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.


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, Ren Gifford Mysteries, Book 2

Have I explained the title? I can’t remember.

In the first book, the Malefactor was basically a twisted voyeur, hiding in the shadows, pulling strings from a safe distance. His bottomless wallet funded the basest of human desires, fueling the sickness in the evil minds of his victims.

As you know, he was impressed with Ren’s successful unraveling of a convoluted and far-reaching “project” that had been in progress for years. So impressed, he allowed Ren and company to live; the first time he’d ever done so.


Because M isn’t done with Ren. Instead of lurking in the background and watching Ren work, for the first time M decides to become actively involved.

Ren has pushed M out of his comfort zone and M decides the only way to fix it is to up the game; to transgress beyond the limits of involvement he’d lived behind for so long. To transgress beyond his own malformed ideas of moral behavior and decency.

Although he is excited to engage Ren again, M also resents Ren for many things.

For out-maneuvering his talented team of professional criminals, causing many of their deaths or capture.

For altering the final outcome he’d intended.

For the death of Ray Hanson, his surrogate for many years.

And finally, he resents Ren most for making him step out of the darkness and become—the Transgressor.


Reader Reviews

I am often surprised at the reviews I get for Malefactor on Amazon.com. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to write a review, whether it be positive or critical. Feedback is the only way I know what needs to be improved as I continue writing.

The critical reviews of Malefactor mostly deal with the one scene of animal cruelty. Yes, there is only one scene, but it is definitely gruesome.

Possible Spoiler Alert – Skip this paragraph
Near the beginning of the book, one of the main characters is shocked into remembering an incident from his childhood, but it is not described in great detail. A short time later, his one and only pet, whom he loves dearly, is found by a neighbor in the woods that surrounds their properties. In this instance, the discovery was described in moderate detail, but in no way did it include graphic detail of the cruelty as it was being performed. Nor was it presented in a positive, approving way. It was a description of what the neighbor found, what he did for the poor animal and the devastating impact the discovery had on the main character.

This book is not about animal cruelty, and the scenes depicted pale in comparison to what happens to people. Isn’t it curious that no one has criticized how the people were treated? Only the animals.

As one reviewer on Amazon wrote: “I feel the person that gave it the one star because she was put off by the animal cruelty was quick to judge. There are a couple gruesome scenes, but that is just to set up the chase and to let the reader know what the hero is up against. Don’t be put off by those scenes.”

I appreciate those comments, because that was exactly my intention—to let the reader know what the protagonist is up against; someone cruel and ruthless with absolutely no conscience or fear of reprisal.

Even my younger sister commented to me, after reading an early draft of the book, “How did you come up with this? I can’t believe this came out of my brother’s head!”

Well, it’s fiction. I made it up. That’s what writers do.

As my close friend and mentor, Connie Suttle, told me from the beginning, “Don’t get wrapped up in the reviews. You can’t please everyone.” Too true! But I am thick-skinned and the critical reviews do not bother me. I feel I can learn and improve from them as well as I can the positive reviews.

On another note, I am about three or four chapters into writing the sequel, Transgressor. I hope to have it available in the spring of 2017.