My latest release, THE LAST VICTIM, is a featured book for February 2016 on the Goodreads Psychological Thrillers Book Club. A great group. I’m honored. I’ve contributed a few ideas for discussion questions, submitted giveaways for those who participate in the discussion, but when it came to coming up with interesting tidbits about the book, I had fun remembering what I’d put into this one (and other books). The personal stuff keeps me entertained. It’s a big part of my passion for writing and my natural curiosity gets fed regularly, whether I use a factoid in a book or not.
Here are 5 Ways I keep it real:
1.) Walk the Streets with Yellow Man – If I use a place in my fiction book that criminal activity happens, I tend to make up a name, but maybe model it after a real place, if it fits. But when I can mention a real place, anyone from that city might think I lived there or my use of real places might make them feel like my characters are walking the streets of their hometown. In my latest novel, I used a real restaurant in Seattle called Palace Kitchen. I researched how the place looked outside and picked real items from their menu to use in the book. (Someone please invent a scratch and sniff app to properly research menu items. STAT)
Have you ever wanted to “walk the streets” of a town if you can’t afford to go there? Try using Google maps and look for the little yellow man icon. You click and drag him to where you want to go and let him do the walking for you. You have 360 degree views. I’ve walked the ugly streets of some big cities to find the creepiest places to kill people. Try it. (Not the killing part. The yellow man click and drag part.)
2.) YouTube & Vimeo Put You There – I’ve been researching sniper training. I’ll get a weapons guy to help fine tune the details, but YouTube or Vimeo is a good place to start. In one of my YA novels, ON A DARK WING, I watched videos of the many climbers who tackled Mount Denali in Alaska. I had a friend who climbed the mountain more than once, but you never know what choice morsels you can find from someone’s video while they are “in the trenches.”
3.) No One is Safe – In THE LAST VICTIM, I added my nephew and made him an Alaska State Trooper. Almost all of my books have relatives hidden in their pages. I don’t warn them ahead of time, but they crack up when they see their names or familiar habits in print. Some might be only a voice on a recorded message or another might be a detective walking the streets looking for hookers.
4.) Pets Are Fair Game – In my last book, I added my rescue dog Sancho and my yellow tabby Pinot Grigio (RIP little man). Since I’m writing a work of fiction, I can make them smarter than they are, have them catch a Frisbee, or flash their furry butts in indignation.
5.) Bleed on the Page – In the novella I just finished, I explored grief through my character, Rafael Matero in HOT TARGET, my Omega Team novella series that will launch under Amazon Kindle Worlds February 18th. I lost someone very special to me in 2014 and it ripped my heart out. I’ve only just started back to writing with this Omega series, so I had to bleed on the page with my experiences. It makes this book very personal for me. I struggled for every word and every image to make it feel real. It’s given me a measure of peace and has become my first step toward a new future. I’m so glad I wrote this book. It will always be special to me for that reason.
On the lighter side, I am researching funny military slang or phrases that my former Navy SEAL, Sam Rafferty, might use in my Omega Team Book #2 – TOUGH TARGET, coming out in May 2016. (The third novella in the series will be out in July 2016.) My older brother had a long career with the Air Force and he’s still involved as a contractor for the military. It’s been fun picking his brain, especially with his humor. The more I infuse some handpicked phrases, the more this character is coming alive in my mind for this series. There are plenty of online resources, but the slang or phrases that are the funniest come from the comments written below the posts on slang.
1.) If you know any fun military slang or phrases, please share them or any links you think would help. (I’ve adapted some of these phrases or slang into my dialogue with Sam Rafferty and it’s been a blast.)
2.) Share some examples how you make your writing personal. I’d love to hear.
HOT TARGET – An Omega Team novella series, created by Desiree Holt for Amazon Kindle Worlds, coming February 18.
When Rafael reaches out to his sister for a job, Athena Matero—a founding member of the private security agency the Omega Team—can’t help be protective of her younger half brother. After the brutal murders of his wife and baby girl, Rafael Matero turned into a solitary loner, only surfacing to fulfill his duties as team leader for an elite SWAT sniper unit with the Chicago Police. Athena decides to fast track his application by vetting him on the job—a mission to Havana Cuba to investigate a cold case murder.
But when the old murder is linked to the shadowy death of a powerful drug cartel leader, Rafael is burdened by a terrible secret from his past—and an unrelenting death wish—that puts him at dangerous odds with Athena and her team. He believes he’s beyond saving, but that doesn’t stop Jacquie Lyles from trying.
Jacquie sees something in Athena’s mysterious brother that touches her heart. Chivalrous and brave, Rafael is as rare as a unicorn in her life as techno computer geek and white hat hacker for the Omega Team. After she joins the team on its mission to Cuba, she uncovers Rafael’s shocking burden and it breaks her heart.
Rafael stands in the crosshairs of a vicious drug cartel—powerless to stop his fate—and his secret could put Athena and her team in the middle of a drug war.