Work hard or else

Time for a break!

Before I became a writer, one of my jobs was to advise business owners on a variety of subjects. My background was financial, but much of what I did was offer guidance on matters related to employees—because that was often the most pressing issue for my business owner clients. How to get the best results from employees is a question as old as work itself. Small business owners, the majority of my clients, often treated their employees in one of two ways, like shit, or like family. That strange dynamic is a good indicator that most of those owners were in way over their heads and didn’t have a clue on how to manage people.

My advice generally ran along the lines of creating a respectful environment for work, pay appropriately for the skills and the market, and never promote someone for the wrong reasons. Sounds simple but it’s not. Respecting employees, all employees, is a challenge. My experience suggested that about 20% of the workforce are excellent employees—which means that 80% are not. That does not mean they are bad employees –just that they are not excellent. The owners consistently expected all employees to be above average. Those expectations led to anger, confrontations, firings, a work environment without respect—all bad stuff.

When I offered my advice to one owner, his response was that I just wanted him to lower his standards, he said that like it was bad. He was exactly right. Don’t expect everyone who works for you to be a super employee—they are not, and if they all were; that would be a problem. Cultivate the 20% to be super stars and appreciate the 80% for what they contribute—even if below your standards. That 80% will often be the most loyal, dependable and honest employees you have. They just are not super stars.

My family heritage is based on a strong work ethic. This was more than a work hard and you will be successful someday mantra—it was your duty to work hard. We owed it to the labor gods to work our butts off. My father worked hard, his father worked hard and on and on. To say there is some psychological baggage here would be a gross understatement. But I knew from a very early age that lazy people were evil. This also got all mixed up in Christianity—after all I was raised in puritan Oklahoma; often a confusing place. Work hard or go to hell was never stated, but often implied.

With that quasi-masochist upbringing, it is not surprising I owned my own businesses in my early twenties. These were food service businesses and at one time probably had a hundred or so employees. That was the beginning of a long career dealing with employees—I learned a lot those first years. Most of it was that employees were an incredible burden. I know many people who have expressed a desire to have their own business which would require employees to be able to run it—my advice has often been; don’t do it! I know that sounds harsh– like I’m anti-employee; I’m not. Some of my best memories are of the great employees I have had in various business ventures. But, suffice it to say, my goal later in life was to be an employee or be in a business where I was a one-man-band.

Now I write books, alone, in my little office. I work on my schedule and stop when it suits me. I still carry around the burden of a strong work ethic; but I’m learning to temper my expectations even for myself. I do have a small group of people who help me produce these books so that they are as readable as possible and, I bet, they would say I’m still learning how to control my expectations. Probably true. I still want things done immediately. I don’t find it unreasonable that everything should be perfect. Working at a frantic pace is not abnormal to me. Me missing deadlines is not the same as you missing deadlines!

In my career as an adviser, I believe I always gave good advice. I also believe that most people who advise others are often hypocrites. Do as I say, not as I do, is a cliché for a good reason. Advisers more often than not are flawed people—but their advice can still be very helpful.

This post has only tangential connections to writing and books, but maybe offers a little insight into my background and how that affects the characters you read in my novels. The other point buried here somewhere is that a successful author must treat their writing much like a job. It is not a “fun” lark –it is hard work. When my writing is at its best, I am working with great energy and discipline. Writing everyday on a schedule, even when you don’t want to, is the best way to reach the goal of a finished book.

When I was in my twenties and owned my own business, I knew I didn’t know what I was doing. I also knew I was learning every day and getting better. It was exciting but also very demanding. My ego never got in the way of my learning, and I was never afraid to say “I don’t know.” I’m no longer in my twenties, but I’m still learning—every day. For me, it makes the day interesting and exciting. I look forward to each and every new chapter. Can’t ask for much more than that.


Fiction No More was recently released and has been acquired by a good number of readers. I am grateful. I’m an indie writer and every day is a struggle to get my books into the hands of readers. I’ve discussed in this blog the various ways I go about that—and I have enjoyed a certain level of success.

Anyone who has read my books or even used the free “look inside” feature on Amazon knows I use cuss words. Yep, I do. I use them in appropriate circumstances and with characters who “talk that way.” There are many readers who find cuss words to be vile language and they are greatly offended. They have every right to feel that way. They should not read my books if they are offended by those gritty words.

The success of my books is very much driven by reviews–bad reviews will equal bad sales. This is obvious. Readers value other readers’ opinions—even though those other readers may not be people they would seek advice from on much of anything, but an on-line review carries a great deal of weight.

Fiction No More has just started getting reviews and they are good. But one reviewer was offended by a bad word on page 2. One-star review. I know you are probably saying—so what, just ignore it. I will—I’ve even said these reviews are helpful to other readers who might be offended and I’m glad the reviews are there. But this is my 9th book—plus there is the “look inside” option—page 2 is there to view and avoid being offended. But maybe this is really a crusade to get rid of authors who offend with language, nah, that would be a stupid crusade.

Thanks for being a reader!

New and Innovative

I’ve mentioned before that I get requests to do written interviews. This usually comes from blogs and web sites focused on indie authors–often sites hawking something themselves. They send me a list of questions that I do my best to answer in thoughtful, honest and even funny ways.

Recently as part of a long list of questions from a web site, they asked: What are some things that haven’t been done in the mystery genre that you hope to introduce through your books?

What an interesting question. Things that haven’t been done in the mystery genre? What the hell would that be? How about divulge who did it at the beginning? Have the good guy commit the crime? Have no mystery at all? It was such an interesting question that I could not stop thinking about it. Then it occurred to me; why would that even be important?

Why screw around with something that works? It’s our addiction to new, innovative—different. As consumers, we want the latest thing there is; so that must mean as readers, we want something different, right? I stumbled across an article where some people (none known to me) were predicting the future trend in book genres; they mentioned—Urban Fantasy, Science Fantasy, Utopian stories, and Cyberpunk. Maybe this is new and innovative; but I write mysteries—I don’t think I’m going to end up on anyone’s trend list.

Many of my books follow a rather predictable path. An introduction, character development, a crime is committed (usually murder), investigation, a few twists, discovery of the truth and the conclusion; which must address all of the details that have not been fully explained before. Hey, it is a mystery novel –what were you expecting.

I’ve seen way too many movies that just end. Did they run out of money and this was all they could finish? Or maybe that is being creative. In the middle of a scene the movie just ends. What happened to the characters in the movie—how did it really end. I definitely would not want to read a mystery book that ended before the mystery was solved—or is that something new; let the reader solve the mystery however they want! I would think most readers would not be pleased with an abrupt ending without knowing who did what.

My answer to the question from the web site was: Wow, I have no idea. If I knew I might not tell you—something that hasn’t been done in a mystery after a billion mystery books—I’m going to think about that.

So, now I’ve thought about it, and I’m going to stick to the classic format of mystery books. For innovation I will work on better, more in-depth characters, improved realistic dialogue, unique settings and more surprises in each book. Nothing really different than a thousand other mystery books, but do it better.

This brings me to a confession of sorts. The Hightower series was an attempt to break my pattern. Hightower is someone who, mostly by accident, has discovered how to extend life. The book starts in 2020 and at that time Hightower is 120 but still looks as if he is in his 50s. The murders that are at the heart of the story took place in the 1930s and Hightower knows (and the reader knows) who committed the crime. This book will fit into several genres including mystery; but it’s different. So maybe I do want to write something innovative. Now for the confession part—I’ve hit a brick wall. Yep, not sure what to do next. Approaching the half-way point in the book and not sure where to take the story. I’ve been here before.

That time it was Four Corners War. I got stuck in 2016 and it took three years to get back to the book and finish it. During that time, I wrote five other books—but FCW just laid there; waiting for inspiration. When I returned, it all came to me how I wanted the story to go and quickly finished the book. It had never left my mind. It will be published Sept 3rd, 2019.

Pre Order Now!

My cure for my Hightower blues will be the 4th Vincent Malone book, Durango Two Step. While Hightower rests I will complete DTS. In the next few weeks I will give you a peek at the first few chapters of DTS. This will be Vincent’s most challenging adventure, putting all of his new life at risk.

Polite Society?

“That is not polite!” Not sure how many times I heard my mother say those words as I was growing up—but it was a lot. I accounted for most of those utterances, but also my brother, neighborhood kids and the world in general had a few dressing downs.

What does it actually mean to be polite?

Dictionary.com says;

  1. showing good manners toward others, as in behavior, speech, etc.; courteous; civil: a polite reply.
  2. refined or cultured: polite society.
  3. of a refined or elegant kind: polite learning.

Sounds like a good thing—being polite. Have mothers stopped telling their children to be polite? Maybe we stopped teaching what it means to be polite? Something has happened. Maybe as a society we have decided that being polite is a sign of weakness. Or maybe we just don’t care anymore? Something has happened, all right; because being polite is no longer the mother standard it used to be.

Of course all of this gets confused with political correctness—which seems to be the same as being polite but with a negative label. In one form political correctness seems to be limiting the words that can be used to describe people. Usually offensive words.

Dictionary.com says:
Marked by or adhering to a typically progressive orthodoxy on issues involving especially ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or ecology: The actor’s comment about unattractive women was not politically correct. The CEO feels that people who care about being politically correct are overly sensitive. Abbreviations: PC, P.C.
Or from Wikipedia:
The term political correctness (adjectivally: politically correct; commonly abbreviated PC) is used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society. Since the late 1980s, the term has come to refer to a preference for inclusive language and avoiding language or behavior that can be seen as excluding, marginalizing, or insulting groups of people considered disadvantaged or discriminated against, especially groups defined by sex or race.

I’m sure my mother was not overly concerned with group identities being infringed with marginalizing words; but I’m also really sure she understood the impact of uncivil, hurtful words and knew they were not polite.

I use words to tell stories. Many of my characters would not be considered polite by my mother. Actually she would be upset that I know some of those words and more than likely blame the whole vulgar words usage on Johnny who lived down the street and was known not to be a polite child. He had obviously been a bad influence on me when she was not watching. If she could have, she might even call Johnny’s mom.

Writing is about words. While many readers think there are bad words and good words; I don’t. Words are just a way to describe something. If the word is vulgar, maybe the use of that word is intended to convey ugly emotion or anger–something vulgar. The correct word used to fit the right time and place.

What troubles me is someone using words to harm people. Name calling was forbidden on the elementary school playground for a very good reason; words can be cruel. How we got to a place where being a name caller, using hurtful language is okay for so many people who lead our society, is just bizarre.

Once again my mother: “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Of course this is not original with my mom; but she believed it. Now on occasion I did hear her pass along some gossip about some of the ladies at the church or in her garden club. It’s hard being perfect 24/7.

Maybe it was just easier in the past to be polite? No internet, no Facebook, no nasty tweets. It’s hard to maintain the same venom in a long-hand written letter on scented paper. Also a key factor is that much of our ugliness today is directed at a faceless, nameless audience. Anonymous postings aimed at the dumb, stupid, idiotic people who deserve to be hated.

My mother lived to be over a hundred years old. She came from a time that was very different. She left a world that had become richer and full of amazing things; but a world that was much less polite. Being polite might be a sign of weakness to some, I think it is really a sign of great strength. Shouting vulgarities may attract attention but it is not an indication of a good, thoughtful person. Moms do know best.

Preorder Soon!

Good, Evil and Stuck

Doctor Thomas H. Hightower the Third is a new character in a new series. He’s a secretive man who has a very troubled past and is engaged in an epic battle with evil. Evil in the form of one monstrous person Trevor Boxer. The man who killed Hightower’s wife.

To the world Hightower appears to be a semi-retired attorney who has odd ways and takes on occasional cases that peak his curiosity. Living a reclusive life in the Denver foothills would make him eccentric; but not all that unusual—but he is very unusual.

The first book in the series, Case of the False Prophet (debating title –it may change), is progressing rather slowly from idea to book. This process should probably be best hidden. Better from a reader point of view to think of a book as a burst of inspiration that leads to a few months of frantic writing and viola; a completed manuscript. None of my books have been like that. Some have been smoother than others, but all have had periods of mental challenges.

I’ve read about authors who have worked on a single book for years, even decades; I can’t imagine. While I’m writing a book it never leaves me, I’m always thinking about the story; where it’s going or maybe not going. Every day, even when I’m not able to actually write, it stays there—churning away, trying to reach the conclusion. Going through that mental process for years would be painful. I know because it happened to me.

I got stuck. Some call this malady, writer’s block. It was Four Corners War, my next book scheduled to be released in a few months. I started FCW in early 2016. Quickly wrote about a third of the book and then I hit a wall. At that point I had written and published three books in about a year’s time. I expected to finish FCW in three to four months. It didn’t happen. I got stuck and couldn’t move. For over a year I didn’t write one word. Eventually, I took on another project, Murder So Wrong, with a co-author and left FCW hanging.

During this period, I wrote three Muckraker books and three Vincent Malone books, but FCW was always there; waiting. The story never left my mind. Once whatever was causing the block went away, I quickly finished FCW.

Most likely the block was due to holes in the plot. I write mysteries and have a bad habit of starting books before I know the complete story. I trust myself to be able to develop the total plot of a book while I’m writing. I have a broad idea about the story and the characters but expect some things to change as I write. That approach has worked for me—but no doubt it was that lack of planning that caused FCW to stop. I reached a point where I had created plot lines that no longer felt like they were connected and did not have a good way to end the mess I had created. So I was stuck.

To get unstuck, I walked away. But it was more than that—I wrote other books. That process helped me build a better plot for FCW. I didn’t just come back to an unfinished book and complete it—I changed it. It was wrong, and I didn’t know how to fix it. The idea of the book and the problems stayed with me the entire time I was writing other books, and eventually, I knew what to do to complete Four Corners War.

If this all sounds a little chaotic or maybe even a bit unhinged—I think it was just that. This is no way to write a book. Do not do what I do. I admire the heck out of people who prepare detailed outlines, develop scene story boards, construct character lists with descriptions and backgrounds—wow, those people are real writers—that’s not me. I jump in with an idea and start creating that wonderful, exciting story on the fly. My creativity requires that I let the characters interact with the story in ways that would not have occurred to me at the beginning, would not have fit a preordained outline—in other words; loosy-goosy.

Of course, there is a problem with loosy-goosy; sometimes I get lost. That may be happening with Doctor Hightower or it could be a spell of creative thinking which will be followed by a period of creative writing. We’ll find out soon.


The audiobook for Santa Fe Mojo is still in the works. Due to lots of complications this project has taken a lot longer than expected but is now getting close. It has only been recently that I was able to listen to a portion of the book. I liked all of the elements of the audiobook, but it was strange to hear. I had never listened to anyone read one of my books before.

During the process of writing, editing, reviewing and reviewing again, I probably will read a book fifty times or more before it is finalized. To hear it read by someone else (a very good narrator, by the way) was strange. This may sound odd to you, but it was like the book had been private before but somehow now it was public. Remember this is a book that has thousands and thousands of copies distributed—obviously it’s not a secret. Hearing a book read is really a different experience than reading to yourself. The book that was in my head was private this audiobook is very public.


Want to thank everyone for reading the blog. My current schedule is to write a post about once a week. I also put out a newsletter once a month. The newsletter is a little bit more structured with recurring features. You can subscribe to both the newsletter and blog from links on this page.

Thanks for being a reader.

Interview

Why would I lie?

Occasionally I have an opportunity to be interviewed. These are either web sites or blogs about authors and writing. The structure of these interviews is usually a written Q and A. Some of the questions can be pretty lame but all and all these people work hard to make the interview interesting. This is not a give and take type interview so the exchange can be very static; but recently did one and thought it might be interesting.

Q. How did you come to see yourself as a writer, and what inspired you to seek publication?
A. From a very early age reading was a vital part of my life. I think many avid readers imagine themselves writing a book someday—and I was no exception. Family and career dominated my life for the majority of my working years so I never wrote that book. Towards the end of my career and as indie writers had more opportunities to get a book published, I decided to give it a try. It was not a complete disaster– but close. From that humbling experience I spent time learning a new craft, along with understanding the process of writing and publishing. Some years later I published my first book “The Bootlegger’s Legacy.” Currently I have written ten books and now self-identify as an author. You can’t change your past, but if there is one thing I would re-do, it would be the waiting so long to become a writer.

Q. Tell us something about your writing process that’s unusual or that you haven’t revealed before.
A. The unusual thing about my writing process is that it is not unusual. I write at a desk with a laptop and an extra-large monitor. Most of my writing happens in the morning. I’m an early riser and will have written for several hours by the time the household begins to stir. I may write some throughout the day but the heavy lifting is always in the early morning.

My original answer to this question included that I wrote while submerged in a vat of lime Jell-O; it was funny, to me, but sounded stupid–so I deleted it.

Q. Which of your characters would you most and least like to trade places with?
A. While he is probably my favorite character right now; he would also be the character I would least like to trade places with–Vincent Malone. A man so flawed he is almost toxic. From what was going to be a great life of privilege and honor; disaster occurred as everything fell apart due to his weaknesses. For the next few decades he punished himself because of his failings. I wanted the reader to sense that Malone was a good man who had lost all of his confidence and was merely looking for a way to die in peace. He was done, a broken man. He had paid the price for his tremendous shortcomings and now wanted to be left alone. That is how Santa Fe Mojo starts–he’s just about at the end. The story of how he finds his “mojo” in Santa Fe is uplifting, but I don’t think I would like to experience the lows of Malone’s life.

The character I would most like to trade places with is Joe Meadows from The Bootlegger’s Legacy. This may be odd in a way because Joe is probably the character most like me. It is not me, but we had many similarities. Through twists and turns that can only occur in a book Joe finds wealth and great happiness. Most everybody would want to be like Joe.

Q. Which of your characters would you most and least like to become romantically involved with?
A. One-word answer for most likely; Sally. A portion of The Bootlegger’s Legacy takes place in the past when a 1950s Oklahoma bootlegger and his mistress (Sally) plant the seed that is the “legacy” which drives the main story about the next generation. This is my favorite portion of any of my books, and Sally is one of the best characters I’ve written about.

Least likely would be Joe Louongo—I shudder at the thought. He is a secondary character in the Muckraker series. Louongo is a loud, foul-mouth attorney who has no ethics and maybe no redeeming qualities of any kind—but a great addition to those books. These less than admirable characters make writing so much fun.

Q. What advice, as relates to your writing career, would you give your younger self?
A. The best advice is to keep doing. I have had many different occupations and few have offered the satisfaction I have gained from writing. It would have been very easy for me to think that the chance to be a writer was something I had passed up; but that was not true. My advice to my younger self would have been to not give up on your dreams.

Q. What experience in your past or general aspect of your life has most affected your writing?
A. I had a long career in business which impacted my writing. Much of that time was as a financial adviser related to business acquisitions. While number crunching does not lead to very many novels, I have been fortunate to meet an amazing number of unique characters. That stored resource of all of those wonderful, awful, funny, sad, smart, stupid and unique people has been a fantastic treasure trove to populate the books. And it’s not just the characters. My next book Four Corners War is loosely based on actual happenings I experienced while working on a business transaction in New Mexico. My books have consistently been affected by what I actually saw and then enhanced by a few murders, millions in lost treasure, dogs, crazy sheriffs and heroic detectives.

Characters Make the Book

Writing books is a chore. Yep, it does not just happen—it takes work. Obviously there is the mental issue—no that’s not saying you have to be “mental” to write books—but; okay, it helps. Before writing you have to have an idea for a book. Let’s say you want to write a mystery. You have to have a plot—or maybe several. Is it a murder mystery? Who was killed and why and by whom? Of course there must be characters—some of my books may have thirty or more —each needs to be developed to fit the story and described to the reader.

If you read my blog you know that I claim the characters write the book—just a little BS there. The characters drive the story; but they are directed. As you write, the characters take on their own existence and reactions in the book are based on those characters and how they would respond to what is happening. Of course they don’t write the book—that task falls to the author. Hours and hours of writing.

The characters make the book—usually more than the plot. People read books about people. My focus has always been on the characters. Often these fictional actors are a mixture of people I’ve known or, even in small ways, myself. Of course many of the characters are completely made up to fit the needs of the story.

The character I’m currently writing about is Doctor Hightower. He’s a man of mystery living in a small town in the foothills outside of Denver. He’s an attorney and apparently a doctor of some sort. But the most interesting aspect of this reclusive man is that he has discovered the fountain of youth—or at least a laboratory created substitute. Through the whims of happenstance, he was in the right place at the right time to stumble into a chance for everlasting life. That gift was accompanied by the tragic loss of his greatest love and the pain of a life of loneliness and grief—a never ending life.

So here is a character, who has no resemblance to anyone I knew—seldom ran into folks who claimed to be hundreds of years old—well wait a minute, there was that time in a bar in El Paso, never mind; that is another story. Dr. Hightower sure isn’t me. So a character that I’m not familiar with—how do you write about this unique person. Easy answer –you make it up.

I’ve never met a famous author, I know some people who write but they write mostly non-fiction, historical stuff. I often think about the great authors of the 1800s and early 1900s and the amazingly long novels they wrote, by hand, about the human condition. Some of these works explored the misery that existed for so many people; and yet more often than not these writers were usually well off—often from elite, wealthy families. One of these authors in particular fascinates me—Victor Hugo. His two greatest works were Les Misérables, 1862, and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, 1831.

These stories take us into the underworld of misery and injustice that existed for most people at the time. How does someone like Hugo write with such detail about something he had not experienced. What I have read is that he did research. For Les Miserables he visited some of the horrible prisons that existed at the time and talked to men who had no hope. But research is just observation and data gathering—he was still able from a position of privilege to describe the misery that existed in a way that touched everyone who read his books. He made it up.

A fiction author is someone who makes up stories. There is always an element of truth buried in every fictional account. Maybe it’s the author’s experience, or maybe observation, or maybe it just popped into the head of the author from some place we don’t yet understand.

Children are very good at making things up, even creating their own worlds; but are often scolded by adults for this creative act. Story telling becomes a no-no. A good fictional author may be the result of non-scolding parents who loved their children’s stories or maybe these authors are just good liars.

PS. I first read Hugo’s books as Classic’s Illustrated comic books. These comic books from the 1950’s had a great impact on my life—I still recall the wonderful feeling of reading these great stories. Obviously Hugo’s writing was dumbed down for kids—but the overall impact was still there. Both Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame were available as comics and they were two of my favorites. The sadness of the stories had a great impact on me. I spent a great deal time thinking about how these people lived and must have suffered. Why other humans would be so cruel was very troubling. I still don’t know the answer.

Where are we headed?

Wonder where this goes?

Recently I watched several TV shows on cable that had scenes that I found offensive. Several involved sex scenes that just seemed inappropriate for viewing unless you’re some kind of voyeuristic peeping-tom, also there were story lines involving extreme violence including mutilation of bodies—it was gory and offensive. These shows were supposedly entertainment and cost me money to watch—both aspects of that statement seem wrong.

Many shows on television have a rating of TV-M. I guess that stands for mature. I really question whether a mature person would watch some of these programs. Not sure who slaps that rating on TV shows but I believe it is not like the movies, where there are people who get paid to spend their days watching some really horrible movies to attach a rating.

Of course, I’m an author and have had a few people compare my works of fiction to trash because I used words they do not approve of. Are vulgar words the same as sex scenes or graphic violence. I don’t think so but maybe I’m wrong.

Why aren’t books rated the way movies are? Sounds like a good question doesn’t it? The answer is kind of silly–because there are too many books and it takes too long to read them.

Maybe a silly answer but it does make sense. There are thousands and thousands of books released every week compared to a small number of movies. Authors would have to pay fees to support the structure to allow for the army of book readers to read and rate each one. Starting to sound like a very bad idea. Movies take a couple of hours to watch– a book can take five times that or more to read. And of course the rating (just like movies) would be subjective.

I know there are people who have sites that rate books. These sites are looking for books that are family friendly–I guess that means no sex, no bad language and only good violence. Probably the bad language would have to be broken down into bad, very bad, super bad or something like that. Or maybe it would just be volume. Say a 70,000 word book can only have 100 bad words and still be okay for general reading–excluding kids.

There is a segment of the reading population that only wants books that have no “vulgar” language–none! A book rating might be nice for them but it is totally unnecessary. The vehicle for this information is the reader review. Somewhere around 5% of my reviews are about language–cuss words, vulgar words, dirty words, potty-mouth words; and these reviewers are not only passing along information but they also find time to scold me for such behavior.

I have written before about the context of my language choice. The gritty language is usually limited to the bad guys or the good guys under stress. There are exceptions–a couple of characters just had a tendency to use crude language in almost all situations. My other defense was that those “words” were not that frequent. But as I said before I don’t think the quantity is too important to the “bad word” people who are offended by any word that they consider bad whether it’s one or fifty.

For funnies I checked one of my books for offensive words. It happened to be Four Corners War which is the third Pacheco & Chino book and will be released in August. I chose that book because it is the one I’m working on and the manuscript was handy. I ran a word count and found a little over a two-hundred words that might be offensive. That is in a 70,000 word book—so less than a half of one percent of the words were gritty. I would guess that’s about average for my books–except for maybe the first one The Bootlegger’s Legacy–in that book most of the bad words were at the very beginning in the prologue where the gangsters are waiting to kill our hero and they are chatting–using a lot of vile words–after-all they are gangsters in a bar, what would you expect.

So what is the point? Where is this headed? We seem to live in a world without clear guidelines on what matters. Some things matter a great deal to some and none at all to others. We definitely don’t have a consensus on what is acceptable and what is not as it relates to entertainment. We have TV shows on cable that are violent beyond reason, where every other word is fuck where sex scenes are thrown in just as filler. Could I write my books without certain words? Sure. Will I? No. Why not? The why not is because it would change the book. The characters would be different—and I don’t want too!

Does that make me a hypocrite if I complain about sex and violence on TV but find crude words acceptable in writing. Maybe it does; but I think it means that I have defined my personal guideline and that is something we all can do. I have never resented the bad reviews related to the “bad” words, I always saw it for what it was—a message that if some words offend you –stay away. I agree.

I use words to tell a story and sometimes a good F-bomb is the best way to tell that story. And if someday someone decides to do a TV series of one of my books I will insist that they limit the violence and keep the sex behind bedroom doors. They would probably tell me to F-off.