Friday, September 19, 2014

FAQ: Always A Writer?

Frequently Asked Questions
From email: Always A Writer? 

In this week's episode of the Frequently Asked Questions series, I answer a question from a reader.

Did you always want to be a writer?

This is an interesting question. The simple answer is yes. And no.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

"The Major Leagues" Part 1

“It costs how much?”
Kimberly Booth, pretty, naturally blonde, with a small mole above her lip, sat in the lone visitor chair beside the exam table. The room was tiny anyway, overcrowded with a large counter and cupboard and an assortment of equipment, but it seemed to shrink. Her Coach knockoff purse was in her lap, and she gripped it with both hands. Dimly, in the back of her mind somewhere, she was aware of her artificial nails digging into the faux leather.
“Forty-five hundred a month,” the doctor repeated.
Doctor Rutger was tall and lanky. He had gray hair and thinly framed glasses. He was dressed like all doctors: expensive, tailored suit, shoes that cost more than most monthly mortgages, and a pristine white lab coat that seemed to insinuate he never got his hands dirty. He sat on the rolling stool with his legs crossed and his hands folded in his lap, very prim, very proper.
“It will make me better?” Sam asked, looking at the doctor with wide, expectant eyes.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

On The Road: Mount Rushmore National Memorial

On The Road: Mount Rushmore National Memorial

I've become something of a park service nut over the last few months. I visited my first national monument in March, and have been to more than twenty since then. These are some of the coolest places with some of the most interesting history. That being said, Mount Rushmore was the first time I was disappointed with the park service. For me, Rushmore was a huge bust.

I realize writing that puts me at risk for sounding decidedly un-patriotic, as Rushmore has become a national symbol of our country, our government, and everything that makes America great. I assure you nothing could be farther from the truth. I am very much a patriot. So let me explain. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review of Nelson DeMille's "Plum Island" (John Corey #1)

Review of Plum Island by Nelson DeMille

For years, I've seen Nelson DeMille's books on the shelves of bookstores as I've browsed. I've never tried any of them, for one reason or another. A few weeks ago I got an email from Audiobooks. They were running a buy one, get one promotion. I had a road trip coming up and didn't have any books on deck, so I perused the limited selection available through the promotion. Not much struck my fancy, so I decided to give Plum Island a try. 

So glad I did! The narrator is not the best or my favorite, but the story is good enough to overlook that. NYPD Detective John Corey is convalescing at his uncle's house in Long Island when two friends he's made there are found murdered. The police chief, no expert on serious crimes of any kind or murder in particular, calls on Corey to help with the investigation. The victims were two scientists working in the private government facility located on the highly secretive Plum Island, whom Corey had met and gotten to know over the months of his convalescence. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

On The Road: Wind Cave National Park

On The Road: Wind Cave National Park
I'm so excited to add South Dakota to my 
map! I'd actually been to South Dakota once before, when I was a kid. Literally the only thing I remember about it was the Corn Palace, which we stopped to visit. The Corn Palace is in Mitchell, South Dakota, in case you were wondering. 

This trip I had to leave my faithful sidekick, Jack, at home; he wasn't allowed in any of the parks I planned to visit. Instead, I spent most of the trip with my cousin who was visiting from Iowa. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Review of Lee Child's "Tripwire" (Jack Reacher #3)

Review of Tripwire by Lee Child

*May contain spoilers

This is the third installment in the Jack Reacher franchise, and I have to say I'm disappointed. Whatever ground may have been gained in the second book, this one was a slide backward.

The British vernacular is back. It doesn't fit a story about Americans set in America. And it's distracting. 

I also found the pacing to be poor. In some places, it's downright slow. Like, boring slow. Other times, there are flashes between love scenes with Reacher and horror scenes with the bad guy. Not that I'm expecting anything romantic from this story, but the switch between the two moods was hard to make as a reader, and they each overshadowed the other. I don't know if that was intentional on the part of the author, to highlight the dramatic contrast between the two, to make the horrible parts more horrible, but if felt like a bipolar roller coaster ride that made me slightly sick to my stomach and left a decidedly bad taste in my mouth. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Short Story: "The Major Leagues"

The Major Leagues

Special Short Story Publication

I really enjoy the contrast between good and evil. One of my favorite questions as an author is, "What makes a good person good?" Can a good person do a bad thing, or many bad things, and still be a good person? Conversely, what makes a bad person bad? If a bad person does a good thing, or many good things, is he or she still a bad person?

Someone once commented to me that she didn't like the way I'd handled Tyler Jay in the first book, The Trouble with Murder. She'd said, "I hate bad guys that make me feel sympathy for them." But that was exactly what I'd done with Tyler; he wasn't just a black and white bad guy. He was a criminal with deep and sincere emotions, emotions that redeemed him in the eyes of the reader. Perhaps not a complete redemption, but enough to cause conflict in the reader's opinion of him.