Friday, September 16, 2011

The Arranger Blog Tour- Author Guest Post and Giveaway

Welcome to the blog tour for The Arranger!

The year is 2023 and ex-detective Lara Evans is working as a freelance paramedic in a bleak new world. She responds to an emergency call and is nearly killed when a shooter flees the home. Inside she finds the federal employment commissioner wounded, but she’s able to save his life.

The next day Lara leaves for the Gauntlet—a national competition of intense physical and mental challenges with high stakes for her home state. She spots the shooter lurking at the arena and soon after her contest roommate turns up dead. Who is the mysterious assailant and what is motivating him kill? Can Lara stop him, stay alive, and win the Gauntlet?

L.J. Sellers has written up a great post

 for us on world building.

World Building: Less Is Better

I’d wanted to write a futuristic thriller for years, but I knew it wouldn’t be dystopian or fantasy-based. I imagined that the future world would be changed, and not for the better, but I didn’t want it to be so different that it distracted from the story.

While writing The Arranger, I read a blog by a sci-fi author about world building, and it struck a chord with me. Essentially, the author said that world building is simply description and that description is boring. The author was making the point that readers want story—characters, events, and emotions—and that spending a lot of page time detailing the alternative world/future is counterproductive. A few brief, vivid sentences, or paragraphs, woven into the narrative are all you need to do the job.

I was relieved to be reminded of this facet of good writing. It saved me the trouble of creating a lot of unnecessary detail that a good editor would have made me cut or most readers would have skipped over.

Still, in the futuristic, sci-fi, and fantasy genres, readers expect a creative and unusual background, and I wanted to give them one. When I first started plotting this story, it never occurred to me that the backdrop would be an endurance competition called the Gauntlet. But characters often dictate the story, and once I decided that Lara Evans from my Jackson series would be the protagonist, I knew I had to give her an opportunity to be as physical as her character demanded. I also wanted to create a competitive environment for the unemployment crisis I foresaw in the future. From there, the Gauntlet was conceived.

Structuring and writing the competition scenes were the most challenging things I’ve ever done as a novelist. For inspiration, I envisioned scenarios from American Gladiator, Wipe Out, and a little Fear Factor thrown in, but I stepped up the intensity and duration and pushed the contestants right to the edge. I also gave the worldwide viewers the ability to alter the contest—to reward or punish contestants with the level of difficulty. That created some surprising moments for the contestants!

It was important to me that the competition have at least one intellectual component, so that the overall contest couldn’t be won by sheer strength or endurance. So I created the Puzzle, a locked-room situation that requires a MacGyver-type solution, with timing counting toward a win. The brainteaser seemed particularly important because in the Gauntlet, men and women compete against each other. Don’t worry, ladies, my protagonist kicks ass.

The contest is only one element of the plot though. There’s also a parallel story told by Paul Madsen, a software technician who’s given access to information that he can’t resist exploiting. In Paul’s world, the federal government is a fraction of its former size and is a lean, mean employer. But again, I made a conscious choice not to bog down the story with extraneous detail about bureaucratic structure.

Admittedly, Lara’s world was more fun to write about, but Paul’s world is the one I fear could come to pass. I hope readers enjoy both scenarios and find the level of detail I’ve included to be just right.

Well if you're not interested now, I don't know 

what will do it! Thanks so much for that 

awesome post!

L.J. Sellers is an award-winning journalist and the author of the bestselling Detective Jackson mystery/suspense series: The Sex Club, Secrets to Die For, Thrilled to DeathPassions of the Dead, and Dying for Justice. Her novels have been highly praised by Mystery Scene, Crimespree, and Spinetingler magazines, and the series is on Amazon Kindle’s bestselling police procedural list. L.J. also has three standalone thrillers: The Baby Thief, The Suicide Effect, and The Arranger. When not plotting murders, she enjoys performing standup comedy, cycling, social networking, and attending mystery conferences. She’s also been known to jump out of airplanes.

Check out the author's web page and blog.


The future is not so bright for Lara Evans. The ex-homicide detective lives in a world where natural disasters abound and jobs are extremely scarce. Her current job as a paramedic allows her to rescue someone very important right before she goes to compete in the Gauntlet, a competition that will allow her to bring home money and jobs to her home state. However, she soon discovers someone is after her, and they don't just want to congratulate her on a job well done. Lara will be forced to face her past and make some hard decisions to deal with her present. 

This book is action packed, but it never feels rushed or too dense. Lara is very interesting, and she becomes even more interesting as you slowly learn about her past. Mixed into Lara's story is the story of a man named Paul. He has a boring life as a computer programmer, but his new task at works provides him with some interesting new information. As he decides what to do with his new knowledge, Paul begins to make decisions that will change his life for good. Soon Lara and Paul are on a collision course with destiny (and each other of course). I found the world Lara lived in to be scarily believable. The Gauntlet was a very unique concept, and it allowed a chance for Lara to really show her stuff.

I loved reading about such a strong female character. Lara is someone who meant business. She was smart and tough. I found myself drawn into the book, and I did not want to put it down. This book has everything- action, romance, mystery, and intrigue. I definitely recommend this book to people who want a great read, but I will give fair warning that you may not stop reading until you are done!

Book provided for review. 

So we have a great giveaway for you all. I have one e-book copy of The Arranger! That means this giveaway is open internationally. The only requirement to enter is to leave your name and email. Bonus entries for following L.J. Sellers on Twitter, liking her Facebook page, becoming a fan on Goodreads, and tweeting about this giveaway. 

Be sure to check out the rest of the stops on this tour! For more information check out the tour page. Thanks for stopping by and good luck!!

Check out the Rafflecopter entry form by clicking on the page break


Jaidis said...

What a great post! I love finding out author's thoughts on world building.

Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Fabulous post. As a reader, I flip through extraneous description -- as a writer, I strive to achieve that "just right" balance, too. Adding The Arranger to my TBR list!

Karen C said...

Excellent post! I'll skip over descriptions if they get too detailed or go on for too long, too.

Thank you.

Jodie Renner Editing said...

Wise words, LJ, and having read The Arranger, I know you struck just the right chord between inundating your readers with description and info, and providing too little, so they're left confused. Either extreme (committed too often by other writers) takes them out of the story.

You showed us Lara's world in a vivid, compelling way that definitely enhanced the story.

I highly recommend The Arrangers to anyone who loves an intriguing story involving murder and more threats, as well as a competition where a long-shot female contestant manages to kick ass, solve a murder, and prevent further abuse of young people, all at the same time.