Sunday, May 4, 2014

Deception in the Shadows Guest Post

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Deception in the Shadows
By T. L. Haddix
Romantic Suspense
Date Published: TBD - Late April 2014

Book Description:
When all the lies that have been hidden come to light, nothing will be the same.

From the time she came to live with her uncle Ron after the tragic deaths of her parents when she was a young girl, Carrie Greer never had reason to doubt she was wanted. Now a dispatcher with the county, she’s a grown woman building a life of her own. But after a trip to Florida, her uncle’s attitude changes… and not for the better. While struggling to come to terms with this shift in their relationship and all the collateral damage it causes, another tragedy strikes. Ron Smith is murdered. And the only person with an obvious reason to want him dead… is Carrie.

Robbie Bailey is finally free to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. But instead of attending classes, he ends up having to return to Leroy and to Carrie, the girl he’s been in love with since he was a
teenager. He finds himself in the position of having to convince her of the depth of his feelings while protecting her from a vengeful killer bent on keeping long-buried secrets hidden. And he isn’t sure he can succeed at either task.

Deception in the Shadows is the sixth installment in the Shadows/Leroy’s Sins Collection, a series of Romantic Suspense novels by author T. L. Haddix. Other titles include Secrets in the Shadows, Under the Moon’s Shadow, Shadows from the Grave, Hidden in the Shadows, and In the Heart’s Shadow.


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Guest Post: Balancing the New and the Old

One of the biggest challenges of being a series author is finding ways to introduce new readers to the history of the series and yet not overwhelm existing readers with a wave of information they already know.

The goal of my books is to entertain and intrigue readers. And when I find myself having to figure out ways to introduce an admittedly large cast into a new book, I cringe. It would be lovely if I could just do a comprehensive cast of characters at the front of the book that tells people exactly who’s who--and I do that to some degree (characters specific to each book, in any event)--but if I go over the top on that, it’s going to feel like studying. Who wants that? Not with fiction, anyhow.

I try to avoid what’s called “info dumps,” as well. You know what that is--the three or four (or twelve) pages of backstory explaining events that happened in other books. The stuff that can stop a good book dead in its tracks? Yeah, that. Not only is it usually, um, boring (gasp!), it’s blocking people from getting to the meat of the story that they’re supposed to be reading. Seriously, who wants to catch up with what child is out of diapers when people are being murdered or falling in love, or both?

One of the ways I do like to work things in is through dialogue between characters, where they’re asking one another about something that happened previously. I try to always make that a natural part of their conversation, and hopefully it cues readers in to what’s going on. Even existing readers, if they have a horrible memory (like yours truly) need a refresher from time to time. (Yes, I re-read my own books, and yes, I’ve been known to come across one of these scenes and go “Oh, that’s right!”)

There are a couple of other ways to manage this task of working things in, but the gist of it is that the longer the series get, the more difficult it becomes to do gracefully. So at that point, I have to choose what to leave out and what to include. Obviously, anything relevant to the story or the characters featured in that book is what goes in. And some things, even if they’re funny, even if it would be nice to catch up to old friends again, well… there just isn’t room for them. I almost feel like I should do periodical blog posts letting people know how their favorite characters are doing.

Another way of helping readers keep things straight is that cheat sheet I mentioned. In my Shadows series, there’s always a cast of characters at the very front of those books. You can get to it either by going to the Table of Contents, or by flipping back from where the book opens natively. We do set a marker in the e-book file itself so that it should automatically open there, but it doesn’t always work. There are too many variables out there across the different e-readers, unfortunately. E-readers are like those annoying check-out machines where you slide your debit or credit card--they aren’t uniform. The world would be a less confusing place if they were.

In the Firefly Hollow series, there’s a genealogy chart at the front of every book, and I think it’s probably time to add a more detailed cast of characters there, too. There are a lot of Campbells and spouses and children to keep up with. The family has grown quite prolific. Maybe I’ll even add a link on the bottom of the genealogy chart to a small glossary which explains who everyone is in greater detail, and which book they come from.

It would be nice to be able to work characters into the stories more gradually, so that when you first start reading you aren’t overwhelmed by a crowd of people, all of whom are asking you to remember them. As a reader, this is something that frustrates me. And as a writer, it makes me cringe. After all, in the real world, we don’t meet everyone all at once. But I also know that if I wait until mid-story to introduce so-and-so’s brother, have him pop in completely out of the blue, that’s a big no-no, too. Readers will feel like they’ve missed something.

There’s no perfect solution, not in written media, at least not yet. And as I said, it’s a drawback of writing longer series. But hopefully with all the tools we can implement, like the genealogy charts and cast of characters, all those people aren’t too overwhelming.

T.L. Haddix

T.L. Haddix was born in Hazard, Kentucky, a small town in the center of the Appalachian coal fields. Taught to read by her grandmother, T.L. has had a life-long love affair with books, devouring whatever she could get her hands on. From childhood favorites such as the Trixie Belden series and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books, to her current favorites from authors like Tami Hoag, Alex Kava, J.A. Jance and Lisa Kleypas (among many others), T.L. still finds refuge in the written word.

“Growing up, I wanted to be everything – astronaut, police officer, doctor, teacher, reporter, psychologist – there was no clear choice for me. I wanted to do it all. Becoming a writer has allowed me to do just that, because I can live vicariously through my characters.”

A resident of eastern Kentucky, T.L. is hard at work on her next book, when she isn’t chasing after her three cat-children with her husband.



Twitter: @tlhaddix


1 comment:

  1. Hi, all! I wanted to stop by and say a personal thanks to Joana for letting me have a few minutes to talk. I appreciate it very much. Thank you, and happy reading! T. L.