Tag Archives: books

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?

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.

 

Equal Time Point by Harrison Jones

Harrison Jones Equal Time PointThe details in this book are accurate and it is apparent the author is a retired airline pilot. The events that are depicted could also happen, something which makes this pilot shudder.

An airliner on an Atlantic Ocean crossing runs out of fuel and ditches miles from any land or boats. It is only a matter of time before the passengers and crew perish.

I thought the story started off slowly making it easy to put down. It reminded me of the Airport movies in the seventies. The author spent considerable chapters showing some of the recurrent training pilots receive leaving the reader with no doubt of the emergency they’ll face later in the story. The airline and its associated problems are described. We’re introduced to the crew which the author does a great job of depicting. Then finally, the villain is introduced. It was from this point the book held my interest.

The ending was dragged out and could have been summed up quicker. I would also have liked to have seen more emotional attachment to the main characters. This is a trait that’s difficult to write, but I feel the author will do a better job of this in later novels.

My gripes aside, once I was hooked, I sped through the remainder of the story. The crash and the events that follow kept me on edge and made this pilot think, “How would I handle that situation?”

The twist near the end was cleverly written and accurately depicted. The author gets a pat on the back for coming up with it.

This author has a couple of other books published which I will read. I recommend this book to lovers of mystery novels. I rate this book four stars.

Eric Chandler’s, Down In It

Eric Chandler's Down In ItReaders who might wonder what it is like to eject from an F-16 in Afghanistan and try to stay alive will find this book intriguing. The fact that the author is a retired F-16 pilot who has flown several missions in that war torn country makes the details in the story authentic.

The premise of the story is: Doug “Hoser” Mackenzie is shoot down over the mountains and has to evade capture if he wants to live.

I would have given this book a five star rating instead of four except for two issues.

I would have liked a little more emotional connection through the story. While the character was drifting down in his parachute, he didn’t seem all that concerned. Nor did he seem upset that he’d been shot down, something I think would be devastating to any pilot.

Also, the author uses flashback to show the type of character the pilot is. This reviewer is not a fan of this method of storytelling as I feel the story comes to a halt while the author develops the character. Therefore, several times I questioned if dwelling on Hoser’s past was appropriate when I was worrying about him evading the people chasing him. Other readers may not consider this a deterrent though.

At the story’s conclusion I understood why the author chose this method as I was left hoping the experience of being shot down would make Hoser a better person. Although that made for a character arc that was satisfying, it took me several days of thought to understand why the author wrote the book the way he did.

 This was a quick read that gave this reviewer a taste of an author I’ll follow.

Avengers of Blood, by Gae-Lynn Woods

Gae-Lyn Wood's Avengers of BloodAvengers of Blood is the kind of books in a series I love. It has the same characters from The Devil of Light, the previous novel, who I had gotten to know and love; or hate. This one had a different engaging plot with aspects of the previous book’s unsolved mystery threading its way through the story. It also had a satisfying ending that left some questions unanswered telling me that soon I would be spending more time with my friends. It was written so that a reader who hadn’t read the first one wouldn’t feel lost.

Ms. Wood’s gift is creating small town characters that ring true. It’s apparent she’s spent some time observing people and storing their interactions for fodder for her stories. All of the characters in the story are flawed, some more than others, just like the people in our lives. Even the characters you root for you’ll wish could get over their insecurities and move on. But they would not seem realistic if they shrugged off what’s been a part of their life.

This story’s premise could have come straight from almost any southern newspapers headlines. There’s a gruesome murder in the first chapter discovered by a murderer denied the revenge they’ve been waiting all their life to seek. That engaged this reader as I knew the denied murderer would seek their revenge on those that stole it from them.

Maxine, a new character, was introduced in this story and made for smile evoking reading with her interactions with Cassie, the protagonist.

The only issue I had with the writing was the author occasionally spent too much time showing character actions to avoid dialog tags. Sometimes a simple said, or asked would have let the conversation flow better than showing a character doing something that didn’t add to the scene as a way to identify who spoke.

That was a minuscule issue that won’t stop me from looking forward to reading more from this author.

I recommend this novel to anyone who loves crime/mystery novels.

Here’s a link to learn more about this author and her books: Gae-Lynn Woods

New Edition of airline thriller, The Cover-Up

PrintBook - The CoverUp - SmallIf you’re a paperback reader of airline thrillers, the new version of The Cover-Up is available. Like the EBook, it has been re-edited, an author’s note is included that explains how the story was conceived, as well as the first chapter of Coerced, the novel that follows it.

You can read the author’s note here.

If you’re interested in buying the paperback, it’s available here.

David C. Cassidy created this inspiring cover and formatted the book.

Calamity, First Chapter

Calamity - FullRes 6 x 9CHAPTER ONE

Friday, February 14th, 2:32 p.m. MST.

Denver approach air traffic controller Art Contu watched the blip on his radar screen. Contrails Airline’s flight 1917 had passed through its assigned altitude on its descent. Contu keyed his mic, “Contrails 1917, your crossing restriction at Fulla intersection is thirteen thousand. Climb and maintain thirteen thousand.”

Neither pilot responded. Contu frowned. “Contrails 1917, Denver approach. Your assigned altitude is thirteen, one three thousand feet. Climb and maintain thirteen thousand.”

“Contrails 1917 has a dual engine flameout.” The pilot’s voice was hurried. “We’re declaring an emergency and need vectors to land immediately.”

Contu leaned closer to his radar screen. He had worked numerous aircraft with emergencies, but not one that had lost power to all of its engines. “Contrails 1917, Denver international is three o’clock and ten miles. Turn right heading two six zero. Say fuel and souls onboard.”

The pilots didn’t acknowledge his instructions. The blip on his screen continued south, taking the Contrails flight away from the only airport to which they could glide, if they turned now.

Contu swallowed although his mouth was dry. Were the pilots too busy to reply? “Contrails 1917, Denver is at your three thirty and fifteen miles. Turn right heading two seven zero.”

“Two seven zero.” The Contrails pilot’s voice was high. His words strung together. “We need the fire trucks. We have no power.”

The blip on Contu’s screen turned toward the approach end of runway two-six, lessening the tightness in his shoulders. “Contrails 1917, the emergency equipment has been alerted. Turn right heading two eight zero. Say fuel and souls on board.” The rescue workers needed that information to know how big a possible fire might be, and how many passengers, babies, and crewmembers would need to be pulled from the aircraft.

“United 865 going to tower,” the pilot of another flight said.

Contu squeezed his eyes shut, mentally kicking himself. He’d been so wrapped up in Contrails’ emergency, he’d ignored the other aircraft he was sequencing onto final. United should have already been told to contact the control tower for landing clearance. After acknowledging United’s transmission, he gave instructions to a couple of other flights, picked up the phone, and speed dialed the controller responsible for giving takeoff and landing clearances.

“Tower.”

“Contrails 1917, an ADB-150, has a total power loss.” Contu realized his voice was as rushed as the Contrails pilot’s. “I’m vectoring them for two-six.”

“They’ll be landing in a twenty knot crosswind. The runway hasn’t been plowed in an hour and has two inches of snow.”

“At the rate they’re losing altitude, they’ll be lucky to make to any runway,” Contu said. He hung up. “Contrails 1917, runway two-six is eight miles. Turn right two nine zero.” The crosswind pushed the flight south, away from the runway.

Contu was glad the snow that had been falling hard over the last several hours had let up. “Contrails 1917, Denver twelve hundred overcast, five miles in blowing snow. Wind three three zero at twenty gusting to thirty.” Contu wiped the sweat from his forehead. During a normal landing, the pilots would’ve balked at landing on a snow covered runway with a crosswind that strong. Now they had no choice.

Although the pilots didn’t acknowledge Contu’s instructions, their blip turned further north.

The chair creaked when Contu squirmed; Contrails’ altitude read-out indicated they had descended to eight thousand feet. That put them twenty-seven hundred feet above the touchdown zone of two-six. At the rate they were losing altitude, they’d slam into the ground short of the runway, tearing the airplane apart.

***

Denver air traffic tower controller Bradley Messano cleared United flight 865 to land on runway three five left, then turned and looked out the tower’s windows to the east. He lifted a pair of binoculars to his eyes and spotted the landing lights. The Contrails ADB-150, an aircraft similar in size and appearance to a Boeing 737, descended at a rate that lodged his heart in his throat. It would hit short of the approach lights. The foot of new snow would cushion its touchdown but would make it almost impossible for rescue workers to reach the passengers and crew.

The flight aimed at the end of the runway but continued to drop too fast. Messano’s heart thudded.

When it appeared the aircraft would impact, Messano braced himself on the counter surrounding the tower.

Except Contrails didn’t hit.

The aircraft flew at what looked like inches above the snow drifts. Then the right wing and nose rose. The left wingtip dragged through the snow, sluing the aircraft left.

The aircraft rose, the wings leveled, then banked right to realign with the runway.

The nose swung left and right with the wings rocking.

The aircraft cleared the approach lights by a few feet and continued to climb. “They’re going to make it,” Messano yelled out to no one in particular.

When over the end of the runway, the nose dropped. It swung to the south, pointing the airplane to the side of the runway. Messano braced himself again. The aircraft would touch down on the side of the runway. The snowbanks lining its edges would pull it off into the unplowed snow.

The right wing dipped, the nose slued to the north, rolling the wing further. The wingtip contacted the runway, yanking the nose further north.

The aircraft slammed down. The nose began to turn toward the center of the runway, but not before the right main gear caught the snowbank on the side of the runway and yanked the aircraft off the pavement.

“Shit,” Messano yelled.

The nose gear snapped off, dropping the nose. It plowed a furrow, sending a cloud of snow into the air, making it impossible to see what happened for the next few seconds.