Meet the Character: Brett Dunbar

My first ever game of blog tag! I’m “it” courtesy of my friend and great author Eve Gaddy. (her book Cry Love is incredible!) This one is a meet the character game, to introduce a character in a current or upcoming book. So, here we go…oh, wait, first, a visual.

caviezel

Yeah, I thought that might get your attention!!

Okay, now that you have a picture in your head, read on. Or feel free to drool a bit more, your choice.

MEET THE CHARACTER

Answer these questions about your main character from a finished work or work in progress:

1.) What is the name of your character?

Sheriff’s Detective Brett Dunbar. This will be a familiar name to readers following the Cutter’s Code series. In this adventure, Cutter has decided that, contrary to his human’s plans Brett, who needs a little Cutter-style intervention, will be the one dog-sitting him while they are on their honeymoon.

2.) Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

To me he’s real! But I suppose I must admit he’s fictional. Sadly, because he looks like Jim Caviezel.  (See above. Drool. Repeat.)

3.) When and where is the story set?

When is what the fiction world calls “the ever present now.” Meaning present day, whenever that might be in your world. Where is my beloved Pacific Northwest, and one of our famous ferry boats even made the cover of the book!

4.) What should we know about him/her?

Brett is an ex-LAPD cop who has relocated to a smaller, much more rural location in the woods of western Washington state. He left to escape that harsh world and painful memories, and was quite happy living a quiet life alone. And then he ran into the people of the Foxworth Foundation, and their uncanny canine partner, Cutter, and his life was changed forever.

5.) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

When what starts out as a simple favor mushrooms into a dangerous mystery of huge proportions, Brett finds himself getting drawn ever more deeply into the world of Sloan Burke, a woman he finds both attractive—a shock to him, since he’d sworn off—and unavailable, since he believes she is still in love with her heroic and honorable late husband. That she is just as heroic and honorable herself makes it all even harder for him.

6.) What is the personal goal of the character?

His original goal is to help Sloan solve her simple problem and then extricate himself. But both the problem and his feelings soon become much more than that.

7.) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The title is OPERATION POWER PLAY, and it’s available for pre-order now, at the links below.

Amazon: http://bit.ly/11ix37G

B&N: http://bit.ly/1zkqE7b

iBooks: http://bit.ly/1xycq34

8.) When can we expect the book to be published or when was it published?

It is scheduled for February 3, 2015. (February 1 for Kindle)

Here’s the cover, do you think they got close? (and no, that’s not really what Cutter looks like, but they tried!)

Cutter 6 cover

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Do you love where you live?

Shack_dungeness

No, I don’t mean your house, specifically. Or that “house,” in the picture. (which, despite appearances, happens to be in one of the most beautiful spots in my state, Dungeness Spit–home of the famous and delicious Dungeness Crab).

As you may have gathered, I do love where I live. For many reasons, not the least of which is just pure, scenic beauty. I rarely leave the house without my camera, especially not my daily walks along the sound, because you just never know what you’ll see.

When people think of the Pacific Northwest, many think only of rain and gray skies. I’d like to dispute that with some of those pictures I promised. Skies in the Northwest can be the most colorful you’ll ever see. Not that they can’t be gray, mind you:

Fog

Or downright dark (yes, that’s snow):

Feb 09 snow2

But they can also be so bright it almost hurts your eyes. We call these days “severe clear”:

2013-06-30 Baker cropped

They can be golden:

sunrise2 10-12

Or pink:

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So orange you look toward Mt Rainier just to be sure it hasn’t blown:

2013-08-22 05.57.09

Sunrise can sneak up on you:

2013-04-27 06.04.36

Or explode:

Sunrise pillar2

And where I’m located, sunsets are second-hand:

Baker Sunset cropped

And on some exceptional days, the sky doesn’t even look real. I call these watercolor mornings:

2013-09-02 06.24.12

2013-09-02 06.36.30

2013-09-02 06.39.06

I think it’s pretty clear why I love living here. I knew this was home the first time I came here, even if it did take me a long time to get here. And I still wonder why it took me so long, why I just stayed where I was planted, as it were.

How about you? Have you always lived where you are, or are you a roamer by choice or by necessity? Are you happy where you are, or do you long for someplace else?

There Will Be Tomatoes

Why is my deck wet and what is that stuff falling from the sky?

It’s raining. In Seattle. Perhaps the very definition of “That’s hardly news!” But this year, it is. You see, up until it started late yesterday, it had been 82 days since we last had more than the barest measurable rain. And I love the rain. I missed it. Then, in the space of a few days we went from 70-80 degree days to 50s or 60s, and dropping low into the 40s at night. And my green, green view from my porch is now looking like this:

Weren’t they all green just yesterday??

If you just arrived here today, when it’s cold, wet, and windy, you’d swear it could be a winter day. It wouldn’t be the first time we skipped an entire season;  a couple of years ago winter lasted until June and we jumped straight into summer, skipping spring altogether. It can be…disconcerting. At least, it is for me. The wind is howling, rain hitting the windows, there’s a chill in the air and I’m thinking of building a fire, and yet….

And yet this morning I picked these:

Hard to believe these were once considered unfit to eat or poisonous–and tell me all you want it’s a fruit, to me it’s a veggie and one of the few I love. Don’t pop my bubble!

And then, so inspired, I trekked up to my apple tree and cleared one branch of apples.

Yes, I said ONE branch!

So you can see why I’m having trouble with the idea of winter suddenly being here. (then again, some sunny days in October aren’t that unusual, so who knows?) I fully realize that the reason I’m drowning in tomatoes and apples likely is that lovely 82 day dry, warm, and sunny streak. It certainly isn’t because of me; the tomato plants are lucky if I remember to water them, and I feed them once, after planting. The apple tree I ignore altogether, except to prune away crossed branches sometime in January. And then, only the ones I can reach. Still, every third or fourth year, it goes insane and every branch ends up like this:

At least the deer won’t have far to reach

So, what does this have to do with anything? It struck me that this sort of confused, sudden transition instead of the usual gradual one is somewhat like finishing a book. My writing routine is so ingrained, half the time I’m up and at the computer before I remember I’m not in the middle of a story at the moment. Like the plants that got used to the sun and now are suddenly looking at rain and cold, I’m in a startled kind of in between. Yes, there’s another story on the way, the synopsis already on the way to my editor. But in between now and starting that book, there’s that unsettled period. I’ll knit, of course, that’s a given. The rest of the time I could fritter away playing computer games or catching up on movies I’ve recorded. I should use it to finish cleaning out my garage before new doors finally come (a sad story I won’t go into here). But somehow I think I’ll be taking out some of those odd little bits and pieces of stories I accumulate when I’m in the middle of a contracted book. Things that call to me enough that I know I have to write the bits down or they won’t leave me alone. Things that may become books of their own, be woven into books already planned, or become a part of a story as yet unformed.

The only thing I can be sure of is, as long as the seasons keep coming, there will be tomatoes. And apples.

And stories. Thankfully for me, that’s not news. That’s life, for a storyteller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Things I Learned About Writing From Gardening

But I don’t know anything about roses…

As we head into fall here in the northwest, it’s perhaps an odd time for a post about gardening. But I made a fascinating discovery recently. About a rose bush. I was never a big rose fan because, well, thorns. (and lets not get into the thorns on the blackberries that run rampant here and threaten to take over everything–I have scars from fighting them back) I also had always thought they were finicky. There was one rose bush at my house, and it was there when we bought it, a light yellow rose with a lovely fragrance. I appreciated it, took them inside to perfume the air, and our relationship pretty much ended there. Since I obviously knew nothing about roses, I otherwise pretty much ignored it. It flourished. On the perpetually windy, salt-air laden side of my house, it flourished. A light went on in my head. This brings me to…

Lesson 1Never assume you know what you don’t know. Do your homework.

Then one day I bought this tiny rose bush in a 6″ pot simply because I liked the color of the flower in the picture on the tag. There were no flowers on the plant itself, and I had no way of knowing if A)it would actually bloom and B)if the flower would look anything like the picture–it could have been tagged wrong, after all. It sat in that little pot for quite some time out on my front porch. I would walk by it and wonder “Why did you buy a rose bush?” Finally out of guilt–not, I confess, over the plight of the neglected plant, but over the money I’d spent on it–I replanted it in the biggest pot I had handy. That was two years ago. Today,it’s grown into what you see in the first picture here.

Lesson 2:  Sometimes you just have to have faith that things will turn out and plunge ahead.

The first year, this rose got so huge it started taking over the sidewalk it was next to. I had to prune it way back. Wrestled with the thorns, wishing I had a pair of gloves that could stand up to rose thorns and at least take a swipe at blackberry thorns. Bloody but unbowed, I finally got it done. And the next spring it exploded into what you see here.

Lesson 3: Edits and revisions can be bloody hell, but in the end, they’re usually worth it.

This year, while duplicating the pruning of the year before, I inadvertently cut a stem with a lovely little bud on the end, looking just about to open. On impulse, I stripped the lower leaves off and stuck it in ground in the planter, thinking it might at least last long enough for the bud to open. It looked something like this.

What can it hurt to try?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, it looks like this:

How did THAT happen??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson 4: Never throw away those little buds of ideas, because they might grow into something beautiful.

Early this spring, I bought an artichoke plant. With about as much knowledge about it as the rose. (Are you noticing a pattern here?) Except this time I did know my neighbor had two that actually produced many luscious ‘chokes. Again the little pot sat neglected for a while, because I didn’t know quite where to put it to replicate my neighbors successful location. Since it was in even a tinier
pot, I knew I had to do something, even temporarily, so again I grabbed the biggest planter I had handy and plopped it in. And as is frequent with impulse buys, I then belatedly talked to my neighbor and was told artichokes don’t generally produce the first year. I was fine with that; it’s a not-unattractive plant anyway. And yet….

So much for “You can’t do that!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson 5: Just because they say you can’t doesn’t mean you have to listen.

You might notice in that picture that there is a second, tiny artichoke just adjacent to the big one. The first got big enough to be harvested and actually eaten. And behind it, the second one began to grow even faster.

All I needed was some room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson 6: Never hesitate to use it all up on the story you’re working on now. There will be more behind it, ready to grow and harvest.

These obviously aren’t all the things I needed to know. That never ends. The learning never stops, or shouldn’t. And on some level, I already knew these six, but I’ve been at this a long time, and sometimes it’s good to go back and visit the basics, lest I forget.

So now, in these last days of sunshine and growing, I’m going to go outside and dig in the dirt.