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My First Guest Blog

I was recently asked by fellow writer Taylor Fulks to be a guest author on her blog. I was very appreciative of the offer, although a little apprehensive, since I’ve never done a guest blog before. However, Taylor made the interview process for the blog very easy. In the interview, we discussed such topics as the evolution of my first book, Retribution, and how the succeeding books came to be.

If you’re interested in learning a bit about the evolution of the Angela Masters series, or would just like the opportunity to comment, I encourage you to stop by Taylor’s blog.

I will be checking in regularly during the next week to respond to comments or answer questions.

 

By |February 17th, 2014|Categories: General|Tags: , |1 Comment

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Columbo is My Guide

Today, I ran across a blog post by Charlotte Hinger entitled “Columbo –  My Hero“.  In the post, Ms. Hinger talks about how Columbo always got his man (or woman) with a minimum of violence.  Most significantly to me, he also got his man through good, old-fashioned police work — no fancy DNA, computerized face recognition, or cell-phone tracking.  The Angela Masters Detective Novel series uses similar concepts, which is why I titled this post “Columbo is my guide”.  The series is set in the 1980’s so modern forensics simply weren’t available.

Additionally, the first two books, “Retribution” and “Entitlement”, follow the “Columbo” model of showing the crime at the beginning, complete with the identity of the perpetrator.  The story then focuses on the process of the detective in getting the needed evidence and locating the suspect.  I met with some resistance from my editing crew for this technique, but ultimately, it’s worked and I’m happy with the result.  The following three books follow the more traditional ‘whodunit’ model, but still present (I hope) an intriguing story for the reader.

Still, Peter Falk’s “Columbo” provides an excellent and enduring model for the nose-to-the-grindstone detective that we’ve come to admire.

 

By |January 29th, 2014|Categories: Book Recommendations|Tags: |0 Comments

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The Cynic and the Loss of Imagination

This Christmas season, as with many before it, the Internet is filled with uplifting stories.  There are tales of people separated by war who are reunited decades later, an injured and disoriented fighter pilot escorted to his home base by an enemy pilot, a man of little means who helps another only to have that kindness returned ten-fold.

And in the comments section of nearly every one of these and similar stories are posts where the cynic says things like “that didn’t really happen,” or “I’ve read this before except the characters had different names and it supposedly happened in a different time.”  Even the ones for whom the story is a feel-good experience say things like “I sure hope this story is true.”

My question is “WHO CARES?”  In most of these stories, the narrative serves to deliver a message.  That is the point, not whether the minute details of the story are “true.”

For those of us old enough to remember, and maybe some of more recent generations, I think of the story of the Three Little Pigs.  As the story goes, three little pigs built houses.  One hurriedly built his house of straw.  Within a short time, a bad wolf blew the house down and ate the pig.  The second built his house of wood.  Certainly that would take a little more time and effort on the pig’s part, but in the end, the wolf was able to blow that house down too, and ate the second pig.

The third pig worked diligently, while his brothers rushed to finish their houses so they could play.  The third pig built his house of brick.  His efforts were rewarded when the wolf was unable to blow his house down and thus his life was spared.

Hearing this story as a child, it never once occurred to me to sneer, “That didn’t really happen!  How could a pig build a house?  And how can a wolf blow that much air.  Wolves don’t have very big lungs and they can’t form a circle with their mouths.  Obviously, this story is a lie!!”

No, I never said any of those things.  Nor do I ever remember even thinking them, because I, through my human gift of imagination, could easily translate the story to a message that hard work pays off.  “Got it, Dad.  Thanks for putting the lesson is an enjoyable story, a story that demonstrates the virtue of hard work and dedication.”  Enough said.

There are many things in today’s world that are all too ‘real’ and ‘true.’  We should allow ourselves to enjoy a heart-warming story, and maybe even learn a little about a virtue from that story, without grumbling about whether every word (or any of them) are “true.”

As writers, we rely heavily on our imagination.  We hope the world of people who might become our readers hasn’t lost theirs.

By |December 26th, 2013|Categories: General|Tags: |0 Comments

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All I Needed to Know, I Learned From … The Attic

When I was a boy growing up, I was always fascinated by the thoughts of whatever was on the other side of that door in the ceiling.  It wasn’t a door, really.  It had no hinges or doorknob, but otherwise it looked like a door.  Except that it was in the ceiling in the middle of the hallway that lead from our living room to the bedrooms.

Once in a while, my dad or my grandfather would get the ladder out of the garage and set it up in the hallway.  Then one of them would climb the ladder, open the little door in the ceiling, and scoot up into … I had no idea.  But sometimes one of them would bring things down from up there.  Old things – pictures, clothes, a fire truck made out of wood that once was probably red but only showed faint signs of paint when my father let me look at it.  I couldn’t play with it, he said.  Too fragile.

Then one day when my father was ‘up there’ I decided I wanted to see for myself.  I looked around to be sure mom wasn’t watching then I held tightly to the side rails of the ladder and climbed to the first step.  Cautiously, I slid my hands up the rails, afraid to let go but knowing I had to reach higher before I could take the next step.  I had seen my dad do that.

But before I could raise my foot, I looked down.  Suddenly I was gripped with fear.  It seemed such a long way down to the floor.  I had fallen off things before, and I didn’t like the experience.  Carefully, my palms damp, I slid my hands back down the rails and gripped with all my might as I eased my foot off the bottom rung and back to the floor.  Safe!

A few days later, my grandfather got the ladder out and climbed up through the door in the ceiling.  I stood at the bottom and was looking up when I heard my dad’s voice behind me.  “Mike, would you like to try?”  I wasn’t sure whether I did or not, but I nodded my head.  “I saw you try the other day, and you were doing it right.  Just try again and I’ll be here to help you if you need it.”  The first step seemed easier than it had before, but as I started to pull my foot up to the second step, I waivered.  Then, I felt my dad’s strong hands on my waist.  “You can do it, son.”  And then I was on the second step.  I was feeling good, but then I looked down again.  The safety of the floor seemed very, very far away now.  “Dad, I can’t do it.  Please let me get down!”  “It’s ok, son,” he said.  “We’ll try it together again next time.”

This went on for a few more times with my courage gaining every time.  Then one day, my grandfather got the ladder out and my father said, “Ready to go up there, son?”  “Sure, dad,” I said.  I hoped my voice was more positive than I felt.  My grandfather climbed the ladder and went up through the door.  I followed, carefully pulling myself up each step.  I was aware that my dad’s hands were there, ready to catch me, but he didn’t touch me.  He just said quietly, ” you can do it, son.  I know you can do it.”

I got to the top step and held on the peak of the ladder with all my might.  I didn’t dare look at the floor.  I had come too far for that.  But there was a gap between the top step of the ladder and the opening in the ceiling.  How would I ever bridge that gap?  Grandfather and dad were so much taller and they seemed to do it easily.  But I wasn’t ready.

Just as I started to go back down, my grandfather’s hand reached down through the opening.  “Take my hand, Mike.  I’ll help you.”  And he boosted me into the attic.

And with that I learned what I needed to know about life.  Yes, you might be able to make it on your own, but it’s a lot easier if you have someone to encourage you to climb, and someone who has gone before you who cares enough to reach back down and help you up.

 

Adapted from a story by Alex Ferguson.

 

 

By |November 25th, 2013|Categories: General|Tags: |0 Comments

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How to Use Criticism to Your Advantage

A great post from Boise author Annette Mackey
(annettemackey.com)

 

How to use criticism to your advantage

By |September 26th, 2013|Categories: General|Tags: |0 Comments

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Great Article on Indy Publishing

For those who have written a book, or intend to write one, but are intimidated by the standard process of getting an agent, submitting the manuscript, receiving numerous rejections, and MAYBE getting published, this provides great insight into the indy process.

If the blog has scrolled, check out the September 27, 2012 post:

http://kentuckyindiewriters.blogspot.com/

By |October 14th, 2012|Categories: General|Tags: |0 Comments

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