Today I heard from a fan who, after having finished The Finn O’Brien Thrillers and the Witness Series, tackled my standalone books. Her comments have ranged from ‘wow, where did that come from‘ to ‘that was pretty dark‘. I admit it, before I started my series I was inspired by life experiences that were a little raw, so her comments didn’t surprise me. What did surprise me was what she said next.
“I love that your characters are so flawed, and you never wrap an ending up in a bow.”
Beyond Malice’s Amanda annoyed her at first, but the character brought back childhood memories that made the story more compelling. She understood and appreciated where the character was coming from because I had touched on something personal. Amanda ceased to be annoying and became a character to root for. Tara in Keeping Counsel had tons of baggage but she carried that weight and more. She agonized to the bitter end whether to sacrifice her own life or her best friend’s future. Character Witness, Before Her Eyes, and The Mentor explore flawed characters and their gut wrenching choices. This reader’s appreciation of imperfection is the mark of a true thriller lover.
My genre does not lend itself to bow endings. I write about the law and justice, about individuals against the system, about people who try to do the right thing but sometimes fail. A thriller ending must always be a draw. If I write about divorce, it is realistic that each character will lose family, assets, and stability, but will gain freedom, relief, and self-determination. Neither will be perfectly happy, one might be hurt more than the other, but the story can end no other way. Happiness is still a promise down the road. Will that be perfect? Probably not, and that will be another story. A happy ending for me is when my characters keep trying despite the roadblocks. That determination makes them heroic, and that’s why I love them.
For me an many thriller readers a happy ending is only satisfying when it is a little messy.
My messy, almost-happy ending, thrillers are FREE for Kindle Unlimited- $.99 to buy. Click a cover to read more.
I love this time of year. Christmas. All the scurrying about, sending out cards, decorating our houses, shopping, cooking, baking —you know what I’m talking about. But what I really love is watching television, specifically watching Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life. These are love stories told with a sprinkle of stardust, a sense that magical things can and do happen, all within the context of real life. After watching these movies, I am convinced there are happily-ever-after’s despite the everyday muck. There is nothing our heroes can’t overcome. You root for them through their trials and your heart bursts with their triumphs.
Which brings me to my new favorite Christmas story: Eternal Love by Louis Moore.
This book is really a long short story. The man who wrote it, Louis Moore, is ninety-eight years old. He is a Chinese-American gentleman who wanted to honor his late Japanese-American wife, Nellie, by writing their love story. I heard about this book in a round about way. It sounded very sweet, very nice, but I really didn’t have the time to read—I was working on my own book. But then I learned that what this book was about: Mr. Moore’s 74 years of marriage to a woman he adored. It just so happened I was celebrating my 44th year of marriage to a man I adore. So, instead of spending a couple of hours with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in It’s a Wonderful Life, or working on my own book, I sat down with Eternal Love and read about a love story for the ages.
Lou and his wife faced prejudice on many fronts, rejection from his family. They built businesses and lost them, they moved more than once, they had professional set-backs, and Lou sometimes wondered if he had the ‘right stuff’ to succeed. Throughout the telling of this story, Mr. Moore shines a light on his wife with the wonder of a man truly, deeply in love. He writes about Nellie’s good humor, the kindness she showed to everyone who crossed her path, her intelligence, her beauty, and, the greatest gift of all, the love she had for him and the confidence she gave him.
What I am sure the author doesn’t know is that in the telling of Nellie’s story, Louis Moore revealed himself to be a man of manners, a hard worker, a man who got up even if he was pushed down. Above all, he was devoted to his wife and loved her beyond reason.
This book was shiny and bright because every word was chosen with care, every thought, observation, and aside moved the story ahead with purpose. Eternal Love was like opening a Christmas present I will use all year long. I will remember to write to my story, I’ll remember to write with verve, and I will remember—if I ever find myself peeved at my husband—to follow Louis Moore’s advice for a happy marriage. Be kind, be courageous, have eyes for no one else but your spouse because together you can accomplish anything.
Thank you, Mr. Moore, for a wonderful story of love written just in time for Christmas. Eternal Love is magical.
I’d like to give you a special Christmas present too. Check out my December newsletter for your FREE BOOK, the best recipe for Oreo pie and some other fun stuff. Wishing you all the best of the season.
*meat and potatoes-the only two German words my father knew
Last month I was excited to share that I signed with Wolfpack Publishing, an online publisher. I never thought I would do that (check September to see why I did). This month, I’m having another never-say-never moment. I purchased an Artificial Intelligence editing program called Hemingway.
A friend recommended the program. It was inexpensive. I am always looking for ways to improve my writing.
It is an intelligent assistant for the writer who wants to improve their style. Hemingway cannot replace an excellent editor. In the early stages, guidance on foundational work is essential. No computer program can analyze characterization, plotting, inconsistencies, theme etc. the way a human can. It will not check for grammar or spelling.
Hemingway made me think. The app ‘believes’ that simple is better. The program color codes perceived style problems in the manuscript. Purple indicates hard to read sentences, yellow very hard to read, blue is adverbs, and green is passive voice. The app also highlights phrases that have simpler alternatives.
More often than not, I heeded Hemingway’s advice. Yes, some of my sentences were convoluted. Yes, there were other ways describe action without a word that ended in LY. There were also times I didn’t change a sentence. Yes, that passive voice was necessary. Thank you, Hemingway.
Blogs, articles, and short pieces might find Hemingway more helpful than the novelist. I uploaded chapter by chapter so I wasn’t overwhelmed. It was tedious, but I’m glad I did it.
It is difficult to figure out how to transfer the edited work. I finally used the export as a word doc function. I did have to reformat each chapter. Not a problem, just an extra step.
Hemingway does not check spelling and grammatical errors. It would be a nice addition to the program.
Yes. It is well worth $20. This program made me stop, think, revise, and it gives me reasons why I should pay attention. Because I will have a cleaner manuscript, it will save my real life editor time and therefore save me money on the back end. For traditionally published authors, your editor will be very pleased with the smooth submission.
I recommend that all writers add Hemingway to their tool box. It is a small investment for a big return on how you look at your writing.
P.S. Yes, I did edit this piece in Hemingway. Here is the link.
Read Rebecca Forster!
On September 15th, Rebecca announced she signed with Wolfpack Publishing. (Read about it here.) Good news for Rebecca, and good news for readers. Until September 30, 2020 Rebecca is have a sale on select titles.
Rebecca marketed a world-class spa when it was still called a gym, did business in China before there were western toilettes at the Great Wall and mucked around with the sheep to find out exactly how her client’s fine wool clothing was manufactured. Then she wrote her first book and found her passion.
Now, over twenty-five books later, she is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system. She earned her B.A. at Loyola, Chicago and her MBA at Loyola, Los Angeles. Rebecca has taught the Business of Creativity at University of California Long Beach Writers Certificate Program, UCLA and UC Irvine extension. Married to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, she is the mother of two grown sons and spends her free time traveling, sewing, and playing tennis.
Remember the books are only on sale until September 30, 2020
Can she love the wolf…
Inside the man?
By day they had been fierce rivals in a collegiate golf competition, but at night . . .More info →