Sunday, January 15, 2017



I’m always making lists.  Sometimes its story ideas, or scenes I want to work on. Other times it’s related to work or teaching or even a run to the grocery store. I don’t always follow the lists and get exactly what’s on there, but they can be a form of guidelines. Or a nudge in the right direction.

Recently I picked up a copy of “Broken Prey” by John Sandford. He always has a way of creating the kind of characters that you’d feel comfortable dropping in on for a cold beer or three. A subplot in this story has his protagonist, Lucas Davenport, trying to create the top 100 rock and roll songs of all time to load on a IPod his wife gave him.  Throughout the story, various characters bombard him with their recommendations.   

Since I’m always listening to music, especially when I write, that’s the kind of list I can relate to.

Here's a link to Sandford’s number one rock and roll traveling song. 

Winter is definitely upon us.  Thoughts of freezing temperatures, icy conditions, and blizzards are part of every conversation. Which got me thinking about “Vanishing Act” which takes place in the dead of winter.  Jamie’s best friend Linda has caught the attention of a stalker.  Here’s an excerpt I hope you enjoy.

Talking quietly, trudging through the clumps of snow and ice, neither one of us heard him at first.
“It’s getting to the point where I just want to stay home,” she said quietly.
“You can’t hide, Linda. If you become a prisoner in your own home, then he wins. And you are much too strong a person to let that happen.”
She gave me a wan smile. “I know, Jamie, it’s just…”
“Hey!” a gruff voice snapped at us from only a couple of feet away.
Linda let out a shriek of surprise. She lost her footing on the ice and crashed to the pavement. Looking over my shoulder, I saw a blocky shape, hidden in the shadows beyond the reach of the overhead lights, gliding close to the back end of a parked car. He took a menacing step forward, one hand clutching something tightly and extending it towards us.
“Run!” I screamed at Linda for all I was worth.
“Hey,” he snapped again, still reaching for us.
I took a step toward him and planted my left foot on one of the few dry patches of pavement. Then I swung my right foot as hard as I could, as if I was about to nail a fifty-yard field goal to win the Super Bowl. Without realizing it, I braced for the impact. To this day, I’d swear I was aiming for his crotch. But I missed.
Maybe the pavement wasn’t dry after all. Or maybe suddenly shifting my weight to make that kick caused me to lose my balance. Or maybe subconsciously I couldn’t really kick a guy in the balls. Or maybe he sensed what was happening and he took a step back. I’ll never really know.
In my peripheral vision, I could see Linda scrambling to her feet, already racing toward her car, clicking the remote control to unlock the doors. My leg continued its arc and just before making contact, my left foot shot out from underneath me.
My right foot slammed into the bulky guy. I caught him square in the chest. With my body going horizontal, it must have looked like some kind of ninja move. Whatever it was, it was enough to take him off his feet, and he went down with a thud. I couldn’t be sure, but it looked like his head bounced off the pavement.
I landed on my side and scrambled immediately to my feet. I was crouched in a fighting stance, anger and adrenaline churning in my gut. The guy let out a low groan. He made no move to get up.
Suddenly lights flared around us. Linda managed to start her car and pull it into the aisle. She lay on the horn, a long deep throated wail that cut through the night. A few people who had been moving across the parking lot came running over.
Illuminated by the headlights, I looked down at the attacker. He was an older man, with a couple days’ worth of stubble across his face. His left hand was pressed against his chest, roughly in the spot in which I’d kicked him. Slowly he raised his right hand in my direction as our eyes locked. His voice made a throaty rasping noise as he spoke.
“She dropped her glove.”

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