Mid-September Ramblings

For such a happy-go-lucky guy, why do I feel the need to make my novels explore the darker side of humanity? I’ve never personally felt the desire nor inclination to do any of the things my antagonists do, but the depth of their depravity fascinates me.

Malefactor was darker beyond my wildest expectations with its depiction of human cruelty towards animals—and people. The story virtually wrote itself in a matter of three weeks in Feb/Mar 2016. Rewrites and editing took almost 7 times that long, but it was eventually released in late August that same year.

While writing the sequel, Transgressor, I had to put it away for several months after the first four to six chapters, before I could take up the story again. It was also too dark and twisted. The result was a better product compared to Malefactor, or so I’ve been told. Unfortunately, sales indicate otherwise.

So here I am, working on Underhanded, the third book in the Ren Gifford Mysteries. I had great intentions of making this book less gruesome and more lighthearted. First lesson learned: Great intentions get upstaged by harsh reality.

When only a couple of chapters in, I found fault in some of my story assumptions which resulted in a lot of internet research. That, in turn, led to significant rewrites. Now I’m closing in on chapter five, having removed at least two characters and reduced the presence of two more. It was getting crowded in there!

However, I’m going to resist the urge to rush the process and plod along at my own pace. I’m not as prolific as some authors we love. (Not to mention any names, but Connie Suttle, Connie Suttle, Connie Suttle—to name a few of my favorites).

Thus, the second lesson learned: Detective fiction requires facts that can be corroborated; fantasy does not.

That bears repeating. Detective fiction requires facts that can be proven, which means I have to research what I’m writing about to avoid looking like an idiot. Fantasy, on the other hand, is at the complete mercy of its creator. I’m not saying fantasy is any easier to write, because it certainly takes a much more vivid imagination than I have.

Third lesson learned: There may be a change in genres (and writing styles) in my future… Just sayin’. (Call me lame, call me lazy, just don’t call me late for dinner.)

In the meantime, I hope you’ve enjoyed the first two books and will be patient for the third. It’s a time-consuming process for me, but I want it to be the best story I can produce, for me—and you.


Underhanded, Excerpt #1

Terry Franklin
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

The blood curdling scream from the back yard jump-started my adrenaline. I rushed to the patio door and turned on the floodlight just in time to see the neighbor’s son, Josh, disappear through a broken section of stockade fence.

What the hell?

I opened the door and called, “Josh? What’s wrong, buddy?”

After a moment with no response from Josh, I closed the door and turned off the floodlight. It was after ten and time to go home. I put away the staining materials I’d been working with, washed my hands and then pulled my phone from a pocket to call Ren and let him know I was about to leave. That’s when a text came through from Josh.

There’s a hand, or something, in the rubble of the swimming pool! Go look. I ain’t joshin’. Deep end, where the crew was breaking it up today. Scared me to death!

StrawBomb (Working Title)

Ren Gifford Mysteries, Book 3

An idea I’ve been kicking around for book three is taking form.

StrawBomb is a term used by the antagonist, referring to “strawberry-blond bombshells.”

A series of youths, aged 10 to 16, began disappearing in the Oklahoma City metro area years ago. The only obvious similarities among them, aside from their age range, is that they are all strawberry-blond and orphaned—or rejected by their families—and unlikely to be missed.

Until Ren Gifford gets involved.

An investigation that delves into pedophilia, sex trafficking and child pornography paves an intense path for Ren through the painful childhood experiences of abuse, neglect and rejection suffered by the victims.

This will offer insight into his relationship with Beau, how he met and fell in love with Terry and how Connie became his straight.

There is a lot to fit into this, but I think it’s time to flesh out the main characters’ backgrounds.

I had a brainstorm with this tonight and there is a lot I haven’t included, but the story is already writing itself in my mind.

What do you think?

About Excerpts

Excerpts come from the book in progress, not the finished product. If you read some of the older excerpts, you may find them significantly changed or eliminated when the book is published.

Not to worry! The final book will be much better than the excerpts, I promise!

As for a release date, it’s looking like mid-July now. I’m waiting on a couple of beta readers to finish (working on draft 8 now!) and the cover to be produced. Then, of course, Connie will have the last read before I send the book to press. I doubt she’ll have time to do that until she finishes her current book in progress, MindRogue.


Transgressor Excerpt – June 2, 2017

Aboard the Adelaide II

Mack raised his glass once more. “Here’s to smooth seas, good friends and dead enemies,” he toasted.

“Here, here,” we echoed.

As Alejandro gathered the cups and Crown and led Glen off the bridge, Mack put a hand on my shoulder to get my attention. I turned to see genuine concern in his eyes.

“Russ, one more thing you need to consider.” I nodded. “Since I received that anonymous email, you can be certain the others remaining on board did, too. They may not respond the same way I did.”

“Yeah,” I said with a sigh. “But I don’t plan to confide anything to the others, and I’d prefer you didn’t, either. Help me keep an eye on them?” He nodded. “You know them better than I do, since you’ve worked with them before. I trust your judgment.”

Transgressor Book Blurb

The text message read:

Call me in two minutes, Warren,

or you’ll be dead in three. –M

Six months after successfully out-maneuvering the Malefactor, Private Investigator Ren Gifford is sucked back into M’s vortex of evil manipulation. Despite the Malefactor’s promise to leave Ren and company alone, he ultimately refuses to accept defeat. As a result, Ren and Terry, along with Russ, Alex and Glen, find themselves in another battle of wits to survive.

M coerces former accomplices, including Warren Millpond, to assist in his quest to destroy Ren. With vast wealth and resources at his command, M believes he is invincible. Ren, however, is not without resources of his own. New friendships spring from old, and Ren finds support in powerful new allies. The battle for survival has begun.


Revenge is a dish best served cold–

but who will be the victor to set the table?

Transgressor Excerpt – May 24, 2017

Aboard the Adelaide II
En Route to Hawai’i

JT and Kat appeared content to let sleeping dogs lie, as it were. Mack was another story. His mood darkened and his demeanor toward me turned hyper-professional since the boarding incident, and he spent most his time alone on the bridge. I’ve known Mack a long time and I trust him. I decided it was time to give him the background that precipitated these events.

“Mack, Mack. Russ,” I said over the radio.

“Go ahead, Captain.”

“When will we reach New Caledonia?”

“Less than a day at present speed, sir.”

Damn. I didn’t want to wait that long before talking with him. I decided to break my own rule.

Picking up the nearest intercom phone, I dialed our cabin. Glen answered.

“Captain’s cabin.”

“Put Alejandro on, please.”

After a moment of shuffling, Alejandro said, “Hey, what’s up?”

“I need you to go by the bar and grab a bottle of Crown and four cups; chasers if you want. Meet me on the bridge, and bring Glen.”

“Uh, are you sure that’s a good idea?” Alejandro wondered aloud.

“We need to bring Mack in on what’s happening to us, and I don’t want to wait until we get to Noumea,” I explained, then replaced the handset and headed toward the bridge. I was only a moment ahead of Alejandro and Glen.

Mack sat hunched over the computer console and looked surprised when we entered.

“Hey, Captain,” he started, then saw the whiskey in Alejandro’s hand. “Huh,” he grunted. “I take it we’re about to have the conversation.” I nodded. “It’s about time, Russ. I was worried,” but he sounded more relieved than worried.

Transgressor Excerpt – May 15, 2017


When I awoke in the early evening, Ren was practically attached to me, so tight was his spoon. Spoonin’ leads to forkin’ flew randomly through my mind and I couldn’t suppress a chuckle.

I didn’t want to wake him, but I needed to pee, so I attempted to slip out from under the blankets.

“Finally awake, eh?” he said with a huge yawn.

“Yeah. I’ll be right back,” I said as I padded to the bathroom. Before I could finish, he’d followed me into the bathroom and started the shower.

“Come on, let’s get cleaned up and then get something to eat. I’m starving,” he demanded.

Fifteen minutes later, clean and refreshed, we made our entrance in the aft bar. Everyone was there, except Mack, who was no doubt at his usual station on the bridge.

“Sooo,” Russ filled the silence. “I guess you two have had a good romp.” His smile was genuine, even though he was teasing.


Transgressor Excerpt – May 9, 2017

Aboard the Adelaide II

I was alone on the bridge. It was eerily quiet. The Adelaide was maintaining position on a parallel with Brisbane, which was hard to explain to passengers and crew. I saw flashing lights off the port side and raised my binoculars to get a better look. A very large and fast naval ship was headed our way, flood lights full on, pointing right at us. I glanced at the time; oh-four-hundred.

I picked up the intercom phone and dialed Ren’s room. He answered on the first ring.

“You need to get to the bridge, now. Bring Aaron with you,” I said quickly and hung up.

The cruiser slowed as it approached, and someone broadcast a loud announcement from a megaphone aimed at us.

“This is the Royal Australian Navy. Heave to and prepare to be boarded. Any attempt to flee will be met with appropriate force.”

As it pulled up alongside, it dwarfed the yacht in size. I hit the switch to turn on all exterior flood lights.

“JT, JT, Russ.”

“Go ahead, Cap.”

“We’re being boarded. Get up here and help tie the lines.”

“Aye, Cap, on the way.”

Mack, Ren and Aaron rushed onto the bridge at that moment.

“What the fu…” Mack started. I put a hand on his shoulder.

“Maintain position, Mack. I’m going down to greet them. Aaron, I assume this is of your doing. You and Ren had better come with me,” I instructed.

I ushered Ren and Aaron out the door ahead of me and guided them down to the deck. JT had secured the lines. Two Australian marines stood by the railing of the naval cruiser holding assault rifles at parade rest.

Just then, a team of six men in unidentifiable military-style black clothing boarded and walked toward us.

“Aaron Jeffries?” the lead man called, in an American accent.

“Here,” Aaron responded, with a lazy salute.

“I’m supposed to say ‘Jerry sent me,’ whoever that is. I take it you need assistance with a bug infestation.”

“Yes, sir, that’s a fact. This is Captain Garrett,” Aaron introduced. He removed his black stocking cap when I extended my hand, which was accepted. Quite a bit shorter than me, buzzed head and commanding eyes, he nodded when he shook my hand.

“Sorry, sirs, I’m not at liberty to reveal my identify. Just call me Silvio—don’t ask.”

“No worries,” Aaron said. “We certainly appreciate your help.”