Creating #Suspense in #Thrillers: ‘Just Like The Other Girls’ and ‘Ghost Wife’ #TuesdayBookBlog

Someone came into my room last night while I was sleeping. He opened a drawer, took something out, and left the room. Neither my husband nor I woke up. Anything could have happened while we were unconscious. It could have been a thief, a murderer, or a kidnapper. We could be missing, dead, or have suffered a burglary.

Fortunately, everything’s fine, except it isn’t, because now, for the first time in my life, I’m aware of my vulnerability. It might have happened before, but if it ever has, I was oblivious. The knowledge that this can happen to me any night, wherever I happen to be sleeping, is frankly terrifying.

Creating Suspense

Thrillers thrive on suspense, especially those of the domestic and psychological types. Suspense is the building up of an uneasy feeling in the reader, usually because the main character is in danger and we don’t know what’s going to happen next. A writer can create suspense by making the reader feel the character’s fear. Both the reader and the character want to find out what happens next, but both are also terrified of what they may discover.

At the moment I’m halfway through Just Like The Other Girls by Claire Douglas. And there’s a scene where a character believes someone might have entered their bedroom in the middle of the night.

UK Buy link on cover / Amazon.com buy link here

This paragraph is taken from Part One, Chapter 14.

A noise wakes me. I blink in the darkness, feeling disoriented for a few seconds. I hear it again. The creak of floorboards. I rub my eyes, propping myself on my elbows and notice that my door is ajar, letting in a sliver of silvery light from the landing. I remember locking it before I went to sleep. I know I did. Is someone in my room? I’m wide awake now and sit up straighter. I start when I see a figure by my wardrobe…

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The use of present tense makes the events occur in real time for both the reader and narrator. Neither knows what is going to happen, and both are terrified of the events which will take place in the next few minutes. I’m thoroughly enjoying this novel, which has plenty of similar nail-biting moments. A full review will be coming soon.

UK Buy link on cover / Amazon.com buy link here

In chapter 10 of my latest novel, Ghost Wife, there is also a scene where the protagonist believes someone has entered her room while she was sleeping.

I rub my eyes, lick my lips, and stumble to the dressing table for my glass of water, but before it reaches my lips, I freeze. There’s a leather-bound book—a Bible that wasn’t there last night. A flower is pressed between its pages like a bookmark. I pull it open, and my heart races as I read the words scrawled along the top and side margin of the page.

I am the ghost of Rosewood Hall. Welcome. Be careful of the others.

I refuse to believe in ghosts, because if I let them in, they’ll destroy me again. I replace the Bible and wring my trembling hands. Someone must have come into my room while I was asleep. I stride towards the door, because they may still be here, but the handle turns. They’re back and I’m trapped.

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There are plenty of surprises and thrilling moments in Ghost Wife. Especially for readers who enjoy romantic suspense novels. International buy link for Ghost Wife.

By the way, if you were wondering who came into my room in the middle of the night, it was my son-in-law who needed to get a change of clothes for my sixth and most recent grandson, Carlos. You’ve guessed it, I’m on granny duty again this summer! I’m trying to keep up with blogging and writing, with limited success, so far! I’m a stressed writer and blogger, but also a very happy granny!

Read This If Yesterday, June 20th, Wasn’t Your Happiest Day of the Year #Tuesdayvibe Tuesdayfeeling #June21 #MondayMotivation

Welsh psychologist Cliff Arnall, who identified Blue Monday (third Monday of January) as the saddest day of the year, also used a mathematical formula which identified 20th June as Yellow Monday, the happiest day of the year.

Arnall created a mathematical formula to reflect the factors that make this date the happiest. The research was sponsored by Wall’s, the British ice cream maker, in 2006 to coincide with the opening of a photographic competition capturing happy summer moments.

These are the six elements he included in his formula:

  • O: The benefits of being outdoors, and enjoying outdoor activities
  • N: The connection with nature during spring
  • S:  More Socializing with friends and family
  • Cpm: Memories of positive childhood memories
  • T: The warm temperature
  • He: The anticipation of the long-awaited summer vacation

Comparing the two dates, and bearing in mind the elements of his formula, I’d agree that most people are probably happier on 20th June than on 17th January. The summer holidays, emotionally significant due to our childhood memories, are closer, the weather has improved, and the days are longer.
 
Yesterday I sent some friends a screenshot of Yellow Monday and wrote, “enjoy the happiest day of the year”. One of my friends’ reply made me think twice about what happiness means to me: She said, “I’ll try my best.”

And we started a conversation, because she’s absolutely right.

We often imagine happiness as something that appears out of the blue, suddenly, and although that may occasionally occur, that isn’t how happy moments usually happen.

We came to the conclusion that we have to actively create happy moments in our lives, as often as possible, embrace them, and bottle them up as wonderful memories.

We should plan to do things we enjoy and make an effort to enjoy the things we have to do.

I took this photo early this morning.

The secret is to make sure we indulge in as many elements of his formula as we can as often as we can:

Go for a walk somewhere in nature. Take photographs of the sea, a tree, a blade of grass, a cloud, or a wildflower. Plan for an outing.

Contact or better still see someone you love face to face or on social media. Plan to meet up.

Do something you love. If you love even if it’s just for half an hour. Watch an episode of your favourite series, read a chapter of a book you love, or read a poem or two. Plan to do something you enjoy during the week.

Allow yourself to enjoy every little moment. You deserve it!

Life is all about the little-big things; hugging my grandchildren, chatting to those who live far away of whatsapp or other social media, reading an engaging novel or an enlightening personal growth book, making a delicious meal for someone I love, taking a pretty photograph, messaging a friend on her birthday, complimenting someone, going for a walk, singing my favourite song in the shower, watching youtube shorts by my favourite speakers, and the list could go on…

I’m happy today, because of hundreds of little-big things I relish in doing, and I’ll make an effort to be just as happy tomorrow, because I believe happiness is an attitude, not a fleeting feeling.

This is a special week for me. I’m on granny duty.

Today I’m happy because I took my granddaughter to school, after dressing her up as a butterfly for a school show, then I had a delicious coffee in a bar and a chat with my husband, then I cooked meat balls for lunch, which my grandkids love, in between I wrote this blog post, and this afternoon I plan to do many more fun things, because I choose to enjoy every little moment.

Let’s make every day the happiest day of the year enjoying the little big things in life and making them happen!

Share some of today’s happy moments in the comments!

Writers in #Autumn #Tanka

Writers in Autumn

Season of Memories,
Weighing heavy on our hearts,
Bursting to be told,
Minds whirl with inspiration,
Words pour out like aged wine.
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Welcome back to my blog!

I hope you’ve been coping well with the uncertain and unexpected times we’ve all had to deal with.

Some challenging situations have come my way, as well as the epidemic we’re all coping with, fortunately the storm is ebbing, and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

However, not everything which has required my undivided attention has been disheartening, I’ve also had the joy and privilege of meeting my fifth grandchild, Marcos, who is a real blessing for our family.

I always feel a bit nostalgic in September, after the long summer months and change of season, but I also have lots of new projects on the go, which I’ll be sharing with you shortly.

Meanwhile, stay safe and be happy!

 

 

#WritePhoto ‘The Chess Game’ #FlashFiction #300Words

The Chess Game

“This year we’re having a different Christmas,” my grandmother said as she moved her pawn to the side, capturing mine.

“Why did you do that?” I asked.

She pushed her glasses up and raised her eyebrows. “I had to, didn’t I?”

“You could have ignored it.” I sulked.

She chuckled. “And let you capture mine?”

“Why not? I’m only nine. Most of my friends can’t even play chess.”

“You’ll never learn if I let you win all the time. Anyway, it’s only a pawn.”

She was right, but I didn’t like being little. The grown-ups were all smarter than I was, and it really annoyed me.

“Come on, Tom, it’s your turn.”

I moved my knight. “So what’s new about this Christmas?” My grandmother always came up with great ideas for games and outings.

She showed me a picture of green fields and snow-covered hills. “I’m renting a cottage right here, for the weekend.”

My jaw dropped. It was in the middle of nowhere. “Are we all going?”

She moved her queen. “Of course! It’s Christmas. There’s a real log fire and plenty of hiking trails, and board games to play in the evenings!”

My parents would never agree to staying at such an isolated place. They were always working or going out with friends.

“What’s wrong?” she asked. “Don’t you like the idea?”

It would be nice to spend a few days alone with my parents and grandmother. That hadn’t happened in ages. “I think it’s a great idea, Granny!” I said as I captured her pawn with my knight.

“Pay attention!” she said as she captured my knight with her queen.

I sighed hoping she’d be as good at convincing my parents to stay at the cottage as she was at playing chess.

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This piece of flash fiction was written in response to Sue Vincent’s weekly photo prompt. Join in or read other entries here!

Ariel, coloured by my granddaughter, Elsa.

 

#SoCS #Streamofconsciousness #Saturday Christmas Presents #Haiku

I love this flyer, well it’s a brochure really, with the kid’s mother and grandmother, but where are the men in the family???

Christmas Presents

Flyers everywhere,

Come buy our toys on offer!

Children’s paradise.

It’s the time for toys! Parents, and in my case grandparents, spend hours searching for the perfect Christmas present in flyers and shops, asking children to write letters to Santa and promising he’ll bring the selected presents, of course.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about this pretence, although I’ve mostly played along. I’m no Scrooge!

I know from my children and grandchildren that they love the anticipation and surprise, and when they’re very little, I’d say under 5 or 6, they tend to believe in the fairy tale, and that’s sweet, but, there comes a time when they no longer believe in magic, and yet, both parents/grandparents and children keep up the pretence for a few more years, just because….they can….they both agree to play along….

I’m not sure, even today, as I wrap my grandchildren’s presents (yes, I bought them early on special offer! I have four grandchildren!), how I feel about this. I mean the idea that you ask for something, wait for the set date and get it, or not, on Santa’s whim. What about preparation, effort, and hard work rewarded? Where does that come into the equation?

Although most parents/grandparents threaten to tell Santa if the kids are naughty and don’t deserve a present, but do they do so, or even intend to do so?

Christmas presents for adults are a different story, altogether, but more about that in another post.

Stream of Consciousness rant over.

How do you feel about Christmas presents for children?

By the way, this post was written in response to Linda Hill’s weekly prompt, pop over to her blog and join in or read other entries. The topic for today is flyer/ad

#FridayFictioneers ‘The Swimming Competition’ #FlashFiction #100Words @MondayBlogs

It’s Friday, time for another Friday Fictioneers Flash Fiction story featuring Alice Pendragon and her best friend Billy! This week they’re both taking part in a swimming competition.

Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting the challenge and to Terri Smeigh for this week’s photo prompt.

Photo Credit: Terri Smeigh

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The Swimming Competition

The highest school team goal scorer wore a smug smile as he strolled over.
‘Hi Alice, fancy a pizza?’
I was one of the few girls he hadn’t hit on yet. ‘Sorry, I’m swimming.’
‘What about the Saturday market? Help me choose my sister’s birthday present.’
Jack is dense, but persistent. ‘I’m swimming.’
‘Everyone knows Billy will win.’
I nodded, Billy’s the best. ‘We’re training together.’
‘So, when he beats you, we can go on our date. What about a movie on Sunday?’
‘On Sunday I’ll be celebrating with Billy, his victories are mine too,’ I said and strode away.

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My ‘Alice’ flash fiction written for the Friday Fictioneers Challenge can be mostly read as standalones, but if you’re interested in reading previous stories of Alice’s adventures, here they are! 

By the way, I’m a couple of days late this week in posting my story and below are the three reasons! My lovely grandchildren!

Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction ‘A Thousand Paper Cranes’ #99Words #SundayBlogShare

This post was written in response to Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch’s weekly #99 word Flash Fiction Challenge. This week’s prompt is to include ‘the charisma of cranes’ in the story. Check out other entries or take part yourself!

Miss Martinelli’s Present

We’ve come to see Miss Martinelli,’ said Sally.

‘I’m afraid, my daughter isn’t receiving visitors,’ Mrs Martinelli said, wiping her eyes.

Sally pointed to a group of children holding a chain made of coloured paper. ‘We’ve brought her a present.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘Miss Martinelli is our art teacher. She taught us origami, so we’ve made a thousand paper cranes to decorate her room.’

‘How beautiful, but why?’

‘She told us about an ancient Japanese legend which says if you make a thousand paper cranes, the Gods will grant you a wish. We all wish her to come back.’

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I’m afraid I know nothing about cranes, so I looked them up, and the ancient Japanese legend inspired this sentimental flash. I know there are great teachers out there and fabulous students too.

More about this legend here.

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A summary of my conversation with my grandson who is very intrigued about these stories I have to write every Sunday!

‘So, granny, what’s our story about this week?’ My grandson asked me.

‘Cranes’ I replied and his face lit up.

‘Like the ones on my truck?’

He has various mechanical cranes, with and without trucks which he loves to play with.

‘No. A crane is also a type of bird.’

So I showed him some pictures on google images. We have lots of fun searching for information and pictures on google!

‘I know why he’s called a crane.’ Miguel nodded sagely.

“Really? Why?’ I asked him.

‘He stretches his neck, like a crane.’

I can’t fault his logic!

So here are two pictures I printed out for him to colour this week. The one below is his sister’s watercolour fish, painted a couple of weeks ago, but I love it.

#TANKA TUESDAY #POETRY CHALLENGE ‘Cute Dandelions’

This Tanka is for Colleen Chesebro’s challenge. This week’s challenge is to include #Synonymsonly of Sing and Celebrate. I’ve used ‘humming’ and ‘saluting’

Dandelions

Cute dandelions,

The loveliest wild flowers,

Humming in the breeze,

Swaying with daisies and blades

Of grass, saluting the sun.

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These photos were taken this morning while I went out for a walk with my grandson.

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Would you like to take part? The rules are simple.

Use synonyms of Colleen’s two-word prompt, this week, joy and fury, write blog post using one of the following poetic forms: haiku, tanka, Haibun, cinquaine or senryu. 

Add a picture if you like. Pingback to Colleen’s blog post.

 

 

#Easter #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge ‘Treasure Hunt’

This Tanka is for Colleen Chesebro’s weekly challenge.

Photos by @LucciaGray

Long ago once more

Chocolate eggs and treasure hunts

Cast a childhood spell

Life cycles into seasons

My turn to hide sweets for you!

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Would you like to take part? The rules are simple.

Use synonyms of Colleen’s two-word prompt, this week, charm and time, write blog post using one of the following poetic forms: haiku, tanka, Haibun, cinquaine or senryu.

Add a picture if you like. Pingback to Colleen’s blog post.


#SixWordSaturday Getting Ready for #Christmas Family Reunions

Christmas Tree outside the shopping centre.

Close up of the Christmas tree.

Inside the Christmas tree!

November’s a longish, coldish month.

Today, while doing my weekly food shopping, I noticed a Christmas Tree in the square outside the shopping centre, and plenty of Christmas decorations inside the shop.

I didn’t buy anything, not yet, but it reminded me about the family reunions ahead.

This year I’m looking forward to having all my children and grandchildren at home for a few special days.

Have you seen any Christmas trees yet?