Hyannis Public Library Event!

Rule #1 to being a writer: Be a reader.

And don’t read what people expect you to read. Read the wild side. The dark side. Root for the bad guy and the good guy. A great book transforms your world. Steals you away to another dimension where the dog isn’t barking and the kids aren’t fighting and the food may be burning.

Great books are like drugs – addictive and hallucinatory. But sometimes finding them, isn’t easy. Sometimes convincing a non-reader to try a book is like communicating the rules of a rotary to a non-Massachusetts driver.

But all it takes is one book. Just one.

On June 1st at the Hyannis Library, I’m teaching Hooking the Teen Reader with Mick Carlon. We are going to talk about how we draw the reader into our stories, as well as our favorite, un-put-downable reads. Our books will also be available for purchase and for us to sign after the event.

Summer is coming! It’s Time To Get Your Read On, Baby!

 

Art Shanty Weekend!

Dear Cape Codders and Tourists Hoping to Not Get Eaten by Jaws:

I shall be at the Hyannis Art Shanties at the Hyannis Harbor ferry docks this weekend (May 20, 21, 22) with Katie O’Sullivan and Kathryn Knight. Come find me, maybe grab a few books, and have a blast!

CRUEL SUMMER 5.5 x 8 cover onlyIn honor of the ferry and of the coming high-season of Cape Cod, I’ve loaded a chapter from CRUEL SUMMER where tourist / immortal killer, Kian, is meeting up with Ana Lane who he has hired to help him find a new car at an antique auto sale on Martha’s Vineyard (since his other vehicle contained a dead dude and a kilo of cocaine, making it useless):

 

Cruel Summer (Kian’s POV):

The ride over to the Vineyard consisted of screaming children and people plastered with Martha’s Vineyard sweatshirts, as if they needed a reminder of where they were going. Couples talked non-stop about places they were hoping to see and families gossiped about other people. I even caught one couple groping each other near the back half of the ferry, apparently unwilling to wait for a room.

I slid into a bench seat on the top deck of the boat, handing Pix a hot chocolate I’d gotten from the café onboard. I leaned back in the seat, watching the island slowly grow on the horizon.

Another half hour jammed in with the coupon-clipping crowd and I could get the hell off this dingy ship.

Pix pried the plastic top off the drink and blew over the swirling chocolate, trying to cool it. I watched as her fingertips played over the edge of the paper cup, searching for a place to touch without getting burned. She finally took a tiny sip and began running down the itinerary of cars that we had decided on.

“So, we will look at the ’62 Bonneville and the ’70 Mach 1 Mustang first. And then, it looks like they put all the new models down on Front Street, so we can wander down that way if you decide to go new. I’ve got to tell ya, everyone will be after the ’63 Sting Ray.” She took another sip, watching me over her cup.

“I bet you like the old school muscle cars,” I replied, trying not to stare at her pink tongue that was sweeping away the chocolate from her lip.

“Mmm hmm,” she replied. “I like the icons with plenty of ponies under the hood. The newer cars are so much plastic. Give me chrome and steel any day. Something that defends me on the road and blows the doors off the brat in his Daddy’s new Beamer.”

“Is that Trans Am you were working on yours?” I asked as the wind picked up. It tossed her hair, causing her mane to twist wildly in her face, like Medusa’s snakes. She wrangled it all back into a pony tail.

“Yeah. My boss, Jack, gave it to me, and in return I work half-days on Saturday for free. I’ve been working on it for about a year. It just takes a lot of time and money and I’m . . .” Her words stalled and she dropped her gaze to the cup as she cleared her throat. “It’ll get done. Eventually.”

“It’s Saturday and you’re not at work though. You’re with me. How’d you manage that?”

She shrugged. “I told Jack that I could work a few extra hours this coming week at night to make up for it.”

Jack sounded like a slave driver. I hated Jack. Didn’t her parents care she worked so much for this jerk? In fact . . .

“I’m surprised you actually were able to come with me to the island. Not many parents would let their beautiful daughter wander off with a stranger.”

Pix flushed at the compliment and looked away toward the island, which loomed larger and larger. I could make out waterfront restaurants and the tilting sailboats moored near the docks.

She took a sip of her drink, but didn’t look back at me as she answered. “It’s just my Dad and me and he owns a fishing boat, so he’s gone half the time. He knows I’m a big girl – I can handle myself.”

I found it disturbing that she was on her own. A lot. She was probably 105 pounds soaking wet and I knew, for a fact, that she slept in her car the other night.

Someone could attack her – have his way with her. She could be killed. Abducted. She could be one of those missing kids whose faces line the telephone poles and walls of various cities.

And her pal, MJ, didn’t want her to go home. Was home worse than sleeping in a car? Scenarios began filtering through my mind, none of which were good.

The tension inside me began to tighten, squeezing me like a cheap wool sweater.

What would happen to her once I left? Would I end up seeing her face on the news, listed as yet another casualty of a rip current that pulled her down and filled her lungs with seawater? I saw those people on TV all the time and I knew the truth every time.

A soul shark had killed them.

I’d watch as the reporters clustered around the family, capturing the agony of those the person left behind. It had never bothered me – their tears, their gasped thanks, their pleas for space. But now, as I looked at Pix, I knew I couldn’t handle the idea of her being the one who was killed. I couldn’t handle the idea of someone attacking her.

I moaned.

I should’ve never stayed on Cape Cod. Never have followed this unusual, defiant girl to the beach. At minimum, I should’ve left yesterday morning, never gone to RC garage, never asked her to come with me to the Vineyard.

I should’ve put half the country between us, but I hadn’t and now I was . . . I was . . . shit, I was screwed! I was invested. I LIKED her. Even worse – I worried about her.

It was rumored that a soul thief could become bonded to the soul of a human, and that the link, once formed, was damn near unbreakable. Up until now, I’d called it total bullshit – an excuse for those Mortis who were stupid enough to get involved with humans.

Apparently I was a top rank moron, because I was definitely involved with Pix . . . who was now giving me a weird look.

“Um. Are you okay?” she asked.

Hell, NO I wasn’t all right! It had to be a lie – such bonds are supernatural fairy tales. I was in control of my destiny. I could walk away. I could pull out and leave her standing on the docks whenever I wanted.

Pix smiled a little. “’Cause you look like you might barf, and no offense, I don’t want to be barfed on. The two hundred a day does not include puking rights.” She smiled a little. “Plus we’re only stuck on the boat for maybe another ten minutes. Just keep your eye on the distance – it eases the seasickness.”

I wasn’t seasick – I was heartsick – but I did as she instructed because looking at her was too hard. Because looking at her reminded me of all the reasons I was wrong for her and all the selfish reasons why I didn’t care.

I was going to stay.

Find a way to be part of her world.

I looked back at her and she gave a lopsided smile. “See? You look a little better. Told ya – keeping your eye on the horizon helps. Barf-incident avoided. I totally earned a tip!”

Oh, hell.

I’d become bonded to the soul of Ana Lane.

 

 

Ireland Giveaway!!

A mad fan from across the pond is giving away the entire Undertow Series! SHOW HER SOME LOVE! :)

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Well it’s time for giveaway number 1!!this giveaway will run from May 1st to May 31st and winner will be picked the first week of June. This giveaway is worldwide so anyone can enter. The rules are as follows.
1. Like this page (siobnans book corner)
2. Like this post.
3. Share this post.
4. Comment when done.

And now for the prize one very lucky person is going to win the UNDERTOW series by K.R. Conway. Book 1 Undertow book 2 Stormfront book 3 True North and Cruel Summer which is set the summer before Undertow but needs to be read after. This amazing series will have you begging for more. So don’t miss your chance to own this amazing series.

This giveaway is not sponsored and is my way of giving back to you all!! CLICK HERE: https://www.facebook.com/siobhansbookcorner/

Why do I Write in Reverse?

11205488_10207143978055771_307772720279880141_nNot long ago I was on the phone with another author friend while hashing out a story idea I had. When I was done, she replied, “Dude – you’re incapable of writing a straight contemporary story.”

Word.

The truth is, she’s right. I mean, I COULD do it, but at some point there would be a sizable, Kindle-hurling twist or the whole thing would just go off the rails a’la Spielberg’s Super 8 or something like that.

I blame this tendency to write like a loon on two things: genetics and writing in reverse.

The genetics is, well, crazy encoded.

Writing in reverse, however, is teachable and explainable:

Writing in Reverse forces me to dig deeply into the characters – their personalities, complexities, voice, drive, etc. It is the ULTIMATE tool for writing characters that come screaming off the page and haunt the reader well past the end of the book. And, personally, I like to torture them (both characters and, yeah, maybe the reader too).

Writing in Reverse (WIR) allows me to jump down the line in the story and test out plot threads and story layers against my characters. By using WIR, I know (well in advance) if something isn’t going to work with my cast because I’m building REAL fictional people who will not be forced into something that is against their natural “character.” Kinda like my real-life teenager . . .

Readers HATE that – when a character does something that doesn’t make sense for THAT particular character.

WIR also allows me to build detailed backstories and motivations for my characters. It allows me to change traits, modify voice, and in general build a cast that I can write for without even thinking about it. I know instinctively how a character will react / say / do in ANY situation and it makes writing a breeze.

Great stories lay down a path which forces the character to make choices based on who they are as a real person, not necessarily on what the author wants. That’s what WIR does brilliantly. It works great for any genre, even if it’s straight contemporary.

That said, I’m weird, so when I start playing around with a story idea, it usually starts out like this:

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And ends up like THIS:

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For more posts on Writing In Reverse CLICK HERE.

See YOU at #NESCBWI16

Book Signing at Titcombs

Howdy everyone!

I will be at Titcombs Bookshop on Rte 6A in East Sandwich tomorrow, March 13th, from 1-2pm, signing my books (including True North). Come on down and find me!!

It’s also the 1-year anniversary of Cruel Summer – the Undertow series prequel novel that revolves around Ana, Kian, and MJ. If you are daunted by the size of the Undertow books, Cruel Summer is a great way to get a taste of the series in just 65k words. It’s also perfect for those Cape Codders who want to rip their hair out during July 4th week because of all the traffic, since the book is set at the height of the summer season.

Titcombs carries all the books in stock :)

 

Writing the Edge

If you were to ask ten authors how they came up with their first book, they’d tell you it was a story that stuck with them. One that played over and over in their mind, desperate to be told. The same applies to me, especially with Undertow (though I’ll admit that Undertow evolved into this massive story that I DIDN’T see coming until I was eyeball deep writing it).

I am four books into the Undertow series and I’m very, very pleased with how its turned out – and trust me, many times I’d stare at my Mac’s screen and think, “wow, this is shit” and tear the scene apart for the tenth time.

But Undertow is easy for me to write, mainly because the characters are so clear in my mind. They are REAL to me, so when I sit to write, I just follow their lead. Authors who are eyeball deep in a series will probably tell you something similar – that their characters drive the story and just drag the author along to take notes.

But as authors, we have to evolve – push the envelope.

I knew that after I finished True North I needed to crank like mad and get a story written for the industry and the hopes of grabbing an agent. As pal Trisha Leaver says, “Nothing sells your backlist like your front list,” which basically means each new book you put out helps sell the books you already have published. To keep Undertow moving and growing, I needed a book that was not part of the Undertow series at all and that would go to an agent. I figured it would be easy – I had a bunch of story concepts laid out, I just needed to pick one, right? RIGHT?

HA! Yeah, that worked about as well as trying to de-ice your windshield with an ice pick. My problem was basic – I wanted to write what I believed the industry wanted: literary (The Coffin Crew) or Contemporary (Paint the Ponies).

And truth be told, I can write just about anything. I’ve been a professional writer and journalist long enough that if I’m given a story to write, I can write it – I just may not LIKE it.

And that became my biggest problem – I realized that for me to write the character-driven, wild stories that I am known for, then I needed to passionately LOVE the characters and the story. I needed to live inside the skin of the characters easily and feel my way through their world in an effortless, almost mindless, way.

I had a story in my head that I knew would be seen as controversial, but it constantly, CONSTANTLY whispered in the back of my mind while I was writing True North. I’d go for walks to try and map out a scene in my head between Eila and the gang, and I’d end up thinking about this other story . . . over and over. The scenes were clear in my head, but a dark corner of my mind kept whispering that the story would never be grabbed by an agent (and it may not).

It was TOO forbidden and I’d probably get my ass handed to me, repeatedly, by different groups of people. But I LIKED it. It laid out all those things that are whispered about in homes across the world, but no one dares ask outright. It spoke to me, as a Psych major who studied terrorism and who was raised on tales of teens at war thanks to my Grandfather’s Iwo Jima experience.

I was willing to stick my neck out for it.

But then I had a chance to have a manuscript critiqued by an agent at a conference I was to  attend. This particular agent I really liked, but I knew that she would prefer Paint the Ponies over the terrorism book. Paint the Ponies was in her wheelhouse and what she liked to rep, so I could totally respect that. And truth be told, my mother and a YA librarian here on the Cape adored the first few pages of the story. And yes, I could totally write it if I had to.

But then Fate intervened and I got an email stating that the agent was overbooked and I needed to pick someone else. So I dug through the other agents, looking over who they were as people (very important to me), what they repped and sold, and what they were looking for. I stumbled on a younger agent and was intrigued. Between his dry humor and what he was looking for, I suddenly realized that my terrorism book may have someone bold enough to at least consider it. So I slid Paint the Ponies aside and focused completely on Code Name: Hell Cat.

I have no clue if this agent will like what I’ve done. I hope he does, but it’s okay if he doesn’t.

I know this industry. I’ve lived inside this industry for a long time now. I could never be an agent – I’d lose my mind. I don’t know how they do it, reading piles and piles of queries. I get asked all the time to edit stuff for people and even ghost write and I’m like, “Hell, no!” So yeah – total props to the agents.

Their eyes must bleed.

I guess, in the end, I wrote what I felt – the characters, the questions raised by terrorism, the music, the landscape, and the psychology of teens at war . . . and I twisted it. It’s what I do. It’s what I’m known for. As one reviewer of True North said, “The story has the power to make you roll with laughter and then ever so casually it flips you a papery finger, and shatters your heart.”

Truth is, I like a brutal twist. I like my readers screaming out loud at the pages, or laughing so hard they snort in public, or crying so much they put the book down for days. I like villains who you root for and heroes who are total screw-ups. I doubt I could ever write a “quiet” book – I live too loud to be mouse-like.

The question is, have I pushed too far in Code Name: Hell Cat . . . or did I simply give a voice to the darker questions that run through our minds after a suicide bomber lays waste to the innocent?

Hopefully, time will tell.

Count Down to New Bedford Book Festival

So, I’m planning on attending the New Bedford Book Festival (I am one of their 40 authors) but my health has taken a hit. My GOAL is to be there, so as of right now I’m saying I will!

Hope to see you there! Details are here: http://www.newbedfordnow.com

NB_BOOKFEST_FLYER

 

#AuthorLifeMonth Day 12

Twitter and other social outlets are doing this thing called #AuthorLifeMonth so I’ve been partaking in the fun online on Facebook (here) – you can also track me on Instagram and Twitter.

But today was Kill My Darlings day and  True North totally applies. It is available through Titcombs and online through Amazon for you Kindle users here: KINDLE

AuthorLife Day 12

 

TRUE NORTH IS OUT TODAY!

TRUE NORTH MIRROREDDesperate for True North?

Are you on Cape Cod?

Well – you’re in luck, because Eila and her crew are back in a big way and are available TODAY at Titcombs in Sandwich, MA!  Their stock is limited so call to reserve a copy, then get your butt to the store, grab the blood-red book, and curl up with a hot cup of cocoa, a warm blanket, and fall back into the twisted world of soul thieves.

Make sure you ask for the cool swag that comes with the first

100 copies!

 

Titcombs Bookshop

432 Rte 6A

East Sandwich, MA

(508) 888-2331

Bite me shark boy

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