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