You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. ~ Rabindranath Tagore
It is the sound no parent wants to hear at 3 a.m. Lexie was crying. Now she is 9-years-old so she rarely wakes up crying. I stumbled to her room, assuming she had had a bad dream.
“I saw something,” she said. “I saw something crawl across the floor!”
At first in my sleepy state, I assumed she had been dreaming. Then I noticed her cat Nikki was looking at a pile of toys by the closet. I had no desire to know what kept her interest (plus I had left my glasses by my bed) so I did what many women would do – I called for my husband.
Yes, I am thankful he was home because it was a mouse in the pile of toys. Now before you think we live in a shabby, mouse-infested place, let me assure you we do not. What we have is three cats, two dogs and a pet door that is always open. This means that at any time, any of these animals can bring home their latest catch.
We have had all sorts of live creatures – frogs, snakes, lizards, bugs, birds and of course mice. Many times I have had to try and chase these animals out of the house or pick up their dead bodies. While my husband hates snakes, I actually find them the easiest of the creatures to handle. Well, I guess handle is the wrong word. I don’t pick them up but they are easy to shoo with a broom out the door. Much easier than the birds that can’t seem to find the open door or the mice and lizards that run the wrong way.
Now the few mice we have had in the house are not tiny little mice that fit on your palm. These are field mice. Heck, for all I know they could technically be rats. It isn’t like I would know the difference. All I know is that I don’t want them in my house.
So, the other night, my husband came to our rescue. He trapped the mouse in a box and released him back outside. By now, we are all awake. The kids and I are sitting on Lexie’s bed. I reassure them that it is only one mouse and there are not likely to be more in the house.
They both request my husband check their rooms. He spends a good amount of time doing that while I talk to them about Nikki protecting them (even though she most likely is the reason the mouse was in the house.) We tuck them back into bed and return to ours. We are both surprised that the kids didn’t protest more about staying in their own beds.
We have spoken too soon.
A few minutes later, we can hear the kids talking. Lexie wants to sleep in Jase’s room but of course she doesn’t want to sleep on the floor. There could after all be a mouse down there. Jase’s bed is not really big enough for the two of them now. (I’m not sure it was ever big enough but they have slept in it together before.)
I bet you can see where this is going…yep, they both ended up in our bed. Thankfully, our bed is a King but even then, it is tight to have four people in it.
I know plenty of parents who allow one or more of their kids to climb into their bed at night and sleep. I have never been one of these parents. I like my space. I do not want a kid sleeping on top of me or kicking me in the legs or back. I simply don’t sleep well with them in my bed so it is very rare that the kids sleep with us.
But there it was 3:30 a.m. and we were all in the same bed. Nikki even tried to join us but I think she realized there just wasn’t room.
I’m happy that ordeal is done. I must say I don’t like additional live animals in the house at night. I would prefer the kitties keep their catches to the outdoors but I know that isn’t going to happen. So unless we are willing to make them indoor kitties, then I am just going to have to get use to the occasional nighttime visitor. I just hope my husband is here for the next one too.
Today I welcome Tanya R. Taylor to my blog. Her latest book, The Contract: Murder in the Bahamas, is the fifth in her The Cornelius Saga and was released earlier this month.
Daniel J. Smith, a forty-eight-year-old colored man, sat alone in the diner across the street from Tinnedale Hospital. He was of medium height and build, which edged closer to the broader side of the scale, but handsome, nonetheless, by many accounts. The clear eye-glasses sat comfortably on the bridge of his nose as he perused the morning newspaper.
Glancing above the daily, he observed a man in a long, white coat a few tables away and a woman wearing a dark blue outfit with high-heeled shoes to match. A younger man sat a couple of tables down. He appeared to be just staring into space as he sipped his hot chocolate, the steam of which steadily curled into the air. Daniel was among the few who quietly sat that morning in Al’s Diner.
His mind drifted to the meeting he had the day before with Lucille Green. That’s the day he flew in from Florida for what was probably his fortieth visit to the city of Nassau. He could see her sitting on the porch of that old, clapboard house. The entire residence had a square footage which nearly matched the size of his master bathroom back home in Boynton Beach to a “t”. Lucille was easily tipping the scales at around three hundred pounds, and every crevice and wrinkle on her sagging skin that sunny day as he sat with her told of countless struggles across her eighty-two years of existence. Daniel couldn’t deny her strong personality neither as she spoke aggressively through her raspy voice.
“It’s a damn shame how they treated Jackie all those years ago,” she roared. “The woman had five small children to take care of before they cuffed her like a common criminal and hauled her off to court. And to think they’d really believe she murdered that woman.”
That woman? Daniel was clearly offended and had to set her straight.
“That woman…” he pronounced “…was my mother.”
The nerve of you was embedded in Lucille’s expression, laced with a tinge of sympathy over the fact that the poor dead woman did indeed give birth to him.
“Right. No offense to you, young man,” she went on. “But I tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that Jackie Pearl Agatha Smith did not kill your dear mother. My sister didn’t have it in her. Believe me when I say that.”
Daniel recalled her glassy eyes being wide with conviction while she uttered those words.
“They let my sister languish in prison for a whole six years before she succumbed to cancer. She suffered and died in that God-forsaken place for a crime she didn’t commit!” Tears were welling in her eyes. “She was humiliated and her children had to grow up without their mother. That just ain’t right.”
“So did I, Miss Green. I was just three years old when my mother was murdered. I don’t know how well her kids managed as they were coming up, but I was sent to live in foster homes ‘til I turned sixteen. After that, I was on my natural own. They were hard years.”
Lucille didn’t respond.
“I can’t begin to tell you what my life was like, but you sit here practically swearing for your sister when she was tried and convicted in a court of law. Every appeal was denied, yet you say she’s innocent.”
“Young man, I don’t know what you expected before you came here, but if it was for me to look you square in the face and lie to you, I’m sorry I disappointed you. You don’t have to believe a word I said. You can go on believin’ the lies they all told you. But I’m sure you’ve seen from the court papers, each and every witness for the defense said my sister was a good wife and mother even after her husband of twenty years, your father, strayed from his marriage and tangled himself up with your mother. Not only tangled himself up with her, but had a bastard child on top of that!”
Stunned by her choice of words, Daniel, nevertheless, held his tongue. He was taught to respect his elders.
“How you think my sister felt?” Her gaze was intense. “All right, let me answer that for you: Like Hell! She felt like Hell! Yet, she stuck in there and continued doing what she always done. She cried for the longest time and was terribly depressed – all this while still havin’ to go to work, cook and clean every day, take care of the children and satisfy her husband every time he came back home from the fields for a visit. Knowin’ when he was away on that God-forsaken job, he was shackin’ up with your mother every chance he got. I hate to put it to you that way, son, but you wanted the facts. There they are! Although your father’s betrayal almost killed my sister, she never lifted a finger to harm your mother. I dare say the real killer has never been caught to this day.”
Daniel’s thoughts were slain by the soft tinkling of wind chimes hanging above the doorway as a tall, solidly built man with dark hair walked in, accompanied by a lady whose facial features closely resembled his. She was wearing black slacks and a light, pink blouse; her hair roped in a ponytail. Daniel immediately pushed the newspaper he had barely read aside and stood up as the couple made their way over.
~ A golden opportunity that ends in disaster. ~
Many “well-to-do” and “have-it-all-together” people have had depressing thoughts and suicidal tendencies — not knowing who to turn to or confide in. They believe an outward show of success will solve their problems and subdue their inner demons, but “achieving it all” and “having it all” fail to erase that nagging emotional pain. Daniel J. Smith tried a few times to end his life, but failed, and finally he thought: “Maybe there’s a reason I’m still here”. Read his troubling story in ‘THE CONTRACT: Murder in The Bahamas’, book 5 of the Cornelius Saga Series.
Mira Cullen is prompted to fly out to The Bahamas to meet a man her brother Wade must introduce her to. Daniel Smith believes it’s providence that a chance encounter with Wade has resulted in him meeting the one person who could possibly bring to light and put to rest an age-old mystery involving his beloved mother. Smith, a product of “the contract”, which took place decades earlier — deems it an opportunity that literally sustained the lives of many, but in whose clutches also stole the life of the one person he loved more than anything else in the world.
Will Mira’s attempt to uncover the truth ultimately grieve the one who yearns for it? Or will the final discovery prove to be bitter-sweet?
About the Author
Tanya R. Taylor is the author of several #1 bestsellers on Amazon.com as well as the Amazon UK and Canada stores. She has been writing ever since she could remember holding a pencil and published her first book titled: A Killing Rage as a young adult.
Tanya has worked in the Financial arena and is also a seasoned ghostwriter. She is the author of both fiction and non-fiction literature, and all of her books have made Amazon Kindle’s Top 100 Paid Bestsellers’ List in several categories. Cornelius climbed to #1 in the Teen & Young-adult Multi-generational Family Fiction category in November 2015. And her supernatural, suspense/thriller – INFESTATION: A Small Town Nightmare is a #1 multiple times international bestseller.
America’s Most Haunted tweeted about her ocean thriller: “With HAUNTED CRUISE: THE SHAKEDOWN, Tanya R. Taylor Joins Ranks of Horror Greats.”
Tanya writes in various genres including: Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, Thrillers, Science-fiction, Mystery and Suspense.
She has a passion for the welfare of children and her hobbies include: Reading, writing, and researching. She’s also keen on documentaries.
You can purchase The Contract: Murder in the Bahamas on Amazon.
This post is the seventh in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.
In my series, I recently listed three aspects of your story that you need to develop before writing – characters, setting and plot. I have already covered characters (and a second post on characters) and setting. Today, I want to focus on the plot.
I touched on plot in my earlier post in this series called “Developing your story idea and making sure it is “good enough.”
So, what is a plot? It is a sequence of linked events that revolve around an attempt to solve a problem or attain a goal.
Basically, this means your protagonist (main character) wants something. She wants to fall in love. She wants to stop a war. He wants to escape an abusive relationship, or he needs to survive after his plane crashes in the mountains.
If whatever they want is easy to achieve, then there is no story. You cannot have a story without some sort of conflict. Your characters should not lead carefree, happy lives. They should face problems. They should search for something they cannot reach; they should strive for a goal but be prevented from reaching it.
Conflict is what compels the reader to keep reading to find out what happens next. Whether everything comes out right in the end or not, it is the chance things can go wrong that spurs readers to keep reading.
Since conflict is so essential to your plot, we are going to discuss first internal vs external conflict and then the five types of conflict.
An internal struggle is the part of the protagonist’s personality that prevents him from achieving whatever goal he is after. If he wishes to reconcile with his estranged father but feel his father should make the first move, his pride is the internal conflict. This type of conflict can reveal a lot about a character. Do they give up easily? Strive for what they want? How do they react when met with opposition?
An external conflict is something physical that gets in your protagonist’s way of reaching their goal. It could be the antagonist or an avalanche. When creating your antagonist, develop someone with just enough strength to present a solid challenge for your protagonist. Your hero might eventually figure out the bad guy’s flaws, but he is going to have to work to put all the pieces together. It is these plan disruptions that create the conflict in your story.
You don’t have to choose one or the other. There can be both internal and external conflict in your story.
Five Types of Conflict
Character struggles against another character
This type of conflict, also referred to as man vs. man, is the most obvious form of conflict. This is when a character struggles against another character in the story. This type of conflict can come in the form of arguments, conflicting desires, or opposing goals. The classic “good guy” vs. “bad guy” scenario is an excellent example of this type of conflict.
Character struggles internally
Sometimes you don’t need an outside force to provide the drama and tension in your story. Your character can struggle internally with their choices. This is also known as man vs. self. This is where your character faces moral dilemmas and emotional challenges. They can be facing a fear or deciding between an impossible set of choices. This could be a moral conflict of having to choose between honoring family verses ones own desires. It is an internal conflict with your character’s conscience.
Character struggles against nature
Sometimes there isn’t a bad guy in the story. Sometimes the struggle is to overcome nature. This type of conflict, also referred to as man vs. nature, is all about dealing things outside our control, whether it is the weather or a virus threatening to wipe people out. Stories about the triumph of human spirit over adversity never go out of fashion.
Examples of this could be your character is stuck in a desolate place (mountainside with no shelter, deserted island) or being attacked by wild dogs, birds or insects. They could be dealing with a plague, famine or virus outbreak. This is anything where your character struggles to survive.
Character struggles against society
When someone’s beliefs go against the societal norms, there will be conflict. It could be discrimination or being repressed by societal pressure. In this type of conflict, known as man vs. society, a character or a group of characters fight against the society in which they live. Examples of this could be fighting for your freedom or rights, which are being denied by society. It could be a struggle with poverty, political revolution, or social convention.
Character struggles against the supernatural
This one is usually found in certain genres such as fantasy, horror and science fiction. This is where the character struggles against poltergeists, robots, aliens, magic, or supernatural villains. The main character must have the strength (either internal or external) to defeat the fantastic enemy confronting him or her. Included in this area would be man vs. technology (such as computers or machines) and man vs. fate (fighting against destiny).
Now your story can have more than one type of conflict in it. Your main character may have an internal conflict on whether they should fight against their adversary. Just remember you need some type of conflict to move the story forward and to give tension to the plot. With no conflict, there is no story.
Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. ~ Charles R. Swindoll
Most of us have gotten them. The e-mail wanting us to help some foreigner transfer millions from his homeland and promises a hefty percentage of this fortune as our reward for assisting him. Or maybe you won a contest or someone you don’t know has left you a large inheritance.
These scam emails fill our spam or junk folders.
I’ve even received the scam that often comes from selling stuff on Craigslist. Someone offers to pay with a cashier’s check that is for a higher amount than requested. The buyer, usually from a foreign country that assures you that he will handle pickup and delivery of the item, wants you to send back the excess money or send it to someone else.
Yep, I can recognize these scams at first glance though many people do fall for them. My husband once received a large six-figure check in the mail from a company oversees that needed him to handle a simple legal matter. They said they found his name in a directory. (He is an attorney.) Needless to say, after he couldn’t contact anyone at the company, he contacted the State Bar and found it to be a scam.
Most of these scam emails go straight to my junk/spam folder so I don’t have to worry about them. But one slipped through the other day and landed in my inbox. And it was actually pretty good. Even though there were a few things I thought were odd, I still didn’t catch that it wasn’t a legit email.
The email in question came from the PTA president of the middle school. She asked if I had time to pay a vendor today. There was nothing unusual about that. I had met her at the school the previous week to write a check for the woman painting a mural at the school. The email came from her email address and was signed by her.
The odd things in the e-mail that did make me wonder (but not enough to recognize it as a scam) were that she signed the email with both her first and last name and she asked me the amount in our bank account.
Now I don’t know Mindy well so she could be the type who signs her whole name. I do have a few friends who have an automatic signature line in their email. And while I know she can look at the bank account herself, the PTA president for the elementary school was the type who never looked and always asked me since I was the treasurer. Maybe she was not near her computer since the email did say it came from her iPhone.
So, I jotted back a note that I was free to do a payment and gave her the balance on the account. When I got an e-mail back from her that asked me to transfer 2/3 of the amount to a bank in New York, I knew something wasn’t right.
First off, the PTA doesn’t transfer money. We write checks that must be signed by two people. Second, every money transaction requires a form attached that has been signed by three people – the treasurer, the president and the chair person whose money is being spent. (Also, money can only be spent if it is in the budget and that amount has been allocated to that budget line.)
But even if those things didn’t tip me off, the return email was no longer Mindy’s. I quickly jotted back a “nice try” message to the scammers as I texted Mindy to make sure this wasn’t really her. (It wasn’t.)
Afterwards, I wished I had hesitated more over those two questionable items. But I had never received an email with this level of deception. Now that I have, I will certainly be more cautious. Those scammers are everywhere and trying new plans all the time. That means we all need to be alert to these potential schemes. When in doubt, check in person with the sender of the “e-mail.”
UPDATE – A week after this happened, I received another scam email that came from Mindy’s email address. This one was trickier. They did sign it with only her name. In it, she asked me if I could run an “errand” for her. When I wrote back that I had time, I got an email back that asked me to go buy a $400 iTunes gift card to buy some Learning Apps. “Mindy” then told me that I could write myself a check to reimburse myself.
At this point, I knew it was a scam. PTA rules only allow us to buy gift cards that are worth no more than $25 and I cannot write a check to myself. Ding. Warning bells went off and a text to Mindy confirmed it wasn’t her.
Please welcome fantasy author H M Sealey. She is currently working on the twelfth book in her Kingdom Rising series. Book 11, Deception Rising, was released last year.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a wife, a mother of three wonderful children, an ex-distance runner, a mediocre artist with a love of stories. I’ve been writing and telling stories to myself since early childhood. It feels as much a part of me as my arms or legs.
Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in North Wales, in the UK. I consider myself Welsh, hence the connections to Wales within the main narrative of my Kingdom Rising Series.
How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?
Probably quite a few bits, certainly at the beginning. The main protagonist having an imaginary world is definitely taken straight from the imaginary world in which I lived from about the age of twelve onwards. However, as the characters have developed, they’ve become their own characters, and I no longer have to poach bits of my life for them. Which is a relief, my life is far too boring.
Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?
I have, it’s the 12th book in the Kingdom Rising series, Freedom Rising. It’s still in the early stages but it has to tie up about a hundred loose ends. I have a large ensemble of characters and I want to complete as many journeys as I can. I think this will be the last in this series, although that doesn’t mean I won’t use the same characters in other stories in the future.
What fuels you as an author to continue to write?
Probably the same thing that causes me to breathe oxygen and eat food. I don’t think I could NOT write.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Your first few books will be rubbish. Write them anyway, because you’ll learn so much from them.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I start with one of the characters and just see what happens, it’s like reading a book, I really have very little idea what’s going to happen.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I don’t have an awful lot, most have been good, some bad. I’ve always thought the bad ones were fair. The good ones have sometimes pulled me out of the doldrums.
Please tell us about your current release.
The last book I released in the Kingdom Rising series was book 11, Deception Rising but it might be better for me to talk about the whole Kingdom Rising series as a whole.
What inspired you to write this series?
I think my original inspiration was to take Christianity, strip it of all the religion, and show the interesting, spiritual elements to an audience in a fantastical way.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
Well, one of the characters is a two-thousand year old archeologist, I have to do a great deal of research just for one line from him because it needs to be historically accurate.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Very occasionally I have a homage to someone or I’ll borrow a surname I like. One minor character, Jack Deedever, was named after the funny way my friend’s little boy would mispronounce “screwdriver.”
Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?
I don’t think I have a specific favourite, although some are more fun to write than others. I like writing villains because they always have such good reasons (in their own heads) as to why they do what they do. I have a specific fondness for my bombastic, African-American ex-CIA agent Sam King, which is weird because he was never meant to be such an important character. He was inspired by my irritation with incompetent CIA agents in the James Bond films. I wanted to write one who was extremely good at his job. It’s a challenge to write an American voice, it’s subtly different to my English and Welsh characters. The Mazikim (demons) are also interesting to write. They’ve been around a very long time so use a wide variety of idioms and speech patterns.
Do you have an all time favorite book?
I think I’d have to say Kindred by Octavia Butler. I discovered her books as a teenager when my cousin found them in a second-hand shop. I don’t think she’s widely read in Britain, but her books opened me up to a whole world of different authors and different cultures to explore.
What book are you reading right now?
The Strange Death of Europe by Douglas Murray.
Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.
I’m a bit of a secret fan of My Little Pony…….
The Antichrist is rising and everybody loves him.
Misha Heath, award-winning writer, is officially dead. That leaves the Antichrist no legal way of tracking her down to stop her writing thinly veiled analogies about how he’s going to be defeated. The only way to find her is to kidnap and interrogate her children.
Fortunately for him, the medical profession, determined to drag humanity out of the dark ages of religion, has begun diagnosing any sort of Belief in God as mental illness, and medicating those afflicted. Only the state-approved religion of Secular Humanism is acceptable, because that particular belief leaves humanity very, very vulnerable to the demonic Kingdom, the Sitra Achra.
That means Misha Heath’s children, all of whom boldly serve the King, can be sectioned under the Mental Health Act and forcibly medicated.
Unfortunately, the ingredients of the new, miracle drug, happen to do much more damage than anyone will ever know.
Connor Grigaliunas has Aspergers, his sister is ill and his mother is in a coma. Anxiety and painful changes to his routine force him to discover a whole other world of demons, of lost memories and of ideas and thoughts nobody ever taught him in school. To Connor, this new world makes perfect sense and he realises he’s been trying to look at a rainbow but only seeing red.
As the Beast continues to rise, his hidden army stands ready to affect a coup and humanity won’t even notice. Connor, Misha and a small group of those who choose to stand with the King are prepared, knowing that following the King was never meant to be easy, but not following will cost more than the world is able to pay.
About the Author
Heather Morag Sealey was born in North Wales in 1974 and has been living in her own little fantasy world ever since. Some of her earliest memories involve folding pieces of paper into books and writing about sea-shells with legs. She is the author of dozens of one-act-plays, the occasional two and three act play, and no end of odd little scripts, many written for school assemblies, children or vulnerable adults as part of “drama-therapy.”
She adores the countryside, a passion shared by her husband and three children.
Heather maintains that the Kingdom Rising series wrote itself and she just tagged along for the ride, writing about the situations and the characters she saw along the way.
You can find out more about Heather on her website.
You can purchase her Kingdom Rising series on Amazon.