A bouncy tune for a rough ride

Tension can mount in surprising ways when you discover that you have been taken captive. It happens in 3 WISE MEN when Louie burst into song; a classic French tune. He sings a poor rendition, but this only highlights the jibes he directs at his new passenger as they navigate twisted mountain roads towards St Paul de Vence – an old medieval hilltop town on the French Riviera. Louie’s antics add to the mounting tension. I hope you enjoy the song, and the rough ride, as much as Louie did:

 

New Reader Feedback and another ***** Review

Just in from Jerry D. in Florida:
“I just finished your novel! Thanks for sending it along! What’s not to like? Tech, spy craft, maths, sex, guns, exotic locales, adventure, dark and ancient secrets, weapons of war, plot twists and turns, and more!”
Thanks for your comments Jerry, and even more for your support and enthusiasm over the years. [Jerry has been such a great friend and showed me and my family wonderful hospitality when we stayed in the USA.]
And, on a side note, the following was added to the 5-star review on Amazon – “You won’t believe it until you read it – and I wouldn’t read it alone!”

Blog Views Mirror Thriller Plot?

The following graph is a summary of recent visitors to this blog.

I could not help thinking that the rises and falls are similar to the intentional (or unintentional) rising and falling of tension in a thriller like 3 WISE MEN. For some, a sudden rise in tension – for example, the unexpected death of a character – is too much, and they prefer a more gentle building of tension. The steeper the graph, the more rapid the rise in the number of viewers on this blog. Peaks often correspond with holiday periods – a time when readers have more time to indulge in blogging. The mathematical significance of this graph would not be lost on our protagonist – Jak Colins! As a writer of thrillers, I am acutely aware of the need for the peaks and troughs in the plot. After all, I do want readers to be glued to the text and not easily able to put the book down. On the other hand, I know it is important to establish characters and event – something that might look like the trough in the graph above. For me, I need to work hard to do this characterization in a style that still engages, and a technique I have found useful is the use of humor. Let’s have a brief look at this in my next post.

Inspiration to start that new novel?

What is the kick-starter to a new novel? For me, it was the clear head and fresh inspiration I soaked up when traveling to new places. 3 WISE MEN lay dormant for too long, until the spark to get writing began after a few days in southern France. I am not sure exactly what it was, but I needed to be in the surroundings that formed the basis for this thriller – to soak up the details required to be authentic in the novel’s details. Some might argue that the details don’t matter – after all, it is a novel, right? Not for me though. I simply wanted to be able to put my readers into real situations and genuine locations, even down to the colors and scents that I embraced during this writing adventure. I am now in the process of working on thriller #2 but will again need to see and feel the atmosphere and specific features of new locations. Well, I must get some fares booked soon before it is too late to get started!

$3.99 is nothing. I will order mine now!

I was having a meeting with a colleague over coffee earlier this week, when the conversation moved onto the subject of ‘reading’. I mentioned that I had just finished my first novel and that it was available on Kindle. My friend got out his phone and quickly looked it up.

“Only $US3.99! That’s nothing – I will order it now.”

I was surprised and delighted that he wanted to read 3 WISE MEN, and even more delighted that he found the price to be so reasonable. But, when I thought about it, it was about the same price as the coffee I had just ordered for him.

I hope you also enjoy reading 3 WISE MEN at less than 1.5c per page!

How long should a Thriller be? Part II

In a previous post, I discussed the ideal number of words for a thriller. Publishers recommend anywhere between 80,000 and 100,000 words. As an author, should I agree with this? Well, from my experience with 3 WISE MEN, I am mostly in agreement, and here are my reasons for this. First, at just over 80,000 words, using Times Roman in 12 point and a 6 x 9 inch format, the approx. 80,000 word novel feels ‘right’ in paperback. The only reason that it might not actually be ‘right’ is when poor writing pads out the story. At 80,000 words, the novel will be sitting close to 300 pages and that is a good read for devotees. Much less – at say 280 pages – and the novel will be short of room for a sub-plot, or lacking dramatic tension. In 3 WISE MEN, my early word count was only 70,000 words and I pumped that out to about 86,000 before falling back to 78,000. On critical review, I needed to add about 3000 words in order to give the story more substance in a few places, and help build the necessary tension at a pace that engaged my readers – rather than over-shock them. I hope you agree?

Stormy Clouds Gather over Italy

Cumulonimbus clouds are those rising columns of unstable air that you often sea on a hot summer’s day. In 3 WISE MEN, Jak’s flight from Rome is directed away from these ‘serpent heads’ soon after takeoff. Let’s pick up the conversation between the control tower in Rome (at Fiumicino Airport) and Jak’s flight.

[“Fiumicino tower, Alitalia ten-twenty-six. Climb and maintain thirty-two-thousand.”

“Up to thirty-two-thousand, Alitalia ten-twenty-six,” Captain Bruno replied.

“Roger, flight ten-twenty-six. Head three-two-zero to Genoa to avoid cumulonimbus storms building over Tuscany. Genoa will guide you into Milan. Have a pleasant flight, ten-twenty-six.”

“Copy, Fiumicino. Roger and out.”

As they leveled off, the cockpit brought an update.

“This is Captain Bruno speaking. We have now reached a cruising altitude of 32,000 feet and are on a heading that follows the Italian coast to Genoa. This will take us away from bouncy air over the Apennine Mountains. Although we have clear skies ahead of us, we advise all passengers to remain seated with your seat belts fastened.

“Expected landing time in Milan is now 4:15pm and local weather is cloudy with a ground temperature of 15 degrees Celsius. Rain is forecast for later in the evening. I will give you an update closer to our arrival. Now please sit back and enjoy your flight.”

He turned to the Co-pilot.

“It’s all yours from here.”

“Thank you, Captain.”

Captain Bruno released the controls, sat back in his seat and scanned ahead to a large expanse of blue sky. At 1 o’clock, a bank of dark-gray clouds rose above the horizon, their billowing serpent heads appearing angry through his polarized glasses. To his trained eye, they seemed stationary and too distant to bother them.

“It should be a comfortable flight,” he announced confidently, unaware of the severity and speed of the brewing storm – ]

3 WISE MEN is available in Kindle or paperback format from Amazon.