Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Deleted Scenes - Puget Sound Bound

During the book creation process, much of the first draft is revised, moved, or deleted. The following was my original introduction to Scott and Lynn in ‘Forever After,’ the third Detective Scott McGregor mystery. It was deleted during the draft’s revision.

Wednesday afternoon, August 5
Fresno Police Detective Scott McGregor looked forward to attending his friends’ wedding in the Puget Sound, even though it meant he and his girlfriend were members of the wedding party.

He chuckled. How did that happen? Being a groomsman was suggested so skillfully, I was honored to be asked. His girlfriend, Lynn Carter, worked with children, and he suspected she had used her child management skills to persuade him to agree.

The abrupt ringing of his desk phone interrupted his musing. “Detective McGregor.” He listened a few moments, grunted in agreement, and replaced the handset. He picked up his well-worn notebook and headed to the next meeting.

* * *

Lynn Carter, Speech-Language Pathologist, hummed in happy anticipation as she walked through the hallway of the Sierra Children’s Hospital in Fresno. Three hours until my summer vacation begins. She restricted her happy dance to an extra wiggle or two as she headed toward her final meeting.

Plans were in place for therapy sessions with the children currently in her care. The speech clinic would cover her caseload while she was gone, and the other SLPs could assess and treat new patients.

For the first time, the children would not weigh heavily on her mind during her time off.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Shameless Shilling

My brother snapped a photo of me enjoying a murder mystery last week while we were cruising the South Pacific.

The road to paradise (i.e., French Polynesia) is paved with good intentions. Early one morning, I sat on the ship’s observation deck to edit my work-in-progress. I began analyzing each scene, writing down its goal, motivation, and conflict. But the ship’s rocking was most pronounced on the top level, and I became queasy. Good enough reason to stop working and fully enjoy the vacation.

During the five-day National Geographic expedition, we explored islands, atolls, and lagoons. One of the highlights was swimming in the grotto, a freshwater-filled cave on Makatea, a raised coral atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago. Other favorite memories include snorkeling in the lagoons and viewing colorful fish, sharks, Moray eels, and an octopus from a glass bottom boat.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Yeah, I’m Revising

In my euphoric last post, I’d finished the rough draft of my work-in-progress. My ‘next-steps list’ included … after a short break, the revision begins in earnest.

I’ve taken the list to heart. I’ve earnestly been enjoying my break. I’ve spent time with family, friends, and dogs.

But I’ve also been thinking about readers, specifically who and why they will enjoy the book.

My brother and sister-in-law will like it because it’s dedicated to them. (Vacationing in – I mean – researching the Puget Sound was hard work.) And I hope my brother’s best friend likes it; his name was used for an illegal tree poacher. (I hope he doesn’t lose his forestry department job.) My daughter will like it because the heroine’s actions are based on a comment my daughter made. My dog-lover friends will like it because a stray dog found a ‘forever home.’ My publisher will love it because she can mark the book’s (long overdue) publication off her To-Do list.

Then we party. Funny how the book’s launch party was planned long before I reached ‘The End.’


Sunday, May 1, 2022


During April, I achieved my Camp NaNoWriMo goal of drafting the remaining scenes of “Forever After.” Now, after a short break, the revision begins in earnest.

I used to think authors who preferred revising over writing the initial draft were crazy. But now, in my euphoric state of being done with the first draft, I can understand. All the basic bones of the scenes are on paper (digitally), although in places the draft is very rough. (I channel Rodney Dangerfield at times like this. ‘My draft is so rough, I got splinters the size of telephone poles.’)

Writing a book is a multi-step process: draft the story; wait to gain a fresh perspective; read it through, making notes on what works and doesn’t work; revise the story; then repeat the read / revise cycle until the story is perfected. The final step is editing to make the prose sing.

Although many people write the entire draft before revising, I prefer to write a bit, then revise and polish what I wrote. And repeat ad nauseum. "Circling the drain" is how I describe my writing style. It works for me, but it’s not the fastest way from start to finish.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNoWriMo, which occurs in April and July, is a laid-back version of the National Novel Writing Month’s November goal of writing 50k words for a brand-new story. I’ve never won. I’m not dedicated enough to write an average of 1,667 words every day, especially when I have lots of family and social commitments in November. Many writers do, though, and I admire their passion and success.

My writing goal for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo is to finish the draft of my third McGregor mystery. There are only ten scenes left to complete the story. I’m looking forward to April being my National Novel Finishing Month.

After I finish the draft, I’ll need to edit and revise it, tightening up the plot and polishing the prose. Then the story will go to beta readers and comes back to me for another round of revisions.

Sending the draft to beta readers was scary with the first book. Would the readers like the story? Did the plot and its sequence make sense? Did I leave out important details or transitions? Now I know beta reader feedback helps strengthen the story, and I’m thrilled when I reach that step.

Friday, April 1, 2022

The 100 Club

My 100th blog post published on April 1, my writing and retirement anniversary.

I began writing in 2017, and my first blog post hit the big time (i.e., my newly created website) later that year in September. I was so proud seeing that first post. Posts published irregularly at first, then eventually settled into a twice-a-month routine.

My favorite post is Character Rights, which discusses whether literary characters can file complaints for the treatment they receive from an author.

It’s been five years since I began writing. I’m nearly finished writing my third Detective Scott McGregor mystery, and I’ve plotted over a dozen more mysteries. Recently, I decided to write some of those as short stories, some without McGregor, and I’m even playing around with cozy mysteries. In my spare time, I’ve written children’s books, short stories, and various short pieces for anthologies and an online magazine.

What will I produce in the next five years?

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Mystery Writer Requirements

I love reading whodunnits, and I try to identify the killer and solve the murder before the amateur or professional sleuth does.

But loving to read mysteries isn’t the only requirement for writing them. In addition to all the imagination, inspiration, plotting, writing, rewriting, editing, and revising, an author also needs ‘guts.’ Guts to imagine horrific crimes and commit them to paper or an electronic document.

I may not be a natural-born mystery writer. At least, not a ‘murder’ mystery writer. Characters have died in the creation of my books, although none of the deaths – so far – have been intentional. (Are murder-less murder mysteries a thing?)

Perhaps murder just takes practice. The plots I’ve developed for future books have become progressively more violent. The plot for the final book in the detective series is so violent, though, I may not write it.

The next mystery (#4) is the first to have a real (i.e., intentional) murder. It’s also the first in which Detective Scott McGregor isn’t the main character. Instead, his girlfriend, Lynn Carter, takes the lead and will have her hands full trying to solve a murder to clear one of their friends.

Good luck, Lynn. You and I will both be learning on the job. You’ll learn how to find clues and follow leads. I’ll (hopefully) learn how to write a cozy mystery.