Guest Post and $25 Giftcard (of your choosing!-comment entry) Giveaway by Author Kalen Cap
Posted by Krystal Larson at 4:00 AM Thursday, July 19, 2012
Kalen will award a $25 Green Gift Card from http://green.icardgiftcard.com/ -- redeemable for GCs from hundreds of your favorite merchants to one randomly drawn commenter and the host with the most comments (excluding his and the hosts) will win a $10 Amazon GC. Please leave a comment to enter with your email address!
A pregnant manatee is rare at any zoo, and a first for the Grove City Zoo in Ohio. Ankh is a delight to zoo patrons, a concern to its staff, and the unintentional victim of two con men. She has no idea how many human relationships, problems, and dreams tangle around her.
Jerry is a young developmentally disabled man who happily follows Ankh's pregnancy on the zoo's webcam. He has a shy crush on Janelle, a pretty college student who volunteers for his group home’s outings to the zoo.
Jerry's Aunt Vera also loves nature and runs an environmental retreat center. But all is not well, with Vera or the center. The center needs money and is under investigation as a cult.
Amid their college studies, Janelle and her friend Cecily try to help. Instead, Janelle re-awakens an old obsession in Vera when an innocent tarot reading hints at how the center might be saved.
Two bumbling con men are attempting to sabotage the region’s electrical grid as part of a lucrative scheme. But Jerry accidentally gets in their way and becomes their captive.
When the con men surprisingly succeed in bringing the grid down, it spells danger for Ankh, her unborn pup, and the many people tied to them both. With investigations of their own, Cecily and Janelle try to untangle it all to find Jerry, save a manatee’s life, and rescue Vera from herself.
Tangled Ties to a Manatee is a humorous crime thriller with environmental themes that is revealed through multiple points of view. The novel emphasizes college-aged characters, though not all, such as the developmentally disabled ones, are in college.
“What we gonna do with him?” Craig asked.
Stan held the door open, motioning for Craig to carry their intruder inside. I’m glad we’re at this site.
Another retired hub station was a few miles away. That station’s maintenance was scheduled for Monday and Thursday, and Stan originally planned to use that location. But, with the forecasted weather, the current station, with its maintenance on Wednesday and Friday, was proving the better choice. Particularly now, since it had a second building where they could stow their intruder. The retired grid hub station was used for remote relayed processing, so there wouldn’t likely be any surprise visits by the electric company before Wednesday. Stan figured they’d be long gone by then.
Craig took the load inside and turned back to Stan.
“We’ll put him in the basement,” Stan said.
“There’s a basement?”
“No, I’m going to dig one while you hold him. Of course, there’s a basement.” Stan flipped the light switch and led the way down the steps inside. The basement had a storage area and what had been a break room, complete with a cot, and adjoining bathroom. Craig followed him into the break room, and Stan motioned to the cot. Craig let the guy fall there with a thump.
“Easy! Let’s get the sack off him,” Stan said. The two men pulled the burlap off their surprise guest. They both leaned over, peering at him.
“I know him,“ Craig said.
“You think you know everybody.”
“No, really. Can’t remember where I saw him, though.”
Stan handed his partner a couple lengths of cord. Craig set the intruder upright and proceeded to bind his hands and feet.
My process for writing in this genre and developing characters
“Tangled Ties to a Manatee” is a humorous crime thriller with environmental themes. The reason I chose the genre is that it provides suspense for the reader while allowing me to explore serious subjects in a lighthearted way. Also, crime thrillers usually have specific events that the storyline hinges on, so the structure appealed to me. I prefer using humor to engage readers. I want folks to have fun while reading my work.
For my debut novel, I started with a few firm characters and some supporting characters linking them. This let the writing process flesh them out more over time. Some characters were rather fully developed early on. Cecily’s personality and storyline stayed consistent from the first draft, for example. Other characters, such as Maureen, began as minor, supporting characters. Maureen is an example of a character that gradually took on a more important role during progressive rewrites to tighten and further lighten the novel.
For “Tangled Ties to a Manatee,” I had a rough outline that hinged on a small number of key events and the specific entanglements and interweaving of the storyline threads took form as I wrote. For a new work-in-progress of mine, I have a more detailed and structured outline developed ahead of the writing. While I feel that a given story idea might naturally need more or less outlining, I find a good routine keeps me more productive and that outlines are an important part of a good routine.
One concern that’s important for the quality of my writing is self-care. Though I see some attention to this in writers’ forums, I’m surprised that I don’t see much written about how integral it is to the quality of a writer’s work. While I can push myself late into the night when a specific goal is nearly completed, late nights are usually a losing proposition for my writing productivity. When I do that, I’m more apt to write dead-end tangents while tired and be burned out for days afterward. When I force myself to stop and get a reasonable amount of rest, I make better, regular progress. It’s not just sleep. Eating right, exercising, spending time with friends, and other forms of self-care take time, but then the hours that remain during each week for the writing are more productive.
So, when I treat myself well, it is easier to remain flexible, adapt my approach to the piece, fully develop characters and plan storylines, and make steady progress writing from there. My writing process for “Tangled Ties to a Manatee” differed from the new work-in-progress, but I believe it worked well for this humorous crime thriller.
Kalen Cap is a writer living in Columbus, Ohio. Active in a variety of causes, particularly with regard to the environment, he often brings such concerns into his fiction writing.
Tangled Ties to a Manatee is his debut novel.
He has had poetry published and several plays, both one act and full-length, produced locally. Two short stories have been published as well. "Feral" is a short story published in Off the Rocks, v. 14, ed Allison Fradkin, NewTown Writers Chicago, 2010, pp. 119-126. "Transforming Oracle" is a self-published short story available at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/29507
Kalen’s website is http://www.kalencap.com
He can be readily connected with through the following social media profiles –
Google+ : http://gplus.to/Kalencap
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