Revise & revise

Revisions: My Love-Hate Relationship

My YA thriller, Experiment 38, was released 2015 by 4RV Publishing after years of revision. My first attempt at a thriller, I titled my first draft, Emily Always. After attending several writing workshops, I learned that I had written YA, because Emily, my main character, was eighteen.

I did my homework: YA was for teenagers, often involving an adolescent’s search for independence from their parents. Thrillers needed hooks at the end of each chapter and plot twists. And Emily Always was a dull thriller title. I rewrote it as YA, calling it Experiment 47.

Then I joined SCBWI and learned more: SHOWING was good and TELLING was bad. Avoid passives (was, etc.). And Experiment 47 was a bad title for a book about chromosomes, because 47 is the number of chromosomes for Down syndrome and many other chromosomal syndromes. I rewrote it, naming it Experiment 38. (38 is a specific number, but you’ll have to read the book to find out why)

An acquisition editor suggested that I rewrite the first five chapters. Over a six-week period I rewrote them several times. Then she gave me a contract! I was all set. So I thought. The working editor told me to eliminate backstory and start the novel where the story really begins. I cut the first five chapters that I had sweated over for so long and revised the remaining chapters as requested. I thought I was done. A second editor made minor but time consuming suggestions. Then a third editor made more suggestions taking more time. I was almost afraid to ask, but finally I finished.

Yes, I hated the revisions. No, I don’t regret them. I have a book that I love to send to reviewers and submit to contests.

Experiment 38: Eighteen-year-old Emily, small for her age, lives alone with her scientist-father and learns too late that he holds a terrible secret, one that might destroy her life.
As she and her boyfriend, Nate, try to unravel the mystery behind her father’s secret, they face danger and uncertainty.


Indiebound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781940310022

4RV Publishing: http://www.4rvpublishingcatalog.com/charles-suddeth.php

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/experiment-38-charles-suddeth/1121211605?ean=9781940310022

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Experiment-38-Charles-Suddeth/dp/1940310024/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424283309&sr=1-1&keywords=experiment+38

Books A Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Experiment/Charles-Suddeth/9781940310022?id=6239457417777

YA thriller, publication TBA

YA thriller, publication TBA

BOOK: Louisville author plots ‘Murder on the Cherokee Reservation’

Jun 10 2015


By T. E. Lyons

Eighth Mask by Charles Suddeth
(Library Tales Publishing (Library Tales Publishing; 317 pgs., $18.99)

This Louisville author has already delivered a variety of tales: historical suspense novella “Halloween Kentucky Style,” YA tech thriller “Experiment 38” and now a novel subtitled “Murder on the Cherokee Reservation.”

The story is launched with an apparent (though not certain) murder that becomes a mystery due to its time and location — at the climax of a bawdy-but-spiritual Cherokee tradition called a Booger Dance. The eponymous dancers are masked — so the discovery of a body afterwards leads to questions such as who might have been posing as a dancer merely to have an excuse for a disguise. These questions are asked by the local sheriff’s office, but walls of silence (and what may be worse — surly half-truths and omissions) are what greet the interviewers when the dancers and potential witnesses claim they have the right to keep this matter private within the tribe. Gradually the interactions of the expanding cast of characters resolve into a form that’s familiar to fans of Hitchcock films: the innocent man sent on the run by a false accusation.

Best considered as a quick read with some slow buildup, this is a mystery-adventure that both offers and requires a certain, steady focus. Suddeth establishes his style early on: short chapters that gradually accumulate character and backstory, but are filled with point-of-view detail. The dynamic that’s most typical of today’s thrillers — with splashy sections of exposition that show off the author’s research on the background topic — is here muted, as the past and present of Cherokee customs and beliefs is given out a thimbleful at a time.

Suddeth understands the stars that guide this type of rural and natural mystery-thriller that’s infused with Native American lore and culture clashes: Tony Hillerman was a Mt. Rushmore-quality figure who wrote just this kind of novel. In recent years, Nevada Barr has been a go-to figure of very strong consistency (but with an emphasis on landscape/environment description that verges on travel-writing). Suddeth seems to be a more cautious writer than either of these, as he conveys his plot largely through the methodology of a procedural — albeit with some twists based on personal and cultural conflicts.

It’s surprising that with Suddeth’s experience he feels the need to confirm that the reader is sure of where suspicions are still open. His plot is tight enough that he doesn’t give away too much prematurely — yet he seems very cautious about confirming attributions and roles in accusations and personal clashes. The tight paragraphs are perpetually working to make sure the reader is in a very certain place with the heroes and villains. This is the deal Suddeth seems to make with the reader: I’ll get you involved with the characters at a steady pace — any smoke and mirrors will be in the plot, not the writing style. So the voices of Deputy Sheriff Charlie Yuchalla and murder suspect Lyle Gibbons aren’t as far apart as you might suspect, even as one claims to be merely the catalyst for the actions of a supernatural soul-stealer of Cherokee legend. When action scenes crop up, they move well and convincingly. If you can handle an especially-careful pace as the story proceeds, there’s entertainment here.

Eights Mask2


Nonfiction picture books fall into in four categories

Will need 14 to 28 illustration possibilities.


Can be a memoir of a specific period in someone’s life, a slice of a life, or a complete biography of someone’s life.

Broad topics

A book that covers a topic without focusing on one specific area. E.g. Birds.

Narrow topics

A narrow topic is examined in detail. Feathers. Melissa Stewart’s Feathers: Not Just for Flying.

Theme Books

How birds fly. Similar to narrow topics, these titles center on abstracts, that is specific concepts. Science-themed picture books are popular.


Non-fiction magazine pieces are more varied

Will need fewer than 14 illustration possibilities for magazines.


Can be broad topics, but more often are narrow topics. Theme stories, too. This is a broad category, often including science or travel.


For magazines, biographies are often a slice of life or a profile. E.g. “Zigzagging to Success” in the January 2016 Highlights.

How-to pieces

This category covers everything from recipes to repair to building things to art projects. E.g.

How to draw horses.


Brief write-ups of arts and crafts and such make this a fast-paced format. Why not lists of cars or dances? Things to catch a child’s interests.


The quizzes etc. are more to spark interest or entertain than to inform or evaluate. Often they resemble Facebook tests: What is your color personality?


V. S. Anderson always been a horse nut, and as a young person, was a rabid horse-racing fan. So it’s no surprise that her first novels were about horses: the Kentucky Derby and the glamour of a Thoroughbred breeding farm—but with a little mystery and mayhem thrown in! For King of the Roses and Blood Lies, she drew on her years of working in the horse world, teaching riding, showing hunters, moonlighting on the racetrack, and for a while, owning and galloping her own racehorse.

Since then she has used her doctorate in English to teach writing at a regional campus of a Midwestern university—right across the river from Louisville and the Derby, in fact! She lives in New Salisbury, Indiana, where she gardens, watches birds, writes mystery/suspense (three novels in progress!), and rides Paddy, her sweet, sweet horse.


Visit her at





or follow her on Twitter: VSAnderson1

BL TatianaKOTR Praise page scrren shotPaddycropped1


Christine Strevinsky was born in Poland, grew up under Nazi regime and did not speak English until age eighteen. She is retired from teaching English at Delgado Community College in New Orleans and has twice been nominated as Kentucky’s Senior Poet Laureate.  She is the author of The Dark Hour of Noon, a novel; …from the memoirs of a girl child partisan, a chapbook; has been included in a couple of poetry anthologies, and been published in numerous literary journals such as Kudzu, The Magnolia Quarterly, Louisiana Journal of College Writing, and others.  Her most current publication is a chapbook titled The Waiting Room.

Strevinsky started college at forty-five after a peripatetic career as a sausage stuffer, welder, punch press operator, soda jerk, waitress, mail inserter, etc.. She is the great-grandmother of three. Loves reading—from Tolstoy to Asimov to Evanovich, and various handicrafts, including making pisanki and krasanki (eggs decorated in the Slavic style).  She still corresponds, in Polish, with a school chum in Poland.


The Waiting Room, a book of poems from Finishing Line Press.



Archetypes in Novels

Heroes and Heroines

The Main Character and/or Antagonist:

Osiris: Male messiah

The protagonist is the sacrificial person. E.g. Luke Skywalker or Robin Hood or King Arthur

The antagonist is the punisher. E.g.? Batman movies? The bad guy in most action movies

Isis: Female messiah

The protagonist has a connection to the divine even if she doesn’t want it. E.g. Catniss (Hunger Games) or Joan of Arc.

The antagonist is the destroyer. E.g. Miranda (The Devil Wears Prada).

Artemis: Female avenger

The protagonist likes traveling, is intuitive and instinctual. E.g. Medusa (some might consider her an antagonist) & Wonder Woman.

The antagonist is?

Athena: Farmer’s daughter

The protagonist is tomboy, smart, unemotional. E.g. Hermione, Nancy Drew, Annabel from Percy Jackson.

The antagonist is?

Ares: Male protector

The protagonist is physical, the alpha male, doesn’t think, lives on edge. E.g. Zorro or Han Solo.

The antagonist is a gladiator. E.g.?

Hades: The male recluse

The protagonist is lonely, introverted. E.g., Edward Cullen in Twilight (or other vampire novel).

The antagonist is a warlock who is antisocial and bitter. E.g. Darth Vader and Voldemore.


We often spend time with the main characters, but forget these important characters:

The Magi: Source of wisdom. E.g. Yoda or Dumbledore.

The Mentor: Like an advanced helper. E.g. Obi Wan or Morpheus.

The Best Friend: Can be helpful but not always helpful. E.g. C3PO, Hagrid, Ron (Harry Potter?).

The Loner: Tends to be the confidant. E.g. R2D2 or Toto (Wizard of Oz).


Not the same as an antagonist, because they have the same goals as the protagonist.

Trailblazer: Go ahead of protagonist. E.g. Puck.

Jester: Tries to help but gets in way. E.g. Scarecrow for Wizard of Oz.

Investigator: Gets in the way with the investigation.

Pessimist: “You’ll never get it done.”

Psychic: Thinks he/she knows it all.

Eights Mask2



Experiment 38 is a thrilling read from start to finish, with a sweet romance and friendship throughout. I loved Nate’s devotion to Emily, especially given the dangers that lurked around every corner. I also loved Nate’s friends who helped no matter what catastrophes could befall them. They seemed to like the risks! But, I didn’t expect to be so enthralled as it is a young adult book. I figured it would be an enjoyable romance novel, with a simple mystery thrown in. I also didn’t expect to be guessing until the end what the heck was going on with Emily! Was she a robot, a real girl, something in between? To find out, read Experiment 38 by Charles Suddeth. You won’t be disappointed!

By Shawn Simon, author of Stepping into a New Role, Stories from Stepmoms.

Website: StepmomShawn.com

Facebook: Stepmom Shawn Simon Says

Twitter: @shawnsimon44

 Experiment 38: Young adult thriller, 4RV Publishing, paperback:  ISBN: 978-1-940310-02-2

YA thriller, publication TBA

YA thriller



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