Suspense with Spice | The Girl Who Was Taken | #KimsKaffeeKlatsch

How has your reading month been? Feel like a suspense mystery with a twist or two in its tale? Buckle up, because Charlie Donlea’s The Girl Who Was Taken is going to take you on a tale full of blind corners, unexpected twists, red herring detours and an ending that you won’t see coming. Make yourself your favourite beverage – I recommend my Perfect Pairing of Moroccan Spiced Coffee *recipe at the bottom of this post* – curl up in your favourite reading corner and start reading The Girl Who Was Taken.


About The Girl Who Was Taken

Two women – one, the sister of a missing girl; the other, a victim who escaped – come together to unmask a killer in this heart-stopping thriller. 

Her truth is only half the story . . . 

Megan McDonald is a high school senior when she disappears from the small town of Emerson Bay. Hope for her safe return is nearly lost until, after two weeks held captive, she escapes from a bunker hidden deep in the woods.

Now, one year later, the bestselling account of her ordeal – Missing – has turned Megan from local hero to national celebrity. It’s an inspiring story, except for one inconvenient detail. A second girl went missing that night. Her classmate, Nicole Cutty.

Dr. Livia Cutty is a fellow in forensic pathology, training at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina. Her sister, Nicole, has been missing a year when the body of a young man – an apparent suicide – shows up in the morgue and offers Livia the first clue to Nicole’s fate. Livia reaches out to Megan for help, hoping to learn more about the night the two were taken. Others girls have gone missing, and Livia is increasingly certain the cases are connected.

But Megan is reluctant. She knows more than she has revealed. As flashes of memory continue to return, she realizes her blockbuster book is filled with lies, and that digging too deeply into the night she escaped from that bunker might reveal something darker and more monstrous than anything her chilling memoir describes.

  Keep on reading!

On the Run… | April | #KimsKaffeeklatsch

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be someone else? Have you ever wanted to switch lives with someone else? Have you ever wished you could just start over? It seems like an innocent enough wish but identity is more than just a name. Identity is a story we tell ourselves. But what happens when that story is more fiction than fact… How do you separate the truth of who you are from the lie of who others think you are? Today’s book The Passenger explores these intriguing questions. So sit back, get comfortable, make yourself a strong beverage (I suggest my recommended Kaffee Pairing), keep your wits about you and let’s go on the run with…

In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it . . . .

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Spellman Files series, Lisa Lutz’s latest blistering thriller is about a woman who creates and sheds new identities as she crisscrosses the country to escape her past: you’ll want to buckle up for the ride!

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.
She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret . . . can she outrun her past?

With heart-stopping escapes and devious deceptions, The Passenger is an amazing psychological thriller about defining yourself while you pursue your path to survival. One thing is certain: the ride will leave you breathless.

Keep on reading!

Coffin Hop | Something comes howling in the wind…

the gory details:

1) HAVE A SPOOKY FUN TIME!2) INVITE YOUR FRIENDS AND SPREAD THE WORD!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, 20114) MEET AND MINGLE WITH THE AUTHORS! EXPERIENCE A NEW DESTINATION AT EVERY STOP! PARTICIPATE IN EVERY SITE’S CONTEST AND BE ENTERED FOR CHANCES TO WIN MULTIPLE PRIZES! EVERY BLOG VISITED IS ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO WIN!

5) PARTICIPATION AT ALL SITES IS RECOMMENDED, BUT NOT REQUIRED. THE MORE SITES YOU HOP, THE BETTER YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING PRIZES.

6) DID I MENTION TO HAVE A SPOOKY FUN TIME?

***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***

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My Contest – Prize Time

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?

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. 

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Tuesday = Theme Music

 

Have you ever tried watching a horror or thriller without the sound on? I guarantee you that you will not have a problem turning off the lights and going to bed. It is the creaks and the strange sounds, the eery music and whistling wind that truly send the shivers down our spines even before the villain has come onto the scene ready to kill. The core element for horror and thriller is the theme music and the background noises.

How do we convey this horror element and scare factor into writing? How do we create shivers down spines with ink on a white page?

We must write out a theme music. How do we do this? We write using all of our senses. We bring all of the character’s senses into the story. We bring in a deep POV (Point of View) where by writing from the character in the scene, we effectively put the reader into the scene. Their heart beats as quick as the characters. All of a sudden they are not sitting there reading a harmless book…they have been transported into a situation of being hunted and not knowing what was hunting them. Our characters senses and emotions are the writer’s theme music for the story.

Here is an excerpt of one of my own stories to demonstrate. Tell me if your heart beats quickened.

“The night is dark. Not even a full moon lights up the gloom. A twig breaks. Someone is out there. Fear raises all the tiny hairs on my arms. I shiver with the adrenalin. Halting foot-steps are the only sound. I pray that my hiding place, in the hollow of the old tree stump, is not betrayed. My lungs are bursting with the trapped air. My heart beats are pounding enough to drown all hearing. The world has gone silent except for my pounding heart. Another twig snaps. I see a faint outline of a darkening just past the stump. A shadow? Fear takes over and every limb in my body fights my stillness. I want to run. I have become prey. The darkened shape moves. It grows. My heart threatens to leave my twitching body and fly into the darkness of escape. The darkened form takes shape. It becomes a large hand encased in black leather. The fingers are long and hypnotize me. I push myself as far back into the hollow as the dead wood will allow me. My eyes are locked on the hand. It moves forward, seeking, towards my throat…My breath now held tightly, the edges of my vision start blurring. The hand creeps closer and closer. Searching. Just as I can almost feel the long fingers close around my throat; my vision fades. The last thing I know is the cold smooth leather touching my throat. I pass out…” © Kim Koning

Did your heart skip a beat? Were you there with the character? Now I didn’t tell you who the character is or where exactly they may be. I just wanted you to feel this character’s fear and desperation, her mind stretching for an escape but knowing it is too late.

Now character’s emotions and senses are not the only way you can set your story’s theme music. What happens if you want to set the scene when the horror has already passed? What happens if your key character in the scene cannot move, feel or even speak? What tools does the writer have then? You have the setting. This is when you use your setting. This is the time when you put a hard focus on the body lying broken. The horror will edge across your spine like a crescendo of violins. 

Here is an excerpt of another of my stories to demonstrate…

  “She lay on the ground, a confusion of twisted limbs and red sand.

The sun was slowly starting to break over the ocean’s rim. Already the seagulls were flying overhead, their harsh cries echoing in the noise of dawn. The girl lay very still and quiet, limp like a rag doll. Slowly she cracked open her eyes, seeing only red sand. Closing her eyes again, she moved her tongue around her mouth feeling for broken teeth. The sand beneath her cheek grated painfully into her bruises. Her left hand, held in a fist, was bent over her back. Carefully she uncurled her fingers. A whimper escaped as sharp pains shot up her shoulder and into her neck. Trying not to move her arm, she lifted her hand slightly off the cool sand. With a sharp gasp, she dropped her head back onto the ground. The sun started to punish her bare legs with its rays. She opened her eyes again and watched as a tear fell from the tip of her nose into the sand. Suddenly tired, her eyes blurred. The light faded and she fell into a black hole.

   That was how they found her: a confusion of twisted limbs and red sand. 

She lay face down on the beach with her limbs contorted into uncomfortable angles. The bright yellow shift that she wore was twisted up around her waist. Her left arm was twisted around her back. Her other arm lay in the sand above her head, her hand curled tightly into a fist. Her right leg was bent at a right angle slightly above her hip. Her left leg was stretched to the side. She looked as if someone had tried to pull her body apart starting at her legs.” © Kim Koning

This scene unlike the first does not have the action element but the theme music is still loud and clear. Something horrific has happened and the heart of a reader is tugged. 

How do you compose the theme music of your story? How do you make ink on a page send shivers up the reader’s spine? How do you crawl into the head space and imagination and pull out horror in your reader? What are your best tools? Look at your own writing and listen to it instead of reading it. You will hear the music. You will hear the creaks in the floor. You will hear the soft tread of the killer. 

Now I will leave you with the creepiest theme music I know. As you listen, remember how important the music of a scene – both visual and written – can be to converting the true horror. Here is Angelo Badalamenti’s “Dark Water” Suite. Enjoy the chills…

Meeting the Antagonist | Drew Cross

We all know what a hero looks like. We also know what the Bogey Man looks like. But it is an art form to write a Bogey Man that jumps out from the pages of a story and truly scares you. Today I have asked one of my favourite writers to guest post on this topic. Drew is perfect for this topic because not only does he have real life experience in chasing down the bad guys but his antagonists are truly original characters who will definitely haunt you. 
 
When Kim asked me to guest blog about scary antagonists I was well and truly in my element!
I’ve had to invent a number of ‘bad’ characters in my crime and children’s novels to date, and I have something of a formula for what I personally find scary and how as a writer I project that fear onto the reader.
 
Here are my tips:
 
1. Outward normality.
 
I don’t know whether it’s residue from my time in the police force, but I’ve generally stopped thinking about antagonists as hideously ugly and obviously frightening to behold. I think it’s infinitely more terrifying to take the real life psychopath/sociopath as a starting point for your antagonist – outwardly there’s nothing unusual about most of them (I’ve met a few in prisons and on the streets, and they look just like me and you), but if you’re able to peel back the mask of normality then there’s something truly scary underneath. Letting the reader in on the secret thoughts and actions of such beings is always good fun and practically guarantees a shudder or two.
 
2. An obsession.
 
Whether it’s the obsessive urge to murder and mutilate of the serial killer, (Dr Lecter step forward) or the erotomania (obsessive love) of a stalker (think Ian McEwan’s ‘Enduring Love’), a memorable antagonist should have something at the heart of their desires that preoccupies them and drives them to evil acts. That obsession could be for revenge, the desire to possess something or someone, or taking simple sadistic pleasure in the suffering of others; but it’s memorable because we recognise it as being at odds with what it means to be truly human.
 
3. Insanity.
 
Rightly or wrongly we tend to fear the seriously mentally ill; unpredictability and irrationality threaten our love of order and control, so a character who exhibits these behaviours is a frightening prospect for the reader. I studied psychology some time back, and there are a wealth of different personality traits and disorders that translate into useful fodder for the writer: Glenn Close’s character in Fatal Attraction, the archetypal ‘bunny boiler’, exhibits strong characteristics of Borderline Personality Disorder, for example.
 
4. Originality.
 
Finally, and here’s the most difficult part, you need to find something original (or nearly so, since there’s precious little left that hasn’t already been done) about your antagonists. That might not necessarily be the nature of the character’s actions themselves; it could be the setting, or something about their life or motivations that sets them apart (The character Dexter of book and TV fame is a good example), but unless you’re entirely happy with being considered derivative, you need to be able to point out what sets your bad guys apart.
 
I hope you find this interesting and/or useful, but I’d love to hear your thoughts too.
 
Drew X.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
Drew can be found at: Twitter – @authordrewcross                                                                                      Website – authordrewcross

Suspense: Rapid. Strained. Tense. Goosebumps.

Fear of the Dark
Image by stuant63 via Flickr

Da dum, Da dum…The drums start rolling in the background. The whine of a lone flute plays out its haunting notes.. All of a sudden the eery music stops and the deafening roar of silence fills your screen.

The night is dark. Not even a full moon lights up the gloom. A twig breaks. Someone is out there. Fear raises all the tiny hairs on my arms. I shiver with the adrenalin. Halting foot-steps are the only sound. I pray that my hiding place, in the hollow of the old tree stump, is not betrayed. My lungs are bursting with the trapped air. My heart beats are pounding enough to drown all hearing. The world has gone silent except for my pounding heart. Another twig snaps. I see a faint outline of a darkening just past the stump. A shadow? Fear takes over and every limb in my body fights my stillness. I want to run. I have become prey. The darkened shape moves. It grows. My heart threatens to leave my twitching body and fly into the darkness of escape. The darkened form takes shape. It becomes a large hand encased in black leather. The fingers are long and hypnotize me. I push myself as far back into the hollow as the dead wood will allow me. My eyes are locked on the hand. It moves forward, seeking, towards my throat…My breath now held tightly, the edges of my vision start blurring. The hand creeps closer and closer. Searching. Just as I can almost feel the long fingers close around my throat; my vision fades. The last thing I know is the cold smooth leather touching my throat. I pass out.

After reading the above, how do you feel? Do you feel tense? Did your heart beat increase? Did your breath become shallow? If you answered yes to any of these questions then the paragraph was a successful foray into suspense. To be fair, you have no idea who the main character is. You do not know their agenda nor do you have any answers as to why they are being hunted. All you know is the little that I have chosen to tell you. It is night. There is no moon. The scene takes place outdoors, where there are trees and fallen twigs on the ground. There are two characters in the scene. A person hiding in the hollow of an old tree stump and someone else following or searching for the hiding person. You do not know if the person that is hiding is a protagonist or an antagonist. All you do know is that you want the “hunter” to miss the hiding place. Then the scene changes and the “hunter” seems to have found the hiding place. A hand reaches into the hiding place. The only identifying marks are that the fingers are long and the “hunter” appears to be wearing a black leather glove. Do you hold your breath as the “hunted” one does? Are you sitting on the edge of your seat? You are left with questions. The “hunted” passes out. Do “they” pass out from strangulation or fainting from fear? Do you want to find out more? Are you filled with questions and frustrated to find out the answers?

This is SUSPENSE. This is what every chapter in your story arc should have. Suspense is the vital element in every story that locks your reader into wanting more. Suspense is not just about “being hunted” but it is about “holding back vital information”. You do not always need to clue a reader in on every part of the story. In fact by only giving them tiny amounts of a story, you are goading them into reading more. You have successfully captured their curiosity by intriguing them, even frustrating them by holding back. Very few readers will be able to resist the temptation to read on from this point. Now, you have their attention!

When developing plot-lines and story arcs, sometimes you can forget that at the heart of the story there has to be a burning reason for the reader to want to go on. This burning reason is the element of suspense. Script-writers and movie directors have the advantage of sound and music to add suspense and set a tense scene. As a writer, you also have tools at your disposal. You have the descriptive powers of words. You can paint a scene in a reader’s mind with words. Suspense is not painting too much of the picture so that the reader does not need to use imagination. As writers we have more power than a scriptwriter or a movie director. We have the power of imagination at our disposal. Not just our own imagination but the imaginations of our reader. Use this tool! Use the reader’s imagination to build suspense into your story arcs.

You can also build suspense into your character arcs by not revealing too much about the character’s backstory or agenda. Mystery is an irresistible temptation to everyone. You can build suspense into your character arc by giving away snippets of information. Hold back the key elements of your character’s agenda and personality until the reader is drawn so far into your story that there is now no chance of them turning back or halting the adventure. Thriller and suspense writers have this talent at building suspense and it seems to come across effortlessly as a tool in their respective genres. But just because you may not be writing a thriller or suspense, it does not mean that you cannot use those same tools to build suspense.

There is a reason that so many top-selling books and authors belong to the suspense and thriller genres. As macabre as it may be, everyone loves being “scared”. This does not mean that crime is thrilling. What exactly do people love about being “scared”? In my view, I think people love the feel of the adrenalin coursing through their bodies. Their senses seem to become keener. Their reflexes seem to become sharper. In short, whether you are scared or excited your body has the same physiological symptoms. That is why people think they love being “scared”. That is also why thriller and suspense novelists and script-writers, the world over, are so popular and so successful as a result of that popularity with the masses.

So, next time, before you start writing your next chapter or delving into your character’s agenda: remember that rush of adrenalin. Remember that mystery is the answer to hooking your reader. Use your reader’s imagination along with your skill with words and you will be building suspense that will enthrall you and your reader. Remember to hold elements back. Temptation is wanting to know more about the mysterious and the forbidden. Imagination is a powerful tool to build suspense: not your imagination but using your reader’s imagination to draw them into your scene.The vital information that every good suspense/thriller writer knows: withhold vital information and only give out tastes of a scene or a character. Your reader will thank you. More importantly, your reader will keep on coming back for more.


All rights reserved © Kim Koning.