A mobster learns he’s becoming a god, only to discover they die too.
The right hand of the dominant mob family, Raine Morgan is tasked with hunting down two miscreants messing with the bottom line. He finds them on the docks, but, in the confusion of the fight, accidentally kills their victim and lets them escape. Horrified at what he’s done, Raine seeks redemption as well as revenge.
Things spiral out of control when a greedy middleman overthrows Raine’s mob organization. It’s only with the help of a friend inside the crumbling mob as well as a streetwise artist that Raine remains undetected as he searches for the men who started this all. Raine doesn’t realize, however, he has caught the attention of a disparate conclave of gods in the process.
As the pantheon returns to the city they’d abandoned, old conflicts re-emerge, causing divine civil war. Both sides try to pull Raine to their side, expecting to find a naive god for them to manipulate. Instead, they find a man stripped of everything, intent on playing both sides as they learn an awful reality – even gods can die.
How to Identify Your Writing Problems
I’ve been in the trenches so long that the only way I really look at this now is through editing. Identifying your failings as a writer while you’re in the thick of it can only be a distraction. However, I do have some useful shortcuts to take when editing that can help.
Now, I use Microsoft Word most of the time. I’m old school in that manner. I have Scrivener, but I’ve only really used it after the fact to set everything out for a bird’s eye view. However, I still edit and write in Microsoft Word, but I assume most text editors have this functionality. This goes hand in hand with using Track Changes.
Favorite Tool: Find and Replace (Ctrl + H). Make it work for you.
There is a lot you can do with this. For me, I use it to highlight “trouble” words, passive voice, and repetitive phrases. In the past, I’ve had a compulsion to find every repeated phrase and eliminate them. Unfortunately, with long form fiction, you are going to repeat yourself, but it’s more of a question of frequency rather than eliminating the phrases altogether. All the things I’m about to list are an aspect of this tool. Just pull up the Replace tool (once again, Ctrl + H) and be sure to click the More >> button.
Highlight: Make sure you click in the Replace with: field. Now, at the bottom, there’s a button that says Format. Now, Click Highlight. It should now put Highlight under the Replace with field. The secret of using Highlight is that you just need to search for (and replace) a term, with nothing listed in the Replace field, and it will simply highlight all the words. It’s also a good idea to tick Find whole words only so that it doesn’t highlight every word that has your search word contained within.
One thing I recommend as well is to change the highlight color, depending on what you’re doing. For me, this is the type of stuff I look for:
Linking verbs (in yellow): am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been
Repeated words/phrases (in green): to the side, looked, appeared
Adverbs or Words Ending in Ly (blue)
Everyone will have a different list of stuff that plagues their writing, but it’s worth highlighting those so that you can read the context and see if they absolutely need to be in there. There are times when they do. I spent an entire draft eliminating all passive voice, and yes, I mean I was at 0% passive voice in my entire novel. Then, over the next three drafts, slowly added it back in because, in certain circumstances, it is still needed. Be mindful of what you’re eliminating and how it might change your work, but, for me, Find and Replace (plus Highlight) is my most useful tool
Justin D. Herd is a Fantasy Noir author who has been writing novels for ten years. He absolutely loves dark, twisted stories that take readers into unexpected places. Horror movies are his passion and he often takes stories to task for not logically thinking out their concepts. His home has been invaded by two eccentric children as well as a cat which is obsessed with all things digital.
Vigilante detective Emily Stone has covertly hunted down killers and closed more serial cases than most seasoned homicide cops combined. Her exceptional profiling skills and forensic techniques, along with deductive crime scene investigations, have made her a compelling force that cannot be beat.
She has reached her ultimate breaking point and now must face her toughest opponent yet – her biggest fears.
With preciseness, the Tick-Tock Killer has taken his next child victim and promised to dump the body precisely four days later, mocking police and the community. Stone struggles to balance her inner demons and ghosts from the past, against the wits of a brutal and cunning serial killer in an all-out battle of psychological warfare.
Can Stone save the next child in time? Dark Pursuit is an action-packed cat and mouse game that will take you to dark places rarely explored.
Writing in the Moment
A few years ago, I discovered the term mindfulness and incorporated it into my everyday life. It has helped me to combat my anxiety issues. It simply means what it implies. On one level, it means paying attention to details of what is going on around you at any given time, but on a much deeper level, it brings your conscious awareness to a moment-by-moment basis. It is where you pay attention to what is happening right now, but in a non-judgmental way.
Writing is a demanding, but a rewarding profession. I have found myself taking part in standard Yoga stretches to ground myself before beginning my day. I have recently taken it a step further by using the meditation technique to mindfulness to de-stress and balance my mind and body. It works wonders on writing.
I wanted to take the “in the moment” or “mindfulness” into my writing. I have finished my fifth Emily Stone Novel, Dark Pursuit, where my protagonist, Emily Stone, pushes new levels of suspense as she chases after serial killers. It is the feeling of being caught up in the moment where you can almost feel the killer’s breath or feel their touch.
As I briefly outlined the chapters and scenes for this book, I have found myself creating the suspense and tension of the storyline by using some simple techniques. I take a moment to view things from Emily Stone’s perspective of “in the moment” methods. It definitely gets the writing juices flowing.
For example, if Emily Stone finds a new clue that can help track down the killer, I ask myself several questions. What does she do? How will she move forward in a moment-by-moment way? What are some of the observations, emotions, and details that she can accomplish in this particular task? I break down the scene into action/reaction from beginning to end. The beginning is when she finds the clue and the end is the result I want her to accomplish. It sounds simple, but breaking it down moment by moment is challenging.
You can take this writing task a step further into your own day. Write the “in the moment” observations of a typical day. Create a scene when you run errands, watch your favorite movie, or take a lunch break with a friend. Write everything down that you observe. What are the moment-by-moment actions that happen? Decipher them. Study them. It opens up a new perspective into a storyline and you begin to see things differently.
Personally, I have found that by writing in the moment, you discover not only things about yourself, but also about your characters. The next time you feel that little procrastination writing bug nipping at you, pull back, and write in the moment.
Jennifer Chase is an award-winning author and consulting criminologist. She has authored six crime fiction novels, including the award-winning Emily Stone thriller series along with a screenwriting workbook.
Jennifer holds a Bachelor degree in police forensics and a Master’s degree in criminology. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent sociopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling. She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists.