On Psychological Thrillers

On Psychological Thrillers
I’m super excited to have my friend and fellow #5MinuteFiction nemesis competitor, the delightful Nicole Wolverton on the blog today to talk to you about psychological thrillers and her new book, THE TRAJECTORY OF DREAMS. I’ve long been a fan of thrillers, and find the idea of crafting one myself rather daunting.
How about some green for St. Patty’s Day? There’s a giveaway at the bottom for an Amazon Gift Card (yay!) which you can use to purchase your very own copy!  There’s also a Goodreads giveaway through April 30th on the link below.
Welcome, Nicole!  Take it away…

THE TRAJECTORY OF DREAMS is a psychological thriller. Thrillers share a characteristic or two with mystery novels; specifically, there’s generally a crime involved. There’s evidence—sometimes hidden, sometimes obvious. There are inference gaps, or gaps in a story the reader must figure out in order to predict the end. There are red herrings, foreshadowing, and suspense. It’s a puzzle, and I love puzzles.

Writing thrillers takes a bit of planning. I know a lot of writers who simply have an idea, sit down, and just start writing, but I’m an outliner. Before I start to write, I have characters fleshed out, chapters blocked, and my research at least partially completed. I’m not saying one method is superior than the other—just that outlining works for me. For starters, it makes the writing go faster . . . and it means less writer’s block. But it also allows me to strategically drop clues, which when you’re writing thrillers or mysteries is really important. Despite the fact that THE TRAJECTORY OF DREAMS is an adult novel, I mostly write young adult novels. The young adult audience is sophisticated, quick, and smart (as much as adult audiences), so it’s critically important that clues are dropped and suspense is built in an intentional way.

Interestingly, it’s not always apparent whether a writer outlines or wings it when it comes to thrillers and mysteries. I happen to know Gillian Flynn finds it difficult to stick to an outline, for instance, and Gone Girl was the most reviewed book of last year. I’ve heard John Irving’s In One Person described as a psychological thriller, and he very carefully outlines and constructs. So does Kazuo Ishiguro (Never Let Me Go). Ever writer is different. Every piece of writing is different.

I read a lot, and I read a lot of different genres. There are always suspenseful books on my to-be-read list because suspense crosses genres. My favorite psychological thrillers/suspense novels of all time are Turn of the Screw (Henry James), Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (John Berendt), We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Shirley Jackson), and Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking series. All of them make you wonder what’s going on, leave you with a feeling of discomfort in parts, and—at least for me—have me wondering how they were constructed.

What are your favorite thrillers/suspense novels?

Publishers Weekly calls THE TRAJECTORY OF DREAMS (Bitingduck Press, ISBN 9781938463440) a “skillful mainstream examination of a psychotic woman’s final descent into insanity.” The novel exposes the chaotic inner life of Lela White, a sleep lab technician and mentally ill insomniac who believes she has been tasked with protecting the safety of the revitalized U.S. space shuttle program. She breaks into the homes of astronauts to watch them sleep, and she is prepared to kill to keep those with sleep problems from the shuttle launch. Her delicate grasp on reality becomes more tenuous when annoying co-worker Trina Shook insists on moving into her house and visiting Russian cosmonaut Zory Korchagin inserts himself into Lela’s life. Korchagin’s increasing interest puts her carefully-constructed world at risk of an explosion as surely as he does his own upcoming launch. Lela’s tragic childhood unfolds throughout the novel, revealing the beginnings of her illness and long-buried secrets, and as Lela’s universe unravels, no one is safe. Buy a copy of THE TRAJECTORY OF DREAMS at your local independent bookshop, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or anywhere books are sold.

Goodreads | LibraryThing | Shelfari

THE AUTHOR: Nicole Wolverton fears many things, chief amongst them that something lurks in the dark. From ghosts to stalkers, her adult and young adult fiction plays on the mundane and not-so-mundane things that frighten us all. THE TRAJECTORY OF DREAMS is her debut novel. She is a freelance writer and editor and lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband, dog, and two cats.


Goodbye to Google Reader

Goodbye to Google Reader

Can it be? Is Google Reader going away?

According to Google’s official blog:

We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.

Can you hear the groan of the blog collective? Anyone have recommendations on where to go to maintain contact with the blogs I love and track via RSS? I follow hundreds of blogs using Google Reader and will be lost without another tool.

I’d love to know if there is an alternative that is stable and free.  I’ve been reading up on this since I heard the news and I haven’t heard yet of another RSS reader app.

I’ve wanted to migrate my blog to wordpress and have been hesitant because of the google follow tool and all of you who find me via your reader losing track of my little slice of the internet. But if the reader goes, is that still a factor?

Tech savvy people of the world… chime in!  Will you be my hero?

A true story about a dragon.

A true story about a dragon.

A week and two days ago, I caved in to the pressures of my darling son and allowed him to use all of his money and some of mine on credit to get a pet of his own. His younger sister purchased her own pet (with all the trimmings) at the ripe age of 7, so at 11 and 11/12 I figured it was time to let the boy take on some responsibility.

Meet our bearded dragon. My son named him Frodo, which causes all kinds of happiness to bloom inside of his proud mom.

Call me Frodo

Isn’t he adorable? That’s my hand holding him. Never thought I’d do that… but he’s really tiny, and quite cute. We set up his cage, chopped up fresh veggies, fed him baby crickets (the full size ones are just too big for his tiny dragon jaws). I even dipped my finger in his conditioned water and let him drink the drop from my fingertips. We were in love.

48 hours later, my son misplaced Frodo “somewhere in the house”.

We tore the house apart while we googled the habits of baby dragons… all the while I knew what happened:

I eated Frodo

She looks totally guilty…

So… we continue to search, leaving the lights on in case Frodo finds his way back to the cage. Taking care to shake out the laundry before we stuff it into the washer.  All the while I know we’re going through the motions because of that dog. We’ll find a dragon carcass in the grass some time this summer after the thaw.

#1 Son is despondent. Sons #3 and #4 are using this as an opportunity to make me see that even though they are the younger ones, they would never have misplaced the animal. So being older and saving your money doesn’t always mean you can take care of a pet. This makes #1 son even more upset.

Darling daughter chimes in, seconding the injustice of the dragon when I know well that she has the funds to get her next pet. After all, wasn’t it MOM’S IDEA that as long as the kids used their own money they could have the pet of their choice?  Yes, it was. I never really thought anyone had the willpower to save, since they don’t get allowances at this house. But, I digress.

Meet TJ and Jack:

TJ and Jack.  (Or Jack and TJ)

This is partly my fault… because she was able to purchase the brown guy and a hutch and food, etc.  And when we pulled brown from his cage, black started crying. Actually crying… So, I bought the 2nd one.  Little guys are so sweet together and they are not lonely while the kids are in school.

Then… yesterday I am waiting for the school bus when I noticed this guy standing frozen not three feet from me:

Give me shelter

It’s like wild kingdom around here. Turns out this guy was injured and found a quiet place to hang out in my rose garden. He stayed there all afternoon and through the night. The following morning, he was still there, basking in the sun.  I knew something was wrong when he didn’t leave when I got near.

By the time I got home in the afternoon, he was laying on his side, barely breathing.  I called wildlife rescue and the police. Afraid to touch him, I sang to the poor animal while I waited. They came over and tried to roust him. When they realized he was not going to get on his feet, they put him down.  I had to go to all the neighbors and alert them to an imminent gunshot. It was terrible. But the policeman was also a hunter and knew how to make it as quick as possible.

Meanwhile, despondent son #1 is hoping Frodo will find his way home.

I am convinced now… it’s been a week.  So, I took son to the store and we picked up another one. (I know… don’t get me started on the lack of a lesson being learned here. And yeah – my husband’s right that this is about me just a little bit, too.)

Meet Son of Frodo:

I am very sleepy.

He’s even tinier that Frodo the first, and a brighter color. Sweet and tiny, loves the heat lamp.

This afternoon my friend calls me to ask if her son left his eyeglasses here. I know I’ve seen a rogue pair around here, even though five of us are bespectacled. So I wander through the house.  And there, on the mantle…

A matching set of Frodos

The guy on the right is the original.  He lived for a week on the mantle where my son *now* recalls he placed him while getting something. I am amazed that this little guy could survive without real warmth, water, or food for a week. It’s cold here in Colorado. So, at least this story has a happy ending.

Now I’m wondering what the heck the dog did to look so guilty…