Sunday, August 21, 2016

How To Meet People And Make Friends When You Move To Tahoe

A reader commented on my previous "Moving To Tahoe" blog post. He asked a great question about how to meet people when he and wife move to Tahoe. Here are a range of ideas:
One of the best ways to meet like-minded people after you've moved to Tahoe is to join people and groups that do the things you like to do. A good way to find them is to Google the activity along with the words “groups in Tahoe.”


For example, if you are into bicycling, mountain or road,  join one or more of the various mountain or road biking groups:



For hiking, become a volunteer at the Tahoe Rim Trail Association:
We also know of multiple “hiking clubs” that get together and hike every week. Same for ski groups. You can probably find them through Facebook and other social media.
Stop by the shops that sell what you like and ask about groups. I.e., if you love to go out on your kayak or stand-up paddle board, visit the shops that sell them and ask where enthusiasts get together.

For theater, music, and other activities, you can become a volunteer at Valhalla on the South Shore, or at the Tahoe Heritage Foundation, fantastic places to spend time and great resource with the various estates, theater, beach, etc.:


If you love books, we have multiple libraries around the lake. They all have “Friends Of The Library” organizations run by volunteers. For example, when I do library talks and appearances, it is always the local Friends Of The Library group that hosts me, and I’ve met many great people that way.
You can also volunteer at one of Tahoe’s many parks. You will find out that much of the work at these parks is done by retired people who have volunteered.



For sailing check out:



Of course, Tahoe has many, many skiers and snowboarders. Most of them purchase a season pass at their favorite resort. The ski areas have a range of programs you can connect to. All the people we know who ski develop ski friends simply by regularly getting up on the mountain. Other pass holders become familiar faces up on the sundecks, and you can connect to them. Stop in at the ski shops and ask about ski groups.
Like all communities, Tahoe has many service clubs you can join. If you go to the weekly Rotary lunch, you will get to know many people.
Same for churches.
Another excellent way to meet locals who are dedicated to similar interests as yours is to take a class or two at one of the local community colleges. They have hundreds of classes in every conceivable subject area, and many of their classes have a large number of adults. Some of my best friends are people I’ve met in those classes, including people who took a class I taught.

Whether you want to learn new computer skills or painting or photography, you can find it all at community colleges.
On the South Shore, check out the Lake Tahoe Community College:
On the North Shore, check out the Truckee campus of Sierra College:
Or you might consider heading into Reno to the Truckee Meadows Community College:
Sierra Nevada College, our 4-year college in Incline Village also offers continuing education opportunities, where you will also meet people with your interests. Here's the link:
http://www.sierranevada.edu/academics/workshops-cont-ed/

You can also reach beyond Tahoe to make connections that will lead back to Tahoe. For example, many groups in Reno make excursions to Tahoe for their chosen activity. I've seen classes offered through the Reno REI store that bring their sports to Tahoe. Here's the link:
https://www.rei.com/stores/reno.html

Another great way to get to know any community is to start a small business that serves some aspect of that community, join the Chamber of Commerce, and get involved. If you don’t want to work that hard, you can get a part time job in a local business that serves the community. (If you're retiring, you probably don't want to keep working! But a part-time job appeals to many retired people, and it is a great way to get to know others in the area.)


If you are a musician, Tahoe has as many garage bands as any community. Check out local musicians by visiting the various venues that host local bands. There are quite a few, and you can talk to the musicians during their break or after the performance. And again, the local colleges offer music classes. Your fellow classmates will also be musicians or aspiring musicians.
Tahoe has many active writers. You can find out about writing groups by asking at the local library. If you're on the South Shore, check out the Tahoe Writers Works:



If you golf, stop in at any of the many golf courses and ask the local pro or the person in the shop if they know of anyone looking for someone to join their foursome.



If you are a visual artist of any kind, you can get involved with local arts groups.
On the North Shore, check out North Tahoe Arts:
On the South Shore, check out the Tahoe Art League:

In short, it's very easy to meet people and make friends in Tahoe. Pick your favorite activities, and mix it up with groups of people who like the same things. Before you know it, you'll be invited to beach barbecues and kayak trips to Emerald Bay and mountain bike excursions to the Flume Trail and paint-outs up on the Mt. Rose Highway and book discussions at any of dozens of homes of Tahoe area readers who take turns hosting their book clubs.
You can even start your own group. Use social media to ask for contact from Tahoe-area people who enjoy your activities. With not much effort, you'll have people reaching out to join you.
Have fun!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Grizzly Bears, Computers, And A Sore Back. The Surprises Of A Life As A Writer...

I'll give you the essence right up front. I'm pretty sure I'm the first person on the planet to go on a mountain hike carrying three computers in a backpack.


Phelps Lake, Jackson Hole, where I hiked with 3 computers in my pack...


Here's how it unfolded.

Before a novel goes to print, the author gets a proof of the finished product - text pages as well as cover - to inspect and make sure that there are no serious mistakes. Once the author says, "Go", the book manufacturer hits PRINT, and the book printing machines start whirring.

As my latest novel TAHOE DARK neared the point where the book manufacturer was ready to send off the proof last June, I realized I'd be on the road because my wife would be painting in Jackson Hole. So I told the book manufacturer that I would work with what's called a "Soft Proof," PDF files of both cover and text rather than hard copy. The problem was getting those files onto a computer while on the road so I could go over them page-by-page.

Here's why it was a problem.

The book manufacturer sends the files to one of those "upload/download" websites. I'm not sure of the reason, but I think it's because they have learned that large-sized PDF files (35 meg) are sometimes rejected by the author's email service. So they don't like to send them as email attachments.

I've learned from past experience that the files those download websites send out are not reliably opened by someone with my dismal tech skills. I've also learned that computer systems are picky. Some files download best with the Chrome browser, some best with Safari on a Mac, some best with Internet Explorer on a Windows machine, and some best with Firefox, etc.

So what to do?

Well, I always travel with my Chromebook, because it is the most reliable computer for much of what I do. I also have a laptop with Windows and Internet Explorer. Further, my wife uses a Macbook with the Apple universe of software.

Worried that I might not have the right operating system to download the Tahoe Dark proofs on the road, I brought along all three computers along with my phone's Hotspot internet connection.

It was a good decision. It took many tries on multiple machines before I figured out how to successfully download my proofs.

The next day, we planned a hike in Grand Teton National Park. It was a 3-mile stroll from the Rockefeller Preserve through the forest to Phelps Lake. Along the way we would be accompanied by astonishing views of the Tetons.

This presented another problem. There were lots of bears about, black bears like we have in Tahoe, as well as grizzlies. There were signs everywhere about making noise as you hike so you don't surprise the bears. Bears don't often kill people. But when they do, a grizzly is the usual culprit, so no one wants to get caught between a mama and her cubs. We also read about not leaving food unattended.

Well, that was a Hmmm moment. We had food in the car. We could load it into our packs and bring it on our hike. Which might bring the bears straight to us. We decided to leave it in the car and take our chances that the doors would still be intact when we got back. Added to that was the concern that dirtballs sometimes see parked cars at a trail head as fair game.

Because all three computers are critical for our businesses, I didn't dare leave them in the motel or the car, especially considering that a bear might rip off the doors to get to the food and then hang a "help yourself" sign on the other contents.

So I loaded all three computers into a pack and carried them on the hike.

We enjoyed the hike to Phelps Lake, which was as spectacular as what you find in Tahoe. And we had no problems with bears or dirtballs.

At the end of the hike, as I took a heavy pack off my shoulders, I said to my wife, "I think I might be the first person in history to hike to Phelps Lake with three computers." She gave me one of those looks. I added, "In other words, I might be the dumbest person to ever hike to Phelps Lake." She smiled.

Enough said.

P.S. The proofs looked good, so I approved the printing, and I now have my new book in print form.

P.P.S. I guess Tahoe isn't the only pretty place in the world. This is the Grand Teton and her companions...

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Not Enough Vs. Too Much

It doesn't matter if the subject is action, or science, or art, or description, or road map details, or emotion, or sentimentality, or tough-guy dialogue, what one person loves the next person won't.

"I love the way I could visualize your last novel. It was like a movie."
"Your last novel was way too much like a Hollywood action movie. If I wanted a movie, I'd go to the movies."

"I love knowing all the places you mention in your books, roads and neighborhoods."
"Your books are like Tahoe geography lessons. I couldn't care less about Tahoe streets."

"The cool thing about your books is that I learn a little something in each one."
"It's like you're forcing me back into school. I just want an entertaining story."

"I love the constant tension of the action sequences."
"You go way over the top with your action scenes."

"I love the art references."
"What's with this art stuff? If I wanted art stuff, I'd buy an art book."

"I love the way the dog steals every scene he's in."
"I hate dogs. It's such a silly crutch the way some writers put animals in their books."

All authors - and other artistic creators - experience this. What one person wants more of, the next person wants less of.

I never thought my books were for everybody. After all, I've never met anyone whose favorite books are all the same as my favorite books. We each have our own preferences in books (and art and movies and theater and music...)

But I'm very grateful for my readers even if they don't all like everything I do!


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Best Prep For A Writing Career

I believe one of the best preparations for a writing career is getting a wide variety of social experiences. This especially applies to jobs where you meet and work with many people.

Of course, some people might think the ideal job for a writer is working alone, late at night, say, as a parking ramp attendant, so that you can write on the job.

I don't think so. Writers need a huge amount of exposure to other people so that we can learn how people act, react, function, think.

This is the kind of experience that helps you learn how people behave and talk.

This of course runs counter to the jobs and experiences that often appeal to writers, who are mostly introverts. We'd rather be foresters in the woods with the animals for companions than office workers dealing with dozens of people all day long every day. But observing those social interactions up close is what shows us how people act and talk and move. That's how we learn facial mannerisms and gestures and body movements and dialogue quirks.

If you find a written dialogue that seems wooden, with no spark, chances are that the writer hasn't spent thousands of hours observing and listening to a great many people talking.

If you find character movements described in ways that don't seem alive or real, chances are the writer hasn't spent thousands of hours watching people move.

Get out there. Mix it up. My ideal dream life of working a ranch, just me and my horse and dog, might be a glorious experience. But it ain't gonna help me write believable human characters.

This is the kind of experience that may make you very happy, but it won't help you write believable human characters.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tahoe Dark Signing Schedule


Hi Everybody!

My new book, TAHOE DARK, is about to launch! My initial signing schedule is below. 

TAHOE DARK is the 14th book in the Owen McKenna Tahoe Mystery series. The prestigious Kirkus Reviews refers to Owen McKenna as:

"A hero who walks confidently in the footsteps of Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, and Lew Archer"
Kirkus Reviews



TAHOE DARK is about a young woman named Evan Rosen, whose dreams of one day attending law school are ruined when she is arrested for murder...

Here's my initial signing schedule organized by area. More dates will be added as they area scheduled, and they will be put on my "Events" page on my website.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE

July 29, 2016, 4 - 7 p.m. Signing TAHOE DARK, Artifacts 4000 Lake Tahoe Blvd (in the Raleys Village Center just     southwest of Heavenly Village) (530) 543-0728

August 3, 2016, 6:30 p.m. Talk and Signing my new Tahoe mystery TAHOE DARK at the South Lake Tahoe Library, Rufus Allen Blvd., South Lake Tahoe, CA

August 7, 2016 8:30 a.m. Signing for TAHOE DARK at The Red Hut Cafe at Ski Run and Lake Tahoe Blvd., South Lake Tahoe, CA


RENO

July 30, 201611 a.m., Talk and Signing for TAHOE DARK, Sundance Bookstore at 121 California Avenue, Reno, NV (775) 786-1188

August 13, 2016 8:30 a.m. Signing for TAHOE DARK at The Red Hut Cafe 3480 Lakeside #1, Reno, NV

TAHOE CITY


July 30, 2016 3 p.m. Signing TAHOE DARK at Geared for Games, Boatworks Mall, Tahoe City, CA


TRUCKEE


August 4, 20165-7 p.m.signing TAHOE DARK at "Truckee Thursdays" in The Bookshelf tent, downtown Truckee, CA

CARSON VALLEY

August 5, 2016 6:00 p.m. Talk and Signing for TAHOE DARK, at Shelby's Bookshoppe, 1663 Lucerne St. in Minden Village, Minden, NV 775-782-5484

September 24, 25, 2016 Exhibit and sign books at the Candy Dance Festival, Genoa, NV

October 5, 2016, 4:30 - 6:30 Exhibit and sign TAHOE DARK at the Minden Library Author Day, Minden, NV

CARSON CITY


August 6, 2016 8:30 a.m. Signing for TAHOE DARK at The Red Hut Cafe 4385 S. Carson, Carson City, NV

September 27, 2016 6:15 p.m. Talk and signing TAHOE DARK at Browsers Books, 711 E Washington St, Carson City, NV (Across from the Carson City Library)


BAY AREA

September 10, 11, 2016Exhibiting and sign books at the Mountain View Art & Wine Festival, Mountain View, CA

November 11, 12, 13, 2016  Exhibit and sign books at the San Mateo Harvest Festival, San Mateo, CA

November 25, 26, 27, 2016 Exhibit and sign books at the San Jose Harvest Festival, San Jose Convention Center, San Jose, CA

SACRAMENTO

November 4, 5, 6, 2016  Exhibit and sign books at the Sacramento Fine Arts Show,  Sacramento Convention Center, Sacramento, CA

November 18, 19, 20, 2016  Exhibit and sign books at the Sacramento Harvest Festival, CalExpo, Sacramento, CA

QUINCY

December 2, 2016, Exhibit and sign books at Epilog Books for the Quincy Sparkle celebration.



Sunday, July 17, 2016

Vegetable Gardening In Tahoe - Ha! It's Going To Freeze Tonight!

I've written about this before...

One year, I decided to try growing some veggies. It turned out that the last freeze of "spring" was in late June. And the first freeze of "fall" was in early August.

Less than six weeks of growing season.

I was thinking about that today, July 10th, when I looked at the National Weather Service website. It is supposed to freeze in Tahoe tonight. I guess that puts an exclamation point on Tahoe's growing season!

Here's the full screen shot:


Here's the closeup of today and tonight: (Remember, this is JULY 10th !)



Bottom line is that we should really enjoy our farmer's markets and supermarket produce sections, because we ain't gonna grow no veggies to speak of!


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Best Hikes In Tahoe - (Near The Northwest Shore) Five Lakes Trail

Category - Moderate (although a no-nonsense trail - As with all hiking, No Flip Flops!)
View Rating - 4 out of 10
Distance - Approximately 4.5 miles round trip (The trail continues past the lakes and on into the Granite Chief Wilderness Area)
Elevation Gain - 1050
Highest Point - 7600



The Five Lakes Trail is a nice way to experience a bit of "single-track" trail hiking in the Sierra. It does not have spectacular views compared to many of Tahoe's more amazing hikes. And in fact there isn't a single view of Lake Tahoe, which lies to the southeast. However, the trail takes you to a group of small, pretty lakes nestled in a forested "saddle" on the trail. The trail isn't too long, and it is a great way to get a feel for what the Alpine Meadows ski area is like in the summer. (Don't worry, you won't see much ski area stuff, just a few lift towers from a distance.)

The trail climbs across the slope where the owners of Alpine and Squaw Valley hope to one day put in a gondola to connect the two areas. If that happens, the combined area will - by some measures - become the largest lift-served ski resort in North America.


The trail head is almost hidden in the woods to the right of this photo and opposite where Deer Park Drive intersects from the left. Parking is along the side of the road.

To get to the trailhead, drive about 4 miles west from Tahoe City on 89 (or about 10 miles south of Truckee on 89). The road follows the Truckee River, and if the rafting conditions are good, you may see dozens of rafts plying the light rapids.

When you come to the River Ranch hotel and restaurant, turn west up Alpine Meadows Road. 

Drive 2.1 miles up Alpine Meadows Road to where Deer Park Road intersects from the left. The trail head is in the trees to the right.

 The same trail that leads to Five Lakes also accesses the PCT and other trails.



For hikers heading past Five Lakes and into the Granite Chief Wilderness, there is a sign.


As with all trails, if you see what looks like large fireworks or small artillery or tubes that could be dynamite, DON'T TOUCH! These are avalanche control explosives that didn't detonate when they were supposed to. They are still very lethal and may go off at any time.



As the trail heads up, you get your first view of the peaks that make Alpine Meadows skiers very happy. This is one of our favorite ski areas.




This isn't considered a great wildflower hike, but there were still some delights.



Soon, the trail emerges from the forest, and you get nice views.



Ski lifts in the distance.

Ski resort lodge down in the beautiful bowl that makes up much of Alpine Meadows. (Although a good part of the resort is on the far side of the mountains toward the rear of this photo.)



If you turn around and look to back to the east, Lake Tahoe sits in the blue valley in the distance.




Looking up above to the north, you can see the top of Squaw Valley's KT-22 lift, which comes up from the far side and services black-diamond terrain down to Squaw Valley.


The trail rises up to a saddle for a nice level stroll, and goes back into the forest where the shade is cool. Soon, you will come to the lakes.


To the northwest is the back side of Squaw Peak at 8900 feet.


Don't worry about finding all five lakes. Three of them pretty much hide in the woods, and two of them become one when the snow runoff raises the water level in spring and early summer. The lakes are fun to explore and swim. They are also stocked with trout for fishing.

A delightful hike, not too long, not too high. And if you don't demand the greatest views, it could be just right.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Sneak Preview - TAHOE DARK!

Coming in one month...

TAHOE DARK!



https://www.amazon.com/Tahoe-Dark-McKenna-Mystery-Thriller-ebook/dp/B01FBIC6GG/ref=sr_1_2_twi_kin_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1467415301&sr=1-2&keywords=tahoe+dark#navbar


In TAHOE DARK, Tahoe Detective Owen McKenna fights to save a young woman who appears to have been wrongly accused of murder. 

Three people have been killed, and Evan Rosen, a house cleaner with dreams of someday attending law school, had a strong motive to want the victims dead. Worse, she had opportunity and she was found in possession of a murder weapon. Maybe Evan has been framed by a devious killer. Or maybe she's guilty...

The only way McKenna can get her off death row is to find the real killer. But it looks like the real killer is going to find McKenna and his Great Dane Spot first...



TAHOE DARK is not yet in most book data bases. Sometimes, knowing the ISBN number makes life easier if you want to place an order at your favorite bookstore. If so, here's the info:

TAHOE DARK ISBN: 978-1-931296-24-3

Stay tuned for my initial signing schedule...


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Creating Suspense Part 7 of 7

Here's the last part of my writers' conference talk on creating suspense.

Here is a list of some of the main things that lead to suspense.





1 Start by plunging your protagonist into life-or-death trouble on the first page of your story. Work all other information into the action. You don’t need to spend any time setting the stage. Readers are smart. They’ll figure it out. This is especially important in your first several books before you’ve developed a reputation for good storytelling.


2 Illuminate your protagonist with telling details that reveal important aspects of the person’s personality and emotions. What the protagonist looks like is not important. How the protagonist feels and reacts to life-or-death trouble is very important, and that is what generates our empathy and worry.


3 Give your evil antagonist a background so terrible that we suspend our disbelief and buy into the evil. And make the bad guy much more powerful than the hero.


4 Allow us to witness the antagonist’s evil or have another character testify to that evil.


5 As your protagonist tries to cope with the terrible trouble, make certain it gets worse, and then worse still.


6 Build to a climactic battle on the antagonist’s turf. Give the bad guy all of the advantages so that it appears obvious that the protagonist doesn’t have a chance.


7 Have the protagonist appear to be losing the climactic battle in every way. Remember that your hero can’t benefit from luck or coincidence. When your protagonist finally wins at the end, he or she does so through grit and perseverance and innovative thinking.


8 Make your wrap up, what writers call the denouement, as short as possible. Leave your readers wanting more.

All of these these techniques will create so much suspense that your reader will stay up late to finish your novel and then will order every other book you have written.


Writers who create dramatic suspense are the most successful of all writers.

Thank You

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Creating Suspense Part 6 of 7

More from my writers' conference talk on how to create suspense.


Aside from suspenseful story bones, there are other storytelling techniques that create suspense. One of them I already mentioned is foreshadowing.


We need to give readers an advance warning of anything remarkable that happens in the story. We use foreshadowing to eliminate a sense of coincidence, which readers won’t abide.





For example, if your protagonist is going to use kickboxing skills in a critical fight scene, then we need to see her going to her kickboxing class early in the story. You can’t spring such a remarkable skill on the reader, or the reader will feel cheated. Maybe a critical scene requires your protagonist to know how to play chess or speak French or be able to ski. All of these skills must be shown early in the story before they become critical at the end.


Your characters can’t benefit from coincidence. That’s not playing fair with your reader. Readers demand to see your protagonist survive by wits, not luck.


The flip side of foreshadowing is what’s called Chekhov’s Law. Chekhov said that if, in an early scene, a shotgun is prominently featured above the fireplace mantle, it must be fired at the story’s climax. In other words, if you make a big deal out of something unusual, it has to come into play later in your novel. This adds considerable suspense to your entire story. You will recognize your own susceptibility to this in books you read and movies you watch. For example, if you learn in a story that a bad guy who gets in knife fights has stolen a 15th century golden Aztec knife with reputed magic powers, you instinctively anticipate a coming scene when he will use it. And you will feel suspense about that throughout the book. That golden knife must be used later in the story.


Yet another way to create a constant level of suspense with foreshadowing is to add into your scenes a vulnerability so that the reader can see the constant potential for disaster.


The horseback trail ride camping trip includes a horse with a bad hoof, and the trail goes along multiple cliffs.


A young couple has planned a big wedding, and 250 guests are about to arrive. But the bride is in love with another man.


A college biology student gets a job on a research ship and is required to make daily trips on a little dinghy into Norwegian fjords to study whales. But the college student can’t swim.


One of the hero’s friends is really a spy working for the bad guy, so you will continuously wonder which one of the characters is the traitor.


You might ask, what if it turns out that nothing dangerous happens on the camping trip, or no spy is revealed, or the shotgun isn’t fired? The story will be nearly ruined.


Remember that everything unusual or really remarkable that happens late in your story has to be foreshadowed. And everything remarkable that is foreshadowed has to be used later in your story. Chekhov’s shotgun must be fired.




There are endless ways that foreshadowing can build suspense. We’ve already mentioned having other characters report on the evil that someone does. This often takes the form of a warning, sometimes from characters we call shapeshifters, characters who may or may not exist and whose forms may change. Perhaps a person with reported psychic abilities has a “vision” of something bad related to a certain character. Even if the reader and all the other characters in the story don’t believe in psychic abilities, the warning serves its purpose and puts the reader on edge, worrying that even if the warning is hocus pocus, the psychic may still know something we don’t know.


And of course in my field of writing mysteries, the identity of the antagonist is not known until the very end. On top of these suspenseful story bones, a whodunnit story puzzle creates a constant suspense separate from all of these other techniques, which is one of the reasons for the popularity of mysteries.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Creating Suspense Part 5 of 7

In the previous post, I talked about how to use expert witness and anecdote to describe a background that make believable motivation for a really bad guy. So to continue...

When you set this evil antagonist on a collision course with an innocent protagonist, every aspect of your novel will be imbued with suspense. As you tell of Violet’s nightmares of a bad man watching her through her bedroom window while her stoned guardian uncle is largely absent, the reader will continuously imagine the child killer trying to assuage the torment of his own past by stalking the girl. The suspense is built in to this plot and these characters.





However, while I will want to know what happens, the story sounds pretty cliched and with little depth. At its core, the basics of suspense can be easy to create, and it does the job of getting the reader to turn the page.


But cheap suspense cheapens your novel. Readers are sophisticated, and they will only come back for more of your stories if you give them something more nuanced, something more complicated, something more redeeming.


So you complicate the story in a way that makes it more interesting and adds even more suspense.


Let’s say that back when the killer escaped, perhaps one of the people in the courtroom was a disgraced ex-cop named Kyle who once moonlighted as an off-duty guard ten years before. He’d been hired to be the bodyguard of a teenaged girl, the daughter of a wealthy mob-connected businessman who had been threatened. One day, the teenager wanted Kyle, her bodyguard, to take her to a fashion show. While Kyle was distracted by the pretty models, the teenager was kidnapped by the businessman’s enemies and never found again.


The result of the teenager disappearing was tragic beyond description. Kyle was sued for millions by the businessman, fired by the police department, and vilified by the community. He began drinking to excess. He made an unsuccessful suicide attempt. His wife divorced him.


Kyle struggled with life, seeking some small redemption ever since the tragedy. He began going to murder trials, studying defendants, trying to find something to suggest that he wasn’t as bad a person as the killers on trial.


When the defendant stabbed the bailiff and escaped, Kyle decided to make it his personal mission to track down the killer. He believes that if he can catch the killer, he can begin to rebuild his shattered life.


Now you’ve got me totally involved with Violet and the escaped killer and the ex-cop who’s looking for redemption. I’m eager to find out what happens with all three characters.





This story also allows you to go in two directions because you have two potential protagonists. You can have Violet be your hero and show the story of a child reacting to rising danger. In the climactic battle, you can have Violet demonstrate a wily brilliance in using her small size and a child’s instinct to evade and even help the cops bring down a killer.


Or you can have the ex-cop be the protagonist, up against a younger, stronger, smarter, more vicious killer. The cop is fighting not just to save the little girl’s life but his own life and reputation as well. The story of redemption can be almost as powerful as the story of saving a child from a killer. Redemption can be a background that informs every aspect of the more immediate battles.

These story components create ongoing suspense.