Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Reviews and Readers

I love to connect with and hear from my readers. It's one of the great joys and privileges of being a writer. It's also a great responsibility.

I do read reviews of my work. It's an avenue of contact and I love feedback. I like to know what parts you, the readers, enjoyed and loved, the characters that you care about, and also what you didn't like. I listened when the early reviews complained about the confusion of the timeline in SOLE SURVIVOR. I went back and rearranged scenes as necessary and added a timeline to all editions to help clarify the flow of events.

What makes sense to me and to some readers is confusing to others. I respect that.

Before turning my focus to original thrillers, I was a fan fiction writer. I wrote dozens of stories over the years. Some are riddled with mistakes and typos, but I learned from them and readers enjoyed them and continue to enjoy them. I learned what readers liked and what worked and didn't work. I explored and played in established worlds and had support and encouragement from many readers. I also had criticism. It's part of being a writer. It helps us to learn and grow.

I miss the connection between myself and the readers. That's why I read my reviews and why I'm on Goodreads. It's why I try to maintain an active web presence. I am here. I want to hear from you.

Yes, bad reviews hurt. Yes, I have a thick skin. But if you are a reader invested in my writing, I want to know what falls flat to you. I want to know what bothers you or what didn't work. I want to know that you feel a story let you down.

I love Jo dearly. I thought by cutting out scenes already shown in the show, it would work better. Knowing that it fell flat tells me I was wrong. And that's okay. I will own up to my mistakes.

And because of that, I will be reviewing all three novellas to tighten up and add scenes and help the flow. I will pay particular attention to the third one, FINAL SACRIFICE, and I hope that with corrections it will meet the expectations of readers and perhaps, exceed them.

When corrections are completed, I will post information on my Facebook, Twitter, and other outlets so you, the readers, can take another look. I hope the changes will smooth over any inconsistencys that stuck in your throats before and will hopefully allow me a second chance at your loyalty.

Please, please, feel free to reach out to me. Email me. Message me on Twitter or Facebook. Review my works on Goodreads or Amazon or Barnes & Noble. I want to hear from you. I do. I write not just for myself, but for you, the readers. I want you to feel the same joy I do at following characters on a journey and seeing them overcome obstacles.

So, please, reach out. Find me on Twitter @tmcarper or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/TMCarper) or email me directly at tmcarper@gmail.com .

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Upcoming Releases!

Happy Holidays, readers!

As 2013 comes to a close, I'm excited to give out little teasers about what's coming up next! All dates are subject to change and details might vary, but this a preview of what's ahead!

2013

To finish out 2013, the end of the Duality Trilogy will be released around December 15th, 2013. That date might be sooner or later depending on the editing and uploading process. The final book is appropriately titled FINAL SACRIFICE.

Here's the back copy:

When Elena Gilbert plunges off the bridge with Damon'™s blood in her system, Jo is furious with Stefan. As her sister adjusts to drinking blood, the bond between Damon and Elena becomes more apparent ”- she has been sired.

Joanna Gilbert can't wait to stick the cure down her half-sister'™s throat and joins up with Klaus Mikaelson. After all, what better partner than a former enemy with a common goal? But when Katherine Pierce joins the party and Damon is poisoned, Jo has to make a heart-breaking choice between the vampire she loves and her emotionless sister.

While FINAL SACRIFICE is the end of the Duality Trilogy, there is a chance of a standalone (likely a mid-February 2014 release) centered on Jo. Still kicking some ideas around.

Early 2014

2014 is going to start out with a bang thanks to BLOWN AWAY, A J. Carter & Associates Novella. This will be a sequel to 2012's AGAINST THE CLOCK featuring Neil Pearson and Lara Murphy. This time the action takes place at the office when a bomb explodes on a lower level, nearly killing Neil and throwing the company into chaos. It's Lara's turn to shine as she steps out into the field to find her missing mother.

In theory, a January release is likely. It'll be around 15,000 words and the price will be either $0.99 or $1.99. As always, AGAINST THE CLOCK will remain FREE!

The follow-up to FATAL TARGET, BREAKING POINT, will be out in March 2014. This full-length novel picks up the spring after Kat and Aidan's near-fatal showdown with Jonathan Weiss. Both of them still carry scars and Kat is finally working at J. Carter & Associates.

Fear is the main theme of BREAKING POINT as Aidan faces his past and Kat faces her greatest fear -- water. Both Kat and Aidan will be pushed to their breaking points as they fight to survive and stay together. This novel also introduces a recurring villain who's name has been mentioned since SOLE SURVIVOR - Elektra DeFlair. She's one of the few female villains in the series and one of my personal favorites.

Mid to Late 2014

Kat's long missing sister, Miranda Brennan, returns home. Not yet seen, Miranda is the elder twin who was given away before Kat, as mentioned in Lisa's diary. No one, not even Kat, has bothered to hunt down the elder Carter daughter.

It's a double dose of trouble in DOUBLE AGENT when she finally makes herself known to J. Carter & Associates. Unlike her sister, she isn't thrilled to find an instant family or to come face-to-face with a twin who stole her birthright.

Beyond DOUBLE AGENT, there is LIFE SUPPORT, where a deadly accident pulls Kat and Aidan apart and has long-lasting and devastating effects on the couple.

Series List

The J. Carter & Associates Novels

Sole Survivor
Fatal Target
Breaking Point (March 2014 release)
Double Agent (Summer 2014 release)
Life Support (Fall/Winter 2014 release)

The J. Carter & Associates Novellas

Against the Clock
Blown Away (Jan 2014 release)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mini-Blogs: Catch-up!

Since the last mini-blog, I took a full-time job and was later let go  (too many people, not enough work), FATAL TARGET hit eReaders, and I've been working on a limited series. Here's the latest!

FATAL TARGET Release


After numerous setbacks, FATAL TARGET, the second book in the J. Carter & Associates series, was released over the summer. The print edition is being formatted and should release later this month (original release was scheduled for September, but computers caught fire, files got eaten, and so on).

The very end is one big clue as to what's going to happen in the sequel, BREAKING POINT.

BREAKING Up is Hard to Do

Book three is all about Aidan. So far, we know pretty much everything about Katherine. But Aidan's a mystery. Anyone who's read FATAL TARGET has gotten a glimpse of his past. But in BREAKING POINT, we get to see why he's more than happy to forget the past.

Meet Elektra DeFlair. Not so affectionately known as the Black Widow, she's in charge of a ruthless group that's had a bunch of unpleasant run-ins with Jackson and J. Carter & Associates. She's also a mother of five kids--four sons and a daughter. She shows no compassion or mercy toward her enemies or her children.

Elektra isn't just a rival--she's Aidan's mother. And she has nothing but hatred for Katherine.

BREAKING POINT will be out in early 2014. Cover art will be released soon as well as a brief first look.

Limited Edition

I was very mum about Duality prior to the release of the first novella. I wasn't sure I could pull off another series, especially one in fan fiction universe with such a loyal fan base I'd never written for. I gathered my nerves and embarked on one hell of a journey.

Duality is the story of two sisters who share a face. They're not identical, but their similarities pull them both into a dangerous world filled with supernatural creatures. Elena is a doppelganger--a dead ringer for a woman named Katherine Pierce who lived five hundred years previous. Doppelganger blood is the only cure for a curse placed on an Original vampire.

Then comes Joanna. Raised by her mother with infrequent visits from her absentee father, she knows the truth about vampires. She also knows what her half-sister is. What she doesn't know is how much they look alike.

When John Gilbert disappears, Jo travels to his home town of Mystic Falls to track him down. Instead of finding her father, she finds her mirror image and catches the attention of the Original hybrid Klaus. And that all happens within the first few pages of BROKEN MIRROR.

Jo's story continues in SHATTERED TRUST, which just came out about two weeks ago, and concludes in FINAL SACRIFICE, which is due to come out early December 2013. All three books are part of the Kindle Worlds program and are Kindle-exclusive novellas.

I love Jo and I'm having a blast playing around in Mystic Falls, but I can't wait to get back to the gang of J. Carter & Associates with several new releases in 2014.

Extras

~ If you haven't already, take a peek at the new site dedicated to the JCA series over at http://www.jcarterassociates.webs.com

~ AGAINST THE CLOCK is getting a sequel! BLOWN AWAY will pick up Lara and Neil's story with an explosion at the office that threatens the lives of everyone and brings back an old enemy bent on destroying Aidan Murphy. The eBook novella will be $0.99 and details are to come. I'm aiming for a January 2014 release.

~ An updated paperback version of SOLE SURVIVOR is now available! It includes the timeline, excerpts, and the new cover. Plus, page numbers! It's on CreateSpace and will be available on Amazon and through other outlets in the coming weeks.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mini-Blogs: More Blog, Less Posts

Long time, no blog!

So here's a few mini-blogs...

Typos, typos, typos everywhere!

Once I got STEAL YOU AWAY released, I took a little break from my laptop. I'd just relocated the day before release and was still unpacking. By the time I got around to looking at the finished product on my Nook, it was January.

From the tiny excerpt at the opening to the back cover copy, I located several easy errors. So easy that if I were reading the sample or the back, I'd probably pass on reading the novel myself. Silly, little mistakes like misspelling a main character's name!

Needless to say, I went over it with a fine-toothed comb and redid all the e-copies and the print version. Because of the last-minute changes, I've had to delay FATAL TARGET again.

Here's two documented fails:



Full-Time

About two weeks ago, I announced, via Twitter, I'd taken a full-time job. Despite full-time work, I still planned to write and release books.

However, I turned down that particular job. I'm still interviewing for other positions. While working 40 hours a week will slow down my process, I will not stop writing. Releases might not be as frequent, but I will continue the J. Carter & Associates Series and do standalones and shorts.

So, rest easy. I'm still typing away like a mad person.

New Directions

FATAL TARGET has been hard to write, I'll admit it. The original drafts introduced Aidan...who ended up intro'd back in SOLE SURVIVOR, which changed the entire novel.

Now, FATAL TARGET focuses on what happens when the new couple are forced apart by a murder investigation that puts them both in trouble. I still struggled with what would force Kat to leave him behind - and then stumbled upon the solution - an attack on Aidan.

The good news is the first two parts (there will be either four or five parts in total) are edited and locked down, i.e., unless there are major changes in the back half that affect them.

I'm leaning toward a May or June release. I'll keep everyone posted!

Friday, December 21, 2012

WWAD?

About 75% of the time, I start a story with a simple idea. Very often, this idea comes in the form of a question - WWAD? In simple terms: What Would Aidan Do? Now, this could easily be WWKD for What Would Kat Do, but Aidan drives a lot of ideas.

For example, the plot of Breaking Point (#3 in the J. Carter & Associates series) is one major WWAD after another. WWAD if his wife disappeared and a body surface in the place where she was last seen? WWAD if all the evidence points to the body being that of Kat? Does he accept her as dead? Or does he fight the mounting evidence proving her dead and gone?

A second part of Breaking Point is WWAD if someone from his past reappeared? Little is known (well, at least to you, dear readers) about his life prior to the series. We know his best friend and partner, Marc Pearson, is ex-FBI. We know Aidan once picked pockets to survive. We know Jackson Robertson trusts him. What we don't know is about his family and his upbringing and what reduced him to petty theft.

Kat's past in contrast is an open book. Her life before the series isn't perfect, but it's no mystery. There is no real WWKD unless it deals with Aidan.

A great part of the plot in Fatal Target (#2 in the J. Carter & Associates series) is WWKD. WWKD if Aidan was arrested for murder? Alternatively, WWAD is he was framed for murder and separated from Kat? They are entwined in each other's identity despite their strong personalities. What happens to one affects the other.

Kat and Aidan each react in different ways. If the other is in danger, they act offensively. If Kat is personally threatened, she'll fight. If Aidan is threatened, he'll hold his ground. She reacts first and thinks second. Aidan is more mature and calculating, and less impulsive.

“Oh, Kitty, there you are!”
Her blood ran cold.
“Keep walking,” Aidan murmured into her ear. “Don’t let him win.”
She slipped an arm underneath his coat, searching for the familiar weight of his semi-automatic gun. It wasn’t there, but the move soothed her nonetheless. The gun was around the corner in their car, thanks to the courthouse’s security procedures. While she wouldn’t turn the gun on the man who abused her, she knew Aidan would. He would kill to defend her. He’d proved it in the past.
“You must be her new boyfriend. Tell me, is she worth the money? I don’t care who claims her as their child, she’s nothing more than a whore…”
Aidan pressed a ring of keys into her hand. “Get in the car, Katherine. Don’t say a word.”
She stepped away from him, a questioning look in her eye. He nodded as if to say it was okay. (from Fatal Target) 

That is, until Kat's life is at risk.

"Just give me a name," Marc demanded. "Just that and I'll help. I need to know."
"You need a name? Me! I'm the reason Kat's in danger. I'm the reason this happened. It's all because of me!"
Marc frowned, shifting the truck back into gear. "What did you do, Murphy?"
"I didn't die. That was my offense. I didn't die and she found out. Now, she's gonna have Kat die to teach me a lesson....She's gonna make her drown because it's Katy's greatest fear. She's going to die because I love her." (from Breaking Point)

Without the question of WWAD, Breaking Point would cease to exist. It's very Aidan-driven and deals with past consequences in the present. No matter how long you run, the past will catch up. It's only a matter of time before you have to face your fears...

"Not anymore. Where is she? What did you do to Katherine?"
"Everyone has a breaking point. I found hers..."
Water... (from Breaking Point)

Fatal Target lays the groundwork for the foray into Aidan's past. His past shaped him in both good and bad ways and should have made him evil. Instead, he is saved and redeemed by his love for Kat. He has no close family to confide in. He's created his own family at J. Carter & Associates and he'll make a bargain with the devil herself in order to protect them in Breaking Point.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Behind the Screen

Part of my reason for starting this blog was to talk about my inspirations behind the stories. Since I've already discussed SOLE SURVIVOR, today I'm going to hit on some other works that are upcoming.

First up, STEAL YOU AWAY.

Based loosely on a fan fiction I wrote back in... 2005, SYA is about a young woman who becomes entangled with a killer. The first half of the story bares little resemblance to the fan fiction and the characters have new names and backgrounds. Cassandra Sidell works in a hotel and meets a charming guy in a bar - who later steals her access card. After swapping cell phones, she interrupts a murder and ends up going lamp-to-face with him.

Garrett Ramsey is a trained killer. He's done his best to shut off his humanity in order to do his job. But Cass gets under his skin. Before long, he's dragging her along in an attempt to save her life against his better judgment.

The banter between them and the chemistry was all inspired by the 2005 thriller "RED EYE" directed by Wes Craven. The fan fiction that served as my jumping off point for SYA followed Lisa and Jackson as he plotted his revenge on her for transgressions made during the film. The unlikely duo end up working together to take down his bosses and survive, all while falling for each other.

Wanna see some differences?

The original scene in the fanfiction.

Lisa entered her bathroom and washed her face with cold water to wake herself up. After drying her face she looked in the mirror and jumped backwards. Written in soap was a message, clearly for her.

I MAY HAVE TO STEAL YOU

Lisa started shaking. Jackson had said those very words on the plane.

"When this is over, I may have to steal you," he said, icy blue eyes locking on her.

She knew it was only a matter of time. Jackson would come for her soon and there was nothing she could do about it. Jackson never broke his promises.

A scene from STEAL YOU AWAY.

Cassandra blew her bangs out of her eyes, standing up. She faced herself in the mirror, dark-circled eyes and all, only to find her image obscured.

Blood red lipstick covered the glass. I MAY HAVE TO STEAL YOU it screamed in bold writing. It was a man’s handwriting – all angles and straight strokes. No curves or silly dots. Plain and to the point.

Just like the man responsible for the garish graffiti.

Garrett Ramsey. He’d been in her room for sure this time.

Except, there was a line through STEAL. Above it, he’d scrawled KILL. I MAY HAVE TO KILL YOU.

She shivered, chills moving through her body.


Okay, FATAL TARGET.

The original idea was of a shooting on campus. These were in the days before the VA Tech shooting and other high-profile incidents of violence on college campuses across the US. The shooting was a distraction to kidnap Kat.

Also, FT was meant to be Aidan's introduction to readers. But, he got a larger role in SOLE SURVIVOR and wasn't an unknown in FT.

Here's an example of the differences, using two different scenes focusing on Kat's training.

From an old draft in 2008:

"Do it again, Kat! Faster!"


Her chest was heaving. She could barely catch her breath. Kat wiped the sweat from her forehead with a white towel and whirled around to attack the punching bag. The weighted bag swung on the chain in the workout room she had fashioned with her father. Her mother was upstairs organizing boxes as they ran through the motions of a workout.


She swung out her right leg, striking the bag, before following with a left-handed punch. The chain creaked and her father shouted directions. Kat punched, feinted, and kicked through a series of combinations, a pulse-pounding beat in her mind as she fought the bag.


"Good, good!" Jackson praised, clapping his hands as she finished the set. "Now let's go for a run."


"You've… got… to… be… kidding…" Kat gasped, bent over and doing her best not to vomit. She'd pushed herself hard—she always did.


He cocked his dark-haired head in her direction. "No, Kat, I'm not. Get some water, and we're going. You need to build up your endurance levels."


"Why? I'm going to college in a few days."

From the new version:


“Breathe. Focus. In and out.”

He stood behind her, his breath hot on her bare neck. His hands steadied her, helping to adjust her position. Katherine loved being close to her boyfriend, even when he barely touched her.

“You can do this. Remember the recoil. No, don’t tense up. That’s a good way to get smacked in the face,” he urged, soothing her muscles with a gentle touch. “You’ve got this. You’ll be fine.”

“Okay,” she said.

Katherine Carter-Robertson took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger. In her hand, the gun leapt, barking out as the bullet left the barrel and soared across the room to cut through a paper target. Her shoulders absorbed the recoil and she held her ground.

“Again,” Aidan urged.

Crack. Crack. Crack. Crack.

Each bullet ripped through the paper. One. Two. Three. Four. Five holes. Two in the head and three center mass.

“That’s my girl!” Aidan Murphy whooped, kissing her cheek. “Great job, babe!”

It's amazing what can happen between drafts. While the core of the story is the same - Kat being a target for a ruthless killer, her allies have changed, her solid relationship with Aidan is tested, and some subplots are removed.

Friday, November 2, 2012

NaNoWriMo

It's November, which is one of my favorite times of the year. Why, you ask? Because, it's NaNo time, baby!

NaNoWriMo badge from the site
What's NaNo? It's short for NaNoWriMo which is better known as National Novel Writing Month. The goal of NaNo is to write a novel (in any genre) in 30 days. What counts as a novel? For NaNo, 50,000 words is considered "winning". You could write 'ninja' 50,000 times and win, but where's the fun in that?

NaNo helps forge bonds by hosting write-ins were us anti-social creatures of the keyboards meet in public, in libraries or Panera Breads, across the world and do what we do best -- WRITE. Encouragement is key during NaNo. We all band together and cheer each other on to reach that 50K mark. For 30 days, we live and breathe writing, and boy, is it a rush like no other.

The writing is rough, unpolished, and full of typos. But to see those words fill up the blank page before you is amazing. It's pure, unfiltered imagination.

If you're an aspiring author, join in. It's free and at a daily goal of about 1,667 words, you, too, can write a novel in month. I've done it since 2007 regardless of what's going on in my life - high school, college, work, illness - and I've never regretted it.

NaNo's not about the win - it's about the journey. So, dust off that typewriter, that keyboard, or buy a brand new pen and notebook, and join in. I'm doing it. Why aren't you?

Learn more about NaNoWriMo and even sponsor this great organization here.

Want to track my progress? My author's page.