Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Twenty-Sixth Issue

 



          Time just keeps on marching forward.  May is always a month I look forward to.  There are opportunities to get outside and enjoy the better weather. The Winter Semester has been wrapped up and that gives me a break of a week or two before I begin teaching the Summer classes.  And this year, there are some author events on the horizon which I’m absolutely looking forward to.

          Let’s get the party started.  Here’s my take on writing, an update on the latest works and a character interview from one my crew.

 

Writing

          Recently I was talking with my friend Mary, who has become an avid reader of my books.  She’s particularly fond of Chene and during a visit to Motown she actually went to the intersection that bears his name.  Mary is convinced that one of these days, she will meet him.




          During our conversation, Mary mentioned that what really impresses her is the way I’m able to get the readers attention from the very beginning of the story. That’s the hook. And it ain’t easy to create.

You can have a great story, with engaging characters, lots of memorable scenery, conflicts, interactions and subplots galore. But if an author can’t grab my attention within the first few pages, I’m gone. And I’m not the only one.

Here’s the opening for “Devious”

I can’t believe I’m standing here with a gun in my hand. And it’s pointed at his chest. My heart’s pounding in such a pronounced manner you’d think I had just run five miles. But there’s anger mixed with the adrenalin coursing through my system.

When I was facilitating the writer’s workshops, we often spoke about the importance of ‘the hook’.  Some authors pull you in gradually. Others will prefer to grab you by the back of the neck, where you can almost feel their nails scratching your skin. ‘Come along for the ride’ they whisper in your ear.

A lot depends on your audience and the genre you’re writing. For me, it’s not so much as getting the readers attention as it is about drawing them into the story, where they want, make that need to keep reading to see what’s going to happen next.

The hook gets it done.

Creating the hook is rarely the first thing I write. By the time I’ve written forty or fifty pages of the story, I’ve got a better sense as to where it’s going. Often I’ll return to the beginning and see what works best to draw the reader in.

Here’s another example from “Why 319?”

It was almost becoming too easy. They were everywhere. One plain Jane after another kept crossing my radar screen.  Some nights it was like shopping for bananas and they were visible in bunches.

           

Work in Progress

          Last week I received notice that I could order advance copies of “The Wayward Path” ahead of the actual release date. My credit card practically melted when I placed my order, but with the possibility of five, that’s right five, author related events this year (and maybe more) I wanted to have a good supply on hand. Within another week or so, the links should be available for people who want to preorder their own copy, whether in print or e-book.

          Here’s a little blurb on “The Wayward Path”.

          Charity Gray was an intelligent, inquisitive teen who disappeared fifteen years earlier. When her body is discovered, it should be a typical cold case. Before the Detroit police can get started, the FBI commandeers the investigation, with a prime suspect in mind: retired mobster Leo Agonasti. When Agonasti slips through their grasp, he reaches out to Sergeant Jefferson Chene. Their unusual friendship draws Chene into the thick of the case. Burdened with two reluctant FBI agents, Chene is working against the clock and the feds to find the real killer. Chene senses they are getting close to the answers. Will he be able to solve the murder and clear the old mobster of this heinous crime before time runs out?




          Meanwhile, I’ve been getting back up to speed on the new adventure for Jamie Richmond.  In this fourth novel, Jamie’s keeping busy. When she undertakes a bit of digging at the request of an old friend, Jamie stumbles upon some criminal activity that she can’t ignore.  Mix in a couple of subplots and it’s coming together nicely.  I’m about halfway through the story.   I know Melissa, the publisher at Inkspell, is curious about the book.  With any luck, significant progress will be made in the next couple of weeks.

          Here’s a shot of Jamie’s reaction to this news.

 



  

Character Interview

          I’ve had more than a few people ask me about Simone Bettencourt. With the arrival of “The Wayward Path” this will mark her third appearance in the series. While this is the 21st Century, Simone didn’t use an application for a dating site or social media to become a part of Chene’s life.

         Here’s a picture of what Simone might look like.

 

Tell us a little about yourself:  I’m just a regular woman.  I went to college, graduated with a business degree and found a nice, normal routine job.   My parents divorced years ago, which is not uncommon in this country.  My dad is from France. He met my mother while she was there on vacation and followed her home. (laughs) I don’t know if he was super romantic or a lovesick puppy.

How did you get involved in these books?  My roommate was the third victim of the serial killer, who would leave their bodies in room 319 of different hotels.  Chene and one of the other detectives came to notify me and ask a whole bunch of questions.  Later that night, Chene came back. He cooked for me! Then he stayed to keep me company.  It was a slow process, but we started dating. Chene’s not a player.  He cares about me. When we’re being quiet or romantic, I call him Jeff.  Otherwise he’s Chene.  That’s how nearly everyone addresses him.

What’s your greatest strength?   I am resilient. I’m not blessed with a fashion model’s body or looks, but I’m tougher than most. My friends know they can count on me, no matter what. That includes Chene. You get a taste of that in the latest book. I try not to make him uncomfortable. A cop doesn’t work a cozy nine-to-five schedule.  And I know there are some days when I won’t see him or hear from him. I’m not going to hang by the phone or gaze longingly out the window, watching for his car.

How about your greatest weakness?  I like surprises. It doesn’t have to be some big extravagant thing. When they happen, which isn’t very often, they always make me melt. And when a guy cooks for me, especially if the food is good. I’m a sucker for a good cook. (winks) Which by the way, Chene is.

What is it about your role in these stories that’s different?  Chene hasn’t dated much. Well, let me rephrase that.  He’s dated, but most of those have been one, two or maybe three dates.  Then they usually part company.  We’ve been going out for several months now. It’s still a learning process for both of us. I’m not a detective, but there are times Chene will use me as a sounding board.  I don’t know exactly how it works, but sometimes an innocent comment or action from me can give him an idea that’s relevant to the case. His brain is always churning at a hundred miles an hour. (blushes) Well, not all the time.

         Tell us something about your background that may or may not be revealed in the book?
 I love to sing and dance.  In high school I had a key role in several musicals. I’m teaching Jeff some dance moves, but don’t tell anyone on the squad.  They’re like this big goofy family, always looking for ammunition to tease each other with.

What helps you relax after a day’s work?  I do a lot of yoga, mostly at home. Some nights I’ll go to a gym for a workout.  I’ll have a light dinner, listen to music and read. I’m a mystery junkie. Maybe that’s part of the attraction with Chene. I get to hear about cases he and the squad are working on, or ones they have solved in the past.

Who has had the greatest influence on your life?  My mom. She’s a very independent woman, with a successful career. She is always there for me, listening, offering advice or a hug or a margarita.  She makes a killer margarita!
         What has been the most romantic thing you’ve ever experienced?
(Giggles) You know Chene is this gruff badass right?  He’s evolving into a bit of romantic too. One night we met for dinner. It was a spur of the moment and I hadn’t been expecting to see him. I don’t want to be an afterthought. One of those ‘well, there’s nothing better to do, maybe I should call Simone for a quickie’ kind of people. Anyway, after dinner, he took me home and shaved my legs. Slowly. Carefully. I’ll let you figure out what happened next.  That one’s at the top of my list. (winks) So far.

Links to Chene Series.

Why 319?: https://www.amazon.com/dp/150921450X

Your Turn to Die: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MPPYY31/

 

 

Music



A recent road trip gave me the opportunity to dust off a few CDs from the archives. One such jewel that made the cut was a collection of hits from Steve Miller.  His family was deeply involved in music and they were often surrounded by famous musicians.  Les Paul, the guitar virtuoso, is his godfather.

Miller’s interest in the guitar began before high school and he formed or was involved in numerous bands.  In the 1960s, he started The Steve Miller Band. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016. Miller continues to tour and has several concerts scheduled for this year. 

Here’s my top five favorites from Steve Miller

The Joker: https://youtu.be/dV3AziKTBUo

Take the Money & Run: https://youtu.be/ido6NrjGi2o

Mercury Blues: https://youtu.be/fHoE7NrTMNo

Living in the USA: https://youtu.be/9FEkwBajgxI

Rock N Me: https://youtu.be/ebxmH5V6A8s

 

 





 

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

The Twenty-Fifth Issue


 


Here we are, already racing through another month.  Hopefully Spring has made a welcome appearance in your part of the globe.  It seems like Michigan has experienced snow, rain, sunshine and gusty breezes all within the same day. Or two.  But that’s not uncommon for the Mitten State.

This month I’ll continue to share details about the creative process of writing, talk a little about my latest work in progress, introduce you to an incredibly talented writer and artist and rock out with a song or two. So let’s get it started.

 

                                        Writing

 

This semester I discovered one of my students enjoys writing fiction and has been at it for a while.  She was anxious about the idea of having her work published and asked for my experience with book publishers.

We talked at length about the options and different resources for finding out what genres different publishers are looking for.  She asked about my own experience.  I described a couple of early publishers who failed to deliver on promises made or even return emails.  One of those made it known that they expected the authors to pay for copies of printed books so they (the publisher) could then donate the books to certain charities they supported. 

I explained that the Jamie Richmond mystery/romance series is with Inkspell Publishing and the Jefferson Chene mystery series is with The Wild Rose Press.  Both houses strive to provide the very best for their authors, through the selection process, editing, artwork and marketing efforts. There is a great deal of support from the authors in each house, with many willing to help promote their colleague’s work.

Bestsellers may have the big publishing houses competing for their books, but those opportunities are dwindling. Some authors prefer the self-publishing route.  For me, I have neither the time nor inclination to take on all those additional duties including the editing, the artwork, the marketing, the promotion all on my own. Don’t get me wrong. Promoting by the authors is still expected. I do my best to help get the word out to the readers about my stories.

 These two publishers continue to support my efforts.  Which frees me up to focus on crafting the next story.  So if you’re looking for a quality publisher for your own stories, I’d encourage you to check the links below.

http://www.inkspellpublishing.com/

https://www.thewildrosepress.com/

 

Work In Progress

After countless revisions, edits and feedback from my illustrious team of beta readers and Ally, the editor at The Wild Rose Press, everything is done. “The Wayward Path” has been finalized.  The cover art rocks (in my humble opinion).  Now it’s hurry up and wait for the release date, which is looking like early August.




So you might ask ‘what’s next?’  

Well, there’s a persistent redhead who has been impatiently hovering in the background, anxious for me to return my efforts to her latest adventure.  Jamie and I have agreed that ‘patience is not one our virtues.’  I will be turning my energies back to the currently untitled fourth book in her series.  With 34,000 words written, I’m also to a halfway point.  There are many new scenes to write and more ideas to elaborate on. 

Here's Jamie trying to be patient.

 



 

                                     Author Interview

A few years ago, I participated in an author event in one of the Detroit suburbs. It’s always a game of chance at these showings. You just never know what kind of crowd the festivities will draw and if they are in a buying mood for your books. After getting my table set up in the designated spot, I looked around to check out the other authors. Turned out that the guy next to me was more than just a writer. He was an illustrator as well. 

Clay Boura and I passed the slow times during the event sharing stories and learning more about each other’s work.  Prior to the pandemic, we ended up at a few other festivals together. Clay has carved out a great niche for his “Leave it to Beamer” children’s book series.



Welcome, Clay.  Where are you from? 
I was born at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, MI and I grew up in Ferndale, MI.

What’s your ‘someday’ or dream vacation spot and why?
I am a lover of wildlife, especially aquatic wildlife. So my dream vacation would be to fly to Australia and scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef.

What’s your favorite thing to do for relaxation?
I enjoy spending time with my wife and 3 kids: playing games, going camping and hiking, cruising in our classic Mustang convertible and hanging out by the water.

Any favorite hobbies?
Drawing, playing video games, hiking, working on my classic Mustang

How long have you been writing?
I published my very first children’s book in January of 2015. However, I have been writing for as long as I can remember, ever since I was a young child.

Are you able to write full time or do you also have a job/career?
My dream and my long-term goal is to become a full-time children’s author. However, as of right now I have another full-time job doing web design and marketing.

Is there a particular genre that you write?  Or more than one?  What led you there?
I write and illustrate children’s books. When I was 12 years old, I created a cartoon character named Beamer. Originally my dream was to become a cartoonist and have my very own comic strip in the newspapers. However, after starting a family and having kids, I saw how much enjoyment they got out of reading books. From that day forward, I decided that I wanted to become a published children’s author.

Do you use friends or family as characters in your work?
I have a very large family and often use them as characters in my stories. My wife and kids, my aunt, my cousins and my nieces and nephews have all made appearances as characters in my first three books.

What authors had an impact on you growing up and as an adult? 
When I first decided to pursue my writing career, I joined a few writing forums online. When I asked for advice on becoming a full-time author, I was surprised to receive a large amount of negative feedback. Most people in the forums told me “not to quit my day job” and that they all wrote as a hobby. However, Michigan author Lori Taylor of the Holly Wild book series personally reached out to me and told me not to give up. She also helped to coach me along in the beginning before I published my first book. A few years later I got a chance to meet her in person and gave her a great big hug!

Has anyone in your life influenced you or encouraged you to pursue your interests of writing? (teacher, family member, friend)
I am extremely lucky to have an amazingly supportive family. As soon as I started on down the path to getting myself published, I received nothing but encouragement and support from my wife, my kids, my parents, my siblings and all the rest of my friends and family. 

What is your favorite aspect or writing? Your least favorite? 
My favorite thing about writing, and the thing that I tell kids when I do my school visits, is that you are only limited by your own imagination.

Is there a common theme or item that appears in each of your work?  
My books are all about English idioms and help to explain their meanings from a young child’s, or Beamer’s perspective.

Tell us about your latest work.

My next book is going to be titled Leave it to Beamer Presents: Get The Ball Rolling and has Beamer dreaming up a story about garden gnomes who get stuck with a giant ball in the middle of their town and have to come together to figure out how to get the ball rolling!

How did you decide on your story plot?  
Most of my story ideas come to me organically. Since my books are all about English idioms and we use idioms on an everyday basis, I quite often hear someone use an idiom and it sparks an idea. From there, I jot down the basic idea and then start fleshing it out into a full-fledged story. 

Here’s where you can put an excerpt from the story, along with a back cover blurb.
Grown-ups sure do say some confusing things sometimes!  How can you have a chip on your shoulder when there are no snacks anywhere around?  Without a license or car, how is it possible to drive someone up the wall?  And could you really break a camel’s back with a thin piece of straw? The Leave it to Beamer series explores the wide world of English Idioms.  And we'll even Go Out on a Limb to say that you will enjoy these stories Until the Cows Come Home!  So grab a Leave it to Beamer story today.  You'll be Left in Stitches and fall Head Over Heels in no time!  ​​Come along with Beamer and learn the REAL meanings to some silly sayings!

Clay’s enthusiasm for sharing his stories and artistic talents is contagious.  He’s also created a program where he can visit with elementary school students, either in person or virtually, to inspire young minds.  Clay has even added a ‘padlet’ on his website, so students can show their own versions of his Beamer character.
 



Here are some links where you can learn more about Clay’s books. 
Website:
www.leaveittobeamer.com
YouTube Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCT_mR22i0J9iGK5p3WWXnug
Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/ClayBouraBooks
Twitter Page:
https://twitter.com/ClayBoura

 

                                             Music



 

          Joe Cocker keeps popping up on the rotation lately.  The late English singer, who passed away in 2014, made the most of his gravelly voice while recording music for over forty years.

          Here are five of my favorites from Joe Cocker.

 

You are So Beautiful:  https://youtu.be/wlDmslyGmGI

With a Little Help: https://youtu.be/eXV4WyQMHFM

Came in Through the Bathroom Window: https://youtu.be/TedvuER50Lk

Feeling Alright: https://youtu.be/-RK9NpGr2-s

Leave Your Hat On: https://youtu.be/hfgwrdYUQ2A

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, March 19, 2022

The Twenty-Fourth Issue

 



Today is March 19. 

Or 3 19. 

That combination of numbers is special to me. It’s taken from the cover of one of my most popular books “Why 319?”.  Two years ago today I launched the first newsletter.  It was intended to share a bit about my writing techniques, a work in progress, an interview with another author or a character and some music.

So it’s time to continue in that effort.  To quote legendary quarterback Tom Brady, “Let’s F’ing Go!”

 

Writing

 

          A friend asked me recently where I get the names for my characters. There are some authors who support a charity fundraiser by putting the opportunity to provide a character’s name up for bid at auction. It could be a victim, a criminal or a minor role, but it’s a nice way to support an organization.

I’ve always been fond of using names that may give the reader a clue as to how my various players may behave. There are times however, when I’ll stumble upon a name of an old friend or a colleague that fits perfectly with what I’ve got in mind for that character.  When I use those names, it’s a form of a salute. 

          Sometimes I mention this in advance.  Other times, I just use it and wait for their reactions when they read to book and discover it.  A couple of characters have shown up in more than one book. 

For example, Olivia Sholtis makes her debut in “Your Turn to Die” as a reporter with a local television station. The interactions she has with Chene work so well she returns in “The Wayward Path”.  I like the character so much she’s making the transition to the fourth Jamie Richmond mystery. There really is an Olivia Sholtis. She is a friend and former colleague and while she’s not a reporter, she does share certain traits with the character.

In “The Wayward Path” I’ve also ‘borrowed’ the names for several other characters from former colleagues Larabee, Durfee and LaChance. While that could be mistaken for a law firm that’s not the case.  It’s been years since we worked together, but those names just stuck in my memory and fit well with the story.  Sometimes there’s a deeper reason for the names I use. Sometimes it just fits with the flow of the story.

Shakespeare wrote “What’s in a name”?

My response would be ‘that depends’.

 



 

Works in Progress

 

The latest (and hopefully final) round of edits has been completed on Chene number three. While I don’t have a publishing date for the new book, we do have a cover.  I am pleased with the results. It sets the mood for the story.





With any luck, I’ll soon be resuming my efforts on the next Jamie Richmond book. I’ve written over 30,000 words to date and realized that my favorite redhead is going to be drawn into two cases that appear to be unrelated. Or maybe they are. It can be difficult to tell with her. 

In addition to making preparations for some upcoming author events, I’ve also been busy creating the new website: authormarklove.weebly.com

  


News

Usually in this section I have an interview with another author or a character from one of their stories.  Today it seems appropriate to share a little writing related news.

Back in 2014, I started a writer’s workshop at a local community agency where I was working.  This was created on the heels of a seminar I conducted to share information about writing.  Twice a month the group would meet for 90 minutes.  The concept was that each participant had to bring something they were working on, up to 5 type written pages in length, that they would read to the others and get feedback.  Everyone was reminded that these were rough drafts and the focus should be on the content, not punctuation or spelling. The idea was to share ideas and support each other’s work.

There was the ebb and flow of participants, as is common with such a group. I would often share segments of whatever I was writing at the time.  At one point, I read my short story “Goody Two-Shoes”, which was a parody of a Sam Spade private eye tale.  That begins with the notorious line “It was a dark and stormy night. No, really it was!"

The group adopted the name "Stormy Night Writer’s Society”. 



Although I left the area and the group several years ago, it makes me smile to know that they continue to meet twice a month without fail.  And the numbers have grown from a core group of seven to almost twenty.

Last week I got exciting news on three fronts from Jerry, who has taken the leadership reins for the group.  The first is that they have been approached to read their efforts to an audience at the community center.  At last count, fifteen authors will be sharing their work. That’s a fantastic opportunity.

The second part is that their short stories will soon be published in the center’s newsletter.  I’m not sure if it will be a separate issue or if one story will be featured each month. More details are being worked out on that one.

The third aspect is that two members have moved away from the Mitten State and landed on the east coast of the country where they have started another chapter of the Stormy Night Writer’s Society. 

Nearly eight years from its inception, the group continues to flourish. That makes me proud of their commitment to each other and their dedication.

 

Music 

Darryl Hall and John Oates continue to pop up on the stereo lately. Perhaps the number one selling duo of all time, they began in the early 1970s and their music remains popular to this day. With a combination of rock and roll and rhythm and blues, they became known as ‘blue eyed soul’.




Hall and Oates were inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Here’s my top five favorites from Darryl Hall and John Oates.

Hot Fun in the Summertime: https://youtu.be/xBh1FjOq_9w

I can’t go for that:  https://youtu.be/ccenFp_3kq8

Sara Smile: https://youtu.be/dYEpFJhuu1E

Kiss on My List: https://youtu.be/0pIHILw_ekA

Private Eyes: https://youtu.be/JsntlJZ9h1U

 

 

 

 


Saturday, February 19, 2022

The Twenty-Third Issue

 




It’s been a long time coming.  After multiple stops and starts, I’m finally launching the website.  As a young friend reminded me, I’m a bit of dinosaur when it comes to technology.

https://authormarklove.weebly.com/

If you’ve visited before, you’re probably familiar with my style, mixing updates on the latest projects, a little insight into the writing process, an interview with a fellow author or character and a touch of music.

I fully intended to get back to that soon.  But as a wise old man once said, ‘Timing is everything’.




Here’s a quick update.

“The Wayward Path” book three in the Jefferson Chene series, continues to wind its way through the publishing process.  Multiple sessions with me and the editor have been completed.  I’m anxiously awaiting to see the cover art and learn when this story will see the light of day.

In this book, Chene gets involved in a cold case homicide, hoping to identify the real killer while clearing retired mobster Leo Agonasti at the same time.  Every time he turns, Chene’s bumping into members of organized crime and federal agents.

Meanwhile I’m getting back to work on the fourth Jamie Richmond novel.  I haven’t stumbled upon a name for it yet, but I have no doubt my favorite redhead will be dropping hints as we go.




For a musical treat, here’s a few favorites from the Godfather of Soul, the one and only James Brown.


Get up offa that thing: https://youtu.be/QS8FxHsw0U0

I Got The Feeling : 

https://youtu.be/Cda0twzCMC4

Papa's Got A Brand New Bag:

https://youtu.be/QE5D2hJhacU




 

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Twenty-Second Issue

 



December got away from me.  Between wrapping up the end of the semester teaching, an author’s event, the holidays and other commitments, there was no opportunity to put together the newsletter. Many of you can relate to that.

Now as we move into 2022, it’s a chance for a fresh start.  I’ve never been one to make resolutions. But I occasionally will set some short-term goals.  Often achieving those will lead to more progress. Add in the rude arrival of winter weather and that might lead to more time working on stories.

Time for a glimpse at writing, my latest work in progress, a character interview and music.

 

Writing

          Last month I participated in an author’s event at the local library.  There was a decent number who turned out and it provided the opportunity to chat with quite a few people about my novels.  One older woman asked me where I get the ideas for my stories. 

 




          That’s rarely an easy question to answer. I explained that just about anything can trigger a story for me.  It could be a comment overheard. Or perhaps it was observing the way a couple interacts. Or a blurb on the news.  Or a simple situation of ‘what if’.

          She wasn’t satisfied with that response.  Then she picked up “Stealing Haven” and waved it at me.  “What about this one?”

          “That’s where Jamie and her best friend go on vacation.  What’s supposed to be just a relaxing week on the shore of Lake Michigan turns into a little romantic fling. Jamie’s curiosity is also triggered by a string of home invasions,” I said.

          “But where did the idea come from?” she insisted.

          I could sense she wasn’t giving up.  “While visiting South Haven, I saw two young women relaxing on the beach.  The next day I was reading an article online about an increase in home break-ins.  The two plots fit together.”

          She considered it for a moment, then bought the book. 

          I’d be willing to bet five authors could be standing around the scene of a car accident and each would come up with a different idea for a story. Everyone reacts differently. What strikes me about that situation could be unlike that of anyone else. That’s part of the intrigue.  No two people are the same.  Story ideas can be magical.  The basis for a story may be a trigger to start writing, but it may not even faintly resemble the finished product.

          I’ll continue to work on an acceptable response to that question. But it’s one that may never be answered.

 

Work in Progress.

 

          Just before the holidays I received the galleys for “The Wayward Path” from the editor.  This is the next step in the process.  Once again, I had the opportunity to review the manuscript and make any corrections or suggestions to the story.  You’d think that having written it and read it four or five times now, that everything should be perfect.  That would be wishful thinking on my part.

          I found a few goofs here and there, but the one that cracked me up was when two characters are discussing recent events and one mentions Chene and his team might just end up with ‘accommodations’.  What I meant was ‘a commendation’.   Not only did I miss this on earlier reads, but so did my team of beta readers and the editor!




          With that file completed and returned to the editor, I was able to spend some time with the next Jamie Richmond story.  This morning I noticed that just over 30,000 words have been written.  I’ve got several subplots brewing.  It’s looking promising.  And since Jamie enjoys unravelling complications, I’m leaning toward two different mysteries that she gets tangled up in.

          Recently I stumbled upon this picture, which could easily be Jamie encouraging me to get back to work.



Interview

          Characters drive the story.  There are some books that I’ve picked up and couldn’t get past the first 20 pages.  Sometimes it’s the writing. Others it’s the storyline. Others the characters are so bland and boring that I didn’t care what happened to them.  With my own work, I’m committed to make memorable characters. Each one should have an interesting background and their actions and interactions with others are a key to building a good (and hopefully great) story.

          With that in mind, it’s time to meet one of my favorite creations. Captain Prescott ‘Pappy’ Cantrell is the boss of Squad Six. His team of detectives, including Jefferson Chene, oversees the major case investigations throughout the metropolitan Detroit area.

Here's what Pappy may look like.

 


Welcome, Pappy. Tell us a little about yourself.

 (takes a drag on his ever present cigarette) Ah’m from the deep south of Tennessee.  After my hitch in the army, Ah moved to Michigan. Ah met a girl from Detroit when on leave. So Ah came here and started workin’ as a policeman for the state.  Ain’t never been married.  Ah’m too restless for it.

How does your background tie in with the Chene series?  

More than twenty-five years chasin’ crooks mayhap somethin’ to do with it.  Me and my squad close cases. Keeps da Governor happy.

What’s your greatest strength?   And of course, we want to know the opposite, your greatest weakness.  

(another puff on the cigarette) Ah’m good at pickin’ the best cops for my squad. They all different. But they git it done.  And it bothers me to admit, but Ah’m good at politics. Ah know how the systems works.  Weakness?  Southern cookin’ and pretty women. Though not always in that order.

 What is it about this squad that sets them apart from others?

We cross the lines. Sumtimes a crime happens in one city, but the victims live in nother. There’s more’n 2,000 square miles in them three counties we cover. Sumtimes there ain’t no simple connections tween crimes. Like ah said, we cross dem lines. Like in that ‘Why 319?’ case, with dat message on the bathroom mirror. Only my team had a chance to figger it out an catch the killer.

Tell us something about your background that may or may not be revealed in the book?

(chuckles) Y'all sure Chene ain’t gonna see this?  Ah read a lot of legal stuff. Court cases, lawsuits, government shit, stuff y’all might find borin’. Ah won a boxin’ tourney back in the Army. It weren’t pretty, but it was a win. Ah’m also a pretty good dancer, if it’s real music.

 What do you do to relax after a day of fighting crime?

A thick steak, cooked rare, some fine Tennessee whiskey and… (chuckles) well, y’all figger out the rest.

 What’s it like working with Jefferson Chene?

(hesitates and exhales a plume of cigarette smoke, watching it drift toward the ceiling) Chene’s awright. He’s stubborn.  But my daddy learned me long ago, y’all do better havin’ good people doin’ the heavy liftin’.  Chene’s smart. He kinda sees around the corners, diggin’ out the answers. He’s awright…for a Yankee.

 


Buy links for "Why 319?" 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/150921450X

https://books.apple.com/us/book/why-319/id1222126642

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/why-319-2


Buy links for  "Your Turn to Die"  

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MPPYY31/

https://books.apple.com/us/book/your-turn-to-die/id1449415728

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/your-turn-to-die-1

 

Music

 


          English poet William Cowper (that's his photo above) wrote “Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour’.   Although I’m not much for poetry, I absolutely agree with that statement.  In this space, I usually focus on one musician or group that has been cropping up in my audio cycle, this time variety is taking charge.

          Some of these selections are unusual.  A bit different from what you’d grow to expect. 

          Here’s five favorites that popped up lately.

 Bruce Springsteen. Pay Me My Money Down. https://youtu.be/XiMYqDD9kXw

 Postmodern Juke Box.  All About That Bass. https://youtu.be/aLnZ1NQm2uk

 Smokey Robinson w/ Ayra.  Ooo Baby Baby

https://youtu.be/DTX6slXs32E

 Jeff Daniels: How I Got to Memphis

https://youtu.be/b7oPm-FQsj4

The 5 Browns: Rhapsody in Blue

https://youtu.be/AWsjRK-yQvk