Rami, Sam, and Character Hopping

Writers are famous for falling in love with their characters so when Maria Ann Green posted about the character blog hop, I thought it sounded like fun. Thanks for tagging me, Maria!

I’m going to talk about one of the main characters in my adult thriller, The Drought of Sam Dakota(strictly a working title at this point). This novel was my creative thesis in grad school and this character barged onto the scene and stole the show.

What is the name of your character? Is he or she a fictional or historic person?

Rami Amato is a Native Samoan who played football at KU and went on to settle in Kansas City, Mo.

When and where is the story set? What should we know about him?

The book opens in 2006 in Kansas City, Mo. with the kidnapping of Sam Dakota’s son. It pops ahead to a year later when the local D.A. and a friend of Sam’s, coerces Rami, a local P.I. doing strictly corporate work, into helping Sam find his son. Rami has sworn off kidnapping cases since one went bad on him years before but the D.A. saved his butt when he got in a spot of legal trouble and the D.A. isn’t above collecting that marker.

Rami works on a barter system more than cash. He has issues with paying taxes (Native Samoans don’t pay all taxes but are subject to payroll taxes) given that the government never spends the money where it should to Rami’s way of thinking. His slightly less than ethical approach concerns Sam Dakota, a law-abiding attorney; but Sam’s more concerned with finding his son.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?

Sam’s wife suffered from addiction and died before the story takes place. Being a single parent complicates Sam’s life, but Danny is the most important thing. Someone kidnaps Danny from his bus stop in September of 2006;  and in the beginning, Sam lets authorities do their job. By the end of the first year, leads dwindle and the case chills, so Sam looks for other options.

Rami had a kidnapping case go south and blames himself, some would say accurately. He refuses ALL domestic cases now. However, when the D.A. calls in his marker, Rami feels compelled to take the job. The result is his life becomes a disaster zone, and for Rami, it’s no longer about finding Sam’s son. Now, it’s about stopping a force that seems determined to stop Rami.

rami-amato-piWhat is Rami’s goal?

Okay, so this is Vin Diesel but he’s also Samoan and comes as close as I can to showing Rami. His goal was to get the job done because he’s concerned about another case, one that is far more personal. Except it appears people are out to hurt Rami and anyone close to him, and he’s no longer sure which case has him drawing fire. Now, his goal is tracking down whoever has placed the target on his back. He hopes along the way he can save his friend and find Sam’s son.

What is Rami’s personal goal?

For nearly three years, Rami has carried a load of guilt. He rarely sleeps an entire night and he spends all his quiet time wondering what he could have done differently, anything that would have provided a different, a better outcome.

Is there a title or working title? Where can we read more?

It’s been called The Drought of Sam Dakota since it’s inception, but I’m playing with other titles as an agent who loved the opening, did not like that title. Until I find one that I think is better, this is what I use. :-) Here’s the query:

Sam Dakota’s son is his world after his wife dies, and his work as a child advocate means he knows how fragile life can be for kids. In spite of what he knows, he never believed it would happen to him. Then, the first note arrives and the words keep him up at night.

“I have your son.”

When Danny vanishes, the chances of finding who took him dwindle with every dead-end. Faced with changing theories and dwindling police interest, Sam hires Rami Amato, a talented P.I. with an aversion to “kid cases.” Rami’s last kidnapping case ended badly; he refuses to let another end like that. Amato uncovers more than abduction. He uncovers a web of lies stretching back further than Danny’s disappearance.

Another note arrives. “I always wanted a boy.” Then another, and another, each note depicting horrors being exacted on Sam’s son. The ongoing nightmare consumes his life as the kidnapper starts a clock, counting down to Danny’s death. For Rami, it’s clear Sam won’t survive the final letter. Time is running out.

When can we expect the book to be published?

I’m currently revising before querying, and we all know even a near perfect book can never find a home while some bad books sell. I try to focus on telling Sam and Rami’s story. If it sells, I’ll be happy but for now, I just enjoy hanging out with the guys.

I’m tagging Natasha Hanova and Leatrice McKinney.


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Follow Fest

FollowFest 2014Blog hops are a lot of fun and a great way to meet other writers. (Misery loves company) Check out this one sponsored by Melissa Maygrove. Join us for the fun.

Purpose: A platform building opportunity for writers of all kinds.
(Think, ‘cyber meet-and-greet with social media links for business cards.’)

When: September 22nd thru 26th, 2014.

How: Create a blog post using the guide provided and sign up on the Linky list any day during FollowFest week, after your post goes live.

During the week of the fest, visit other blogs and connect with as many writers as you wish.

You can follow the progress by checking this page and / or following the Twitter hashtag #FollowFest14.

Name: Dawn Allen

Fiction or nonfiction? Fiction

What genres do you write?  YA Sci-Fi and paranormal, Adult Thrillers

Are you published? Yes

Do you do anything in addition to writing? I’m a college professor.

Tell us a little about yourself. I own horses and a dog. My boys are two of my favorite people. I’m from the Kansas City area but moved to a ranch in southwestern Kansas and split my time between there and Alva, OK where we work
What are you reading right now?  Safe House by Andrew Vachss

Which authors influenced you the most? Mark Twain, Harper Lee, Stephen King, and Les Edgerton.
Where can people connect with you?

Blog: www.dawnall.wordpress.com

Twitter: Miserwriter

Facebook: Author Dawn Allen

Goodreads (personal): Dawn Allen

Google+ Dawn Allen

LinkedIn: Profile
Pinterest: Dawn

Is there anything else you’d like us to know? I belong to Novel Clique, a critique group and I’m President of Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc. Both groups love to give back and help other writers.

*Don’t forget to go sign up with Linky after your blog post goes live.


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OWFI, New Puppy, and Curriculum

photoIt seems there is never time for my writing these days. We just had our September board meeting and highlighted the things being done in preparation for our next conference. The preliminary budget will require a bit of tweaking. Thus, it cuts into my writing time.

Since we lost our dog, Moses, I have wanted another pet. Luckily, my son’s dog had a litter, and I adopted the only boy. He’s a joy and delight, but I’d forgotten the work involved with a new one. Don’t mind it, but it has curtailed my freedom.

It’s another teaching year and new curriculum hurdles to soar over. So far I’m not soaring so much as tripping and falling on my face. Thank God, writers are determined people who refuse to give in. I keep trudging along, thanking all the people who help me to accomplish things. No man stands alone. Not if he intends to succeed.

Thank goodness, I have the blessing of wonderful volunteers, a sweet hubby (who really has embraced Rumble the new pup), and a great department chair at my university. Last but not least, I have great students who make the job as easy as it can be.

Check out my latest post at www.OWFI.org.


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Crazy Times

I’ve been away from the blog, but it’s not out of procrastination. I have been busy nailing down as many things on the to do list as possible before I begin teaching again on Monday. Putting a conference together and–horror of horrors for the English major here–a budget does not come easy. There have been tears and gnashing teeth and fit throwing and well, you get the drift. Slowly, things are coming together. In fact, you can check out the blog to see the line up so far for OWFI 2015, Writing Zone: Craft from the Ground Up.

I hope all of you can join us, but the realistic side of me knows that isn’t possible. However, I’d love it, and I do believe you would, too. See you soon, I hope. Did I mention I start teaching again soon???


Chocolate come to mama.


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Collected Works: Goals, Loki, and Chocolate.

LokiOkay, so it has nothing to do with goal setting…but he’s ALWAYS inspirational. LOL

The idea of Collected Works is to share our goals, encourage each other in those goals, and inspire each other when those goals go sideways. I’ve always been a believer in setting goals so this is a way to make me hold myself accountable for what I expect of myself. And I consider it a win. If I don’t meet my goals, chocolate soothes the disappointment. If I meet them, I celebrate with chocolate. Win-win. :-)

If you’re interested in sharing in this, check our Collected Works.

August Goals

1. FINISH OWFI (Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc.) Presenters communication – it doesn’t sound like writing because it’s not manuscripts but as President of OWFI, I’m responsible for setting up the conference in May. This is a priority for all of us who attend. (and you should, too!)

2. Send in full request to agent.

3. Finish rewrites of Sam Dakota. This is high priority for me as school starts up again soon and cuts my writing time in half.

Do you set goals? Join us!


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Fragments Foreshadowing

I meant to finish up with fragments last week but life intervened, and I had to “deal” with those crises. Now, I’m back to finish the talk of fragments with my favorite use of fragments: foreshadowing.

In Nineteen Minutes, Josie’s biggest issues are her nonexistent relationship with her mother and fights with her boyfriend, Matt. After making up with him after a fight, she feels good about life.

“I’m lucky, she told herself, the word streaming like a silver ribbon through her mind. Lucky, lucky, lucky” (Piccoult 10).

Within hours–pages in the book–Matt will be dead along with nine other people she knows, Josie in the hospital and her world forever altered. The refrain of a one word fragment foreshadows the irony of what happens to Josie and her life.

A fragment can be used within the action emphasizing the moment where an event occurs that starts a chain of events in motion that foreshadows the complicated levels of an event of simplicity. In The Innocent, two young men are leaving a frat party when something silly becomes something not funny at all.

That is when some of his beer spills. Not a lot. Just a splash. But it’s enough (Coben 2).

That splash leads to a fight, which becomes involuntary manslaughter, which means a prison sentence for the main character. The short fragments foreshadow tragic events to come in the story of Matt Hunter and emphasize the trivial nature of the inciting event, a simple beer spill–not even a lot–which leads to a significant life change for Matt.

The fragment, long the bane of grammarians everywhere, is also the stylistic equivalent of an exclamation point for the writer. It provides style opportunities for adding a layer of simple to complex distinctions. It adds a level of fear or concentration or rhythm. The fragment is one of the writer’s tools and if used effectively can bring the reader and writer to a common understanding. If not used correctly, the reader is too aware of its presence. We walk a delicate balance when using this tool in our prose.

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Fragments: Startle with Purpose

medium_Sentence_FragmentsFragments are so versatile as a tool in prose. We’ve looked at a couple of ways to use them, and this week we look at another. Sometimes a writer wants to startle the reader after a period of calm or draw attention to a serious event. The fragment reminds the reader that what is happening is commonplace in the context of the story but not in life.

In Tim O’Brien’s short story, “The Things They Carried”, the reader focuses on soldiers and how the constant contact with death desensitized them. After reading passage after passage, a reader becomes somewhat like those soldiers, accustomed to the dark nature of war. Then, a friend, Lavendar, is killed and the reader experiences the graphic details of his death through the soldiers eyes.  Through the use of fragment the death is truly made real, startling in its simplicity and intensity.

“Boom. Down. Nothing else” (O’Brien 55). Kiowa’s words reveal his shock and pulls the reader into the loss of a comrade. Within seconds, he repeats, “Boom-down,’ he said. Like cement” (O’Brien 56).

The reader is a witness to Kiowa processing his buddy’s death through the shock expressed by his fragmented thoughts expressed aloud.

Another way to startle the reader is to give them the unexpected using the fragment as an announcement of a change in motive or action. In Jodi Piccoult’s Nineteen Minutes, we read about a boy’s first hunting experience with his father. The boy waits patiently for the hunting trip. Never quite able to live up to his parent’s expectations, he hopes to gain his father’s respect. However, on his first experience, he finds himself falling short once more. Piccoult gives detailed descriptions of the moments leading up to the boy’s opportunity for redemption.

He could hear his father’s instructions as if they were being whispered aloud even now: Shoot underneath the front leg, low on the body. If you hit the heart, you’ll kill it instantly. If you miss the heart, you’ll get the lungs, so it will run for a hundred yards or so and then drop.

Then the deer turned and looked at him, eyes trained on Peter’s face.

Peter squeezed the trigger, sending the shot wide.

On purpose (Piccoult 157).

We believe the boy desperately wants this. He wants to shoot the gun; he is willing to shoot the deer. Then, when we think he is just a failure at this also, Piccoult startles us by revealing in two words Peter’s conscious choice to miss. He may have wanted to please his father and redeem himself; but when it matters, he makes a choice not to.

Fragments used to startle are only effective if used sparingly, as all fragments should be. Select them so they matter to the characters and to the reader.



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