I'm a writer. There, I've admitted it. I wonder if there's a 12-Step program for folks like me...

Most of this blog will be about writing for a living. Or maybe about trying to earn a living as a writer. Or maybe about trying to have a life while you write.

And maybe I'll be able to avoid the driving temptation to write about politics. But I'm not very good around temptation, so all I can promise is that I'll try to avoid writing about politics.

But I will write about the software I use, and the software I try out, and what I think about it. I actually spent lots of years in software testing - as a tester and as a manager of testing departments. I actually started work in software development in 1971, so I have a bit of experience with computers to back up what I have to say on this subject.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

On Editing and Rewriting


Editing is a job which is best done by somebody other than the writer. And that somebody should not be one of the writer’s best friends. Unless, of course, the writer finds an editor first and then, recognizing the value of a great editor, quickly becomes a best friend. Which is a very good plan, seeing that a great editor makes for a great writer.

But rewriting is a chromatically variant equine entirely. Rewriting is what a writer does to improve the flow of a tale. Rewriting is just about 90% of the work involved in turning a decent story into a damn fine novel/short story/whatever. The other 10% is made up of equal parts of creative writing and good editing.

Rewriting is essentially re-phrasing. In many cases, the first draught of a manuscript is loaded down with fumble-fingered attempts at getting the author’s thoughts onto paper at any cost. The result is probably quite far from being ready for prime time; the resulting manuscript might well be riddled with incoherent, rambling attempts at scene description and poor if not downright non-existent character development and way too much ‘tell’ and little or no ‘show’.

That is not something you want to submit to an editor. That is probably something you would not want your psychiatrist to see, either. Or even your mother.

I write in layers, and in most cases what I described above is exactly the way my manuscripts look when I first complete them. Well, at least that is the way each chapter or scene looks when I finish it. Ant that is perfectly okay – as long as you, the author, recognize that as the first stage in producing a workable manuscript. Workable, meaning a manuscript that will one day be plenty good enough to pass on to an editor for mark-up.

Good writing IS Rewriting

There is no other way to explain this. Creative writing is a myth. Creative writing is done in the mind. What goes down on paper, boys and girls, is just plain hard work (not as hard as digging ditches or picking cotton – I’ve done both). Rewriting is a process, and it really does make up the majority of the time any author will invest in a manuscript. It has to, or you will never have a marketable novel.

Much of the first layer I produce will be narrative, with little in the way of dialogue, scene description or character development. That first layer allows me to lay out each major scene I will need to slowly expose the plot and introduce major characters in the tale I want to tell.

I suppose that now would be a good time to explain that all of my novels stem from a photograph; a single photograph of an instant in time. As any viewer of a photo, I have no idea who the characters are (if anyone is even in the photo), where they came from, what occurred just before the photo was taken or what happened to those people (if any were in the photo) afterward.

It can be somewhat confusing to explain, but the essence is clear; what story surrounds that photo in time?

That’s enough of a digression. Let’s get back to the second layer I mentioned earlier. After rereading the first run-through of the MS, the author knows what has to be done in each scene to clarify his or her thoughts about the progress of the story. The goal in the second layer is to expand scene description, provide just enough scene and character description to allow the reader to build an image of place, time and weather and just enough description of the characters to place them  in the scene. Dialogue is added or trimmed to provide information to the reader both to move the plot along and describe the characters through their speech patterns.

Narrative is added where necessary, but narrative is always problematic; it slows the pace of the story. And sometimes that can be a very good thing. I know of one author who favors short choppy dialogue with little or no narrative to create a full-length, fast-paced novel. I quit reading his work a long time ago because I couldn’t stand that pace any more. It just got plain boring.

So break it up; give your readers time to relax every now and then. Life, as you may have noticed (if you pay attention to such things) does not always run at full speed ahead. There always seems to be a bit of time to relax and unwind. So give your characters time to relax, as well. Your readers will appreciate it.

“Show, don’t Tell”

If you haven't heard that little axiom before, you must be a very new writer. Use dialogue and narrative both to show your characters doing things. Don’t ‘tell’ a tale. That is boring beyond belief. Readers want to read about people, and they couldn’t care one way or the other about plots, or, for that matter, how clever the author is about plotting.

Don’t describe a character when you can introduce enough information about him or her through dialogue or action so the reader can build his or her own image of that character.

That and a lot more is applied in the second layer of a manuscript. That second layer is where I really begin to tell the story and set the pace of the novel. Most of the scenes should be in place and at least blocked-out 9by narrative, at least) at the end of the second run-through.

The third layer (or if you prefer the third time I work through a manuscript) is all about polishing and smoothing out the rough spots.

By the time I have worked through the third layer, I pretty much have a complete manuscript. All of the scenes, if they are not complete are at least present, all of the detail is laid out (if not clear to the reader) and the pace of the story is set in stone. All of the dates and times for the scenes are fixed, so I know when, where and pretty much why things have to occur.

As far as I am concerned, the story is done. Which is when I pick up the phone and call my  Beta readers and ask them – very nicely – what they’re doing for the net month or so of their lives.

By the time I get marked-up copies of the manuscript back from my beta readers and get their comments and edits into the manuscript it is ready for an editor to look at. Note I mentioned both comments and edits from the beta readers. Comments can range from “You had so-and-so start that trip in a tan Lexus, but when he got the hotel in Miami he was back in his tan Suburban.” Big oopsie there, good buddy, to “Sheila was first described as a blond but in this scene she’s a  brunette.”  That’s called continuity, or a lack thereof. Lacking continuity in a tale is the mark of a  busy writer. Allowing it to get into the finished/published novel is the mark of an idiot.

Not every literate person in the whole wide world is good at checking continuity. And since the author is the last person who is qualified to check his or her own work, finding someone who can do this consistently is critical. Especially important is to find someone you don’t have to pay $750.00 per run-through of your manuscript.

Beta readers are also very good at finding editing issues. But they will not find all of them, by any means. Only a professional editor can do that for you (well, pretty much, anyway). Good beta readers bring out the very best in a manuscript and make publishers and professional editors look upon you with a  warm glow in their hearts.

Why? Because they know that you are going to bring them a well-prepared manuscript and that you are a professional writer who values constructive criticism. They know that you bring them a well-prepared manuscript they can turn into a marketable product without having to put up with some damn incompetent prima-donna who thinks every word he or she ever wrote is absolutely perfect right where it is.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Another scene from “Lonesome Cove” for you

All of the scenes from “Lonesome Cove” I publish now are obviously meant to provoke a mad rush to purchase the novel when it comes out for the Kindle in April and later in the fall in paperback. But with that said, I also hope to gain some comments from my readers… so pretty please with sugar on, please do send me some comments, if only to encourage me to publish a few more scenes.

This is actually the second scene in LC, and sets up the scene I published in my previous post:

Cathy was off to work at six on Monday morning. Spike and I slept in; I was going to drive down to speak with Gianni Lupo at his home on Sanibel Island in the afternoon. Lupo owned a four bedroom, three-bath place right at the beach line, off Gulf Pines Lane.

The home was built in the 1950’s, and enclosed by a light green, six foot tall breezeblock wall, with a wrought iron electric gate. A smaller gate in the middle of the seaward wall gave access to the beach. The plot was a generous half-acre in size, with nice landscaping installed by the original owner who was somebody in the movies during the 1940’s.

Lupo had an elderly Austrian couple living on the grounds. The husband took care of the maintenance and grounds while the wife did the cooking and housekeeping. Things got done slowly but well, and that’s all that mattered to Gianni Lupo. Banana trees, Bird-of-Paradise, ferns, palms on an artificial mound in a sunny spot on the side of the house, and a few night blooming jasmine surrounded the home and dotted the grounds. The rear of the property held two large old spreading oaks to provide shade in the heat of the day.

Lupo purchased the property in the early 1980’s and hired the Austrians to take care of the place. Two years later he was arrested, tried and found guilty in a Miami court on two counts of murder for hire. Only a plea bargain and testimony against his bosses in the mob kept him off death row. The plea bargain also allowed him to keep his property and the money in his bank account, but this was never made public.

One o’clock in the afternoon saw me on the causeway to Sanibel, which meant that I should be just in time for lunch. The request for a meeting was not unusual with new clients, but I will admit that I was more than a little wary. I put those feelings down to my knowledge of the man’s background as a Mob enforcer.

My life in law enforcement carried with it a certain repugnance to take on the responsibility for protecting such a man, but it meant easy work for my teams, and the income wouldn’t hurt my bottom line. But recent experience with a few of my “High Visibility” clients put me on edge.

Sanibel Island is a great place to live and to visit, but it does have a few drawbacks for the residents. During the winter months the population of Sanibel jumps from six thousand to over twenty thousand. Getting around on the island can be trying when the tourists are in town. Public parking is expensive, but that only matters if you can find a place to park.

Once on the island I stayed on Periwinkle Way until it turned into the Sanibel-Captiva road. Another few minutes saw me turning left onto Gulf Pines drive and the short trip to Lupo’s front gate. A quick call to Steve Bennett, the site manager in the house, let him know I was approaching the gate.

One of the many benefits to living in a place like Sanibel Island is the weather. Even during the winter months the temperature during the day can climb into the high seventies, and it rarely drops below the fifties at night. Lupo chose to eat his mid-day meal on his rear patio, surrounded by greenery, with a pleasant sea breeze ruffling the palms.

He stood to greet me as I walked through the living room and stepped onto the patio. Lupo was a small man; not much over five feet, and thin, with gray hair cut short and a fringe of mustache on his lip. He was still pale from his many years behind bars. Despite the warm weather he was wearing socks with his sandals, khaki slacks, and a long sleeved white shirt under a light tan jacket.

Blackened grouper, Louisiana dirty rice, a garden salad sprinkled with Gorgonzola cheese and ice cold beer made for a pleasant lunch. We stayed away from any business and simply chatted, sharing pleasantries while we ate. Two of the three guards on duty patrolled the grounds while the third stayed on the patio behind the client.

“I was sorry to hear that your manager was murdered, Mr. Rankin,” Lupo said. “Mr. Weeks struck me as a very competent man.”

During my last lunch with Charley Weeks before his murder, we had discussed the contract proposal with Gianni Lupo. I told Charley go ahead with the deal, assuming the old mobster would want to live out the remainder of his life in peace and quiet. Charley was shot and killed later that day.

He must have read my mind, because he said, “I hope they go away for a very long time.”

“Thank you, Mr. Lupo. So what can I do for you?” The housekeeper came out with the coffee service, and both Lupo and I accepted cups.

“My granddaughter, Nicola Gianuzzi. I haven’t seen her since I was sent away. She was only twelve years old, then. I got letters from her while I was in prison. I still have them. Her mama, my daughter Rosa, kept me up to date on what Nikki was doing. When she reached eighteen, she joined the army.

“She had some skill they wanted, I don’t know what. Languages, maybe, or something to do with computers. They offered her a full scholarship, and she jumped at it. I told her mama I could pay Nikki’s college fees, but the girl refused to take it; I never learned why. Maybe she just wanted to do things her way. Young people are like that today.”

That was all very interesting, but it didn’t answer my question. So I repeated it. “So what do you need from me?”

“I got a call from Nikki on Thursday morning of the week I was released from prison. She was in Miami, and just called to say she was driving up to see me.” The bleak look on his face told me everything I needed to know. “She never got here, and I haven’t heard from her since that call. Find out what happened to my granddaughter, Mr. Rankin. My wife, Isabella, died of cancer three years after I was sent up. My daughter and her husband, Angelo, died in a car accident while I was behind bars. That girl is all the family I have left.”

Lupo’s words struck a chord in me, but I was hesitant to take on his request. Call me gun shy if you want; I am, and with good reason. “When and where did that accident happen, Mr. Lupo?

“December twenty-third, in 2000. Nikki was already in the army. Rosa and her husband were living in Trenton, and were driving to his family home in Queens for the holidays. They hit a patch of ice on the freeway.”

“Do you have an address for your granddaughter, Mr. Lupo, or a phone number?”

He dropped his head; his voice got small and quiet. He gave me the phone number, which went into the notes I was taking. He continued, “I tried calling her back later that night. I was worried she might have gotten lost, or maybe her car broke down somewhere. I’ve tried her number nearly every day since. For the first few days her phone went to voice mail and after that all I got was an out of service message. I never had an address for her.”

I wondered about that last. “When did you write her last? What address did you use?”

“She has a post office box in Miami. I never had an address for her,” he replied.

“Where was she working, then? You could call her employer, see what they know.”

“She’s still in the Army, but she never told me where she was stationed. I don’t know what she does, Mr. Rankin.”

“Have you tried the Armed Forces Locator? Maybe she was put on an emergency deployment and sent overseas?”

I was starting to wonder about this girl. Girl? His granddaughter was thirty-seven years old. She’d been in the Army for thirteen years now, doing something the old man knew nothing about. Hell, he didn’t even know where she lived. “Do you have a recent photograph of her?”

He shook his head. “No, just a few baby pictures her mama sent me.”

“Where was she born?”

“Trenton, New Jersey, or maybe in Queens, New York. I think Rosa and Angelo were living in Trenton then, but I can’t be sure.”

“Have you reported her missing? Did you call the cops in Miami?”

“The sergeant I spoke to in the Dade County police said she was a grown woman so I would have to wait forty-eight hours before I could report her as a missing person. If I haven’t heard from her in that time they’d send a patrol car around to her house or apartment.” He paused for a second and then added, “But I don’t got an address for her.”

Gianni Lupo wasn’t exactly a wellspring of information about his granddaughter. “I’ll look into this, but I have to bill you for the time and expenses. No promises, Mr. Lupo.”

“I understand,” he said. “Anything is better than not knowing.”

We stood and shook again. Then I left for the trip back to Clearwater. It was close to seven and growing dark before I got back to the marina. Normally, Sanibel is about a three and half hour drive from Clearwater, but I hit rush hour traffic when I got to the causeway to the mainland at the outskirts of Ft. Meyers, and in Tampa; the entire trip home was a nightmare.

It put me in a foul mood. Everything about the day put me in a foul mood. Right as I slipped the Suburban into my parking place near the marina office my cell phone rang.

“Yeah,” I said, none too happily. When my cell rings it can only mean more problems.

“What’s your problem, Rankin?” Cathy asked sharply.

“Sorry. Hope your day was better than mine. I should never have gone to Sanibel in the first place. Traffic was lousy the whole way back to the marina.”

“Poor baby,” she said as I got out and slammed the door to the Suburban. “What did Lupo want?”

“He wants me to find his granddaughter.” I was walking down to the dock, talking with Cathy and trying to slip my sunglasses into my jacket pocket at the same time. I managed it, somehow.

“Why does this sound so familiar?”

“Because it is. The story is much different, though. She’s in the Army; been in the army nearly twelve years. She called the day she planned to drive up to visit him the week he was released. Only she never got there.” Then I changed the subject. “Where are you?”

“At my dad’s. He’s got some old family friends over, and I’m cooking dinner. Want to come?”

Frankly, no, I don’t. “Sorry, I can’t. It’s the start of the week and I’ve still got to touch base with Cecelia and Tommy.” I had no intention of calling Cecelia or Tommy. I guess you’d call that a white lie.

She laughed. “And feed the cat and maybe trim your toenails, blah, blah, blah. I didn’t think you would. I’ll see you later tonight. Maybe you’ll work your way out of that lousy mood by then.”

Spike was waiting for me as I stepped aboard, wrapping himself around my ankles as I made my slow way to the accommodations hatch. I slipped the cell phone into my jacket pocket, got the hatch unlocked and damn near tripped over Spike as he slipped between my feet on his way into the galley.

I managed not to curse at him, barely.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Free Download of “Twisted Key” for your Kindle


I’m working now to promote my novels to new readers before I release “Lonesome Cove” for the Kindle some time around the middle of April.

To do that, I am giving away copies of “Twisted Key” to everyone who owns a Kindle (provided they hear about the giveaway, of course). Here are the details:

My third novel, "Twisted Key", will be available for Free downloading to your Kindle for two days only on April 7th and 8th.


Be sure to let your friends who own Kindles know about this!

Here's a link to the product page on Amazon:


When you do go to download the file, be sure to verify that the Kindle price is $0.00!

And here's a short blurb about the story:

Terry Rankin has a new client; Fatima al Natsche, a Muslim woman living under a sentence of death for her work on behalf of women suffering under Islamic law. Terry’s a businessman – he’ll protect just about anyone who can pay the freight.

In fact, he admires Ms. Al Natsche and the sacrifices she’s made to get her message out.

But then her daughter flies over from Norway and gets snatched off the street in front of her mother’s home, and all of the masks come off and all of the dirty little secrets come out to play in the Florida sun.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Here’s a short scene from the soon-to-be-released novel, “Lonesome Cove”


This scene is from the first few chapters, where my intrepid if somewhat clueless main character, Terry Rankin, is just beginning his search for the granddaughter of a forcibly retired (meaning, he’s been in prison for the last twenty-five years) hit man for the Italian Mob in Miami. I hope to have it available for the Kindle some time in April. Right now the MS is in the hands of my publisher; I’m waiting for it, too…


A karate school, FedEx and UPS offices, hair cuttery, grocery store, several banks, a large gas station, a few boutiques, a dentist; a gold mine, in fact. Nikki’s car had been seen in the shopping center, which meant she either lived or worked in the area. Somebody knew something about her.

Roxie’s Hair Cuttery was on the left wing of the shopping center. They weren’t doing much business, and I needed a haircut. An older black woman escorted me to a chair and got right to work. “You got a fine head of hair,” she said. “I just love black curly hair.”

I laughed. “All I do is wash it.”

“Well, whatever you’re using on it is working. Nice and thick, too,” she said as she snipped and trimmed.

“Tell me, I’ve seen a real pretty bronze Corvette here a few times. I dinged the driver’s side rear panel a few weeks ago. I couldn’t find the owner, so I left a message on the windshield with my name and number. Those fiberglass bodies are a bear to fix, but the owner never called me about it. Have you ever seen him in here?”

She laughed a deep, rich laugh. “Her. And her name is Tammy O’Shea, or so she says. She claims to be Black Irish, but if she’s not Italian right down to her socks, then I’m a white girl. Got a beautiful head of black hair. She keeps it too short to my mind, but she likes it that way, I suppose. Easier to care for, anyway. I wouldn’t worry about that car was I you, Mister. That girl makes so much money she probably bought herself a new one the very next day.” She went right on clipping and trimming.

Black Irish, I thought. Black meaning the color of the hair inherited from Spanish soldiers washed ashore from ships wrecked in the storm that destroyed the Spanish Armada in 1588.

I chuckled, saying, “Nobody makes that much money. That’s an eighty-thousand dollar car.”

“Don’t matter none to folks like her. That one’s a party girl, if you know what I mean, and she wouldn’t bat an eye at replacing that pretty car of hers. I done her hair a dozen times over the last few years, and alls she talks about is this party or that john. Me, I ever had a car like that I’d be afraid to drive it.”

“Well, I’d like to talk to her about it, anyway. It’s been bothering me that she never called. Any idea where she lives, or how I can contact her?”

She turned the chair around and looked at me. “I haven’t seen her or that car in about a month, come to think of it. Mister, you seem like good people. You just stay away from women like that.” She started trimming my sideburns and forehead.

“I’m engaged to a very nice lady cop up in Orlando. We’re due to get married at the end of June. I just want to square things about the damage to her car, is all.”

“Orlando? So what you doing bumping into expensive cars way down here in south Miami?”

I laughed again. “Business. I run a protective service. We have jobs all over the State.”

“Protective? You mean you’re like a bodyguard or something?”

“Like that. I own the company, so I don’t have to stand posts or anything. You got any idea how I can contact that girl?”

“She’s no girl, I’m telling you. She’s a hard woman who’s been around the block a few times in her life, if you know what I mean. No, I got no idea ‘bout how to contact her.” She turned the chair around, cleaned up the back of my neck and removed the sheet. “That’ll be thirty dollars.”

I paid her and added another twenty for the aggravation I caused her.

She thanked me and said, “I know she lives close by. I see that car around here two or three times a week. But you mind me and stay away from her.” She took a brush and cleaned the loose hair off my shirt and neck. “You take good care of yourself, and you mind that girl you’re marrying, you hear me?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” I said.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I’ve got a plan…


Unfortunately, so does everyone else. At least, anyone with half a brain has some sort of plan.

The big advantage I’ve got is that my plans are based on knowledge and hard-won experience. You know, the sort where you lose your shirt until you figure out what you did wrong and promise yourself you’ll never do THAT again as long as you live.

So let’s jump right into the nitty-gritty, get our hands right down into the grease and muck and see what’s what with this plan of mine. I’m kind of proud of it.

I spent most of last winter tying up the loose ends in “Lonesome Cove” and getting it ready to send to the publisher. And doing a bit of research on how I could increase my sales in the face of a collapsing economy. It ain’t pretty folks, but this boy has got to eat and pay his bills, and he’s in no shape to dig ditches or flip burgers.

So I had to think my way to some measure of increased prosperity.  And just in case you’re wondering how that’s working out for me, I’m still thinking.

I’ve been testing the waters of the Kindle Select program over the last few months, and frankly, I am impressed with the results I’ve seen. To say that my sales have increased ten-fold would be close to accurate, but perhaps understating things just the least little bit.

“Lonesome Cove”, my fourth Terry Rankin novel, is going to be published for he Kindle some time in April, and I plan to use the royalties from the Kindle sales to cover the cost of a paperback version that should be out in the fall of this year.

In order to attract some attention to the launch of “Lonesome Cove”, I will be setting up a ‘blog tour’ to run during the week or ten days prior to the launch, and at the same time set up a free download of the Kindle version of “Twisted Key” to run for two or perhaps 3 days about a week before “Lonesome Cove” becomes available.

And no, I will NOT be giving away copies of “Lonesome Cove” for the foreseeable future. However, when the paperback version of LC is available later this year, I will set up a promotion on my web site that will include free, signed copies of “Lonesome Cove”. I just don’t have any details on that yet.

While all of this is going on, I am happy to say that “A Silent Star” is moving along. I could even say that it is moving along right on schedule, but I don’t work to a schedule, so there. I write in the early morning, late afternoons, early nights and any damn time I feel like it, and when I don’t feel like writing, I do something else.

I enjoy writing, and absolutely refuse to force myself to do what I enjoy. I WANT to enjoy writing. I do NOT want to lose the feeling that it is fun. If I write well enough that you enjoy reading my novels, keep in mind that I write well because I enjoy what I do.

It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

So if you ever start to feel aggravated at my slow production, cut me some slack. I’m probably building something, or reading a good book, or playing solitaire or out shopping for my next boat.

But I’ve got my current manuscript simmering in the back of my mind. I promise.

Friday, March 16, 2012

I threatened to fire myself …

--- f I didn’t post something today. I’m a  lousy boss and an even worse employee. Or maybe I just lack any motivation.

In all truth I have been exceedingly busy pulling my ends together all week long. You know how it is; you get up Monday morning, spend all day accomplishing things and fixing problems, go to sleep and then when you wake up Tuesday morning, you find out that somebody has screwed up your life while you were partying in dreamland and you have to run around and fix more stuff.

Well, when you’ve just moved from one city to another, sent one novel off to your publisher and get started on a new project right away and still have to deal with all the fiddly bits involved in that move, the problems you have to deal with are immediate and simply have to be done right then and there. In fact, most of  your time is spent dealing with stuff you should have been doing while you were packing, moving and unpacking.

You don’t have a schedule; you’re playing catch-up with your life. Schedules are for people who don’t stand their lives on their pointy little heads every year or two. Schedules are something you can only dream about having. Schedules are the stuff of legends and happy-ever-after tales and maybe even science fiction. Schedules are for accountants and wedding planners and bankers. Real people, not itinerant writers.

So there. Stop whining.

I got an email the other day from the nice people at Amazon. They told me that I may be found in violation of my exclusivity agreement with them. It seems that KOBO (www.kobo.com), an on-line retailer was selling one of my novels in violation of the aforementioned agreement.

I have done very well with Amazon since I joined their Prime Program for eBooks, so I leapt into action (actually, I just clicked on the hyperlink in their email) and visited that on-line retailer’s web site. Not only did they have “Twisted Key” listed as one of their eBooks, it was listed as retailing for $7.99, marked down from $9.99. What a deal, huh, folks?

Amazon has all of my novels (with my permission and according to MY pricing) marked for sale at $3.00.

It took two days and two phone calls before that retailer pulled “Twisted Key” from their list. I have no idea how long they had it for sale or how many copies they managed to sell at their ‘marked-down’ price, if any. I have no idea how much money they stole from me, the author.

But they are not selling it any longer. Thank you for catching that, Amazon.

I am now back to work on “A Silent Star”. Full time. I was supposed to  deliver a few chapters to my co-author at the end of this week, but I was distracted by the ‘meaningful discussion’ I had with KOBO.com and a few health-related issues (meaning finding a doctor and getting all  he files and paperwork sorted out with them). So Tony will get that material at the beginning of next week. KOBO cost me time, and it’s time that is the only non-renewable resource we have.

Time really is precious. Don’t waste it. Not even a minute.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Decks are Clear


I finally got the ending to “Lonesome Cove” just the way I wanted it and sent it off to the publisher again this morning. “Lonesome Cove” is the fourth novel in my tales from the life of Terry Rankin, a somewhat stumbling but determined hero. It pits Terry against the Italian Mob, MS-13 and crooked cops. It also pits him against the institution of marriage.

Terry could fend off the Mob and MS-13, and the crooked cops might be able to slow him down a bit, but hat last fight is one Terry never had a chance of winning.

In any case, it’s done and out of my hands until I get the edits back from the publisher some time in May, I guess.

So tomorrow I begin writing full time on “A Silent Star”, a novelization of the lives of three CIA agents sent into Yemen to collect Osama Bin Laden immediately after the attack on the USS Cole in the harbor of Aden in October of 2000. This really happened, folks, and my co-author on this novel, Tony Attanasio, has enough of the details from the survivors of that raid to put together a great story.

Tony is one of the most interesting people I have met in many years. Click on this link to learn a little bit about this man: http://www.s2institute.com/content/_pages_about/_instructors/attanasio.php

Writing with a co-author actually puts more demands on a writer, rather than less. All of a sudden, you have someone depending on you for all sorts of stuff.  You also have to establish very clear guidelines over who does what, and when deliverables are scheduled, you have to deliver them (that’s whey they’re called ‘deliverables’). In our case, Tony provided the initial research and the outline and stands ready to answer questions as they arise. My job is to ‘novelize’ real events and provide sufficient masking for the characters so that nobody can figure out who the real people were in the actual raid.

In effect, most of the research has been done for me; I’ll have to do enough spot research to establish local color for the scenes, many of which occur in Portugal, Lebanon and a few places in Israel. I’ve got two out of three covered, since I’ve been in Lebanon on a few occasions and I know Israel like the back of my hand. Portugal, well I do know a few people who’ve been there/lived there, and since many of these scenes are indoors, I don’t foresee any real problems in that, either.

I’m looking forward to this one. A lot. Not only does it get me away from Terry and his motely crew for a while, it puts me back to writing about a place I know and love, and writing about people I admire for their professionalism and dedication to duty. I’ve worked with people like that several times during the course of my life, but I’ve never before this  tried to put them down on paper.

And here’s that problem in a nutshell; it is way too easy to get wrapped up in long-winded descriptions of training and detailed explanations of personalities. If your goal is to create a white paper on Spec-Ops training courses or a psychological profile of the ideal Spec-Ops Warrior, that’s the way to go. but you can’t do that in a novel. You have to give the reader enough detail to understand that these people really are in many ways just like the reader – they are, in fact, human beings; but there are some subtle things (and some not so subtle) that set them apart.

For the most part, they do not swagger unless they are clowning around with their buddies. They are not muscle-bound like Sly Stallone of Arnold – but they are normally blessed with very fast quick-response muscles, and they are normally very competent and confident in their ability to acquire and maintain control over others through martial arts.

They are warriors.  Many of them come up through Special Forces, US Army Delta program, the FBI HRT team, the DEA (with prior combat experience and often Ranger/Airborne qualifications). In other words, before the CIA sends these people out into a high-stress environment, they have already been there and done that a few times.

These people are not cowboys, they are not high–strung prima-donnas; they are team players because that is how men and women survive in combat today.

If you passed any of these people in your grocery store you would not notice anything odd about them, if you noticed them at all. But they are each and every one of them a hero.

So I will write the tale and do the best I can to describe the characters and their background and their dedication without producing a recruiting manual for the CIA. I’ll make it as real as I can for the reader while masking the truth as much as I can.

Golly, gee, Gary, how you gonna do that? No idea, but I’m gonna get started on it first thing in the morning.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Update on the Free Download of “The Big Bend” for Kindle Owners


Here's an important correction regarding the Free Download of "The Big Bend" for Kindle owners: The Free download should start a few minutes after midnight Monday, meaning really, really early on Tuesday, 06 March - it may be as much as an hour later, but it WILL NOT START AT NOON ON Tuesday as I stated in my last post. I hope this is clear. In other words you can begin to download the free book almost any time after midnight (Tuesday morning) until midnight (or an hour or so after midnight) on Wednesday morning.

I do apologize for the confusion…

Update on the Free Download of “The Big Bend” for Kindle Owners


Here's an important correction regarding the Free Download of "The Big Bend" for Kindle owners: The Free download should start a few minutes after midnight Sunday - it may be as much as an hour later, but it WILL NOT START AT NOON ON MONDAY as I stated in my last post. I hope this is clear. In other words you can begin to download the free book almost any time after midnight (Monday morning) until midnight on Monday.

I do apologize for the confusion…

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Free Download of “The Big Bend” to your Kindle!


My first novel, "The Big Bend", will be available for Free download to your Kindle on 06 March for 24 hours only. Please pass this info on to anyone you know who has a Kindle!
The free download should begin around noon on Monday, March 6.


As you may recall, I gave away over a thousand copies of my second novel, “Hog Valley” recently and the results have been very positive in both feedback from readers and in follow-on sales. So, I’m doing it again with “The Big Bend”.


Here’s a  brief description:

Meet Terry Rankin. Retired cop, owner of Rankin Protective Services, and generally a good guy. If there's any truth to the old saying that no good turn goes unpunished, Terry Rankin is it. Terry Rankin, the sole proprietor of Rankin Personal Security Services in Orlando, Florida, accepts a private meeting with a potential client. Sheila Adamson is looking for a bodyguard to protect her from her abusive husband, but Rankin refuses to take the job until she begins divorce proceedings. Moments later, Mrs. Adamson is dead and Rankin is buried beneath the rubble of his house, knocked flat by a car bomb planted in the dead woman’s Jaguar. When he’s questioned by the local police, Rankin learns that Adamson’s attorney has also turned up dead, his Cadillac riddled with bullets. Suspecting there is more to these murders than a domestic dispute, he teams up with Orlando cop Cathy Diamond for a thrilling—and treacherous—adventure that will lead them deep into the heart of the Everglades and hot on the trail of a dangerous criminal.

Get it while the getting’s free!