Crossword puzzles used to consume much of my time, especially on Sunday mornings when the tough ones show up in The Denver Post. I did them in pen, no erasing. They sometimes ended in inky messes, where my mistakes were easy to see, but no one ever looked. On occasion, they were perfect.
Pencils are for those who know their limits.
I beat my addiction to crosswords and got hooked on Sudoku. The easiest ones became boring, and the evil ones just too damn hard. I did those in ink, too.
Sunday mornings nowadays are given over to more worthwhile pursuits, like writing and bicycling. This morning I decided to publish excerpts from my two Detective Red Shaw novels and then write this little post. The excerpts are from Blood Solutions, which grew out of my experience as a crossword-puzzle proofreader (someone had to do it), and North of Grand, some of which I figured out while riding my bicycle.
People who write for a living always look forward to finishing things and getting paid.
If some of those finished things are works of fiction, some writers also anxiously wait to see what readers think.
The insecure (that may be all of us) wonder: Will this be a dismal failure or will there be some good reviews and lots of stars? Will there be royalties?
Only the dreamers and the famous think about screenplays and movie deals.
After releasing my second Detective Red Shaw novel last month, I have to say I’m feeling pretty good. Just today, readers had terrific feedback on both BLOOD SOLUTIONS (Red Shaw #1) and NORTH OF GRAND (Red Shaw #2).
#1 was called a “gripping, compelling thriller” soon after publication and won five more stars this morning.
#2 so far is a “riveting thriller,” “a real page-turner” and, maybe my favorite, “engrossing bicycle noir.”
If you haven’t read them, consider those reviews and others and start turning pages.
A man turns up dead in a bicycle storage locker on a muggy August morning and Detective Red Shaw takes the heat.
Shaw 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.
A 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.
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.