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An endless ammo dump

My favorite Military Joke:

Officer: All right, soldier. Suppose an enemy sub surfaced and ran aground on that beach over there, and suppose she offloaded 50 enemy troops. What would you do?

Soldier: Sir, I'd blow 'em off the sand with concentrated mortar fire, sir.

Officer: Where would you get the mortars?

Soldier: Same place you got the sub, sir.

 And this, my friend, is the essence of why doing what I do is so much fun. Because I have that endless ammo dump, that boundless supply depot, that never-empty weapons locker to draw upon. I can have anything that exists, and a few things that don't. Yet, anyway.

 And not just things, but people. My characters can be anyone who exists, or that I wish existed. If I can't find the right one, I can make them up. Which reminds me of another joke, this an old one from Alfred Hitchcock. The iconic filmmaker, apparently frustrated with a temperamental actor, said "Walt Disney has the best casting; if he doesn't like an actor, he just tears him up." I have the same advantage. If somebody's not working out, well, that's what the delete key is for. And once you get over that new writer problem (and unfortunately some never do) of thinking your every word is gold, you know how to use it. And should.

 People often ask me (and every writer, I think) where I get my ideas. I joke that I have them in a jar on my desk. (Which is a derivative of Stephen King's statement that he has the brain of a small boy. It's right there in a jar on his desk.) But in actual fact, those ideas also come from one of those endless supply lines. My problem is never lack of ideas, only lack of time to work on them.

 Sometimes, there's only a bit of an idea. A kernel that perks up that part of my mind that is drawn to things, thinking "There's a story in that..." But sometimes it isn't visible yet. So it gets tossed into that big pot on the back burner of my brain, where it floats around and gets boiled down to the bones, (wow, one mention of Stephen King and I'm talking about boiled bones!) maybe meets up with some other kernel and they decide to work together. And then they bubble up to the top, ready to be next in line. This is a process that can take hours...or years. I'm just polishing a book of the heart that has been over ten years from initial idea to completion. It bears little resemblance to that first idea, it changed a lot over the years, becoming not what I thought it would be, but something I love even more.

 So if you're a writer, you have one of the biggest toyboxes in the world. It's all yours to play with. But you have to figure out how all the Legos fit. If you're a reader, you get to marvel at how it all comes together. And if you're both, you know the special pleasure of finding a story so compelling that you are able to drown, at least temporarily, the writer and become once more solely a reader, caught up in the wonder of a world that never existed before a writer opened their toybox—or their arsenal—and built it for you.

Happy reading!


Meet Cutter, a dog with a code

I've been at this writing thing for a while now. So you'd think I'd be...if not blasé, then at least matter of fact about a new book coming out. And there have been times when, swamped, already in the throes of new deadlines, that I've barely been able to acknowledge the arrival of that miracle, a box of books with my name on them.

Not this time.

I also didn't intend to start out this blog pushing books. But with one thing and another, delays of the technical, working, and personal kind, this thing launched later than expected.

So here I am, with OPERATION MIDNIGHT either in or about to be in the stores, and already available online. A book that I'm really excited about, for three main reasons. And now I'm going to risk that you won't think this will be an every week thing, and tell you those reasons.

So why am I so excited about this book?

It's the first book in the new Cutter's Code mini-series.(which I define as something over three books; I've done a few trilogies, one unintentionally, but not knowing wanting to get into the muddy area of talking about quartets or quintets or the even more fun sextets, I decided anything over three was a series) After ending Trinity West years ago I gave it a rest with a few unrelated stores. But then I stumbled into Redstone, Incorporated, and after a dozen books and over nine years, I thought I was done again for a while. Shows you what I know. But I love building and exploring a new world, even if it drives me crazy keeping track of it all.

It revisits a favorite theme of mine. Simply this: Justice. I've always loved stories that show people—both good and bad—getting what they deserve. Perhaps because it so often doesn't happen in real life. And now I get to explore that in depth, and I'm excited about the possibilities.

Cutter. Yes, lastly, yet most importantly, there's the delightful character who will tie all the stories together. I confess I've fallen for Cutter in a big way, and I hope you will, too. Each book will have a new hero and heroine, and feature appearances by previous characters(break out the big whiteboard!). But the books will be linked mainly by the character who has a knack for finding people who need his special kind of help. Or the help his humans can provide. Cutter has a nose for trouble, and an uncanny way of getting things done. That they seem to all fall in love in the process is...well, part of Cutter's magic. Not that he's magical. Really, he's not. At least, I don't think he is. Maybe. Then again....

So I hope you'll join Cutter and me on this journey. Not sure where it all will lead, but so far it's been great fun. Although I'm thinking the whiteboard may not be big enough!

Next week, a post about something else, I promise. Murder, maybe. Mayhem, perhaps. Or knitting. Which I do to keep from committing said murder and/or mayhem.

And come play with us on Twitter—although I hesitate to encourage Cutter, he's having too much fun with me already. Whoever heard of a dog with a Twitter handle, anyway?





I hereby declare this blog, at long last, open! Open for what? Just about anything. Well, except politics and religion. Seriously. I get enough of that elsewhere. But anything else, I'm up for. Books, of course. It is what I do, after all. But not just writing, although I'll be talking about works in progress, books about to be released, works that are headed for the shredder (and why) and ideas that refuse to leave me alone even though I Don't Have Time. But that's only part of what I want to do here. The rest is up to you.

 Want to talk about writing? Sure. E-books? I'm still learning, but okay. Cover art? I'm good with that. My process? Your process? Go. I'll stack up the weirdness of mine against anybody's!

 But there are ::gasp:: other things in life. (Although there was a time when it didn't seem like it, but that's for another day.) Any knitters out there? You can always lure me out with discussions of yarn, patterns, or that time sink to end all time sinks, Ravelry. So anybody who knows how to get there, or knows the meaning of SABLE, or even knows knit from purl, come on in, get out the sticks and string, and stay a while.

 Dogs. Oh, yes. Love 'em. Tell me what your favorite breed is and why. Your least favorite and why. The best—or worst—dog you ever owned. I'm a 'big dog' fan, but as my sweet Lab got older and older, I started to appreciate the idea of a dog I can actually pick up when I have to. If there's another—and she'll be an incredibly hard act to follow—I'm thinking maybe 45 pounds, max.

 Got camera? I'm a photography hobbyist who is blessed to live in one of the most photogenic places in the world. Populated with an incredible array of plant and wildlife. Saving up for a big digital Canon that will use all my old film lenses. Maybe next decade.

 Classic cars. Yeah, I'm there. That red beauty in the picture on this site is really mine. And WWII history is a passion of mine, too. I was too young for the first, not even born for the second. Sometimes I think I was born way too late. Or reincarnated too early. Something.

 All these are fair game. Any questions, ask. You can always ask. I may decline to answer, but you can always ask. And should, because if you don't ask, I'll be forced to bloviate all over the place. Not a sight you want to see.

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