Monthly Archives: March 2014

Charlie’s Story Improvement

ImageCharlie here, I’m Dana’s other dog. Recently while he was away on a trip I pawed through one of his novels and had to shake my head. Not the ear flapping shake I give it when I wake from a nap, but a slower one. There isn’t a single mention of a dog in the story. After living for years with Hunter and me you’d think he’d know how much better a dog can make a story.

Here’s a short passage from one of his stories. Afterward I’ll show how much better it could be if he’d put a faithful four-legged companion in the story.

A movement outside the glass doors leading out to the pool caught Kyle’s eye. He stared, but didn’t see anything. Was he seeing things because he’d had a long day?

When he flipped the switch for the lights out back, blackness greeted him. Had the circuit breaker popped? A kid in the neighborhood might’ve sneaked over to use the pool and unscrewed the bulbs. That had happened once before.

He swung the door open and stepped out. Before he was fully through the door, he sensed more than saw movement coming at his head from the side. His Kung Fu trained reflexes took over. He leaned back, letting the punch fly past him, and latched onto the attacker’s arm.

He lurched forward, twisted, used the arm as a lever, and propelled the guy to his knees.

He kicked the extended arm hard enough to cause pain but not break it. If it was the neighbor kid, he only wanted to teach him a lesson, not cripple him.

The arm belonged to a black-clad man who wore a ski mask. The guy cried out.

Clothing rustled behind Kyle. He spun and landed a heel kick into another masked guy’s stomach.

Attacker Two let out an “Oomph” but grabbed Kyle’s leg.

Kyle launched a palm strike at the man’s throat. Before he connected, Attacker Two touched his leg with a device.

There was a flash of blue light and pain raced through his body. Kyle yelled and crashed to the patio, twitching with seizure-like spasms. His limbs seemed to have a mind of their own.

As if from a distant place, he heard Attacker Two asking One if he was okay.

“Fucker might’ve broken my arm.” Attacker Two grabbed Kyle’s ankles and dragged him towards the pool.

Kyle’s shirt rolled up. The concrete tore into his skin. He squeezed his eyes shut against the pain. The majority of his twitching had subsided, but he was powerless to squirm away. He lay quivering at the pools edge.

Assailant Two leaned down. “Stay away from Stacy Herren. If we find out you’ve talked or met with her, your next warning won’t be as gentle.” His gravelly voice suggested he was a heavy smoker.

He rolled Kyle into the pool.

Now see how much better this scene would be if he’d included a one-hundred-plus-pounder like me.

Charlie began to growl before movement outside the glass doors leading out to the pool caught Kyle’s eye. He stared, but didn’t see anything. Was he seeing things because he’d had a long day? No. Charlie didn’t get riled easily.

When he flipped the switch for the lights out back, blackness greeted him. Had the circuit breaker popped? A kid in the neighborhood might’ve sneaked over to use the pool and unscrewed the bulbs. That had happened once before and Charlie had chased him off.

He swung the door open and before he could step out, Charlie bolted barking with that deep bark that would scare off the jackals from hell.

“Ahh,” a man yelled out.

Charlie had clamped in his teeth the hand of a figure clad in black. Faithful loyal Charlie gave the hand a vigorous shake.

“Get him off me! Get him off me!”

Charlie must’ve smelled someone else as he let go and turned to sink his teeth into the wrist of another man. An object fell from his hand and clattered on the patio.

Kyle picked it up and touched it to neck of the first guy Charlie had taken out.

A flash of blue light lit up the night accompanied by a buzzing noise before the guy fell to the ground and lay quivering.

Kyle twisted and touched the second man with the device. He also collapsed.

“That’s enough, boy,” Kyle said giving Charlie a pat.

Charlie let go and looked up into his master’s eyes.

“What would I have done without you, big boy?”

If you think the second scene is better than the first, let Dana know. Maybe he’ll start putting one of my brethren in his stories.

Interview with Sami Saxton

ImageI’m at Brio, a quaint Italian café on Lexington Avenue in New York City with Sami Saxton, from Douglas Wickard’s thriller, A Perfect Husband. Sami is having a martini with lots of large green olives. Seriously. That’s how she ordered it. I’m sticking to coffee.

She looks younger than the early forties that she is and combined with her above average height I wonder why her ex-husband strayed. His loss.

“Sami, at the beginning of A Perfect Husband, you sold your house you shared with your ex-husband for many years to move to a cabin you inherited from your family in New Jersey. It seemed from this reader’s perspective the move gave you the opportunity to do some soul searching about your upbringing and marriage you might not have accomplished had you stayed in the city where you’d lived all your life. Do you agree?” 

“Well, let’s just say I needed a major break from the City. I wanted a disruption. Kind of like when you move to a foreign country and you don’t speak the language, know the customs, the people… at the time it felt like the right move, the right choice. Little did I know…?”

That’s an understatement. Learning new customs doesn’t even compare to fighting for her life. “What did you hope the move would do for you?”

“Here goes Sami; wearing rose-colored glasses…I think in my mind, I had an ideal picture of the country house being my own personal Walden’s Pond. You know, solitude, peace, the great outdoors. I didn’t really get in touch with all those childhood memories until I actually stepped over the threshold. Then, they sort of all came crashing in on me… do you mind if I order another martini. If you catch Luigi’s eye, can you wave him over…thanks.”

The immediate raising and waving of my arm reminds me of the veterinarian in the story who wanted to please Sami. Get a grip, Dana. “Putting aside the fact you and your dog, Blue, came close to being murdered, do you have any regrets about making the move?”

“Other than coming close to being murdered?  No. (laughs nervously) Luigi, this is Dana Griffin. A wonderful writer friend of mine. Can you shake me up another? This is my limit, though, Dana. Only two. Promise.”

I give Luigi a nod while wondering how often Sami feels the need to limit herself. Is it me, or did she avoid answering the question. “If you hadn’t had the encounter with the serial killer, do you think you would’ve come to enjoy living in your cabin? Or, might’ve spent summers there?”

“I think the idea of living at the cabin was more intoxicating than the actual reality of it. Kind of like LOVE. Thank you, Luigi. Cheers, to love… I would’ve gotten bored. It was a nice fantasy. I’m glad I’m back in New York. Blue misses the country, the woods…but this is our home. Right Blue? (Blue is curled up in a ball beside her. He looks up for a second then goes right back to sleep after a sigh) I grew up here. I love the City. Don’t you?”

“Ah… I enjoy visiting it.” It’s amazing the ability she has to turn a conversation away from herself. She doesn’t even seem to notice she does so. “During your time at the cabin, you discover clues it was used in your absence. You also discover a scarf from a young woman who’d been murdered in the woods behind the cabin. Now, do you wish you’d looked further into who and why your cabin had been used?”

“You know, once my mother died and my father abandoned the cabin, I never thought of it. I didn’t drive at the time and I was overly concerned with my father, who was in Florida living in a retirement community developing Alzheimer’s and suffering from Leukemia. I didn’t have an opportunity to even think about the cottage. What it was being used for… the thought never crossed my mind. I was working full time, living my life, going through a divorce… (a big gulp of Vodka) I did have a dear friend of mine go up and check on it from time to time. He’s a writer, also. I’ll have to introduce the two of you.”

“That’d be nice.” I sip my coffee while thinking about how we get so caught up in life we ignore signs of trouble. “Without giving away the ending of the story, or the following sequel, A Perfect Setup, how has the experience in the story changed you?”

“I’m alive. And, getting stronger every day. Drew, you know Drew… we’re taking a transatlantic cruise together this summer… to Italy… I don’t know how she ever convinced me to do that!  Hopefully, it will be perfect!”

I chuckle. It seems everything in Sami’s life that is perfect is just the opposite. “Thank you for your time Ms. Saxton. Hopefully we can meet again to continue our discussion.”

“Thank you, Dana. I’m looking forward to your next novel. I loved the first two COERCED and THE COVER UP. Maybe I’ll take it along with me on the cruise… xoxo!”

I lay a credit card on the table. “Thank you, but I doubt my wife would approve of me going on a cruise without her.”

“No, no, this is my treat! Even the tip!”

 If you wish to read the adventure Sami has in A Perfect Husband. You can find it here:

You can find out about her creator here:

Hunter’s Worries

ImageHunter here, I’m one of Dana’s dogs, and I’m worried about him. He sits at his desk when the light outside gets bright and stays there staring at that thing that glows making it go click click until it gets dark outside.

 I worry about him during these times. What’s that light doing to him? Why do his fingers dance around?

I try to help him break out of the trance he seems to get in by walking under his desk and putting my head in his lap with a toy in my mouth. Once in a while he pulls it from my teeth and throws it down the hall. Other times he’ll give me a pat, which I don’t mind a bit, but he always resumes making the thing click.

 Occasionally he’ll stand and I think we are going to play or go outside and go for a walk. I’ll jump to my feet and search for a toy to take with us. But he’ll either get another cup of that dark drink with the strong smell he consumes large quantities of and returns to his desk, or, he’ll pace back and forth before plopping back into his chair and the clicking resumes.

 During these times I might get a pat, which I don’t mind a bit, most of the time I’m usually ignored. What’s a dog to do?

 I heard him telling Becky, my other master, he’s a third of the way through his next airline thriller with a working title of A Calamity. Does this mean he’ll be this way for a while longer?

 Dogs of writers out there, do you have the same problems with your masters?

Dead Burn by Jennifer Chase

Jennifer ChaImagese has a way of writing thrillers that suck you in until the books conclusion. The story moves along at a rapid pace, but not at such speed that you don’t get to know the characters. And it’s the characters she creates that keep me reading her books. They are flawed people who make mistakes and have dreams and aspirations just like the rest of the humanity.

 Through Ms. Chase’s study of the criminal mind, she creates villains I feel an ounce of sympathy for yet cheer when their reign of terror ends. The interactions between her main characters is realistic and the reason to read her books.

 The plot in Dead Burn was interesting as Emily Stone, the protagonist, is put in a situation she has spent her life trying to thwart. How this subplot was concluded leaves it wide open to appear in future novels.

 I look forward to reading more of Jennifer Chase’s novels.