Sunday, October 15, 2017

Road Trips

I live in West Michigan. Kind of halfway between Motown and Chicago, which can lead to all sorts of opportunities.  This week we headed west and went to visit our son in Chicago. Along the way we got caught up in steady downpour. While the weather didn’t cooperate, it didn’t dampen our spirits of the time we spent together.

I’m used to driving. Road trips are a great opportunity for me to work on a scene or dialogue when the conversation lapses. Most of the times on the road, I don’t even have music playing. The sounds of the highway are all the background noise I need. By now my wife has come to recognize the signs and understands that I’m conversing with my characters.

Yesterday was a perfect example. I’m nearly done with the first draft of the sequel for Why 319.  When she asked I explained a few details needed elaborating and a couple of minor plot points I wanted to clarify. After that, I’ll read the entire manuscript through. Then I’ll reach out to a some other authors to see if there is any interest in giving it a read. Often these people will spot a point in the story that needs greater attention.  Once that’s done, it will be ready to submit to the publisher. Then, it’s hurry up and wait. Or, more likely, on to the next story.

So road trips for me can be just another way to write. 

And here’s a perfect tune by the Doobie Brothers for a road trip.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

To Each His Own

We’re all different. Thank God for that.

We all have different backgrounds, different interests, different strengths, different weaknesses. Some people abhor doing manual labor. Others revel in it. Same can be said for paperwork, dental appointments, opera and more. There is probably nothing that everyone enjoys.

In addition to reading and writing fiction, I like to cook. I’m not a chef, but some recipes seem to draw me in. There was even a point in time when I operated a catering business. During one of those events, I had a brief conversation with a young couple that still kicks around in my memory.  Most of the evening’s food had been consumed and I was checking on the desserts when they approached. He was a big bear of guy, with a wide grin. She was a petite flower, clinging to a glass of wine.

“I want you to teach her how to cook,” he said. She began looking around for a place to hide.

“If she’s not interested in cooking, what makes you think I can teach her anything?” I asked. “Maybe you’re the one who needs to learn how to cook.”

“But cooking is women’s work.”

I pointed out that many of the world’s greatest chefs are male. Furthermore, I was the one who had prepared all the evening’s dishes that he enjoyed. Sheepishly the guy turned away. But his lady threw me a wink and smile. 

So you never know by looking at someone what their interests are. As we age, it’s not uncommon to develop new interests and experiences. It could be rock climbing, biking, skiing, board games or travel.  Different times of year may trigger different interests. Autumn means cooler temperatures, leaves changing colors, kids going back to school and football.  I gotta have football. There's always time for football.  Like this guy here.

Here’s an excerpt from “Vanishing Act” that ties in with different interests. In this scene, Jamie and her best friend Linda, are talking about last night’s New Year’s Eve festivities, where Linda’s blind date was Vincent Schulte, an old friend of Jamie’s.

       Maybe it was because I had known Vince for so long that the image of him being sexy never crossed my mind. Then I remembered how he had looked in his tuxedo last night.
 “I had no idea he could be so romantic,” Linda said quietly. “Dancing all night long was like a slow-motion seduction. And when he kissed me at midnight, I felt like my body was on fire.”
          It was easy to see the impact Vince had had. Linda’s face was flushed and her eyes grew wide at the memory. “I saw that kiss. I never expected that.”
          Linda nodded slowly. “Did you know he speaks Italian? While we were dancing last night, he would pull me close, caress my ear with his lips and whisper to me in Italian.”
          “What did he say?”
     “He would say it in Italian then translate for me. He said ‘Mi ha detto che ero la donna piĆ¹ bella del mondo’ that means that I am the most beautiful woman in the world. By the time I was in the limo, I was melting in his arms.”
          “This is incredible,” I whispered. “You remember the actual words he spoke, in Italian?”
          “Baby, he kept repeating them to me, teaching them to me, so later on he wouldn’t have to explain what they meant,” Linda said, her lashes fluttering with the memory.
          “This is incredible,” I repeated.
Linda squeezed both my hands in hers. “You have no idea. When we got home, there was never any doubt in my mind that we’d make love. I couldn’t wait. But Vince didn’t want to rush things. I think he took an hour to get me out of my dress.”
          “I don’t believe that!”
          Linda lowered her eyes demurely. “Well, maybe it was only five minutes. But he wouldn’t rush. He kept touching me lightly, his fingertips were everywhere.” Linda’s eyes were glazed over as she brought all this back to the forefront of her mind.
          “And you can remember this Italian expression?” I asked, trying to get the conversation back on solid ground.
          She blinked and brought herself back to the present. “Vince kept repeating the words to me, slowly, so I could recite them as well. I may not have them down exactly, but I’ll never forget. It was sexy enough just to hear him speak Italian, but when he told me what the sentence meant, I think it’s embedded into my mind. It was the most romantic night of my life, Jamie.”

This song popped up a couple of times this week. Considering everything that’s been happening lately, it seemed like a perfect track. Here’s the Eagles.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Wanderings in a Bookstore

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been a book junkie.  While mysteries draw me in like nothing else, over the years I’ve added a few different genres to the collection, much to the consternation of my darling wife. As in: “What are you going to do with all these books?”

So last week with a little free time, I drifted into a local bookstore, wandering through the aisles, expecting a new title to catch my eye. Turning a corner, I caught a glimpse of something that triggered a flashback. It was a book by the late, great crime novelist Elmore Leonard.  Many of his efforts were bestsellers that went on to spawn movies and television series. Leonard was known to many as “The Dickens of Detroit” for his memorable characters.

Years ago while working in Motown, I stopped in a little bookstore downtown with some time to kill. Walking down the aisle I saw an old man with a natty goatee sitting behind a card table with a stack of books before him. I did a double-take.  Stepping closer confirmed this was not a cardboard cutout or a mirage. This was Leonard. Just hanging out, signing a few books, talking with people. Here was one of my writing heroes, right in front of me.

Eventually I found my voice. We talked about characters and stories for about twenty minutes, before a small crowd began to gather. The shelf behind him was filled with his books.  As I left with an autographed copy in hand, I promised myself, ‘someday, those will be my books on display.’

So it’s a kick to see my own novels on display in a local store.  The Grey Wolfe Scriptorium recently opened in one of the Detroit suburbs.  Dianna and Zachary have taken a different approach. They want to focus on stories that are either by Michigan authors or take place in this great state. So when they opened the doors, I was pleased to see all four of my novels prominently on display, right in the center of the main wall. A local store supporting local authors. Ya gotta love it.

This week's song is an old favorite from Eric Clapton that kept popping up. Hope you enjoy it.