Monday, January 23, 2012

ONLINE Writing Class

Writing for the Young Adult Market – Where do I begin? (One thriller author’s journey)

Instructor: Jordan Dane

Dates: February 20 – March 2

Cost: $10 for Young Adult RWA members (non-member fee is $20)


About the Class: Interested in writing for one of the hottest genres in the publishing industry? Critically acclaimed adult thriller and young adult novelist Jordan Dane (HarperCollins/Harlequin Teen) shares what she’s learned about trends/themes/subgenres in the Young Adult market for teens, the unique voice, how to create believable characters, & where to get ideas for books targeting teens 12-18 years old. This workshop will be geared for aspiring authors & published authors wanting to learn about YA. And for one participant, Jordan will provide a detailed first chapter critique.

About the Instructor: HarperCollins launched Jordan Dane’s suspense novels back to back in 2008 after the 3-book series sold in auction. Ripped from the headlines, Jordan’s gritty plots weave a tapestry of vivid settings, intrigue, and dark humor. Publishers Weekly compared her intense thrillers to Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardner, and Tami Hoag. This national best selling, critically acclaimed author’s debut novel NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM was named Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2008. Dane’s first Young Adult book is IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS (Apr 2011, Harlequin Teen) with ON A DARK WING set for January 2012. Formerly an energy sales manager, she now writes full time. Jordan and her husband share their San Antonio residence with two cats of highborn lineage and two rescue dogs.

For any questions, please contact YARWA's workshop coordinator, Shelley Coriell, at or go to

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Seduction of Mystery

No matter what genre, a book can always seduce a reader with the titillation of mystery. A suspense or thriller plot can race towards the end with its escalating stakes, but the lure of an underline mystery teases the reader and holds them tight as the storyline unfolds to reveal its fleshy curves and tantalizing secrets. The seduction is made more complete and satisfying.

Alfred Hitchcock knew this.

Hitchcock believed suspense didn’t have much to do with fear, but was more the anticipation of something about to happen. When I read this, it was a huge epiphany for me. The idea changed how I thought about scenes and chapter endings, but I was recently reminded of the importance of anticipation in other ways when someone in my local writers’ group asked me when and how to use back story. In a seduction, back story is the equivalent of smoking a cigarette after. At some point, you want it to happen, but it’s anticipation that drives you to turn those pages all night long. There’s no faking that.

If you’re a writer, anticipation doesn’t have to ONLY be about big plot movements. Don’t forget the voyeur in all of us, readers and writers alike. Relationships need a story arc too. Conflict and tension make them more delectable. Our main characters are tested, tortured, pushed to the limits to justify their starring role in our books. And when a man and woman are involved in a personal relationship, a writer makes them pay for wanting to be together. That’s how a writer knows when they have the right balance of emotion to suspense. If the emotional human story can be stripped out and the book no longer makes sense, then the right balance is achieved. One is integral to the other.

A high octane Bruce Willis movie—with its special stunts and computer generated action sequences—may not stick in moviegoers heads if there weren’t the emotional elements, the drama of his estranged wife in danger. Only his love for her puts him in harm’s way from the beginning and keeps him taking risks for her. It’s not just about saving her life. It becomes—will they get back together? A suspense/thriller plot escalates the stakes and ramps up tension as the pages turn, but something as simple as unanswered questions or a mounting attraction between two characters that you care about—while they are on a perilous journey—adds palpable heat that can sustain the rush to a gratifying end.

On my current project, I had a choice to make. I could have unfolded the story by relying on the suspense plot to be the main driver—or I could present my characters by their actions, without explaining the reason for their behavior until I absolutely had to. I chose to make my character’s back stories a strong mystery component where the plot will eventually force them into revealing themselves to each other and the reader. I’m orchestrating a seduction, one garment at a time, like a voyeur. With some elements, for key secondary characters, I layer the mystery without even knowing the answers myself. What an incredible rush! I can’t wait to see what happens.

Please share a book that seduced you completely with the right heady balance of compelling characters to intriguing plot—that unforgettable read that has stayed with you—maybe a guilty pleasure that you’ve read more than once.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Very Cool Stuff

Lots of really cool things happening as 2011 closes. Here are a few:

IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS made Bookurt's WOOT LIST for 2011. To earn that honor, according to Bookyurt, it has to amp Katie up, geek her out, and leave her ridiculously happy. Katie summed up by saying, "This book took me by storm. I didn't think any YA paranormal could surprise me at this stage, but did this book ever--and wow it packs quite a punch. I've already re-read it twice."

Jen at Fictitious Musings named IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS & ON A DARK WING as "Most Deliciously Awesome Reads of 2011"

Emerging Novelists recognized IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS as WINNER of the Best Young Adult Novel of 2011

Booktwirps named IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS as RUNNER UP "Best of 2011" in the Paranormal category.