The Challenges of Writing a Crossover & Book Birthday!

Jordan Dane
@JordanDane

Not many things are more satisfying than finishing a book, seeing the final touches of cover copy and cover, and letting your baby go “into the wild.” Today is the release day for REDEMPTION FOR AVERY – part of the new Susan Stoker –  Special Forces series with Amazon Kindle Worlds.

Ryker Townsend FBI profiler series - novella (31,000 words) $1.99 ebook, July 21, 2016 release

$1.99 ebook – July 21, 2016 release

The challenges of this 31,000 word novella centered on crossing my Ryker Townsend FBI Profiler series into Susan’s Navy SEAL world, using one of her novels (Protecting Summer) and a key character, Sam “Mozart” Reed, from that book.

Challenges:
1.) Blending two worlds – My dark crime fiction world had to blend seamlessly into Susan’s romance action/adventure world of the military. That meant I had to bump up my romance and also deal with two very different kind of men. Ryker Townsend is an isolated loner by necessity, an intellectual with a mind like a computer, and hardly described as an alpha male. Navy SEAL Mozart Reed is definitely alpha male with a disciplined military demeanor and a fascinating puzzle. I wanted to create a situation to force these two different men into an investigation.

2.) Paying homage to Mozart & Susan’s World – I did my research on Susan’s writing and read the book that dealt the most with Mozart’s past, the way I would force these two worlds together. In Mozart’s childhood, when he was only 15, his younger sister was abducted and brutally murdered by a serial killer. Well, that’s right up my alley and that backstory worked well with my FBI profiler series.

3.) Portraying Someone Else’s Character While Doing Justice to Your Own – SEAL Mozart Reed is a strong character, fully capable of being a hero of his own book. But I had to be sure my character, Ryker Townsend, held his own with an ebb and flow to their dynamics. Each man became key and could easily dominate the story, but the blending of these two dynamic forces became a joy. I wrote them like Butch and Sundance.

4.) Getting the Facts Right – Sometimes a preceding book is a little vague on the facts, by design. An author may choose to write vague details about a character’s backstory or leave out scenes for the sake of plot. I was lucky to have Susan’s brain to pick. I’d send her a message and she’d write me back right away. I swear she lives online. I’d ask questions about where the body was finally buried or embellished on an unwritten scene, but I didn’t want rewrite her previous novel without paying respect to her original work. She was very gracious and we both poured through pages to make sure I could add details not contemplated in her originating novel. She also had books that came after and we compared timelines to be sure I didn’t leave out a baby, for example. When my project was done, she read REDEMPTION FOR AVERY and we tweaked a couple of nuances to make it the best collaboration we could. Susan Stoker is a very generous author.

Here is the synopsis of REDEMPTION FOR AVERY:

When he sleeps, the hunt begins.

FBI Profiler Ryker Townsend is a rising star in Quantico’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, but his dark secret could cost him his career. When he sleeps, he has visions of his next case. He sees through the eyes of the dead, the last images imprinted on their retinas. His nightmares are riddled with clues he must decipher to hunt humanity’s Great White Shark—the serial killer.

While he’s investigating the shocking slaughter of a seventeen-year-old girl at Big Bear Lake, the tormented soul of another dead child appears to him in broad daylight. Twelve-year-old Avery Reed reaches out to Ryker—a disheveled and haunted girl, unable to speak—held earthbound out of love for her grief-stricken brother, Sam. Avery’s presence draws Ryker into a sinister conspiracy and she has a desperate message for her brother, if she can make Ryker understand.

Navy SEAL Sam ‘Mozart’ Reed has been haunted by the brutal death of his little sister Avery when he was only fifteen-years old. He vowed to seek and destroy the killer who splintered his family, wiping out everything he’d ever known. Nineteen years later, his darkest wish came true when he found Hurst, her alleged killer, and stopped him from murdering one last time. But when Mozart learns the FBI has reopened Avery’s case, he fears the worst. His SEAL team may have ended the carnage of a serial killer years ago, but for the first time, Mozart has doubts that Hurst had been the man who took Avery’s life. A heartless predator is still butchering young girls. Mozart’s worst nightmare is back with a cruel vengeance.

INVITATION:
To celebrate the launch of Susan Stoker’s Special Forces series with Amazon Kindle Worlds, we are having a Facebook Party on July 23 at this link:

https://www.facebook.com/events/604059626438678/

I’ll be online 3:30-4pm EST. There will be lots of giveaways all day with other authors joining the party.

FOR DISCUSSION:
1.) Have you ever crossed over one of your worlds with another? Did this crossover involve another author’s work?

2.) How do you celebrate YOUR book birthdays?

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A New Series & Book Giveaway

Jordan Dane
@JordanDane

I am very happy to have my dear friend, Desiree Holt, on TKZ. With over 200 books under her belt, USA Today called her “the Nora Roberts of erotic romance.” She’s a multi-award winner, critically acclaimed author of all things romance and action/adventure, and she has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning National TV Show (an amazing feature that had me giggling) and in The Village Voice, The Daily Beast, USA Today, The (London) Daily Mail, The New Delhi Times and numerous other national and international publications. She is a very generous person and always inspires me to keep the faith and the fun in my writing. I love her dearly and am proud to be a contributing author to her new Amazon Kindle Worlds series. A great combination of romantic suspense and action/adventure. She’s giving me the freedom to put my Jordan Dane spin on her Omega Team world and I’m having a blast! Take it away, Desiree.

Desiree Holt

Thanks so much for the opportunity to guest blog with you today.

My first love, both in reading and movies/television has always been suspense/action adventure. So when I finally discovered the lure of romance, it was a natural for me to combine everything. In recent times I had drifted slightly away from that but now I am back to romantic suspense/action adventure with a vengeance

I’ve had the opportunity to interview at length two men who definitely could be part of The Omega Team. When I lived in Texas they were, at different times, my firearms instructors, one a former Delta Force and one a former Force Recon Marine. They willingly gave of their time so I could get every detail of my stories exactly right. Any mistakes I have made as I wrote other series are truly my own. Their knowledge—and my copious notes—stood me in good stead as I attacked this new project.
I was very excited when Amazon invited me to create a World specifically for their Kindle Worlds. I love the essence of these stories and the men and women who are the silent heroes.

As I dug into creating the series, based around a private security agency, I realized just how valuable people like this can be. There are places where the government cannot take a role, where men and women have to operate in the shadows to successfully accomplish their mission and no word of it can leak. Every agent is either former military or formerly in some branch of the police, from local departments to the FBI.

The first three stories, laying the basis for this world—The Omega Team—have already been released to give people a taste of what is to come. The Kindle World of The Omega Team will officially launch February 16 with a select group of authors, including my special friend Jordan Dane.

So what is The Omega Team?

In this age of danger and conflict, when security is a high priority, a new entity is born. Whatever your needs, they will protect you. They are The Omega Team.

Grey Holden was raised to believe in honor and duty and the dedication of men to fighting evil. Both his father and grandfather taught him the tradition of the Omega Male, men who carry a resourcefulness, cunning and strength to get a job done with their own skill. They take great pride in what they do without it manifesting as “ego.” They differ from the typical Alpha Male who MUST absolutely be perceived by his peers as the toughest, most popular, and smartest. An Omega Male cares little for this recognition…but knows that he is all those things and more. It’s what made him a good soldier and what makes him a good security and covert agent. Athena Madero fits perfectly into his world. They meet when separately they are trying to prove that a wealthy and high profile political figure is actually The Snake, a shadowy arms dealer whose weapons armed the insurgents that Grey was fighting in Afghanistan.

They form The Omega Team, an agency that takes on even the most dangerous cases. They draw as members of the team former military such as Delta Force, SEALs, Force Recon Marines, Coast Guard, Night Stalkers and others, law enforcement and private security who have the same code of conduct and dedication they do. They will also work with similar agencies on joint ventures. Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, they accept assignments all over the world, no matter how dangerous.

They work in the shadows, riding the raw edge of danger. Their passion for their work is as hot as their passion for the men and women they love. When all else fails, they are there for you—The Omega Team.

And a little taste to tempt you for the first three books:

Romance Author Desiree Holt

Romance Author Desiree Holt

Raw Edge of Danger
Grey Holden was on a mission to find the source of illegal arms. The death of his best friend on a compromised mission left him filled with anger and dedicated to bringing down whoever was responsible. Athena Madero had her own mission, to take down a major politician who had been preying on young girls. She hated him enough to quit her job as a cop and go on her own hunt for evidence. When she and Grey crossed paths, chemistry sparked and suddenly, unexpectedly, shockingly, there was a lot more between them than searching for evidence and pinning down a traitor. In a split second, they were riding the raw edge of danger. Together.

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Mission Control
Krista (Kris) Gauthier and Mason Rowell are like oil and water from the moment they meet. He never expected the team from Mission Control, the security agency made up of former military, to send a woman to lead the team he hired to fix his problem: find out who is helping smugglers cross his land from the border. Their antagonism is only heightened by the sexual attraction that keeps blazing out of control. Neither of them is happy about the fact they keep falling into bed together and Mason, who values his unattached existence, can’t wait for the team to be finished and Kris to be gone. But when the bad guys are identified and caught and Kris is wounded in the process, the thought of losing her nearly destroys him, and makes him take another look at their relationship.

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Lethal Design
Someone is putting a kink in Shannon McRae’s very orderly life. The video games she designs aren’t about electronic battles or gory crimes. Her projects include team building exercises for executives. It’s bad enough she’s plagued by possessions moved out of place, flat tires, strangers following her at night. But most importantly, someone is messing with her current project, corrupting the file so she has to rework it over and over. When activities escalate, Athena Madero decides it’s a case for the top security and protection agency, The Omega Team, which she owns with her partner with Grey Holden. Owen Cormier has been isolated emotionally most of his adult life. Twelve years fighting wars haven’t made him warm and fuzzy. Then he discovers his new client is the one night stand he could never get out of his mind. When the case is over, will he just be able to walk away?

FOR DISCUSSION:

So what do you think of private security agencies? The subject has been debated every since they first appeared on the scene. Do you think they serve a useful purpose? If so, why?

GIVEAWAY: I hope you will leave a comment to enter. Winners will be picked randomly. First place winner will receive digital copies of all three books. Second place winner will receive an Omega Team coffee mug.

Desiree Holt Giveaway

Desiree Holt Giveaway

Desiree Holt
www.desireeholt.com
desireeholt@desireeholt.com

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Key Ways to Layer Depth Into Your Scenes

Jordan Dane
@JordanDane





I’d been writing for awhile before I heard the term “layering.” It was a writer craft thing I was doing instinctively in my rolling edits, but I’d never heard it called something specific until I attended a writer’s craft workshop and saw examples.
 
Most scenes are written in a bare bones fashion, like erecting the framework of a house before the walls are finished. The general structure creates a flow of what is happening in the scene, but usually the depth is lacking in things like character development, setting, body language, action, and reaction. Since I had limited time at my former day job to think about my writing, I would break away for lunch on some days and focus solely on dialogue like a script. I wanted the voices of the characters and what they said to be strong and not be trite or too conversational. For scenes where there is conversation between characters, I found it easier to use the dialogue as my framework to hold the flow together.
 
The right amount of layering can enhance your voice, but there needs to be a balance. Every writer should come up with their own method for what works for them. Below are the highpoints to layering, from my experience. I’ve also included an example from my WIP, The Last Victim, with the layers added in highlights.
 
Key Ways to Layer Depth:


1.) Dialogue – Avoid chit chat lines. Even if you hear voices in your head (something you should talk to a doctor about), the lines should move the plot forward and mean more than talk about the weather.


2.) Setting & Senses – Dribble in a touch of setting to color the scene. (The scene below is sparse due to space for this post, but I’m a believer in an atmospheric setting. The mood was set in this scene earlier.) Be sure to utilize the senses of your characters to put the reader into the scene, triggering their senses.


3.) Body Language & Action – Frame the scene with key body movements and action to have the characters doing something. The scene below is tight for space purposes, but I am a fan of characters saying one thing, but their body language shows something else, like chess players not wanting to give away their next move. And with action, there is no time for too much internal monologue if bullets are flying. Stick with the action and explain later, in that case.


4.) Backstory – Backstory can be filtered into the book. A frequent mistake is the devilish “backstory dump” where the author expounds on details the reader doesn’t need to know all at once. Backstory dumps slow the pace. It’s best to sprinkle the backstory in throughout the story, sparingly. Give the essence, and even unravel it as a mystery, to enhance the telling of it when it’s necessary. Never underestimate the power of a good mystery.


5.) Introspection/Voice of Character – This is the fun part. Try to give your character an attitude about what he or she sees. That attitude will serve to reflect who they are, as well as the other people in the scene. Don’t waste a room description and make it seem like an inventory. Color the description by allowing the character to express what they think and make it fun or memorable.
 
 
Partial Scene – The Last Victim (WIP):
Below is basic dialogue lines to start a conversation between my FBI profiler and an Alaska State Trooper sent to help him:


“Alaska State Trooper, Sergeant Peterson. Justine. Are you Special Agent Townsend?”


“Senior Special Agent, yes. Ryker. Thanks for meeting me. I’m here to search the residence of Nathan Applewhite. Deceased. We positively identified his body yesterday outside Seattle in the Cascade Mountains. He’s a victim of a serial killer my team’s been after.”


“It’s been on the news. Everyone on the island is talking about it. Word even got out about you coming here,” she said. “I was the one who notified his ex-wife. Too bad you didn’t stop whoever did it before he got to Nate.”


“The body count is fourteen. That’s why I’m here. This killer has to be stopped. Applewhite had a post office box for his mail, but I’m assuming he lives near here. How far is his place?”
 
 
Layers added for Setting/Body Language/Backstory:


When a vehicle rumbled to a stop behind me, I glanced over my shoulder to see a white Ford Explorer with the Alaska State Trooper blue and gold logo on the door. The words ‘Loyalty, Integrity, Courage’ were painted on the rear panel. I locked eyes with the trooper and nudged my chin in greeting before I grabbed my bag. By the time I got to the truck, the driver had boots on the ground, showing me an ID badge.


“Alaska State Trooper, Sergeant Peterson. Justine.” She grasped my hand. “Are you Special Agent Townsend?”


“Senior Special Agent, yes. Ryker. Thanks for meeting me.” I fished out my credentials and showed her.


Even off-duty and out of full uniform, Trooper Justine Peterson was clearly law enforcement. She carried a holstered weapon on her duty belt and had on jeans, well-worn hiking boots, and a navy polo with the Trooper’s emblem on it. Her windbreaker and cap bore the official logo, too. Clothes and weapon aside, the tall blonde had a no nonsense attitude and a slender body, lean with muscle. She had a penetrating stare that had sized me up.


“I’m here to search the residence of Nathan Applewhite. Deceased. We positively identified his body yesterday outside Seattle in the Cascade Mountains. He’s a victim of a serial killer my team’s been after.”


“It’s been on the news. Everyone on the island is talking about it. Word even got out about you coming here,” she said. “I was the one who notified his ex-wife. Too bad you didn’t stop whoever did it before he got to Nate.”


Justine had to know Applewhite. She’d called him Nate.


“The body count is fourteen. That’s why I’m here. This killer has to be stopped. Applewhite had a post office box for his mail, but I’m assuming he lives near here. How far is his place?”


 
Layers Added for Character Voice/Introspection:


When a vehicle rumbled to a stop behind me, I glanced over my shoulder to see a white Ford Explorer with the Alaska State Trooper blue and gold logo on the door. The words ‘Loyalty, Integrity, Courage’ were painted on the rear panel. I locked eyes with the trooper and nudged my chin in greeting before I grabbed my bag. By the time I got to the truck, the driver had boots on the ground, showing me an ID badge.


“Alaska State Trooper, Sergeant Peterson. Justine.” She grasped my hand. “Are you Special Agent Townsend?”


“Senior Special Agent, yes. Ryker. Thanks for meeting me.” I fished out my credentials and showed her.


Even off-duty and out of full uniform, Trooper Justine Peterson was clearly law enforcement. She carried a holstered weapon on her duty belt and had on jeans, well-worn hiking boots, and a navy polo with the Trooper’s emblem on it. Her windbreaker and cap bore the official logo, too. Clothes and weapon aside, the tall blonde had a no nonsense attitude and a slender body, lean with muscle. She had a penetrating stare that had sized me up.


If I were a fish in Alaskan waters, she might’ve tossed me back.


“I’m here to search the residence of Nathan Applewhite. Deceased. We positively identified his body yesterday outside Seattle in the Cascade Mountains. He’s a victim of a serial killer my team’s been after.”


The trooper’s expression turned harsh and unyielding.


“It’s been on the news. Everyone on the island is talking about it. Word even got out about you coming here,” she said. “I was the one who notified his ex-wife. Too bad you didn’t stop whoever did it before he got to Nate.”


The woman glared at me, without backing down. Although I hadn’t expected a show of hostility from someone in law enforcement, I didn’t take it personally. Hearing about a murder made it easy for those who knew the victim to lash out in frustration.


Justine had to know Applewhite. She’d called him Nate.


“The body count is fourteen. That’s why I’m here. This killer has to be stopped.” Since I needed her cooperation, I let her show of attitude slide. “Applewhite had a post office box for his mail, but I’m assuming he lives near here. How far is his place?”


The woman let her eyes drift down my body and back to my eyes again. It had been a long time since a woman made me feel like a porterhouse steak.
 
Since we have so many wonderful writer followers at TKZ, I would love to hear examples from your WIP for my favorite layer: Voice. Show me some attitude, TKZers.

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