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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Redemption: Even in fiction it’s tough

Redemption

Webster makes it sound so easy….

Redeemable. That’s a big word in fiction writing. When you create a character, sometimes you don’t want them redeemable. You want a villain so evil people stand up and cheer at their fate, a la Dolores Umbridge. (Sorry, I wanted that woman to die more than I wanted Voldemort dead!) Sometimes you want people to understand why they are the way they are, to perhaps feel a twinge of understanding. Sometimes you want the character to be puzzling, so readers can’t quite decide if they’re completely evil or not.

All of this, of course, presupposes you have A Plan.

blueprint

See how nicely it all comes together when you have a plan?

But life–and writing–being what they are, sometimes things just happen. Like an editor buying what you assumed would be a standalone book, and then, when it’s too late to change anything, asking for a spinoff. And realizing that only one secondary character truly stood out enough to be the main character in said spinoff. And that character just happens to be…well, darn near irredeemable. As in one of Those. Yes, she’s a b*tch.

Bitch-pups

Dogs are for the most part nicer than people anyway, right?

And I don’t mean this kind, loving, loveable, and generally sweet. No, this female, unlike the one above, hasn’t got a nurturing bone in her body. But at the time I’m young, still a newbie, and foolish. I think I can do anything. I mean, how hard can it be to turn somebody around, right? I’m the writer, in that world I created I’m God, I invented her, didn’t I? Besides, the heroine of the first book, who was absolutely heroine material, had been friends with her once. So there had to be something good about her, didn’t there? I only had to find it. So, I set myself to the task. And how did it go? Kind of like this:

 

Frustration

Whose idea WAS this, anyway???

It wasn’t long before I was pacing the floor, yelling at myself for being an idiot. Why on earth–or any of the worlds I was writing about–had I ever thought I could save this woman? What had possessed me to choose her as a heroine? How on earth was I going to make this woman in the least heroic, let alone loveable?

I finally realized there was only one way to do this. I had to go back to the bones. I had to tear this woman down and try to rebuild her into something heroic. And I had to do it so thoroughly that readers would believe that it was possible for this woman to achieve that redemption. Had I realized what I was letting myself in for, I probably would have rethought it. But as I said, I was young and foolish and probably a bit cocky thanks to landing on the fast track my first published year and having sold a ridiculous number of books quickly. Ha. That’ll learn me, as my uncle used to say.

So I began. And for a long time my life felt like this:

construction - roofing

Wait, where does that stick go again?

And nearly 600 manuscript pages later, it was done. Whether I succeeded is not really up to me. Whatever I think, it is the reader who ultimately decides. Although I will happily accept the assessment of reviewer extraordinaire I mentioned in the last post, Melinda Helfer, who gave SKYPIRATE that rarest of accolades, one that has since been retired–an actual 5-star review in RT Magazine. The book also won a Reviewer’s Choice award, a Reader’s Voice award, and along with its predecessor, LORD OF THE STORM, was on the RT top 200 of all time list. So I guess maybe I did succeed. But I swear I will never try that again. Next b*tch I write stays one.

Heroes, on the other hand…..

 

LORD OF THE STORM and SKYPIRATE, re-released and available now in both e-book and print! Links on the book page, here: http://justinedavis.com/booklist.html

 

 

 

Frustration: Tanya Little https://www.flickr.com/people/50965643@N06 via Creative Commons Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

 

The true story behind an award winner

contract

The holy grail, back in the day…..

Last post I told the story of revisiting a world I created two decades ago, to write a new, long-awaited story set in that same world. Now I’d like to tell you about how it all began. You see, there I was, a newbie writer (yes, I had several books already sold and a couple published, but I still felt like a newbie. Heck, to this day I feel like a newbie!) with a signed contract in hand, deadlines, obligations, and the promise of payment to in turn pay for things like food and shelter. I was working a full-time job that often morphed into more than full time–you don’t walk out in the middle of a hostage situation with shots fired–so my time was very tight. And yet….

An idea struck. Actually, more like an entire story, full-grown and feathered. (I blame the release of Star Wars at a very impressionable stage of my life) Scenes fully formed, characters I knew inside out, strange places, odd words that were unfamiliar yet clear (no glossary required, something that will turn me off many books), it was all battering at me. This had never happened to me before. I promised it I would get to it, as soon as I could. I placated it, begged it to leave me alone until I finished this contract. It would not. This story was nothing my current publisher would or could publish. It was pure self-indulgence, I told myself. It would be a book without a market. But it haunted me, day and night, until finally, when I had a vacation coming from the day job (which was really the night job, but that’s another story) I decided to use it to get this thing off my back. I warned my husband, closed the office door, and began.

It started like this:

Fire_close_up_texture

Wow, this is hot! In more ways than one….

But before long it was going like this, like taking dictation, and my fingers could barely keep up with my brain:

fire-speed

Where is this coming from???

It turned into a frenzied white-heat of writing, a string of twenty hour days that lasted…..three weeks. Yep, three weeks. And that is something I waited a very long time to publicly admit. As award-winning author Cindy Dees recently observed on Facebook, “Decades ago, authors were thought to be hacks if they turned out more than one novel a year. That was also before the advent of computers and the Internet which greatly streamlined the writing process.” But I’ve found a lot of that mindset lingers even after the ability to quickly create, edit, and communicate. And so I was hesitant to admit how quickly this book came.

What did it take to convince me it was safe? This:

???????????????????????????????

Okay, maybe it is safe to admit.

And that’s not even all of the honors LORD OF THE STORM accumulated. I don’t live and die for awards, but I won’t deny the satisfaction and gratification of receiving them. It is a tremendous honor, whether they come from fellow writers or readers, although I tend to think continuing to buy and talk about my books is the best award any reader can give me. And in this case, after the book received all these accolades and awards, I finally felt brave enough to admit how quickly it had been written, and that it was published virtually unchanged from my final manuscript. I probably wouldn’t worry about it that much today. Having sixty-plus books/novellas under your belt gives you a bit of confidence, I guess. But at the time, it was a Big Deal.

And I can’t talk about LORD OF THE STORM without acknowledging the godmother of the book, the late, much-missed Melinda Helfer, RT Magazine reviewer extraordinaire. Melinda read this book in manuscript form, and insisted it would be huge. It was Melinda who hooked me up with Hilary Ross, an editor from NAL/Penguin who happened to be looking for just such a story as this. The rest, as they say….

And so that is the story behind the book that will be re-issued this June by Bell Bridge Books, in both print (and they do gorgeous print books!) and e-book. But the tale doesn’t end there. (I’m a writer, of course it doesn’t…) Stay tuned for the next chapter, about the second book I never planned on, and how many times I kicked myself for even thinking a certain character was redeemable enough to be a heroine.

WHO said that??

 I’ve compiled a book from the Internet. It’s a book of quotations attributed to the wrong people. ~Jerry Seinfeld

I’ve collected quotations for years. I have books full of them. As a word person myself, I admire when someone states something in just the perfect way. I admire them even more when it happens to be something I think the same way about. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy going back after reading a book and turning on the “highlight” feature on my Kindle, to see what others have found moving, profound, funny, interesting, or just beautifully written. And more than once, just the way someone I’ve never heard of said or wrote something has pushed me to learn about them.

But sometimes I save a quote not only because of what it says, but because of who said it. Some of them wouldn’t have the same impact, were it not for who said them. Sometimes it makes perfect sense, sometimes it’s more of a “WHO said that?” moment. (This is, of course, assuming the attribution is correct, as pointed out by Mr. Seinfeld. Who hasn’t seen the quote along the lines of “One should always check the attribution of quotes found on the internet.” –Abraham Lincoln ) Sometimes it’s because it’s so unexpected, sometimes it’s because it makes us smile and nod because it’s a reinforcement of what we already thought of that person.

Some of my favorites:

Disney, of course, has the best casting. If he doesn’t like an actor, he just tears him up.      –Alfred Hitchcock

I wanted to be a consultant but he said “I can’t hire you. You’re a genius and I’m a genius. We would kill each other the first week.” It’s the nicest compliment I ever got.     –Ray Bradbury, recalling a conversation with Walt Disney

Literature: Written material that, 100 years after the death of the author, is forced upon high school students.     –Tom Clancy

My prediction for next year is that it will come and it will pass. That’s it.      –Dennis Quaid

I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.     –Bill Cosby

On being served matzo ball soup three meals in a row: “Isn’t there any other part of the matzo you eat?”     –Marilyn Monroe

I can’t say I was ever lost, but I was bewildered once for three days.     –Daniel Boone

The nice thing about being a celebrity is if you bore people, they think it’s their fault.     –Henry Kissinger

Behind every famous man there’s a woman–telling him he’s not so hot.     –Harrison Ford

The reason the All-American boy prefers beauty to brains is that he can see better than he can think.     –Farrah Fawcett (at the height of her fame, and beauty)

And perhaps my favorite in this election season:
Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.     –Edward R. Murrow

Anyone else have a favorite? Something that made you laugh, shake your head, or say “Yes!” out loud?