Naming a Character

BLAMED Small-promoWith my feet propped up on my desk, and a legal pad in my lap, I study the list I’ve written on it. The creak of crutches behind me expels a sigh from me. “Do you have to do that?”

“Hey, you said I’d be on crutches all through the story, so I thought I’d practice,” the character in my upcoming airline thriller, Blamed, said.

I go back to contemplating the list.

“You know, it’d be easier to pace on these if that dog wasn’t lying in the middle of the floor.”

My faithful friend, Hunter, lays nearby as he always does when I’m at my desk. “Get used to it. You’ll have a golden retriever in the story.”

“Really? Cool. I like dogs. Have you named it? Or is it nameless like me?”

“Casey.”

He tests speaking the name. “Casey. All right. That works. So what are you thinking for me? Since I’m a pilot, it should be something distinguishing. Like… Buck Teager.”

I shake my head. “That’s too close to Chuck Yeager. Besides, your first name will be Bill. It’s the last name I’m having trouble with.”

Bill stops his pacing. “Bill. Okay. That works. But why Bill? Seems pretty common.”

“I’m using my late brother in-law’s name. He too was a pilot.”

“Bill it is. Let’s test out what you’ve thought of. Run them by me.”

Luckily, no one is home to hear me having this conversation, or I’d probably be locked up in a mental ward. But I’m sure every novelist would understand letting a character assist with choosing their name.

“Here’s what I’ve thought.” I hold the pad up. “Kopp.”

Bill scrunches up his nose. “Kopp? Bill Kopp? Think about it. In the story I’m in an airliner accident. Won’t people think I should have kopped to it?”

“Yeah, you’re right.” I run a line through the name. “How about Wilde?”

An eyebrow is lifted. “Isn’t an airline pilot supposed to be a buttoned-down rational person? Not a wild Bill?”

“Good point.” Another name gets crossed off. “Wilbur. No, forget that one. One of the Wright brothers was named that. Butler.”

“Bill Butler. Who probably would have the nickname, BB. Seriously?”

“Hadn’t thought of that. Then I can scratch off Bower too. Hunter.”

“Your dog’s name? Wow, your imagination is amazing.” Bill rolls his eyes.

“How about Egan?”

“Egan? Bill Egan.” Bill looks like he’s tasted something bad. “I suppose, if you’re really set on it.”

“Fine. You come up with one.”

“Let’s see.” He resumes pacing with the crutches. “Mid-fifties. Pilot. Do I have a sense of humor?”

“Yeah.”

He stops and smiles. “Kurt.”

“Like James T. Kirk?” I shake my head.

“No, Kurt. K-U-R-T. But the similarity could be a joke. Since I’m an airline captain, my rank and name probably will be spoken a bunch of times throughout the book. Captain Kurt. It could be a little joke.” Bill lights up. “Hey, I could even say in the story at some point that my mission is to boldly go where no airline has gone before.”

I chuckle. “If that thought was interjected during a serious moment, it might give some levity to the scene.”

He’d nodding. “See. It’s a good choice.”

“Yeah, but… Kurt is too close to Kirk. How about Kurz?”

With his hands held in front of him like he’s making a frame, he says, “Bill Kurz.” He gives a nod. “Not bad. Close to Kirk so the line will work, but still unusual. Works for me.”

“Bill Kurz it is.”

“Am I married?”

I type Kurz on my list of character’s names. “Yeah.”

“What’s my wife’s name?”

“That’ll be a possible topic for another blog.”

If you want to read what Bill’s experienced in Blamed, it will be published in December 2016.

Writers, do you have these same conversations with your characters?

Blamed, Cover Reveal

BLAMED Small-promoThe incredible David C. Cassidy created this amazing cover-art for my upcoming airline thriller, Blamed.

For those of you looking for a cover artist, you should consider David. His eye for detail and amazing creativity is beyond compare.

After a brief mention of what I was looking for, a day later David emailed me an earlier version of this image. I was so stunted that on the first try he’d come up with what I had visualized. After requesting a few minor tweaks, he sent me the final image.

His attention to detail is one of the reasons I love working with him. He does not rest until he’s provided exactly want the author wants.

If you’re interested in hiring David to create your eBook or print book cover-art, you can see his work and contact him here. David also formats manuscripts for the two eBook formats, and Createspace paperbacks.

Blamed will be published late this fall. I’ll post the blurb and first chapter soon.

Speaking Engagement at Sisters in Crime

Twitter Header Blue 4-2015If you’re in Louisville, KY on April 9th, I’ll be speaking at the local chapter meeting of the Sisters in Crime at Barnes and Noble on 801 S. Hurstbourne Pkwy, Louisville at 1:00 pm.

I’ll be discussing how I came to write airline thrillers, the premise behind my books, errors I see other authors make when writing aviation scenes, and resources writers use for getting information on aviation.

Stop by, I’d enjoy meeting you.

More information about the Louisville chapter of the Sisters in Crime can be found here.

The Fourth Descendant, Allison Maruska

Allison Maruska The Fourth DescendantI enjoyed reading this book even though it took me a while to keep the four main characters straight through the initial couple of chapters. But Ms. Maruska does a good job of easing that difficulty as the four are very different than each other and each with flaws that keeps them real.

 Each receives a call from a historian who has discovered they are descendants of four men who buried a safe in Richmond, Virginia at the beginning of the twentieth century. Each has a key that’ll unlock the safe and reveal the secrets hidden inside.

 The story moves along after just a brief introduction to the characters until mayhem ensues and the chase is on. One of the four has an agenda of their own which becomes compounded by an interested party.

 For me the middle of the story dragged as the four characters went about their regular lives after opening the safe without much thought to why a secret had been buried and why they were selected to reveal it. Then they are off together to discover that secret. And what a secret it is.

The ending, though sad in one regard, was satisfying and left wide open for a sequel. I look forward to reading more from this author.

You can find this book here, or read about the author here.

 

Under the Nazi Heel by Scott Bury

Scott Bury Under the Nazi's HeelI’m honored to be hosting the book launch of Under the Nazi Heel by Scott Bury. The sequel to Army of Worn Soles a World War Two novel based on Scott’s father in-law’s experience as a Canadian drafted into the Soviet Red Army.

I enjoyed Army of Worn Soles and am looking forward to reading Under the Nazi Heel.  Here’s an excerpt:

As Zazulak had predicted, a German patrol stopped them on the outskirts of Ternopyl, where the road crossed a small bridge. A single soldier stood in the middle of the snow-covered road, pointing a rifle at them. Two others stood on the side of the road. One smoked a cigarette.

Zazulak reined in just short of the soldier in the road, who maintained his aim on the sleigh. The smoking soldier came up to them. His rifle remained slung over his shoulder. “Where are you going?” he asked in German. He sounded bored.

“I don’t speak German,” Zazulak said to Maurice. “Translate for me.” Maurice did, knowing Zazulak was lying. “Tell him we’re going to the market in Ternopyl.”

“Good morning, sir. We are just going to the market in Ternopyl,” said Maurice, smiling at the soldier.

The soldier frowned. “What are you going to buy?”

“Some things for our mother’s birthday,” Maurice replied. He smiled again. “We’re brothers, you see.”

The soldier looked at his fellows and frowned again. “You don’t look like brothers. Let me see your papers.”

“Give him your ID,” Maurice told Zazulak in Ukrainian, but Zazulak was already reaching into his pocket, giving Maurice a look that said “Look what you’ve gotten us into.”

Maurice handed both their German-issued ID papers to the soldier. “You’re not brothers. You don’t even have the same name!”

“We have the same mother, but different fathers,” Maurice said, smirking. He leaned closer to the soldier and pointed his thumb over his shoulder. “He’s the bastard.”

The third soldier burst into laughter. The smoker turned to him to frown, and then back to Maurice and Zazulak. “Get the hell out of here, smart aleck.” He thrust the ID papers back to Maurice and waved the solider out of the road.

Zazulak snapped the reins. As the horse passed the checkpoint, he growled “What the hell was that for?” His eyebrows were twin clouds, threatening storm.

“Just a little fun,” Maurice answered, chuckling. “In times like these, we need to have some fun once in a while.”

“Well, don’t do it when we’re on a mission again. That kind of fun could get us both arrested and killed.”

Scott Bury Author PhotoOn the contrary, Zazulak. It distracted the guards. They were thinking about our promiscuous mother and whether they might sleep with her. They weren’t wondering why two farm boys would drive to a city market in the middle of winter without anything to sell.”

“Then why did I have to be the bastard?”

“What would you have done in my place?”

Zazulak did not say anything after that, but glared at the road ahead. Maurice settled back and tried to keep from laughing aloud.

Here’s the link to Scott’s Amazon page if your interested in reading more.

 

 

Mishap on Christmas Eve

Santa Claus and sleighSeveral years ago on Christmas Eve, I flew a flight from Houston to Calgary. It was a clear night with a sky full of stars. I’d turned down the cockpit lights and leaned ahead so I could look up and take in the majestic beauty. Although I would’ve preferred being home with family, I wished I could share the beauty of the night with others.

 Nearing the U.S.-Canadian border, the traffic collision and avoidance system began to yell at us. “Traffic. Traffic.”

 The first officer and I both checked the navigation display to see where the yellow dot was located in reference to our aircraft, and whether it was above or below us. The dot that represented the aircraft that had the potential of colliding with us was on my side of the aircraft and below. We turned our attention outside searching for the aircraft.

 Several seconds went by while the dot on the screen moved closer to our aircraft. Neither the first officer nor I spotted the other aircraft. As clear a night as it was, we should’ve seen the red and green navigation lights.

 When the dot was within three miles of us, the yellow dot turned to red and “Climb. Climb,” was announced.

I disconnected the autopilot and eased the yoke back making the 737 climb. Both of us frantically searched for the other aircraft. When the dot on the navigation screen merged with our aircraft, I spotted the traffic.

I blinked and looked again. Some old fart with a long white beard that blew out behind him, wearing a red coat and cap, was flying a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer. The back of the sleigh was stuffed with a bag full of multi-colored items.

As the other, err… aircraft flew several hundred feet below our left wing, the reckless pilot lifted a mitten-clad hand and waved.

 I couldn’t believe it. The man and his reindeer were moments away from becoming a headline and he had the gall to wave like it was no big deal? Not only was his life as well as the lives of the one hundred and fifty people onboard our aircraft in danger, the lives of those beautiful eight reindeer were moments away from death.

 I hope the Federal Aviation Administration found him and grounded him permanently. He’s a danger to others. I also hope SPCA finds a home for those reindeer so they won’t be put in danger.

Give an E-book

Kindle PaperwhiteWith Christmas coming up, if you’re thinking about gift ideas, books make wonderful gifts that give hours of enjoyment. With traditional books you can write an inscription inside it, wrap it, and put under the tree.

 But if the intended receiver does not live nearby, then you have to deal with mailing. If have a large number of books to give, traditional books can run up your credit card bill quickly. E-books, though, are often less expensive than the traditional books.

Some may think you can’t give an escape-from-reality-gift if it is only available as an e-book, or you want to be frugal and give the less expensive version of a beloved treasure. But you can.

Below are the steps to give a book purchased from Amazon to someone with a Kindle or a Kindle reading app.

  1. Make sure you have the email address of the person you want to give the book to. The recipient’s Kindle or reading app will have to be registered to that email address.
  2.  Find the book in the Kindle store that you want to gift. Free books, books on pre-order, and subscriptions cannot be gifted.
  3. On the product detail page, click the Give as a Gift button.
  4. Enter the email address of your gift recipient.
  5. Enter the delivery date and an option gift message.
  6. Click Place your order to finish your gift purchase using your Amazon 1-Click payment method.

These instructions, as well as how your beneficiary can redeem their gift, can be found on here Amazon’s website.

I can think of three books that would make the airline thriller readers on your gift list happy. Wink. Wink.

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Look for my fourth novel in the spring of 2016.