Holy Cow, it’s been a while

I don’t know if anyone is still reading this blog. My life has gotten pretty hectic since the last post, if that’s any excuse. I got a new full time real job. I sold a house and moved. My other full time job just started school. It’s nuts.

I guess the folks at Lollygagger’s Acres are hibernating until I can give them some proper attention. They’re not banished from existence, not yet, just in a kind of stasis. It’s hard after ten years to keep them vital, growing, interesting.

Part of that process is allowing my characters to change and grow. I don’t know if readers appreciate that or not. Some of of the more popular suspense heroes and heroines I’ve witnessed in the last decade never really seem to do so. They just soldier on from one crisis, one dead body, to the next, no residual repercussions, no great psychological changes, just keep your head down and wait for the next blood bath.

Does that seem logical? Does it matter? Is the expectation of the reader so tempered into acceptance, that no emotional investment is required any longer? I wonder. I know the publishing houses don’t seem to care. “Just crank out what we pay you for, please.”

I hope I’m not doing that. I hate to be formulaic. I guess we’ll see.

 

Short and Sweet

If you’ve ever wandered over to my Facebook page, you may have noticed that I post page numbers to mark the progress of whatever book I happen to be writing. Presently, I am working on Dairyland Murders Book 7, Pastor in the Pasture (copyright 2017). Currently, I am on page 21.

My goal length of any story is usually around 300 –  5 X 8 inch pages, somewhere between 90 and 100 thousand words. I rarely get there, and I admit that I am frustrated by that fact. But then I am reminded of my first and favorite mystery author, the grande dame of who-done-its, none other than Agatha Christie.

None of her works were long, drawn out journeys. Dame Christie was quite economical with the amount of literary real estate she used to lay out her elaborate webs of murder and intrigue. Yet, nothing is lost in the way of prose, of description, of detail, and her writing methods are still as valid and engrossing now as they were almost a century ago.

So, perhaps when I hear another, “I read your last book in a day and a half,” I will take that as a compliment, rather than lament in my lack of words. It helps when the following comment is, “I couldn’t put it down.”

Cops are people too

Sometimes it’s easy for us to get lost in the rhetoric these days and forget our humanity. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy writing so much. It allows me to expose the being behind the label and remind my readers that heroes and villains can come from every walk of life. This is especially important for members of our communities whose labels bring on such passionate and and extreme connotations. In this case, I am referring to law enforcement.

On several occasions, I have written of Evan’s “cop face.”  Adjectives that have accompanied this description have been along the lines of “wooden” and “stoic.” It’s a mask that I think exists for two reasons. It hides Evan’s humanity from the criminals with whom he must contend. It also acts as a shield to protect his humanity from the misery for which he gets paid to encounter every day. In theory he is supposed to absorb all of the depravity, lunacy, and violence and still react as an impartial enforcer of the law, “blind justice” being what it is. But in reality, a person cannot do that for years and come out the other end being the same as when they started.

Bernice, on the other hand, has witnessed first hand how a person of law enforcement can be corrupted, can decide to exert authority over others for exploitative purposes, and hide behind the badge and that cop face to conceal sins, some as atrocious as murder. Her perspective is different from Evan’s because she exists outside the fold of the law enforcement culture. She has no loyalty to consider, no sense of obligation with which to contend.

Meanwhile, Evan’s chosen profession often behaves more like a close knit family. He had to take an oath. There exists codes of honor that he is expected to abide by. Much like our armed forces abroad, our armed forces at home have vowed to defend our laws and law-abiding citizens. Putting themselves at risk each day creates internal bonds that aren’t easily broken, even when it is necessary to do so.

I hope in my writing I have demonstrated this duplicity of existence in our men and women in blue (or whatever color your local cop uniform happens to be). I hope I have presented them as people, flawed, fragile, courageous, and feeling people.

I asked a reader once why she liked my books. She replied, “They make me think.” What a lovely compliment.