Writing & Coffee – what perks your work?

What's your order?


Having just posted my second novel, The Milk Chocolate Murders, up on Book Country for workshopping, I can now refocus on the tweaks needed on the first novel, The Apple Pie Alibi. If all goes according to plan, APA should be ready for submission (again) by September 1. That timing allows me two months to outline the third book of the trilogy, The Wedding Cake Witness, in time for the next slog known as Nanowrimo.

Throw in a commission to write a 5 minute piece of classical music (not as easy at it sounds) and I once again find myself very busy. This will take much coffee.

Speaking of coffee…

I have always wondered if genre dictated coffee choice. In other words, do writers in the mystery genre prefer straight espresso, or perhaps (as I do) an Americano? Do romance writers like, I don’t know, one of Starbuck’s new drinks? A caramel cocoa crunch frappuccino maybe? Just guessing. I have no idea what a romance writer typically orders.

Hey! What about a totally unscientific poll?

Comment below with your genre and favorite beverage, be it coffee, tea, or something stronger. There will be no prizes, but rest comfortably with the knowledge you have helped to further define your genre in a new, and tasty fashion.

Let’s here from everyone! <clink!>


Coming Soon – The 13th Samurai

Just have time for a quick note. While I wait for word on my MS The Apple Pie Alibi, I am outlining book two The Milk Chocolate Murder. The former has been turned down by three agents, but is still under consideration by 8 others, and one agent has requested a partial. I consider this a success even if it goes no further. But of course, I hope it does.

Yet, all work and no play makes DJ a dull boy so for stress relief I am researching material for my next year-long serial.

You read correctly. 12 months of weekly posts to be found right here. The last serial I did was a hard boiled detective tale called Witt Kepler, Private Eye. There are actually people still talking about that one. In a good way. I know, right? Who would have thought?

In the meantime, stay tuned for a historical rom-thriller called…

The 13th Samurai.

Hi Dozo!!!

Blood Lust – the update

Update on Blood Lust, my newest work in progress. A paranormal thriller with just a hint of romance (but not much since I suck at writing in that genre so much as to jump genres,) the story is following the hero’s journey. Unfamiliar with this style of storytelling? Check out this explanation if you want but think of the Star Wars bi-trilogy. So far, in Blood Lust at least, the hero Bick Parker has (1) had a decent life upended by circumstances beyond his control, (2) learned of a conflict existing at a level far beyond his paradigm of the universe and (3) is having to make a choice to accept the challenge presented by that conflict. Of course, in the hero’s journey – this is the point where he refuses. More to follow on that one.

To set the story up, I have found a prologue, written by one of the supporting characters. This device is one I first encountered when delving into the “world” of Carlos Castaneda. Interesting stuff; check him out, but I don’t recommend the peyote.

For your reading enjoyment:

Blood Lust: Prologue

The average human being has the ability to see a multitude of colors ranging from the deepest purple black hues found resting on the horizon of a western mountain ridge line as the sun sets behind it to the most brilliant and blinding shade of almost pure white, akin to virgin arctic snow, new fallen, blanketed by undeterred sunshine. In scientific terms, our brains recognize a visible spectrum running about 430 Terahertz on the low end to an upper limit of 790 or so. Of course, this doesn’t mean the universe is devoid of physical objects outside of those parameters. Hardly. Radio waves, gamma rays and all other manner of energy do exist. And while we may not be able to see them, with the right equipment we can measure that energy and show its effect, thus proving existence.

This brings us to my friend, Bick Parker. The man had everything – a great and heroic military career, then a leadership position in the biggest company in town. Even after his troubles began, he ran a good floor at the bar. Fights, few as they were, never seemed to last long and Bick was always, and I mean always the one still standing when the jukebox kicked back on. That’s why I didn’t hesitate giving him the liquid courage he seemed to need when she came to visit. You see, Bick had eyes for a beautiful woman, Laska Smith, his supervisor at work before she fired the man. In a roundabout way, I guess she had played hard to get. Looking back now, I think she outright refused his advances, but even so, Bick was the man who fought for the underdog and in matters of the heart – he was him.

So how does a combat tested former recon Marine like Bick Parker mix with the physics of energy? Not well, apparently. What I know at this point is our visible universe, the comfortable and natural world between 430 and 790 Terahertz, had been breached by evil beings from the unseen zones existing outside of those numeric parameters; a parallel world whose physical matter vibrated at a slightly different frequency than our own. As Bick soon found out, those creatures were neither trying to measure us nor prove our existence; they were all too familiar with us, having once coexisted with our ancestors. Yes, you heard correctly.

Like every society, there were good and bad denizens residing in this extraspectral universe. The worst of the worst, a vampiric legion, had finally broken the spell holding them prisoner in their own land and they wanted revenge; wanton revenge on the witch who had exiled them three hundred years past. The seeming object of their ire was Laska Smith. And despite the friction between the two of them, Bick Parker, newly minted private eye trying to make ends meet, allowed his lust for the woman to overtake his sensibilities. She asked, no begged for help and he accepted the challenge. This would be his first big case – a job that would take him to the faltering bridge between two worlds colliding.

Pray for Bick Parker. I have not seen him since.

Charles Waylon Custis

Owner, Black Tip Enterprises, Inc.

Norfolk, Virginia

First Lines – Love ’em or Leave ’em?

Since we never judge a book by its cover (romance novel readers may be an exception?) how do we form our initial opinion of a book? Some people read the back cover material, others the forward. Most of us give every book at least a page or two before we decide if it is worth our time more than going out for ice cream. But still, there is one thing that can make or break a book.

No, it’s not the author being interviewed by Oprah, although that couldn’t hurt.

I’m talking about the first line.

I have completed the outline for Blood Lust, all seven versions, and have gone through at least two sets of character development exercises. I think I am to the point where I know my characters and what they want out of life. Now to start the story, hence – the issue of the first line. I have several options. Here is the current one:

“For the record, the only reason I have written this much so far is the chow in lock-up is worse than last week’s field rats on a cold day.”

What does this tell us? Well, the story seems to be writing itself in first person, a form I am unaccustomed to using. So far so good on that one. What else? Someone has been in jail. For what? You don’t know – yet. It is also implied that the person is no longer in jail and perhaps writing is a requirement to stay that way? Finally, the use of the terms “chow” and “field rats” tells you the person is of a military background. The tone tells me this person isn’t thrilled about writing their story, either. Hmmm.

Lot of info, but really, does it want you to move on? Hopefully so. The next few sentences will establish more of the hook and by the end of the first paragraph you will know the person’s basic background (their torment) and the issue (tension) with the newly introduced antagonist.

That’s the goal, at least.

What are some of your favorite first lines? I think Harlan Coben’s introductory statement used in Six Years is a great one. John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold has a classic. I’d be interested in what you have read. Let’s hear from everyone!

And as always, thanks for stopping by!

Plot overboard!

Navstar-2F satellite of the Global Positioning...

Perhaps the death ray is closer than we know?

You ever get so wrapped up in building your novel’s plot that, once you sit back and look at it, you realize you may have gone a little toooooo far?

Okay, so I decided to remove the triboluminescent death ray from the plot. And the CIA triple cross.  As believable as those plot points may have become, I wanted to boil the antagonist’s motive to something more common: jealousy.

You know, the psychotic, caffeine-fueled, no qualms about it, keep an ice pick under the pillow type of jealousy.

I think everyone has some experience with that one, either as an instigator or receptor. Okay, maybe not the ice pick part, but…oh, I see. Well, there’s at least one of you, then.

For the sci-fi fans, sorry about the death ray. There will be something a little more believable, though. Enough to make you think twice next time you start conversing with the girl in your GPS unit. Enjoy.

For the romance fans, sorry about the lack of “happily ever after.” Writing romance isn’t normally my shtick, but I’ll try to throw something in there that doesn’t sound too stupid.

Mystery folks – you should have your fill. This will be a who done it with a twist. The hard part will be figuring out what, exactly, was done.

And to my paranormal fans (that sounded bad, didn’t it?) you will have to deal with a witch, homage to classic mythology and possibly a Fringe-like alternate universe. Derigibles not included.

Did I mention that I may have gone overboard on the plot?

Nanowrimo starts Tuesday at 12:01 AM.

Clocks ticking.