Mallory III

When Beta was originally published in 2009, I wanted to create some promotional material. Since Bogart’s version of Sam Spade is Mallory’s favorite character-she wears a similar trench coat and hat-I thought about putting a woman in his coat and hat. A little Photoshop work. I downloaded a picture of Bogie with a cigarette but I needed a woman to replace his face with. Since Mallory doesn’t smoke, but is into martial arts, I removed the cigarette and put in a pair of nunchucks. My sister agreed to let me use her as the face. The problem was, my sister isn’t blonde, so I had to lighten the hair. The book mark I created was okay, not the best, but it worked for the time. The bookmark below doesn’t show my sister in the image but the instructor I mention next.

Beta side 1

In addition, I tried my hand at creating a power point video to market the book. I don’t know how many weeks I spent learning how to do it, collecting the images, and putting it together. My sister wasn’t available for this of I enlisted the help of an instructor use used to live in Minnesota. Barrie B. was the blonde I was looking for. Pretty, though not the right height, but in the video it doesn’t matter. She had to borrow a uniform denoting the correct rank (Mallory is a Fourth Degree and Barrie was only a Second of Third at the time. There is a black stripe down the pants on Fourth Degrees.) She had pictures of her doing some self-defense techniques against an ‘attacker’. One of the things I had to be careful of was the name on the back of the uniform was showing in some of the pictures and it wasn’t Petersen. Again, the video is okay and I think it’s still out there somewhere on YouTube.

So, I’ve seen a lot of women who give me aspects of Mallory. Since I’ve been writing about Mallory, digging into her character, her emotions, driving by the house where I’ve placed her residence, I keep adding to her personality, her quirks, her likes and dislikes, and trying to be closer to her by being in contact with some of the women, like I said, who remind me of Mallory.

Of course, I take from many women I know in martial arts and put into Mallory. There’s a Senior Master in Minnesota, I mentioned in Alpha (not by name) who is the epitome of Mallory’s techniques and strength.

There is a woman who was in taekwondo some time ago. She had the height, the physique, and although a different hair color, had the attractive features and the inner strength I relate to Mallory.

There is a woman at my workplace who has the height, not the hair color, but the absolute beauty and fun loving nature I can envision for Mallory. She would be the perfect Mallory should I want to have another model for promotional material, albeit with a bit of hair color lightening. Unfortunately, it can never be, but that’s a different story for another time.

I see Mallory in all of them…and I have been attracted to each of them at one time or another. Maybe it’s my attraction to Mallory or my desire to see my creation in real life.

Maybe one day I’ll find her. In the meantime, I can dream and keep writing about her.

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Mallory II

When I was creating the Mallory character and beginning to write the first draft of Alpha, I spoke with a few private investigators to get a better understanding of the profession. My experience with PIs had been through movies and books and most of those aren’t anywhere near the truth. I learned that a lot of the time, the business is boring. Background checks, computer research, interrogation for attorneys. Some of them carry weapons, but it depends on the area and type of cases they’re involved with.

rosetta-slider-2I’ve attended a great writers conference called Killer Nashville (actually held in Franklin, TN.) and met a wonderful PI named Amy Drescher. During her seminar I learned a lot and we became friends. I was fascinated by all the technology she used. She didn’t relate any stories about her cases but she does take on cases where she has to be a spy of sorts, hide in the bushes and such to get the evidence needed.

I wanted Mallory to have serious cases which would be the feature story. To temper the drama, I wanted some humor. When Alpha begins, Mallory has been in the profession a number of years, learning and struggling, winning and losing. I may have to go back to some of her early years and ferret out when and why she started receiving the not so serious assignments. And accepting them. Finding lost animals. Following suspected cheaters. After a while, she became the go-to person for those kinds of cases. Part of the fun of writing is trying to think of new scenarios for the cheating spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend where the results for the cheaters and/or for Mallory turn into humorous situations. She enjoys the challenge and has fun even when the cases turn a bit silly.

I wanted her quirkiness to extend to other areas of her profession. Her office is in a two story building that used to be an art gallery. When the landlord scaled back to a first floor store, the two rooms upstairs remained empty. When Mallory was looking for a downtown office for her investigations business, she made friends with the elderly landlord and rented the space. The lobby where her assistant and friend Darren sits is not large, but tidy with a storage closet, file cabinet, computer desk, coat rack, and a chair for visitors. There is a bathroom where she and Darren installed a shower.

Her main office is the anomaly. It’s huge because it was the main upstairs part of the old gallery. Gilded woodwork on the walls, high ceilings, hardwood floor. High windows let in sunlight but I probably should put in windows lower so she can look out onto the city. Her desk and mini fridge and coatrack are the only items in the room. Visitors are always amazed at the space with this desk near the back of the room. The space does allow her to practice her taekwondo forms.

I think Darren, too, fits her lifestyle. She relies on him to not only do the job, but comfort, for a steady hold when things become stressful or overwhelming. He also provides some dry wit and gives her a bit of self-awareness of some of the goofy things that occur. He also frustrates her with his formality of calling her ma’am or Miss Petersen.

Mallory is strong, fit, attractive, loyal, kind, dedicated, funny, caring, cynical, and emotional.

Next week, I’ll discuss thoughts behind Mallory and the people who have influenced me in regard to her character and her stories.

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Characters: Mallory Petersen

mallory name tag

I know, you’re saying that it’s about time I get to the main character and tell my secrets, to reveal my inner thoughts and emotions and let you know how this woman has affected my life.

I’ve known Mallory Petersen since 1995. I’ve loved her, knelt before her beauty, beaten the crap out of her, and with Delta (soon to be published. Just wait.), I’ve taken her down to her lowest…at least until two books later when I take her further. Ha, but that’s in the future.

Wow, where to start. I’ve mentioned how, originally, my protagonist was supposed to be male and named Sam P. Peterson, and the reasons I changed the character. See previous Origins posts for details. When I set out to create the character, I did a character profile, even before I knew that was a good thing for an author to do. I thought it made sense to figure out what I wanted the character to be and put down some things to add so I wouldn’t forget or have continuity issues.

I knew I wanted Mallory to be a better me. A gorgeous, tall, blonde has always been my favorite type of woman. Not that there’s anything wrong with other types and I’ve seen some absolutely stunning brunettes and redheads. But blondes…

I wanted Mallory to be old enough to have some experience under her belt (black belt of course), but young enough to have some spunk and flair. Again, not that older women can’t have that aspect, but, well, I can’t give you some solid reasons, I just felt it was right decision to make her 28 at the beginning of Alpha and have her experience a birthday by the end.

She’s 6’ tall, blonde, blue eyes, fit, attractive with the curves in the right places. She doesn’t like coffee, but enjoys Dr Pepper. She drives a seventies Dodge Dart Swinger, the same kind my family used to own. She grew up in the house I lived in for much of my childhood in Danville. downloadShe graduated Danville High in a small class, like mine. She attended Iowa Wesleyan College (I know, it’s a university now, but it was still a college then), my alma mater. She enjoys the same type of foods as I do.

In junior high, she began taking martial arts classes from an instructor in Burlington. This was a little different than my martial arts beginning. I didn’t start until I was in my twenties. I wanted to make her fairly experienced so she’s a Fourth Degree and preparing to test for Fifth Degree at the next opportunity. Because of my organization’s requirements, I had to do reverse math to figure out when she’d have started. She was very proficient and it was her goal to open a taekwondo school. In school, she also uncovered a scheme by administrators to defraud the system. I haven’t written a story regarding that, but it’s an idea that could come up in the future.

Come back next week for more Mallory.

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Characters: Edward Brougham III

images copyBack in the middle nineties, when I was writing the first draft of Alpha, I had a silly notion that I’d have a lot of the last names of characters start with the same letter. When I came up with a sleazy drug lord to be a nemesis for Mallory, I named him Edward Brougham. Then to add more conceit, I added that he was the third generation of the same name.

During the rewrite in 2009, I changed a lot of the names, but kept Brougham. I thought is sound classy like the automobile. Wealthy. Powerful.

Brougham has been in every Mallory novel I’ve written. The two I’ve published and those that are waiting to be published. Wait, let me correct myself. I don’t think he’s in Delta, which would be the next book in the series. However, he shows up in the subsequent two.

Brougham is a narcotics distributor. He’s a bit taller than Mallory, dark hair, dark eyes, handsome in a quiet, subdued, suave manner. He runs his operation out of a bar called the Red Tomatoe. No, I didn’t misspell the word a’la Quayle, I deliberately did it that way. He has an office in the back and I see it as something similar to an interlude in a superhero comic book. There’s a dark office with the evil genius shown in a small pool of light with very little of the surroundings seen in vague shadows. Brougham has a couple bodyguards behind him, on either side of the desk and another guard at the door. A single desk with a light.

He has a complex network with several legitimate businesses around town. I put the Red Tomatoe on McKinley, just north of the airport, where currently a Perkins sits. Years ago, there was a bar in that general neighborhood. While waiting to pick up my parents to come back from a trip, I stopped at the bar, ordered a tomato juice, took out a notebook, and started writing. What I wrote was a short story, set in the bar. At the time, I was part of a writers critique group at Barnes and Noble and a few members had become friends. I gave the story idea and some of what I had written to one of the them and she added to the story. I finished out the story and gave it back to her for some reworking. She suggested a change (and years later she was okay with the original) and we had a story where, even now, I can’t tell her material from mine. It was a cool collaboration. I haven’t done anything with that short, but I might.

Anyway, back to Brougham. That bar became his headquarters and a location for several scenes with Mallory.

He drives a Cadillac Eldorado (yeah, I know, it should fit his name, right?), but the most interesting aspect about him is his relationship with Mallory. He is attracted to her (I mean, who wouldn’t be?), but, of course, the feeling is not reciprocal. Mallory despises illegal drugs and longs to put Brougham in prison. He and Mallory verbally spar whenever she needs information he has. In Beta, he sends her a get well gift while she’s recovering from a fight. In Alpha, she confronts him about two of his employees who attacked her. In Gamma, which is going through rewrites, there is an interesting change in their relationship. No, she doesn’t like him nor his operations, but…because of his affection for her, he knows she can be-somewhat-trusted to help her when she’s in trouble.

I’ve enjoyed writing Brougham and there’s a story lurking in the back of my mind where he is featured more..and might just receive his due.

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Characters: Harry Reznik

imagesWhen I started outlining Night Shadows, I had to do a bit of looking to find the right surname for the FBI agent. I had the first name, Lori, in mind, and after some looking at the list I use for most of the surnames I use, I found one that fit.

The name Harry Reznik just popped into my head. I don’t know where it came from, but it sounded good, it worked for me, so there he was. Then I had to create the character. I wanted someone who was opposite the reserved, calm Campisi.

Reznik is a homicide investigator with the Des Moines Police Department. He’s about 5’8”, brown hair/eyes. I’ve compared him to handsome Nick Nolte type of appearance. Not out of shape, but not lean and muscular.

He grew up in Burlington, IA and was part of that town’s police force for a few years before moving to Des Moines. While attending Iowa State University, he met his future wife, Misty. Their marriage was not liked by his in-laws. Misty’s parents did not like the fact that their daughter was marrying a police officer.

Harry and Misty never had any children, although in Night Shadows, Misty reveals that she’s pregnant. However, tragedy strikes and Misty. Falls victim to the incidents in the story. In the sequel, Night of Wine and Ghosts, her fate is revealed.

Reznik is cynical, does not like office politics, or semantics. He’s grumpy with a lot of the situations he finds himself in, but he muddles through. He’s loyal and a true friend even if he is against the idea of certain people being involved with stuff that is none of their business (i.e. Mallory Petersen in Alpha). He’s emotional and can be romantic, although it’s more a box of chocolate and roses with pizza than an elegant night out at a fancy French restaurant.

In Night Shadows, I delve into the background of Campisi. In the second story, Night of Wine and Ghosts, I dig into Reznik’s ancestry and do so by using a bit of my own personal history.

Illinois City is a dot on the map town about nine miles east of Muscatine. There’s not much to the town, but the area is where and ancestor of mine, another Stephen Brayton, was given a plot of land that eventually became a small town. My dad spent some of his childhood in a farmhouse  bit outside of town. An aunt lived also a mile or so outside of town for most of her life. My grandmother worked as a telephone operator in the town. Generations of Braytons are buried in the cemetery.

The best part of the area is one of my best memories. There was a house near the river, at the edge of the bluff below Illinois City that was in my family for a while. It used to be a stopover for stagecoach riders and steamboat passengers. In fact, part of the old stagecoach trail can still be seen although the house is long gone and the land around it is a hunters’ area and marshland set aside for ducks.

I loved that old house and thought it a perfect setting for a haunted house type story. Years before I started NOWAG, I wrote a scene, but didn’t know where to go with it. When the second story with Reznik and Campisi was being formed, I incorporated that scene and my family history into the story. Braytons became Rezniks and many scenes I have used, are based on real people in real situations (although they weren’t as scary or warped as I turn them into). In Night Shadows, Campisi has problems with amnesia. In NOWAG, it’s Reznik’s turn to forget something vitally important to the town and his sanity. Campisi is drawn into some memory loss, too, concerning an old case of hers. Wild, scary, sexually charged adventures ensue.

Reznik crosses series. He’s involved with Mallory Petersen and pairs with Campisi in the Night titled series. At the time of this posting, I’m putting him in a third series, paired with another homicide investigator that is similar to Campisi in his reserved and unemotional personality. Again, I wanted to contrast that with Harry’s. While I’m still working on the minutiae of the story, I think it will work and I have two other stories planned for Reznik and his ‘regular partner’. There are also other stories with him and Campisi forming in my mind, too.

Reznik definitely not a throwaway character. He enriches the lives and stories of Petersen, Campisi, and soon, another person’s.

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Characters: Lori Campisi

imagesFor those who purchased Night Shadows when it was an eBook with the now defunct Echelon Press, thank you. For those who didn’t…well, your loss. Lol.

I’m hoping to republish Night Shadows and its sequel, Night of Wine and Ghosts soon. Refer to the series of posts Origins for more details on those stories.

Anyway, I wanted to discuss one of the main characters in those stories, Lori Campisi. As mentioned in the Origins series, writing Night Shadows was relatively easy. I mean, that the story flowed rather smoothly with scenes and characters. Yes, as discussed, I had an issue with the climactic scene location, but otherwise it went well. I was very satisfied with it and critique groups gave positive feedback.

In Night Shadows, there are mysterious heinous murders leaving the corpses looking like boiled ham with bloody gouges and scrapes. Homicide investigator Harry Reznik is on the case. Enter soon after, Lori Campisi, FBI agent. Sparks fly and they’re not romantic.

Who is Campisi? What is her background? Well, that’s part of the mystery. I’ll try not to play spoiler, but let me reveal some bits about her life.

She was adopted and grew up in El Paso, TX. She attended the University of Texas with a degree in Criminology. During high school, she was a very reserved, quiet, but intelligent student, who didn’t go out for sports nor was she interested in the cliques and party crowds. Though an attractive brunette, she didn’t date and was interested in romantic relationships. Somewhere along the way, she developed an interest in the paranormal, occult, supernatural. This brought her to the attention of Nathaniel Pepperdine of the FBI who recruited her to be, first an agent, then as part of a special unit to investigate cases of the eerie and weird.

Yes, the FBI agent in this role is akin to the X-Files, but I took a bit of a different route. First, she’s not paired with another agent who doesn’t believe. That role belongs to Reznik. Let’s move away from the plot line and stay with Campisi.

The unique thing about her is that she is dealing with amnesia. She doesn’t remember anything before the day she ‘woke up’ on an El Paso street at age twelve. That incident affected her personality and her life. Throughout her years before she met Reznik, she struggled with trying to remember those early years. The case she and Reznik works, produces holes in her memory, and she starts to see images.

I enjoyed writing Campisi because she is a good foil for Reznik’s cynical attitude. She can be tough and stubborn. In the second book, she loosens up some and reveals some emotions that she’s kept inside…or is it something else that’s causing those emotions to surface?

I have my own mental image of what Campisi looks like beyond the brunette with dark eyes and attractive features, but I’ll keep that secret to myself.

Any idea what your Campisi looks like?

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Fitness Fun, Part III

So, what will I need to accomplish for my testing this July? What do I need to work on?form

  1. The form

Well, I’m practicing little things here and there, balance, better and a bit higher kicks. Reviewing the material, I’ve been practicing on for 12 years, continuing to improve on the techniques I’m doing well on.sparring

  1. Sparring

I would like more practice on this. Unfortunately, not having a sparring partner doesn’t help. I don’t get up to my instructor’s club to spar others enough times. I may have to work with my instructor who helps me in my club.boards

  1. Boards

Ooh, last year I missed passing the test due to multiple things, but the one that would have put me over the top was the board break. I’m doing multiple boards. A left knifehand strike, a right hammer fist, stepping forward to do a left angled hammer fist, then turning to do a right reverse side kick. Last year, I had the side kick board positioned incorrectly and when I turned, I missed. I broke on the second attempt, but that second try cost me a point. Again, I have trouble practicing due to lack of people to assist me, but I’m pretty confident otherwise. I missed one of the boards in October, but still passed.

  1. Fitness test

pushupsWell, here’s the one part of the test I don’t like and the reason I need to get more serious about working out. My organization has instituted a fitness test to accompany the regular testing. It’s gone through some changes in the past number of years. I think we’re on the third incarnation and it doesn’t seem to get any easier. In some respects, it does, but there are two areas that I’m not happy about.

  1. Remember the elbow problem I mentioned a couple weeks ago. Well, that comes into play with this. I do NOT like pushups. Never have because I never had the upper body strength to be able to do them consistently. The previous version of the fit test had pushups, but they could be done by going all the way to the floor, raising the hands, then pushing back up. I liked that way because my arms were allowed an instant’s rest and that’s all I needed. Now, they’re back to the regular way. I earn a certain number of points by how well I do with each part of the fit test and to get the full points for the pushups, I have to do 35 in a minute. So, I will follow the advice I heard years ago: The way to do more pushups is to do more pushups. I don’t think there’s another way, do you?
  2. Holding a pushup position on the forearms, hands flat on the floor…for 2:21. I’m not sure how long I was able to hold a plank before this requirement came along, but now I’m struggling. The longest I’ve gone as of this writing is 1:37.

The other parts of the test are a combination of kicks and punches in a routine. I’m not overly worried about those parts, but I will practice them.

To help me chart my progress, I’ve written the results of the pushups and plank time on a calendar.

Another thing I’ve done is join a weight loss challenge at work. I have done these before and failed. This time, I’m determined to succeed. Maybe not win, but succeed. The program started January 9 and runs until April 10. I have a spreadsheet which will list the opening weight and chart by percentage, how much I’ve lost. I email the weekly percentage to the facilitator every Wednesday.

Once warm weather arrives, I’ll be back outside. I’d like to get in a little biking this year, too. The bicycle sat in my living all last year.

There you go. Let’s get fit!

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Fitness Fun, Part II

runningBefore I moved to Carlisle, I lived in a campground for a summer while working in Keokuk. I didn’t get a chance to continue the WXF, but I did do some running. When I moved to Carlisle, I restarted the WXF routines and began posting my victories. I thought it would help me stay true to myself if I was sharing my results with others. Even when I don’t ‘win’, I still get a good workout and sweat, which is the whole goal. By the time this blog is posted, I’ll have completed my goal of reaching Recommended Black Belt and be on the way to full black. The routines have become familiar and I try to squeeze in the workouts whenever I can with my busy evening schedule. I used to get up early in the morning to do them, but soon switched over to running in the mornings, which I enjoyed better. Plus, running took me outside in the early mornings when nobody else was around. I really loved jogging around the high school track in the early hours, watching the sun tinge the sky, or picking a direction and jogging until the alarm I set went off. Sometimes, on a weekend or a free weekday evening, before my schedule changed, I’d come home and go for a run.

One of the challenges was running out of town, making a loop on some back roads. There are two routes I have used. The first was going north of town, going through the small town of Avon Lake, and coming back to Highway 5 via a gravel road. That one is a challenge if I’m going counter clockwise, because the end of the run is uphill. One day, I’ll go all the way to the freeway and come back. The second route is taking the road east of downtown out into the country. The road branches off over a small river, but each ends on Highway 5. I’ve done the shorter route a number of times, including once on a humid day where I ended up walking a fair amount. One day I want to do the longer route.

One of the conveniences of where I live is I am across the street from the football field/track at the high school. I’ve seen other morning joggers during the summer and I go up there a lot to work on my taekwondo techniques. Sometimes, I’m there when football, soccer, or track practices are happening and I stay out of there way, but it’s interesting to watch them while I’m working out.

So, the new year is behind us, but I still made a resolution of sorts, to get even more serious on fitness, weight loss, exercise, and taekwondo workouts. I made this goal to get more of each not because of some self-improvement resolution, but because of a long term goal that is about four months away. Thursday, July 11, 7 am (egads not another early morning!) I’m planning on testing for 6th Degree Black Belt down in Little Rock. It’s part of a weeklong World’s Expo, which I attended last year. Last July, I was trying to finish up my midterm testings, but fell short by one point. I had to wait until October to complete them.

What do I have to be concerned with this year? Let’s discuss next week.

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Fitness Fun, Part I

martial artsI want to take a break from writing related posts to talk about fitness. My fitness.

Whenever I attend author events to sell books, I always have a clipboard for people to sign up to receive regular/irregular newsletters (read: emails, at least for the time being) updating everyone on upcoming events, the progress on Works in Progress, and how I’m coming along with my fitness regimen as it related to taekwondo and my own workouts.

By the way, if you would like to be included in the list of newsletter recipients, drop me an email and I’ll put you on the list. I try to write every month, but many times it turns into once every other month. I want to be more regular…er, I want to send out updates more often and I’m trying.

Let me delve into my past. I never was a sports fan, in that I didn’t get involved with too many sports in school. Track in junior high with my favorite teacher (who used to play for the Redskins), and track as a high school freshman. I went out for basketball as a junior…for three days. After the first practice, my legs hurt for three days after and I quit. Football was out of the question due to the facts that I wasn’t big enough and an issue with my right elbow that would have hampered my ability. I didn’t go out for any sports in college.

When I moved to Kewanee after college to work at a radio station, I made the typical New Year’s resolution to exercise. So, January 1, I was up at 7am, donned some warm clothes and went running. For about 15 minutes. I was cold, out of breath and tired. I think I went back to bed. I may have tried again the next morning, but the resolution-as so many do-died a quick death.

I’ve mentioned how I started taekwondo when I moved to Oskaloosa, so I won’t go too much into that. However, throughout the years I’ve been on one regimen or another. From joining The Y and lifting weights to some running. Nothing really stuck. I attended taekwondo camps and workouts and always enjoyed them, survived them, but was always exhausted afterward.

I joined a program called WarriorXFit while in Oskaloosa. Those who follow my Facebook/Twitter feeds will have seen posts counting down my victories until the next rank. What’s been the case is that during the winter/cold months, when I’m not able to go running, I do the WXF routines. When I was working nights, I would go up to the club in Oskaloosa after my shift and do my exercises before I went to sleep during the day. Sometimes, a friend would be there to help count the reps, but many times I did it alone. I did do some running around town but nothing regular.

Next week, I’ll continue with more fitness fun.

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Characters: Willy Washington

images copyWhen I was writing Beta, I thought about the different characters I wanted Mallory to be involved with. Throughout her time in Des Moines, I figured Mallory would run across all kinds of people and some of them might become friends and/or contacts who would pass along information to help her on some of her cases. Her own confidential informant.

Thus, was conceived Willy Washington, a young black man, who through a chance meeting, became both a friend and informant.

Willy grew up in a single parent family. Her mother raised him as best she could, but his environment turned him to try a life of crime. His first foray was auto theft and the car he chose was a certain Dodge Dart Swinger. Mallory interrupted the theft, and while she didn’t proceed to inflict serious injury, she did persuade him to give up on the path down which he was starting. She helped him find a job and keeps inviting him to her taekwondo classes. She is sure he would make a good example of perseverance and personal victory. Because of his environment, he stays on the fringes of crime, hence, he is able to provide Mallory with information that might help her on certain cases. In Beta, he provided her the first lead to finding the kidnapped girl. In Alpha, he was instrumental in introducing Mallory to a gang that helped her and the police with the investigation.

Though I didn’t do a complete character outline on Willy, I see him as twenty years old, standing at a short 4’9”. Dark skin, smooth head, and while not obese, a bit overweight. However, that doesn’t mean he’s not fit, just carrying a few extra pounds.

The most distinguishing aspect about Willy is his voice. He is a very high tenor. I have joked that his mother inhaled helium while pregnant and the effect the gas has on the vocal chords stuck with the fetus. He also speaks without clear enunciation on many words. ‘There’ becomes ‘der’. ‘They’ is ‘dey’. ‘The’ is ‘da’. Many times, he will leave off the ‘ing’ on words.

This type of speech is difficult to understand and about as difficult to write. I try to match dialogue and speech style to the characters, so to write Willy’s dialogue, I have to use a bit of phonetic spelling. The problem comes when it’s too much. The reader may get turned off or stop trying to figure out the words, so I keep his conversations short or give him a moment of clarity in his speaking.

I wondered for a time whether I was putting a racial stereotype upon Willy. However, in my critique groups, I didn’t receive any negative feedback regarding his characterization and no fan comments have mentioned him.

Willy was a side character in both Alpha and Beta, but hasn’t appeared in future stories. Not that I don’t like Willy’s character any longer, but the types of cases in which Mallory gets involved, there isn’t an opportunity for Willy to appear.

He still is part of Mallory’s world and I’m sure he’ll show up again.

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