Tag Archives: suspense

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.

 

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.

 

 

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.

Review of Airline Thriller, Calamity

cropped-calamity-fullres-6-x-9.jpgI’m honored to have the talented David C. Cassidy leave this five star review of my airline thriller, Calamity.

Book Review, Calamity.

Not only is David a talented graphic artist, he’s a gifted writer too. Check out his novels, Velvet Rain, Fosgate’s Game, and The Dark.

Perfect, by Douglas Wickard

Perfect, Douglas WickardWith each book, Douglas Wickard grows as a writer. This one is his best to date, which should not be a deterrent from reading his other novels. I devoured them in just a few settings.

The plot of Perfect moves along at a pace that allows the reader to enjoy the scenery, which Wickard is a master at showing. The characters story savor their surroundings which are given to the reader in satisfying glimpses, or are repulsed by them. There were a few times I thought the story came to a halt while a scene was described, but those times were rare.

The interactions of the characters are realistic and you get to know the point of view characters thoughts and feeling intimately. This being the third book in the Sami Saxton series, she carries baggage from the two previous novels that Wickard wisely doesn’t dwell on. Hints are given so readers of the previous novels are reminded and understand Sami’s emotional well-being. New readers to the series won’t be left questioning why she thinks and acts the way she does.

Sami’s bestie from the previous novels, Drewe, is given more story time in this novel, which gave this reviewer more insight into why she and Sami are so compatible to each other.

But poor Sami. Wickard does not give this woman a break. Just when you think things might be looking up for her, emotionally and romantically, Wickard drops her into hell, yet again. This book comes to a satisfying conclusion, but is left wide open for a continuation of Sami’s torturous life to go on. I can’t wait to read it.

Cassidy Jones and the Luminous

Cassidy Jones and the LuminousBefore you begin reading this engaging novel, set some time aside before you turn the first page. If you don’t, you’ll be late for work or school, forget to meet friends, or wish you hadn’t stayed up so late the next day.

 Elise Stokes has an amazing ability to put the reader into the mind of a fifteen-year-old young woman who just so happens to have superpowers. The character, Cassidy Jones, with the exception of the superpowers, is the kind of daughter all parents would cherish, or teenagers wished they had as a friend. She doesn’t swear, or deliberately get in trouble. But having her extraordinary gifts and using them to rid her hometown of Seattle of villains often puts her in the crosshairs of nasty people.

 What I love about this book and the series in general, is how the ordinary life of a teenager is portrayed while Cassidy works with her genius neighbor and best friend Emery to keep Seattle safe. The interaction with the students in school who consider themselves so above Cassidy made me feel I was back in high school. Cassidy’s interaction with her family and friends evoked many smiles. The action scenes are fast paced and you’ll want to reread to savor how well written they are.

 Although classified as a young adult book, readers of that age or older will thoroughly enjoy reading Cassidy’s latest adventure. I look forward to reading the next in the series.