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Laura Pauling | Tag Archive | spies
Tag Archives | spies

Story structure of a heist movie in 15 sentences.

I walked up to Redbox simultaneously rubbing my hands with glee but also doubtful because we haven’t had much luck in the movie department. One of the first movies I noticed was Man on A Ledge. At first, I thought it sounded really dumb but…as soon as I saw the words diamond heist I didn’t need to read anymore.

Of course I won’t mention that I left the movie in the shopping cart in the parking lot and had to return and then pay for it again. Nope, not going to mention that at all!

So, if you couldn’t tell, I love, love, love heist movies and I love studying them. #plotnerd #savethecat. So here goes.

 

Opening Image:

Nick Cassidy eats his last meal in a hotel (alone), wipes down all his fingerprints, writes the suicide note, and then climbs out the window and onto the ledge.

Theme-stated:

For me, it’s hard to pick out the moment they reveal the theme because I’m watching the movie and taking notes, but the strong theme of looking beyond the facts to find the truth is very apparent.

Set-up:

During a flashback, we learn Nick might have been unfairly imprisoned, he’s an ex-cop, and he escaped while attending his father’s funeral.

Catalyst:

During the flashback we learn Nick’s appeal had been overturned and he’d be in jail for 25 years.

Debate:

Tricky in a heist movie because there is usually not a huge character arc but I’d say his debate occurred when he was denied the appeal. Obviously, he chose to do something about it and escape!

Break into Two:

Nick Cassidy says he won’t talk to anyone but Detective Mercer, so Act II starts for me when she shows up at the window to talk Nick out of jumping.

B Story:

The subtle romance between Nick and Mercer as she tries to do her job and he plays her and stalls for time.

Fun and Games:

Joey Cassidy, Nick’s brother, and his girlfriend break into a nearby building to steal a diamond while Nick draws all the media attention.

Midpoint:

Due to a news helicopter, Nick is recognized, and we learn he was previously in jail for already stealing the diamond.

Bad Guys Close In:

We see David Englander, the owner of the diamond, talk with dirty cops to “take care” of Nick.

All is Lost:

Nick reveals to Mercer that he’s been communicating with his brother through an earpiece, and Joey states that the diamond is not in the vault. (They were counting on it to prove Nick’s innocence.)

Dark Night of the Soul:

Per the usual heist movie or book there is not a huge character arc, nor a dark night of the soul.

Break into Three:

The tactical team arrives from helicopter and the chase begins when Nick breaks back into the building.

Finale:

Nick resteals the diamond and proves his innocence. This simple sentence doesn’t begin to show the amazing climax. (We learn the man who owned the diamond had previously framed Nick to recover financially from the insurance money from the supposed theft of the same diamond.)

Final Image:

At the start he was eating alone and now he’s in a bar with Mercer, his brother and girlfriend, and his Dad. Yes, a nice twist at the end and it’s confirmed that this elaborate heist was planned and a success!

Overall, I really enjoyed this heist movie especially because the motivations behind it were personal with Nick’s freedom on the line. And I learned that Man on a Ledge is a cop term for a potential suicide.

And I loved seeing the similarities between this break down and the break down of Heist Society by Ally Carter.

Do you like heist movies? Any good ones? If not, what do you like to watch?

 

 

 

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Results of the reverse blog tour.

Publishing is changing fast and so is the way we market books! I chose to do a reverse blog tour.

Many writers who choose to publish independently are faced with choosing marketing strategies. Do you do the blog tour or not do the blog tour? Because there are a lot of opinions out there.

It’s a given that if you publish traditionally and are starting out that a blog tour is a must because sales in the first few weeks are crucial. A burst of sales is terrific for any book but with self publishing we have time for a story to build and spread. Blog tours are optional. Marketing is even optional – if you want to risk it.

Here are the different scenarios I’ve seen:

  1. Author rarely blogs or promotes. Book takes off.
  2. Author works her butt off to market and promote and it pays off with decent sales but as soon as the marketing stops, the sales decrease dramatically. It never took off.
  3. Author completes every marketing act known to mankind and never reaches the desired sales count. (Not to say that it won’t happen later.)

These factors got me thinking while I looked at my goals. I wanted to complete the first draft of the sequel to A Spy Like Me before summer vacation started. I realized that blog tours were a lot of work and it was all about me and my book. AND a blog tour and all the work involved don’t always translate over to sales.

But I really wanted to do something to celebrate my debut release.

So I decided on the reverse blog tour. I wanted to celebrate my genre, promote my brand and build awareness of A Spy Like Me. So I asked a mix of authors and bloggers to guest post for three weeks.

Results?

  1. I had fun because I wanted to do it.
  2. My blog hits definitely went up.
  3. I helped celebrate and promote authors and bloggers I like.
  4. I introduced new authors and books to readers.
  5. I introduced readers to A Spy Like Me.

Goals accomplished.

Not to say I won’t do a traditional blog tour in the future. In fact, this fall when How To Survive Ancient Spells and Crazy Kings releases, I plan on organizing one.

What marketing strategies do you see that work or don’t work? How might you change it up?

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Are all YA Mysteries Genre Busters?

Welcome to week 3 of celebrating my YA novel, A Spy Like Me! Today we have Jennifer Hoffine! 

 

I’ve known Jennifer for several years. We met on Critique Circle and still read for each other as needed. She’s a terrific writer with her own news later in the post. Take it away, Jennifer!

***

Murder, crime, clues, suspense, spying, mayhem. When is a Mystery story still a capital-“M” Mystery story?

I suppose it’s anytime a mystery is the main thing driving the plot.

Even so, it’s difficult to do traditional mysteries in YA because the stock cast doesn’t exist in their world…i.e. there aren’t many teenaged police officers, medical examiners, private investigators, spies, lawyers or judges.

So, to some extent, all YA Mysteries are genre-busting stories.

Some do this through the setting/situation:

Like Ally Carter’s Gallagher girl’s series, where a high school for training girl spies propels the protag and her friends into real-life international intrigues.

Laura Pauling uses her protag’s employment at her dad’s role-playing spy games business to get her into some real-life trouble.

A historical Veronica Mars where a girl ends up helping her father with his P.I. business.

Other times, the mystery is not a Who-done-it but a Why did it happen?

 

Looking for Alaska is about students trying to understand a friend’s sudden death.

You all know this one about a girl who leaves clues behind about why she killed herself.

And sometimes the protag knows the mystery but doesn’t reveal it to the readers right away.

 

 

Some of my favorites involve using an object to propel the mystery forward.

Revolution uses a diary to connect a girl in the present with a girl in the past.

 

 

In Dreamland Social club, a set of keys unlocks a mother’s and Coney Island’s past.

 

I have a genre-busting mystery series myself. No murders or crimes involved, but lots of spying…on cheating boyfriends. Cheater Beaters will come out through Coliloquy later this year.

Finally, Ally Carter has taken YA Mystery genre busting to the next level with her Heist Society series, about a group of young professional art thieves. I love this one even more than the Gallagher Girls series.

Today we’re giving away a signed hardback of the second in the series: Uncommon Criminals.

 

Just Comment and tweet to enter.

***

Wow! Thanks, Jennifer. What a great giveaway. And I definitely found a couple books to check out! I love this concept of mystery that doesn’t include murder and how different authors approach it.

Can you think of any genre bending mysteries?

Jennifer holds lots of terrific giveaways on her blog as she talks about Young adult books. Give her a follow!

Be sure to check out the Indelibles Beach Bash to win a free Nook or Kindle and lots of books! I’m giving away the re-release of my short story, The Almost Assassin. It’s a free download for anyone!

 

 

 

 

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Spies, Murder and Mystery Marathon Winners – week 2!

Thanks to all our fantastic authors from the past week! 

I’m sure you’re dying to know the winners for this past week. Here they are.

Hickory Smoked Homicide goest to Anne Gallagher! Yay! (Print)

Watched goes to Stina Lindendblatt! Woo hoo!

Imaginary Girls goes to Lisseth Torres! *throws confetti* (Print)

The Impenetrable Spy goes to Ansha Kotyk! *tap dances*

Instructions:

Please use the contact form up on the menu bar to leave me your email address or your mailing address if you won a print book. Mention which version of the ebook you’d like: Nook or Kindle, or PDF.

Coming this week!

S.R. Johannes!

Jennifer Hoffine!

Becca Puglisi!

Gina Robinson!

There are some fantastic posts and books to be won! See you on Monday for more Spies, Murder and Mystery!

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Walk among the dead with Stacy Green.

So excited to have one of my blogging buddies, Stacy Green, here to share her knowledge on the Parisian catacombs. She writes her Thriller Thursdays and finds the creepiest mysteries. And since my main character, Savvy, has her own adventures in this underground maze, I had to invite Stacy! And you know? She’s got a book deal for the fall!

 

An avid reader of suspense, paranormal, and true crime, Stacy’s first novel, INTO THE DARK, will be released from MuseItUp Publishing in November. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her precocious six-year-old daughter, her supportive husband, and the family’s three obnoxious dogs. For more true crime and paranormal posts, check out Stacy’s Thriller Thursday feature on her blog.

Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

***

Some of you may know about the storm drains of Las Vegas–an underground labyrinth of dark, dank flood channels doubling as housing for the city’s homeless population. The infamous tunnels play an important role in my debut novel INTO THE DARK. While the Vegas drains are terrifying, there are no scarier–or more fascinating–tunnels than the Catacombs of Paris. Spanning more than 180 miles, the catacombs date back to the twelfth century and are literally filled with the dead.

18th Century Paris was at the heart of the enlightenment, but it was also filthy and overrun with disease. Imagine a bustling culture of the world’s greatest thinkers and artists walking amid garbage, open sewers, and overflowing cemeteries. One of the most affected areas was the Les Halles district, particularly the Saints Innocents Cemetery, known as Les Innocents (the same one Anne Rice used in The Vampire Lestat). Used for nearly ten centuries, improper burial techniques in Les Innocents led to contamination of Les Halles’s ground water and surrounding land.

 

Victims of the black plaque, epidemics, starvations, of all the wars since the Middle Ages rest in the city’s 200 cemeteries, piled up on several levels in the mass graves of the churches. Every day, new cadavers join the previous ones. Paris is flooded by the dead, the odor is unbearable. — The Paris Catacombs

 

Paris’s dead were pushing out the living, and officials made a bold decision. Paris is built over large gypsum and limestone quarries mined in the 12th century. Notre Dame and the Louvre are just two of the famous monuments built from the quarries. Over time, the quarries became unstable, and in 1770s, they were repaired to make room for the dead.


In an effort to stop the spread of disease, Paris’s overflowing cemeteries were cleared out and the bones interred within the quarries. Beginning in 1785, work was done under the cover of night and chanting priests accompanied the procession. The quarries house the bones from all the cemeteries of Paris up through the mid 1800s (although some accounts have the transfer stopping as early as 1814).

The catacombs have long been the stuff of legends. A tourist attraction since the 1860s, they were used as mini concert halls and later by members of the French Resistance during World War II. In the rebellious 1980s, young Parisians used the crypts as a place for parties, sneaking into the tunnels through various unmonitored entrances. Over the years, the Catacombs were fortified and areas were sanctioned off for tourists. Only a small part of the tunnels is open to the public, and the main entrances are now guarded, but the enterprising explorer can still sneak their way in via the sewers, metro, and manholes.


The underground labyrinth is complex and confusing. Imagine being deep underground, surrounded by centuries-old bones, with only the tiniest of lights to guide you. Even an accomplished navigator could lose his way, and there are countless stories about people getting lost in the catacombs. Some, like the explorer who claimed he was attacked and dragged off by some sort of monster, are likely the delusions of a man trapped in a terrifying underground dark maze full of bones.

But people have disappeared in the tunnels. Last July, three people were part of a group partying in the crypts. They became separated from their friends and instead of finding their way out wound up going deeper into the maze. They spent two days lost in the dark before they were found and fined for trespassing.


National Geographic writer Neil Shea spent time researching the tunnels with the cataphiles, the people who love to roam the underground world. Shea described the cataphiles as “a loose and leaderless community whose members sometimes spend days and nights below the city.” One cataphile told Shea he came down to the crypts for the freedom. “No boss, no master. Many people come down here to party, some people to paint. Some people to destroy or to create or to explore. We do what we want here. We don’t have rules.”

Could you be a cataphile, spending hours among centuries worth of bones, with your only light source a candle or flashlight? Would you emerge from the Catacombs feeling empowered and alive, or shaken and traumatized like so many others who’ve been lost below?

 

For more information on the Paris Catacombs, including booking a tour and some excellent pictures, visit Why Go Paris.

Wow! Thanks, Stacy! Creeeepy!

Don’t forget to check out the giveaways this week!

Spencer Brokaw’s The Impenetrable Spy
Nova Ren Suma’s Imaginary Girls (paperback)
Cindy M. Hogan’s Watched 

What’s the creepiest place you’ve been?

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