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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Spotlight Saturday: Guest Post and Giveaway with Ellis Vidler

Hi, everyone!

Welcome to another edition of Spotlight Sunday at Darlene's Book Nook, where we feature authors and their books!

We will be joined today by Ellis Vidler.

About Ellis:
Ellis Vidler lives and writes in the South Carolina Piedmont. She's also an editor and has taught fiction writing. Her other books can be found at (

For more information about Ellis and her work, please visit her at: 


Welcome to Darlene's Book Nook, Ellis!

Ellis has written a guest post, so I will now turn the floor over to her!

From Winter Solstice to a New Year
Guest Post by Ellis Vidler

Winter Solstice is a magical time of year. The Druids called it the time of death and birth, when the sun reaches its weakest point and dies. Then it's reborn and grows stronger every day. It's the promise of rebirth that turns our thoughts to expanding our horizons and resolving to make something good of this new opportunity. We decorate with fragrant evergreens and red berries. Candles light the long hours of darkness, reminding us of our ties to nature and our dependence on the sun for life.

As the number on the calendar changes, the weather and long nights usually encourage me to curl up with a good book and let the old year slide peacefully into the past. However, time would be better spent reflecting on last year and lessons learned as I lived through it. Maybe tonight I'll spend the final hour doing that. Most reflections guide us into those ambitious resolutions we never keep, or at least I never did. Now I make different promises.

Instead of resolving to exercise regularly, eat wisely, and manage my house—a lost cause before I start—my resolution will be to finish the book I've been working on forever. Maybe I'll even finish the next one, which I've already begun. I promise to write better, to keep in mind all the wonderful things I've learned from reading blogs (instead of writing), and I'll even write a synopsis for each book.

I start with the characters and their personalities. What can I do to make them interesting? Do they like peanut butter and banana sandwiches? What do they most fear? What incident in their past caused this? Knowing them and their idiosyncrasies guides me to the setting. Where would these characters live? In a sophisticated loft above Main Street? In an isolated hilltop cabin? Big city? Small town?

Then, because I write crime/suspense fiction, I need a crime that could reasonably happen in this setting. If you write in a different genre, the same thing applies—there must still be a big problem to solve, obstacles to overcome before the end. The crimes, or problems, triggered by human emotions can occur in any setting, but crimes of espionage and terrorism generally need certain props, such as a military or defense industry atmosphere. There are all kinds of things to consider. Once I have the basic crime, or problem, worked out, I begin what's hardest for me. The plot.

Hmmm. Maybe the synopses should come next. Get those highlights and turning points worked out. It would certainly be easier to finish the books with these points already decided, but writing a synopsis requires discipline. I like to start them on paper and draw arrows and symbols to link cause and effect. This is also where I end up with an entire yellow legal pad in crushed wads. (I get a masochistic pleasure from seeing them all over the desk and floor. They're evidence that I'm actually thinking.) This isn't the polished synopsis you send to agents and editors, it's a working plan for a plot. It can, and usually does, change as the story develops.

But in the beginning, I aim for two or three events that will direct the course of the story, events that will drag the main character deeper into trouble and distance her or him further from the goal. Then comes the Black Moment, the beginning of the story's end, when all seems lost and hope is at its lowest point. From there, like sun in the Winter Solstice, the protagonist begins the process of rebirth, fighting her way toward the light and the satisfying outcome.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Ellis! 


One lucky winner will receive a copy of Cold Comfort.

This giveaway open worldwide. A Canada/US winner will have his/her choice of a paperback or e-book. An International winner will receive an e-book.

Cold Comfort begins in December during the long nights leading up to the Solstice. Claire Spencer is attacked, but why? A friend calls in a favor, and burned out PI Ben Riley reluctantly checks it out. His protective instincts compel him to help when he witnesses the next attack, and in spite of their differences, he and Claire work together to uncover the old secrets that turn her life into a lie. Will she gain more than she loses, or will the result be . . . Cold Comfort?

To enter the giveaway, you must complete the Rafflecopter entry form below.

This giveaway is open worldwide, and it will close on Saturday, January 7th at 12:01 AM EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I rarely make resolutions. I hardly ever keep them. But Ellis, I wish you luck with completing the books that you've been working on. :)

    And Darlene, thank you for the giveaway!

    Happy New Year ladies!


  2. Thank you, Vanilla Orchids. I hardly ever keep my resolutions either, but I don't have my heart in them. This year I really want to finish a couple of books and I love writing, so I may do better.

  3. Ellis, yes, PLEASE finish your manuscripts. The books you've finished are excellent, including Cold Comfort.


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