Sunday, February 10, 2013

An Open Letter to Barnes and Noble (redux)


With all the buzz about B&N's plight these days, I decided to resurrect an open letter that four of us wrote to Microsoft last May after they announced they would be B&N's white knight. Every suggestion we made has been ignored. Not that they should listen to us, of course. Then again, our recommendations weren't rocket science. Most authors and readers could have come up with the same thoughts. Including the folks who work for B&N. Will this time be different? I'm not sanguine. Anyway, here it is. Comments welcome.

Dear Microsoft,

Now that you’ve come to the rescue of Barnes and Noble (and it clearly needs rescuing), I asked a few friends to help me write this letter with our suggestions going forward. We’ve all been thinking about these issues for a while, so we hope you’ll take them in the spirit with which they’re offered.

With me are:

Rebecca Crowley, founder of RTC Publicity in NYC (full disclosure: she’s my publicist). She started her career at Penguin Group, USA but in 2004, founded RTC Publicity. With over a decade of experience in public relations and a specialization in books, Rebecca manages both traditional marketing and social marketing campaigns.
Ruth Harris is a New York Times bestselling author whose books have sold millions of copies in hard cover and paperback editions.  Translated into 19 languages, Ruth's books were Literary Guild, Book-of-the-Month Club and book club selections around the world. She’s also a former Editor, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher at Big Six and independent NY publishers.
CJ West is the very successful author of six thrillers, including THE END OF MARKING TIME. His first novel has been optioned for film. In a prior life, he helped companies solve computer networking and information management problems with firms including Arthur Andersen.
I am both a traditionally published and indie published author with 10 novels and about 20 short stories published. I’ve been nominated for a bunch of awards, and I even won a few. I spend most of my non-writing time online these days.
While I asked everyone to give me their suggestions separately, what’s pretty amazing is that all three (four if you count me) came up with virtually the same issues.

First, some general observations:
Rebecca says: I have been working with the national and regional level at B & N since the start of my career. Although we share the same goal (to sell books), over the past 9 months B & N has gotten increasingly tough to deal with. Last fall they stopped accepting events from indie authors altogether, restricting themselves to the big 6. Self-published authors always have a hard time getting their books in stores. And E-books are not selling for Nook at the pace of Kindle Books.
CJ says: Generally B&N is losing the technology and marketing battle with Amazon. B&N brings a bookstore mentality to the e-publishing business and their exclusivity has cost them the support of many indie writers.
Libby: The B&N website is clunky, not at all user-friendly, and unattractive. It’s way too difficult to find book descriptions, rankings, and reviews. Nook First, which could be a fabulous program is too restrictive. The data on the B&N website itself is often inaccurate. (E.g: my new book A BITTER VEIL was not available for over a week and when it finally showed up, its price was listed at $70.00, not $16. Really.)  Finally, it’s impossible to talk to a real person or customer service rep.

Affiliates Program
CJ: B&N missed the boat here. They had the chance to build a community around books, but didn’t do it. For example, Amazon has Kindle Boards for authors, a multitude of Customer Discussion boards as well as self-help topics. B&N has very little of this. I was an Affiliate for a while, but then they “lost” my credentials and suddenly became persona non grata. It wasn’t worth it to continue.
Libby: Comparing the Nook Boards to Amazon’s, the Nooks’ are flat and uninspiring and quite restrictive. They are not a pleasant “destination” in the way the Kindle Board and discussion groups are.
Rebecca suggests strengthening the programs by offering larger incentives to reviewers/industry insiders when they create websites/blogs specific to Nook promotion. She also suggests that B&N license and promote genre specific book clubs and offer incentives to join them.

Author Programs
All four of us are dissatisfied with B&N’s Author program.
Libby asks “What Author program?” With Amazon’s Author Central, you can talk to a real person within seconds. B&N and Pubit have nothing like this in place. ALL of us suggest much a stronger author department.
Rebecca suggests a Nook branded Author Central profile program, which should be dynamic, easy to upload. It should allow YouTube embeds, as well as other videos, Author Q&As, and even a "Conversation Corner" -- where people can directly email author thru a closed email system.
Ruth agrees and suggests an “author concierge department” which permits contact via email or phone & allows follow-up with the same person. Authors could have a personal Nook rep/butler. This dept should be located in the US and employ native English-speaking reps. It will help create American jobs.
Rebecca also suggests a partnership with authors for Nook give-aways that would allow authors to buy Nooks at cost in exchange for promotional give-aways.

Nook First/Other programs
Ruth thinks it’s great program… and wants more like it.
Libby agrees but thinks it’s too limited at the moment (Only romance authors as far as I know) and needs to be expanded. She thinks a month is a perfect time to be exclusive with one vendor. It’s much better than the 90 day Kindle Select requirement.
Rebecca agrees Nook First should be expanded and suggests other programs as well, including
• A “real deals” section
• A program like the Kindle Daily Deal would work wonders
• As would B & N genre-specific book clubs that would offer incentives to readers who join.

Website Organization/ Display
Ruth believes there should be more bestseller lists that can be sliced & diced in different ways for two reasons: Authors would have a better chance to make a list, and readers will be able to find a wider variety of books that interest them
Ruth also believes that authors and readers should see the SAME category lists. There should be MORE categories in general, and authors should be permitted to create their “own” categories now that so many cross-over genres are being written.
Rebecca would like to see more prominent links between printed books and ebooks, especially when it comes to reviews. She also believes reviews should have a more prominent placement on the page.

Other Issues
Rebecca believes that if brick and mortar stores are here to stay, virtual book events are the way to go. B&N should schedule skype and/or video chats and provide ways to download e-books in-store.
Rebecca also thinks the organization should sponsor break-out tours that link the printed book and e-book (often people buy e-books after seeing the corresponding review of the printed book)
CJ: Microsoft is a smart company. If they could figure out a way to build an e-publishing tool into Word, they can give a boost to the EPUB standard and deliver enormous benefits for the Nook. They should also consider building in an EPUB viewer compatible with the B&N store that snaps into every version of Windows.

So, Dear Microsoft, we hope you’ll take note of our suggestions and ideas. We've really just skimmed the surface, and we're happy to answer questions. We believe a healthy competitor to Amazon is always a good thing, and, over time, B&N could become that competitor.

Good luck and best wishes,

Libby, Ruth, Rebecca, and CJ

Friday, January 18, 2013

Writing Murder

Today's Guest blogger is S. M. Harding, author of 24 published short stories, photographer, and editor of  Writing Murder, a collection of essays by Midwest crime and mystery authors. The handy primer on the art of crime fiction is based on a successful lecture program held at the Mystery Company in Carmel Indiana. (Disclaimer:  I am a contributor.) 
Michael Dymmoch

This is what S. M. has to say:

"When it comes to writing crime fiction, I dislike rules. The kind that say, “You must have a body (preferably dead) in the first chapter.” I know you know what I mean: how-to writing books that are rule-bound, prescriptive, and formulaic.
As a teacher most of my life, I tried to give students the basics and then say “Go play.” I tried to give them a toolbox that they could dip into to pick and choose. Basics they could use in different ways. When I started writing crime fiction, what I wanted was a toolbox – clear, precise delineations of craft that could find different applications.
Some of the questions I had were: How can I raise the suspense level in this sagging middle? My opening sucks – what can I do to hook the reader? I’ve written a character that has less personality than a cardboard cutout – how can I breathe some life into him?
I’ve finally found my ideal toolbox: Writing Murder.
(Disclaimer: I edited the book, so I may be a tad biased.)
The book began as a series of classes at The Mystery Company, Jim Huang’s bookstore in Carmel, Indiana. Each author not only presented a wonderful class, but then wrote an essay for the book. Each of them donated their work to the Writers’ Center of Indiana, publisher of Writing Murder and co-sponsor of the lecture series. Profits from the book go to support WCI outreach programs to writers, schools and prisons of central Indiana.
Outfit members Michael Allen Dymmoch (“The Bloody Ends: Killer Openings, Killer Endings”) and Libby Hellmann (“Building Suspense”) join Jeanne Dams, Phil Dunlap, Kit Ehrman, Terence Faherty, Dana Kaye, William Kent Krueger, Beverle Graves Myers, Tony Perona, Mary Saums, Sharon Short, Barbara Shoup, and Mark Richard Zubro to offer wonderful essays in voices all their own.
Mystery author Barbara D’Amato said: “Writing Murder is a wonderful read. I found something helpful in every essay. They call it a basic guide, but there is useful material here for the beginner or the much-published author.” I agree.
So, if you’ve been playing with “this idea” for a story, start with the Introduction and with each essay, begin to fill in that idea. Get the toolbox and write – after all, we’re facing the post-holiday doldrums and what could be better than spending time with your own fictional characters?"

Writing Murder is available on Amazon, or directly from the Writers’ Center of Indiana at indianawriters dot org.


Monday, November 19, 2012

As Real As It Gets

We at the Outfit are delighted to welcome CJ Lyons, one of the most well known indie authors around to the Outfit. She's got what sounds like a fabulous thriller that was just released. Read on...


Sometimes as writers we create characters who who we wish we knew in real life. Lucy Guardino, my Pittsburgh soccer mom who also happens to be a kick-ass FBI agent, is one of those characters.

But the cool thing is, I actually have met several versions of Lucy (both male and female)-and police officers and FBI agents have written to tell me that they love Lucy because she reminds them of partners they've worked with in real life.

Lucy came into being because I was tired of reading thrillers featuring female FBI agents who were driven by angst, fleeing demons, fighting addiction, stalked by serial killers, or with dark, forbidden secrets, etc--all things that would never allow them to do their job effectively in the real world. As a woman who has always worked in a male dominated field (Emergency Medicine), I wanted to create a main character I could relate to. Someone facing the same kind of struggles balancing work and family and who was "real."

So, I thought, why not go as real as it gets? How about a Pittsburgh soccer mom, who has a loving and supportive family? No angst, no dark past, no addictions or demons…Just the very real need to do her job the best she can while also giving her family as much love and attention as possible. Of course, I can't go too easy on her, so I give her the worst possible job, tracking pedophiles and sex offenders. The fact that she happens to be good at it only makes her life more complicated because she fights a constant battle of protecting her family from her work.  

I was lucky enough to meet a FBI Supervisory Special Agent who was teaching at Quantico and invited me to stay with her family as well as visit the FBI training academy. The academy was a blast (I even got to teach part of a class on interview techniques!) but the best part of the visit was meeting her very normal, very nice husband and kids and watching her do her job while living a life without the melodrama of "demons chasing her" like the usual thriller FBI character. Then I interviewed several more FBI agents, both male and female, who worked crimes against children--which was one of my own specialties as a Pediatric ER doc. Just like me, they fought to keep their cases and their feelings for their victims compartmentalized so they didn't spill over onto their families. But they also realized the importance of doing this work--a job no one wants to do because it does hit so very close to home with each and every victim.

Readers seem especially attracted to Lucy's character--despite the fact that her cases take her into the darkest recesses of the human soul. Her first adventures in SNAKE SKIN and BLOOD STAINED were actually difficult to write because they struck so very close to home with my own experiences working with victims of violent crimes. Now comes KILL ZONE, a book where the research literally gave me nightmares and I had to cut the real life violence by about 90% so that readers would accept it.

How many times have you heard a thriller writer say that?!? KILL ZONE deals with dark and violent realities that could happen right here in our own backyards--which makes it all the more frightening as Lucy puts everything at risk to save her family and her city. But I don't think it's the darkness that makes Lucy so popular. I think it's the light. The fact that no matter what she's facing, no matter how heinous the crime or the criminal, her family is always the reason she does what she does. Lucy reminds readers that they have it in themselves to be heroes. So, you tell me. Do you like your thriller heroes to feel as real as Lucy does? Or more "out of reach," like James Bond or Jack Reacher?

If you want a great snapshot into Lucy's life, check out her video: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0093OGBKC 

For more info on the research that went into creating Lucy's world, go here: http://cjlyons.net/extras/lucys-world/ 

Want a free book? Anyone who signs up for my Thriller with Heart newsletter can choose to get Lucy's first adventure, SNAKE SKIN, as a free e-read.

Thanks for reading! CJ




About CJ: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sixteen novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart. CJ has been called a "master within the genre" (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as "breathtakingly fast-paced" and "riveting" (Publishers Weekly) with "characters with beating hearts and three dimensions" (Newsday). Learn more about CJ's Thrillers with Heart at www.CJLyons.net


About CJ: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sixteen novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart. CJ has been called a "master within the genre" (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as "breathtakingly fast-paced" and "riveting" (Publishers Weekly) with "characters with beating hearts and three dimensions" (Newsday). 

Learn more about CJ's Thrillers with Heart at www.CJLyons.net and everything she knows about being a bestseller at www.NoRulesJustWRITE.com and everything she knows about being a bestseller at www.NoRulesJustWRITE.com

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Launch Day!

by Jamie Freveletti
 
I am pleased to announce that the book I wrote for the Estate of Robert Ludlum is on sale today! Several people have asked me what it was like writing a continuation of a series begun by a legendary writer such as Robert Ludlum and I can say this: Scary, fun, difficult and engrossing, but the things that I thought would be difficult weren't and the scary aspect just had to be ignored or nothing would get done.

I was and remain a huge fan of Robert Ludlum, of course. His The Bourne Identity is just about a perfect premise for a novel; you've been shot, have lost your memory, and are learning bit by bit about who you are and the signs are pointing in an ugly direction.

I had to think long and hard about what Ludlum would like as I wrote. His books contained international plot lines, non stop action and nasty players in the world arena. They often dealt with government gone awry. The Covert One series is about a group of covert operators accountable only to the President of the United States and deployed by him when matters get deep and ugly.

The main character, Jon Smith, is a military man, microbiologist and a member of the United States Medical Research Institute on Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick. (USAMRIID actually exists and a strain of anthrax there was suspected to have been used in the mailings from 2001). He's the perfect Ludlum character because he's upstanding, competent and willing to do what it takes. While he's not as dark as Bourne, he's just as deadly.

I learned that I was chosen to write the next in the series while I attended a mystery conference called Bouchercon. My own debut novel, Running From The Devil had just won a Barry award for best first novel and after the ceremony I met with the representatives of the Estate in the hotel bar. I remember sitting in the Hyatt and thinking what a wonderful, and slightly surreal, day I was having. Later that evening I was charged up and started writing. I realized that I wanted Jon Smith in trouble from the moment that he opened his eyes and I wanted the trouble to just keep coming. He's in a hotel that's under attack by terrorists. The first line is this:
Lieutenant Colonel Jon Smith opened his eyes to see a shadowy figure standing at the foot of his hotel room bed pointing a gun at him.
 
The terrorists are swarming through the hotel, where leading scientists and doctors from around the world are attending a meeting of the World Health Organization. The attackers have a hidden agenda. While the hotel is under attack, Oman Dattar, a strongman who is held in a prison nearby while being tried by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, escapes.

Dattar hates the United States and holds it responsible for his arrest and extradition and he also hates Britain, because that country has agreed to imprison him. He acquires a deadly weapon that kills silently, quickly, and once deployed cannot be contained, and he begins to carry out his plan of revenge. Smith and the other members of Covert One will have to use all of their skills to stop him.

I had a blast writing this novel, and I hope you enjoy it!

 
 
 





 






Thursday, September 06, 2012

A Grotesque Romance


A  niece of mine recently had her class read The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells, and she wrote to ask me why I thought the novel was subtitled "A Grotesque Romance" as it certainly wasn’t a love story.  I hadn't read the book, but I did see a film version.  The question intrigued me, though, so I did a little research and came up with the following:

According to Wikipedia, "The romance novel is a literary genre developed in Western culture, mainly in English-speaking countries. Novels in this genre place their primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and must have an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending."

Romances are generally love stories, though the category has sometimes been stretched to mean love of adventure, ideas, inanimate objects, non-human animals (in the non-ick sense of the word love. The other kind of human/animal love is classified as porn.), etc.  So I think the subtitle "A Grotesque Romance" may be intended to classify The Invisible Man as the story of a twisted love affair that has an unhappy, if not unsatisfying, ending, i.e. an egotistical man's love of his own idea gone horribly awry. (Basically extreme egophilia carried to an illogical extreme.)

Not having read The Invisible Man, I can't say whether the main character, Griffin, is in any way a sympathetic or noble figure, or if the novel rises to the level of a literary tragedy, but The Invisible Man seems very similar in theme and moral to Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. (The title of which is the name of the egocentric doctor who created the monster, not the name of the monster itself.) Frankenstein is a classic tragedy of a good man whose ego got the better of his common sense and humanity.  The Invisible Man seems to have the same disorder.

That's my take anyway.  Someone must have read both novels and formed an opinion on the subject.  What do you think

Monday, August 13, 2012

The end of Izzy McNeil?


False Impressions, the 6th suspense novel in the Izzy McNeil series will be released in a few weeks. The cover shows a piece of art, paint dripping to form the Chicago skyline. The rest of it shows the face (the bottom half anyway) of a beautiful redhead. My publisher and their cover designers had nailed the image—the woman on the cover is, in fact, Izzy in my head, as well in my publisher’s collective mind and hopefully in some readers (although really, we encourage you to envision the characters any way you’d like. To me, this trait remains the number one draw for reading)). 

In writing it too, my editor and I had been in perfect agreement on everything. Same for my freelance editor (the fact that she’s my sister made this all the more remarkable). Stylistically, everyone on the team saw the book—an art mystery about the stalking of an Chicago gallery owner—in the exact same way.

So six books in and it seems we’ve figured Izzy out, at least in her current permutation as a human. Is it time to say goodbye? For the moment?

The decision to write a suspense series featuring a redhead lawyer from Chicago who moonlights as a private detective was conceived at a New York breakfast with a couple of novelists who pointed out that every redhead I wrote about was either evil or slutty. They also asked why I wasn’t writing more about the law as I now had experiences in both civil and criminal, and in one of the most interesting (yes, the loose version of the word) cities. Why, they asked, didn’t I use Chicago more as a character? And thus, Izzy was born. 

I spoke to my agent and my publishers' and we decided on a trilogy about Izzy McNeil. In the first, Red Hot Lies, she’d lose her boss, her fiancĂ© and a job. None of us were sure whether she’d get any of those back. The events that started it all for Izzy would also be the ones to cause her to question—with a great amount of concurrent curiosity and sadness—whether she knew anything about herself, her world, or all the rest of it.

In Red Blooded Murder, the second, she tries her hand at a TV new gig for a legal cable station.

Red, White & Dead, the third of the trilogy saw Izzy getting back on her feet, starting to come into her own, working in the law again with best friend, Maggie, and as a P.I. in a side-job for John Mayburn. She did not want for gorgeous men. But she also couldn’t choose among them.

There seemed to be so much more story to tell, so we decided we’d do four more Izzy novels which included Claim of Innocence and Question of Trust leading to the newest one, False Impressions. Yet now that it’s done and almost out into the world, finding Izzy in a very unexpected place, it feels like a good place to stop. Or maybe to just pause and let Izzy grow on her own now that she’s ended up where she has? We won’t give away a spoiler, but when read it let us know what you think.

Looking for an local Independent Bookstore, CLICK HERE.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Flight Has Flown

There's a very cool write-up of the round-robin short story several members of the Outfit (including yours truly) wrote at the April Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Chicago. We wrote it with audience participation. Check it out right here. And just so you know, the story is FREE all month at Smashwords. Use coupon #SSW75.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ellie's baacckk!!

Ellie's baaacckkk! Now you can read (or re-read) the award-winning suspense series featuring Ellie Foreman, a single mother and video producer in the Chicago suburbs. Meet Ellie’s father Jake, her daughter Rachel, her boyfriend David, Fouad, Susan, and others. Think “Desperate Housewives” meets “24.” With the emphasis on "24." Heavy on suspense and quite dark, none of the four novels are cozy. All are now available on Amazon and other e-tailers, and AN EYE FOR MURDER will go free on Amazon soon. So start here instead. It's my favorite of the Ellie books (but don't tell the others.) Best of all, the short story prequel to the series, "The Day Miriam Hirsch Disappeared" is FREE now! On Amazon and Kobo.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Jury Is In


Ask this question to anyone who works at 26th and Cal (the hub of Chicago's criminal legal world and the busiest court system in the nation)--How often does a criminal defendant get together after trial with his jurors?  You'll probably get a laugh. The answer will likely be 'almost never.' But the case of Jovan Mosley, and the dedicated jurors who decided whether he was guilty of murder, has never been typical.


After Jovan's trial, lead attorney, Catharine O'Daniel, and I went in the jury room, where they made us promise to take care of Jovan. Then they did one better. The foreperson--Andrea Schultz, took Jovan shopping for school supplies. Another--Alfonzo Lewis--called me frequently for updates on how Jovan was doing. A few months later, they both suggested a reunion.


I wrote about this juror reunion in the book Long Way Home: The Story of a Young Man Lost in the System and the Two Women Who Found Him. A few people wrote me, wondering if that occasion had really taken place. Today, while defragmenting both the computer and the home office with Carol Miller, I found lost photos from the event. Since Long Way Home is newly out in trade paperback (purchase here B&N, Amazon), I thought I'd share them.

Alfonzo Lewis, Jovan Mosley, and Andrea Schultz

 Schultz, Mosley, Lewis, and Catharine O'Daniel

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Farewell to the Outfit?

A must read (and slightly zany) article in Chicago Magazine this month: The Mob's Last Gasp

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Got Drugs?


     









April 28, 2012 

 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM 

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day which will take place on Saturday, April 28, 2012,  from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.


 This is a great opportunity for those who missed previous events, or who have subsequently accumulated unwanted, unused prescription drugs, to safely dispose of them. 


TO FIND A LOCATION NEAR YOU GO TO:  http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/


Those who participated in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on October 29, 2011 turned in more than 377,086 pounds (188.5 tons) of unwanted or expired medications for safe disposal.  Let's make this month's totals even better.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Kindle Fire GiveAway!

by Libby Hellmann






Interested in winning a Kindle Fire? If so, come on over here to find out more. The contest is running now.

Thanks.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Virtual Book Chat Reminder -- A Bitter Veil



Acckk... It's almost here!


On Tuesday, April 17, at 6 PM (Eastern time so plan accordingly), Libby Hellmann will be talking about A BITTER VEIL, the state of publishing, and anything else that's on your mind during a 45-minute video chat online!


Shindig Events is a brand new service that allows up to 500 people to interact together. And it is so easy to use that even her 92 year old mother will be there. All you do is go to this website. That's it! You'll be able to ask questions, watch a slide presentation (don't worry—it's short) and even chat among yourselves. So please kick back and join her online.


RSVP here to get a same day reminder or just come on over.


Libby hopes to "see" you there.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Thrillers and Romance-Oil and Water or Does Danger Add that Certain Something?

by Jamie Freveletti










The Romantic Times Convention is in Chicago this weekend and The Outfit members will be there enjoying every minute. I've never been to an RT Convention, and having it in Chicago is a wonderful opportunity to attend. Of course, I got to thinking, does a Thriller writer belong there? It seems as though thriller writers don't write romance and often, if they do, it just gets panned, or worse yet, nominated by The Literary Review for the "Bad Sex in Fiction" Award.

I'm not kidding, the award exists. Here are the 2011 nominees.
And can I tell you how I do NOT want to make this list?

Writing romance in a thriller comes with a certain set of logistical problems that are built into the genre. By definition, a thriller sets a protagonist against an antagonist that wants to kill or maim. When you're writing one you'd hate to have your protagonist do something silly rather than try their damndest to get to safety. That's a quick way to lose a reader. So, you try to imagine what a real person would do in the same circumstances. If someone was running toward me with murderous intent romance would be the last thing on my mind. I'd be running--as fast as I could run. Likewise, if cornered I'd be working out in my mind which aikido move I would use to disarm the assailant before--you guessed it-- running away.  I teach aikido and I always emphasize to my students the running away option as optimal in all circumstances. I tell them the best aikido move is the one that allows you to avoid doing any techniques.

But there is something interesting that occurs when one writes a thriller with a female and male character. There's always a question in the reader's mind whether they're going to stop running away or solving the mystery and take some time out to get it on. The best thrillers have sex scenes, both in the movies and in books. In one of my favorite books, The Bourne Identity, Jason Bourne and Marie are in chased all over and hole up in a hotel alone, worried, and wired. They find the perfect way to address their surfeit of adrenaline. 

And in the movie North By Northwest the character played by Cary Grant gets chased, a lot, but somehow ends up romancing the woman who may or may not be a villain.



The romance in North By Northwest is handled well, though, and his concerns about her add to the suspense. I also liked the approach taken by the X-files throughout all the episodes until the very end. They were colleagues first, began to care about each other, and then became lovers.

Because I write a female protagonist who is action oriented, I don't have her worry too much about what the men are thinking or not thinking with regard to romance. The men hit on her a bit, but most need her unique knowledge and sharp brain to help them get out of dangerous circumstances and they focus on getting out of trouble first.

However, I do think that she'll have a free moment soon. Maybe on a train ride like the one above.

And when she does, let's just hope that the resulting scene doesn't get nominated for the bad sex in fiction award by the Literary Review!

I look forward to seeing everyone at the RT Convention!