too. Another
            thing that annoys me is when I read a book and can tell the author has done his research watching
            cop shows, not talking to or even reading about real cops.

Fiona - How can you tell the difference? What is wrong in the shows that a cop would relate differently?

Doug - Cops aren't fashion models for one.

Fiona - Hahahaha! (I think they should be.)

Doug - And not every case requires chases and shootouts... but for
            dramatic effect, nothing beats a good  fight or shootout.

            Also, seldom do you arrest someone and immediately give
            them their rights. I only read folks their rights if I needed to
            question them. Most often I was telling them to shut up!

Fiona - Hahahaha! Okay, Doug, at this point of the interview
            you have a choice -
           A) Tell me about your favorite scar
           B) Tell me about your newest book  - or-
           C) both.

Doug - I have a tiny knife scar on the pointing finger of my left

Fiona - How did that happen?

Doug - Domestic dispute...lady swung a piece of broken glass at me.

Fiona - So, not a knife-scar a glass-scar. That sounds like a gang name. Victor Glasscar.

Doug - Ha! Writing that down as a character.

Fiona - Okay, I picked "C" for you. Tell us about your book.

Doug - Easy Evil, yes.

Fiona - I think evil is darned easy.

Doug - You have the point of the book right there! My new
            protagonist  is a deputy police chief in a wealthy
            Chicago suburb...he's got a checkered background as
            an ATF agent. He thinks the PD job will be rubber
            chickens and golf, until someone shoots a
            judge and her daughter in their driveway. The task
            force that's called in takes off in one direction, but
            Harry Cork sees evidence that they're wrong, and the
            real culprit may be a professional killer. As he follows
            his theory, others die, and he discovers a money
            laundering scheme run by some nasty
            international thugs, and his past comes back to bite
            him in the tookus.               LINK

Fiona - In the tookus no less!                                              

Doug - Indeed

Fiona - And Reno Mc Carthy is your protagonist?

Doug - No, Reno was the lead character in the first two books...he appears in Easy Evil, but Harry Cork
            is the protagonist. Reno has a walk-on as himself.

Fiona - That was nice of you, otherwise his feelings would have been hurt. Well, Doug, thanks for
            playing along. It was great chatting!

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Police Sketch Artists - Drawing on Witness Recall


There on the TV screen, I saw the rendering of my attacker. The life-like drawing stunned me. With eyes fixed on the picture, my heart staggered drunkenly around my rib cage and panic twisted my lungs. Stalker leered down at me, a big man of mixed racial background with almond-shaped eyes and a flat nose over a wide full mouth. Two scars disfigured the left side of his face -- one ran from his nose to the corner of his lip, and another ran from his eye to his chin. On the right side, he adorned himself with a tribal tattoo that showed black against his light brown skin.

Your heroine survived the attack. She's sitting in the police station, drinking the swamp water they call coffee from a Styrofoam cup. A police artist takes your heroine down a long, echoing hallway to a quiet office. What will your heroine encounter?

The Police Artist's job is to make a rendering called a COMPOSITE SKETCH to be used to apprehend and possibly help convict the criminal.
* Ideally, the artist has a combined background in police work/criminology, art, and psychology.
* The room will probably have a comfortable chair for the witness. It will be void of face images - no art, or
   wanted posters or any other image that might subconsciously impede a good witness report.
* The artist will sit off to the side so the artist's own face doesn't get confused with the memory.
* The artist usually starts with open ended questions while making the initial rendering, "Tell me about the
    shape of his jaw line?" Then the artist shows the sketch to the witness. At that point, specific questions are
    asked. "Are his eyes the right distance apart?"
At the end of the interview the artist signs and dates their work – in case the composite sketch ends up in
   court as evidence.
* The process will last 1-2 hours

VIDEO QUICK STUDY (7:24) - An artist at work and his interview techniques

One of the first questions that the artist will ask is about race. The reason for this is not to determine the skin color but the underlying bone structures (skull shape and facial geometry). There are three main bone structure families
* Negroid
* Mongoloid
(There is also Aboriginal, which does not anthropologically fit into these three categories)

Next they will be asked about the age. The differences in bone structure shifts are most apparent in children, however, in adults the shift comes mainly in skin texture, tone, and thickness.
VIDEO QUICK STUDY (1:28) showing an age progression rendering and discussion of what factors are considered.

And then they will ask about body build.

An author will have to decide whether the witness is a good witness or not. 

The artists need to have good interviewing skills including an understanding of memory and how trauma effects it (more about this in next week’s blog). The goal is a quality representation of the suspect with an emphasis on forensics.  LINK to blog article about witnessing in F.A.T. Simulation 
* Does your witness have good eye sight?
* Are they dexterous at visual processing? Do they have a "memory for faces?"
* Is your witness someone who is detail oriented and paying attention?
* Memories can be distorted by stress
* Cross-racial features can be confusing
* Consider the lighting conditions
* Consider how fleeting the view
* Consider the angle of view

As the author, you will need to decide what techniques your artist will use

1) Interview with Hand Rendering

    From my art classes I learned that:
   * faces are generally not symmetrical
   * the face is generally 5x the width of an eye
   *The width between the eyes is generally the width of one eye
   *The eyes are about half-way down the face
   * the ears and nose are roughly the same height

    It is the artist's job to find where the suspect's facial geometry shifts from the Greek/Classical ideal.
    VIDEO QUICK STUDY  (1:10) an artist using a ruler to portion properly while rendering a time lapse
    drawing of a suspect. 

2) Catalog  

Scientists using scanners have found that we spend less time looking at the lower face. Our focus stays on the upper face. And surprisingly, (to me, anyway) less focus on the eyes than the rest of the upper face. The forehead, the hairline, and hair have priority in our memories. So if your character wants to disguise themselves, they should pay more attention to wearing hats and wigs. 

People recognize things more easily than they can recall them. For this reason, science indicates that the benefit of offering photos outweighs the bias that they could produce. So artists have binders that divide the different zones of the face into options from which the witness can choose. FBI facial ID catalog. Also photo albums of tattoos, scars, hats, clothing, and glasses are helpful for witnesses to use in  identification.

VIDEO QUICK STUDY 1 (2:16) Police artist discussing his use of the catalog
VIDEO QUICK STUDY 2 (2:13) Police artist discusses her use of catalog and her interview technique

3) Computer generated

    The pros include:
    * Faster and allow the artists to swap out one feature for another with ease.
    * Less expensive to produce images this way.
    * Easier to e-mail and easier to store

    Examples of this software include:
    * Identi-kit Link to their website
    * Faces Link to their website

    VIDEO QUICK STUDY (4:49) Using FACES computer composite rendering

One of America's foremost police artists is Karen Taylor  Link to information about Karen Taylor

VIDEO QUICK STUDY (2:48) Karen Taylor helping to solve the identity of "Brush Girl." 

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.