Beginning January 1, 2013

Stop by and let us know what you think of the new look!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


This is a stop on the Virtual Book Tour for Life in Death organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Leave a comment because Harlan is giving away a prize at EVERY STOP!! Prizes may include, but are not limited to: Amazon Gift Cards; Book Lover Note Cards; Journals; Kindle Cover; Book Tote; Hunger Games Trilogy.

My story isn’t a warm and fuzzy one.

My father was murdered when I was 12 years of age.

A few years ago, at my uncle’s urging, I looked into what happened to him. The police had suspects, but no one was ever arrested and the case remains unsolved.

I learned a lot about police procedure when I looked into my father’s murder. It was then that I decided to write a novel.

While my murder mystery novella, Life in Death, is not entirely based on what happened to my father, it draws from real life experiences I had with him.

Writing the novel was a cathartic experience for me. What I liked most, and found particularly cleansing, about the experience was my power to spin the story as I saw fit. We all love, hate, laugh, cry, and everything in between, so we’re never at a loss for stories to tell.

Here’s how you get started writing a novel based on a true story:

• Determine what kind of story you want to write. Talk to family and friends. Look at newspaper articles. I don’t want to be morose, but look at obituaries, too. Take notes. There are stories there.

• Determine the story’s theme: Good/evil, love/hate, birth/death, peace/war, etc. Again, take notes. This may be where the title of your book comes from or maybe not. The title of my book came to me in a dream.

• Construct a compelling plot. I suggest creating a plot outline to start with. I used the “what if” technique to determine what would happen in my chapters. Basically, you ask yourself “what if” this or that happened to your character and expand from there.

• Create dynamic scenes. My advice is something has to happen in “every” chapter or scene.

• Create multi-dimensional characters. Many writers, including yours truly, base their characters on real people and then add nuances to create more complexity and depth. This is one way to go.

• Read, read, read. The more you read, the better writer you’ll become.

• Lastly, start writing. “Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.

Truth can be stranger than fiction, but maybe not as entertaining. The key to writing a novel based on a true story is in how you spin the story to make it enjoyable for readers.


About the Author:
Author Harlow Coban was born in Kansas City, MO, but grew up in Denver, CO. She relocated to North Carolina five years ago with her husband, two dogs, and 16-year old twins.

She shares a birthday with the notorious Napoleon Bonaparte. In keeping with his legacy, she is currently working on taking over the world. Harlow’s positive attitude and fresh take on life are her tools and conquest is certain.

She spends her free time writing, dancing, traveling and defending mailboxes from her 16-year-old twins’ driving.

Her debut novel, LIFE IN DEATH (February 2012), is a murder mystery which pulls from real-life situations from her own family history. She felt compelled to share her story with the world while offering a thrilling, entertaining, and amusing escape for readers.

In keeping with her commitment to improving the lives of children, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of her book will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club in her home state of North Carolina.

She loves to connect with her readers and can be found on Twitter (@HarlowCoban), Facebook (!/pages/Harlow-Coban/174596219285270), Goodreads ( and her website (

When a girl that social worker Kari Marchant places in foster care is brutally murdered, she’s compelled to learn why. Her quest for the truth pits her against friends and coworkers. As Kari works to solve the horrific plot, more people die. She’s been targeted for death and she doesn’t even know it. How far should she go to learn the truth—even if it threatens her life?

When homicide detective Rance Nicolet meets Kari, his attraction to her is powerful—and the feeling is mutual. But things between them go terribly wrong when Kari’s old lover is found murdered with a letter from her in his pocket. The evidence against Kari is damning. Rance’s personal and professional lives collide. Does he blindly believe the woman he’s falling in love with or follow the evidence no matter where it leads?


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting Harlow today.

Debby said...

Great post. I enjoyed reading about the steps. Good luck taking over the world.
debby236@gmail dot com

MomJane said...

I am really sorry that the murderer of your father was never found. I hope writing this book was cathartic for you.

Catherine Lee said...

I hear it said that new writers should write what they know. You were able to take a very personal story and share it so beautifully.

catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

Mysti Holiday said...

I do love the quote from Lewis Carroll (though I tend to quote him frequently).

I'm so sorry about your father -- it's a shame you didn't have any closure with that, but perhaps writing your book helped with that?

Renald said...

A wonferful list on how to start writing. Deb P

Harlow Coban said...

Thanks so much for hosting me.

Ladies, thank you for stopping by and commenting. My characters have started talking to me again. Time to get started on the second book in the series entitled, Apparition in Death.

Best regards.