Friday, January 20, 2017

Top 5 Books by Christina Philippou

Welcome. Today's guest blogger is Christina Philippou. Christina’s writing career has been a varied one, from populating the short-story notebook that lived under her desk at school to penning reports on corruption and terrorist finance. When not reading or writing, she can be found engaging in sport or undertaking some form of nature appreciation. Christina has three passports to go with her three children, but is not a spy. Lost in Static is her first novel. Give her a read.

By the way, the reason you aren't finding my usual eclectic mix of musings is because I'm in the middle of a blog tour to help introduce Mystery Thriller Week. If you're an avid reader of mystery/thriller works, this is the link to click on.

Hello and thank you for having me on the blog today for the Mystery Thriller Week blog tour!

I have thought long and hard about my top 5 mysteries and thrillers and have concluded, in no particular order:


Bedlam by BA Morton: Twisted crime/ mystery/ psychological suspense/ thriller story with sprinkles of literary and coming-of-age about Joe, a wrecked cop treading water (well, mainly alcohol) since the disappearance of his girlfriend, Kit, who is the only one that won’t believe she’s dead….

 Sewing the Shadows Togehter

Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie: When the news that the man convicted for Shona’s murder is being released on review of DNA evidence hits, old friendships, seemingly strong relationships, and family ties all fall under a web of suspicion. This is Agatha Christie-esque crime writing set in a modern world.
 The Corpse Role

The Corpse Role by Keith Nixon: The discovery of a corpse and the subsequent investigation involving corruption, ex-cops, gangsters and an evasive link between the players (old and new) is wonderfully intertwined with the story of one of those involved. Highly original, Fast-paced, tightly-plotted, page-turning crime.

 Sharp Objects

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn: A hard-hitting psychological thriller about a girl that cuts words into her skin and blames herself for, well, most things. Brilliantly written, craftily plotted and scarily believable.
 Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie: One of my favourites from the queen of crime about a murder of an insufferable man and an (over?)abundance of clues and suspects skillfully intertwined in the multi-layered plot.


Lost in Static by Christina Philippou

Lost in Static
Sometimes growing up is seeing someone else's side of the story. Four stories. One truth. Whom do you believe? Callum has a family secret. Yasmine wants to know it. Juliette thinks nobody knows hers. All Ruby wants is to reinvent herself. They are brought together by circumstance, torn apart by misunderstanding. As new relationships are forged and confidences are broken, each person's version of events is coloured by their background, beliefs and prejudices. And so the ingredients are in place for a year shaped by lust, betrayal, and violence...


Lost in Static is available from, amongst others, Amazon UK, Amazon US, and direct from the publisher, Urbane Publications.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Deep Point of View

This week's blog will feature my guest cj petterson. "cj petterson" is the pen name of Marilyn A. Johnston. She also writes under her own name as well as her maiden name of Marilyn Olsein. Marilyn loves to stretch her alter-ego writing skills and writes in multiple genres, from haiku and free verse to non-fiction and fiction to short stories and novels. You can find a list of her books here. You can also visit her blog, Lyrical Pens, which is both informative and entertaining. If you like what she has to say, visit her Facebook page or leave a comment below letting her know. 

cj Sez: I try to write as much into deep point of view as I can. I’m not always successful, and it always takes a few edit cycles to reach the results I’m looking for.

Deep point of view is intense. It encompasses sights, sounds, and actions, filtered through a point of view character but goes deeper into her/his emotions, actions, and reactions. In deep point of view, the author disappears into the background, and the character owns the page.

Following are a couple of the tips I picked up a few years ago from a blog and adopted into my writing: (The examples are from my work in progress which, of course, will be honed even further.)

1. Make as many of your dialogue tags disappear as possible.

Dialogue tags do clarify a speaker, but they also remind readers that they are reading a story. In deep point of view, tags are often replaced by action, body language, voice description, emotion. How the words are said and the actions behind the words reveal a lot about a character’s emotional state of mind.

Distant point of view: “That’s not something I care to share,” she said.
The reader can’t understand what the character means. Is she naturally a private person? Or maybe she’s just being a bit belligerent.

Deeper: “That’s not something I care to share,” she said, wadding her napkin into a ball.
Her action in the example above gives a clue that what she doesn’t want to share upsets her. The “she said” reminds readers that they’re reading a novel, and it’s also redundant. (If dialog is in the same paragraph as the character’s action, then the action character is also the speaker.) In this sentence, I would have to eliminate the action to make it correct. But I want to give the character some emotional action to develop the persona more fully. So, let’s go deeper still.

Deeper still: “That’s not something I care to share.” She wadded a napkin into as tight a ball as she could get it then started picking it apart with her fingernails, shredding the paper into a pile of confetti.
The character’s body language adds a deeper point of view. The character’s emotional state of mind is revealed…without telling.

2. Make your thought words/sense words disappear

Thought words/sense words are telling words. They put an author on the page and again remind readers they are reading a novel. They are contrary to the “real life experience” of deep point of view.

How often do you personally think, I’m thinking about tomorrow’s party?  Or I’m wondering if … whatever?

You don’t. And if you’re writing in deep point of view, your characters don’t either. Oh, they’ll think, wonder, and see, hear, and feel; but they won’t add the filter words. They’ll just do it.

Distant: She felt his hands around her throat and wondered if she was going to die.
The reader doesn’t feel what the character feels. The author has told the reader what the character thinks/feels.

Deep: She tore at the fingers squeezing her throat. This is it. I’m going to die.
(No thinking. No wondering. Just showing what’s happening and pulling in the reader.)
 And from my short story “Bad Day at Round Rock” in The Posse anthology:
 The Posse“We ain’t got no guns,” he said.  
Deeper: “We ain’t got no guns,” he said, his voice made tinny with fear.

“I heard tell that Swede and Shorty got into a fistfight over that girl that works for Doc.”
Deeper: “I heard tell Swede about knocked Shorty ta hell and back because he bothered that girl that works for Doc.”

By seven a.m., when she stood on tiptoe to twist the key in the wall clock to wind it,
I don’t tell the reader that the character is short, her action does.

She set the plate on the desk with a clunk and whipped off the towel. “Take your look-see.”
The character’s actions reveal her state of mind…anger.

Our views of the world are the result of our own experiences and expectations. These are the same things that make up your characters’ backstories. Ergo: Know your characters so intimately that you automatically know how they will react in every situation

As always, there are many reasons to break the rules. As you study deep point of view from different perspectives, you’ll discover the tips and tricks—use what works for you and your story.

Remember, you’re in charge…you are the captain of your story.

cj petterson

Coming in mid-February 2017—“Bad Day at Round Rock” a short story in The Posse, a Western anthology of tales of action, romance, myth and truth.   

#MTW2017, #blogtour, #mysterythrillerweek, #mystery, #thriller, #novel

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Lisa's Rape

Let's start with a very brief synopsis of the story. In 1993, sixteen-year-old Lisa Ching attends a senior party, her first ever. She's handed a drink and passes out in a deserted room. When she wakes up, she realizes that someone has ripped her clothes off, and raped her— several times, judging from the pain she feels. To spare her mother, she decides not to report the crime or say anything. For twenty-one years, she lives with the memory and the guilt of not doing anything. Finally, she cannot stand it any longer and asks her detective friend, John LeGrand, to find out who did this to her.

As John starts digging, he deduces that several individuals raped Lisa, not just one. The rapists, now grown men with jobs, families, and reputations to consider, cannot let something they did as teenagers ruin their lives. They devise a plan to resolve the situation, which includes murder. Now, John must not only prove that they raped Lisa. He must also free her from a murder charge.

How did this story come to life? A friend and fellow author once told me that she loved the interplay between Lisa Ching and John LeGrand in my short stories and my other novel, Searching for Lilith. I do too. When I developed Lisa's character, I wanted her to be sassy, sarcastic, and playful. John LeGrand was already tough, but sensitive, and a little old fashion. Soon, I realized that they played off each other perfectly. In every scene I placed them in, they seemed to create sparks. I decided to mine that attraction. In Lisa's Rape, I let their magnetism blossom. Yes, it's a story about rape, murder, kidnapping, and even hostage taking, but it is also a love story about a woman who has been raped by multiple men and a man who has been betrayed before by a woman he loved.

This is a detective story, so there has to be a crime to detect. Many years ago, in the mid-90s, I read a story about a young college woman who unknowingly drank a drink laced with Rohypnol and was raped. Later, when the police questioned her, she could remember nothing about what happened. The authorities never did find out who raped her. It never occurred to me to turn this into a story until I started searching for a way to bring John and Lisa together. I started asking questions. What if that young girl had not reported what happened to her? What if she kept reliving the rape in dreams or felt guilty because whoever did this might still be doing it to other women? What will happen if she decides to search out the rapists? As I started answering the questions, the story materialized.

I am often asked where I get my stories, and I usually answer that I get them from my imagination, but that isn't entirely honest. Yes, my imagination plays a huge part in coming up with my stories, but they usually begin with something real—something that happened in real life. Then I ask questions such as what, who, how, when, and where. The answers are the story. This is nothing new. Most writers I know do the same thing. They observe what goes on around them and ask those five pertinent questions. For the most part, our stories are slices of real life filtered through our fertile imaginations.

I hope you read Lisa's Rape and you're able to climb into the skin of two very likable characters and share their journey as they deal with the complexities of their lives. At the very least, I hope you enjoy the story. Let me know.


One more thing, rape is a very sensitive subject, especially of a sixteen-year-old, but of any woman. However, it does happen, and I tried to be as sensitive as I could about the matter. I am keenly aware that I am a man writing about a tragic occurrence from a woman's point of view, especially in the opening scene; however, this is John's and Lisa's story, and I could see no way around it.

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