Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Cover Reveal

I'm not going to wait.  Here's the cover for Red Serge

The ebook is out there now!!!!!! available for kindle and all kindle apps.  Here are the basic links.

The paperback version will be out in the new year.  I know I said by Christmas, but what a way to start out 2014.
I want to thank everyone who entered my contest to pick the cover.
The winners of both Red Island and Red Serge signed and mailed to your front door are
Stephanie Andrassy
Diane Prairie
Your books will be on the way as soon as Red Serge is in my hands.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

An artists rendering

I have this artist friend, Jackie VanderZwaag, who I worked with in Prince Edward Island.  She is an amazing artist and a budding graphic artist.  I asked her to see if she could sketch my main characters for the novel I am working on, The Cistern.  What do you think????

Jackie Vanderswaag can be reached at or click on her name to link onto her FB page and see some of the other great work she has done.
Please comment below and let me know what you think.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Vote and Win...Part 2

A little while ago I had 2 covers up that people were to vote for.  Things have changed a little.  The Grade 12 graphic arts class at Carlton High School in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan has used Red Serge as a class project.  Below are the first 2 choices plus all of the high school classes submissions.

First, here's the back of the book script so you have an idea of what it's about...

The body of a young girl found at a national park beach leads the major crimes unit of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to a mass grave.  How long had the Devil been coming to Prince Edward Island?
Though fighting with personal turmoil Reid is drawn to the case.  He has to make this one right, but is the cost too much?
The RCMP wear their red serge on duty - in ceremony, to honour others, and in death.
Taken during a Musical Ride
Red Serge is what the red uniform worn by the Canadian Mounties.  This uniform plays an important part in the novel and I wanted to honour those that are my hero's.  Unfortunately I can't use an actual picture of the uniform without the official word so we had to figure something else out.

Let the choices begin...

#1 the red sand beach cover ............ #2 the red uniform digging cover

   #3 The Spooky Woods .............. #4 Bloody Crime Scene ................. #5 Moonlight ................... #6 Beachy
    #7 Cartoon girl .............................. #8 Blind ...............................#9 Shadow Man ........................#10 Rocky

   #11 Spy vs Spy ..........................#12 The Hand .........................#13 Ghostly .............................#14 Skull's pretty simple.  Down there in the comment section tell me which one you prefer or leave a comment.  Everyone who votes or comments will be entered into a draw to win a signed copy of my first novel RED ISLAND.  Which ever cover gets the most votes will be RED SERGE's cover and all those that voted for it will go into a second contest for signed copies of both RED ISLAND and RED SERGE.  (this does not mean you should vote for both just to get both books)  Please vote for whatever you like the most. ((Anyone who voted before is still in the running, but please feel free to vote again and have your name in twice))

This contest lasts until the end of November.  Ready, set, vote!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Review: Blood & Groom by Jill Edmondson

Blood & Groom:  the first in the Sasha Jackson Mysteries

I now have a strong desire to meet Sasha Jackson and all it took was reading Blood and Groom by Jill Edmondson.  It’s the kind of novel that if the main character was a dude you’d hear Humphrey Bogart narrating it, “the door opened and in walked the lady in red, and with her came trouble with a capital T.”  Okay, Jill and Sasha are not that corny, but Sasha is a private detective for hire in Toronto and the novel does open with a woman with attitude coming through her door.  She wants to hire Sasha to find out who murdered her ex-fiancée.  There are a few good twists and turns putting mystery on top of mystery on top of mystery.  There’s a bit of Sasha’s personal life – like her part-time gig as a sex phone operator, her chef brother, her best friend who is dating her brother and her gambling father – so that you want to get out there and get the next novel in the series.

I will admit that the copy I downloaded had some big time formatting issues, but I was drawn right into the story and the further in I got, the more I needed to continue.  I really can’t wait to read more of the Sasha Jackson Mysteries.

The author tells me everything has been fixed up, checked, rechecked.  If I were you I would check it out.
Check out the author's web site:

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Jillian Watts...From the Editor's Floor!

To all my Canadian friends and family...Happy Thanksgiving!!!  To everyone else, happy...ah...Monday I guess.

I'm really happy to be part of the blog tour for Jillian Watt's first novel, Become.  Again, it's not what I usually post about, her book is Contemporary Fantasy - New Adult, but she's from my home tome...ok she moved to my home tome.  The point is I'm happy and honoured to have Jillian here to give us a look at a scene that was cut out of her novel.  (And check out the great contest) ((and for those in Thunder Bay a great opportunity to party))

I would like to express my gratitude to Lorne for hosting me today. It is truly an honour to be a part of your blog, sir. Thankee!

Today, I have a scene that was cut from Become. Why was it cut? Well, while I loved this and felt it contributed to Abbie's assumed heritage, it was kind of unnecessary. The olichon culture is a non-gifting one. So while a horse wouldn't totally be seen as out of line, Echovin has many horses in its stables and even I didn't understand why they would go to extra lengths to procure the "Caragee." Also, the Beloved were once called, for the longest time, the "High Guard." That lingo is still in play for this piece. I changed it because it seemed to be commonly used terminology throughout several fantasy books, and I wanted something new and different (while being incredibly similar!). Enjoy the unedited silliness!

“What’s taking them so long?” Kai had a way of bringing Abbie back to the present like no one else.

“Wait, I see them.”

By the time Sana had pointed out the two shapes emerging from the woods, it was apparent to everyone that Meren and Seth were approaching.

Seth was up on his chestnut palfrey, Idyll, a mount that Meren had pointed out during her lessons. Idyll, a mare, and Gild, Seth’s destrier, were good with experienced riders only. It was just as well; they were off-limits to everyone except the water guardian, as was the case with every other animal chosen by the High Guard. She had offered the chestnut an apple, but she was every bit as closed-off as her owner and refused to take the treat from Abbie’s hand.

Abbie had acquainted herself with most of the horses in the stable, giving nose rubs, apples, and a brush down whenever she could. It was soothing to take care of them, to just talk about silly things and get an appreciative whicker in response. Though sentries kept an eye on her from remote locations, this was one of the few things that Abbie didn’t need a babysitter for. She took advantage of the opportunity to leave the temple whenever she could. So, when Meren trotted ahead of Seth riding a horse she didn’t recognize, she was a little confused.

The horse was magnificent. At first, she thought it was a Clydesdale, but the more she looked at it, the surer Abbie became that she had never seen this breed before. It had many features of a Clydesdale, with the large feathered hooves and a similar build, but it was smaller, more refined, without losing height. Piebald in colour, that alone would have been enough to set it apart from every other horse in the stable, but it was the creature’s hair that gave it a whimsical appearance; the mane flowed down past the animal’s chest, nearly to the forelock, and the tail brushed the ground.

Meren came to a stop in front of her and slid down from the saddle. He gave the animal a pat. “What do you think?”

“I’ve never seen a horse like this.”

“It’s called an Ydaelin Caragee – they’re not common to this region, but are known for their calm and affectionate nature. This guy’s name is Ebonlae.” Meren brought the stallion closer, so that Abbie could touch him.

“He’s beautiful.” Abbie stretched out a hand to pet his velvety nose, and Ebonlae leaned into her touch. Seth had pulled up by then, holding something off to the side and away from view.

“He’s yours if it would please you.”

Abbie’s eyes widened. “Mine? Really?”

“I’ll take that as a yes.” He handed her the reigns. “Go on, give him a try.”

Kai made a half-hearted attempt at derision, but Abbie didn’t hear him; she was so caught up with admiring Ebonlae, running her hands over his sleek coat and letting him nuzzle her hair, so amazed that she could call such a creature her own, that she didn’t care. She hoisted herself onto his back, something that had taken nearly two months for her to do by herself, and started him out at a walk around the main yard. She moved him up to a trot, and adjusted to his easy gait. Abbie couldn’t remember the last time she had been so irrationally, stupidly happy, and never wanted this feeling to go away

If Abbie wants to survive, she must Become . . . .
After a near-death experience, Abbie Thomas finds herself at the mercy of the olichon–a human-like species that has, until recently, remained hidden from the rest of the world.
Staggered by the news that she can never go home, Abbie is forced to renounce her humanity and take up the sword. Fighting to stay alive by mimicking those around her, Abbie’s mortality is tested again and again.”

Link to Pre-Order a Signed Copy: (anyone who will be in Thunder Bay on Oct. 15th and pre-orders will be invited to the launch party)

Jillian’s Website:

Jillian’s Page on Facebook:

Jillian’s Twitter:
Become on (Paperback only until Oct. 15)


Friday, 11 October 2013

Judging by the Cover

When you are an indie author doing it all on your own you have to get shi-stuff done.  Sometimes that means doing it yourself and other times you call in some favours and get friends to help you out.  For covers I am doing just that.

Red Island was designed by a professional because my son was in the hospital, unfortunately he's healthy this time around.  I'm kidding.  I kid.  For Red Serge, due out hopefully before Christmas, I have two potential covers so far.  One I made and one a friend has played around with.

This was the one I made.  I'll admit it's not that great.  Not to mention I do not have permission to use the RCMP image.

The one on the right is the one my friend made.  I like the overlapping of the hand print and the words on the back and how the sand is red like the sand in Prince Edward Island, but some have said that it is too much like Red Island's cover.

 I don't see it at all.
So I decided to play around with yet another cover.  True, maybe I should finish the novel first, but I needed a different creative outlet.  This is for The Cistern, duh, which is the first in The Alcrest Mystery Series.  The back of the book is the name of my aunt's hous in England.  The houses in her area have names instead of numbers and it is also the last name of my main characters and the name of their Gastropub.  So there will, of course, be words over the back of the book.  I just don't have them yet.

Friday, 27 September 2013

A Chat with My Muse Elizabeth Frances...Part 1

I know I haven't been putting anything on here and I'm greatful for those who have been sticking with me.  Quick update:  Red Serge is being edited and will hopefully be coming out before Christmas.  The Cistern is being written.  It's going to be the flagship for The Alcrest Mysteries (official name pending) of which I have over a half dozen novel ideas for.

Which brings me to todays topic.  Way back in February 2013 I had the idea of writing a novel and documenting it's Journey (The Cistern)  On part 3 of that journey I introduced you to the two main characters, Spencer Alcrest and Chrys Wanderingspirit (Alcrest)  I'm a 1/4 of the way into writing the novel and the characters are really alive and vibrant.  The female character, Chrys (short for Chrysanthemum), is physically based on an actress named:  Elizabeth Frances.

Basically I wanted the character to be Native-Canadian so I Googled Native-Canadian and Native-American Actresses and looked at pictures until I found one that seemed to explode with my ideas for Chrys.  I Tweeted Elizabeth telling her about my idea and she was excited to be my muse.

Here is a little bit of an interview I did with Elizabeth.

Quick snipit from her bio:  Elizabeth Frances is an Actor/Writer living in Los Angeles, CA. As mixed in heritage as America itself, she is Filipino, Cherokee, and Dutch/English. Elizabeth was born on a military base in Okinawa, Japan, and was raised in the diverse community of Oceanside, CA. She is always searching for the meaning and importance of "Cultural Identity," and what that means in America today.

First question, tell us about yourself.  Who is Elizabeth Frances?

EF:  I am a woman with a free spirit and lots of love and passion for people. I am 5'8" of joy, positivity and fun. But i also have a serious side, I am committed to my family, my friends, and making the world a loving place through my love of acting.

What's a day like for you?

EF:  I typically wake up around 6am and hit the snooze button. I am such a heavy sleeper that i put the alarm clock on the other side of the room and/or set for several time increments.

I head to the gym and usually meet my clients (I work as a personal trainer part time) and have a great time learning about them, their lives, and doing my best to effect a change or shift for them towards their goals. It is a great place to learn about/study people.

Then it's time for MY workout (a run or lifting or yoga, although less yoga lately). After that I spend time working on a web series I'm writing, or taking a meeting, or going to an audition, or if it's a great week a shoot. I love to meet up and coming professionals like me, because it's like playing football in

college. You're so excited and inspired to play that you figure out any way to do it until you get into the NFL. So i'd say in terms of my career I'm a college football starting quarter back. haha.

I find time to see a friend and my boyfriend and we will cook together (save money and stay healthy) and he'll catch me up on the great movies that I haven't seen. and vice versa. I'm ashamed to say, I've never seen Goodfellas and that's the current box to be checked.

Then I'll write again, or right now I'll watch videos and research for the play I'm doing. I want to understand as much about the outside circumstances as I can so that I can understand what kind of world and community my character lives in, what shapes her views and opinions. Then I comb through the text like a kid at the beach looking for treasures in the sand.

Sometimes I'll work out again, create ideas. Right now I'm helping a friend with a piece we are going to shoot with puppets about if Cinderella had a mother. I can't wait!
Then sleep. It should be earlier, but I have a hard time sleeping before midnight.

What was life like growing up?

EF:  I grew up in Oceanside, CA raised by two wonderful parents and a brother, and we always stayed a really close knit unit, even if times were rough. My brother and I would put on some kind of performance, usually it involved singing and in my case, acting like a clown. I was very lucky that I had a wonderful childhood. That's thanks a lot to my folks.

Is that when you first wanted to be an actress?

EF:  At a young age I knew I wanted to act. I was on stage in third grade, we had to recite poetry about the rainforest and I didn't want mine to be boring, so I created this whole performance with the text, and it was a moment mid "performance" and i knew. Even though I was a kid, I knew, kinda the way you can fall in love and be like "he's the one" but maybe even deeper. It was "this is my purpose" and then I was hungry for it. I'd jump on the city bus and head to downtown and learn as much as I could from the local players who were doing Shakespeare. I started with Shakespeare and continued. In High school drama club, classes in downtown San Diego that i paid for with my first job at an In-n-Out. And now it is my way of touching, changing, putting a mirror up to myself and society. When I'm acting it is the place I can be most vulnerable and safe at the same time. It's such a privilege to be an actor because I get a chance to express with my voice, my body, my intellect, my guts.

You have a BFA from California Institute of the Arts and have been in plays and some smaller
Drunktown's Finest..filmed in New Mexico
No, Elizabeth is not really pregnant
movies.  You just finished an indipendant film called Drunktown's Finest which had Robert Redford as the executive producer and will be shown at the Sundance Film Festival...where do you hope your acting career will go?

EF:  In how I envision my career, I'll be a full time actress with leads in feature films, creating characters that have depth and color, are sometimes funny or amusing, but also represent woman who I want to be seen on screen. I want every role to be a new challenge. I'll do theater once every year (or two), and I'll have a production company with some of my dearest friends who are very talented writers, actors, artists, and the vision is to provide a space to create films from unique and diverse voices. We will make films like Magnolia, Fruitvale, smaller budget pictures with BIG stories. That way we will have more control of the message.

I don't really have a clue what it is like so I will just ask...what is it like being a "struggling actor?"

EF:  The "struggle" of being an actor is having to accept that there is a lot out of your control. You hone your craft, seek out opportunities vigorously, make fans, study people, study life, learn how to bare your sole, study, audition, get roles, loose roles, never get a chance at roles, write your own roles, and you continue to go forward. It's definitely a marathon not a sprint, and you never know which mile your at, and that can be the most daunting thing. Sometimes you think you have .2 miles left, but really it's 16 and you're already mentally and emotionally exhausted, but then you get a chance, you find your guts and the reason you do this and you pick yourself up the next day, and work just as hard or harder. And the hardest lesson of it all, is learning how to "be". Learning how to let go (whether on or off the screen/stage) and just trusting that you have and are everything you need to be, and you continue on your path. Maybe that's life...

What's the strangest thing you've auditioned for?

EF:  Hmm...strangest thing I've auditioned for...maybe in college...I played a fairy tinker in an adaptation of Peter no, I helped my buddy with a film in which I played "self" as a gorilla, and a spider, and a Siamese twin elephant foot. It was strange, but a blast.

Is there any actor, director, etc. that you would like to work with?

EF:  Who would I want to work with...yikes that's a long list, Ang Lee, Darren Aronofsky, David Lynch, Kathryn Bigelow, Steve McQueen, Paul Thomas Anderson, Julie Taymor, did I say Ang Lee? haha. I think there are directors that are out there that I haven't heard of yet that I wanna work with.
Actors, lots, great ones, ones that challenge me, challenge their audience, and give give give of themselves.

Elizabeth is also in a film called Ghost Forest which also stars someone who some of my friends would know as the face of the video game Bio Shock.

List of Elizabeth's films
Drunktown's Finest - 2014
The Ghost Forest - 2013 .... Check out the trailer
Feeding Mr. Baldwin - 2013
Hunting (Cannes 2012) - 2011
Slightly Imperfect - 2012
Anne Wynn (Nguyen) - 2009
For more info on Elizabeth Frances check out her web site

To read the second part of my chat with her and to see how Chrys's answers match up to Elizabeth's keep checking back or subscribe over on the side there.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Pleasant Dreams......

I'm published again.  I joined a bunch of authors and have a new story out in an anthology of Young Adult Horror stories.  It's not what I usually write, but since one or two reviewers compared my work to Stephen King I thought I would give it a shot.  I took the two main characters of my "Work in Progress", The Cistern - Spencer and Chrys - and wrote about them 10 years prior to the novel.

My story is HERE on my blog, but if you want to download the entire book I will post the links below.  From Smashwords you can download it for almost any ereader, PC, or phone for FREE or you can go to Amazon and get it for .99 cents. (and as a side note...I came up with the books title from what my wife told me I should sign Red Island with)

Amazon Canada ($1.02)

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

How Aaron Paul Lazar deals with Characterization and why he is a Murderer!!

Today I get to be part of the blog tour for Aaron Paul Lazar's new novel Don't Let the Wind Catch You.  There is a short interview with Aaron about characterization and then a guest post written by him.  I hope you enjoy.

Q) Does a character change as you build his or her part in the story?
A) I do believe in achieving what they call “character arcs” in general, although I never start out a book thinking, “how can I make Sam Moore grow and change based on the circumstances?” It just seems to happen naturally as the stories unfold. But I hope my characters grow based on their challenges and traumas. How could they not? 
Q)Are your characters skeletons when you begin writing or they fully fleshed out?
A) In the very beginning, when I start a series, my characters are pretty well fleshed-out, with back-stories that are intriguing and sad or difficult in some aspects. For example, Sam Moore starts out in Healey’s Cave (book 1 in Moore Mysteries, otherwise known as the Green Marble Mysteries) as a man in torment. He has been missing and mourning the disappearance of his little brother for fifty years. No one knows what happened to Billy, whether he’s dead or alive, and it tortures Sam every day of his life. There’s a long period of distinct history, and he often thinks back to it, including in some flashback scenes. I think when I began each of my three series (LeGarde, Moore, and Tall Pines) I played around a bit with the characters to develop them. Gus LeGarde started out being a testimony to my father, who was much like him. Then as time went on and I edited and refined Double Forte’ (book 1 in LeGarde Mysteries), I ended up dispersing a lot of “me” into the character. Of course, I was writing in the first person and I actually am a great deal like my father was, so it was kind of a natural outcome. In time, Gus LeGarde ended up being an amalgam of my father, me, and his own persona.
Q) Do you have a favorite in each book (other than the hero or protagonist)?
A) In Moore Mysteries, I’ve started to fall in love with Sam’s daughter’s lover, Penelope. She is a gay, prescient doctor of Native American descent who really fascinates me. I think I’ll have to feature her in the next book in Moore Mysteries. In other books I would say, yes, I have “special” feelings for certain characters who crop up – sometimes they are featured characters and sometimes they fill the main cast. In LeGarde Mysteries, my favorite has always been Siegfried, my “gentle giant.” In Tall Pines Mysteries, my favorites are Quinn and Callie.
Q) Have you created characters so attractive that you hate to kill them off and miss them when they're gone from the book?
A) Absolutely! First of all, I adore Billy, Sam Moore’s little brother who died at age 11 in Healey’s Cave, and who still comes into play in the rest of the series. Although he’s dead, he still is influential in the series. In LeGarde Mysteries, it was very difficult to kill off Elsbeth, the sweet and fiery wife of Gus LeGarde. I had the chance to bring her “back” so to speak in the prequel to Double Forte’ (where she’s already been dead for four years) in Tremolo: cry of the loon. It was nice to get to “see” her alive and active as an eleven-year-old in this lakeside summer prequel that takes place in 1964 in the Maine lakes region.
Q) Are there some characters you find yourself disliking, even though you may not have intended that?
A) There are some characters who frustrate me, like Freddie (Gus LeGarde’s daughter) in Double Forté. It takes her a long time to reject her philandering husband, Harold. I hate that she tolerates his abuse for so long. Most of the time, however, I feel deep and strong connections to all my characters, whether they are heroes or villains, straight or gay, powerful or weak. They are all so “real” to me that I probably could be committed tomorrow based on my feelings toward this parallel universe.
Q) Do you find it difficult to create an attractive, likeable but truly villainous villain?
A) Maybe it’s time for me to actually do this. So far my villains have been understandable but really nasty. Sort of like operatic characters. I think my next challenge will be to create a likable bad guy. ;o)
My colleague Sonya Bateman does this so well, I always admire the fact that she’ll get me hating and fearing her villain in the beginning, but feeling a camaraderie and sympathy for him in the end of the story.
Q) How much of real people do you put into characters? Could they recognize themselves or do you mix and match?
A) If they were still alive, these characters would be quite outraged, or terribly complimented. Most of the people who appear in my books have passed away, like my grandparents or my father. The rest are admittedly often based on my wife and my grandchildren. I love them all and can’t help but include scenes from our lives or aspects that are poignant and meaningful to the stories. Parts of my wife were the inspiration for Camille Coté, Elsbeth Marggrander, and Rachel Moore, in various aspects. My grandmother Coté was the inspiration for Maddy Coté in LeGarde Mysteries. My two maternal grandparents were the models for Oscar and Millie Stone, in the same series. The other characters, however, are completely imaginary.

Aaron Paul Lazar's novel collection
2) Thanks, Downton Abbey – You Made Me a Murderer

First of all, I have to blame my mother for getting me hooked on Downton Abbey. While visiting her last November, we spent several days enjoying walks in the woods, cooking together, playing scrabble, and yes—watching Downton Abbey every evening.
I’d heard about it, of course. But I had no idea.
I mean, NO idea.
This series is so addictive I was riveted to the television—a very unusual situation for me, mind you. We started out with season one, and by the time I was ready to fly home I’d already ordered the first two seasons (I HAD to own them) and pre-ordered season three.
I was seriously hooked. I adored the characters.
Bates. Mrs. Hughes. Anna. Sybil. Thomas. O’Brien. William. Daisy. Mrs. Patmore. Oh, I could list the whole darned cast here, they are all so good. If you’ve watched the show, I’m sure you know what I mean.
There’s a lot of history and gorgeous countryside, stupendous shots of the inside of this authentic marvelous home in England. Horses. Dogs. And drama.
Oh, the drama. The superb conflict. And last, but certainly not least, the unrequited love…
I’m a terrible sucker for unrequited love, and I feature it continuously in my mysteries, including the LeGarde, Moore, and Tall Pines series. I love the aching, the longing, the never-quite-making-it-there sensation of one loving another, but the other doesn’t quite get it. And maybe the guy really loves the gal but she thinks he hates her… you know exactly what I mean, don’t you?
There’s a slight soap opera-ish quality to the Downton Abbey storylines, but they’re much more dignified and told in such a classy setting that it doesn’t seem over-the-top, it seems just right. In Downton Abbey, one’s emotions are pulled and stretched taut in the opposite direction—usually during only one episode.
This program is so invasive, that I couldn’t stop thinking about the huge cast of family and servants. I’d ached for resolution. I pined for the characters. I dreamt about them.
I watched the first two seasons night after night with my wife, who to my delight also became hooked. During Christmas, all I could think of was the DVD set due in January. Season three was on its way.
When it arrived (shortly after I finished with Murdoch Mysteries, season five, another absolutely addictive and marvelous series!), we watched every night.
That’s when the producers blew me away by starting to kill people.
Okay, so they did kill one very dear and sweet character earlier on. (I won’t mention his name here in case you haven’t watched yet.) I was heartbroken, lamenting his loss for months.
Seriously, I was SO upset. I couldn’t help but rant about it. Eventually, I got over it and realized maybe the young actor had greener pastures to pursue. I forgave the producers for killing him off.
Then—to my horror—they killed yet another character! This one was one of my all time favorites. A brave, sweet, innocent, darling girl. I was furious! My wife and I stared open-mouthed at each other, sputtering, “How COULD they?” It took a while to get used to this travesty until the last episode of season three rolled onto the screen.
Guess what? They did it again, only this time to one of the main characters who had shaped the series from day one. A MAJOR character, one without which you could never imagine the series going forward.
As a writer, I’ve been thinking about how much this upset my wife and me, and all our family and friends who also follow Downton Abbey. We talked about it for days, still horribly upset about the losses.
It was at that point I started to think about how much of a splash those killings had started. Boy, did they get good press out of it. And, in my author’s brain, I started to think the unthinkable.
Should I kill off one of my main characters?
Sure, I’ve “killed” before, I write mysteries, after all. Some feature characters have been hurt or even murdered. And in For Keeps, I killed off a beloved main character, only to bring her back again through some pretty fancy time-travel footwork into Sam Moore’s past. But in general, I have promised my readers “I’ll never hurt or kill one of the main characters you have come to love” in either LeGarde Mysteries, Moore Mysteries, or Tall Pines Mysteries.
I seriously wondered if I should I break my promise.
When this all turmoil and upheaval in Downton Abbey took place, I was smack dab in the middle of writing my seventeenth book, the fourth in my Tall Pines Mystery series. (Book 1: For the Birds (2011, Twilight Times Books); Book 2: Essentially Yours (2012, Twilight Times Books), Book 3: Sanctuary (coming soon); book 4: Murder on the Sacandaga).
I started to consider doing away with Quinn (Marcella’s beautiful Seneca husband), or Sky (her ruggedly handsome ex-beau from her youth), or Callie (my protagonist’s agoraphobic best friend).
I pondered the impact of how these deaths would shape the future of the series. How would the dynamics change? Would it be too dark? Too maddening? Too damned sad?
I expanded my sights to Copper, the six-foot tall black policewoman with an attitude who had rescued Callie from her sadness and become her soul mate and partner. After all Callie had endured—and her past traumas were extreme—could I now deprive her of the one woman she’d found to love?
I decided to do it.
I wrote the chapter. The serial killer went on a rampage and in the heat of trying to escape, killed Copper.
I kept going, not allowing myself to think too much. But inside, I kept thinking how could I do that? What’s Callie going to do? She’ll be totally destroyed!
Since I did this horrific thing, I’ve been second-guessing myself to the point of obsession. I’m already obsessed to the point of lunacy about my characters, but this is getting bad, really bad.
I might “undo” it now. I think I have complicated the plot a little too much with this murder. On top of all the other poor victims of the serial killer… it may be just too much.
So, thank you, Downton Abbey, for messing up my focus and making me into a senseless murderer.
(And seriously, thank you Downton Abbey for giving us such a thrill ride this year!)
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Sunday, 11 August 2013

An Interview with Ritch Gaiti

Today I get to talk to a writer who has had a few books out there and is a great painter of my daughter's love, horses.  His first mystery, The Big Empty is out there, so I would like to introduce you to Ritch Gaiti.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  What is a day in the life of Ritch Gaiti like?

Up early, feed my two dogs and Ziggy, my cockatoo. Then I usually sit by my computer and get into left-brained tasks (such as this). I write in the mornings. After lunch, I put my right brain into gear and paint. When I write I need quiet, when I paint, I need music (country, classic rock, doo wops, etc.). After dinner, I usually veg and recharge. Weekends, my wife and I play some tennis, go to dinner and catch a movie.

Tell us about novel, The Big Empty.

The Big Empty is about betrayal, deception and redemption of a man and a people. I characterize it as an ‘ethereal mystery’ – it’s written on several levels.
The story is told in the first person through Rick Wallace, a gritty, down and out lawyer.  A Native American who had long given up his culture, Rick is haunted by a past that slowly unfolds with the rest of the plot. At another level, there is a sense that something is happening beyond his control, beyond his consciousness – something spiritual in nature.
Set in modern day New York City, the story begins post-911, deep in the bedrock beneath the rubble of the World Trade Center. It picks up ten years later as Rick reluctantly takes on a trivial assignment - every instinct he had told him to get out but something drove him forward. He persists, never knowing whom to trust. The story slowly unfurls, revealing layers of an intricate backstory and a massive conspiracy by some of the most respected organizations in the world. Rick, who serves as a surrogate for a much larger issue, changes as the plot unwinds and he re-discovers his past through some surprising plot twists.  He discovers what has haunted him all these years was anything but true as he uncovers a secret that changes centuries-old history. 
What can you tell us about your main character?

Rick Wallace, a flawed Native American lawyer living in Tecumseh, Arizona had bottomed-he serves as the surrogate for a much larger issue, which is revealed in the book. The first-person point of view emulates the gritty style of a classic private investigator. 

Trust is difficult for Rick as he has been betrayed by the people he trusted most. The best and worst part of his life has passed him by – as his past is buried deep in his subconscious. He lives life day to day until he gets this assignment –which changes his life along with many others. His character develops as he learns that the truth that had sent my life into a tailspin ten years ago was far from true.

Rick’s character change throughout the story parallels the plot as he gets his opportunity for

redemption and resurgence.

I know the mental side of my main character is based on me.  Is your main character based on you or anyone else?

He is based on an Indian Chief I had met several years ago. A bit raw on the outside yet, underneath all of the callous, he is very vulnerable.

How long did it take you to write your novel?

I first wrote it as a film script ten years ago and was in the process of getting it produced when the funding ran out. Since then, I have rewritten it as a novel-and through many drafts tightened up the plot and the point of view of the lead character.

What drew you to this genre?

I always loved mysteries- the hard knuckled Mickey Spillane/Raymond Chandler variety. I wanted to dig inside the lead character’s head and feel what he felt as he was unfolding the answers.

Who has inspired you through your life and career?  Writing and anything else

I am inspired by the act of creating something new and different. Whether it’s a story or a painting or a sculpture-or anything else for that matter. I believe that most people are very creative but don’t give themselves a chance to succeed because they are afraid of failing. To me, failing is a great teacher-and a platform to grow. My inspiration is Leonardo DaVinci.

Is there any part of the writing or publishing journey that you are not happy with?

No. I love going through the stages of development-from idea inception, to rewrites, to fine-tuning the final product.

My blog is mostly on mysteries and thrillers, but I know you have other works out there so is there anything else you’d like to tell us about?

Dutching the Book, my last book was about gambling in 1960’s Brooklyn, a far departure for The Big Empty. It was based on real people and events. Before that, I wrote two humorous books – Tweet, a satire on advertising; and Points, a tongue in cheek relationship book.

Oh yes, I am also a recognized artist, painting the southwest. My paintings have been exhibited in many galleries and museums across the U.S.  My painting website is and my writing website is
Are you working on anything new?

Always. I have three books in my pipeline- in various stages of development. I don’t know which one I’ll attack next.

My daughter loves horses so if I don’t mention your paintings she’s going to yell at me.  You paint a lot of horses and Native American’s and such.  How long have you been doing that?

About twenty years. I wanted to paint and searched for subject matter. I love the west –so I landed on that. The more I painted, the more I read-I became entranced by Native American history and culture. When I paint an Indian, I feel like I’m telling the story of the entire culture-and their destiny. Horses, how could you not love horses? Graceful, affectionate, strong-they represent the ultimate freedom.

Now for some rapid fire questions.  Just answer with the first thing that comes to mind.

Favorite movie?

            The Verdict – incredible film-written by David Mamet, directed by Sidney Lumet, starring Paul Newman

Favorite book as a kid?

            A Stone for Danny Fisher

If you were going to a deserted island which 3 famous people (living or dead) would you want to be stuck there with you and why?

·         Leonardo DaVinci – to experience the inspiration of a genius

·         Brigitte Bardot- always wanted to learn how to speak French

·         Two is enough

What would I find in your refrigerator right now?

Sandwich meat, cherries, milk, ice cream, veggies, OJ

Day or night?

            Work day, relax at night

Mountains or beach?

            Definitely mountains and lakes

Pepsi or Coke?


Loud night on the town or quiet night at home?

            Quiet night at home

I’m a chef so I have to ask…what do you like to eat when you’re writing?

            Nope, water and maybe a cup of coffee

What do you do when no one is looking?

            Play solitaire online

Thank you Ritch.  If you want to check out his novel on Amazon please click here:  The Big Empty