Tag Archives: Dana Griffin

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?

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.

cropped-cover-small-the-coverup.jpgCoerced Covercropped-calamity-fullres-6-x-9.jpg

Look for my fourth novel in the spring of 2016.

Knot in Time, by Alan Tucker

Alan Tucker Knot in TimeWhat a fun read this was. Categorized as young adult, this adult reader devoured it.

 The high school dropout protagonist, Dare, gets a chance to work for the custodians of time by traveling through it to save the universe.

The plot seems implausible until you begin reading and the believability ratchets up in short order. I mention this because Dare, when presented with this opportunity in the beginning of the story, feels the same way. But Mr. Tucker does a great job of showing him accepting the reality of the situation.

Dare being a hapless individual who seems to shrug off his difficulties made for an enjoyable character to follow through the story. It was easy to visualize any misguided teen in this situation rolling with the circumstances to make the best of it.

The story moves forward at a rapid pace which makes for an engaging read. Although the characters are fleshed out, I would have liked the author to have shown them with more depth, but finished the book satisfied and anxious to read the next in the series.

 

Final Authority, by Robert Dobransky and Joesph Dobransky

Dobransky Final AuthorityThis is one of those airline mysteries that is filled with authentic details. You’ll feel like you boarded a flight and can’t get off until you’ve landed at your destination.

Written by two brothers who fly for competing airlines, their experience with the large complicated industry is revealed in their realistic look at fictitious Global Alliance Airline and several of the key people who run it.

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

The authors would bring the story to a stop to go into a lengthy tale of a character’s backstory, when I feel this could have been layered in throughout the novel, or left out. I also felt the authors overly dramatized several of the characters who weren’t pilots. A couple I questioned how they rose to their lofty position within the airline, an issue many pilots have with their airline’s management, but in this case it came across as exaggerated. Lastly, I questioned the need of the prologue. It showed the trouble the protagonist Captain Bruce Bannock faced at some point in the novel, yet it wasn’t until the very end of the novel its purpose was revealed. I read the majority of the book questioning what the prologue had to do with the story.

That aside, the authors did an excellent job showing the lengths some within an airlines hierarchy will do to seek power and wealth. Offsetting this group were some qualified, hard-working individuals who did the real work at keeping the airline operating while it faced the crisis portrayed. The authors showed this latter group realistically.

And, extremely important to this reviewer, the flying details were exacting. Readers interested in an airline mystery that could potentially happen will enjoy this book.

I look forward to reading more from these authors.

 

Flight For Safety by Karlene Petitt

Flight for Safety Karlene PetittThe accidents discussed in this novel are based on actual ones. Crew fatigue, reduced training, inexperienced instructors, pilots becoming dependent on the aircraft’s automation, and airline mergers so the upper airline management can profit at the expense of the employees are all actual problems airline pilots face. The portrayal of some in the FAA wanting to do something about these problems but being prevented by their leaders is also accurately depicted.

Unfortunately I thought the author struggled to tie these subjects into a convincing thriller. The harassment the protagonist, Darby, experiences from her airline management I thought was a stretch for her alleged infractions. It wasn’t until the story was wrapped up did I understand why management had beleaguered her.

But the author making Darby out as a hardnosed woman who didn’t take any crap was smile invoking, and made the climax at the end realistic.

The other reason for my four star rating was the writing wasn’t as polished as I would have liked. There were a lot of stage directions to describe what was going on. Darby did this, then that, then she did this. The end was summed up in a narration I thought could have been more engaging if Darby had discussed the events with one of the other characters. Also, several events happened without any real setup or explanation as to how they came to be.

But the heart of the novel was so precisely depicted I admire Ms. Petitt’s ability to put the reader in the cockpit of an advance aircraft like the Airbus A-330 and fill the scene with enough details that the reader understands basically what is going on without bogging the story down with extraneous details.

 I’ll be reading more of this author’s novels.

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.