Where the Hell is Angie?

The creative process of writing a novel is just one part of the equation. I always enjoy writing them, but at the end of the last chapter, I know that my work has just begun. It is actually kind of a letdown. I get done writing it and for a moment I think, wow, I actually wrote a book, a three hundred page book, then the realization hits me, I’m nowhere near done, I actually have to work on it. But when it is all re-written, edited, re-edited, the art work for the cover is chosen, the layout is finished, everything is sent to the publisher, checked and checked again, and then I get to see my book for sale, it is all worth it.

The third novel in the G&B Detective Agency series is written, edited, published and available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. It is titled G&B Detective Agency: Where the Hell is Angie? The official publish date was September 5.  It usually takes a little while after it is published for everything to fall into place. What I mean is that when the book is published and goes into distribution, it goes through a week or so where it just roams around out there in the web finding its way. But it has settled in and now it is easily found, easily gotten.  It feels good to get it done and out to readers.

Just to let you all know, book four, Case of the Cold Case, is started. I’m a little more than halfway through the first draft. People ask me if there is another one coming, and so yes, there is. It is looking pretty good. I think everyone will like it. Here’s a teaser: Case of the Cold Case is a bit dark. I felt like Where the Hell is Angie? got a little more intense than the other two, but Cold Case is going to be, without a doubt, darker. That’s all I’m going to say about it for now. You’ll just have to wait.

It is all about me.

Getting my books out there to people and getting them to read my books is harder than writing them. Since the Facebook Community Boost seminar early this summer I’ve been putting some effort toward expanding my base. One thing that I’ve been told is that people now-a-days want to get to know the author better. So I am going to write about myself today. Now most of you probably already know me well enough. I appreciate all the support that I’ve gotten from you all, but I’m asking a favor today. I’m asking if you can share me with people who might not know me as well. I want everyone to read my books, and I need some help.

Let’s get right to it, I’m from Iowa. I was born at Mary Greeley Hospital on June 2, 1950. I grew up just outside of Shipley, Iowa and attended Shipley school through 6th grade, then I went to school in Nevada, the town, not the state. I lived in Council Bluffs after I graduated from high school while I attended school there for a few years, I did a hitch in the Navy, lived in Jacksonville, Florida for a few years, and then came back to Iowa. That’s it in a nutshell.

I believe that education is next. I graduated from Nevada High School in 1968. I went to trade school at Iowa Western Community College and got an Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic certification. When I was in the Navy I took correspondence courses through the University of Rhode Island. Then I went to Florida Junior College and graduated with an AA in journalism. I went on to Iowa State University and graduated in 1981 with a BA in English. I might add that in there somewhere I graduated from the Des Moines Police academy. I’ve done a lot of graduating it seems.

Now, a list of jobs I’ve held down, hopefully in order: farm boy, construction worker, ranch hand, airplane mechanic, sailor, campus security officer, auto parts salesman, welder, college student, construction worker again, police officer, airplane mechanic again, probation officer, aquatics center supervisor/lifeguard/lifeguard instructor, and detective novel writer. That’s all of the jobs that I can remember right now.

Next is hobbies. Well, I would have to put writing detective novels at the top of this list. I know that I put it in the list of jobs, but really it is more of a hobby that has gotten out of hand. Ukulele player. Yes, I am a ukulele player and a passable singer. I tell people who ask me about my music that I’m not great as a ukulele player and singer, but I’m good enough. I have a few other hobbies that keep me busy. I like to ride my bicycle and I get out once in a while metal detecting. I used to do some hunting and fishing, but not so much anymore. But most of all I like to write.

So that is about it for me. This is actually a little longer than I wanted it to be. I guess there is more to me than I thought. But the bloggers these days say that if an author wants to get their books out there they have to let people get to know them, so this is who I am.

Marketing

Marketing. If you could see me right now you would see a guy who doesn’t want to think about marketing. Every time I think about marketing I wonder if I had chosen to go the traditional publishing route instead of going the indie route, if I would still have to market my books, or if my publisher would just do it for me and I could spend all of my time writing detective novels. I’ve been told that it would be much the same, and that I would still be out there peddling books, but then it is other indie authors who are telling me that, so I don’t know.

A friend has told me many times, in fact every time we talk about it, that what I really need is for Oprah to read my books and then recommend them to her audience. Then I would sell hundreds of thousands, if not millions of copies, become rich and famous, and then I guess live happily ever after. Great idea for a novel, actually, but while I’m waiting for Oprah, I probably need to continue to work on the marketing myself.

While the Oprah plan would be the great way to make money, so would winning the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. I wouldn’t have to do any marketing. I could just be rich enough to write books and not worry about it. I’m not counting on either one of those, though. Whenever I am working on marketing, I think about why I’m writing the novels in the first place. I mean, fame and fortune would be nice, but from firsthand experience, I think that anyone who writes books just to become rich and famous would be just as well served to play the lottery twice a week and save the time. I’ve been talking to other authors recently, and I’ve started looking at it from a more realistic angle. Sure, I’m not getting rich, but every month a royalty check gets deposited in my account. Not enough that I can buy a beach house in Nantucket, but I’m richer than I would be if I hadn’t written them. Sure, Oprah’s people are not calling my people, but there is the nice review of Lonelyfarmer,com that Michael Tidemann wrote last week that then got picked up by a half dozen or so newspapers around Iowa and southern Minnesota. So fame has not completely eluded me. Fame is relative, and while I’m not yet quite Oprah famous, I’ll take it for now.

So the question is, if not for fame and fortune, why write them? And the answer to that one is easy. Just last week I happened to walk into Café Milo for a cup of coffee. Café Milo is, of course, the coffee shop that I use as my inspiration for the fictional Filo’s Coffee Shop in my books. (As a side note, my books are for sale at Café Milo if anyone is looking for one.) As I got in line to order my cup of coffee, the man in front of me turned and said, “I really like your book. I’m reading the first one and I’m looking forward to the second.” That’s enough. For me, that is all the fame and fortune that I need.  I’m writing them so that people can read them and enjoy them. Even if Oprah does discover me one day, that will still be what it is all about.

The Ten Code

When Max and Skip left the police department, the department was still using the ten code to communicate with dispatch and among officers. The ten code is a series of 99 numbers preceded by a ten. For example, 10-1 is that the radio signal is weak and that it is not being received well enough to understand it. Any cop who has been around a while will start talking ten code, even when they are at home. One cop might casually call another and ask, “ten-six?” They are asking the other officer if they are busy at the moment. Sometimes they will leave off the ten, and just use the number. “Twenty-five me at the Hilton” means “meet me over at the Hilton parking lot.” So the conversation would go, “one-twenty-eight,” (the other officer’s call number), “are you ten-six?” The other officer answers, “negative,” then the first officer says, “twenty-five me at the Hilton.” Then the officers meet to supposedly exchange some information, but really they are just going to shoot the shit.

Cops don’t always use the ten code, though. Often they use plain speak, which is just saying what they want to say. There are some ten codes that are not always best used. For example, 10-21, send me a wrecker, and 10-22, send me an ambulance, can easily get confused, especially when the officer calling it out is all pumped up on adrenaline, performing CPR and trying to stop the blood flow on an accident victim who is bleeding out on the pavement in the middle of the night on a busy street. The last thing they want to do is to make a slip and get a wrecker instead of an ambulance. So they will dispense with the ten code and scream over the radio, “we need an ambulance.”

Max never understood why the department used the ten code. If it was supposed to be a secret, it wasn’t. Even back in the early eighties, before the internet, every police groupie out there had a scanner in one hand and the ten code in the other. Anyway, sometime after Max and Skip retired, the ten code started to go by the wayside. Today most of the younger cops have never heard of it.

Some of the most-used ten codes when Max and Skip were still patrolling the streets, which they still use today in their daily conversations, are in bold type below.

The Ten Code.

 10-1 Signal weak, Cannot copy
 10-2 Status is OK
 10-3 End transmission
10-4 Message received
 10-5 Relay
10-6 Busy
 10-7 Out of service
 10-8 In service
10-9 Repeat
 10-10 Fight
 10-11 Dog
 10-12 Standby
 10-13 Weather / Road conditions
 10-14 Report of prowler
 10-15 Civil disturbance
 10-16 Domestic Disturbance
10-17 Complainant
 10-18 Complete assignment
 10-19 Return to ….
 10-20 Location
 10-21 Call by phone
10-22 Disregard
 10-23 Arrived at the scene
 10-24 Assignment complete
10-25 Meet with Somebody
 10-26 Detaining subject to expedite
10-27 Drivers license information
 10-28 Registration information
 10-29 Check for records or warrants
 10-30 Illegal use of radio
 10-31 Crime in progress
10-32 Gun (Unless specified as other Weapon)
 10-33 Emergency
 10-34 Riot
 10-35 Major crime alert
 10-36 Correct time
 10-37 Suspicious subject
 10-38 Traffic Stop
 10-39 Urgent – use lights and siren
 10-40 Silent run – no lights and siren
 10-41 Beginning tour of duty
 10-42 Ending tour of duty
 10-43 Information
 10-44 Request permission to leave patrol
 10-45 Animal carcass
 10-46 Assist motorist
 10-47 Emergency road repairs needed
 10-48 Traffic signal needs repair
 10-49 Traffic light out
 10-50 Accident F – Fatality PI – Personal Injury PD – Property Damage
 10-51 Wrecker
 10-52 Ambulance
 10-53 Road blocked
 10-54 Livestock on highway
 10-55 Intoxicated Driver
10-56 Intoxicated Subject
 10-57 Hit and Run Accident
 10-58 Direct traffic
 10-59 Convoy or Escort
 10-60 In the Area
 10-61 Subject Near Officer
 10-62 Reply to message
 10-63 Prepare to copy
 10-64 Net clear
 10-65 Net message assignment
 10-66 Message canceled
 10-67 Clear to read net message
 10-68 Dispatch information
 10-69 Message Relayed
 10-70 Fire
 10-71 Advise nature of fire
 10-72 Report progress on fire
 10-73 Smoke report
 10-74 Negative
 10-75 In contact with
10-76 En-Route
 10-77 ETA (Estimated time of arrival)
 10-78 Assistance is Needed
 10-79 Coroner
 10-80 High speed pursuit
 10-81 In-view patrol
 10-82 Reserve lodging
 10-83 Welfare Check
 10-84 If meeting, advise ETA
 10-85 Will be late
 10-86 Request authorization for overtime
 10-87 Pick up checks for distribution
 10-88 Advise present telephone number
 10-89 Bomb threat
 10-90 Alarm
 10-91 Unnecessary use of radio
 10-92 Alarm
 10-93 Blockade
 10-94 Drag racing
 10-95 Subject in custody
10-96 Mental subject
 10-97 Check signal
 10-98 Jail break
10-99 Wanted or stolen

Skip tells you when to call it in.

Calling it in to the PD.

Someone comes home to find that their ceramic planter that their kids gave them for their fiftieth wedding anniversary is missing off their front stoop. They go over where it was and look around. Nothing to see but a ring of dirt where it used to be. They decide that there is no need to bother the cops about it. They’ve already looked around, and there isn’t anything that the cops can do about it. The next day they clean the dirt ring off the stoop and try to forget it, but they feel just a little vulnerable now.

The weather is getting warmer. It is Friday, and a college student is walking to her apartment from the bus stop after a day of classes. She decides that she is going to pump up the tires of her bicycle so that she can start riding it to class. When she goes to the bike rack, her bicycle is gone. The chain has been cut and is laying on the ground where her bike used to be. She calls her dad. When he is done with all his questions, the student asks him if she should call the cops. “What can they do?” he asks. “You don’t even know when it was stolen.”

A man goes out on a Saturday to do some gardening. He notices that his shovel that he left leaning against his backyard shed is missing. He also notices that there are pry marks on the door, which is padlocked. It appears that no entry was gained. The man curses himself, convinced that it is his own fault for being so careless and leaving his shovel out. He promises himself not to make that mistake again.

Dozens of crimes like this happen every day, and most of them go unreported. Most of the victims are convinced that the cops can’t do anything. And in each individual case, they might be right. The cops probably are not going to launch an all-out search for a stolen planter, a shovel, or a bicycle that ended up getting taken sometime over the winter, because there is nothing to go on. But collectively, these cases are important to the safety of the neighborhood. Because if they go unreported, they continue to take place, but when they are reported they begin a process that helps the cops solve them.

So what happens when these small unsolvable thefts and attempted thefts get called in? The city is divided up into areas and an officer is assigned to each of them. When Max and I were police officers, the city was divided into four areas. That’s a lot of ground to cover for four officers, so each officer will try to get as familiar with their area as they can. They check the reports each day. They look for similarities. They look for the parts of their areas that are being overlooked. If at briefing they find out that a ceramic planter was taken from one residential neighborhood, that a shovel was stolen from beside a shed just around the corner and that the latch of that same shed had been pried, and that a bicycle was stolen from the bike rack at an apartment complex that sits on the edge of that same residential neighborhood, all these cases that the victims thought were so unimportant alert the area officer to the fact that someone is prowling the neighborhood and stealing whatever they can easily get their hands on. The officer starts to concentrate their efforts on that neighborhood. They talk to the victims, ask questions. Who is coming and going? Who belongs there and who doesn’t? Who is just passing through? Who is loitering around? They get the utility officers who are not assigned an area to help patrol the neighborhood. Over time, as more of these seemingly small crimes are reported, they take on a pattern. The cops start connecting the dots, and eventually they identify a suspect, serve a search warrant, and lo and behold, they find a ceramic planter, a shovel, and a bicycle, all reported stolen. Sadly, they also probably find a lot of other stolen items that didn’t get reported and will never be returned to their owners, but thank goodness for those who did report them.

So no crime is too small to call in. Make your neighborhood safe: report them.

Skip

It lives, it lives.

I had hoped to write this a few weeks ago, but a series of unfortunate events prevented it. I won’t go into detail; it was an arduous journey to get this second book in the G&B Detective Agency series into print. But it is here now. After one re-write and nine edits, for one of which Denise and I printed out the entire book on our office printer, sat down together, and over the course of several days read the entire book, passing the pages from one to the other while we did so. And then there was the cover. We went through four covers before we got it where we wanted it, submitted it, decided that it needed more changes, then submitted it two more times before we were happy. But as of this morning, G&B Detective Agency: Case of the Lonelyfarmer.com is for sale on Amazon. It is also available through an expanded distribution network for bookstores and libraries to pick it up. So if anyone out there knows a bookstore owner, pass it on. It would be appreciated.

Enough of the complaining over how long it took to get Lonelyfarmer.com published. It is a pretty good book. I like it a little better than the first book, I think. But it builds off of Missing Tucker, and shares a lot of the same characters, so without that I’m not sure it would feel the same. Some teasers here: Monica and Milton seem to be spending a lot of time together. Everyone has their own idea where that is going to end up. An ex stripper and a cop? We’ll see. Also, a couple of characters that you might have thought you had heard the last of find their way into this story as well. It all ends up just as surprising for Max, Skip, and Monica, as it does for the reader. So I think you will like that.

That’s it for now. I don’t want to give anything away. I want you to read it. I posted a link in the sidebar to get to the book on Amazon, below the link to Case of the Missing Tucker. I hope you enjoy it. One more thing, there is another book written but not quite ready to go. For now, it is titled G&B Detective Agency: Where the Hell is Angie. Now that I have Lonelyfarmer.com done and available, I can buckle down and get Angie re-written, edited, and published. So stay tuned for that.

It isn’t all fun and games.

I truly enjoy writing G&B Detective Agency books. It is fun to sit down every morning and let Max, Skip, Monica and the rest of the characters take me off on their adventures. To me, it seems like I’m not writing books, but rather chronicling their escapades. So it isn’t a lot of work. I’m just following along. Then when they are done, I get to re-write the story, and it is fun to read what they did and tweak it. How often do you say in life, if I could just do it over again? That’s the rewrite, doing it all over again and doing it a bit differently. And I think the characters all appreciate me letting them do that. But then the work starts, the part that isn’t as much fun.

Right now I, myself, am in limbo. I don’t really want to rewrite Where the Hell is Angie and get that on my mind at the same time I’m trying to get Lonelyfarmer.com ready to publish. It just doesn’t work to start mixing the two. This is when Denise gets into the process, and I’m sitting around waiting for her. That’s not to say I’m not doing anything: I’m working on marketing, but all the fun stuff, like telling the story and putting together the cover, are done. As far as writing, this blog is about as fun as it gets for a while.

But back to Denise and Lonelyfarmer.com. She has already edited the manuscript once, after I did the rewrite. Then I went in and either approved or rejected her edits. That’s not really fun. I want to set the record straight right now: I usually accept that she knows more about punctuation than I do. Most of the time I press the accept button. But sometimes I don’t. By this time the book is written, and It is pretty monotonous work to go through the whole book and see what all she found that was wrong with it. But I get that done, get the cover set up, upload it to the CreateSpace builder, and then I order the first proof, and after that the second proof, and after that a third proof and after that…

If you don’t know what a proof is, it is the book. It gets printed, cover and all. I sit down with the actual book in my hands and read it cover to cover one more time before it is published and sold. If there are any mistakes, I go back to the formatted manuscript, correct them, submit the manuscript and order another proof, just to make sure one more time. And when I get that proof, Denise gets to read it cover to cover to see if she can find any mistakes. Then I go back, correct anything she finds and resubmit it. Then I order another proof, read it cover to cover one more time. This goes on until Denise and I are convinced that nothing has gotten past us. Toward the end, we may make only three or four corrections in the whole book, but we keep at it. I will read it cover to cover five or six times before I’m done. I had hoped to get this one out by the end of the month, but it is beginning to look like that was wishful thinking. But I owe it to all the people who buy my books and read them to give them the best effort I can. That is where I stand right now, still reading proofs. Don’t get discouraged though, I’ll get there eventually, and I promise it will be worth the wait.

The Timeline.

Books

On Thursday I was interviewed by the editor of the Nevada Journal about the Case of the Missing Tucker. It was a great interview and I enjoyed it. We talked a bit about Tucker, but actually we spent more time talking about the other three cases that are in the wings. Right now I’m waiting for the second proof of Case of the Lonelyfarmer.com, and hopefully that one will be available on Amazon by the end of the month. I recently finished the first draft of the third book in the series and the fourth one is outlined. One of the most interesting things about the interview was getting ready for it. Because with four books in the works I had lost track of time. I had to sit down beforehand and go through all my emails and word documents to make a timeline with a few notes. Looking at it afterwards was interesting. So I thought that I would share some of that with you.

January 2016: Started writing “Case of the Missing Tucker.”
March 13, 2016: Finished Tucker and sent it to Neal for review.
May 3, 2016: Started subplot.
June 21, 2016: Finished Tucker with subplot. Sent to Neal for review.
July 12, 2016: Submitted Tucker to Bourrett. (3 Month wait for reply)
July 2016: Started Lonelyfarmer.com.
September 2016: Finished first draft “Lonelyfarmer.com.”
October 14, 2016: Rejected by Bourrett. Began sending Tucker to other agents. (14 total)
January 2017: Started re-write and editing “Lonelyfarmer.com.”
July 2017: Talked to Neal about self publishing.
August 2017: Started “Where the Hell is Angie.”
October 6, 2017: Began process to self publish Tucker on CreateSpace.
November 2017: Finished rewrite and editing “Lonelyfarmer.com.”
November 30, 2017: Published Tucker.
December 4, 2018: Tucker paperback available for sale on Amazon. (Kindle a week later.)
January 3, 2018: Launch party for Tucker
February 6, 2018 Finished first draft “Where the Hell is Angie.”
February 12, 2018: Started publishing “Lonelyfarmer.com on CreateSpace.

I am hard at work getting Lonelyfarmer published soon and getting my marketing plan going. I am eagerly awaiting the article in the Journal; I’m pretty excited about that. I’ve had the privilege of reading most of it already, and I will not say any more about that, except that it is a pretty good piece of journalism, if you ask me. Look for it when it comes out.

 

 

Number four?

Book number four.

Long before I finished Case of the Missing Tucker, book number two came to me. I really didn’t want to think about it, as I still had to wind up number one, so I made some notes to help me hang on to the idea, and put it in a corner of my brain where it would not get in the way and I could go back to it later. It was the same with Case of the Lonelyfarmer: the seed for Where the Hell is Angie sprouted, and I had to put it away somewhere I could find it again so that I could focus on finishing the one that I was working on. As I was getting close to finishing Where the Hell is Angie, I started wondering where Max and Skip’s next case would take them, but they just weren’t talking to me. And last week when I typed the last word for Angie, I still had nothing.

Now, I don’t get writer’s block. I don’t always know where my characters are going, but they always go somewhere, and I follow along, writing it all down. I have to admit that I got a little bit of a panic attack when I realized that I had three books written and no place to go from there. I wondered if I was just going to write three books and never write another. It seemed like a short writing career. But I told myself that I had a lot to do, and maybe a bit of a break from writing would be good for me. I mean, I have to start putting some more effort into marketing Tucker. I have to go over the proofs for Lonelyfarmer, fix the typos and random blank pages that always seem to sneak past, get it through the publisher and on Amazon where people can get their hands on it and read it. And even though the first draft is written, I have a ton of work left on Angie. So when I started getting that anxious feeling that I had nothing more to write, I would just remind myself how much I still had left to do on the three that were written.

But then it happened. I was laying there last night thinking about something else, looking up at the darkness, and the next book jumped into bed with me. It flooded my brain and I couldn’t think of anything else. Four hours later I had it outlined in my head, start to finish. This morning I made some notes. Stand by, because G&B Detective Agency: Case of the Cold Case is on the way. I feel a lot better now.

Writing Books

Writing Books.

I just finished the first draft of my third book in the G&B Detective Agency series, G&B Detective Agency: Where the Hell is Angie. As it sits now, it is 79,143 words. The Case of the Missing Tucker was 77,462 words, which turned out to be 273 pages in the 5”x8” format when it was finally published. As far as books go, that’s a fairly decent-sized book, looking at it on the book shelf. I was kind of worried about that before I got it published; I didn’t want a skinny book. The Case of the Lonelyfarmer.com is 87,685 pages, and is sitting at the publisher right now waiting for a cover. That puts it at 302 pages, give or take a few, depending which font and size I decide on. As long as I’m throwing figures around, the total for the three books is 244,490 words at this point. That’s a lot of writing.

Back when I was going to college and I first had this vague idea that I might write a novel someday, there were two ways to publish. The first, most desirable, and for a serious writer the only option, was to get picked up by a publishing house. And to do that, it was almost imperative that you had a literary agent to peddle it around. The other way was called a vanity press. For a price, the vanity press would do a print run for the author. Then the author took their book and went around trying to sell it. It was hard back then to be recognized as a serious author if one went the vanity press route. But frankly, with the knowledge and experience that I have now, they were pioneers, those early independent authors.

Being from the old school, ISU class of ‘81, when I finished my first book, I went in search of an agent. It didn’t go as well as I had hoped, meaning literary agents weren’t lining up to represent me, something that I never expected to happen, but didn’t know what else to do. I read about people who had spent years and years sending their manuscripts to hundreds of agents before they were finally picked up by one. And then another couple of years before their book was sold to a publishing house, and then another couple of years before it ended up between two covers. That’s a lot of years. At my age, and especially with one book after another coming into my head, I don’t really have the time or the patience to deal with that. I gave it a year and I submitted the Tucker manuscript to sixteen agents, then decided to try the new way: self publishing on Amazon.

While in the olden days self publishing was something that an author was hesitant to admit to, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that isn’t true anymore. In fact, self-published authors are showing up on the New York Times best seller list quite often these days. The new name for people who self-publish is “indie authors,” for independent authors. They are authors who don’t have the time nor patience to wait for some benevolent literary agent to bestow their approval on the author’s work and take it from there. Indie authors want to keep ownership of their art. And not a few of those literary agents nowadays are prowling through the works of the indie authors and asking them if those authors might bestow their literary works on the literary agent. A role reversal is in the making. Who would of thunk it? So I decided that, instead of waiting for an agent, I would join the ranks and just publish myself. The hell with fame and fortune–there is no guarantee that would happen anyway, even if I did have an agent. I just wanted to get my stories in book form so that people could read them before the next one popped out of my head.

And that is where I am right now. Three books down: one published, one at the publisher, and a third waiting in line. I have no idea how many more are in me, but right now I’m satisfied to have actually written and published real books. I have done my part. At this point, it’s up to fame and fortune to find me, and not the other way around.