How do you do that thing you do so well?

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It’s a common question asked by those who want to write a novel. I hear this all the time on Quora. Where do you begin? How? Where do you get your ideas? Do you plot? Do you ‘wing-it?’ How do you do that thing you do–so well?

Let’s talk about my latest release, SILK ROAD Code Raven 6. It’s a great example of my personal writing process and may help you to get started on yours!

It starts with a word. I asked a friend, fellow author, to give me a country. In this case, it was Kyrgyzstan–a country that had no meaning to me. If you’re familiar with the Code Raven Series, you would know that not only do I love my characters and develop them further with each story, but I also love to take them to different countries around the globe to get into–and out of–trouble!

In my research about Kyrgyzstan, I came across the history of how this country was once a part of the Soviet Union. I already had a rough idea of the Russia/Asia part of the world but didn’t know much about the terrain. If you are anything like me, once you go on the world-wide-web, one search turns into another, and another, and before you know it, you’re off on a tangent for no particular reason. In my case, my interest was piqued by the crime lords who moved in to fill the void of a legitimate government. Corruption of all types runs rampant in this predominately Muslim country.

At this point, I became intrigued by the historical implications of this centuries-old area and the original Silk Road–the trading route moving through Asia from the East to the West.

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Without giving away the plot, let’s just say that I became intrigued by the human condition and in particular how turmoil and greed affect women and children around the globe.

HERE’S MY PROCESS:

  1. Out comes the excel spreadsheet. 
  2. Usually, I reprint the Characters names across the top of the sheet so I don’t mix up attributes, history, or activities, timelines, etc. This is important when writing a series. You would work the same way as you introduce new characters in your novel even if it’s a stand-alone book. I also used this process on my memoir LOVE The Beat Goes On
  3. Chapters numbers down the left side column.
  4. Next column a key phrase to summarize what will happen in that chapter.
  5. The next column will give more detail, possibly a paragraph of key events.
  6. In the planning stages, I might color code the chapters. If it’s fiction and action, I might color code an action event RED, something that moves the plot along in YELLOW, and a relatively soft aspect, emotional, resting chapter might be soft green. This way you can make sure you don’t lose your reader by dropping the pace. Inevitably all my reviewers say this series is ‘fast-paced.’ You want that when writing a mystery. Otherwise, your fans will get bored and put your book down! We want them to read it in “one sitting!”
  7. The chapters continue down the page until the end.

Why a spreadsheet?

I use this concept if I’m writing Action/Adventure/Mystery or Contemporary Romance or Non-fiction like my memoir. Why?

  1. It’s easy to cut-and-paste therefore changing the sequence of events, or slotting in a new chapter!
  2. You can see the entire story in one place. 
  3. The spreadsheet allows you to edit the events along the way inserting, expanding where you find your plot to be weak.

My process is always fluid. I never set a rigid plot.

Sometimes I start with one idea and watch the following events move down the page. The thoughts, ideas I have may never make it to the final story. But here’s the key: one idea leads to another, and another, and another. And my story starts to take shape from that original one word. Example:

Silk Road. Trade. Smuggling. The new Rail service from the coast of China all the way to London, England! Think about the potential here. Imagine all the events that could happen along the way! And that’s how the story moved along. And then I found activities in the Maldives that I decided to connect. And one of my main characters, Zach was summoned to Washington DC by the frightening pleas from a SEAL friend he served with in his Afghanistan/Bin Laden days.

Here’s a couple of teasers so you get a feel for the final story:

A former Navy SEAL gets a terrifying message from his estranged daughter. “I’m desperate! I need your help, Dad. Bring your friends!”

“They stole my baby Daddy! They’ve got my boy!” Will a team of ex-SEALs break US law to exact revenge?

A teenager is abducted in Kyrgyzstan. Has she become one of many kidnapped brides? Or is something far more frightening going on? The corrupt authorities ignore the parents’ pleas for help.

A new Silk Road train stretches from the eastern shores of Yiwu China to London, England. Its precious cargo is not what’s written on the manifest.

When two young children are abducted in the middle of the night from Raven’s sanctuary in the Maldives, Luci, Luke, and the Raven Group will stop at nothing to get them back.

Are all these horrific events linked?

If I’ve peaked your interest and you want a great read, written in the style of Lee Childs, David Baldacci, or Clive Cussler, get your copy on Amazon: Silk Road

 

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Action and Sex?

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I love 2018 already!

My readers have spoken. The first books to download into Kindles today were my JET series and Lie to Me an exposé on sex for money. 

You want more action and lots of sex? I’m up for the challenge.

Let’s start 2018 with a cover reveal. JET-Reborn will be added to 4 novellas in the JET series. I’m super excited about this story.

Will she finally settle down with Hannah in Paris, France? Being an ex-assassin for the Mossad is not an easy career to walk away from. Jet’s making changes in her life and she starts them in Cape Town, South Africa.  JET-Reborn will have you hopping from Cape Town to Paris, London and Doha, Qatar. The action is non-stop! 

And while you’re waiting, you can catch up by starting with JET-Exposed, the first in series based on Russell Blake’s highly successful and popular Jet! $1.99 download on your Kindle App.

Enjoy the ride!

And thanks for reading. 2017 was my best year yet!

When Raven Comes to Visit

I’m a big believer in signs and messages. After all I was given 6 months to live and was guided to Sedona, Az. for healing.

For the past six years Sand Hawks have been my totem animal. I live near the beach in Mexico and they’re quite common. But until a major event occurred in my life, I never noticed them.

I had a close friend, a Navy SEAL, who once served as Secret Service on Obama’s pre-election team. I called him my Warrior Man. He’d done all the things SEAL men do; but his heart was in South Sudan with the orphans and the displaced people. In the summer of 2011 when he retired, he followed his heart and went to live and serve amongst the refugees in Africa.

I found out about his death at midnight, November 2011. Supposedly he was fighting an incurable disease and lost the battle. I believe there was more to the story but I’ll never know. I never heard from him again. He left me a bodyguard. And he left me his journals in his will. He wanted me to understand his life and write about it. After more than a year, my bodyguard, who was Warrior Man’s best friend, refused to release the journals to me. Too much dangerous information for those still alive, including myself.

But my SEAL sent me Sand Hawks. The morning after he died they swooped down in my parking lot to introduce themselves. From that day forward, whenever something major was going on in my life, decisions, trouble, pain, the Sand Hawks would swirl above me. I remember laughing out loud at their appearance! Of course a warrior would send me hawks to let me know his spirit would always be with me. He’s been gone six years now. I think about him often. And treasure all our letters, and still stare at his photos and wonder about his life.

I tend to immortalize my lovers in my books. And that brings me to another very interesting man I call my Cowboy and mention briefly in LOVE The Beat Goes On. One day I will write that story too. Tthe timing is definitely not now.

In 2015 I wrote a novella called JET-Exposed based on the series by Russell Blake. In this book Jet meets up with Luke Raven, a billionaire techy/inventor/geek/warrior. Is he modeled after someone I know? Possibly. I like to leave my readers guessing.

I have no idea why I named him Raven. I wrote two JET books in 2015 and one in 2016 then went on to complete three novels. I love my JET series and my fans do too, so recently I decided to write a 4th. It will be out in July: JET-Displaced. It must be the right thing because a raven came to visit. Yes, he parked himself on the ledge on my patio and started talking to me. I was taken aback by his sharp voice and his change in pitch. Surprised and delighted.

He came back again the next day. Up close and personal. He waited to make sure I received his message. The Sand Hawks had moved on, and the Raven was now in charge.

When this totem appears in your life, amazing magic is imminent.

This beautiful black totem also brings messages of transition, change and healing because of its ability to cast light into the darkness.

When this happens, make sure that you are well grounded and have faith in your journey.

Raven magic will guide you through.