Hollywood by Night

Hollywood by Night
Hollywood viewed from The Hollywood Bowl Overlook

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

NOT EXCITING ENOUGH - NOT ENOUGH ACTION - NOT ENOUGH ABOUT HORSE RACING!!!

What I Write:

I write fiction.  I have to pick a genre for my books although I find they don't really fit any of the categories.  So I choose Mystery.  That is not entirely inaccurate.  Most of my books do contain a mystery of one kind or another.  Most, alright all, do contain some element of romance although I hate to use that word because none of my books are romance novels.  So let's settle for some element of love.

I currently have three separate and unrelated series of books -

The Delta Mysteries

The L.A. Mysteries - originally subtitled The Rick Sandler/Katie O'Hara Mysteries - but that is no longer accurate for reasons which would necessitate a Spoiler Alert.

The Charlie Parker Mysteries - There is currently only one of those so it is not yet a series but is about to become one with the publication of the second book in the near future.

Several readers commented that they enjoyed the Delta Mysteries although they usually like a little more action.  I am guilty as charged.  If you want action, you should probably read the Jack Reacher Series written by Lee Childs.  Lee Childs packs more action into one chapter than I can muster the energy to pack into one whole book.

One reader of The Two Way Shake - the first book in the Charlie Parker Series - was disappointed that the story didn't focus more on horse racing.  The cover did feature the legendary mare Zenyatta, but although a few scenes are set at Santa Anita Racetrack and one of the main characters is a racing fan and owner of an off the track Thoroughbred, the book is not a book about racing.  I leave that to Steeplechase Jockey and very successful writer Dick Francis.

The title is a reference to a term in Thoroughbred racing defined as follows:
Claiming races constitute the majority of Thoroughbred races. Each horse entered in such a race is subject to sale, or claim, at the value stated in the conditions of the race. 
If more than one person wishes to claim the same horse, a random selection system is used to decide the new owner. The system is commonly referred to as a shake. 
If two people wish to claim the same horse, it is a Two Way Shake.
I liked it and used it as a title because it rather perfectly describes the interplay between the two main characters, both of them want something but only one of them is going to get what he or she wants.

I am a little concerned that the slower pace of my books could put off some readers in the go-go world of today.  James Patterson commented recently that he recommends that authors write shorter books since readers today don't have the attention span to deal with lengthier stories.


In one of Jerry Seinfeld's opening monologues, he says the following in reference to TV shows -

"It's horrible when you sense the "to be continued" coming. You know, you're watching the show. You're into the story. There's like five minutes left and suddenly you realize, "Hey, they can't make it. Timmy's still stuck in the cave. There's no way they wrap this up in five minutes". I mean the whole reason you watch a TV show is because it ends. If I want a long boring story with no point to it, I have my life."  Maybe that's how some people feel about long books.

But a story is a story - it has a beginning and an end but mostly its a middle - it's a journey.  As a writer, it is my hope that once a reader starts one of my stories, he or she wants to know what happens next - whether the journey takes two hours or two days.

If someone asked me to describe my writing, I would say it is almost entirely character driven.  In the case of The Delta Mysteries, it's Nick and Jessie and the entire Red Cloud family.  Somewhere in my own past (so I'm told) my mother's French Canadian family included Native Americans.  I am really proud of that.  And I am proud and happy to have created characters who are three dimensional, diverse, believable Native American people.

In the L.A. mysteries, the characters are mostly cops.  My background is such that my relationship with the police was always a positive.  That's not to say that there aren't some bad cops nor does it excuse good cops closing ranks around bad cops.  My writing focuses on both the personal and the professional lives of police officers and on the job they do - a job which most of us wouldn't want - a job where, on any given day, you can't be sure you'll be coming home that night.  I hope that in some small way I can illuminate what it's like to live that life.

Finally, for me, it's all about the story - not car chases and explosions.  I was a fan of Patricia Cornwall's Kay Scarpetta until, for me, the plots went over the top.

I do a lot of research, am merciless when it comes to plot holes, and try to always keep it plausible, always believable - even if some people find that too much like boring real life.

That's pretty much how I write and why.  Thank you for reading.