Wednesday, February 27, 2013

When Editing...

I wish I could say I was the most mature person in the world when it comes to editing. And while I think I am pretty pragmatic about things, every once in a while I too can be difficult if the issue is something I feel sore spot about.

Two things. Age difference and abuse. Dealing with the latter's subject matter can be difficult. And feeling a personal connection to it sometimes I take the critique's personally. What I have to remember is that this person doesn't know me or my history. They're just looking to make the story better. As for age difference and who has a problem with it. I think it's a generational thing. I noticed the older men and women in my life have more of a problem with it than say the younger ones. What I have to  remember is I want a wide swath of people to read it. Still some things I am willing to fight for.

That being said I think I have the most awesome editor in Austin. He's there to answer my questions and give me guidance on which direction might be best to take. He allows me to find my voice in those suggestions. Yes, he's a guy and my background is in subgenre romance/subgenre erotic romance but he helps shore up my skills and make sure it's not just a wallpaper thriller in the sense there's a few tropes and a fat romance in the middle of it. It makes the writing harder, but in the end it makes me a more skilled writer.

Also, a shoutout to Denise for making the looong trip from Maryland to Kentucky for one of the more..interesting Cons I've been to and calling me gold. Even if yesterday was rough I came out the better for it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Welcome DB Corey

An interview with Detective-Sergeant Jacob “Moby” Truax, lead detective in Chain of Evidence.

Good evening. I am your host, DB Corey, and tonight I’d like to welcome Detective-Sergeant Jacob “Moby” Truax of The Maryland State Police—Special Investigations Unit. This evening we’re discussing his latest—and perhaps his final—assignment: The Cyanide Killer case.
Hello, Detective Truax. It is, Tru-ax, correct?
That’s right. Two syllables.
Great, I just wanted to be sure. So thank you for granting my request for an interview. I know there are aspects of The Cyanide Killer case that you cannot discuss, so we’ll just try to work around them, OK?
My listeners have submitted a number of questions, hoping to quell their curiosity regarding Chain of Evidence, so if you don’t mind, I’ll get right to them.
Corey: This question comes from Hanna Braver. She’d like to know how you came by such an interesting and unusual nickname.
Truax: Ms. Braver. Thank you for your question. I came by the name Moby in the 8th grade. One of our class assignments was to read Moby Dick by Herman Melville, and write a 20-page book report. Our teacher wanted the top three scores to give oral reports to the class. Mine was the 2nd reading.
When she handed back my report to read aloud, I told her I didn’t need it and recited it word for word as she followed along. She didn’t know that I possessed a photographic memory. It was as if I was reading from the page. She was so impressed that she had me address the entire 8th grade class during an assembly. I was mortified, standing there center stage, and my buddies never let me live it down. They started calling me Moby. The name stuck.
Corey: Well, Detective, after hearing that, I feel the need to ask a question of my own. What sort of advantage does your eidetic memory give you in your work? Does it give you an edge in your investigations, or your interrogations of suspects?
Truax: There was a time, when I was young, that my photographic memory was what the kids today might call, a “mad” skill. But it wasn’t a skill at all. It was a gift. I could remember everything I was ever exposed to: dates, names, events, numbers, faces.... There were no limits. It was like a super power when it came to police work.
Corey: You speak of it in the past tense, Detective. Why is that?
Truax: Because I no longer possess it. I am nearing 60, the state’s age of mandatory retirement. Memory fades as one gets older, even a photographic one. Now I’m lucky if I can remember what I did yesterday.
Corey: I’m sorry to hear that, Detective. I expect it’s quite a loss.
Truax: To say the least.
Corey: But you must be looking forward to retirement. Do you have any plans, other than fishing?
Truax: I’d like to say I’m looking forward to retirement, but truth is I can’t afford it. Have you been paying attention to the economy, Mr. Corey? Our illustrious government has spent the state into poverty and has decimated the pensions of retirees to cover the shortfalls. Now they have their eye on those of us nearing retirement. They’re just looking for a reason to send us on our way in order to cut our pensions. They’re hiring college kids for a fraction of what they pay tenured cops, and if I screw up this investigation, my new captain will have my job.
Corey: Ah ... yes. So, we have another question here, from a Ms. Natalie Bowman. She’d like to know why is it you haven’t apprehended The Cyanide Killer yet. She says she’s afraid to leave her house and that the police have had plenty of time to catch him. 
Truax: Not all homicides are cut and dried, Ms. Bowman. I can’t divulge too much, but suffice it to say that this investigation does not follow what we would call normal patterns. For example, the killer’s MO has changed since the earliest victims. Those were older women. The more recent victims are younger, prettier. But the toxin used in each homicide is identical across the board. The evidence points to a single killer, but I’m not so sure.
Corey: Sounds like you have a different theory.
Truax: I believe there is a copycat at work, but my captain has ordered me to focus on a single killer. True, the weapon is identical in all cases, but from what I see, that’s the only similarity.
Corey: An identical weapon? Isn’t that enough to go on?
Truax: Not for me. But as I said earlier, the captain is looking for a reason to unload my kind. He’s gone as far as to cozy up to the FBI—saddled me with a “partner;” I have her card right here. Special Agent Francis Vecchio. I call her Frankie. She hates it, so all the more reason to stay with it. She’s an attractive gal, and if I were 30 years younger I might have a go at her. But to my old-school way of thinking, she doesn’t know much about detective work. Keeps asking stupid questions and flashing her cleavage. I think my captain put her with me as a spy, or at the very least, a distraction. I must be careful around her.
Corey: An attractive partner? Well, Detective, I suppose there are worse ways to go. So I see the phone lines are lighting up, so how about we take a call?”
Truax: Sure.
Corey: Hello caller. You’re on with Detective Truax.
Woman Caller: Detective Truax, from what I’ve heard, you sound old. Ah, ol-der. I don’t mean to be judgmental, but isn’t there someone else that could take this Cyanide case? Maybe someone younger?
Truax: Huh.... Sure there is. And I wish the captain saw fit to assign it to one of his young hotshots. The last thing I need at my age is to chase a serial killer, especially one who leaves nothing behind. 
Woman Caller: But you just said you think there is a copycat out there. That means two killers, right?
Truax: Like I said ... the last thing I need.
Corey: We have another caller. You are on the line.
Male Caller: I work in the department, Detective, and I hear things.
Truax: Yeah? Like what?
Male Caller: Your Captain Atkins isn’t going to wait much longer for you to make some progress in the case. There are rumors he’s looking for a reason to replace you.
Truax: I thought I said that.
Male Caller: And when he does, what will you do then, Detective? You’re running out of time, Truax. So is your career. You’d better hurry. You’re in the way. People are waiting to step in.
Truax: Who is this?
Corey: Oh.... They hung up. You have an enemy, Detective.
Truax: More than one. That sounded like Atkins’s Golden Boy, Nichols; brown-nosing as—
Truax: What the hell was that?
Corey: Our engineer hit the dump button. I’m afraid you can’t use that kind of language on the air.
Truax: Huh....
Corey: It’s just as well, because I’m afraid that’s all the time we have for this evening. I apologize to those listeners and callers who didn’t have their questions answered, and perhaps Detective Truax will consent to come on with me another time to address them?
Truax: Yeah, sure I will. And once I make the connection of the younger victims to the older ones, I’ll solve the Cyanide Killings. Maybe, I’ll even write a book. God knows I could use the money.     
Corey:  Now that’s something I would enjoy reading. I’ll look forward to it. And I know a good publisher when you’re ready. So that’s it for- tonight. Thanks for joining us, and I’ll look forward to hearing from all of you again.  
Good night, one and all, and please don’t text and drive. It’s bad for your health.
G’night now.
(Queue Dragnet theme. Should be public domain by now.) 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Standing On the Shoulders Of Others

I work hard. Insanely hard. And my success did not come easily. Although good things are coming now, great things even I worked very hard for them and I deserve them. I often say my career can be best summed up by the actress Holland Taylor's acceptance speech for her Emmy she earned on 'The Practice', overnight ;).

I'm no spring chicken and I two years ago about this time I had manuscripts, some half-finished, some done, scripts too. And whenever I would venture to send them out I got big fat rejection letters. Finally a friend and fellow author Pamela Turner told me about Savvy Author's Digicon. I went. I pitched. Three publishers and an agent asked for my work. All of them accepted. I chose MuseItUp Publishing, where the author is nurtured and shown the ropes. It's been crazy ever since.

I went to Fandom Fest on a tip from Pamela, (who is the author of the fabulous Death Sword and several shorts featured in anthologies by Rayne Hall and Family Tradition, an ebook from MuseItUp Publishing). There I met Frank Hall of Hydra Publications. Who picked me up as an author with my books Bounty Hunter, the Breath of Life series, the Gunpowder & Lead series, and my short story Set Fire to the Rain. Which brought me the attention of the people running the Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity Conference. In turn I checked them out. They ran a publishing house Intrigue Publishing which specializes in Mysteries & Thrillers. get the point.

So I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Pamela Turner. She works hard. Insanely hard. I think we're both a little insane to be honest with our work schedules.

Lea Schizas of Muse, (Another Way to Die, No Ordinary Love, GLADIATOR, & ORACLE) made me a better writer. Frank Hall of Hydra (I mentioned the titles at his house) gave me my first print and audio deal. And Denise, Austin, and Sandra of Intrigue gave me my first advance for Sin Of My Father.

I've won awards, GLADIATOR was an Amazon bestseller, and I was on the cover of Target Online Magazine. If it can make it anyone can. You just have to be insane enough to keep pushing at the wall when it feels like it will never move.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


I don’t generally like being in the spotlight. I guess the Secret Service taught me it’s better to keep a low profile.

But I’m not with them anymore, and this reporter Irma Andrews helped me unravel a series of murders that caused a lot of collateral damage among the families of the victims. So when Irma asked for an interview I didn’t see how I could say no. Despite my girl Cindy’s prompting I refused to do a TV piece. Appearing in print is bad enough. At least Irma didn’t misquote me, but I think she left out some stuff that makes the whole thing a little misleading. Anyway, here’s the way the piece ran:

I met with private investigator Hannibal Jones in his office in the Anacostia section of Washington. He offered me an excellent cup of coffee, which he said was made from Costa Rican beans, and sat at his desk with sunlight pouring in through large front windows. The office was small and Spartan, sparely furnished but warm and bright. Significantly, while I took notes during the interview, so did Mr. Jones.

Irma Andrews: Thank you for speaking with me today. You are listed as a private investigator but your card describes you as a troubleshooter. How would you describe what you do, and why is it different from what most P.I.’s do?

Hannibal Jones: Most private investigators do employment vetting, matrimonial and divorce work, insurance claims and that kind of stuff. My work is a lot more focused. My clientele is individuals, not corporations. I work with people who are in trouble and don’t know where to get help.

IA: But you do bodyguard work.

HJ: Sometimes.

IA: And solve mysteries like any detective.

HJ: On occasion.

IA: And if a person has been threatened?

HJ: Look, I do whatever’s necessary to help somebody who’s gotten themselves into a jam. I don’t think much about what that might be, going in.

IA: What qualifies you to do this sort of work? What is your professional background?

HJ: As soon as I was old enough I moved to the States and joined the New York City police force.

IA: You weren’t born in the United States?

HJ: No. I was raised in Germany. My dad was an MP in the army. My mom was a German national. We lost Dad in Vietnam. Anyway, I came to the U.S. to be a cop and I was going to bring Mama over as soon as I was settled but she passed.

IA: While you were away.

HJ: (pause.) Yes. While I was away.

IA: I’m sorry. So, you became a policeman…

HJ: Three years on the force to make detective J.G. Then three more as a detective. Then I passed the Secret Service entry exam. I spent seven years as a special agent for the Treasury Department, in the protective service.

IA: But after seven years, you resigned.

HJ: Yeah, well, stuff happened. I should have been one of the uniforms instead of going to the protective service. You see, in the protective service they expect you to not only protect your principal’s life, but his reputation too. I didn’t think my duty should included covering up a politician’s stupid actions. My boss disagreed.

IA: Any politician in particular?

HJ: Not going to go there.

IA: A national figure? Executive branch or…

HJ: I’m not going to go there.

IA: All right. So you had friction with your supervisor. For that you resigned?

HJ: Yeah. Well, after I knocked him on his ass the service was good enough to let me resign.

IA: Should I print that?

HJ: Why not. It’s what happened. They were actually pretty nice about it. Could have stopped me from getting the P.I license you know.

IA: So why this whole troubleshooter concept? How did you get into this business?

HJ: I guess in a way I did it for Mama. She always wanted me to follow my dad’s example. He was always there for people, always looking out for the little guy. Here in Washington, it seemed like there was an overabundance of little guys that needed looking out for.

IA: How do you get enough clients?

HJ: It was slow at first, but word of mouth is a powerful force in the hood. I did a couple of jobs pro bono - kept a couple of kids from being approached by drug dealers. After that people started to find me when they had problems.

IA: So your neighbors are your clients?

HJ: My clients are people with problems bigger than they are. Naturally that happens more often to people without big money.

IA: I know you’ve also had more affluent clients.

HJ: Well, I do get referrals from old Secret Service contacts. And I get business referred to me by the attorney I introduced you to, Cindy Santiago, my, um, friend.

IA: So you do have entrees into a higher financial stratum, but the well-to-do don’t come to Anacostia. Why have your office here?

HJ: That’s a bit of a story. This building used to be a crack house, believe it or not. I was hired to clear the bad element out of here for the owner. In the process I kind of bonded with the neighborhood. I felt at home here, and I knew if I stayed, the bad element wouldn’t be back. I guess the owner knew it too. He made me a very attractive offer to stay.

IA: Why not join a larger detective agency?

HJ: I like deciding who I’ll take as a client, and what kind of job I’ll do.

IA: What kind of job will you do?

HJ: All kinds. Well, no matrimonial stuff, or spying on people waiting for them to do wrong. But I do personal protection, missing persons, sometimes get hired to prove an accused person innocent. I’ll chase a bad element away like I did here, keep drug dealers away from kids or a pimp away from a hooker who wants to quit. Negotiate with loan sharks. Basically, if you have to deal with the bad guys and don’t want the police involved, I’ll usually handle it.

IA: You carry a pistol. What do you think of gun control laws?

HJ: Good gun control means being able to hit the target. Anybody who wants a gun can get one, so restrictive laws only keep people who obey the law unarmed and unable to defend themselves.

IA: But isn’t it too dangerous for everyone to be able to have a gun?

HJ: Based on statistics, it’s too dangerous for everyone to be able to have a car. Maybe guns should be more like cars. You get a license to carry at 18, after passing a mandatory training course.

IA: Interesting. How would you describe your relationship with the police?

HJ: I’d call it mutual grudging respect. I don’t mess with them. They don’t mess with me.

IA: How would you describe your personal relationship with Cindy Santiago?

HJ: I would describe it as personal.

IA: What have you learned doing this?

HJ: I’ve learned that most people are sheep. They’re not looking for trouble and they’ll do the right thing if you let them. A few people are wolves. They prey on the sheep, and they’re going to do wrong no matter what you do. They need to be shut out or put down hard.

IA: And you? Where do you fit in?

HJ: Me? I guess I’m the sheepdog.