This is where I spend a lot of time working on a book. It’s a trial-and-error environment where original ideas are tried, new characters and plots introduced and, in many cases, abandoned as hopeless or useless. It ‘s also a place to free write, to explore what if’s and why’s.
This page will often change—sometimes weekly, even daily. Like all writers, I hope the reader will understand, accept, and be entertained by my stories and characters. I try to make that happen by creating “backstories” about the people, places, and things I portray. You can read some of those exercises here and hopefully get a good idea of what’s in my mind as I “advance the plot.” Of course, I’d love to know your thoughts and criticisms. Go to the CONTACT page and tell me what you think.
Here's an excerpt from "Year Zero" the work in progress novel about the impact of the Coronavirus on the small farming town of Jerrod, TX.
I expect to finish the first draft of the novel by February and hope to have it to the publisher by late February or early March.
I work on this book at least three hours a day, Monday through Saturday. In addition to writing and rewriting, I also spend considerable time researching the impact of the virus on small town school systems.
This scene is a conversation between the protagonist, Dan Baker and his long-time secretary, JerriSue. It also gives a hint of what might happened to the Jerrod superintendent of schools after an embarrasing incident at a town hall meeting
“Goin’ to the store for a while, then out to the south farm to check the cotton drill. Seeds oughta be in early next week. I’ve got to get this new variety in the ground before April twentieth.”
Fifteen minutes later, he walked in D. Baker Tires' front door with a bundle of mail. He dropped it on JerriSue’s desk and walked toward his office at the back of the tire showroom.
“Messages.” JerriSue stubbed a half-smoked Pal Mall in the over-flowing metal ashtray next to her keyboard. She handed him a dozen message forms without looking back.
Dan unlocked his office. “Mornin’ JerriSue. Good to see you as well.”
Without looking away from her computer monitor, she said, “Sure. Call Bushfelder.”
“Whatever.” She held up her left hand, made what looked like two pounds of costume jewelry rattle. “Yeah, Bushfelder. He called three times.” She lit another cigarette, continued to peck the ancient keyboard with her inch-long olive, purple, black and silver nails. “Knowles. Call him too.”
My "writer's nest."
Dan shook his head. “No smoking in here,” he said as he closed his office door, sure her response would be ‘whatever,’ just as it had been the last twenty years. He found Ella Costley’s name in the memory of his desk phone, hit the DIAL button.
“Guess who’s called me three times since eight AM.”
“The same. I didn’t want to return his call ‘til I talked to you.”
“Same here. I’ve ignored four calls from him since about seven-thirty.”
“He’s callin’ to beg off. Kiss a little butt. I’m damned sure about that.” Dan rubbed the ears of the one-eyed calico cat who lived in a box under his desk. It curled up on the desktop.
“If I was in his shoes, that’s what I’d be doing,” Ella said. “What should we do? I’m with Harley. Brasfield needs his ass fired for the way he acted up.”
“Yep, know the feelin’. You heard from anybody else?”
“Couple of calls at home last night from people who’d been at the meeting. They wanted to know if he was all right. How do you answer that? How about this-- I’ll call Clarence and Harley--get their temperatures. Then, I’ll get back with what I’ve heard. Okay?”
“Yeah,” Dan said. “That works. You think before noon? I need to get out to the south farm.”
“Yeah, I ought to be able to do that. I’ll call you by ten-thirty if I can’t.”
“He’s got a contract. We can’t just fire him, can we?”
“Depends on what’s in the contract having to do with conduct unbecoming—you know what I mean? I’m going to call Ben Merriman, too. Let’s see what he says.”
“Okay, Dan said.” He was about to hang up. “Wait. Ella, you still there?”
“Yeah, the other line is ringing. What?”
“Where’s this put you in your job? What are Chin and Balsom going to say about this?”
“I think I’m about to find out,” She said. “Gotta go.”