Archive for March, 2011

So…looking for a YA thriller? I’ve got you covered!

High Concept, Action Packed Story?


Northrop’s plot equation is genius: Seven mismatched, unprepared teens + One creaky, remote high school building x Eleventy billion falling flakes = Holy Cow, TRAPPED is scaring the snow out of me and I’m loving every minute of it!

Brilliant YA voice?

Double Check.

The author nails an authentic point of view. Protagonist Scotty Weems is as real as any guy you knew in HS. Weems’ locker is just above yours, remember? Over the course of the novel, I didn’t just watch him slowly unravel. I came to understand his dreams (He’s got more on his mind than basketball), his anxieties (Acne is hell), and his panic. (Are we all going to die here? Alone? With nothing but cafeteria food?!)

Adrenaline Fueled Suspense?

Triple Check!

Oh…the panic! As the snowdrifts rise above Tattawa High School’s safety glass windows, the feeling of claustrophobia is frighteningly palpable. Each nightfall brings new terror–pitch black hallways and oppressive, opaque walls of snow. Whispers and prayers in the dark. Will the heat last? When will the lights go out? WHEN WILL SOMEONE ARRIVE TO RESCUE?

Is there anyone out there who can?

And just as panic gives way to despair…the teens decide to act. I bit my nails as I turned the last pages. I had to know who survived…and who didn’t.

TRAPPED is terrific. I’m begging for a sequel. For me, Scotty’s story just can’t be over.

Hungry for more?

Try this recipe for Perfect Divinity Candy. This white, melt away treat is a lot more satisfying and sweet than snow.


For me, Gwen Hayes’ debut, FALLING UNDER, is a slice of gourmet dark chocolate torte. It’s the scrumptious, forbidden dessert I shouldn’t be allowed to order–the one I can’t resist devouring.

Sound delicious? Take a look at the ingredients:

1 brilliant, incredibly introspective yet tragically repressed heroine with caramel curls.

1 smoldering, completely swoon-worthy yet recklessly smitten bloke in tails and a cravat.

2 fiercely loyal best friends

1 cross-dressing psychic

1 haunting string quartet

A dash of invocation and exorcism

1/2 dozen nights in a kingdom of dark, forbidden dreams.

1,001 moments of hot, sizzling, flush cheeked romantic suspense.

Gwen Hayes combines these elements to concoct an irresistible book. If you’re like me, and have a heartbreaking weakness for dark heroes like Heathcliff and Rochester, you’ll love FALLING UNDER.

Hungry for more? Try this recipe for Deep, Dark Chocolate Cake. It’s not as dangerously sinful as Haden Black, but it’s *almost* as delicious.


A couple of weekends ago, I hosted a session at the 2011 DFW Writers’ Convention called Bringing Pages to Life.  

The class was loads of fun–I met a lot of terrific writers, and since then I’ve been immersed in reading and critiquing sample pages from attendees. Of course, I’ve also been reading published books, beta reading for crit partners, and working on my own WIP.  

In looking at my own writing and that of others, one question plagues me:  

Is this book read-able, or is it un-put-down-able?  

Really, doesn’t everything–finding an agent, selling a book, finding an audience–***partially hinge on this one, crucial question?  

I think so.  

I think readable books… 

have a decent premise.  

have coherent plots.  

have believable dialogue.  

have sympathetic characters. 

have a narrative voice.  

garner nice, personal rejections from agents and editors.  

are damned with faint praise. 

languish in the slush pile. 

are destined for dark drawers.  

I think un-put-down-able books… 

have killer premises that hook readers and don’t let them go.  

have such compelling plots that readers can’t stop turning pages. 

have wholly convincing, honest, distinct dialogue.   

have living breathing characters with vivid dreams, recollections, memories, desires, and fears.  

have narrative voices so strong and so rich, they make readers laugh out loud, reach for kleenex, grumble in anger, gasp in surprise, and linger over passages,  

garner urgent requests from agents and editors.  

are ardently championed with with praise and recommendation.  

are pitched, sold, and slated for release.  

are destined to be bought, borrowed, and beloved.  


I know. It’s soul-sucking to think of our own work as ‘readable.’ But we can’t settle. We have to keep reading, keep listening, and keep learning. We can’t rest  or be satisfied until we write books that are totally UN-PUT-DOWN-ABLE. 

Hungry for more? Then try this recipe for Sweet and Salty Party Mix. One handful is never enough.


***Yeah, yeah. I know there are plenty of other variables (timing, luck, notoriety, etc.) that factor into a writer’s sucess, but this post isn’t about those. So sue me.