One of My Biggest Literary Pet Peeves Done Right

Those of you who know me in person, or know me a little better than just reading my blog from time to time, know that I’m pretty picky. This goes for books too. For example, I really love mystery/suspense/thrillers, but I really HATE (with the flames of a thousand campfires) when the main character/investigator is a civilian/layperson without even the tiniest bit of tangential experience. I’m talking about major crimes and conspiracies that are solved by bike messengers and cab drivers and grocery store cashiers. And it’s not like the bike messengers and cab drivers and grocery store cashiers are taking evening or online classes in law or criminology. No, they go home and watch The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones like the rest of us.

So, to sum up, I hate those novels.

However…I just finished reading Sister by Rosamund Lupton. And it was amazing. It was definitely the second best book I’ve read this year and probably one of the best books I’ve ever read. Period. And guess what? The main character, Beatrice, “investigates” her sister’s disappearance/murder and she isn’t a detective, a lawyer, or even one of those plucky reporters. In fact, she worked for a business design company, creating logos and ad copy. Why didn’t throw my Kindle across the room and take a long walk to calm my rage? Well, for one the Kindle was a gift from Hubby-pants a few years ago, but I mostly didn’t rage out because I LOVED the way the book was written. It was Beatrice’s love for and intimate knowledge of her sister that propelled her and kept her from accepting the police’s version of events. The characterization was done so well that I never questioned her lack of experience. I mean, she suspected everyone in the whole book! She looked crazy in the process! She never gave up though. And that’s what made it believable. Add in the fact that it’s formatted as though Beatrice is writing a letter to her lost sister, recapping the events that led to her finding the killer, and there’s so much to love about this story. I highly recommend you give it a read. I stumbled across it when my local library suggested it because I’d enjoyed Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and they were spot on.

So, readers, do you have any literary pet peeves with exceptions? Any novels that, though they exhibit something you normally hate in a book, you ended up enjoying the novel anyway? I’d love to hear about them!

“Well-Versed in the Psychological Aspects of a Serial Killer…”

Once again, today’s title was pulled directly from a review of Blood in the Paint! This time, I have the lovely RH Ramsey to thank. Not only did she post a sensational review of my latest novel, but she also conducted a fun interview!

Here’s the full excerpt from her review:

It is apparent that the author is not only well-versed in the psychological aspects of a serial killer, but she has taken the time to study the lingo and profession of those in the field of law enforcement. This adds so many layers, makes the scenes so believable, gives the book the realistic element that can at times become lost in blood, gore, and sex — this novel delves deeper.

 

Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

Do you have an recurring themes in your novels/characters? I really just try  to make readers understand the motives behind my characters’ actions. People’s lives and personalities and decisions are based on such a wide array of factors that it’s impossible for me to write a story without explaining the ‘why’ behind everything. When you explain the ‘why,’ more often than not, readers will identify more with the characters. Perhaps, not throughout the entire novel or series, but definitely at certain parts.

 

If you’ve enjoyed these snippets, please head on over to RH Ramsey’s blog to read the full interview, the full review, and even an excerpt from Blood in the Paint! And don’t forget to pick up your copy! It makes for a great weekend read!

“Riddled With Scenes That Left Me Thinking…”

No, I’m not talking about something I’ve read. The title of this post was taken directly from fellow author/blogger Richard Leonard’s recent review of Blood in the Paint! Here’s the remainder of the excerpt:

This novel is riddled with scenes that left me thinking “How on earth will he/she get out of this situation?” East does a superb job of creating realism in a world where many OMG moments occur, leaving the reader wondering what could possibly come next. And what does come next is exciting, believable, and edge-of-your-seat thrills.

 

I want to thank Richard for his glowing review, the rest of which you can read HERE!

The First Review of BLOOD IN THE PAINT is IN!!!

It has barely been a week since I sent out the ARCs of Blood in the Paint, but I’ve already received my first review. I am very thankful to Peter “Peppa” Germany for his support, his enthusiasm, and his friendship (which, by the way, he goes out of his way to mention didn’t have any bearing on his review!).

Here are some of the highpoints:

I’ve been waiting for this novel since I read it’s prequel, Blood In The Past (http://petergermany.com/2013/07/24/book-review-blood-in-the-past-by-jordanna-east/)

Now you don’t have to read the prequel novella before reading Blood In The Paint but I would recommend it. As I read Blood In The Paint I did have some moments when I said ‘Oh Sh*T!’ because I recognised something from the prequel.

Blood In The Paint is a thoroughly enjoyable read. I knocked this novel out in five days or so, I would have read it quicker but I’m a slow reader and I needed sleep. As I read through the pages I was getting more and more sucked into it, each page demanded that I turn it and when I got to the end of a chapter I couldn’t scroll the screen down quick enough to continue with the story.

The characters have a strong depth to them which is clear from the start of the novel but as you progress through it that depth is revelled and fleshed out even more. Jordanna East is not afraid to push her characters and she was able to pull me into it to the point where, despite my manliness (LMAO!), I got chocked up near the end of the novel. It takes a lot to get that sort of reaction out of me when I’m reading a book so that did impress me.

 

Although I am sorry that I made him cry, I’m utterly touched at how he continues to find my work “impressive.” To read more of Peter “Peppa” Germany’s review, click HERE.

And don’t forget, Blood in the Paint will be released on March 31st!

BLOOD IN THE PAINT: The Opening Scene!

I’m really trying to get my head out of my depressed, insecure, creative-person ass. I’m trying to get excited about Blood in the Paint‘s upcoming release. I am. I am excited. If I keep saying it, it will become true, right?

All that matters, though, is that you lovely readers are excited. Lucky for me, it seems like you are. I’ve been getting some great responses to the ARCs that were sent out, the exclusive excerpts my mailing list subscribers received, and my most recent blog post where I listed the meanings behind some of the chapter titles. So, in the spirit of keeping the warm and fuzzies rolling, here’s the opening scene:

BLOOD IS RED, but she always wore purple. Each time Lyla Kyle donned her eggplant-colored clothes it was because the memory persisted: the memory of herself, kneeling on the floor of her parents’ bedroom, cradling her mother’s limp body. The blood had seeped into her blue shirt, staining the fabric a ruddy purple. Her mother’s life had bled out and gone, from an act of despair almost exactly a decade ago.

The image kept Lyla strong. It enabled her to channel her rage. Anything to make you proud, Mom.

Over the years, Lyla had learned to prepare for death in the same way one would prepare for a date. She would apply her makeup and affix every hair in place, knowing her looks had to be every bit as lethal as her intentions.

The upcoming evening’s festivities would play on a loop in Lyla’s mind, making sure she remembered everything: lipstick, mini lint-roller, syringes, vials of a deadly chemical, breath mints . . . She loved being in control, savoring every moment.

Lyla had come to enjoy the hours leading up to her ultimate empowerment. The anticipation thrilled her almost as much as the act itself—and it was almost time to act. Almost time to plunge one of the syringes into her date’s neck.

Tingling at the thought, she shuddered, then she shooed her excitement away and reined her thoughts back in, returning them instead to the snug, overcrowded Philadelphia nightclub. Her next victim, the man sitting across from her at the high-standing cocktail table, nervously blabbed away, darting his hazel eyes in multiple directions seemingly all it once. He was shouting and yet she could barely hear him.

“I said, nice place you picked. What do you think of the music?”

Lyla just nodded along politely. She always chose popular nightclubs to meet up with her prey, where the patrons were too numerous to count and she and her “date” would never be more than just a couple of faces in a crowd of bodies, writhing in unison to the beat of the bass. It also didn’t hurt that the steamy atmosphere, teeming with sexual energy, helped move the night along quickly. The club would always be too crowded, the music would always be too loud, and after a few cocktails, she would always suggest something more intimate. Not because she wanted to converse with them more easily, not because she was interested in her victims’ lives, no. Only their demise, and the execution of her grand plan.

Execution. The term was somewhat appropriate, but not entirely accurate. After all, executions were meant to be painless and humane, and Lyla knew her dark little hobby was anything but. Then again, she thought, as she continued nodding along with whatever her date was saying, my weapon of choice is technically one of the chemicals used in lethal injections . . .

Lyla had justified her craft for years. She did so then, as the man across from her rambled on about the unseasonably cool August weather, and she suppressed a sneer. Men proved to be good-for-nothing charlatans. They were primitive. They were relentless and lived for nothing more than the next conquest, whether it be climbing the social and corporate ladders or bedding the next beautiful woman to strut across their path. Lyla supposed to her date she was the latter—which made her tactic all the easier.

Killing invigorated her. She had found her calling, however dark it was. And dark it was on this cool Friday evening in August as she chatted with a poor, unsuspecting man named Alex.

As he spoke incessantly, the vein in his neck bobbled, and Lyla Kyle was ready to feel invigorated again.

 

Blood in the Paint Cover

Blood in the Paint. New Official Release Date: March 31, 2014

Jerks & Irks LXI: Predictability

While Blood in the Paint is with my proofreader, I’ve found myself with an abundance of free time. I could use these idle hours to clean the house, but instead I’ve been watching the television series, 24, from the beginning. I don’t know if you were paying attention to the commercials during the Super Bowl last month, but “Jack’s Back!” Well, he will be. Very soon. And I’m preparing myself.

Now, I had started watching 24 from the beginning once before, years ago. I got as far as the third season before I inexplicably stopped. Having just finished the third season again, I think I know why I originally stopped watching: the show is painfully predictable in some respects. In fact, I’ve made up a drinking game to illustrate my point. While watching the remaining seasons, I’ll take a swig of beer/wine/liquor/cocktail whenever any of the following things take place:

  • Jack Bauer disobeys orders and does his own thing.
  • Jack Bauer, or anyone else, screams, “You’re just gonna have to trust me!” to another character.
  • A character withholds crucial information that, if shared, would clear up a major misunderstanding. (Usually followed by “You’re just gonna have to trust me!”)
  • Someone in CTU pulls a gun on another person working for CTU.
  • Someone in CTU or the White House is suspected of being a mole.
  • Someone shouts, “There’s no time for that!”
  • *DRINK TWICE* if “There’s no time for that!” is coupled with, “There are thousands/millions of lives at stake!”
  • Kim Bauer’s in trouble.
  • Kim Bauer asks a shit load of questions at an inopportune time.
  • *DRINK TWICE* if Kim Bauer asks a shit load of questions while someone is trying to help her get out of trouble.
  • Chloe says something awkward.
  • The phone in CTU goes: bloop-bloop-ring-rinnnggg.
  • Jack Bauer’s death seems imminent.
  • The world is going to end.

As you can probably tell, 24 is a little on the formulaic side. At least, for the first three seasons. (I’m not sure if this criticism applies to the remaining series or if it will apply to the reboot this spring. I’m not even sure if my drinking game will still apply. For all I know, I could be frighteningly sober while watching the remaining seasons, when I would have fallen off my couch had I applied the game to the first three seasons.)

24 was a very popular show. I mean, they’re bringing “Jack Back!” after all these years. Perhaps, then, I’m being a bit hyper-critical because of all the reading and writing I do. A book series, a good one, wouldn’t bore its reader with the same situations over and over, just slightly changed for originality’s sake (nuclear bomb in season two, deadly bio-weapon in season three), would it? I don’t think I’ve read anything that qualifies as that overly formulaic. Have you? What about 24, have you seen it? What do think about it? I’d love to know!

Have You Ever Considered Writing in a Different Genre?

Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Mel over at Coffee and a Good Book. She conducted the questioning via Facebook chat, so the conversation was very organic. I enjoyed the chat very much.

One of the questions she asked, which I don’t get asked often, was “Have you ever considered writing in a different genre?” In fact, I have considered writing in another genre. Over the summer of 2013, when I was taking a break from the Blood for Blood Series, I wrote a serialized novel that seems like it might border on YA. The two main characters are in their teens and members of a religious cult, living off the grid in the NJ Pine Barrens. I’m hoping that the material won’t be too dark for YA, though. Either that or I’m penning the world’s first YA psychological thriller (and I’m not sure if that’s as good an idea as it sounds…)

***To read the rest of the interview, click HERE***

How about you? Do you read multiple genres, wildly different from each other or do you stick to one main genre and its subcategories? If you’re an author, have you explored writing in different genres or do you “stick to what you know” in a sense?

Jerks & Irks LX: What’s the Deal With Romance?

Warning: This is going to be an unpopular post.

Anyone who knows me knows I am not a romance reader. I don’t watch romance movies either. If there were a romance food, I probably wouldn’t eat it. Nothing really against it, it just doesn’t appeal to me personally. That being said, I recently finished reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. The book came highly recommended by my mother-in-law, who assured me it was more historical fiction than it was romance. Her recommendation, coupled with the fact that it’s been adapted for a television series on STARZ, led me to give it a try. I like historical fiction, even if there’s just a bit of romance thrown in. After reading the 900-page tome however, I can wholeheartedly disagree with that description.

I had two major gripes with this book. (Spolilers ahead).

  1. Claire Beauchamp is unrealistic. For those who don’t know, Claire touches some kind of mystical stone in Scotland and it whips her through time. She lands in the 1700’s, 200 years prior to her own life. My issue is that she is supposedly happily married in her timeline, but when she ends up with some Scottish clansmen in the earlier time period, she attempts to get back to her husband exactly TWICE in a period of six months or more. Not only that, but when she’s forced to marry one of the clansmen (for political reasons, as well as to save her own ass), she goes along with it with very little resistance. Given the life-saving factor involved, I can forgive her union to Jamie Fraser. Unfortunately, she offers even less resistance when it comes to consummating the marriage. Multiple times. (I mentioned the book is 900 pages, well I’d say between 100-200 of them are dedicated to her having sex with her “new” husband.) Don’t misunderstand, I’m not a prude. I just don’t understand why she acquiesced to her situation so easily, and so readily, when she had a loving husband waiting for her at home. There was no indication that he was abusive or philandering. What gives?
  2. Jamie Fraser is NOT a catch. A lot of readers refer to Jamie Fraser as their “book boyfriend.” Why? I would have slit his throat. First, he beats Claire “within an inch of her life” (direct quote) for disobeying an order and justifies it with some old world, clansmen bullshit. (At least the order was to stay put and she disobeyed by trying to get back to her own time period). He whipped her savagely across the ass like a child. Second, there’s a scene where she tells him she’s not particularly ‘in the mood’ and he proceeds as though he’s going to just take what he wants. They argue and fight. He eventually ‘asks for permission” but explains that “he can’t be gentle about it.” In my opinion, he all but rapes her (the description of the bruises left on her thighs are sickening). But she enjoys it? And afterwards she thinks to herself, “Gentle he would be, denied he would not.” implying he would be gentle if she gave in to his desires, but he would take her by force if need be. Later on in the novel, after Jamie has been rescued from capture, where he was sexually assaulted and feeling particularly emasculated, he says to her, “I want to take you in my bed and use you like a whore.” I get that he wanted to assert his heterosexual-ness, but really? Honestly, this is what passes for romance? Jamie Fraser is women’s idea of the ideal man? Give me a break.

I know this is a very popular series. I’m not hating on it because of that. The book itself was very well-written and extremely well-researched. But I don’t understand the themes enumerated above. Admittedly, I don’t read a lot of romance, but I have come to understand from readers forums that these are common threads.

I have another example if you haven’t clicked out of my post already. Last year I watched The White Queen, adapted from Philippa Gregory’s series. In the first episode, Elizabeth comes across the newly crowned King Richard in the forest. She explains that her husband was killed in the war and she’s about to lose her land. About four seconds later she falls for the young king, even though she’s supposed to be grieving the very recent loss of her husband and father to her children. They meet a day or two later to discuss her land situation and he all but rapes her in the forest. She has to press a dagger TO HER OWN THROAT to get away. The next time they see each other, they get married. Honestly, what in the actual frick?

Please, tell me what is WITH romance? I’m begging someone to explain it to me. (Nicely and politely though. I tried not to bash the genre or those who read it. I just want to start a dialogue.) I’ll see you in the comments section.

 

Do Readers Know the Difference Between Thrillers and Mysteries?

Last week I posted about the four types of serial killers and how I knew my stuff and people should just step off. Well, I wasn’t quite that harsh about it, but you get the idea. Not to harp on one terrible…let’s say interesting…beta reader experience, but that post reminded me of something else that person had trouble with. Besides questioning the motivations of my main character and the catalyst to her becoming a serial killer, the person also didn’t understand why there were sections of Blood in the Paint told from my killer’s point of view, why her full name was routinely used, and why the reader knew so much about her. She kept referring to Blood in the Paint as a ‘mystery.’

And that’s where she messed up. I don’t write mysteries. I don’t write whodunits. I write thrillers. When I set out to write this series years ago, my main inspiration was to pen something that colored the killer in a sympathetic light by writing from their POV.  I mentioned in my other post that this particular beta reader hadn’t read Blood in the Past prior to volunteering to be a beta. Perhaps that was part of the problem. But I have never billed my books as mysteries and I even shy away from describing them as suspense. So I have to wonder: is all my careful genre specificity wasted because readers think ‘mystery’ and ‘thriller’ are synonyms?

jodie

According to Jodie Renner, author of Writing a Killer Thriller, readers were always more familiar with mysteries than with thrillers. She goes on to point out that some bookstores have a ‘Mystery’ section, but not a ‘Thriller’ section, which leads to both genres being shelved in the same space. In the rest of her guest post for DP Lyle’s Writers Forensic Blog, she talks about the two main differences between mysteries and thrillers.

First, in a mystery, neither the reader nor the protagonist knows who the killer is. The whole idea is to figure out “whodunit,” then apprehend the bad guy. In a thriller, the reader often knows who the villain is early on, and sometimes the hero does too. The object is for the hero to outwit and stop the killer before he kills others, including the hero, or endangers the world. Also, in mysteries, the protagonist is not usually in danger, whereas in thrillers, the protagonist is almost always directly threatened, fighting for his life as he matches wits with a clever, determined, amoral villain.

The other main difference between mysteries and thrillers is in the delivery—how they are told. Mysteries are usually more cerebral, for readers who enjoy solving puzzles, whereas thrillers are more heart-pounding, adrenaline-raising, appealing to the emotions and a yearning for excitement, a desire to vicariously confront danger and defeat nasty villains. A mystery, especially a “cozy” one, can unfold in a leisurely fashion, but thrillers need to be much more fast-paced and suspenseful.

Given these points, Blood in the Past and Blood in the Paint are most definitely thrillers. Even though one of the main characters becomes a cop and investigates the series of suspicious deaths, the reader knows who the killer is the entire time. (It’s in the blurb for frick’s sake!) In addition, reviewers have said that the pacing of Blood in the Past is downright page-turning. But I’m not one to brag…

Enough about me and my books. My question is: are readers aware of these differences or do they suffer from the same confusion as my beta reader? And if they do, what is the likelihood that they’ll leave less than favorable reviews as a result?

 

 

 

 

Jerks & Irks LIX: E-Book Extras?

Last week, I posted several reasons for loving my Kindle. Were any of you wondering if there was anything I didn’t love about my Kindle? Because there’s one tiny thing. Well, I’m assuming it’s a tiny thing because I’ve never heard anyone else complain about it.

What am I rambling about? Allow me to paint a picture for you. I am about to start a new book. I pick one from the TBR list I keep on my phone. I search for the title in my Kindle’s library. I click on the novel I want to read and my Kindle opens to…the first page of the first chapter.

That just drives me batty, guys.

I wanna read the fore-matter, dammit!

I wanna see the cover art again! Especially if it was particularly eye-catching.

I wanna read the list of other books by the author! What if there’s something I’ve heard of, but hadn’t attributed to the author? What if I fall in love with the book and want to read more by the author? Wouldn’t it be helpful to think, “Oh, there’s that list at the front of the book that I can look over!”

I wanna see who the author deemed worthy enough to dedicate the book to! In our current society, where we can follow authors on Facebook and Twitter and get to know them intimately, why wouldn’t I want another peek into the author’s life? Why wouldn’t I want to know who inspires and drives their creativity?

I wanna see the Table of Contents! I want to know how many chapters I’m getting into and what’s waiting for me at the end of my read. An epilogue? A bio? What???

I wanna see any other extras the author decided to include. An introduction or an epigraph, perhaps. These things set the tone for the novel. Don’t deprive me of that!

Why are you robbing me of these things, Kindle? WHY?

Am I crazy? Does anyone else feel this way? Am I the only one who sees the first page of the first chapter pop up, sucks her teeth, and rapidly swipes backward to see everything I missed? Even the damn copyright page? Tell me I’m not alone, guys!