‘No More Dead Dogs’

“Did you kill off the dog?” my wife said as she read the chapter in Tourist in Paradise on Sugar Bear. My wife is a fan of Gordon’s Korman’s children’s book No More Dead Dogs and doesn’t truck with such nonsense.

“Yes,” I said, maybe regretting the decision to let her edit the manuscript. “Is that a bad thing?”

Sugar Bear is the name of an American bulldog adopted by Susan Thompson in the second of the CW McCoy crime novels. I based the dog on the unofficial mascot of the Sarasota Sheriff Office’s Animal Services Center, a sweetheart that goes by the same name. The office let me photograph her during one of our classes in its Citizens Law Enforcement Academy.

The fictional Sugar Bear, who makes her debut a few chapters before the one my wife was editing, isn’t as mean spirited as some of the people coming after CW, her mentor Walter Bishop, his new friend, Lois, and Officer Chip Stover. But crime novels aren’t known for happy endings. So given my wife’s warning, I had a decision to make.

Was it the right one? The final paragraphs of Chapter 29 set up the outcome. I’ll let CW tell the story:

“Oh, my God,” Lois said. “Where’s Sugar Bear?”

“If she’s here,” Walter said, “the police would have found her.”

“Stover didn’t go through the house,” I said

“The fire crew has heat sensors,” Walter said.

Lois shook her head. “I heard them say they didn’t need them, that the neighbor said there was no one inside.”

I headed for the house.

“CW!” Walter yelled but I was already running across the shell-covered driveway, stamping through a watery scum of burned wood and sand, knocking aside the fence that circled the outdoor shower to let myself into the house through the back door.

Enough fiction. Let’s talk reality.

The Sarasota Animal Services Center is a class operation. Supervisor Tami Treadway, Volunteer Coordinator Kristen Little and staff are eager to match good people with pets that deserve good homes. If you want to see animals like Sugar Bear thrive, visit the shelter at 8451 Bee Ridge Road or the center’s website or call (941) 861-9500.

Tell them CW sent you.

All the news that’s fit to break

Fans of “The Office” will enjoy the mockumentary format of the new book trailer for Peak Season, which came out in audio last week.

Breaking News 'Peak Season' trailer.jpgIn a tongue-in-cheek takeoff of shows like “Entertainment Tonight,” the broadcaster casts the debut of the CW McCoy crime series as breaking news, giving it the proper gravitas, with a bit of wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

Here’s the video. (You can also watch it on YouTube.) Enjoy the show.


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Breaking the writer’s blockade

Today I’m working on the sequel to Peak Season and I’m stuck. The sequel’s called Tourist in Paradise. Someone is hunting visitors in the idyllic beach town of Spanish Point and CW McCoy will either solve the murders or wind up a victim of one.

The first 11 chapters went fairly well, with a bit of a rough patch during an open house at her new real estate office. I struggled with that scene for weeks until I hit upon the solution: cut the chapter. And like an ice-breaker in the arctic, that cleared the path.

Synopsis and scribbling

Until I got to Chapter 12, the bar scene where two of the Three Stooges (you remember them from the first novel) reappear to menace our heroine. Well, maybe I hadn’t paid attention to motive or maybe I hadn’t laid the groundwork for the scene, but it just didn’t work. And it went on forever. So, where is the ice-breaker when you need it?

When in doubt, think it through. Why is CW at the bar in the first place? What does she want to know? What would she logically do in the preceding scenes that would place her there?

I need a scene before this one. I actually have a scene I can use, one I’d placed further on in the book, one that addresses the logistical issues. What if I move that one? Chapter 12 becomes lucky Chapter 13, and now things makes sense.

Or will, whenever I get around to rewriting the new scene. Right now I need a break. My drink is warm.

I need some ice.