The Thrill Of Suspense and the Humor Of It All

Bob and I just finished and released the second book in the New Adult Scandals suspense series.  When Bob completes his first draft of our plot and character study, his anxiety is over.  As he would say, his book “is now in the hands of the professional, the real author, to do her thing and make it read like a book.”  Killer Date ramped up the suspense from book #1, Due Dates.  While Due Dates had to spend a lot of time on introducing the characters and the situation, Killer Date was able to jump immediately into the case…and the romance.  Once Reno, Jenny and Nick were hot on the trail, it became a race against time with a life-or-death finish.

DUE DATES

KILLER DATE amazon

As I neared the end of the rewrite, blow-out work and polish that I do to each book, Bob always asks, “How do you like the book?”  And I always say essentially the same thing.  “I can’t tell.  I’m too close to it.”

This kind of got Bob wondering if that ever happened to Alfred Hitchcock, the amazing filmmaker, director and writer who will forever be known as The Master of Suspense.  Much like an amateur golfer will dive into golf lessons and suddenly discover their 20 handicap can’t be improved without first tearing apart every aspect of their existing game, Bob explored how Hitchcock managed to improve the genre with each film.

11hitchcock

The first thing Bob’s research discovered was this quote that clearly justifies how I feel when I finish a book.  Hitchcock admitted to an interviewer, “It’s only after a picture is done that one can judge it properly.”

Sort of sounds like “I can’t tell.  I’m too close to it.”  Right?  Maybe I’m on the right track.  But while my books pulse with suspense, they always have a touch of humor.  What would Hitchcock say about that?

He was credited to having said “In the mystery and suspense genre, a tongue-in-cheek approach is indispensable.”

Many have said that his films were the equivalent of a roller coaster ride in which the passengers scream wildly on the way down but laugh when the ride rolls to a stop.  He also said, “Always make the audience suffer as much as possible” and that “there is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.”  I love roller coasters, and I love Hitchcock.  Now I understand why I my characters always have a sense of humor, even when they’re knee-deep in blood.

11hitchcock

So blog fans, let’s look at the five most commonly found elements of humor buried in the foundation of Hitchcock’s stories.  He found a way to make his suspense unbearably fun for his audiences in five ways.

I appreciate the work of Bays J. M., 2007, Humor: Hitchcock’s Secret Weapon, Borgus Productions,  <http://borgus.com/hitch/hitch-humor.htm&gt in providing this information. 

Exploit trivial character traits

“I’ve always found that, in a moment of crisis a person invariably does something trivial,” said Hitchcock, “like making a cup of tea or lighting up a cigarette. A small detail of this sort adds considerably to the dramatic tension of the situation (Gottlieb, 1997).”

 

Create situations of irony

In the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode “One More Mile to Go” (1957, directed by Hitchcock) a policeman has stopped a man because of a burned out tail light on his car, completely unaware there is a dead body in the trunk.  The more obsessed this policeman gets with fixing the light, the more uneasy the murderer gets.  Hitchcock pushes this situation to the level of unbearable absurdity as the policeman continues worrying about the light, and gets closer and closer to noticing the body.

 

Surround drama with a happy setting

“The more happy-go-lucky the setting, the greater kick you get from the sudden introduction of drama,” said Hitchcock. (Gottlieb, 1997)

One of the best examples of Hitchcock’s use of whimsical environment is in The Trouble With Harry (1955).  All is normal in this small town with grassy meadows, sunshine, and orange autumn leaves, until a dead body shows up.  Harry Warp becomes everyone’s problem – what can be done about Harry?

“It’s the juxtaposition of the norm, of the accurate average, against the fantasy… that’s what makes the thing interesting.”

 

 

Include a burlesque character

One of Hitchcock’s characters must never take murder seriously, mocking it in full delight.  The most memorable is probably Henry Travers and Hume Cronyn in Shadow of a Doubt (1943) getting laughs around the family dinner table figuring out various ways to murder without getting caught.  The shocking sense of humor often disturbs and confuses a gullible person nearby, unsure of whether they are serious.  In Stangers on a Train (1951) Robert Walker teaches a woman at a party how to strangle someone, and she gets quite a laugh out of it.  In Rope (1948) Constance Collier laughs hysterically at Rupert’s (James Stewart) idea of murdering people for sport.  In Rear Window (1954) Thelma Ritter is having a great thrill out of the possibility of a murder across the courtyard.

 

Balance laugh and tension

Hitchcock used a delicate combination of tension and relief in his suspense sequences.  Often a laugh was inserted at a key point to release some tension.  “…when you have comic relief, it’s important that the hero as well as the audience be relieved,” said Hitchcock. (Gottlieb) This assures that the audience maintains sympathy for the character.

North By Northwest (1959) is one of the best examples of the use of humor involving a chase.  Early in the film Cary Grant is intoxicated and becomes comical as he nearly drives off a cliff.  He looks down over the edge and laughs drunkenly as he pulls away.  Later when he is held by captors at a public auction he becomes a heckler in order to get picked up by the police.

From the suspense master who really knew people well and who said “The more successful the villain, the more successful the picture,” there are three interesting questions that will not be answered here.

  1. Obviously we find suspense to be very appealing.  What is so appealing about uncertainty?  In our everyday life uncertainty is anything but an inherently pleasant experience.
  2. If suspense is uncertainty, then why is it possible to enjoy seeing a movie or reading a book more than once?  Have you ever read a book two or more times or sat down and watched the same film more than once?  You already saw the movie, you know what is going to happen, but were you still sitting on the edge of your seat. How can this be?
  3. Why is it that we can care so much about the fate of a movie or book hero that we know perfectly well does not exist?

I can’t give you the answers, but it should be in your book.  I try very hard for it to be in all of mine.

 

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Greater Austin, Texas Area Inside Track To Indie Publishing and Book Camp

Greetings fellow writers and authors in the Greater Austin, Texas area,
GET YOUR BOOK PUBLISHED IN 2014!!!
SPEAKER LOGOIs getting your book e-published your #1 New Year’s Resolution?  Have you given up because you’ve received a pile of rejection letters?  Do you have a completed manuscript (or two) or even previously published books just lying around gathering dust?  Do you know the pros and cons of traditional vs. indie publishing?  Then join us on January 25, 2014 at the LaQuinta in Round Rock for a one-day workshop (Course #1) on The Inside Track to Indie Publishing.
Since early 2012 my husband and I have been e-publishing original novels as well as the 21 traditionally published novels for which I had regained the rights.  Because of my 20 years of experience in traditional publishing combined with 2 years of indie publishing, the workshop attendees will have the advantage of our experience in both worlds.
And we’re willing to share all the tricks of the trade and a lot of shortcuts!
Long story short, we currently have 38 books listed on Amazon. Our 7 newest books are also available as paperbacks (Print On Demand) and as e-books on Google, iBooks/itunes. Barnes & Noble and many others.  This has led to thousands more sold and top rankings.  We’ve also won several prestigious awards during 2013 in three major book award contests.
We are offering an introductory course that will tell you what you need to know to move forward with publishing your own manuscript.  We have broken the course into two sessions.
The first session that is 6 hours long explains, educates and demonstrates what indie publishing is all about, what must be done and how to do it.  The second session, also 6 hours long, is a hands-on, step-by-step live computer session that will result in your book being published on Amazon (if you have completed all the required preparation).  In addition, with the second session, we are offering phone and email support to assure your success.
Course #1, will cover the following topics:
• The indie publishing business vs. traditional. [What is it, does it meet your needs for time and income, what’s involved and how it compares to traditional publishing, and how it relates to agents, editors, publishers and bookstores.]
• What’s between the covers? [What do you have to do to your manuscript and how do you make it blend in and still keep your story unique]
• You can tell a book by its cover. [You’re now the publisher, so how do you create a captivating cover even if you’re not creative or artistic]
• How to indie publish on Amazon [Publishing and the marketing decisions involved in the process and step-by-step requirements]
• Beyond Amazon. [How to turn you book into a paperbacks and post to the dozen-plus other book distributors / channels; from McDonalds to Google]
Course #2, Indie Boot Camp, will be a smaller class size so that everyone will have an opportunity to actually get their books uploaded and published during the workshop.  This is a hands-on workshop requiring your book, blurb, author profile and cover[s] to be ready to go.  By the end of the day, your book should be available on Amazon as an e-book and a paperback.  We will be offering as part of the workshop package limited email and phone support to assure you hit the time deadlines.  Course #2 will be priced at between $50 and $70, depending on the number of participants.
We are planning on holding the Course #1 workshop Saturday January 25th with the timing of the second workshop to be scheduled according to interest. The price for Course #1 is $45.  Snacks and drinks will be provided.  Lunch will be the responsibility of the attendee.
Space is limited, so make your reservations early at kathywernly@gmail.com or call Kathy at 720-841-2525.  This is a chance to start 2014 off great and fulfill one of your New Year’s resolution!
Kindest regards,
Kathy Wernly, a.k.a Bob Kat, (a.k.a Kathy Clark)
nightwriter93

November Publishing Results for Kathy Clark, a.k.a Bob Kat

Hello,

November 2013 saw two releases from me through my self publishing process NightWriter93.
The first release is a suspense about a woman in peril with a heart-felt romance titled Cries In The Night.  This is the second book in the Denver After Dark trilogy which received two reader awards in 2013.  After Midnight was recognized as The Best Indie Suspense Book and a Readers’ Favorite award for suspense which was handed out in a ceremony in Miami November 23rd in conjunction with the largest book fair in the United States.
The second release is a New Adult romantic suspense titled Baby Daddy.  This is the first book in the Scandals new adult romantic suspense series that takes place in Austin Texas, and is the story of five twenty-somethings who are surprised with an inheritance from a father they didn’t know.
For reviewers and bloggers free copies of either book are available via email in eager anticipation of your reviews and comments.
CRIES IN THE NIGHT 09012013
Here’s the blurb for Cries In The Night   and the book distribution channel links are following:
            “Who saves a hero?”
Julie Lawrence is a Victim’s Advocate for the Denver PD.  Her job is to respond to domestic violence incidents, fires, car accidents and other tragic events where people need help dealing with their darkest moments.   She has had her own share of tragedies in the past which gives her empathy and a unique insight into victims and what they need to heal and move on with their lives.  But she is better at giving advice than taking it and has closed herself off from sharing her life with anyone or anything except a stray tiger-striped gray cat.
Rusty Wilson is a firefighter with a reputation for working hard and playing harder.  He meets Julie while he is trying to save a burning house and she is protecting a battered wife and an unborn child.  He is attracted to her, but not ready to settle down.  To his surprise, she resists even his most platonic attempts at developing a relationship.  One day a typical call turns into a hostage situation, and Julie rushes to the scene, partly in her role of Victim’s Advocate and partly because Rusty is involved.
She finally accepts his offer of friendship, and as they get to know each other better, they realize they have a lot in common.  When a stalker starts playing a cat-and-mouse game with Julie, she and Rusty work together, trying to figure out which of her past domestic violence cases has created a psycho who wants revenge.  In her line of work, there are a lot of people who want her dead.
Julie has no idea who is trying to kill her.  The warnings had started out as just creepy, but gradually turn into genuine threats on her life.  Rusty provides the emotional and moral support she hadn’t realized she needed until the danger increases.  Their love affair starts in the heat of passion and ends when he finds out her secrets.
Someone is watching . . . and waiting.  Julie has dedicated herself to saving other people.  Who’s going to save her?
CRIES IN THE NIGHT is Book #2 in the Denver After Dark series.  AFTER MIDNIGHT is Book #1 has won several prestigious awards, including being named Best Indie Suspense Novel of 2013 and third place in the Readers’ Favorite Suspense Novel Award of 2013.  Kathy Clark also writes a New Adult Romantic Suspense series (Scandals) and Young Adult Romantic Suspense novels in the CUL8R series under the pen name of Bob Kat.
Here’s the blurb for Baby Daddy  and the book distribution channel links are following:
SCANDALS BABY DADDY 10282013
An inheritance brought her more than she ever could have imagined…
Killeen Ames has it all…beauty, brains, a college softball scholarship and a rich and handsome boyfriend who has helped to stretch her college funds and fill her social calendar.  He is the only boy she ever allowed past second base and now he’s her baby daddy.  However, being a father was not in his short-range plans.  He graduates, then he splits, leaving Killeen to decide what she wants to do about the pregnancy…and to worry about how she’s going to keep her scholarship.  With no marketable skills, no job, no home and medical bills for her and the baby on the horizon, she knows she must move forward.  A knock at the door of her boyfriend’s apartment changes the game forever when an attorney gives her the news of an inheritance from an unknown dead relative.
After traveling to Austin, Killeen walks into the meeting and is surprised to find out that the relative was actually her birth father, and he had been a popular music star who recently died of an overdose.  Even more shocking are the four strangers who share the same absentee dad.  He has left them a highly successful private investigation agency, Scandals.  The catch is…they have to make the commitment to work there.
Their introduction to the P.I. business almost gets them killed when a bomb goes off in the warehouse that sends Killeen to the hospital.  She has kept the secret of her pregnancy from everyone, including Christopher, the totally irresistible manager of Scandals.  Their hot night of wild sex in the office was a one-time thing…right?  She chalks up her attraction to him as just raging hormones.  They have no chance of a future together.  He’s gorgeous, intelligent and successful.  He would never want anyone with so much baggage.
Christopher has a secret of his own.  He’s been investigation the possibility that, despite popular opinion, their father’s death hadn’t been an accidental overdose.  He thinks it was murder.
Even though the five siblings still haven’t accepted the fact that they have a father who made no attempt to be a part of their lives, they join together to discover the truth about his death.  The search throws Killeen and Christopher together and their passion grows hotter.  As her feelings for him slowly become more serious, she knows she must tell him about the baby.
After a fun day in the sun, an event happens that outs Killeen’s secret.  Christopher, as expected, doesn’t take the news well.  But they must continue to work together to track down a killer, especially since the killer has now focused on them.
Someone doesn’t want them to stay and take over the business.  In fact, someone wants them all dead and now the decision on whether or not to be a part of the agency seems very unimportant compared to the job of trying to stop from being killed.
They set up a trap that goes terribly wrong.  Suddenly, Killeen must make a big decision.  Who should she save?  Her baby?  Christopher?  Her new brothers and sisters?  Their lives are in her hands.
Baby Daddy is the first book in the Scandals New Adult series of romantic suspense.  Each book of the series will focus on one of the offspring of Roger Elliott, a famous musician who left them with a legacy they weren’t expecting.  This book is about Killeen Ames who must deal with an unexpected pregnancy, an absentee baby daddy, an irresistible attraction to a hot new guy and four new half-brothers and sisters.  Tramp Stamp, the second book in this series will be released in Spring, 2014 and will tell Reno’s story.
Amazon links for all the releases this year are as follows:
YA Mystery Series [CUL8R – See You Later]
New Adult Romance
New Adult Romantic Suspense Series Scandals
Here’s the wrap on 2013 for all releases and awards…2014 has begun for us!
2013 Publishing Accomplishments

Hello readers of suspense, romantic suspense and New Adult fiction fans…

The New Adult genre name in fiction really covers the age from 19 to 26.  Blogs, book blurbs and redefining what it means to grow up has been taking over the books and the news about the books over the past year or two..

Kathy Clark’s 30th book, BABY DADDY fits the New Adult genre checklist perfectly.

Here’s the blurb followed by the comparison of the book to the new adult genre checklist that readers, bloggers and editors often apply.

SCANDALS BABY DADDY 10282013

THE BLURB

An inheritance brought her more than she ever could have imagined.

Killeen Ames had it all…beauty, brains, a college scholarship, a rich and handsome boyfriend.  Then she found out she was pregnant and the boyfriend disappeared and the scholarship is in jeopardy.  A stranger arrives at her door with the news that a father she had never known had died and she was his heir.

But not his only heir.  She and four half-siblings meet for the first time and learn the shocking details of a popular music star who had been their father and Scandals, the private investigation agency he has left them.

Killeen’s decision is further complicated when she meets the totally irresistible manager of Scandals.  Her attraction to him is immediate and volatile, but she knows they have no future.  She has a secret she can’t share.

Someone doesn’t want them to stay and take over the business.  In fact, someone wants them all dead.  Their lives depend on whether or not they can figure out who he is and how to stop him before he succeeds.

 

In spite of the fact that the five protagonists range from age 19 to 26, their lives are turned up side down with a knock on their door and meeting a few weeks later about a man they didn’t even know existed

All the essential New Adult story elements are there:  

College life – Some are, one was and one hasn’t been

Moving out of your parents’ house and living alone for the first time – One did, three had and one moved out on a regualr basis

First jobs – One serious and four never seriously

Deciding who you want to be, career-wise, and in general. Identity issues. Existential issues. – One’s hit their career ceiling, one’s on a path to no where and the others are in transition yet they are all tied together by their mother”s past.

First serious relationships, finding love – The opening line of the book foreshadows one character’s future but does not force a conclusion.  “He left me with two broken DVD cases, a pair of worn-out Nikes and a plus sign on my pee stick.”

Sex – It’s less important that it be a “first time” as it is in YA. But the character should still be figuring stuff out. Since our readers can watch R rated movies, we can also be a little more explicit here without as much controversy. – No comment.

* Experimentation – Sex, drugs, alcohol. Of course, not all new adults engage in experimentation, but the phrase, “I experimented with “x” in college,” is a phrase for a reason. – No comment

*  A struggle to “find yourself” – While struggling to stay alive and figure out what’s true from their past they work toward figuring out who they are

Change – Moving out, going to college, finding a job…it’s a lot of transition. – Everyone has the same opportunity but is starting from a very different starting point in their life.  Yet their lines are intertwined.

* Money challenges –  Sometimes having too many options can be overwhelming.

 

BABY DADDY is coming of age with people you want to know better.