Redemption—My Favorite Character Arc

A character arc is the inner journey of a character, beginning in the opening chapters of a story and ending at the climax, in which the character changes in some profound way. My favorite character arc is what I call the redemption arc. This character arc involves a character who is either “bad” or imperfect at the beginning of the story, who evolves through the course of the story so that when finally facing the pressure of the story’s final crisis, he or she rises to the moment and shows him or herself to be a hero. While we love characters who from page 1 are champions of justice and goodness, we seem to be especially drawn to lesser characters who “make good.” There is something about this character arc that seems to be universally appealing. Read more ›

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The End—Thoughts on Thriller Endings

Today I’m going to talk about endings—specifically, what makes a good one. We’ve all had the experience of reading a great book, only to be let down by a mediocre finale. Similarly, we’ve all read and suffered through mediocre books, only to reach a spectacular ending that leaves us with an overall positive impression of a book that, in reality, we didn’t really enjoy all that much. Mickey Spillane famously said that your first chapter sells the book, and your last chapter sells your next book. Endings are super important. They can make or break a reading experience.

So what is it that separates a great ending from a mediocre one? Some of it is just magic, and resists logical analysis, but as a writer I have tried to study what works. Read more ›

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Tips for Writers—Using Setting to Improve Story

sunOf all the various moving parts a writer needs to worry about, setting is probably the least exciting, but one of the most helpful. Action, dialogue, characterization – these are the aspects of storytelling that draw us to the keyboard with enthusiasm, raring to go. Setting, on the other hand, can feel like a tedious chore. But mastering the skill of writing setting is critical if you want to create great stories that people will love to read. Read more ›

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Interview with audiobook narrator Xe Sands

This week I am excited to present an interview with Xe Sands, the narrator of the Burnout audiobook and the upcoming Informant and Deadly Evidence audiobooks. Xe is an accomplished narrator with a number of awards to her credit, including an Audie Award, multiple SOVAS Voice Arts Awards, multiple AudioFile Earphones Awards, and a Publisher’s Weekly Narrator of the Year Award. She has lent her voice to books in numerous genres including thrillers, romance, science fiction and fantasy, and others. Despite a very busy schedule, Xe was generous enough to let me interview her for this blog. I hope you enjoy it!

Larry: You have an interesting name, so let’s get that out of the way first. How is Xe pronounced, and what is the origin of the name?

Xe: It is…unusual, that’s for sure. Although one of my cousins also has the same name, believe it or not. Makes for some hilarious confusion on Facebook (although she’s 12 years younger and MUCH cuter, so being mistaken for her ain’t a bad thing…).We’re both named after my great-grandmother. Oh – and it’s pronounced EK-see 🙂 Read more ›

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Giveaway and Deal on Burnout Audiobook!

My first audiobook is here! Burnout, the first book in the Jessie Black Legal Thrillers series, is now available as an audiobook narrated by Xe Sands. It’s available as a digital download or as a physical MP3-CD. Here’s the cover:

Burnout audiobook

If you’ve been following this blog or you’re on my email list, you know I have been enthusiastically looking forward to this release. And I’m even more excited to let you know about a giveaway and a deal on the audiobook. Read more ›

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Audiobook Release Schedule and other News

Time for another update. If you are a fan of the Jessie Black Legal Thriller series, there is a lot to be excited about right now! Here are some highlights.

The First Three Jessie Books in Audio

Jessie Black is coming to audiobooks! Audiobook publisher Tantor Media is bringing the first three Jessie books out in audio format this year. This is super-exciting to me, since I am a huge fan of audiobooks.

As I’ve mentioned on my blog, I am also a big fan of the narrator, Xe Sands, whose performance brings a wonderful new dimension to the books. Here is the audiobook release schedule: Read more ›

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Jessie Black Audiobooks Coming Soon!

headphonesYou may recall that one of my New Year’s resolutions was to explore audiobooks. I have sung their praises on this blog before, and I’m sure I’ll do so again—I’m a big fan. I have a lengthy commute to and from my day job, and I have found that this time on the road is ideal for reading. Well, I have an exciting announcement to make. The first three books in the Jessie Black legal thriller series, Burnout, Informant, and Deadly Evidence, are being produced as audiobooks by Tantor Media. Burnout should be released very soon, with the other books to follow. Read more ›

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What makes a good plot twist?

twistI don’t just write thrillers. I am also a voracious reader of them. There is a lot to love about the genre—fast-paced stories, larger-than-life characters, sky-high stakes. But one of my favorite things about a good thriller is a perfectly executed twist.

As thriller fans, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about—the shocking reveal, the abrupt reversal, the twist that you never saw coming, but that you should have.

In today’s blog, I thought it might be interesting to dig into this subject and try to dissect what makes a good twist work. Read more ›

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Tips for Writers—Scene Structure

phone and bookAs I mentioned before, this isn’t a writing blog. However, because this blog is about me, and I write books, it is somewhat inevitable that the subject of writing will come up from time to time. Today I’m going to talk about structure. Not the structure of a novel as a whole (we’ll cover that another time), but the structure of an individual section within a novel. (I am resisting using the word “scene” for reasons that will be clear in a moment—bear with me.) Read more ›

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Thoughts on the Fatal Defense book launch

Fatal Defense, the new book in the Jessie Black Legal Thriller series, launched on Friday, April 7. It’s still a little early to evaluate the success of the launch, but I thought it might be interesting to share some of my thoughts. Read more ›

Posted in Books, Fatal Defense, Jessie Black Legal Thrillers