Welcome to 2024!
Time to start another trip around the sun. To get back to writing, picking up wherever we left off. Here in Michigan, we’re getting a frozen gift from Mother Nature that is bound to keep on giving for several weeks now. I’m sure the skiers, snowboarders and snowplow drivers will be happy. The rest of us…not so much.
Time to get started with an update on writing, current projects, an interview with another author and music. Must. Have. Music.
In the past I’ve participated in a few competitions where authors submit their work for consideration and the hopes of receiving accolades. A couple were recommended by other writers. Sadly, some of these organizations don’t even bother informing you as to who won. They just accept your entry fee and wave good-bye. With so many books written each year, even being named a finalist, let alone winning, is no easy feat.
The mystery category is gigantic. So no matter what program it was, there was sure to be a lot of competition with the books I write.
In late December, I learned that “Chasing Favors” was selected as the best mystery of 2023 by N.N. Light’s Book Heaven. This company had more than 1,200 books in consideration. Winning this award is quite an achievement. It also gives me the motivation to keep writing. I’ve got many stories to share.
Work In Progress.
There’s a great old line from the legendary Mel Brooks. “Man plans and God laughs.” My crime novel, featuring Leo Agonasti continues to move slowly toward the finish line. Getting that first draft done is a big goal for me this year. Yet Mel’s words ring loud and clear.
Hidden in the archives of my files and computer is an old manuscript titled “Rules of Desperation”. I wrote this one about fifteen years ago with the idea that someday I’d dust it off, give it a fast read and go looking for a publisher. This has been waiting patiently for my attention.
During a conversation with Diana K. Penn last fall, I mentioned this book. Her eyes widened and she began to do a little happy dance. Diana offered to edit and format the book for me and then I could go the indie route and just publish it myself. This would also give me a new book to add to the display for the festival season. Who could turn down such an offer?
Now I’m about halfway through the 80,000-word manuscript, updating it and cleaning up some of the dialogue before sending it to Diana. Which of course means Leo is quietly waiting in the wings. Once I ship her the manuscript, I’ll be able to turn my attention back to the crime story.
But that doesn’t stop me from writing something else. Like a scene that will become part of Chene’s fourth novel. When an idea struck, I knew the only way to get behind it was to write it down. With that done, I can get back to “Rules” and finish that project.
Makes me wonder if all writers are crazy, working on multiple projects simultaneously.
About a year ago, I crossed paths with Jacob Bullen for the first time. We were both participating in last February’s virtual book event. There was a lot of laughter and antics with that show. As luck would have it, we both attended a different event later in the year. I thought Jacob would be a great addition to the news.
Tell us something about yourself and how you became an author.
I've been writing since I was 8 years old and was fascinated with storytelling at the age of 3. Even in my earliest memories, I had a tale to tell, so I suppose it's easy to say that I've always been chasing one story or another. I can say that the thought of publishing never took flight until my daughter, Ashlynne, came around. While my wife, Kristian, had long advised that I write my stories down, it took a promise to Ash before I decided to pursue publishing.
Do you ever imagine one of your novels being made into a movie or television series?
Yes. I have imagined how my books might translate into such formats.
Any favorite actors you’d cast in the lead roles?
I've always wanted Daniel Craig to play a villain. I would cast him as the fallen angel, Lucien Grey from the Blood in the Rain series. Back when the series was first published, I had considered Austin Butler to play the role of Alec from The Legends of Valoria.
What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you write the chapters in sequence?
I tend to be a "plantser." Generally, I start with a basic idea, be it a dream of some rabbit I've decided to chase down a hole. Once I have the idea, visualization is the first step. What do the world and my characters look like? What drives them? What trials do they face? By the time I've answered the second and third question, I've typically figured out more than enough to begin writing. So far, by the time I've finished writing the first draft, I have an overall concept for the entire series. (Feel free to ask me about upcoming entries in a series. Chances are, it's in my brain somewhere.
Tell us a little bit about the characters in your latest book.
The latest book I've finished writing is Avenger, the 3rd book in my Unbound series. The main character, Vali, is a young, Viking warrior who unlike the rest of his brethren, has long sought to end the century's old war between his people and the Kresh, seeking a way for the two races to coexist within the Isles of Vala. He's insecure of himself and of his victories thus far, constantly questioning whether he is up to the task the old gods have left for him. His companion, Aya, has similar worries of her own as she tries to keep Vali safe from his own recklessness, her past feelings of abandonment, and the uncertainty that comes with trying to unite warring clans to face off against the remnants of the old gods and the beings who brought their reign to an end.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
Typically, I have most of them per book before I've begun to write. I may not have all the faces in order for book 3 while I'm working on book 1. However, as an example, I've known how the Legends of Valoria will end since I penned the first book.
What is your latest book about?
Avenger marks the conclusion of the Viking Civil War Arc and the beginning of the Sword of Asgard arc.
Can you share an excerpt?
“I believe he received the idea from the same woman who convinced Gram to stay behind.” Lym continued, the weight of her words growing far more severe and tense with each passing syllable. “He spoke of a blade of sorts, but not the weapon he entrusted to you. No, he spoke of a metaphoric blade, an agent of Asgard’s vengeance. Someone to return and serve as their avenger. Whatever unspeakable thing that guides these Masked Ones, has found a way to work against the grand design. Somehow, it has found a way to supplant what was intended for it. There are other agents out in the world that are working to unmake the world, possibly all of the realms as we know it. However, Stromholdt believed that this sword, this avenger would somehow know of their purpose. Would have their hand guided to it as if they had always known of it."
What’s the next project you’ll be working on?
I wish for my world's to be every part as complex as the real one. Love, Crime, Fantasy and Horror can all exist within our world anywhere and at any given moment. I am currently plantsing (we make our own words) several off genre entries into my current series. Currently that means writing a Horror novel set in The Tales of Anon series.
You can learn more about Jacob and his books on his website.
When it comes to music, variety keeps me going. That includes songs from jazz, blues, rock, classics and more. One of the artists that has been on my airwaves a lot lately is Kenny Loggins.
Known to many as The King of Movie Soundtracks, Loggins career has covered more than 50 years. Whether part of a group or as a solo act, Loggins music continues to entertain people. He completed his final tour in 2023.
Here are my top five favorites.
Celebrate Me Home: https://youtu.be/Kbcro30GBtU?si=dCgDiYBIgqwbD479
Mama Don’t Dance:
I’m Alright: https://youtu.be/1rmPckNvD3E?si=l6pTccrC_ywC1RIP
Angry Eyes: https://youtu.be/lFM-VaUO_CE?si=nelxsgZMt8ZRFfQF
The Wayward Path
Your Turn To Die