Conflicts and consequences Guest Post by Author A.L. Awtrey

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Conflicts and consequences

One of the most import rules I learned about good storytelling is sustaining conflict and tension. No one wants to read a story about a character who gets everything they want without ever having to struggle. My first attempt at a novel died when I realized I was writing an endless stream of this happened and this happened and this happened without any real conflict. Things might have happened, but It was boring to read.

A trick I try to use in every scene is for each character, even the minor ones, to want something and be moving toward their respective goals. And my job as the author is to introduce conflicts that frustrate the characters into taking action. Letting Go features a cute cat and mouse game between the hero and heroine. Whenever desire warms between them in the story, I would make someone or something interrupt the moment.

Alex and Molly are both single parents and love their kids without question. I gave the kids an uncanny ability to detect parental desire to frustrate the budding couple. Anytime Alex or Molly attempt to embrace or kiss, one of their kids pops up doing the peepee dance.

The other side of conflicts are the inevitable consequences that follow. Sometimes even when you get what you want, you find it wasn’t all you’d hoped. I use those same rules in storytelling. Never give a character (or reader) what they expect. I love to set up a conflict, then change direction just when it appears to resolve just to crank the tension even higher.

In Letting Go, Alex is introduced in his opening chapter receiving a threatening phone call. His entire life at that point has been focused on the threat of something bad happening to him or his kids. Then when something bad actually happens to Alex in the story, no one notices or believes him. Worse, they think he is a nut for reacting the way he does. By keeping the situation unresolved, the tension mounts until the real threat is revealed.

One of the recurring themes in the reviews for Letting Go is how the tension and suspense keeps the readers going through to the end. Conflict is the winding spring of the story and powers the plot until it is finally resolved. And add spice by making sure that the consequences are never what the readers expect!

letting_go_2000x3000Despite his wealth, Alex Thompson has been living in fear since his wife died in childbirth. A frivolous wrongful death lawsuit, harassing phone calls, and anonymous threats drive him and his five-year-old twins away from their home in Houston and into the crosshairs of a sniper.

Molly McDill is a struggling single mom who lives next door to Alex and his twins. When she helps them adjust to their new life in the country, she exposes herself and her son to the same threat that followed Alex.

An attempt on his life throws their lives into chaos, inviting more threats, public scrutiny, and Molly’s ex-husband back into her life. The tension tests the attraction they feel toward each other as they struggle to keep life normal for their kids.

Alex still doesn’t know who wants him dead but suspects his former in-laws. As the threats become a visceral danger, Alex and Molly race to uncover the secret that died with his wife before it costs them everything.

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About A.L. Awtrey

After working more than twenty years as a technologist and scientist, Anthony started writing fiction again for the a_l_awtrey_authorfirst time since college. Developing white paper studies and proposals for years provided a foundation in technical writing, but telling a compelling story was much harder than it appeared.

Four years of practice where he wrote eight novels and dozens of short stories improved his dialog, description, tension, and pacing. With his latest novel, Letting Go, Anthony is ready to release it under his own name. He’s a member of the Central Florida Chapter of the Romance Writers of America and Florida Writers Association.

When he’s not writing, Anthony is the CTO of a technology consultancy and a professional singer.

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5 Tips for Character Development

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5 Tips for Character Development

As writers we are fascinated with people. Why? Our characters reflect real people. As such, they must act in realistic ways. We can’t have them do things that are “out of character.” We can dig deep inside ourselves and our experiences to create the people who fill our books or we can use other methods. After a while–book two or three, we may find that our own resources–the people we know– may run dry. Here are some tips for learning more about people in order to develop believable characters:

Tip #1: Observe everyone around you

When you see a parent and child interacting in the grocery store, don’t turn away. Lurk, listen and learn. The language the parent uses, the way the child responds are fodder for your characters. Wherever we go, we encounter people. Observe and learn from those observations.

Tip #2: Ask the experts

I am fortunate because I live with a psychiatrist. He carries a wealth of information in his head, and he has access to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Most of the characters in my books are “normal,” but it’s fun to give them a few quirks. Maybe one is OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Another may be a bit narcissistic. These kinds of flaws give your characters depth and dimension.

Tip #3: Pay attention to the character when they want to do something

Often our subconscious will direct the character’s behavior. When we push against our subconscious, we are imposing what we’d do in a given situation–not what the character might do.

Tip #4: When you get to the editing phase of your book, always ask, “Does this behavior make sense for this character?”

 If a character is timid to the point of extreme shyness, would that character speak up in a dangerous situation? Put yourself in the shoes of your characters and see how the action feels.

Tip #5: Let your Beta readers help you

Often we are too close to our work and our characters. Even when we’ve struggled to make our characters believable, as soon as reader says, “I don’t believe Hank would do or say this,” pay attention. These readers are simply reading, absorbing. They are in a different place mentally than we are. Sometimes they can see the most important things that we miss.
MURDERMOONSHINE_LARGEWhen Jenna decides to go to this wedding, she expects to dredge up old secrets and old hurts and she expects to see people from her past, but she doesn’t expect to stumble on a dead body.

Jenna’s friend is arrested. The wedding is cancelled. And Jenna’s tendency to stick her nose where it shouldn’t be leads her into the path of the killer.

Set in the serene mountains of North Carolina Murder on Moonshine Hill is filled with suspense, humor, and a quirky cast of supporting characters.

 Amazon / Nook

Buy any one of Joan’s books this week and get a second
book of your choice free. For the deal they have to purchase
 from this link: MuseIt Publishing

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e-Murderer copyOn this anything but typical Monday morning Jenna Scali, who works part-time for a shrink, opens an email that depicts the brutal death of a young girl. On that same day the police uncover a dead coed two blocks from Jenna’s house. The e-murderer’s description creepily echos the death described in the newspapers.

When Jenna receives other emails, she takes what she knows to the police and thus begins her journey in the path of the e-murderer. Her curious nature impels her from e-messages to dead coeds to a ring of prostitutes. With the help of her quirky friends, Jenna learns that she’s more than a conduit for the killer. She’s his target. New secrets unfold, and finally her love life takes a tumble when the true killer emerges.

THE E-MURDERER is a race to find a psychotic killer before he kills again.

This new mystery series with a young female sleuth promises to keep you glued to your seat until the last page.

Buy on Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Kobo Books / MuseItUp Publishing

Watch the Book Trailer for e-Murder


Joan is an award-winning writer who has published 6 books and numerous stories. Readers compare her to the great Southern writer, Fanny Flagg. “She writes characters and a story that will joancCurtisstay with you.”

Her debut mystery/suspense novel, The Clock Strikes Midnight, won the silver medal for fiction/suspense in the Global eBook Awards for 2015 and is a finalist for the Royal Palm Literary Award. The e-Murderer won first place in the Malice Domestic Grants competition for new writers.

Joan has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember. She reads all kinds of books, including women’s fiction, mysteries, biography, and nonfiction. Mystery/suspense with a psychological twist is exactly the kind of book Joan loves to read.

GEbA_Gold“I write about characters who remind me of myself at times and my sister at times, but never fully so. My stories are told from a woman’s point of view with a destiny. Characters drive my writing and my reading.”

Having grown up in the South with a mother from Westchester County New York, Joan has a unique take on blending the Southern traditions with the eye of a Northerner. She spent most of her childhood in North Carolina and now resides in Athens, Georgia.

Enter to win a copy of The Clock Strikes Midnight (award-winning book) and a $25 Amazon GC

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Guest Post Professor Birdsong Author of Dumbest Thieves, Thugs, & Rogues

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Hello, I’m Professor Leonard Birdsong. I live in Orlando, Florida where I teach Criminal Law, Evidence, and Immigration Law at the Barry Law School. I received my Juris Doctor degree from the Harvard Law School and my Bachelor’s degree from Howard University. I have written many scholarly legal pieces since joining the legal academy in 1998.

Since 2013 I have written and published sixteen eBooks, fourteen on these books have been devoted to the doings of dumb criminals, and the antics of weird and funny criminals. My latest book that just came out is Professor Birdsong’s Dumbest Thieves, Thugs, & Rogues. These books are not scholarly pieces! My six volumes of Weird Criminal Law Stories and my other series of seven Dumbest Criminals books, and my “365” Weird Stories for every Day of the Year, are written just for fun and enjoyment. A number of my eBooks are now in paperback and can be purchased at many online booksellers.

My two eBooks not devoted to humor include a book on Immigration Law and a book providing guidance to students thinking of going to law school. My Immigration book, Immigration: Obama Must Act Now!” and my humor book, 365” Weird Stories for every Day of the Year, each won awards in 2015 and 2016, respectively from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association for being among the best eBooks published in North America.

I am very proud of my legal career which included my work as an attorney with the law firm of Baker & Hostetler. I later served as a diplomat with the State Department with various postings in Nigeria, Germany, and the Bahamas. I also worked as a federal prosecutor, first as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, and later as a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the U.S. Virgin Islands.  After leaving government service, I was in private practice in Washington, D.C., where I specialized in trial work ranging from criminal defense work to political asylum matters.

Although I have been involved in serious criminal law work over the years as a prosecutor, a defense attorney, and a law professor, I know that it is good to stayed grounded. This means often taking time to look at the many funny and weird criminal law stories that crop up around the United States and the world. Sometimes it is good laugh at some of the silly foibles of dumb criminals and their crimes. That is why several years ago I began to collect and edit from the wire services and news the type of weird and funny criminal law stories that appear in my anthologies. I hope my readers will get a few good laughs or at least, some chuckles from my collections of dumb and weird criminal law stories.

NEW thieves thugs rogues cover draft 1 (2)The Professor has delighted in telling you stories from his first two book series, Dumbest Criminal Law Stories and Weird Criminal Law Stories. Now he writes for fun and  your enjoyment in his latest, Professor Birdsong’s Dumbest Thieves, Thugs, & Rogues. These stories are some of the best from around the world and should bring you many good laughs. For instance:

A thief in Phoenix just released from County jail on drug charges ran laps around the jail celebrating his freedom, then tried to carjack a truck belonging to the jail.

The Miami man arrested for stealing a corpse from a casket at a funeral home. An Orlando bandit who broke into a convenience store by bashing in the front door with his head.

The awkward thief who burglarized an Albuquerque home only to be confronted by the 66-year- old wife and her 70-year- old husband who held him at gunpoint in his car loaded with their household possession until police arrived.

The San Jose thug who confessed to murder by cutting out the middle man and presented himself to the Santa Clara County jail with his confession.

An impatient Wendy’s drive-thru customer in Chicago, so hungry he opened fire on another driver who tried to cut in front of him;

The thug who was sentenced to a year in jail for trying to sell a backpack of dirty socks as marijuana.

The Norwegian prisoner gone rogue who used a surfboard to escape from an island prison.

A Frenchman suspended from his job with pay for 12 years who sought compensation of $500,000 because he claimed his career was ruined.

And so many other stories about dumb thieve, thugs, and rogues that will make you laugh out loud.

Buy it on $2.99 Amazon or Free with your Kindle Unlimited Subscription

birdsong-colorAbout the author:

Professor Birdsong received his J.D. from the Harvard Law School and his B.A. from Howard University. He teaches law in Orlando, Florida. After graduation from law school he worked four years at the law firm of Baker Hostetler. He then entered into a varied and distinguished career in government service. He served as a diplomat with the U.S. State Department with various postings in Nigeria, Germany and the Bahamas. Professor Birdsong later served as a federal prosecutor. After leaving government service, and before he began teaching, Professor Birdsong was in private law practice in Washington, D.C.

Find Pfr Birdsong on his website  and on Twitter @Prof_Birdsong, on Literary Addicts and Goodreads.

Professor Birdsong is giving away a $20 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky winner. Fill out the widget below to enter.