by Lee Ann Ward
Genre: YA Paranormal
Carlie Henson is pretty, popular, and an All-American girl. She has a gorgeous boyfriend and a mother who lives to keep her safe. Probably because everyone is drawn to Carlie…including the murderers she has the ability to identify when she looks in the eyes of their victims.
Keeping Carlie’s secret is pretty simple when all she has to do is avoid dead people. But when a cheerleader at her high school is murdered and the killer seems to have gotten away with it, Carlie knows what she has to do. With the help of her boyfriend, Dillon, she devises a plan to see what she must, no matter her personal safety.
But when Dillon is the one who’s injured in the showdown with the killer, Carlie vows to never help anyone again…until the next young woman attacked is her best friend, Jenna.
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There was nothing extraordinary about that night. Mom had long put me to bed, and she and Dad were watching an unsolved cold case show on TV. By the time I’d made my way downstairs for an unnecessary drink of water, a picture of a murdered lady was flashing on the screen. No one knew who’d killed her, and the cops had looked for the murderer for several years and given up.
“That’s such a shame,” my dad had said. He was still around then.
“Yeah, it is.” Mom’s words were dragging and nonchalant, as if she were reacting to some lame laundry detergent commercial or something.
But not me. There I stood in my Belle Disney Princess nightgown, my gaze transfixed on the television. I couldn’t move—couldn’t look away. Something about the image of that dead woman struck a chord—her lifeless body and wide, opened eyes.
All I could do was scream. “I know who killed her!” I remember the panic, the way it made my stomach ache and my skin crawl. “I know who did it! I can see his face!”
“Carlie.” Dad picked me up, the exasperation in his voice as clear to me now as it had been ten years ago. “What are you doing out of bed? This is way too scary for you to be watching.”
I was crying so hard my nose was running. “Daddy, I know who killed her! I can see him! I really can!”
Mom turned off the TV and took me from Dad. The puzzled look she threw him let me know she was at least listening to my wild claim, and to this day I’m grateful for her next move.
“Do you want Mommy to draw a picture of the face you’re seeing, sweet girl? Would that make you feel better?”
“Linda, what the hell are you doing? Don’t encourage her.” Dad was pissed at me to be up that late. He was always such a tight ass about things like bedtime.
“It might help her,” Mom insisted. “Something obviously has her freaked out, Patrick. I’m getting my sketchbook.”
It’s the one time I was actually glad that my mom’s a sketch artist for the Pensacola Police Department’s Homicide Division. People describing perps to her so she can draw them never bothered me. But the photos of decomposed bodies—the ones of unidentified missing persons that she has to create faces for—totally creeps me out.
Mom lit a lavender candle to help me relax and set me on her knee. “Go ahead, honey. Tell me what the man looks like.”
One hour and three holy shits from Dad later, I’d described a killer’s face, and Mom had him on paper. I was sure of it. But my parents were convinced I was simply spooked from seeing the dead lady on that show.
Until two nights later when he came for me.
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Characterization. It can make or break a novel. Truly. If a reader can't see into a character's soul from practically page one, then what is their motivation to keep those pages turning? Well, nothing. So, here's my two cents on characterization that should resonate with fellow authors, and let readers know what to expect from my novels. **Hint: I fully flesh-out my characters, and it has nothing at all to do with their physical characteristics.
"He was a handsome man, blond hair and deep blue eyes that melted my insid--" Blah blah blah... Honestly, who cares? Even though it is nice knowing that our leading man has blue eyes, I am more concerned with what I feel when I look into those eyes. And, so are my readers. In every novel, the readers must see the souls of the characters. No one is going to fall in love with looks alone. Okay, I know, I know... Yes, I have seen Jamie Fraser (shout-out to my fellow OUTLANDER fans), and he is a gorgeous piece of man-flesh, no doubt. But, if he were not also devoted to Claire, and his family, and his beloved Scotland--if he were not the man who never compromised his principles of love and country, well, we wouldn't love him nearly as much. Show me a gorgeous character and I will say, "Okay, he/she is gorgeous," and leave it at that. But show me the beauty of his/her soul--make me fall in love with the true person--and I will follow them into the devil's hell and back until the last page is read (or red, depending on the amount of carnage).
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