Recognize yourself in any of these? How would you classify your emotional makeup? Author Brenda Andersonsays she rarely cries, and her husband calls her "The Ice Queen". Other authors note their various emotional - or lack thereof - statuses and how those affect their writing.
I've declared multiple times here I'm a sap. And I've found my emotions tipping into serious sappiness in recent times. You'll find it in my stories, but I hope it's not as effusive as in my real life.
My anger tends to be subdued, certainly less demonstrative than my tearful eruptions and rarely spontaneous.
I love to laugh but haven't been able to find a lot lately to express that wonderful emotion of unabated frivolity.
Silly? Oh yeah. I can be silly with the best of them if the mood strikes. In a good way, you know.
So how about you? If you're emotional - or not - how does it affect your writing? And your reading?
Father, I'm grateful for the deep emotions. It's difficult at times, but I'd rather feel deeply than very little. Thank you, Lord. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
In the ongoing Jack Noble Novels by L. T. Ryan, it's imperative for the reader to start at Noble Beginnings and continue to experience these stories in order. It's not because the novels won't stand on their own, it's because for maximum benefit and to understand the progression of the characters in this series, each book takes the reader to another level of how their "business" plays upon their psyches, personalities, and faint grasps of some kind of morality.
The problem in reviewing the series at this point is the inability to divulge important plot points that have carried over from the previous episodes without ruining the experience of each collection. You know I rarely include spoilers - and always mark them when I do.
What I can tell you is I like Jack again in this edition of the series. He's weary, has lost a bit of his sharpness, but is anxious to get back to the "things" he left undone. In order to do that, he and Frank Skinner must cooperate on certain assignments, so he teams up with one of Frank's best female agents (Jasmine) to clean up a critical mess that threatens the security of America in multiple ways.
Jack feels responsible for this particular mess although he had no idea what he was hired to obtain when he did it for the all-world gangster called "the old man". When "the old man" sold what Jack had provided for him to the Russians, Jack learned just what kind of dangerous information he'd secured for the gangster. And he intended to get it back.
In the meantime, Clarissa's assignment merges with Jack's and Jasmine's while both Bear and Pierre plan a rescue of little Mandy when she is kidnapped again, this time during a strange bank robbery.
Once again these jobs take all the players to different parts of the country and world and eventually back to New York City. Action, killing, distrust, betrayal - all present in Episodes 6 - 10 of Season Two. Jack wants to retire, take Clarissa and make a life for them. As you might expect, their lives can never be easily resolved. Obligations, both professional and personal, seem to always keep them apart except at critical moments when they save each other's lives.
There's a lot going on with each character in this installment. Internal and external struggles, emotional upheavals, and always trying to stay one or two steps ahead of trouble but rarely allowed that opportunity.
Season Two ends with another cliffhanger from Jack's not-too-distant past, and it works perfectly to keep the reader pressing on and ready to venture with Jack to London on a more personal mission.
I recommend these Jack Noble Novels if you're a fan of intense international intrigue, high crimes, good guys and bad guys, and the muddled mess of deciphering who's who and what's what. L. T. Ryan does a good job of concealing, mingling, and amping up the conflicts. Minimum profanity. Definitely violence.
Father, please continue to provide Lee with stories to tell. Bless his life and home. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Writers are always instructed to make sure everything within the pages of a fiction manuscript advances the story. While it's one of the better "suggestions", aka "rules", it too is not foolproof and inarguable.
Stories combine a multitude of factors. Characters, locations, sights, sounds, smells; literary, action-packed, ordinary, extraordinary, fantasy, supernatural, historical, criminal, styles and genres. If the above rule is applied religiously and unbendingly, the author will produce an Ernest Hemingway replica. And while some professionals love Hemingway, many readers do not. As I've said repeatedly about Hemingway, he was a terrible writer who told great stories (with the exception of The Old Man and the Sea).
I would guess editors are as diverse as writers which is a giant reason for using one who complements and understands the writer's style. Differing opinions as to what "advances" and enhances a story present significant conflict.
I enjoy details in a story. I like to read them and I like to write them. They don't have to be included for the sole purpose of contributing to a story but instead to provide a wider vision of plot, scene, etcetera. I like characters and their sometimes superfluous reactions fleshed out because to me it tends to make them more realistic.
If you've ever read a Tom Morrisey novel, you will generally read a lot of technical information included with his touching and action-centered literary style not usually found in this rare combination. Traditionally, you get one or the other, but Tom has a unique way of bringing them all together. One of my favorite novels is Tom'sIn High Places, the touching story of a father and son who climb rocks and experience the death and grief of losing wife and mother, and the son experiences first love while trying to figure out why his mother died the way she did. Meshed with the hard adjustments to being without the woman they loved, we feel the sorrow, the growing morose mood of the father, and all the while we're also reading about the technical equipment and instructions for rock climbing. Tom's a rare breed of author.
Authors can go off on tangents, and this rule is designed to restrict their falling in love with their flair for words. The evil red pen of editors can easily kick those extraneous words to the curb without even flinching, while the author of those precious darlings sits slumped in a chair bawling over the marked up manuscript. The decisions to keep or extract words should make sense and not feel like a death knell to the story by the author. Again, finding a compatible editor is critical for the storyteller.
The point of all of this is to tell a good story - to present an entertaining piece of work for readers to enjoy, to immerse themselves in a tale that accomplishes the desired results. It's important to note readers are as different as writers. Their fickle tastes cannot be served by obeying or disobeying every rule known to authors. Story will trump writing in most cases but not all. The idea is to give the best audience for your work the dual satisfaction of a good story and good writing. No easy task but worth the effort if you're a writer. And that's the point after all.
Father, apart from you, we can do nothing. Thank you for sharing your creativity. May we use it the way you intended. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Summer TV makes a case for Anna Wood and Cam Gigandet as the sexy Yankee lawyer Jamie Sawyer at odds with the Charleston, South Carolina, newly appointed City Attorney Roy Rader. If you like Southern sizzle and pop, Reckless is a well cast and tightly wound drama with good writing, plenty of conflicts, and each episode leaving viewers anxious for the next installment on CBS Sunday evenings at 10 PM (PDT).
With several conflicts in the police department and courtroom intersecting, these particular two characters have UST that just won't stop. Great onscreen chemistry.
If you enjoy that southern twang and the cultural discrepancy between the north and south, Reckless is an entertaining venture. The steamy scenes could easily be eliminated and seem to be included just because Hollywood must think without a sex scene quota, people won't tune in. When you present a series with as much good conflict and UST as contained in this drama, the slight graphics show up as unnecessary add-ons.
Other characters prove worthy of note and keep the reservoir of trouble active. Not your ordinary courtroom drama, although there are some highly charged battles within that environment. Each week reveals more and expands the knowledge of each personality. Reckless is a good summer replacement series and should earn a recurring role on the CBS roster.
Father, you're the source of real talent. Let those who use it well recognize from whom it comes. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Computers are a necessary evil and a frequent nuisance. I've been locked somewhere in the netherworld of no ethernet or internet for a few days. As you might've guessed, it has been . . . difficult. Now with a new modem/router and several hours of extra frustration setting up, it appears I am up and running.
I've been out of touch, and I've missed you, but now it's all good. I'll catch up eventually.
Father, all I can say is thank you. You keep me steady. Apart from you, I can do nothing. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Noble Intentions - Season One - (Episodes 1 - 5) by L. T. Ryan takes Jack Noble in a strange direction as his services lead him deeper into the criminal element run by the all-world gangster known as "the old man".
From assassin, sniper, to all-around hit-man, Jack sinks farther into a callous killing machine mode. His ability to eliminate not only "targets" but anyone who gets in his way or could identify him become the accepted norm. When he's supposed to meet with the old man about a particular job, knowing the gangster won't wait if he's late, the diversion of a little girl crying on the oblivious New York City street distracts him. She's looking for her mother who's nowhere to be found. The old man waits as Jack rescues the girl but drives away because of the delay. This is only the beginning of all kinds of chaos and jobs gone wrong.
Again through Paris, Monaco, and small towns in Italy to complete assignments from the old man and his former French espionage connection Pierre, Jack's outlook falters and he briefly questions himself about why he took the jobs. The unexpected plight of his girlfriend Clarissa, the little girl Mandy, and the need for his best friend and business partner Bear to protect them present difficulties neither Jack nor Bear anticipated.
The seemingly endless reach of the old man leaves each of them in constant danger. When the job for Pierre takes an unexpected turn, Jack is finally in real trouble with no one to help coordinate an escape.
Prior to this edition of the Jack Noble Novels, I really liked Jack. However, in this next segment of the series, I found the character less likable, more cocky, and unwilling to do a comprehensive assessment of who he's become. His conscience flares briefly, but he shuts it down with cynical precision. He's allowed himself to retreat from true emotion and assume his confidence and skills will make a way where there is no way. Of course this is expected of men with his training and in his position. There's a hint he's growing tired of it all, wanting to get out, find a way to disappear, but he's put himself in the position of never realizing true freedom. Looking over his shoulder, on the run, rarely trusting, and in danger: this is Jack's life.
Another thriller from L. T. Ryan, Noble Intentions - Season One is filled with episodes capturing more intimate looks at multiple characters. I was surprised by the accomplished toughness of Clarissa, not sure of having been adequately prepared for it and from where it came until a casual reference to her past seems to illuminate some training from her dad and Jack not previously acknowledged. I found it slightly difficult to fathom since there had been no previous evidence of her having to hold up under such horrific conditions.
Little Mandy serves to expose the last little particles of tenderness in the trio of Jack, Bear, and Clarissa. She inspires the utmost protection from them, and although Jack trusts Bear to guard her life, she becomes a perfect bargaining tool for the old man.
There are some twists at the end of these episodes, one expected, one not so much, and another motivated by guilt.
This was my least favorite of the Jack Noble Novels because of the deterioration of Jack as a person. Becoming strictly a gun for hire, even though his targets are usually reprehensible, is making him just another hardened killer not much different from the old man's other thugs - just better at his job. Leaving a wake of damage and death, he's immune to what it's doing to him most of the time. He's handling his personal demise with more drink and cigarettes, sardonic humor and taunting - none of it working to his benefit.
While cautiously looking forward to the next "season" of L. T. Ryan's Noble Intentions, I'm hoping for some kind of personal reflection from Jack Noble, the kind that will bring back some "nobility" to his character. And once again the vacancy in stories without any concept of God amplifies the absence of meaning in life's struggles and tragedies.
Father, we're desperate for you, whether we know it or not. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
If you've ever watched the TV series 24, you know what it's like to watch a thriller. I cannot think of another program that is as relentless with conflict as 24. From the first tick of the clock to the last, the action, the tension, the good and evil, rage on at a breakneck pace crammed into the 40 to 45 minute window of the allotted hour segment. I'm actually grateful for the commercials so I can take a breath.
If you've ever read one of Robert Liparulo's earliest thrillers, you know what it's like to read that incessant drum of conflict and ratcheted up tension. Life and death throughout the pages competing for attention and fulfillment.
Thrillers do allow for variety. In the Patrick Bowers Series by Steven James the pacing is less intense, but the tension can be palpable. You might call the books "thinking men's thrillers" which is no insult to the fast and furious thriller writers. What I mean by that term in this sense is there are more elements of complex mysteries in the Patrick Bowers Series. The action is dished out in spurts rather than permeating the entire story in each book while the psychological tension is immense.
I think there are several novels these days that are incorrectly labeled thrillers when in reality, they're mysteries or suspense novels. I'm no authority on genre labels, but you know a thriller when you read one. They stand out because of the extreme "thrills", not the genres of horror, mystery, or suspense, although all of those characteristics are probably present in thrillers. While there is a unique tension to each of these genres, that non-stop, relentless tension separates true thrillers from the other genres.
Father, thank you for all the types of writers you create. May each one of us find a way to bring glory to you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Some authors prefer to create villains. Writers can make them as evil as they choose. If you want to read about some of the worst, I suggest you take a look at "Eenie" in Dean Koontz'sFrom the Corner of His Eyeor any of the bizarre and intricate bad dudes in the Patrick Bowers Series by Steven James. Evil. Treacherous. Smart. Clever. Creepy. Horrid antagonists. Not for the faint-hearted cozy mystery types.
So why is it they enjoy making up villains? Touching evil and bringing it to the page? Is it easier to imagine wickedness and inject it into a character than to create a solid "good" character?
The risk we run with "good" characters is to make them too good, cheesy in their goodness, syrupy sweet if female, or too heroic if male. The choice to truly design a good character, the actual hero/protagonist insures the writer use a serious measure of wisdom.
Some readers love the syrupy sweet and the major, seemingly flawless hero. Other readers despise those types of characters ranting about their lack of realism. One of the most difficult jobs for me as a writer is to create that "good guy". There really are some cool good guys in this world, but there are also some cool bad boys who aren't necessarily "bad" as in evil or wicked. None of us is without flaws, but attempting to make a male character "good" without making him a hero can be a tough task.
However, if the protagonist is a Christian, it's far easier to fall into the stereotypical, cliché, too-good-to-be-true categories, although the same possibility exists inwriting villains with the too-bad-to-be-true as the differentiating factor. But that doesn't really ever happen with the evil characters. There seem to be no limits as to the portrayals of the depraved.
As some of you know, I'm writing my first crime novel/police procedural. If you know me, you know I write character studies, love stories, and I'm soft on action. Not my gig. This particular novel is not a shoot-'em-up-bang-bang story, and of course there is a thread of romance. There is a perpetrator of a murder, but after over 75K words, I just figured out who killed someone. So now I have an antagonist, but he's been mostly faceless and way under the radar until just a few words ago. So what will I do with him. What kind of villain is he? Will he be trapped?
The "good" guys have been written, and they're certainly not perfect. But I think they're the kind of characters you root for as a reader. "Good" characters. I've enjoyed creating them more than I will enjoy fleshing out this bad guy. I can't tell you why.
Which do you prefer to read about and write about?
Father, help me to nail down the characters. Let them seem plausible and real. Please. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.