If you’re the type that likes to make resolutions, we’re three weeks into 2021. How are they going for you? I’m more inclined to set short term goals and try to achieve those. Then as the song goes “One Thing Leads to Another.”
That applies to my efforts at writing, promoting and the newsletter. It’s my goal to share some information with you about various topics, a little snippet from a current project, introduce you to another author and, of course, music. Even a dinosaur such as me understands the power that music can have.
So, let’s get to it!
Every great story revolves around a conflict or two. Or three. You can see this in books, television shows or movies. It could be the good cop trying to catch the killer. Perhaps it’s about the bashful guy trying to win over the beautiful girl. Maybe it’s a young woman, striving to achieve her goals, putting herself through college and beginning her career.
Identifying those conflicts can be easy. Resolving them can be a challenge. What steps will your characters take? In “Why 319?” Chene and his squad are determined to find the serial killer, who leaves that daunting message at each crime scene. They have to solve the riddle and stop the killer. In “Vanishing Act” Jamie strives to identify Linda’s kidnapper and where she’s being held.
There may be secondary conflicts in a story as well. In “Your Turn to Die” Chene visits with retired mobster Leo Agonasti to gather information. The fact that he’s still connecting with him irritates Pappy Cantrell and puts stress on their working relationship. But these type of situations can occur in real life, which makes the characters and issues believable. These subplots make your players multi-dimensional, just like real people. And that’s what your readers want. People they can identify with.
Work In Progress
The latest installment in the Jefferson Chene series continues to develop as more scenes are added. Stitching these together into something that makes sense is how I imagine quilts are made.
Here’s an excerpt. Chene and FBI agent Banks are beginning their first day of the joint cold case investigation into the murder of Charity Gray.
“So where are we headed?” Banks asked.
“Going to talk to a source. Make some connections.”
She shifted and looked right at me. “You’ve had the case files less than twelve hours and you already have a source?”
“Sometimes it works that way.”
I could have made this drive with my eyes closed. The Pontiac seemed to know exactly where to go. I pulled into the lot besides the old building. There was plenty of room to park.
Banks gave me an incredulous look. “We’re going to church?”
“Like I said, meeting a source.”
“You trying to tell me that your source attends early morning religious services on a Tuesday?”
I bit back a grin. “Something like that.”
We headed to the rear doors. Inside the large cathedral there was a small gathering, about thirty people, scattered amongst the pews closer to the altar. We ducked into a row near the back of the church and watched the priest and an altar boy distribute communion. There was a blessing, followed by a brief prayer and a hymn. The altar boy collected a crucifix on a long pole and led the priest to the back of the church as the song faded. The priest’s hands were pressed together in prayer as he drew close. I caught the nod and the wink he threw.
We waited while the faithful trickled out the various doors. Banks raised her palms and shot me a quizzical look. Only when I heard his footsteps behind us did I get to my feet.
“Hello, Jefferson. It’s been a long time.”
“That is has, Father Dovensky. You’re looking well.”
He scoffed and patted his protruding stomach beneath the vestments. “Maybe I will take up jogging. Or tennis.”
“Start with a long walk. Ease into it.”
“Should I assume your appearance today is related more to your profession than mine?”
“That’s a safe assumption.” I gestured to Banks. “This is Special Agent Banks with the FBI. We’re working on a case together.”
Dovensky turned his full attention on her and extended his hand. Banks gave him a firm shake but the old man didn’t let go. Instead he took her hand in both of his and stared intently at her eyes.
“I’m a humble priest, but it’s always been my habit to address others by their given name. What do your parents call you, my dear?”
Banks hesitated. I noticed a flush of color creeping up her neck as she responded. “Robin.”
She nodded. The color rose to her cheeks as a smile tugged at her lips.
“Robin Banks?” Dovensky was unable to keep from snorting out a laugh. “And you’re an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigations! Your parents obviously had a sense of humor.”
“It’s a long story.”
Dovensky was still chuckling. “Those are the best kind. Jefferson, why don’t you escort Robin to my office while I finish up. I’m sure you remember the way.”
“Of course, Father. C’mon, Banks.”
I led her up a side aisle as the priest walked to the altar. In my peripheral vision, he was still laughing, shaking his head.
Here's a possible picture of Agent Banks
Here's a possible picture of Agent Banks
It’s always interesting to meet new authors. Over the years while attending various events, I’ve crossed paths with Marianne Waddill Wieland. She’s been busy, putting together a catalog of stories in several genres. Now’s a perfect time to visit with her.
Where are you from?
I was born in Beckley, West Virginia, which is
the setting for my 'Mountain Mama'
series. However, I was raised on the east coast in the tourist town of
Williamsburg, Virginia. Currently I live in Bellevue, MI.
What’s your ‘someday’ or dream vacation spot and why?
I would like to go to Bangladesh or Malaysia. I have lots of friends in those places.
What’s your favorite thing to do for relaxation?
Rest and watch Netflix or DVDs. Or read a good book. Rarely happens, though!
Any favorite hobbies?
I’ve been on stage most of my life singing and dancing. I like to sing in bands. But my favorite thing is writing and directing musicals. If I could do that full time, I would be happy. Also cooking. I have a cookbook coming out later in the month with food mentioned in all my books.
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing most of my life. Lots of short stories. I never did anything with them. Just put them in a box in the closet. I started writing musicals for different venues many years ago but never thought to try to have them published. I wrote my first novel in 2015, when I was stuck at home after surgery. It has escalated since then.
Are you able to write full time or do you also have a job/career?
I have been a nurse and a teacher for many years. I started working for myself doing counseling a couple of years ago. That has allowed me to be able to write full time, but without any family support, it’s hard to do.
Is there a particular genre that you write? Or more than one? What led you there?
I started out writing romance. The ‘Mountain Mama’ series is contemporary romance. ‘Covert Mission Files’ series is adult military intrigue. The ‘Moments in Time’ has one book of romance stories and the other suspense and dark comedy. It was a challenge to write in that genre but some friends dared me to do it. Both novel series have elements of mystery, comedy, tragedy, food and music. Cooking and music are very close to my heart.
Do you use friends or family as characters in your work?
Some of myself is in every book. I have characters patterned after some family members and I have a friend that asked to be part of my ‘Mountain Mama’ series, so I wrote a character for him. He has since passed away, but I promised his family he would live on in my writing. My 'Henry' books are based on the fake Facebook profile of a friend of mine. He asked me to write our fictional meeting and make it 'racy'. We never had the kind of relationship, but I never believed he was who he said he was. So I wrote the book in that manner. Later he came clean and admitted he was really a Nigerian scam artist. But I liked the fake character so I kept it and got a good book series out of it!
What authors had an impact on you
growing up and as an adult?
Dr. Seuss was my first favorite author. In my teens I loved mysteries written by Phyllis Whitney. Eventually I became interested in the books by Frank Perretti. Now I like books by Julie James. She writes romance surrounding the legal field.
Has anyone in your life influenced you or encouraged you to pursue your interests of writing?
My friend Richard that passed away was my biggest supporter. He is the one that is a character in my book. Richard inspired me to start writing short stories and helped me step out of my comfort zone. My friend Paula Hawkins has been with me, giving support and input into my books since the beginning. She does some editing as well.
What is your favorite aspect or writing? Your least favorite?
I love building the characters and incorporating them into a good plot. My least favorite is editing, but I do most of that as I am writing.
An artist whose work is frequently on my playlist is Bruce Springsteen. For over fifty years, Springsteen has been entertaining the world with his songs. He’s covered the gamut from hard rock to soft, with many tunes that speak to the heartland.
Bruce Springsteen has sold more than 150 million albums across the globe, capturing more than 20 Grammy awards, along with an Oscar, and a Tony award. He was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and received the Kennedy Center Honors and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Here’s my top five list of favorites.
Dancing in the Dark: https://youtu.be/129kuDCQtHs
Thunder Road: https://youtu.be/JGBXnw86Mgc
10th Avenue Freezeout: https://youtu.be/KzrtlXuiV3Y