Not all prisons are made from concrete and razor wire…

I’ve written some dark fiction in my day. And my most recent novel, Scorched Earth, is no exception. But I still think the darkest thing I’ve ever written–and am ever likely to write–remains Down the Brink.

The novel takes the concept of for-profit prisons, sets it in the near future, and then adds something to the business model that I hope never happens in real life. I’ll leave it at that lest I give away the plot!

My narrator for the audiobook, Daniel Dorse, summed it up well. He had read through the novel to prepare his performance, and commented thusly: “ain’t you just a ray of sunshine!”

Yep, that’s me. For-profit prisons, firestorms, broken food chains, mind control, human clones, BigPharma gone bad. You name it, I can find the darkside…

Happy Halloween!

Down the Brink–audiobook

Down the Brink–ebook

Down the Brink by [Lisa von Biela]

So, it’s been a while…for a lot of things…

Hello out there…

I realize it’s been quite a while since I posted anything here.  There just hasn’t been much to post about, and I’m no good at posting for the sake of posting.  I posted about the release of my newest novel, Scorched Earth, when it came out last fall.  Then Australia pretty much caught on fire, and I posted about that–how I thought Scorched Earth was perhaps a little far-fetched as I wrote it, and how the fires in Australia were proving me wrong.  I figured no way could an area the size of the Nebraska panhandle *really* burn down.  And I’m being proven wrong again by the fires right now in California, Washington, Oregon, and elsewhere.  

I started a new novel back in December.  This would be my 11th title overall.  I decided to try a new approach.  As some of you may know, I’m a dedicated outliner.  I plan out my plots, the timing, and so forth before I begin drafting.  Why?  A lot of reasons.  For one, the nature of my plots often demands that I have the timing of events right.  I’d rather do that in an outline than while wrangling a novel-length manuscript.  Another important reason is to give myself an easy-to-pick-up roadmap so if I get tied up with work or other things I can easily jump back in where I left off in the draft and get moving.  For this one, I decided to try pantsing it.  Why not, right?

So I started a novel where the protagonist is on the road, fleeing something, trying to get somewhere.  The country around her is deserted, a wasteland (she’s in the Midwest right now, where there should be plenty of farming activity).  I like what I’ve written so far, but I didn’t decide at the outset what the underlying problem was.  And so I got stuck, despite a good start.  It’s at a point where I need to know what she’s running from/to.

And the the pandemic hit.  I am fortunate to be able to work from home and stay safe.  But, to be honest, it’s making it even harder to pick up on writing this novel.  Those of you familiar with my work know I tend toward the dystopian on a regular basis.  And right now, I just can’t seem to muster the urge to write dystopian when it seems like dystopia is all around us.  I’ve not given up on the novel, but I am feeling stalled out.  

Do people even want to read dystopian novels in this environment?  I don’t know.  I do know I just can’t find it in me to switch to writing romance novels!

Meanwhile, I’ve been spending time with this little beauty…started playing dulcimer almost two years ago, then picked up a Fender acoustic guitar last December.  And then this…love my shell pink Strat!  (In the interest of full disclosure, I have a long way to go…still very much learning, so no gigs for me!)

Strat shoot from NEF to JPEG

A question for fellow authors and readers…

I have a question for my fellow authors and readers. A long time ago (in a prior life), my doctor (at the time) told me that he really loved Pat Conroy’s writing, that the descriptions were so gorgeous. I read Prince of Tides and remember enjoying it. I started The Great Santini the other day and am blown away by the stunning descriptions. Really fantastic. But…
 
When I write, I only write through one character’s POV at a time. I write vivid descriptions, but I have to write them in that character’s voice. I’d love to free myself to write lyrical descriptions as Conroy does, but that would not be true to the voice of my typical characters. He’s obviously writing as the omniscient narrator and describing as he pleases.
 
Fellow authors/readers, what are your thoughts on the matter? What do you prefer to write? What do you prefer to read?

ITW Giveaways for 3 of my titles…NOW!

I’m running giveaways for signed paperback copies of several of my more recent titles right now on the International Thriller Writers site.

Contest ends midnight PST on May 20, 2018.

All you need to do is post a comment.  I’ll pick the winners at random and sign/send out the books.  Good luck!

For MOON OVER RUIN

For DOWN THE BRINK

For INCIDENTAL FINDINGS, a Nikki Avalon thriller

Reflections on 5 years as a published novelist

I like to keep track of anniversaries.  I’m just that kind of person.  I like to think back on where I was, compare it to where I am now, that sort of thing.  Some anniversaries, of course, are more momentous than others.  And this is one of them.

Five years ago today, my very first novel (THE GENESIS CODE) came out.  I never thought I’d see that day, and I remember how excited I was (pretty much giddy with hope and dreams, as I recall).  I had been writing short stories, getting some publications and honing my skills, since 2000 or so.  Then around 2003/2004, I decided to try writing a full-length novel.  I had a story, but no publisher in mind.  I’d never attempted a work of that length.  I just wanted to do it, do the best I could, and see what happened.

It took something like two and a half years.  I started and restarted.  I got stuck along the way.  I had characters box themselves into corners that didn’t work.  It felt very much like getting into a small boat, launching off into the ocean, and losing sight of land–and hoping I made it safely to some undetermined destination.  But I eventually finished it, felt it was the best I could do.

Then law school happened.  I decided to leave IT behind and attend full time beginning back in 2006.  And I had time for nothing else during those three years (well, more than that, if you count the summer of studying for the bar exam, then the relocation, etc.).  So I stopped writing fiction and the manuscript sat.  I only shopped it to a few places during that time.  Nothing happened and I had pretty much resigned myself to it never seeing the light of day.

Then one day, Greg Gifune posted on Facebook that DarkFuse was looking for novels.  Long story short, I submitted it, and DarkFuse published it five years ago today.

A lot has happened since then.  I’ve written a number of novels (medical/tech/legal thrillers) and novellas (horror and supernatural).  DarkFuse published most of them before shutting down last year.  Crossroad Press picked me up and republished all my backlist, as well as a couple of completed titles DarkFuse hadn’t gotten to yet.  I self-published a novella last year.  And I’m busy with the fourth draft of my current novel-in-progress.  All this while working full time.  So now I have a total of nine titles out, one in the works, and ideas for more.

I wonder what the next five years will bring.  Will my style change?  Will my subjects or genres change?  (One thing’s for sure:  you’ll see no romance novels from me!)  Will my series character in INCIDENTAL FINDINGS (Nikki Avalon) take off and launch a whole stack of novels?

It’ll be interesting to see what I write on the next major anniversary.  At least I hope so!

Thanks for reading,

Lisa

 

Greetings, 2018!

Well, here it is.  2018.  I always try to imagine what every new year will hold.  And let’s just say, I’m no oracle!  2017 had its surprises–good, bad, and in between.

On the publishing front, I kicked off 2017 by self-pubbing a novella that I’d originally written at a particular market’s invitation.  They declined the final product, so I took the bull by the horns and published it last New Year’s Day.  That’s my little thriller, Moon Over Ruin.  It’s set (mainly) in an abandoned resort we ran across on a trip to Canada a couple of years ago that got caught in my mind.

Then, around the beginning of summer, my long-time publisher, DarkFuse, closed down.  They reverted rights to me, but this of course meant my titles went off-market.  I had 6 titles with them at the time, and 2 completed manuscripts that had not yet been published.  I was very fortunate to join up with Crossroad Press soon afterward.  So far, they’ve republished my 4 novel-length works (with new cover art) and one of my previously unpublished titles (Down the Brink).  And, they published an audiobook of The Genesis Code!  The 2 novellas (Ash and Bone and Skinshift) and the other previously unpublished work (Incidental Findings) are in the works and will be out soon.  Meanwhile, I’m in the second draft of a novel-in-progress that concerns a drought of historical proportions and a young family’s desperate escape from a mega-fire into…even worse things.

This has been a big year for my artwork, too.  I picked up some cheap watercolors a couple of years ago and started dabbling around (I hadn’t painted/drawn in some years).  One thing led to another, and I also got involved with colored pencils about a year ago.  My skills have noticeably progressed, and I’ve posted work on RedBubble and Pixels.  Made a couple of small sales, too.  I also drew a blue and gold macaw with colored pencils and donated the image to Zazu’s House Parrot Sanctuary for use on their Pixels site.  I hope it’s sold a lot for them!

On the travel front, I’ve had some mighty interesting/contrasting trips!  In the summer, we returned to Canada, and took a flight to the icefields in Kluane National Park.  We actually landed on a huge icefield (see the picture below) in a Helio Courier.  Awesome!  Then in November, we visited Death Valley National Park, parts of which are well below sea level.  So from high-altitude snow to low-altitude desert, all in the same year.  Not sure how to top that!

So, a big thank you to my readers and those who have purchased my art, and to everyone reading this, best wishes for 2018!

Greetings 2018

Check out this week’s Thriller Roundtable

Which thriller writers are skilled at education the public on otherwise difficult public and business programs?

Stop by and check it out–leave a comment if you wish!

http://www.thebigthrill.org/2017/04/april-3-9-which-thriller-writers-are-skilled-at-educating-the-public-on-otherwise-difficult-public-and-business-programs/#comment-36223

The Inspiration Behind MOON OVER RUIN…

For me, there is nothing like a road trip.  Jetting off to faraway places is not my cup of tea, never has been.  I prefer terra firma, and seeing everything there is to see along the way.

Don’t get me wrong.  The views from up in the air can be pretty amazing.  But you can’t really pull over and investigate if you see something interesting, now, can you?

And I prefer out-of-the-way places, not major cities.

In other words…give me wide open spaces!  Because you never know what you will find out there, where there is supposedly nothing.

In this case, it was an abandoned resort up in Canada, situated next to a huge, peaceful lake.  I wish there’d been more identifying information.  I tried to find something about it on the Internet, without a lick of success.  (My BF and I saw another abandoned resort on that same trip and at least found other people’s pictures of it, and its name.  But for this one, not a thing.  Just adds to the mystery, right?)

Looked like a really nice setup, back when it was alive, anyway.  Eight rooms in one single-story building, some other common building overlooking the lake, and some other building (Café?  Storage?  Not sure.  Not about to trespass to find out.)

So.  A cool little place.  In the middle of nowhere.  Set on a lake.  But abandoned and aging.  Just the thing to set off my weird little imagination.  Who stayed there when it was operational?  What was their story?  What stories could the walls tell?  I knew right away this place had the potential to make an appearance in my fiction.  Just a matter of when and where.

Different stories start with different seeds.  For another of my novellas, Skinshift, it was the animal skulls we found in an abandoned campsite on another road trip.  For Ash and Bone, it was a noir-ish mental image I had of a waterfront at night.  And so on.  My stories aren’t always inspired by an irresistible setting.  But some are.  Like Moon Over Ruin.

The Quarry Resort is a fictionalized version of this abandoned resort.  Peter Watson takes a solo road trip to escape a very painful loss.  Or so he thinks.  Then he winds up at the Quarry Resort, alone, at night.  And he gets more than he bargained for.  Way more.

Thanks for reading!

And may I wish you:

Pleasant dreams…or not…

Lisa

MOON OVER RUIN now released!

MOON OVER RUIN, my latest novella, is live and available now on Amazon…

A tragic twist of fate takes away everything that really matters to Peter Watson. After such a profound loss, he can’t make sense of his life anymore. So he takes to the road—alone—to put some time and distance between himself and what happened. He hopes the solitude will help him find a reason to go on, a way to heal.

When he stops to check in at the remote Quarry Resort, he expects to wrestle with painful, intense memories. He does not expect to spend the night fighting for his life.

No matter how far you travel, the darkness inside will find you…

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MT4YWHR/ref=docs-os-doi_0