December 2017 Book Review Challenge

During the month of December, I agreed to participate in a book and review swapping experience within a Goodreads group, which definitely encouraged me to read more, especially when it came to new authors. As a result, here are the books I read and posted reviews for on and Goodreads, which you might or might not agree with:

36361882Let me start with SILENT JUSTICE by Brian Roberts. This high-energy book has an interesting, diabolical cast of characters and provides a great voice for the imagination of debut author, Brian Roberts. Crime and corruption run rampant and Lead Detective Robert Jenkins has his hands full in this action-packed novel set in the underbelly of South Central L.A., and no one appears to be safe or unaffected by the dealings of ungoverned gangs. The President needs to bring an end to all the violence or lose his shot at a second term in office. But no one can foresee the powder keg about to erupt and the aftermath that results. RATED 5 out of 5 STARS

35647170Next, THEIR GREEK KEY by Pamela Harstad. I love reading about complex romantic relationships that are destine to fail but don’t. This is a fun, compelling read with interesting characters and a well-thought out plot that pulled me in immediately. Will keep an eye out for more books by this talented author! RATED 5 out of 5 STARS


Then, THE CHAOS OF CHANGE by J.T. Riggen. Wow! Never thought I’d ever read a political thriller, 36136183as I hate worrying about gloom and doom and the future of this country, which many of us trouble over on a daily basis. But I have to admit, once I started ready this crazy amazing book, I couldn’t put it down. The plot is well thought out, the characters are complex and real, and the tension is racketed to a breaking point. The author obviously spent a great deal of time researching this story because it shows on every page and in every word. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an explosive story! RATED 5 out of 5 STARS

36466825On to THE FINAL REALITY by Stephen Martino. Usually I’m not a huge fan of doom’s day sci-fi stories, but I have to admit Martino captured my attention and held onto it in this intriguing, action-packed story – pitting good against evil with the future of the world at stake. I haven’t read the other books in this series but found the Final Reality easy to follow with its rotating points of view, complex characters, and stirring plot…and this Indiana Jones-like adventure is definitely strong enough to stand alone. RATED 5 out of 5 STARS

*I’m beginning to see a pattern here. (Happy face)

36398669GOOD DOING EVIL by Wilde Blue Sky. Although this spy/terrorist thriller is one of the shortest book I’ve ever read, it was none the less intriguing due to the fact that the main character is dull, insignificant and an extremely unlikely hero. His battle against the evil forces he contends with was entertaining and unexpected, keeping my interest from beginning to end. Kudos to the author! RATED 4 Stars out of 5


36152319Followed by BEHIND FRENEMY LINES by Cele Pedersen Smith. I was pulled into this story immediately and had a hard time putting it down. Galaxy and Lee were complex characters and proved intriguing in the area of romance and as mystery solving agents. There were some light moments and plenty of twists and turns in the cleverly conceived plot. I highly recommend Behind Frenemy Lines to anyone who loves action-packed romantic suspense and look forward to reading more books by this author. RATED 4 out of 5 STARS

35615310Finally, BUBBLEGUM by Sari Taurez. I’m a huge fan of unlikely heroines and complex evil villains that you love to hate and grow to respect, and Sari Taurez delivers them in a BIG way in this cleverly-crafted book. It’s jam-packed with interesting, diverse characters, and I found this novel unbelievably fun to read! It honestly kept me up all night with its twists and turns and high octane action. The cliff-hanging end was ingenuous and makes it possible for Taurez to continue her disturbing, spell-casting drama that readers are sure to enjoy. To sum it all up in a few words, this is a crazy over-the-top ride! RATED 4 out of 5 STARS

36215108I also promised to give THE RIP by Andy Ben a look-see this week and will report on my findings very soon!

Now that’s A LOT of reading!!


The Columbia Review of Books & Film

The Editorial Board of The Columbia Review accepts submissions from authors, publishers, directors, agents, producers and fans. http://www.TheColumbiaReview.comSEVERED THREADS Cover Jpg

“Severed Threads” by Kaylin McFarren is the first installment in romantic suspense series. It provides an engaging mix of mystery, action, and drama that readers are sure to enjoy.

The story’s protagonist is Rachel Lyons, who is devastated after her father dies from a terrible diving accident. Rachel copes as best she can by choosing a life path that seems safe and comfortable. Her path soon becomes not so safe and comfortable, however, when she is drawn very reluctantly into an endeavor to recover a priceless relic from a sunken Chinese merchant ship. Because a former love interest named Chase Cohen is involved in the adventure, Rachel strongly desires not to be involved:

“Word had it, Chase Cohen, the renowned treasure hunter, was more determined than ever to leave his mark. He’d rifled ocean plots stretching from Spain to Key West, selling off remnants of other people’s lives. She had hoped their paths would never cross again.”

Despite her adamant hope to stay away, however, Rachel finds herself pulled into the situation as a result of yet another traumatic event. A drug-dealing gangster kidnaps Rachel’s brother and holds him ransom for $2 million. After learning about this horrific situation, Rachel determines that she has no choice but to become involved in the recovery of the ship’s relic…because it also holds the Heart of the Dragon, which she must steal to save her brother. The whole process forces Rachel to relive the circumstances of her father’s death, an experience that she finds incredibly challenging:

“She pulled the covers under her chin and longed to be lulled to sleep by the ship’s rocking motion—to be transported to a peaceful place. However, whether her nightmares were triggered by being aboard Stargazer or in the proximity of the place where he had met his untimely death, they had grown in intensity. They had become so horrifying and real with each passing night that she got little or no sleep at all. She closed her eyes and concentrated on the sound in the room.”

Through this adventure, Rachel must overcome her greatest challenges and biggest fears and ends up learning more than she realized about herself and her father’s death along the way.

“Severed Threads” offers a psychologically thrilling and adventurous story that includes surprising twists and turns sure to keep its readers at the edge of their seats. The novel will delight readers of all ages with interesting characters, clever plotlines, and an engaging combination of romance, villainy, and the supernatural. Highly recommended!

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Mixology: The Thriller Genre

162485781Does your favorite novel have hot intense sex with an on the edge of your seat plot and a psychotic character? Then believe or not, you’re a fan of erotic, psychological thrillers, which many consider an explosive mix. Aside from the obvious, this genre is a great distraction from the general craziness of life. It dares to explore the darker side of our fantasies and their sometimes unintended consequences. Even though it does this by taking the reader to many extreme and taboo places, there are also beneficial topics involved, such as: overcoming our fears, breaking down barriers, not being victims of circumstance, and being true to our sexuality. Many of us live our lives doing what we have been conditioned to do instead of being true to ourselves and living authentically. Sometimes it takes an extraordinary situation to dismantle antiquated beliefs and to accept hidden truths about human nature and the human condition.

The real advantage of erotic thrillers is that they become a stimulating experience for the reader by delivering a roller coaster of emotions. It can be sexually-charged entertainment as well as thought provoking. One moment, you might be rooting for a villain to be caught and in the next, you’re longing for lovers to overcome their greatest challenges to be together—whether it’s forever after or just tangled up in bed. The real desire for an author creating a well-written, gripping story in this genre is to take the reader on a wild ride they never expected to experience and will take weeks…or maybe even months to forget. And even then, these books deserve to be read again and again, addressing our heightened need for passion, lust, exploration and intrigue, while throwing all caution to the wind and taking a step outside our comfort zone. Because what fun is it to restrict our book reading selections to conservative romances and historical drama when we can live precariously through hot, sexy characters in the pages of erotic thrillers, right?

So here’s your chance to explore a mixed genre. Check out the multitude of new authors that are currently thinking outside the box by producing a refreshing take on storytelling, distinctly different from formula fiction…and definitely a lot more fun!

Kaylin McFarren, Threads Series:

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Great Quote

A coffee cup and open book.


“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”
—George Orwell

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U.S. Review – Twisted Threads

TwistedThreads_FrontCoverThe Threads series continues in this tale of suspense and mystery surrounding the employment debt of Akira Hamada. Her days as a geisha long behind her, she now serves as a deadly assassin for the Yakuza boss Mitsui. After Akira makes a threat on Mitsui’s life, his daughter-in-law, Yuki Ota, (a character familiar to readers of the series to this point) is the messenger to give Akira one final job, but Akira is unsure if this is her way out or merely a trap to end her career fatally or in prison.

Along with a loyal and skilled cleaner, Takashi, Akira is to board a Caribbean cruise. Among her fellow passengers are Paul and Sara Lyons, an unhappily married couple who Mitsui believes are involved in the death of his sister in Mexico. Akira hopes to determine which of the two is the actual murderer so that no innocent blood can be shed; so in order to get close with the Lyons family, she becomes romantically involved with Paul’s nephew, Devon, who is also along for the cruise. Upon getting in with this group of travelers, Akira discovers several peculiar people such as the mysterious Dr. Peter Bradshaw, who seems to be keeping secrets and is in the constant presence of Sara (much to Paul’s chagrin), or the captain, Kevin Brice, who faced a demotion from the cruise company a decade ago after mysterious deaths on his watch. As the pleasure cruise begins to rack up a body count, Akira has to determine who is guilty and exact her boss’s revenge without getting caught herself—all while juggling her double life as a Japanese tourist and new partner to the nephew of her target.

Many of the best suspense, thriller, and mystery stories take place on a form of transportation, and this book is no different. The reason for this narrative choice is obvious, as it creates an inescapable arena with which the players can play cat and mouse, all within a set time limit for the story to unfold. The use of a cruise ship in this story allows for the exploration of exotic locales—and an opulent backdrop for the romantic, erotic elements of this story—while still providing that basic tension and restriction that keeps the action constantly moving forward. For readers who have kept up with the series, it’s the same kind of well-crafted thrill ride that the audience has come to expect. At the same time, this story is in many ways self-sufficient. Veterans will be more aware of the origins of the Lyons family and the Zakura-kai family, but everything between these two covers still stands perfectly on its own.

Like many pieces of popular spy fiction—whether it be literature, television, or movie—the author blends in some violent action with passionate romance and casts it all on a backdrop of an exotic and beautiful locale. Akira’s conflict between the past she was robbed of, her present unsavory circumstances, and a glimpse at a happy future create an emotional drama separate from the mystery of who among the seemingly happy cruise patrons and employees is capable of foul play. The fact that Akira is one of those with murder on her hands creates a scenario in which nobody is really innocent, leading to potential treachery and backstabbing on all sides. Readers will want to follow this book all the way to the end and should have no problem doing so after being gripped by its memorable characters and suspenseful storytelling. Whether you’re new to this series or just getting started, this book will leave an impression and keep the audience guessing all the way until Akira’s final showdown.


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Excerpt from Twisted Threads: Akira and Devon – The First Meeting


Chapter 4: Departure

A limousine driver stood outside the Fort Lauderdale baggage claim area with a white sign in his hands reading Hamada. It took a moment for Akira to remember that she was traveling under the dubious surname. Her male companion, who correctly bore the title, was a leathery-skinned man of medium height with slicked-back gray hair and coal-black eyes that looked soft and muted in the light of day. However, his stocky frame and thick biceps gave the impression that he could snap someone’s neck with very little effort. He was wearing a charcoal linen jacket with a white pin-striped shirt underneath, slightly frayed at the edges. He also wore black jeans and a black cord necklace that was wrapped twice around his neck, with a bronze key hanging from it that stirred her curiosity. She had considered asking about its purpose while traveling from Japan and waiting for connecting flights. But Takashi Hamada’s quiet demeanor alluded to his need for privacy and her obligation not to pry. It also became clear that enjoying the tropical scenery or any aspect of their trip would be considered a waste of time until Keiko Mitsui’s murderer was eliminated and their assignment was deemed complete.

After waving the driver over, Takashi pointed at their luggage and spoke in a deep, emotionless voice. “Just two. I’ll keep this one with me.” He set his black bag between them on the seat and put on his reflective sunglasses. Then he sat back and stared out the window, emitting negative energy.

No words were exchanged by anyone as they sped along the highway toward their final destination, adding to the heat in the car. Upon arriving at the cruise terminal, the limo driver opened the right rear door, and Takashi was the first to exit. The driver extended his soft hand to Akira in a kind gesture and closed the door behind her.

“Have a nice cruise,” he said.

She nodded politely but chose not to answer, not with Takashi standing nearby. He palmed a tip to the driver and grabbed his brown duffel bag. Then he left Akira to follow behind with her rolling black suitcase in typical Japanese fashion. They showed their travel documents, one after the other, and crossed the gangplank leading to their assigned ship. Their bags were taken by one of the crew members, and they were presented glasses of shimmering champagne. The bubbles spiraled up in the flutes and burst as if trying to escape. As she accepted the drink, Akira felt a sudden longing to get away and also escape. But Takashi’s presence made it impossible.

“When you’re ready, check in at the registration desk,” the cruise director told her. “They’ll take care of you and your father and show you to your cabin. If you have any questions while you’re there, don’t hesitate to ask.”

Akira lowered her chin and said softly, “Thank you.”

“Of course. That’s why we’re here,” he said, “to make your trip as enjoyable as possible.”

To Akira, the tall, chiseled-faced man seemed perfectly cast as the cruise director. He kept his hands clasped behind his back and his shoulders squared in a rigid pose like an officer in the military. The fine lines etched at the corners of his dark-blue eyes deepened with his broad smile.

“This is our first cruise,” Takashi volunteered. “It’s very exciting for both of us.” He displayed his perfect white teeth and kept a hand on Akira’s back, reminding her who was in charge.

“Welcome aboard,” the director said. “My name is Michael Donley. Don’t hesitate to let me know if there’s anything you need.”

While making her way to their room, Akira realized she’d never seen such opulence, such luxury, oozing from every corner of a ship. Fine art and sculptures dotted the lobby, and the staircase and chandelier reminded her of the luxury liners she had only seen in movies. According to the information packet she’d been given, there were fourteen decks on the ship, ten of which were allotted to passengers. There were also two coffee bars, a champagne bar, sports bar, terrace bar, dance club, nightclub, six lounges, two theaters, one casino, four pools, two spas, a rock-climbing wall, a gymnasium, and two game rooms for kids. When it came to restaurants, Akira lost count at fifteen. She passed by the Asian dining room on her way to the elevator, and the exuberance of the staff and abundance of food on display left her speechless.

While Takashi stood beside her, Akira used the card key and was instantly struck by how much the spacious cabin reminded her of the expensive hotel room in Kyoto she had shared two years ago with her danna, Kenji—a man who had paid for the right to be her contracted sponsor. As promised, the suite was outfitted with every amenity for the ten-day cruise. Takashi stepped in front of her and announced that she would take the master bedroom located on the lower level of the suite. He would take the guest bedroom on the upper level, which included an additional bathroom and large exterior windows. Before their arrival, Akira had been nervous about sharing a room with a man she barely knew. But Takashi was quick to inform her that he would be spending most of his time familiarizing himself with the ship and would do whatever was necessary to maintain the father-daughter illusion.

While she unpacked, he left the room with a spare key in hand, still dressed in his jeans and linen jacket. A British gentleman arrived soon after, outfitted in a white shirt, black bow tie, and vest. He introduced himself as Bradley and explained that he would be serving as their butler throughout their journey and would be handling their dinner reservations and afternoon tea service. He also showed her how the wall plugs and lighting system in the rooms were activated by inserting a card key into the plastic box mounted on the wall in the entry.

Another knock at the door sounded and resulted in the appearance of Felicia, a middle-aged, dark-skinned maid who patiently waited for confirmation from Akira that her accommodations were to her liking. Her slender assistant stepped out from behind her and left a stack of white towels on the rack above the shower before returning to her station. Akira extended her thanks, but the dutiful, timid woman didn’t respond. She kept her eyes fastened on the beige carpeting under their feet, reminding the geiko of the class separations she’d experienced in Japan.

After everyone had left the room, Akira changed into a short black skirt, sleeveless white blouse, and black strappy sandals. She buried her anxieties before setting off to explore the ship, feeling like a young, inquisitive child. The spa offered an incredible array of services; the fully equipped gym, with fitness classes and a personal trainer, had her gasping for air. Near the top deck, she entered the ship’s culinary center and discovered that passengers had the opportunity to learn gourmet cooking while working side by side with master chefs. The library offered a wide variety of books, stretching out over one hundred meters, with deep leather seats where guests could delve into the latest bestsellers. Adjacent to the library was a coffee bar with floor-to-ceiling windows providing panoramic views as baristas served the finest espressos, cappuccinos, pastries, and homemade cookies.

She ventured outside and found the top deck replete with patio furniture, a large swimming pool, and an unbelievably handsome man with exquisitely drawn features. He was stretched out on a lounge chair enjoying a frothy beer in a chilled mug. His light-brown, almost red hair was squared off in the back and long in the front, and his cheeks were clean-shaven and gave rise to nicely sculpted bones, which melded into a square jaw and chiseled chin. She estimated him to be in his late twenties and assumed he was a rich playboy who spent his spare time sunbathing and bodybuilding—enjoying his life without a care in the world.

Akira smiled, wondering what it would be like to feel that way…for just one day.

A waitress with spiky blond hair was serving guests on the deck and approached her with an empty tray. “Gorgeous, huh?”

“Excuse me?” Akira’s vision trailed from the woman’s round face to the thin scar on her neck.

“The hunk over there,” the waitress pointed out with a nod. “The one with the cute dimples and killer eyes. I’ve been enjoying him for hours—along with half the women on this ship.”

Embarrassment warmed Akira’s face. Were all Americans this forward?

“That’s Devon Lyons…from California. He shares interest in a treasure-hunting business and is the hottest thing I’ve seen all year.” Her lips curled into a smile. “I sure wouldn’t mind jumping his bones.”

Akira was startled into reluctant laughter. It was the first time she’d heard the remark, although she assumed it was nothing new. As she stood watching, another cocktail waitress approached Devon and asked about his drink. Then she walked away smiling.

 Amazing. There were thousands of men on this ship, and in less than twenty minutes, Akira had found the right one—a robust member of the Lyonses’ family to act as her ally. With no photograph in his file to guide her, even Takashi would be impressed by her discovery.

She glanced down at her hand, still holding her room key, and attempted to divert the conversation. “Actually, I was wondering about the temperature in the pool.”

“Oh, right. Silly me. It’s a comfortable seventy-two degrees. Were you planning to change and go swimming? I can have a chair set up and bring you something cold to drink if you’d like.”

Akira could feel Devon’s eyes on her, and it wasn’t a good place for them to be. At least not for the time being. “Perhaps later,” she said. “I’m new on board and was just trying to get my bearings.”

“Oh, right. Of course. We were told that you and your father would be arriving today. You must be exhausted. If you need anything at all, don’t hesitate to let me know. I’ll be here until nine o’clock tonight.”

Akira made a mental note of the name on her badge. “Thank you, Adriane. I might take you up on your offer tomorrow.” She watched the cocktail waitress approach another guest before stealing another look at Devon. He was leaning on his elbow, listening to something the young woman beside him was saying—smiling and laughing on cue. Akira became keenly aware of him occasionally glancing at her, increasing her discomfort. She released a short breath before walking away in search of the closest elevator.

After arriving at her cabin, she pulled the sliding glass door open and stepped out onto the balcony with her files in hand. The ship was still docked and not scheduled to leave for several hours, giving her time to review information about the Lyons family and to process her encounter with Devon. His bio described him as selective when it came to romance. Apparently he was drawn toward strong, powerful women but struggled with maintaining relationships. He would be a tough one to win over in the limited time she’d been given, especially with trust being an issue. She decided the best way to earn it was by playing the role of a shy, innocent, naïve soul—longing for his approval, love, and protection. It would be something new for Devon—a chance to show off his virility while staking his claim. As for the rest of the family members, she came to the conclusion that they would confide in her in due time, but only with Devon’s help. It would essentially be a game of chess, silently moving into a position of power before eliminating the right opponent.


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Linda Yoshida: Weaving tales from ‘threads’ – The Outlook

00003597395218Troutdale author with pen name Kaylin McFarren writes fourth, final installment in romance series.

With the publication of “Twisted Threads” this November, Troutdale author Kaylin McFarren wrapped a four-part series featuring treasure hunters and deadly assassins. The Outlook recently talked shop with the woman behind the pen name — Linda Yoshida.

OUTLOOK: Your characters, even the heroes, are often cracked and complicated. Why?

YOSHIDA: I like the idea of redemption. My character (Akira), she is an assassin, someone you would normally hate. But by the end of the book, you find out that you really love her. When you write about someone who’s 100 percent perfect, they’re kind of boring (laughs).

OUTLOOK: How did you create these imperfect individuals?

YOSHIDA: When I started, I (had this) notebook. I wrote down all the characters, what they look like, their hobbies, their quirks — everything about them. I never really had to tap back into it because I already knew it in my mind.

OUTLOOK: You’ve published “Severed Threads,” “Buried Threads,” “Banished Threads” and now “Twisted Threads.” I’m sensing a theme here.

YOSHIDA: A relationship is what I call threads. So it’s a buried or a found relationship. It’s all about how relationships develop and change. I was inspired to do that after writing “Flaherty’s Crossing.”

OUTLOOK: That was your first book. Can you tell us more?

YOSHIDA: I originally wrote that about 16 years ago, but I never finished. I got to the last couple of chapters and I put it away. It was a book too close to my heart, a book about the relationship with my father. With urging and help from my eldest daughter, I finished it.

OUTLOOK: What else launched your writing career?

OUTLOOK PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - Ribbons and awards for the Threads series pile up on a bookshelf inside Linda Yoshidas writing room in Troutdale.

YOSHIDA: After (my daughters) were all gone, I was like, ‘Jeez, I have to redefine myself and figure out who I am.’ I have traveled so much and met so many amazing people and had unique experiences. I wanted to share those experiences and bring them into people’s lives.

OUTLOOK: How has the publishing industry changed?

YOSHIDA: (Previously) you had to be so specific. You had to be a mystery writer, or a suspense writer or a romance writer. Now they allow you to mix genres. I call this an erotic, psychological thriller. People go, ‘What is that?’

OUTLOOK: “Twisted Threads” is the fourth and allegedly final installment in the series. Will you miss it?

YOSHIDA: When I announced that I was finishing this series, I had about 20 different people beg me not to end it. They fell in love with all of these characters. It doesn’t mean I couldn’t revisit it in the future, but for now I feel like I’m ready to move on.

OUTLOOK: What’s your new project, “High Flying,” about?

YOSHIDA: I’m doing a time travel book. I have a girl, she has a damaged life… She’s born to a mother who is in prostitution and drugs and so forth — her life is completely damaged because of what she’s gone through. Her father, as far as she knows, has left.

So she becomes a stunt pilot. She flies to a show and on the way she scrapes the wing of another plane … Then she finds out she’s been transported to another timeline.

OUTLOOK: What inspired the topic?

YOSHIDA: My father worked for United Airlines, when they had just started and had a headquarters in Chicago, but that was it. I remember sitting on his shoulder on the tarmac and watching planes take off — and getting in them and handing out Chiclet bubble gum. So I grew up with airplanes, but I never considered writing about them.

OUTLOOK: Any advice for novice writers?

YOSHIDA: Everybody has a story that they can tell, but to be a really good author, you need to read consistently. Any time I go to a workshop, I grab as many copies of books as I can. I love hearing different voices and perspectives. They educate you.

OUTLOOK: Does your husband read your books?

YOSHIDA: He stays on the sidelines. He has about four ghostwriters who have written his stories … he autographs them, but he doesn’t write them!

But he’s one of our biggest cheerleaders and he’ll rave about them. When he found out my books were kind of racy — Well, I don’t think he can handle that part.


Name: Linda Yoshida

Age: 63

Location: Troutdale

Education: Majored in English at Highline Community College. Later studied writing at Mt. Hood Community College

Family: Raised three daughters — Kristina, Erika and Amanda — with her husband, Junki

Buy her books: At or on

Favorite Authors: Jodi Picoult, Lisa Jackson and her aunt, Bessie Cordell, whose memoirs about missionary work in China were published posthumously. “The church she was with chose to publish them,” Yoshida says. “I thought, ‘Wow, it’s in my blood.”

Written by Zane Sparling – 

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Trick of the Trade: Pinterest Plotting

When it comes to writing a novel, a well-thought-out plot is an essential element for effective storytelling. Something has to move – to change from bad to good, worst to better, in order to satisfy your reader. This change, from Point A to Point B, can be shown in the following ways: 

  • A physical event (Point A = a psycho killer is picking off everyone in town. Point B = police arrest the killer).

  • A decision (Point A = a character wants to practice law like his father. Point B = the same character decides to be a ballet dancer).

  • A change in a relationship (Point A = a boy and girl hate each other. Point B = they fall in love)

  • A change in a person (Point A = a character is a selfish jerk. Point B = they realize the benefit of donating their time.)

  • A change in the reader’s understanding of a situation. (Point A = a character appears to be a murderer. Point B = the reader realizes the character is actually innocent and made a false confession.)

For authors who find plotting on foam core board the best way to organize your chapters and subplots before developing them, I applaud the endless hours you’ve invested but have no interest in making notes on sticky pads in various colors and later attempting to decipher my writing. Plus the resulting roadmap could prove incredibly daunting, especially when multiple points of view are involved, in addition to unexpected twists and turns in the plot.


The beat sheet is also a great tool for charting every scene, however, after attempting this method for a new book, I soon realized that I’d spent endless hours on the building blocks for my plot which lacked dialogue or narrative flair. As soon as I began writing, I found myself detouring from my storyline all together and rewriting my sheet to stay current with my story’s evolution.

Ultimately, the solution to organizing my characters, directing their activities, and advancing my plot came with an introduction to Pinterest. Although authors often use boards on this site for compiling ideas, collecting quotes, and categorizing writing techniques, I found it an excellent way to dissect my entire story and to “visually” plot each chapter, as well as each book, with the use of character images, settings, and prop photos that describe the corresponding scene. When a board is completed, it also serves as the perfect tool for creating a book trailer and developing an advertising layout.