Fencing out ravenous beasts, and the inevitability of loose ends

The Smith Compound has taken up temporary residence in far northwestern Montana. We are surrounded in our little borrowed cabin by pine forest, the faint smell of smoke, and a fence high enough to keep hungry deer from eating the neat flower gardens that decorate our well-watered grounds.

0906181758a~2The first thing you see inside the cabin’s front door is a canister of bear spray on a window ledge. As I sit here on the front porch typing, I can’t help but wonder if it is there just in case a grizzly decides to ignore the fence and the massive gate in the driveway, or as a courtesy for us to borrow when we venture out for a hike. We did bring our own, and I will not hesitate to use it should my hiking companion prove able to outrun me.

Mountains are a rumor to the east through haze that lifted but once yesterday on our trip from Pacific time in and around Coeur d’Alene, which is widely known as CDA in the lingo of northern Idaho.

A road trip gives a body time to think, as I was doing yet again just now until a pine cone bounced off the deck a few feet from where I sit. A barely perceptible rustle in the branches 30 feet above me gave away the perpetrator, who I swear gave me a squirrelly scowl as he came head-first down the trunk of the pine a couple of minutes later.

If I remember correctly, I’d been thinking about loose ends, of which there are many in every life of any length. They multiply as time goes by. Earlier this morning, back when the cabin’s wifi was within reach, I came across some true words about fiction and how we don’t always get the endings we want. An author can surprise us, disappoint us, confound us. Sometimes characters surprise the author and do or say things their creator could not or did not foresee.

Nonfiction is much the same. Characters surprise and disappoint. Body parts and murder weapons are not always found. Bad guys go unpunished. The innocent go to prison. Things we should say and do go unsaid and undone. We can confound ourselves.

Looking back, with open minds, we see loose ends dangling here and there like fishing lures caught on a wire by the lake road. With luck, we see tidy resolutions somewhere back there, too.

B.J.

NORTH OF GRAND: New Detective Red Shaw novel now on Amazon

A man turns up dead in a bicycle storage locker on a muggy August morning and Detective Red Shaw takes the heat.

bicycle-2462199-enhancedShaw has just outsmarted a murderous sociopath who almost killed him. Now he has another homicide to investigate—while he’s hobbled by a sore knee, distracted by a steamy new romance, and dodging accusations of coercing a confession in an old case.

Shaw and his partner probe the sometimes toxic, competitive world of amateur bicycle racing, where they find a web of cryptic social media messaging, stolen property, drug trafficking, and murder.

Get it now on Amazon!

If you somehow missed the first Red Shaw novel, called a “compelling, gut-wrenching thriller” by one reviewer, you can get that on Amazon, too: BLOOD SOLUTIONS.

The case of the cat and the bicycle

A good editor is like a good detective. Both take note of the obvious, and both notice the things that slip by others.

Here are two examples to think about.

One

Some guy tweeted this the other day:

Two

The same guy put a bicycle in the header of his new Twitter page.

Go ahead. Take a look. Be curious.

Why a cat and why a bicycle?

A casual reader or distracted digital passerby might not ask why. It’s just a cat and just a bicycle. An experienced editor, like a good detective, wonders about the choices and the writer’s or the suspect’s reasoning.

Are the cat and the bicycle just eye-catching visuals or is there some deeper significance? Were the selections deliberate or careless?

Why those images?

In this case, a reader familiar with the writer’s work might recall the fate and symbolism of a yellow-eyed cat. The reader might also begin to wonder if the bicycle foreshadows something not yet revealed.

A skilled detective might begin to poke around.

What do you think?

B.J.

On a lighter note…and a darker background

Hello. Yeah, it’s been a while.

Please forgive the somewhat darker keyboard image. It may seem a little moody, but it’s simply providing more contrast with the verbiage that runs across the middle in front of it. Some day I’ll find a WordPress theme that I don’t feel compelled to fiddle with.

Two other things

  1. I have a new Twitter account that you’re more than welcome to follow if you are so inclined. It’s going to focus on writing and written stuff. There may be an element of grouchiness at times, witness the pinned tweet about writer’s block.
  2. I’m on track to have my next crime novel available as an ebook by the end of July. Here’s to not being derailed yet again! Join my email list and you just might get a free copy. (You will for sure if you’re among the next 10 to join the list).

Write on.

B.J.

Giving away a story of dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease

If you read to the bottom of my previous post, you might be surprised to learn that there is one book I am more than happy to just give to anyone who might find it useful.

Mom
Rosemary

Miles to Go: An Alzheimer Journal is free for the next few days on Amazon. Beyond that, since the platform limits how long I can offer it for nothing, it’s the minimum of $.99. Anyone who wants the book but doesn’t like buying online can just ask me for a PDF any time using this simple form.

I initially published the whole thing on a previous blog so anyone who came across it could read freely. Having it on Amazon makes it possible to reach more people.

Since the scourge of Alzheimer’s Disease remains an awful reality for so many, I hope others can learn from my family’s experience, as did the reader who included this in an online review:

“I even took notes because the emails showed subtle changes that many other family members could not see and yet is what everyone in this type of situation is going through.”

B.J.

Grab that book while it’s free

You haven’t read Blood Solutions, the first Detective Red Shaw crime novel? Grab the ebook FREE on Amazon on Sunday, March 4, and read it before the next book is out.

Be one of the first to know when that new one is ready. Join the mailing list!

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Note to self: Good job of fighting through that thing you’ve got about not giving good stuff away.

Me: Thanks, but it ain’t gonna happen very often, that’s for damn sure.

New “Red Shaw” novel coming soon

Get an email when it’s published!

northofgrand_amz_2017_aA special little excerpt for my Des Moines friends…

Shaw dropped Vega at 25 East First, drove back over the river and pulled into a parking spot across from the Ruan Center. He found some humor in the towering icon of commerce being at 666 Grand. While the beastly number didn’t particularly scare him, he was glad the modest Catholic diocesan headquarters was just across the street to keep a watchful eye on things.

…but earlier…

Zach Costa didn’t see the thing that killed him. He couldn’t have described what it was even if someone had found him before his swelling, bleeding brain shut down for good. It took a few minutes.

First there was nothing. Then came a semi-conscious awareness of crushing pain, hands pushing him, probing his pockets, pulling an arm, a leg. He heard a voice, someone whispering angry words that meant nothing to him. He tried to speak. He saw his mother, his brother. An older man, too. Pop? A vision of Emma floated by, naked, beckoning. He tried to reach out. She faded into nothing.

He tried to remember something he was supposed to do. Get to class on time? Take out the trash? Get the box. That was it. If he could just get the box, he could ride on home. The pain turned to fire and blinding light and then it stopped.

Get the first Red Shaw novel on Amazon now: Blood Solutions