James Rollins – CRUCIBLE

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James Rollins has written enough bestselling novels to fill a tall bookcase. In most of them, a historical event, or artifact, is the catalyst for a modern-day catastrophe. Sometimes Rollins will find the perfect plot concept from reading an article. Sometimes it’s sparked from his travels. For his latest novel, CRUCIBLE, it came from a place that even surprised him. (You'll have to hear the interview to find out where.)

In CRUCIBLE, the Spanish Inquisition is the catalyst for a religious cult's modern-day witch hunt in the not-too-distant-future. Fair warning: should the events depicted in this novel come to pass and scientists soon develop an artificial intelligence capable of warp-speed learning capacity, fact will be much scarier than fiction.

Click here to read the feature article accompanying this podcast interview in TheBigThrill.org

NaNoWriMo Tip #11: Why the voice you choose matters.

Yesterday I read a comment from an author participating in National Novel Writing Month that made me wince: she was bemoaning the fact that she'd started her book in first person, but now realizing that third person worked better for the story, didn't want to go back and make the changes needed.

In my head, I was thinking, NOOOOOOOOOOO!

Trust me, it's worth the time to make the fix.

Been there, done that. Of my five published novels, four of them are written in first person: that is to say, one of the characters narrates the story, from his/her point-of-view, for the reader.

When it comes to fiction, this is not norm, for a very good reason: sometimes the story needs to be told from many points of view, or in “third person.”

Impossibly Tongue-Tied,
the one novel of mine which was written in third person, didn't start out that way. I spent two weeks and many pages before I figured out that what had worked so wonderfully for my first novel, True Hollywood Lies, would be the death of my second.

True Hollywood Lies is told from the point-of-view of its heroine, Hannah: all the other characters are seen through her eyes, their actions and motives scrutinzed through the mess of Hannah's emotional pain, which comes from the sudden demise of a father with whom she never got to reconcile their differences. He was a revered film star who'd had numerous wives and lovers. As a personal assistant to a red hot film star who reminds her too much of her dad, Hannah has to work hard not to be blinded by his charisma, at the expense of her own dreams and desires. 


CandidateThe Candidate takes place in Washington, D.C.,  but follows several characters, all of whom have personal agendas or traumatic plights that put them at cross purposes, and puts the nation in danger.. The hero, Ben, is desperate to find a presidential candidate who won't implode on him. The vice-president wants a slam-dunk into the White House, and will do anything to get it. And the mysterious love of Ben's life, Maddie is a pawn in everyone's game.

Of course, the goal is to make it so that the reader enjoys the twists and turns–and hopefully doesn't see what comes next. 

That's what makes the book so fun: lots of shenanigans happens before the explosive climax.

But had I kept slogging it out to make the story first person, the reader would not have gotten to enjoy all the fun leading up to the climax.

The best rule of thumb in choosing voice is this: Go with what works best for the reader. 

Even if you have to start over and replace all the “I”s with “She”s or “He”s.

The pay-off will be a wide open vista of opportunities for your characters. 

Their actions will speak volumes to your readers in the way that your first-person voice could never do.

(c) 2011 Josie Brown




I've got a question for you, and be honest: Have you ever started a story in the wrong voice, then had to change it? If so, how are were you into it, before you realized it?

Happy National Novel Writing Month,

— Josie


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No More Twitter for Miley Cyrus: What Does That Mean for the Rest of Us Tweeps?

Miley-cyrus-vanity-fair Okay, yeah: I Twitter.

But seriously, who doesn't?

From booksellers to bake shops, If you have any kind of business at all that needs visibility in a cheap (right now, free) way, it's a great way to get out a quick message to a few hundred thousand of your closest friends.

Or twenty (you sad, pathetic soul….Just kidding!)

Some celebs have use this social networking platform very successfully to polish up their tarnished brands. Demi Moore and her hub, Ashton Kutchner are great examples of this.

And, yeah, so was pop songstress Miley Cyrus.

Twitter was the new kid on the block (oh, and by the way, some of them use Twitter, too) after MySpace and Facebook.  But let's face it: MySpace has a stodgy platform and asks too much of you as far as time and effort; and whereas Facebook is easier to use and allows you to actually have text chats with those who like what you write and in turn scrawl on your wall, it has a friend cut-off.

Then you have to open a "fan wall".

Well, la-dee-dah. Can I touch you?

Just kidding. Really I'm jealous of those who've beat my measly FB friend count —

But I digress.

Will her defection kill Twitter? I doubt it. The rest of them (celebrities) and us (pleebs…tweebs?) need it too badly.

As for Miley, I'm sure her mom and dad are happy she's off Twitter. I'm a parent, too, and sometimes I think all this social networking stuff is too too much…

Then again, if she's the primary breadwinner in that family (I'm guessin' not, coz Billy Ray is still a powerhouse, gawd luv'em) that's gonna hurt. I mean, the 'Net is now and happening. Even airplay won't get her peep demo ( 0 to 18) to purchase her downloads.

As for the rest of us, it won't exactly be a feeding frenzy for her heartbroken fans.

Unless they want to console themselves with cupcakes.

Or a good book.

Needless to say, I'm praying for the latter.

So, where will they be able to find li'l Miss Miley? Well, over 1.6 million of her nearest and dearest friends have already found her on Facebook, so you can, too.

Unless she plans on going off the grid totally. If so, it should be interesting to see how long her career lasts then.

I'm guessing though, that even she won't be able to do that. Fame is quite an aphrodisiac, particularly if you've been weened on it since birth.

Granted a kid her age must get tired of being "on" all the time, for an adoring public who can turn on her for the most fickle of reasons, like that beautiful, artistic Vanity Fair cover photo with her dad.

But artists need audiences. If she wants to keep practicing her art, she'll have to keep in the spotlight to do so.

Something tells me Miley will  be back on Twitter, if only to lurk under an assumed name that only her personal peeps (twersonal tweeps?) know.

And I wouldn't blame her in the least,



Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives
Simon & Schuster/Pocket

Look for it in bookstores
September 2010