Changes – III

I’m going through changes I’ve made in my books. Scenes and chapters either altered, deleted, or otherwise changed. Material changed for a better story.

Zeta

I may have discussed in previous blogs the changes I made to this story, which is currently in my editor’s hands. The birthing scene needed to be tweaked because even though I had the procedure correct (thanks to a doctor friend), I put in some incorrect dialogue. Not bad language incorrect, but the nurse would never have said what I had her say. Small change, but necessary to keep those-in-the-know from sending me nasty emails telling what a dolt I am.

The biggest change, of course, was adding in the second story that revolved around Darren. Once again, the first draft ended up with way too few words. In this book, there was plenty of opportunity to change things and add in story line.

I also changed the ending. Twice. It was too pat, too easy. The denouement went too smoothly. So, I added in the fight scene with enigmatic new character that returns in Omega. The chapter before the fight had to be changed a lot. I spent many days rewriting that scene. It’s the longest chapter in the book, but I think it works and sets up the fight scene very well. It also helps with how the story ends.

One small change involved the setting for a couple scenes. Just before I let the editor have it, I thought I’d ask a former cop about it. She told me NO, that the scene would never take place. It was an easy fix. I kept the same scene, just moved the location.

Omega

As I mentioned, I’m currently writing this story. As with Gamma, this takes place in a single day, and because of that, I ran into the problem of too few words. I came up with a partial solution, but I don’t think it’ll be quite enough. Again, I’m still writing, so I’ll have to wait until I finish the first draft to see how it all fits together. Then after reading to the critique groups, I’ll make more changes.

The problem in this story deals with time. There are two stories going on at the same time and each part of each story takes place after the previous part, many times almost immediately. For instance, Mallory, is running around town trying to beat the deadline given her by the bad guy. Once she completes one assignment, she given the next one right away. So I can’t add any scenes with her doing something else. There are chapters with her remembering previous adventures but those take place during her drive to the next assignment, so those work. Also during the drive, I can switch to the other protagonist’s story.

I have discovered that this second story takes up the majority of the words during the couple hours everything takes place. It’s just how it worked out. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. Once again, I’ll have to wait until I complete the first draft to see how it all looks.

Anyway, for the changes, I’ve added in more stuff that can happen between Mallory’s assignments done by other characters.

My other thought on this book was to have a bonus short story included. In this short story, tentatively entitled Lambda, I have Mallory in Little Rock during the week her taekwondo organization is having their annual week long event that includes workouts, business seminars, a rank advancement test and a tournament. This event actually happens. The American Taekwondo Association holds it World Expo every year. This year, the event will happen in Phoenix, because apparently someone thought it wasn’t hot enough in July in Little Rock. Lol. They’ll still have another event in Little Rock, but it will be in October.

Anyway, Mallory gets involved with a cheating scandal, has an adventure with the top man in her organization, and tests for her next black belt degree.

This story wasn’t difficult to write since I had it mentally outlined. While trying to figure out what to do with Omega, I wrote, then typed in the short story within a matter of days. It runs a couple hundred shy of 8,000 words and I thought it would be a nice bonus to what might be a novella for Omega. I don’t think I’ll make too many changes other than some minor editing.

Next week, I’ll finish up.

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Changes – II

I’m discussing changes I’ve made in my books. Usually changes from the first draft, but others, too. This week is devoted to Gamma.

Gamma

A few changes here, mainly in the form additional scenes after the main story had been finished and critiqued. This was a bit of a challenge since I needed to add some material to fill out the word count, but as I mentioned in another blog, not to make the additional scenes fluff or obvious filler. When I sat down to think about those extra scenes, I realized I had given myself the solution based on the first chapter. Mallory, while waiting for her boyfriend’s flight at the airport, watches a news broadcast regarding a couple of area crimes. I think early on, I had the intention of fitting those crimes into the story, but I ended up going in another direction. However, when the issue of extra material came about, I remembered those crimes.

Then I had to find places in the story to insert them. The problem with a story like Gamma and my current WIP, Omega, is that when action and scenes are one right after the other in regards to time, it’s difficult to add in stuff. For instance if one chapter lasts five minutes in real time and the next chapter picks up ten minutes later, it’s difficult to insert another chapter or action in those ten minutes. I’ll talk about Omega changes later, but wanted to reference it because it’s on a similar vein as Gamma in that the times the chapters take place are close together. These stories take place in one day so find the proper time for additional material took a bit of effort.

For Gamma, there was a bit of wiggle room. The only definite time Mallory had to be in a certain location 12:30, so I had to work scenes around that time. Basically, Mallory runs around town with a five year old boy escaping the bad guys while figuring out why the bad guys are after her. When you read it (book is due out soon), think about the fact I actually drove and walked most of the route to establish the time element for each portion.

Let me give an example. On the April day I traveled the route taken throughout the book, I had a writer friend help me. She provided me with an old military duffel bag and a 45 pound weight. She drove me to the airport (which is where the story begins), waited until I was set, then started the stopwatch. The opening scene has Mallory meeting the boy and right away making her escape with him in tow. Into the parking area, then running across the grounds and Fleur Drive to a convenience store. From there, she maneuvers her way through residential streets up to McKinley where she meets with someone with a car. I did that. With the weighted duffel. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy and took longer than I thought.

Anyway, back to changes. In Gamma, I found openings in the time line to add material. I added in a chase scene downtown. This scene also shows off some of Mallory’s taekwondo skills. After Mallory, the boy, and new friends they picked up get done at the zoo and before the (original) next chapter with them having a guitar playing contest, I added in one of the crimes I mentioned earlier. Another crime was added in after her appointment while waiting for Lawrence Darren to arrive. There is a bit of wait time that I could add in another scene.

It would have been difficult to add in that scene (set at the Comfort Inn on the north edge of downtown), if I hadn’t changed the scene before. Originally, I had the chapter take place at Raccoon River Park, because the park has a dog run. I didn’t know all the details at the time I decided to set the scene there. Mallory running across the grounds, bad guys chasing her, and having dogs involved. I was going to need time to think it all out.

However, around the time I was writing the story, I attended an arena football game at Wells Fargo. During the halftime show they had corgi races. People brought in their dogs and they had heats where the dogs ran from the end zone to about mid field. (Note: I questioned some of the dogs being actual corgis. I suspected they were mixed with another breed.) After I saw this, I thought it was a great venue for the scene. So I changed the chapter from being set in the park to Wells Fargo. Instead of corgis racing around, I had Miniature Pinscher races, since that’s the breed of dog Mallory picks up. I loved writing the scene and I hope you’ll enjoy it. It has a lot of humor and introduces a character I may have to bring back in a future story.

Next week, I’ll continue with more book changes.

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Changes – I

I was thinking about this topic because, in many areas, I don’t like change. Unfortunately, one of the biggest changes comes in employment and in mid January, I was given notification that, due to cost cutting, my company was terminating me. So, it’s brush up the resume, start the tediousness of online applications, and try to get over the mild but constant feeling of wanting to throw up.

I didn’t like the change back in 1990 when my parents moved. I enjoyed the small town of Danville, knowing it was home. I moved to Oskaloosa for a series of jobs and ended up moving to the Des Moines area. I am not liking the possibility of another move to another town.

Anyway, I want to switch from the depressing stuff and talk about changes in stories. How in my stories, I’ve had to make changes, adding material, deleting or altering scenes. Some of these changes are fine while some I’ve struggled with.

Alpha

Of course, I’ve mentioned in previous blogs about how the first draft of this story was a 40,000 word piece of garbage, so some pretty major changes had to be made. When the planned second story in the series was published first, I brought out that old manuscript, started from page one and rewrote all of it, keeping the major plot. Before it was first published in 2011, I made a few changes. The two I remember were adding a description of jonboat and softening up the scene when Mallory is assaulted outside the Val-Air ballroom. My editor from California didn’t know what a jonboat was and thought the assault was too graphic.

Beta

This took some years to write and rewrite. I don’t remember the rounds of rewrites before publication I remember I did have fun traveling around the Quad Cities looking at potential sites for scenes and and in material based on what I saw and the people I spoke with. One of the biggest changes made was, based on critique group comments, Mallory’s friend and office manager’s name was change from Jamie to Darren.

Of course, in both the above books and those that follow, I’ve changed the names of businesses where bad things happen in the scene or where I need to add a business that isn’t there in actuality.

Delta

The one change I remember with this story was adding in the scene where Mallory is informed that Kenneth has escaped. I liked that scene with her with her gun outside on a cold night wanting to go find Kenneth. One interesting note. When I was going through the an edited version, I discovered I had submitted a former version of the manuscript to the publisher which didn’t have that scene included. I had saved the revised manuscript elsewhere and forgot I hadn’t changed it on the one I had in my regular folder.

I’m going to make this a shorter post this week because the next book takes a bit more discussion.

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All That Jazz – III

Last week, I discussed three aspects of jazz and/or music in general.

1. How I like a good sax. (Especially that scratchy sax you might hear in a sixties coffee house with cigarette and marijuana smoke in the air, a soft drum in the back).

2. How musicians evolve throughout the years.

3. How, sometimes, the music starts sounding alike.

Books can have the same aspects, and yes, I’ve noticed that about my own books.

1. I’m not talking about a saxophone in the stories, but the books I read have something I like. That’s why I’ll get series. Miranda Bliss. Sparkle Abbey. Vince Flynn. Michael Slade. James Rollins. Steve Berry. Elaine Viets. Nancy Pickard (Met her once. She autographed a BUNCH of my books). Each of those series and others have that certain element that I enjoy. Whether that be the action and adventure, the kooky characters, the good gritty mystery, the unique characters that you can count on from book to book, that’s why I read them.

I’m hoping that fans of Mallory Petersen will continue to read them because they see something in those books that they can latch onto and enjoy.

2. Authors evolve throughout the years. Some branch out into other series, or change the flavor of one series. Some of the evolution is good, and other times, for me, it isn’t. Patricia Cornwell, for example. I enjoyed her early books. Then as characters grew up, and lives changed, the stories became more soap operas than focusing on the mysteries. I became lost in characters’ lives and depressions and wondered when we were going to get back to solving the murder.

Robert B. Parker moved from his Spenser novels to his Stone novels. I could get into those, especially after seeing Tom Selleck play the role on tv movies.

Many authors kept the same flavor throughout a series, even if they wrote other books. Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels. Yes, he evolved, but I think the evolution was slow enough (because after all, he wrote them over several decades but the characters never aged much), and rounded out the characters. Ollie Weeks, for instance. Some of the secondary characters found their time in the spotlight. Other than minor changes I could pick up an early novel and compare it with a later novel and they both would be in the same vein.

I’m hoping that the Mallory Petersen stories will evolve. I’m hoping that evolution will come in the form of better writing from me.

3. Some authors’ books can all start rolling into one with little change in the theme or flavor. Janet Evanovich comes to mind. Plum hasn’t aged in decades and that’s deliberate. Her on and off again relationships with Morelli and Ranger are the same as at the beginning. The stories, as they go along, are harder to pinpoint specifics about, because they’re all the same series of wins and losses chasing bail jumpers and blowing up cars. I’m not saying that’s necessarily bad and if that’s what the fans want, give it to them.

J.D. Robb is the same way. The Eve Dallas novels are formulaic and you can count on the same things every time. Dallas and Roarke (does he ever get a last name?) have sex at least twice. Peabody shows off her quirky fashion sense and lusty romantic side. Dallas is often confounded by babies and children and wondering what gift to get her husband and verbally spars with the butler. Both she and Roarke severely bend the rules on violation of privacy when they do their computer searches. Again, this is not bad if the fans continue to enjoy it. However, again, I’d find it difficult to say this …in Death novel had this particular murder as opposed to that …in Death story.

I have found my Mallory Petersen series have similar sounding aspects. In the soon to be released Gamma, I have Mallory running all over Des Moines trying to keep away from the bad guys. In Zeta which is at the editor, I have her running all over Burlington in search of a killer and/or his victims. In Omega, which I’m currently writing, I have a killer forcing Mallory to run all over town performing humiliating scenes. I have a niggling piece of the Mallory stories that I have to address and plan to do so in a future story…with her running all over town trying to avoid a bunch of assassins. See the ‘running’ theme here?

I’ve also found that Gamma, Omega, and the future story take place in a single day. Filling time in stories is a difficult thing to do and filling it with action with brief rest periods all in a day is easier than trying to space out the story over several days or weeks. This runs true for my Reznik/Selby series. The story takes place over a seven day time period but their compact, tight, each day filled with stuff that, I hope, is relevant to the main story or to the character development.

Think about the music you like. What are the qualities about it that make it enjoyable? How about the books you read? Do the authors evolve? Do the stories sound similar? Is that a good or bad thing?

Thanks for reading.

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All That Jazz – II

When making my list of jazz musicians to explore, I noted many in the Accuradio’s Saxophone sub-genre. Many of the artists I’ve collect play the sax. I enjoy that particular instrument in a jazz band. Boney James, Wynton Marsalis, Paul Hardcastle, Candy Dulfer. I added some older jazz musicians such as Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Clifford Brown. At the time of this writing, I’m listening to Gerry Mulligan. I branched out from only sax to what sounded good to me. Rick Braun, for instance.

I managed to get as many songs/albums I could find and am working my way through listening to them, culling some of the material that doesn’t appeal to me. As I mentioned last week, vocal jazz isn’t my cup of tea and many I’ve collected have vocals included. I delete those songs. Some of the songs fall into the category of harsh or grating as I also mentioned last week. They aren’t necessarily the Avant-Garde, but that particular song just doesn’t sound good to me.

I noticed three things about the musicians because they stayed around for decades. I think it’s true about many, if not all musicians who aren’t one hit wonders or don’t make it past a five or ten year run, that they evolve. Their styles change to either fit their age or the new generation of listeners. Yes, there are remakes of older songs, some good, some not, but think about any popular musician and look at how the style of songs changed.

Michael Jackson. He went from Beat It and Thriller to Black and White and Man in the Mirror. He moved into more social issue songs and away from the fun stuff. Madonna went from Like a Virgin to Papa Don’t Preach. The flavor of her music changed.

Thus it is with the jazz musicians. I really enjoy a lot of Miles Davis music…as long as it’s back in the fifties and sixties. I recognize So What almost immediately. However, I listened to a concert of his from the seventies and, sorry, he wasn’t playing jazz. Not sure what genre you’d classify it as, but it didn’t appeal to me. More in the line of just noise.

Some musicians have pretty good songs and then they’ll come out with something that is a bit off the rails. Candy Dulfer is good when she plays more jazz, but she gets a bit out there with some of her funk. Lily Was Here is great and I turn it up when I hear it.

The other thing I’ve noticed with jazz is that, like classical, sometimes the songs start sounding similar. I apologize to classical music listeners and aficionados, but most classical sounds the same to me. I couldn’t tell you a Bach from Shubert or Beethoven from…well, name another classical composer. My ear can’t tell the difference.

I’ve found that with many of the jazz artists. The above-mentioned Gerry Mulligan. Paul Hardcastle (okay except for his ventures into electronic experiments). For me, that’s not necessarily bad. There are songs I will recognize out of the mix. Brubeck’s Take Five for instance.

I mention this last bit because the I Heart Radio ‘smooth’ jazz stations play a lot of current jazz and while some of it’s okay, a lot of it sounds the same. I wish more stations played the stuff from about the seventies on back with a minor exception to Wynton Marsalis. His stuff from the eighties can stay. I just enjoy the older jazz.

So, again, you’re asking how does this relate to writing or reading? Let’s explore that next week.

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All That Jazz – I

I may have written in previous blogs how I listen to jazz when I write. I want to have a broader explanation on this and, I hope, end with several points, not necessarily listed, when I’m through.

I think it’s been only in the last six years, give or take, that I’ve started listening to jazz a lot. I still catch the latest Top 40, but when I’m working out or writing, I’m going through my downloaded collection of jazz. I think I started jazz while at the office, wanting something to listen to other than the quiet around me punctuated by sniffles and coughs and sneezes. Seriously, the floor is eerily quiet with occasional laughter and conversation. Anyway, I found some sites online that played music. Spotify. Accuradio. Pandora. I went through a lot of the audio short stories on Spotify, the classical, some of the stations. Spotify is fairly limited in ways. Pandora and Accuradio. Their liabilities is that they repeat material. Especially Pandora. I’m losing interest in it even at home. Plus, the app doesn’t want to work on my phone.

With Accuradio, I can listen to various sub-genres of music. Take a look at that site. Open any genre. Most of them have a couple score or more of sub-genres. Especially jazz. Pure Jazz. 20S, 30s, 40s, etc. Instrumental featuring trumpet, guitar, piano, etc. Many specific musicians. They’ve even separated out Smooth Jazz as its own genre with subs in that.

Then I found I-Heart-Radio and the jazz stations there. I will often play one of those stations at night to help me sleep. However, my opinion of what is ‘smooth’ is a bit different than what they play. Plus, I think some of what they play I don’t consider ‘real’ jazz. It’s more blues or a bit of funk, maybe what they term as fusion jazz. I know many of those songs have crossed over into the Top 40. Sade songs. Some of the seventies bands who played funk/pop have songs that the jazz stations play.

One of the sub-genres on Accuradio Jazz is Avant-Garde. As a graphic designer, that means a type font. In jazz, it’s music that is way out there on the fringe. I’ve listened to it a couple times and to me it’s just noise. Harsh, grating trumpets get played a lot. There’s no rhythm, melody, and it’s not anywhere near what I consider jazz.

What does this have to do with writing? Hold on, I’m just warming up. I’ll warn you, this takes three couple weeks.

Remember Kenny G? Songbird. That got on the Top 40. So did a few other jazz songs that crossed over. Much of what may be termed Old Standards (Sinatra, Martin, etc.) get played on jazz stations.

So, my two rules when listening to music while I write are: 1. No vocals. Even vocal jazz. Can’t listen to it. Can’t focus and concentrate if I’m listening to words people are singing. 2. It has to settle into the background. If it becomes irritating, I’m going to skip it. Hence, none of that Avant-Garde stuff.

When I got into Accuradio, I thought I might want to make a collection of some of the artists I enjoyed. I started making lists and trying to find more material by those artists. I’ve made quite a collection. I’m still working through them, weening out the stuff I don’t like and keeping the artists and music I do.

Next week, let’s continue down this road and I’ll start to tie in connections to writing and reading.

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Who Writes This Stuff – III

I enjoy when I start a blog post and more thoughts come to me that I can extend it to multiple weeks. Lol.

Anyway, last week I gave an example of a bad piece of writing where nothing made sense, was implausible (even with the topic of vampires) and I wanted to give one more example.

2. I reviewed a book with a woman who killed her parents and burned up the house and made a false accusation of rape. Later there was a bit of supernatural stuff that I didn’t understand. The memorable piece of writing that has stayed with me was when the cops were interviewing her after the murder and near the end of the questioning, one said, “Well, we have to ask this questions otherwise we’ll be fired.” The question basically was a hint that the woman herself committed the crime.

However, the statement made by a cop showed the author had absolutely no clue how cops speak, or interview victims/suspects/etc.

While I’ve put police into my Mallory Petersen stories, I’ve kept the scenes minimal. The scenes with Reznik questioning Mallory about the murders of her classmates in Delta (out on Amazon now!), and later in the book when she visits a crime scene, I asked for assistance from people to see if I’ve missed anything.

I’m currently reading Dum Blonde to my critique groups. When writing the story, I went as far as I could before I ran into pieces of information needed to make the story complete and be ‘real.’ So, I turned to one member of my Tuesday night group and requested her help. Why? She is a former cop. So is her husband. I don’t know how many times I called her and discussed various aspects of police work, protocol, equipment, and other aspects. This is the first story I’ve tried where it’s all police procedure and I wanted to make sure I had it correct. After I finish reading a chapter or three to both groups, I may tweak it a bit to catch some of the really rough areas, but afterward, I’ll send her the chapter(s). So far, I’m doing all right. She hasn’t come back with, “No way would they do this.” type of comments.

The next time you read a book, look to see if the writing seems logical, characters stay true, or is the writer ignoring certain obvious things (see last week’s mention of the candidate voting for a pay raise). Most of the books I read or listen to are fine. There have been several where I lose interest almost right away, but I’ve shook my head in dismay and frustration only on the books I’ve taken a chance on for review.

As a promotion to that book review blog, check out braytonsbookbuzz.wordpress.com. A new review goes up every Monday.

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Who Writes This Stuff – II

Last week I mentioned that I wasn’t going to get political and I want to continue that with a toe on the line, if you’ll allow it. I promise that I’ll make it relevant to writing and my books.

One of the radio ads I heard talked about how one of the candidates for Congress was bad because the person had voted four times to raise salary received. Four times!!! Can you imagine that. Taking your tax dollars for an increase in pay.

I had to laugh because, while there may be one out there, I don’t know of any member of Congress voting no on a pay increase. Did people really think the preferred candidate would not vote in favor of a pay increase?

Again, I refer to the title of this post. Who writes this stuff? The idea in the ad that it was bad for this person to vote yes on a pay increase and to give the implication that the other candidate wouldn’t didn’t make sense. It didn’t fit with the ‘character’ of a politician. And I mean this in the sense of a politician as a story character.

Authors have to write material that fits a certain character. Otherwise, readers won’t believe it, put down the book, and more importantly, tell other people how bad the story was. I have several examples, but let me highlight two.

1. For a short period, I edited books. I was given a few short stories to do, then was given a novel. I won’t mention the title or the author, but this book was simply bad. Bad writing, bad characters, bad physics, bad continuity, bad, bad, bad. It took place in a swamp either in Louisiana or Florida (the two main places for swamps, and yes, I know there are other states with swamps), so it was hot. But the next day it snowed so the characters had a snowball fight.

The characters were supposed to be cultured upper class vampires, yet they had discussions about eating PBJ sandwiches.

In one particular scene, one of the good vamps had been staked by a baddie vamp. In this world, the staking didn’t disintegrate the vamp, and apparently there was time to work on her to let her heal. The vamp’s friends drive home from the city (no mention how far away they lived) and call in a friendly priest (??), who also happens to have some medical experience. He gets the vamp up onto a kitchen counter island and takes gardening shears to cut open the rib cage and extract the barbed stake.

When I mention this ridiculous notion, the author came back with surgical instruments. Then I mentioned the fact that first, the heart is about the size of a person’s fist. So, imagine your average vamp killing stake. Now imagine it barbed like a fish hook so that one can’t just impale and smoothly withdraw it. The heart would be shredded, but this priest/doc carefully extracted the stake. Uh, not unless that stake is the size of a pencil.

Next week, let’s continue this with the second example.

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Who Writes This Stuff – I

I want to be straight from the start so that readers won’t think I’m heading into a political discussion I’m not going to do that in regards to which party is better than the other. What I’d like to do is discuss the political ads, both on television and radio and the political mailings we are overwhelmed with each election cycle. Again, I’m not going to discuss any particular side over another.

My focus is the scripts for the tv/radio ads and the words on the mailings. This post was written about a week before the November 3 election, and the previous night I was making a weekly call to my parents. Of course, we discussed politics and I mentioned that except for one radio ad, none of the ads I’ve seen or heard or read (and I didn’t but glance at the mailings, so I could be wrong here), were positive in nature. In fact, the only positive ad I heard had some negativity about the other candidate. Every other ads has been mud slinging, negative words. Not one came out and said, “This is why you should vote for this candidate because he/she will do…” and detail a list of things to be done. And I mean specific things. Not just the general issues, but specificity.

This got me thinking about who writes the scripts and the mailers. What I mean is, do these writers think that constant negativity is going to attract voters? Maybe they do. I’ve heard every cycle that negative works. But is it right, is it the way to go.

Think about books. If you read a story where the writing was a constant downer, without some hope for a better ending (even if that ending isn’t unicorns and rainbows), you wouldn’t enjoy the book. Authors hope to attract readers, hope readers will enjoy their books. For the escape, for entertainment, for a good story. So if I hear an ad or start to read a mailer that begins with, “Candidate X did a lot of rotten things or has awful ideas and let me tell you about them…” I tune out or throw it away without wanting to know how it ends. I’ve done that with books. If the book starts slow and continues slow, if it drags, if I don’t understand the story, or—heaven forbid—I’m bored, I’m going one with another book.

I didn’t use to be this way. I used to slog through books I didn’t really enjoy, because I had a weird sense of obligation. Not anymore. I have too many books to read to be bored. Let me give you an example. Years ago, I started reading a book to a friend who had eye problems when she read for long periods of time. We both enjoyed mysteries and I picked up what I thought was a nice little cozy with talking animals. I started reading and when we discovered the dead body didn’t appear until page 75, she said, “Do you really want to continue?” I said no and we went onto another book. I never read another book by that author.

Next week, I’ll discuss further.

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There’s No Place Like Home

no-place-like-homeAs I may have mentioned in previous blogs, Mallory lives on Ash Drive in Pleasant Hill. Ash Drive is a short street that curves around from Willow Drive off of and then back to North Hickory Boulevard. I have her living in a single story house second in line as Ash begins. I’ve always had her living there, but the location makes it convenient for her and a young boy she’s trying to protect to escape some bad guys. Behind her house is a stretch of ground and a berm that runs between two small bodies of water. The ground then rises to the back of the Pleasant Hill library which is in the same building as the police station. This escape scene is seen in Gamma (book release date soon).

In Delta (also to be released very soon) and the book in which I’m in the middle of rewrites (Zeta), I have several scenes within Mallory’s house. This forced me to envision a layout of the house. In Beta, I have a scene near the end that takes place in her garage which I saw as on the left side of the house. In the current books, I keep the garage, but haven’t had her park the car inside due to various circumstances.

What I had originally had in mind for a layout of the house was a front door about the middle of the house that goes into a small entrance and a coat closet. Then around a divider is a living room. Of course there is a bedroom and a kitchen but I didn’t have anything in mind as to location. Was there a door from the garage into the house? If so, into what room? Maybe a back kitchen?

This may still work, even though I have a slightly different arrangement in mind for Zeta. The front door and living room are still there, but I have a hall from the back left of the living room that goes to a bathroom and then to the main bedroom. The kitchen door beyond the right rear of the living room and then a small area for the washer/dryer and a rear exit.

However, that still leaves the right side of the house. May a storage room? Another bedroom? If the main bedroom is in the back left, then there wouldn’t logically be a door into the garage. If I switched the location of the kitchen and the bathroom/bedroom, that might work.

I’ve never considered what rooms lay on the right side of the house and so far, that hasn’t been a concern.

I do know that is a rental house, rented from Darren’s parents. This is explained in Omega, a book I’ve started, but haven’t gained much headway on due to my mindset on the story (maybe a blog for another time).

I see Mallory’s house a dusky blue with a window, maybe a covering over the front door, tree in the front yard. The backyard is compact because the land behind the row of houses is filled with a long line of trees before it blends into the backyards of the houses in the next street over.

I don’t want to go into too much detail about the residences of other characters in my books, but I’ll list a few where we have seen them or they’ve been referenced.

Harry Reznik: I write he lives in Johnston, but I may have my suburbs incorrect because I have him off Aurora between 56th and 86th. I have a specific house in mind, but would have to do some intense searching before I found it.

Darren: Saylorville

Edward Brougham: Unknown. Every time we see Brougham, he’s in his office at the Red Tomatoe which is located just north of the airport, on McKinley where the Perkins is. Years ago, there used to be a bar in that are before the huge Hy-vee complex came in. However, I’ve never had a scene with him at home.

Tafari Selby: Featured in the current story, Dum Blonde I’m reading to critique groups. He’s paired with Harry Reznik to solve a series of murders but they get caught up in an set of murders that may relate to Selby’s past. In the story I have Renzik visiting Selby’s house and I put it near Second and Franklin.

There are a couple other characters in Dumb Blonde, one Charis Boyle who lives in the Melbourne Apartments on Southeast 14th. Heidi Mark is also in the story, but I don’t have Reznik visiting her house until book 3 of the series.

In Zeta I have Mallory’s parents living in my old house in Danville.

Mallory visits Charles McGee’s house in Beta. He lives up on Broadway, but I’d have to drive the road to remember which house he’s in. In the same story, I have Mallory visit her old house in East Moline where she lived until the fifth grade.

One of the major characters, Lawrence Cameron, lives in the Quad Cities, but I haven’t given him a specific address.

Of course, there are minor character live somewhere, but they’re not involved (yet) enough to have me find an address for them.

Do you have a character you’re interested in? Let me know and I’ll see if I can get a home address. Lol.

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