Friday, August 31, 2018

More Than a Story


By Heather Norman Smith

Great stories make people feel. Really great stories make people feel and think.
As writers, we aim to weave words in such a way to make the reader laugh and cry, and maybe even to make them afraid or angry before we resolve the conflict and they close the book, contented. We want our stories to touch hearts, but fiction can do even more than entertain and elicit emotion.
Fiction authors, the same as nonfiction authors, have an opportunity to interject our world view into the culture, if we choose, and that opportunity is a great motivator for accomplishing my writing goals.
On days when I can’t seem to move the plot along and the words don’t flow freely, I try to remember my platform. Not my meager social media following or my marketing leads, but the underlying messages I want to convey, the purposes beyond telling a good story.
As a Christian Fiction writer, I have an obvious and unchanging platform of sharing my faith. But there are other causes I hope to support through my writing. For example, highlighting the need for foster and adoptive parents is important to me. Because that is a major theme of my debut novel releasing spring 2019, it helped push my story to completion.
Do you highlight a special cause in your writing? Preventing human trafficking? Promoting ethical treatment of animals? Raising awareness about environmental concerns? If so, try focusing on your passion for that cause when you hit a slump. If not, perhaps building a story around an important moral message will help spur you on in your writing journey.
Of course, some stories are meant to be light-hearted reads that don’t tax the reader’s brain at all. That’s okay! But consider using your writer's voice to comment on what’s important to you, and it might just be the fuel you need to finish your book.
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Heather Norman Smith is a devotional blogger and author of Christian Fiction. Her goal is to use the written word to entertain and encourage, while illuminating the redemptive love of God. She also enjoys writing songs and singing about Jesus.Heather is proud to be a life-long North Carolinian and aims to present the beauty of the Tar Heel State in her writing. Her home is just outside Winston-Salem, NC, where she lives with her husband and their three children.Website/Blog: http://www.heathernormansmith.com Social media links: http://www.facebook.com\heathernormansmith  https://twitter.com/HNSbloghttps://www.instagram.com/heathernormansmith/https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9AaY8aZGKA9xQEksJmmybQ


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Writing Backwards?



By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine


Over the summer, I read two different books that had a unique style in telling a story. Today, I’m going to discuss the style of Megan Miranda’s book, All the Missing Girls. My daughter actually recommended the book after she spent three days  on the beach reading it from cover to cover. I figured it must be good. I had no idea it would have a plot structure and style unlike any I've seen used before in a psychological thriller.

The beginning quote in part one sets the stage. “Life must be understood backward but lived forward.” -Soren Kierkegaard.

With that quote, a unique tale unfolds. The first part of the story is a present day set up. 

The book’s second part, opens with another quote by Soren Kierkegaard. “It is quite true what philosophy says; that life must be understood backwards.” Then the reader turns the page and discovers that Miranda tells the story from Day 15 backwards. The next chapter is Day 14. Chapter by chapter...consider it a countdown to the book’s part three, the conclusion. I know what you’re thinking, "Annette, that’s so confusing." Well some of the reviews I read said that they were confused and didn’t enjoy it because it was so different. It was a real risk, but my daughter and I loved it.

As a writer, it was so intriguing. Telling a story backward comes with some concerns. A reader who enjoys solving a mystery via clues may not like this plot structure. It is a very different way to tell a story since it goes against the linear grain.

The plot structure is known as reverse chronology. It is a fairly rare plot structure. What we know as writers and readers is that most books are chronological versus reverse chronological. Using reverse chronological the plot is heightened. It starts at a higher point with an unexpected event. There is no real establishment of the protagonist which could be a clue in and of itself. You won’t know until the last page. There aren’t the normal character introductions. The character is revealed within the action of the story. It’s not about solving a mystery in order of events, involving the well-placed clues with a logic to the conclusion. In the genre, of psychological thrillers it’s a brilliant plot strategy that adds to the plot.

Deep South magazine interviewed author, Megan Miranda who revealed a tip about writing in reverse, “I kept lists for each day,” she explains, “so there was a list of what the narrator knew and also what the reader knew, and my goal was to sort of walk that line and stay true to both.”

As a "seat of the pants" pantser writer, I’d actually need to plot with the use of an outline if I chose to write in reverse. Did you just break out in a cold sweat? I did. Would you ever write in reverse? Have you ever tried writing in reverse?

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Lessons Learned From #6



By Steve Bradshaw, Author of Terminal Breach


How many authors can open one of their published novels and see the story they had in mind back when they pounded out their first sentence? If you can say your novel is as you had planned from day one, then I am truly impressed with your ability to grasp and commit to an abstract notion. I laud your outlining and organizational skills and admire your control of settings, scenes, and characters. As my sixth international thriller TERMINAL BREACH released on August 28th, I can say I do not possess that astounding level of discipline. As a matter of fact I am just beginning to understand where my stories come from and who is really in control of key parts of the process.

“The President of the United States is awakened by the two words he prayed he would never hear—terminal breach.” This abstract notion floated around in my head for several years before I sat down to write TERMINAL BREACH. The concept competed with many others that did not make the cut—this time. For me, selecting the right thing to write about is the most important hurdle to clear, and it is totally in my control. The story concept must be strong enough to hold my interest, and to keep my creative juices flowing for months of alone time. It must carry me through hundreds of hours of research, rewrites, and the weaving together of 100,000+ perfect words. If the story concept I select can do all these things, I know the finished product will matter, and it will earn an audience.
Because we come into writing with different skills, knowledge bases, life experiences, and interests, we each find the genre (or two or three) that best stages our creations—the place where we want to live. Because I live in the suspense/thriller genre, before I type my first word I know I will be writing a heart-pounding page turner. I knew TERMINAL BREACH would be a chilling international forensic story based on an abundance of mesmerizing facts and a plausible mega-dilemma (or two). I knew my reader’s ride would be tumultuous, spellbinding, edgy, and real with a touch of the surreal. And I knew the climax would be unexpected and resolution thought provoking. These defining parts of my story creation process are in my being. It is the skeleton I breathe life into. It decides what stays and what goes!

One of my most profound discoveries as a writer has been to find many of the best parts of my stories are written by my characters. Once I create and position them in an environment with a set of situations and dilemmas, they always rise to the occasion to take my story places I never planned nor could have predicted. The dialogue and behavior of characters opens a new dimension in my writing process. For me this creative stream is not a conscious operation. When I write I look for that moment when my characters start talking and doing on their own. When I get there, I close the doors to my study, turn down the lights, and hold on tight. My best writing flows naturally.

When an unknown entity—code name GRAY WOLF—commandeers a nuclear missile silo in North Dakota and threatens to launch a Minuteman III ICBM into the world, the President of the United States is faced with a mega-dilemma. Containment options would decimate a third of the country and kill millions. Can the macabre forensic pieces of an insane international puzzle provide the POTUS with more options? Can a nuclear Armageddon triggered by a rogue U.S. missile be averted, or is World War III the only outcome for a TERMINAL BREACH?   
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Steve Bradshaw draws upon his experiences as the youngest forensic investigator in Texas history, an innovative biotech entrepreneur, and a founder-president/CEO. Now dedicated to writing his unique brand of mystery/thrillers, Steve takes readers into fascinating worlds of fringe science, chilling forensics, and captivating mysteries. His book TITLES: TERMINAL BREACHSERIAL INTENTEVIL LIKE MEBLUFF CITY BUTCHER, free today on Amazon • THE SKIES ROAREDBLOOD LIONS Social Media links: stevebradshawBOOKS.com, steve@stevebradshawBOOKS.com, facebook.com/steve.bradshaw.9400, Twitter twitter.com/sbauthor, Linkedin.com/pub/steve-bradshaw/18/246/660

 



Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Does Writing Make You Happy?



By Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief, Southern Writers Magazine



Brian Tracy, motivational speaker and self-development author with over seventy books translated into dozens of languages said, “Your ability to achieve your own happiness is the key measure of your success, of how well you are doing as a person.”

Most believe we have the ability to achieve our own happiness.

Tracy went on to say, “The key to happiness is this: dedicate yourself to the development of your natural talents and abilities by doing what you love to do and doing it better and better in the service of a cause that is greater than yourself.”

Look at his statement through a writer’s eyes. The words that jump out at me are––“dedicate yourself”. Ask a writer if they want to be a successful published author and they will say yes. Ask them how much time they spend honing their writing craft. You will find many responses.

Every successful author spends time honing their craft––regardless of how many books they have published and sold. Why? Because honing their craft makes them a better writer. They love writing. They read, study, attend conferences, writers groups––whatever it takes to make them better. This is the dedication to doing what you love.

Hint: If you do not enjoy what you are doing change what you are doing.

Everyone has natural talents and abilities. The secret is to find what your ‘natural’ talents and abilities are. This takes effort to discover and worth the time and effort spent.

Many times a writer is not pleased with something they have written. Most will continue to rewrite the piece until they are pleased.

Bryan also said, “Your happiness likewise depends upon your ability to please at least yourself in all things. You can be happy only when you are living your life in the very best way possible. No one can define happiness for you. Only you know what makes you happy. Happiness is an inside job.”

From a writers perspective this makes sense to me. If what we write pleases us, then we can be happy.
Remember, not everyone likes what we write. That is okay. If we like what we wrote it gives us the push, we need to continue to study and hone our craft and become better writers.

We need to be happy with our writing. Not because our writing is perfect but because what we wrote pleased us. This is the ‘spark’ we need to continue our writing journey.

Let us not forget the more we practice the better we become.


Monday, August 27, 2018

Room to Roam



By Loretta Eidson


Why do I write fiction? Because fiction gives my mind room to roam, room to be creative, room to develop tension, face anger and resentments, and room to resolve problems that mend broken lives.

What fun it is to allow my thoughts to expand beyond the barriers of my mental safe zone? Writing romantic suspense blends spine-tingling action with tears and laughter, ending with hearts filled with love. “Happily ever after” is always a welcomed, satisfying ending.

I have progressively learned to broaden my creative juices to come up with novel ideas. Several years ago, while I was taking the Journeyman class with The Christian Writers Guild by Jerry Jenkins, one of the lessons instructed me to read the headlines and titles in newspapers and magazines. The next step was to read between the lines of these titles and ask, “What if?”

For example, one title was, “Businessmen Deposit Large Sums as Investments.”

I read between the lines:

What if the businessmen deposited their money and didn’t know their investments went toward the purchase of illegal weapons?

What if the vice president of the bank was involved with the cartel trafficking these illegal weapons?

What if the ATF had to put undercover agents into the streets of Memphis to find and expose the cartel who were buying, selling, and transporting illegal weapons?

What if someone in the ATF was a rogue agent involved with the cartel?

Asking these questions resulted in the birth of Fatal Assignment, the first book in my Impending Judgment trilogy. It grew from one to three novels as my imagination expanded and allowed new, exciting ideas to pop into my head.

Since then, I’ve continued to ask “what if” every time I read a magazine or newspaper because I discovered creativity is only a thought away. One idea built upon another forms a variety of scenarios and sends adrenaline soaring.

In my novel Breathing Shadows, the second book of my trilogy, Jenny mourns for years over her fiancee's death. She learns after a near-death experience and frightening shadows outside her window that her fiancee staged his own death to become a notorious drug lord. He’d chosen drugs over her. Billy, an ATF agent, is in love with Jenny. He struggles to protect her from the cartel and from a stalker—the story goes on to include more tension, several twists, and mixed emotions.

Although I’m unpublished at this time, my award of first place for Breathing Shadows in the romantic suspense category of the Foundations Awards at the 2018 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference confirmed I have successfully increased my imagination and created an exciting story.

I will continue to utilize my “room to roam” theory each time I start a new manuscript. As the old saying goes, “the sky is the limit.”
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Loretta Eidson writes romantic suspense. She has won and been a finalist in a number of writing contest, including: first place in romantic suspense in the Foundations Awards at the 2018 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, was a finalist in the 2018 Fabulous Five, a semi-finalist in the 2018 Genesis, a double finalist in the 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence, won first place in romantic suspense in the 2014 Novel Rocket Contest, a 2014 Genesis finalist, and a 2013 and 2015 Genesis semi-finalist. Loretta lives in North Mississippi with her husband Kenneth, a retired Memphis Police Captain. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her four grown children and twelve grandchildren. She loves dark chocolate, salted caramel lava cake, and hot buttered popcorn. You can connect with her online: www.lorettaeidson.com  www.facebook.com/loretta.eidson.7   www.twitter.com/lorettajeidson

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Shortest How-to Guide for Writing Your Novel’s First Draft



By Shawn Smucker, Author of The Edge of Over There


Breathe in. Breathe out. Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally – you are about to embark on a major undertaking, a creative endeavor that millions of people begin but never finish.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Set a daily or weekly word count target, and write every day, or every other day, but do not let too much time pass or the trail will grow cold and when you return to it you’ll have trouble picking up the scent. Come back to the work faithfully, and your imagination will become faithful to you.

And when you have the scent, keep moving forward – do not get caught in the trap of revising what you have already written. Have you ever seen a dog chase its own tail? If something must be changed, make a note, resolve to address it later, during the second draft, and then keep moving forward.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

There will come a day when you are ready to quit, or delete half of what you’ve written, or take up an entirely new idea, abandoning your current story. Do your best to ignore these urges, because the sole purpose of these voices is to keep you from finishing well. That should be your only concern right now: finishing well. Not what you will do in the second draft. Not how you will arrange the plot of your next project. Not what your mother will think of the character that resembles her. Only focus on finishing well.

Take comfort in the fact that this is not your best writing, or the best way to organize the story, or a perfect portrayal of your characters. No one will ever have to read what you are currently writing. Free yourself from the burden of writing something that will change the world. Simply get it down as best you can, following the trail where it leads you.

At the halfway mark, you might feel as though you’ll never finish. This is because the negative voices are starting to worry that you actually might finish, and they’re trying to discourage you. Rejoice when these voices flare up! Their presence means you’re nearly there! Laugh at them. Treat yourself to something nice and keep writing.

When you finish that first draft, sit with it for a while in silence, saying nothing, writing nothing. Sit and look at it where it resides, on your screen or on paper, and realize you have done something wonderful, something remarkable, something worthwhile. You have finished writing a novel.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Now, get ready to revise.
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Shawn Smucker is the author of The Day the Angels Fell and The Edge of Over There. He lives with his wife and six children in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. You can find him online at www.shawnsmucker.com, where you can also sign up for his newsletter in order to find out when and where the Tree of Life will turn up next.





Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Battle is On



By Vicki H. Moss


On occasion I reread books. Especially books on writing. If you haven’t read Steven Pressfield’s book The WAR of ART, put it on your bucket list. The Foreword alone by Robert McKee is worth the time. McKee says:

“Steven Pressfield wrote The War of Art for me. He undoubtedly wrote it for you too but I know he did it expressly for me because I hold Olympic records for procrastination. I can procrastinate thinking about my procrastination problem. I can procrastinate dealing with my problem of procrastinating thinking about my procrastination problem. So Pressfield, that devil, asked me to write this foreword against a deadline, knowing that no matter how much I stalled, eventually I’d have to knuckle down and do the work.”

As I read McKee’s foreword, I realized that I’d once mopped my floors to keep from writing. I detest housework. But found myself once again cleaning window sills to keep from opening my laptop. I also detest cleaning window sills.

It’s not that I have writers block, I simply sometimes tend to procrastinate until I can finally make myself focus on the writing business at hand. To verbally manhandle some of my words before I key them out.

And some think writing is so easy. Until one sits down to do it. And sometimes writing can be easy. When in the zone. But other times, an article has to be well thought out with research. Lots of research. Or a chapter has to be reworked because it’s just not working.

So several years ago, knowing this about myself—how I sometimes resist and procrastinate, I was asked to be a pundit for a newspaper. Yikes! Deadlines and word count issues. I asked how many words. The answer: “Write whatever you want.” What about deadlines? “Just send us an article when you get one written.”

Lucky me. No pressure. The kind of writing I love best. I saw this being a pundit business as an opportunity to make myself buckle down and hammer out a body of work. Nervous about a weekly deadline, I now decided to set one for myself. I’d have an article written to send in every Friday. And I’d hold my feet to the fire.  

What I discovered was that by setting a deadline for myself, I wrote more. By writing for a newspaper, I learned more. Wielding the pen became easier. I no longer procrastinated as frequently. I fell into a routine or sorts. The resistance to write wasn’t as fierce. Steven Pressfield writes about resistance in The War of Art:

Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill. Its target is the epicenter of our being: our genius, our soul, the unique and priceless fight we were put on earth to give and that no one else has but us. Resistance means business. When we fight it, we are in a war to the death.   

Truth. So fight it. Resist. Stop procrastinating. Get that body of work out.       

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Historical Reference for Competition of Readers



By Anthony Mays


Not in the so distant past, an author could only compete for readers by using established publishing houses. Those houses were very selective in the manuscripts they chose to print. Unless you were a well-recognized name, or just plain lucky, most authors submitting their work rarely stood a chance. Enter vanity publishing where authors pay to have their work printed, usually only in large numbers. If you are good at hustling, maybe you manage to eke out a living from writing. Print-on-demand, which is only about seven years old, is now the predominant method for printing books. But who reads hard copy, right?

Amazon opened a whole new world to wannabe authors — eBooks — lots of eBooks. eBooks spun from the classics, well-known authors, and authors by the tens of thousands. It may be surprising for you to believe, but eBooks originated in the 1930s. It wasn’t until 1998 however, that eBook readers began to be mass-produced. At about the same time, libraries began providing eBooks to the public through their web sites. Amazon didn’t come out with the Kindle reader for almost another ten years. However, others noticed the potential from Amazon’s foray into eBooks and jumped onboard.

Further separating independent authors from potential readers (listeners) is the audiobook. Audio readings can be traced back to vinyl records. In September 1935, President Roosevelt signed an executive order funding the Talking Books project and placed the American Foundation for the Blind in charge of it. In the 1960s, the baton was passed at the invention of the cassette tape. Then came the Internet, new compressed audio formats, and portable players. The attraction to audiobooks increased considerably during the late 1990s and 2000s. Books on tapes dominated during this period but became nearly obsolete by the introduction of book CDs in 2002. But even CDs reached their peak in 2008; losing ground in favor of digital downloads (MP3). The resurgence of audio storytelling is widely attributed to advances in mobile technologies and multimedia entertainment systems. Overall, audiobook sales in digital format have increased year-over-year since 2014. Nonetheless, recording an average-size novel into an audio book is a very expensive proposition that preclude most authors from using this format.

Lately, a new competitor has taken form — flash fiction. Now, writing a story, often with 1,000 words or fewer, has drawn even more writers to the table. A lot less daunting than producing a longer piece of work, flash writing is filling a niche demanded by many of today’s readers.

Consensus is, the amount of time we have for reading has dwindled and continues to force these changes. We no longer have the time to dedicate to reading as we did twenty, ten, or even five years ago. And, much of that time is now being shared with social media platforms. We want it fast, and we want it now.

Are novelists too late to the party as authors? Has reading becoming a lost art? Only time will tell.
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DO YOU KNOW THIS AUTHOR?Probably not, BUT YOU SHOULD. Anthony Mays was honored to be added to the Illinois Authors Wiki, a project of the Illinois Center for the Book. The project is a comprehensive resource for information on authors, photographers, and illustrators who have published books and have lived in Illinois or written about Illinois. Anthony's first novel, Halfway to a Southern Heart, was inspired by John Grisham's A Painted House. Grisham's book was made into a television movie in 2003 and the house used in the movie set still stands in the rural community south of downtown Lepanto, Arkansas. Anthony's third novel, Halfway to the Truth, is hailed as eco-fiction at its best and has received the LiFE (Literature for Environment) Award for his use of electronic waste as the story plot. This fictional thriller moves the reader from the shipyards of Savannah, Georgia to a hazardous electronic waste site in the horn of Africa and explores its environmental and health impact. Anthony Mays, the author of several ‘halfway to’ themed books, chose to use the expression based on his road travels around the country. Seemingly, he was halfway to his destination when a character, plot, or location came to his imagination taken from the things he saw along his way. Throughout the remainder of the trip, a strong, mental outline followed on how he planned to use those elements in a story. Now he is excited to continue to take pieces of his life experiences and mold them into fictional works of art for your enjoyment. For more information please visit at www.anthony-mays.com


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Parnassus and the Southern Indie Booksellers Okra Picks



By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine


I am a big fan of Indie Book Stores and one of my favorites is Parnassus Books in Nashville TN. It is owned by author Ann Patchett and her business partner Karen Hayes. I highlighted Parnassus Books in an October 19, 2017, Suite T post The Sin of the Desert and Book Sales. In it attention was brought to the importance of the Indie Book Stores and Indie authors partnership. If you haven’t read it hope you will do so.

I recently had a chance to visit Parnassus and visit with Karen Hayes. The book store as well as the operation there is most impressive. It is reader friendly and a special emphasis is placed on the younger reader. There is an area with a small magical entrance for the children to slip through and discover a world of books inside. I spent a lot of time there and enjoyed every minute. I’m looking forward to returning on my next trip to Nashville.

I made several purchases and upon checking I noticed several bookmarks were dropped into my bag. Looking through them I found one from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance.  It was their #okrapicks for Summer 2018. In their words, “Okra Picks are a bushel of fresh titles chosen each season that SIBA Indie Bookstores want to handsell.

These books should be southern in nature but can cover any genre, not just fiction. Southern readers love their writers, and we want to be at the forefront of bringing them a strong selection of southern titles not to be missed each season.” The bookmark is a great tool to highlight some 18 authors and their works. SIBA has done a great job with this and each reader receiving it with each purchase. But this bookmark went a step further.

On each side there was a QR code. The front side was for the book The Holy Ghost Speakeasy and Revival by author Terry Roberts. The back side at the bottom was for the last book of the 18 listed which was Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a former White Nationalist by author Eli Saslow. With the use of the QR reader app you could download the first chapter of each book. I tried it with The Holy Ghost Speakeasy and Revival and within seconds I had the first 22 pages including chapter 1 downloaded.

I have to say I was impressed with this marketing idea. I am not sure of the cost to an author, but I would be hard pressed to think it would not sell enough books to pay for itself. I would want to make it one of my marketing tools to use. Just having the first chapter of your new book in the hands of every customer at Parnassus Books much less every book store in the SIBA would be a big step toward more book sales. I say thanks to Parnassus and SIBA for a job well done.

Monday, August 20, 2018

THE HAPPY REVIEWER – The Missing Element: Part Two



By L.J. RobertsRoberts


Remember the show "What Not to Wear"?  Speaking only for myself, these are the elements which, as a reviewer, make me less than happy and will often cause me to lower the rating given on a review. In my previous list, I intentionally left out Element 8:  Pitfalls, in Part One, on Friday's blog post,  which would fall under being a cliff hanger/portent.  Here it is.

8.  Pitfalls –This is probably the area of greatest controversy, and one about which I feel most strongly. 

Prologues can work as long as they are directly related to the plot and are not something lifted out from the middle of the story and inserted at the beginning as a substitute for a solid hook.  There have even been instances where so doing completely spoils the suspense which should have come later.  However, seldom has there been a book where the prologue could not have been done without. 

Cliff hangers/portents are almost always completely unnecessary and, in a sense, insulting to the reader.  It’s the sign of an author who doesn’t trust their plot, so they feel they need to push their audience along; i.e., “Then we found the body.”  Well, of course you did.  It’s a murder mystery. 

If one reads a story, leaving out every portent, it becomes clear how unnecessary they are. The plot-thread cliff hanger at end of a book is something else entirely.  Life doesn’t have neat stops and starts.  Nor need do books.  Readers want to know what will happen in the future, so carrying on a plot thread does work to keep a reader interested in a series, but it’s not enough on its own.

Flashbacks and multi-POVs can work and be very effective.  But care must be taken that the transitions are clear, and their use enhances the plot.  Flashbacks, particularly, can feel as if it’s filler, if not used well and done with purpose.

Twists and coincidences can be fine when done well and not overused.  The best ones are those one doesn’t see coming but feels should have been.  They can provide that “wow” moment.  However, a story which relies on twists and/or coincidences almost becomes comical and the impact is lost.
Speaking only for myself, my favorites are those books where the actual story starts on page one and continues straight through to the very end.  However, “It is purely my opinion.
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LJ Roberts was born with a book in my hands.  She is a reader and reviewer of mysteries; a compulsive hooker--the crochet kind, not the street kind--and one who never leaves home without her camera. Her reviews are seen by over 13,000 people/review, including a monthly email list of 500 subscribers. In 1993, she became the coordinator of the East Bay Mystery Readers' GroupLJ started reviewing formally in 2004, spent three years evaluating manuscripts for Poisoned Pen Press, and was a paid reviewer for The Strand Magazine. In 2010, she started my review site "It is purely my opinion," and is a Top 1% Reviewer with over 1,300 followers on Goodreads athttp://www.goodreads.com/user/show/250195, as well as in the print magazine Mystery Readers Journal, and on numerous online sites.