Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Perfect Oubliette

     After creating an intriguing villain, I needed the perfect setting for the climax of Hiding, available at www.thewildrosepress.com.
Having read a fascinating article in National Geographic about the labyrinth of tunnels under Paris that include a sewer and water system, French resistance outposts from WWII, and the ancient and eerie catacombs, I knew I had the perfect oubliette. The French word oubliette means "forgotten place." An on-line tour of the catacombs gave me a realistic vision of the bone yard. When Alex abducts Teresa and takes her there, she realizes with growing horror there is no better place to kill someone. What notice will be taken of one more set of bones among the many?
     Find the perfect oubliette for your novel and think about important setting can be to the story. In "The Fall of the House of Usher" the crumbling mansion represents the decaying family. The house is attacks strangers; it is almost a living being, another character. The crack that widens and causes its ultimate destruction
symbolizes the hereditary thread of insanity that runs through the Usher family which culminates with Roderick and Madeline.
Creating a Good Villain

     In creating romantic suspense the "bad guy" is just as important, if not more important, than the hero and heroine. He must be a "real" person with legitimate motives and his own back story; otherwise, you end up writing a melodrama with stock characters like Dudley Do-right and Snidely Whiplash.
     In my suspense romance Hiding, available at www.thewildrosepress.com, I gave a lot of thought to my stalker, Alex Sinclair. When Alex was a child his father deserted his mother, and Alex has pent up anger over the abandonment. His fascination with knives is symbolic of his father's action in cutting off his family. Alex is insecure and easily becomes jealous. He hates to look foolish in front of other males.
     At first, he is a strong shoulder to lean on, an excellent financial advisor and friend to the heroine, Teresa, who has lost her father after a long struggle with cancer. Her mother died when Teresa was a child, and her father's medical bills have left her almost destitute. Fortunately, she has a college education and rare artistic talent. Alex goes out of his way to help her, even lending her money, but he finds her desire to establish independence threatening. When he strikes her in anger, she flees to Paris with the last of her savings, hoping to leave his over possessiveness behind. But eventually, he tracks her down.
     A "good villain"? Oxymoron? No. In creating a believable monster who genuinely thinks he has been wronged, an author cranks up the suspense. Breath bated, the reader forges ahead as this legitimately off-balanced person commits acts of increasing atrocity. Like the narrator in Poe's "The Tell Tale Heart," who keeps insisting that he is perfectly sane, the reader sees and fears the psychosis.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Entering RWA Contests

Before I published Hiding, my suspense romance novel, I entered several contests sponsored by various chapters of Romance Writers of America. The early contest entries helped me improve the first chapter so that it grabbed the reader's attention. The comments from various judges were really helpful in the revision process. Then I placed in the SOLA Contest which boosted my confidence.
Finally, I won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Suspense. Without these contests, I might not have gained the self-assurance to submit the manuscript for publication. You can always check current contests at the RWA website. Good luck with your submissions!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

My dad has been in the hospital

My dear father who is 83 years old had four bypasses 15 days ago. He had complications with two lung collapses last week and is very tired and weak. But all tubes are out now, and he is heading to
rehab for rest and recuperation. To all who have kept him in your prayers, I am very grateful!