Monthly Archives: November 2012

My Version of the Twilight Zone

This is a strange post—so strange that I’m not even sure where to begin.

I guess it started about two weeks ago…

I was working on my next novel Unfinished Business and the scene I was writing involved my antagonist, a shady nightclub owner named Mike McMahon, and one of my protagonists, a detective named Dave Steere. In the scene the two men are having a discussion and in the course of the conversation it is revealed that they have a history that goes beyond “cop and robber”. In fact it goes all the way back to their youth.

This is a good time to talk about names…

Obviously every character in a novel needs a name and naturally those names must be chosen by the author.

I can’t speak for other authors, but I think I spend more time than needed in choosing names for my characters. There are a bunch of criteria to go by (time period, nationality, ease of pronunciation, etc) and then it must be a name that I am happy with.

More times than not I try to use names that I will remember with little or no effort and also ones that will help me identify my character . It’s quite common for me to pick the name of an old friend or co-worker who fits the general description of the character in order for me to keep physical details straight – ditto with personality traits.

Okay – back to my work in progress…

In the aforementioned scene between Mike McMahon (the name of a guy I knew in high school) and Dave Steere (a close friend from college) I had originally intended their historic connection to involve a girl—so the scene was written with a girl whose affections the two had competed for in high school. Since the girl would play no significant role in the book I decided to use a name from my own high school days…that of a girl I knew for a short period of time, but whom I lost contact with thereafter.

Her name was Mary Ellen Henry.

She was an attractive girl with a big smile and the kind of laugh that makes you smile when you hear it. We met through a mutual friend (whose name will probably appear in a future novel) and we got along very well. I was a sophomore and for the entire year Mary Ellen and I were pretty close friends. After that year I never saw her again. I never knew what happened to her either…I suspected she moved away.

Back to the book…

After writing the scene where McMahon and Steere discuss their competition for Mary Ellen’s attention I moved on in the story. As the story progressed I realized that this struggle over a high school romance just wasn’t enough…so I went back, deleted the scene and rewrote it with something a little more intense.

In so doing, Mary Ellen Henry was removed from the story.

That was the day before yesterday (Tuesday, Nov 13).

Last night (Wednesday Nov. 14) I was writing and hanging out on facebook when I saw a post form another old friend from the neighborhood – I literally stopped and said “Holy shit” aloud when I read it.

He had posted the announcement of Mary Ellen Henry’s death.

I really wish this was one of those clever stories that writers love to create with Rod Serling-esque twists…but it isn’t.

It would be weird enough if that were the end of it…but if you read my last blog entry (My Next Book – I Hope it isn’t Dead to You) you remember that Unfinished Business is a bit of a Stephen King type story with the predominant theme of the book dealing with the final thoughts of the dead.

As I said in the beginning – I feel very strangely about this.

Sometimes things happen that you just can’t explain – and this is surely one of them.

Coincidence?

Most likely…but who am I to say?

I just write books…

As always – thank you for reading and Rest in Peace Mary Ellen

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My Next book – I Hope it isn’t Dead to You!

Greetings,

First of all, I would like to thank each and every one of you for the support you have shown me since Living the Dream was first released way back in 2009. From the very beginning, I have felt blessed that you liked my work and I truly appreciate it more than you know. (Pardon my “Sally Fields” moment there!)

Without planning to do so – I have created a “world” within Flagler Beach with a cast of characters enjoyed by many! Rest assured – that world is alive and well and will return in two future novels (Protect This! and Liquidated Damages – A Steve Salem Novel).

In the meantime I’d like to talk to you about my next book.

Unfinished Business (available in the summer of 2013) will be a slight departure from what you have come to expect.

The idea for the story came to me when I attended the funeral of a close friend’s mother. The funeral director happened to be another friend of mine and I was fascinated by the way she handled herself in the performance of such an undesirable task.

After the service I told her that if I could follow her around for a day I could easily come up with a book.

I never did get the chance to follow her, but I thought about it constantly for several weeks. Lo and behold, an idea came to me.

I started thinking about Meg (my friend the funeral director) and how she has to deal with the dead every day. Then I thought about the dead…regardless of their situation in life…regardless of the way they died and regardless of the type of person they were, they all had one thing in common…

They all left this world with something unfinished.

Their “To Do” list was cancelled before they got a chance to cross off that final item.

This led me to thinking…what if—(I love those two words)—what if Meg was responsible for finishing that last item on their list?

The more I pondered the idea, the more I liked it and the more potential I saw for a good story.

So I started writing it…

Unfortunately my writing was delayed by the release of  No Good Deed, Pump It Up and Backseat to Justice – so the book was not released in 2011 as I had originally planned.

So here we are – a full year after I thought Unfinished Business  would be out…and I have finally gotten back into it. I’m writing away full-steam-ahead and it is almost two-thirds complete. I anticipate the first draft to be finished before Christmas.

As I started to say earlier…Unfinished Business is different from my previous five novels. It’s a bit more serious (just a bit) and only has a brief cameo appearance by Ike and Ralph. It also deals with a somewhat “supernatural” topic.

Because it’s so different I actually considered releasing it under a pen-name (I was thinking of Ty Prider), but I don’t think I will. If you don’t like it – then I’ll know it isn’t my niche…and if you do it gives me one more genre to explore.

I’m asking you to give it a chance…I think you’ll like it

I hope you enjoy it, but either way you can rest assured that Ike, Brewski and the rest of the gang will be back to maintain order in Flagler Beach before you know it!

Here is a quick update…we are over halfway through the editing process, the cover is done – here it is for those who haven’t seen it yet…

Unfinished Business will be released in June, 2013

Unfinished Business will be released in June, 2013

 

The scheduled release date is June 30 – but there is a chance it may be available sooner.

As usual – thank you for reading.

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