Sunday, April 2, 2017

Storytellers



Even before I seriously tried writing, I thought of myself as a storyteller.  During many years at work, it wasn’t uncommon for me to incorporate a story from my own experiences that would correlate with the situation.  Training employees on work related subjects can be dull and boring. I discovered that interjecting a quick story helped keep people engaged.  

Nowadays, in addition to my job (where I still conduct employee training) I’m also teaching part time.  During the course of an evening’s lecture, I can see the students’ attention waning. That’s when I tend to interject a story that ties into the material. A real life experience with a humorous twist never fails to energize the audience and gets the points across.

Recently I stumbled upon an article by Sir Richard Branson, a business icon who recognizes the importance of storytelling. Branson refers to the first stories from early man, usually gathered around the campfire.  That’s quite an image.

Whenever it comes to writing, my storyteller genes kick in. I’m aiming to entertain, to take you on a little adventure and share a laugh or two with my characters. That’s my goal.

Along those lines, here’s an excerpt from “Devious” the first book in the Jamie Richmond mystery series, which is currently on sale for the low price of ninety-nine cents. That’s $ .99.   

In this scene, Jamie is riding along with ‘Smitty’ Kleinschmidt, a Michigan State Police trooper, doing research for an upcoming novel, when things go a little sideways.

Suddenly, I saw a flash of light and heard a muffled bang. Smitty pitched onto his back, his right hand clawing feebly at his holster as a loud roar reached my ears. The door of the truck was still open, a brown arm extended beyond the edge of the spotlight. A gun was clutched in the gloved hand. I watched in horror as the trigger was pulled back for another shot.

Everything that happened next must have been instinct. Or maybe it was merely a reaction. Or dumb luck. Or the Force. Yeah, maybe it was the Force. I don’t think I’ll ever know for sure.

I reached across and pounded on the horn with one hand, flipping the buttons Smitty had used to activate the siren with the other. The sudden noise startled the driver. His arm jerked back into the cab and the door slammed. Spraying stones and dust behind, the truck lurched onto the road and raced away.

Fumbling the microphone off the dash, I thumbed the button. "Kleinschmidt has been shot! Send an ambulance!" I dropped the microphone and managed to get my door open. The frame around the window clipped my forehead and knocked me back a step.

I'd forgotten to turn off the siren and its wail was splitting my eardrums. “Idiot,” I muttered, “stay calm.” This was easier to say than it ever was to do.

Reaching back inside, I switched the siren off then rushed around to the front of the car. Smitty was lying on his back on the edge of the road. Blood soaked the gravel beneath him. His eyes were closed, but I could see his chest moving.

I dropped to my knees beside him. "You're going to be okay, Smitty. I called for help."

"Shot by a dog," he whispered. Kleinschmidt opened his eyes weakly. "First aid kit in the trunk. Stop the bleeding." His voice was fading so fast I had to press my ear above his mouth. I got a whiff of grilled onions.

What if the truck came back? What if they were waiting right now, just beyond the reach of the spotlight, waiting for me to get close so they could kill Smitty? And kill the witness too? I cringed. They wouldn’t need to shoot us, just drive right over us with that truck. My imagination was running away with possibilities.

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