Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bewitching Book Tours: SHADA

SHADA By Craig Hansen 
Book 1 of the Ember Cole series 
Genre: young adult paranormal suspense 
Word Count: approximately 32,500 words. 

Book Blurb: "If you could talk to a dead person, anyone at all, who would it be?"

A year ago, Ember Cole witnessed the death of her grandfather. Now, with her grandmother slipping away into dementia, she seeks answers from the only person who loved her grandmother more than her, even if he is dead: Grandpa Normie.

Joined by three of her closest friends, Ember treks deep into the woods of northwestern Wisconsin, seeking the advice of a dead man on how to save the living. But sometimes, the dead have their own agenda.

We welcome Craig Hansen to our blog.

A guest blog by Craig Hansen

The eBook revolution and the rise of independent authors has proliferated at least one bad habit. Pressed by the desire to increase the number of available titles as quickly as possible, many writers have taken stories that typically would comprise a single novel, and divide them up arbitrarily into multiple parts.

While there's nothing inherently wrong with this, while devising the division of their stories into several smaller books, some authors are forgetting the fundamental mechanics of storytelling. Namely, that stories must have a beginning, a middle, and a resolution.

Some folks might object to this. "Hold on," they say, "series characters never really end. Look at the Sookie Stackhouse novels, or the Spenser mysteries. This is no different."

Ahh, but it is.

You see, when Charlaine Harris and Robert B. Parker reach the end of a novel, it may not be the last thing they will ever write on Sookie Stackhouse or Spenser, respectively, but it is clearly the end of the conflicts they opened those novels with.

(Oh, and yes, I'm aware of the passing of Robert B. Parker, so Spenser really has come to an end. But I'm speaking in this case of how he approached things while he was yet alive and writing.)

When Dead Until Dark came to a conclusion, one knew by instinct that Charlaine Harris would return to the characters she'd introduced in the novel. But she'd written a complete work, with a beginning, a middle, and a resolution.

When Robert B. Parker wrote Of Pale Kings and Princes, one knew he'd keep writing Spenser novels; but that particular case was solved. Again, the story had a beginning, a middle, and a resolution.

Unfortunately, many writers today don't include all three elements. Especially if they operate as indie authors.

I've read novels that are all beginning; the entire work only accomplishes introducing and establishing character and conflict, but that's all that happens. The novel ends just as the table is set, but before even an appetizer is served.

I've also read novels that are mostly middle. The novel joins the characters in the midst of something, without context or introduction, and one is left to intuit who these people are and why they're involved in what they're involved in as the novel rolls on.

To make matters worse, many of these novels simply end without any satisfying resolution to the current set of circumstances. The result, for readers, is an experience about as satisfying as getting involved in a conversation with a cute member of the opposite sex, only to have someone else walk up and ask them out onto the dance floor.

Other novels will handle beginning and middle just fine, but fall down by never ending, much in the same way season one of AMC's murder mystery, The Killing, ended its first season. After promising a "one case per season" structure, the showrunners cast more doubt onto whether the mayor was actually the killer or not. Their excuse? To "avoid formula." The problem? Ticked-off viewers who felt toyed with.

Readers are no different. We understand the concept of a series. We've read them for years, and have favorites.

But each installment still needs to have a sense of resolution to a current set of circumstances, in order to be truly satisfying. While there can be a larger storyline in the background that comprises a character arc, that is no excuse for simply ending a novel arbitrarily, because a pre-set word count was reached.

This is of special interest to me because my current novel, SHADA, is the first installment in a long series, the Ember Cole series of novels. I purposely chose to make SHADA shorter than many other novels, but I want readers to know this: although it's part of a series, the story told has all three component parts. Even though seeds are planted for Book 2, SHADA does indeed resolve the primary conflict within its own pages.

SHADA is the story of a group of girls who go on a camping trip to hold a séance. By the time it's over, that experience, and the fallout from it, will be complete. There may be some waves from SHADA that ripple out to future novels, but the story itself is complete.

So, read SHADA and enjoy. It won't leave you hanging in a bad way.

Craig Hansen wrote stories from an early age, but when his SF short story, "The S.S. Nova," was published in the Minnesota Writers In the School COMPAS program's 1981 anthology of student writing, When It Grows Up, You Say Goodbye To It, he decided to dedicate himself to writing. Several unpublished novels and short stories followed.

Hansen earned two degrees at Minnesota State University at Mankato under the mentorship of young adult novelist Terry Davis. In the years that followed, Hansen worked a variety of jobs related to writing, including editorial work at a small publishing house, holding a position as a Web site editor, and five years in journalism in northwestern Wisconsin, where he earned several state awards for his writing and editing.

His work has appeared in the Meadowbrook Press anthology, Girls to the Rescue, Book 1, as well as the true crime journal, Ripper Notes, in volume 28.

His first novel, Most Likely, was released in May. Shada is the first installment of the Ember Cole series of young adult paranormal suspense books. Hansen is hard at work on the next installment in the series, the novel-length book, Ember.

Hansen recently moved to Oregon with his wife, a dog, a cat, and his 89-year-old father, a World War II veteran.

Craig's interests include the music of Johnny Cash, reading the novels of other independent authors, blogging, and the study of Messianic theology. On his Web site, you can sign up to receive a periodic email newsletter that will notify you when he releases new novels.

Connect With Craig Online At:
Blog and Web site:

We thank Craig Hansen and Bewitching Book Tours. Our review will be posted this evening.

1 comment:

  1. Hey all, Craig here. Wanted to thank Meg, Caitlin and Laurie T for the appearance. I'll be checking back here a bit so if anyone has further questions, let me know.

    BTW, my "three component parts" is a less demanding standard than what some others look for in stories.

    I am a fan of former Marvel editor in chief Jim Shooter, and he looked for the following components from each 22-page comic book. If he can get that out of 22 pages, I think we indie novelists can accomplish it with a lot more words to work with.

    Here's Jim's standard... In each story:

    The characters must be introduced.
    Their situation must be established.
    The conflict must be introduced.
    Suspense must be built.
    A climax must be reached.
    A resolution must be achieved.