Coffin Hop | Something walks in the dead of night…

Click on this image to tour the Coffin Hop.

Here are the gory details for the Coffin Hop!



3) THIS TOUR STARTS: Monday, October 24, 2011 at Midnight (PST)

THIS TOUR ENDS: Monday, October 31, 2011 at Midnight (PST)

Winners will be drawn and posted November 1, 2011




***Authors have full discretion to choose an alternate winner in the event any winner fails to claim their prize(s) within 72 hours of their name being posted or after notification of win, whichever comes first. Anyone who participates in this tour is subject to these rules***    


Monday = Murderers

Life is precious and fragile. We are all part of the animal kingdom and supposedly we are the most intelligent species. I am not so sure about that. But I do know that we are the cruelest species. Death is a natural part of the circle of life as are predators and prey. But though animals hunt for food and sometimes kill for dominance, animals do not murder.

Murder is something that is the reserve of humanity. A murder was the first crime in the world when one brother murdered another out of jealousy and envy and then covered it up. So Murder is truly as old as humanity itself. 

Some psychologists believe that everyone is capable of murder but that some are not capable of controlling this black streak. But some murders don’t fall into the murder category, they fall into manslaughter or self-defense. When you hear those terms, you can understand the theory that anyone of us is capable of taking a life especially if it is to save another person’s life or to save your own life. Does this make us more human or less human? No matter how murder is justified, killing is killing. A life ends at another’s hands.

Murder does lend itself to the world of cinema and fiction. There is nothing as riveting as a good old-fashioned murder mystery. There is nothing as thrilling and spine-chilling as a psychological thriller. There is no antagonist/villain as frightening and horrific as a psychopathic, cold-blooded serial killer.

I write dark paranormal fiction and in my stories there is always a lurking ghost, a psychological twist or a cold-blooded killer. Many people ask me why I write about the stories that I do. Am I that fascinated with ghosts and murder? Yes I am. I am fascinated and horrified by ghosts, spirits and killers because like it or not they are there. That scares me. To conquer your fear you have to face it. So I face it by writing about it. Often this means I do not sleep at night and this is caused by a combination of my imagination and my insomnia.

My next WIP is a psychological thriller and it involves psychological twists and a cold-blooded killer. This killer curdles my blood. Already the killer haunts my dreams. But the worst thing about this character is that I am struggling to name him. He does have a moniker that he will be known by in the story but he does need a name.

Let me tell you a little bit about him. He is a psychopath. He is exceptionally cruel and sadistic. He is also a perfectionist who never leaves any trace of himself at the crime scene. He is fastidiously clean, almost surgically I would say. He preys on people that he feels are “fallen”. He is incredibly alluring and seductive. He is hard to say “no” to. By the time his victims realise he is the final person they will see, it is too late and they are taken by surprise. This man could be anyone. He might be your friend, your brother, your father, your lover, your husband or your colleague. He stalks you like a silent lioness. Do you know his name?

Prize Time


So…this is where you blog-hoppers come in. I need you to put your creative hats on and spin me a first name and surname for my sadistic killer.

The best name will win three ebooks by three phenomenal authors. (I will be announcing the names of the authors and their books closer to Halloween but believe me you will want these ebooks.) 

The best name will also become the name of my sadistic killer.

You need to be subscribed to this blog to enter (so join up if you are not already) as well as leave your best answer (along with your email address for winner notification) in the comments on any of this week’s posts on this blog. You also need to have visited and commented on at least 5 of the CoffinHop bloggers.

The winner will be announced on this blog on 5th November. 

Characters and their secrets

Secret Passageway
Image by Stuck in Customs via Flickr

Have you ever had reticent characters? Many readers and some writers believe that once you have written a book and created characters it gives you an omniscient presence in your character‘s world. For some this may be true. In my experience though, the opposite is true: instead of being creator and puppet master, I – the writer – am the servant and puppet. For me, my characters lead me down the twists and turns of their story. You see they have already walked it and lived it or are right in the thick of it, if anything I am an observer or a recorder of what they want me to tell the reader.

In my interviews on Warrior Wednesdays I always ask the question: What is most important or what comes first in your writing? The Story or the Character. You may wonder why I ask this. I ask this because in my own writing whether I think I get a story idea first or whether a certain character pops into my thoughts and hearing, ultimately it/they come from somewhere. I could say that I am brilliant and have a million and one stories within me but that would be false. I believe that as a writer we are a medium and a vehicle for our characters to tell their stories when, where, how and why they want to.

OK, I hear you say: so are you hearing voices from the deep dark and beyond. This is getting a little loopy! While if your right brain – creativity – rules you then count yourself loopy. Now don’t worry or look all shocked. I mean that yes you are loopy by the definition of a society where left brainers are the majority. I mean you imagine worlds, people, events, places in your head. By left brain definition you are deluded or hallucinatory or in a simple term loopy.

So back to the question: Do I hear voices from the deep, dark and beyond? To be honest, yes sometimes I have and do hear a voice. It pops into my thoughts and starts speaking. I know it is not me because it does not sound like anything I would say. Sometimes the voice is loud and sometimes it is quiet. For me though, I tend to stop and listen. I have tried the ignore button, even tried the mute button but then I end up with sleepless nights and eventually I just learn to respond. All that is usually needed is for me to listen and then a picture forms in my thoughts of who is speaking. Sometimes this is done by showing me a place first and sometimes it is like staring at my reflection in a mirror and slowly see a figure emerge from behind the door that is closed behind me. Then the who of them becomes a basis of their story. They live and breathe so they must have a story. That is when I put the pen to paper or finger to keyboard, whichever is in the closest vicinity, and write. Voila` a story is born and a character is on the page.

But some stories are different. Some characters like to keep secrets. They may even keep their identity a secret. You may be able to picture them but they do not tell you who they are. This may be because they enjoy the game or the control they have over you and your curiosity at this point. It may even be a method they are using to firstly get your interest in a story and then to keep it by leaving you with mysterious threads. For me this is very frustrating. I am a type A personality and like to be the one in control (blame my german roots) and I do not like surprises. If I am being honest here I also struggle with patience. So this character is like a double-dare and a red flag all at once for me.

In my new WIP, new in that I am at the start but not brand new story in that this story and these characters have haunted me for a while now. I knew I had to get this story written no matter how difficult the telling may be but somehow was coming up against a block. Then last weekend I had the epiphany to switch tracks from the German Professor Perfect to the train conducted by the 6-year-old curious and emotional Kimmi. Voila` the flood gates of inspiration started opening. But I still had a major problem. I did not know the identity of the antagonist. I kept on bumping up against this character. I could see the character but could not get a feel for this one like I did for the other characters. So I set it aside for a while and concentrated on talking to my characters in my NaNoWriMo novel and having a lot of fun with them on Facebook.

In the meantime I had also begun work last night on two writing workshops hosted by Savvy Authors. In one of the lessons, I had to write a full-page synopsis/outline via question and answer mode. So I decided to do the synopsis on my difficult WIP. It was late last night when the email had come through with the first lesson. So I looked at it and thought I would sleep on it and write it up first thing this morning. Well, the sleep idea soon turned out to be turned on its head. The synopsis kept on playing over and over in my head like a stuck gramophone. It got to the point that with 2 hours of broken sleep, I decided enough was enough. I would have to get this synopsis out my head and onto the screen. (The Macbook is never far away.) As I started answering the questions and the synopsis started fleshing out, I felt what could only be termed as a CLICK like something had locked into place or been opened. Suddenly as large as standing right in front of me, I met my antagonist. Just by finally knowing who this character was, a myriad of loose ends that had me stumped were tied up and the whole plot revealed itself to me. You see I could not see past the middle to the climax or the end because this story’s antagonist had hidden their identity from me. Suddenly I also knew why the identity had been hidden. This identity is the secret key to the whole story and demystifies both the protagonists as well.

Now I am not saying that I enjoyed meeting this antagonist as the character is the most sadistic and cruel character that I have yet met in my own thoughts. Just by this I know that I have not created this character. I have never actually known someone this… lets call it shadowed  or darkened. But as much as this character scared me to the depths of my soul, I suddenly had the key.

So yes characters keep secrets. Sometimes you find out through clues. But sometimes all of a sudden the secret is unlocked in an instant and it becomes a Pandora’s box. You will not be able to put the secrets back in the box once it is opened. Instead, try to rein in the secrets into one place: Your Characters’ Story. They know who you are. Now it is up to you to find out who they are.

So I ask you now, in light of my character unveiling, what comes first character or story?

Are you – the writer – the creator and puppet master or are you a mere medium and servant?

Ask yourself do you really think you just imagined some of those characters in your head and in your stories? Or are they the Storytellers and you are just a pen and paper?

– Kim

© All rights reserved Kim Koning.

Telling your story in your Character’s voice

His Masters Voice
Image via Wikipedia

I have been reading a lot lately on “Voice“. What do I mean by this? Do I mean the sound that comes out when I use my vocal chords? No, I mean “Voice” in a literal sense. I have also been doing a lot of thinking about my favourite characters in literature. More importantly why are they my favourite characters? What makes a character memorable?

There are many great literary characters out there in the world of words. Why then do a few stand out for each of us? I think the common element of a great memorable character is one that has its own distinctive voice. Yes characters are created in the imagination of a writer but the great character steps out from their creator’s imagination and becomes a living, breathing entity as real as a friend you like to spend time with. So how are these characters able to step out from the imagination and become people. This is due in part to the way the character is written. These are some of the ways that a character gains their own voice.


A writer has to learn to listen to the voice of their character. There will be a voice. It may not be very loud and it may even be a shy voice that takes a while to come through. Sometimes you have to learn to separate a character’s voice from the white noise of the story. Even though as a writer you may have imagined the story, the story will be happening to your character. Don’t they have a say in what happens and how they handle it?

Don’t play Puppet-Master, Cut the Strings

As the creator of the characters in your story it is very tempting to play Puppet-master with your  characters. Don’t let your writing become a mirror for your own life. If you are writing Fiction, remember that you need to stay true to the “fiction” element of your story. As tempting as it may be to stand above the scene and move your character to your own wants and desires resist the temptation. This will only result in a puppet show not a story that learns to live and breathe on its own. So cut the strings. If you find you are controlling your character’s reactions, even dictating their personality, then just STOP. Your story will be better off for it.

Don’t Parent your Characters

Unless you are writing a book about parenting skills, leave the parenting to parents. You are not a parent in your story. What do I mean by this? Don’t tell your character what to do. Sometimes you have to let them figure out things for themselves. Let your character argue with you. This will add another dimension to the character in your mind and if you pay heed to your character, your reader will also play heed to your character.

Let your characters make mistakes

This is a really important point in creating characters that resonate with your readers. Do not make your characters perfect. Make them imperfect and I will go even one step further and ask you to accentuate their flaws and imperfections. Perfection in a character is distancing and boring. We all know those characters that are so perfect and so well-adjusted to anything life throws at them that you just want to slap them. If you accentuate your character’s flaws this can be a growth point in your character’s personality. Your characters are only going to learn how things work if you let them fail.

Give your character a 3D character

Human beings are not all good or all bad. There is a little of everything in a human adult and sometimes even more extremes of emotion in a human child. Give your character a hint of arrogance and entitlement. But give them a fierce loyalty to under-pine the negative aspects. Allow them to have a temper. This is one of the most human of all emotions. Very few people can say they have no temper. If your character comes across as greedy, don’t try to change that.

Don’t protect your character

Throw something difficult their way. Put them in the way of hardship. Put them through trials and tribulations. As attached as you may be to your character, your reader has to believe that they can sympathize with them. Your reader will not sympathize with a character that you protect in a glass bubble from all the bad things in life. Life is not fair and most of the times life is not pretty. Give your character a real world to live in. Make them feel sorrow, feel anger, feel regret, feel vulnerable. It is through the bad that the strength or weakness of your character will shine through. You will make your reader believe that this character is a person, maybe even based on someone they know.

Get your reader into your character’s head

Your reader must be able to walk in your character’s foot-steps to understand your character. But how can your reader do this if you are not doing this. Ask yourself this question: Are you in your character’s head or is your character in your head? If you answered yes to the latter part of the question, then you need to backtrack. You need to get into your character’s head. How do you do this? How do you separate yourself (the writer) from the character? There are a number of ways of doing this. This brings me to the MUSCLES of today’s post and your exercise for the week…


  • Do a week-long journalling exercise: For 1 week, start a journal in your character’s voice. Do not write what you want to write but write what your character is thinking and feeling.
  • Write a 1 page scene from your story. Now read over this scene. Whose writing the scene? Are you in this scene? Or is this scene one that is happening to your reader? Now go back and re-write this scene but get into the head of your character for the re-write. Now write this scene as it is happening to your character, not to you.
  • Observe your life from your character’s viewpoint. Make your character the narrator for your life this week. Put this into your journal entries.
  • Interview your character. Ask them to tell you where they see their story going. Ask them for their back story. Put your character in the driving seat of their story. Give your character their own voice in your story.
  • Read your favourite book, particularly focusing on the voice of the character that resonates with you. Do you hear the voice or do you hear the author’s voice. Analyse what tools the author uses to make you hear the character’s voice.

Now I leave you with some quotations that relate to finding the Voice of your character:

Listening is very inexpensive; not listening could be very costly!
Tom Brewer

Seek first to understand and then to be understood.”
Stephen R. Covey

“Before I can walk in another person’s shoes, I must first remove my own.”
Brian Tracy

Live out of your imagination instead of out of your memory.”
Les Brown

The more you listen to the voice within you, the better
you will hear what is sounding outside.
Dag Hammarskjold

“You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written.  And then, if it’s going to be too difficult for grown-ups, you write it for children.”  Madeleine L’Engle

“You can’t wait for inspiration.  You have to go after it with a club.”  Jack London

Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”  E. L. Doctorow

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” Ray Bradbury

Show don’t tell.”  Henry James

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Anton Chekhov

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.  No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.”  Robert Frost

“Plot springs from character…  I’ve always sort of believed that these people inside me- these characters- know who they are and what they’re about and what happens, and they need me to help get it down on paper because they don’t type.”  Anne Lamott

“Don’t say the old lady screamed- bring her on and let her scream.”  Mark Twain

“A writer should create living people; people, not characters.  A character is a caricature.”
Ernest Hemingway

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”  Roald Dahl


© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.

Characterisation…To react or take control, that is the question!

Mmmh…Characterisation, to do or not, to be reactive or to be proactive: these are the burning questions of the day!

After discussing this quandary at length on a twitter chat writer’s group, I have come up with a few theories and a few questions.

The topic of the twitter discussion was: Reactionary Protagonists are characters that only react to things that happen to them, rather than taking control?

I must say it is a topic that seems to have a wide range of views. Then again throw a few writers into a chat room and it goes without saying that you will have a wide variety of views and opinions.

My theory on this discussion is that yes I do believe you can have a purely reactionary character as a your MC/protagonist. If your story involves a particularly large world-altering event and your MC happens to be a submissive character, then your MC by default would be purely reactionary. The argument however is how do you get the reader to connect with this MC. This opens the floor to another question: Does your reader always have to connect/like your MC?

My answer to this is that no, I do not think that a reader always will like/connect with your MC. Take for example one of the great classics: “Wuthering Heights”. The MCs in this novel were Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff. Although this is a work of genius in terms of characterization, Emily Bronte has created characters that are anti-heroes and that have more faults and weaknesses than strengths. However, this work is one of the great works of Modern Literature in spite of or possibly in part because of this. It brings to mind the theory that people tend to love to hate the Anti-hero.

Coming back to the original question at hand: How do you get your reader to connect with a reactionary/submissive MC? The answer depends on the reader and would be completely subjective. Do I believe that people can relate and connect to a submissive character? Yes. Most people by nature tend to react to circumstances that life throws at them without ever taking control, in effect letting circumstance take control of their very reactions. Therefore a purely reactionary or submissive MC would find an audience.

Another spin on this discussion that I would put out there is: Can an event be the MC in your story? Thereby making all the characters reactionary characters and secondary to the event itself.

In my current WIP, I have two MCs. One MC is purely reactive and as such passive, the other MC is proactive and takes control of circumstance thereby not only changing future events but controlling future events. Both these characters face the same circumstances but act differently. Will a reader be able to connect with both characters? Yes. Both characters are reflections of the twin nature of human nature when faced with a trial or a tribulation. One part of human nature is only able to react as sometimes the event or circumstance is completely out of their control. An example of this would be a natural disaster. The other part of human nature is defined by the Fight or Flight theory. Certain personalities will have a stronger desire to, if not control the event then, take control of the after-effects of the event. On the other side of the coin, other personalities will not have the strength of character to act in a proactive way and will be forced to react to the event thereby giving the event power over their actions or lack of actions.

The way I am characterising my own two MCs is that there are lessons to be learned in each behaviour pattern. Sometimes, more harm is brought about by acting proactively. Ultimately, to grow and transform, both of these characters must learn from each other. Their relationship encapsulates the “Yin/Yang” theory. Sometimes the wiser character is the character that can submit to an event rather than spend all their energy fighting an event that they can have no control over. As we all know, some purely proactive characters can come across as being impulsive and arrogant thereby antagonizing the audience. Whether your character ends up antagonizing your reader or whether it ends up drawing the reader in means that you have managed to pull an emotional response, irregardless of whether it is positive or negative, from your reader and that is an end in itself. Indeed writing for publication is about a reactionary response to your story from your audience. In the best stories, this reaction can turn into proactive action from your reader by pushing the reader to change their own circumstances that they may have read echoed in your story.

Coming back to my other theory thrown out there: Can an event be a MC? In short, yes I believe an event can be the MC in your story. In the light of this theory, the characters would definitely be reactionary. However, you could then bring in the Transformational Character. The Transformational character could grow from the event and evolve from having a passive nature to finding an inner strength of character. Some types of characters need an event to change them. This is how an event can become the MC or even the protagonist in a story. It is the event itself or the nature of the event that creates reactions in the characters of the story.

Ultimately characterisation of your characters should challenge the reader and even more importantly challenge the writer and creator of these said characters. My challenge is writing in characters that I do no like and do not understand sometimes. Their motives and reactions to circumstances are polar opposites to my own or to what I find acceptable behaviour.  However when I create a character like this, I know that this character will challenge my theories on acceptable more than any other. In my view, writers are by their very nature challengers and truth seekers. The old adage of “The truth hurts.” always comes to mind when I read / write about a character that changes my perspective or challenges my beliefs.

Do not underestimate your reader’s ability to be challenged! Write to challenge. Write to create discussion and to create controversy.

Whether your characters are purely reactionary or submissive or whether they are “kick-ass” heroes and fighters, remember to make them individuals.

F Scott Fitzgerald summed it up perfectly:

Begin with an individual, and before you know it you have created a type; begin with a type, and you find you have created – nothing.

food for thought, KK

All rights reserved © Kim Koning 2010