Great Danes and Ice Cream: Feeding the Beast

At the request of a reader, who pointed out the fact that Gyro, the official pet/security team/couch destroyer from “The Fearless” series, is never actually taken to get ice cream. Oh, sure– Ring says they’re going to get ice cream, but it never happens. Let’s rectify this injustice.
Without further ado: Feeding the Beast

            She wasn’t exactly sure of how it could happen that swiftly, but then, these customers weren’t ordinary. Cara fielded the call personally, since their description of “blood-sucking bugs” fell within her purview, but after an hour of hot, sweaty crawling under and through the property, there had been no sign of bedbugs, unless you consider a partial human hand to be evidence of insect infestation.
            “Oh, that.” Wally, the blonde who favored partial nudity had said, scratching her armpit in a most inelegant fashion and then cocking her head quizzically at Cara. “Sometimes there are parts left over from our other job.” She didn’t elaborate, and Cara didn’t ask.
            As Risa, the dark haired member of the pair peered up at Cara, handing her a check for the fruitless search, she hesitated before asking, “Cara Mueller, correct? You’re sort of. . .  well known, yes?”
            Cara looked at her sharply. “I am—wait, known for what?”
            Risa glanced surreptitiously at Wally. “Oh, I guess I can just ask.” She made to continue, but the now acerbic Wally leaped in.
            “We think you think our dog does not have enough ice cream. So here.” She handed Cara a leash that resembled a tow rope for an ocean liner, then turned and whistled a short trill. Immediately, the gamboling shape of a dog, if you can call two hundred pounds of anything a dog, came loping around the hallway to deposit himself at Cara’s feet, or more accurately, to cover Cara’s feet and the area around her with his enormous, sleek frame. His expressive eyes quirked upward and every gesture on his comical face said well?
            Risa slipped the leash over Gyro, who was surprisingly obedient, and as the quartet walked to the tiny, environmentally friendly car parked in their stubby driveway, Cara realized they meant for her to take the creature, solo, to someone who would presumably have a dump truck of ice cream on hand. Her fears were allayed when Wally pointed south on Sheridan street.
            “Next to the Publix. The ice cream store there knows him. They will let him in for his . . . special.” She finished, opaquely.
            Still more than a little unsure—after all, borrowing a pet was sort of like using someone’s underwear, in Cara’s mind, she opened the door to her now miniscule Toyota, letting Gyro perform a sort of canine origami in which he not only got in the car, he cheerfully occupied the entirety of the front seat, leaving her a sliver of fabric on which to sit and drive. With a merry wave, Risa and Wally went back inside as Cara fruitlessly tried to attach her seat belt, but after a long moment of comedic attempts and a sour burp from Gyro, who whined and perked his ears even furtherinto the car’s headliner, she pulled out, turned east, and in less than a minute spied what was apparently the only purveyor of ice cream in South Florida who willfully disregarded the need to keep dogs from selecting their own entrees.
            Cara felt not unlike Julius Caesar as she guided the regal and now drooling beast to the glass door, but when the diminutive girl at the counter lit up at the sight of Gyro, her doubts faded and they stepped confidently inside.
            “Gyro! Hi big boy!” Said the tiny woman, whose name tag read Cat. Apparently, inter-species harmony ruled in the store, because Cara wasn’t afforded a second glance as the entire staff went into a whirlwind of action, scooping vanilla ice cream into an oddly baked waffle cone that resembled half of a football.
            At Cara’s raised brow of inquiry, Cat said, “You’ll see.”
            Apparently, Gyro dined al fresco, so Cara took the ponderous sundae laden with bacon bits to a small patch of grass, setting it delicately in front of Gyro who sniffed once, crouched on his haunches, and began to eat.
            It wasn’t pretty.
            In less than two minutes, the bowl itself was being crunched in a series of crackling noises that made Cara very aware of the thin line between wild and domestic, and then, with a grand belch, it was over. Gyro stood, leaned his great head against Cara, his lips quivering from the cold effects of the treat, and nudged her urgently to the car.
            Mission? Complete.

Plodding and Plotting

A quick note about books four and five in “The Fearless”, as well as an upcoming blog post.

I started running three months ago, and in between gasping like a dying fish, I’ve had some of my most vivid insight into how and where I am writing over the next year. It’s been a superb exercise for mind, and I think you’re going to like where we head next.

A couple of “just for fun” posts: Next week, a short story about why Great Danes actually love ice cream, and I am sharing a scene from the next book in which we see how and why Wally defines love. It’s my favorite experience for Wally, and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I savor writing her bittersweet moments.

Until next week, cheers, and be sure to check out the great new review we’re getting on for the audio versions. Rebecca Cook, my actress, is nothing short of stellar! 



The New Series, Book Four, Book Five, and Advance Copies for Review: Much News.

Updates, updates, and an update about updates.

Issue one: Book four of The Fearless is in final editing. The cover is stunning, we’re organizing beta readers and promotions, and it’s the best book in the series. The characters get better with each outing, and I think you’re going to love the newest additions to our little club. Two words: Stripper Assassin.

Issue two: The second series has a (top secret) name, preliminary cover art concepts, and more. It is my feeling– not scientific, but a hunch– that we’re looking at January for the new series. More on that as it develops. It’s entirely possible it could be sooner.

Issue three: The Fearless, book five. Yep, it’s already underway. I mapped out the book in one afternoon ( while eating some excellent sushi and perusing old travel pics). I’ve got good guys, bad guys, a title, and a twist. I already love the villain(s). There are two!

Issue four: Advance Review Copies of Book Four. Who wants ’em? If you’re interested in being a street team/reviewer, let me know. We’re moving very quickly, and hope to assemble an entire list of ARC gifts to be sent in less than a week.



The Canine Assistant

Everyone needs one.

Q: How did I get so much writing done today?

A: Hound help

 Jack Reacher addresses my issues with dangling particples.

But he is only willing to work so hard. A hound must rest.

Book four is now 65,000 words. We are very close. Until next time. Woof.

Tennessee Valley Author Event: A Good Time Was Had By All

Seriously. What an event.

I was able to enjoy several hours with people who love books as much as I. There were a thousand fans crowded into the venue, and the authors didn’t fail to bring their very best. I made new friends:

This is Lorie. She hugged one of the male models (not me) and then smelled her shirt, declaring it to “smell like him“. It wasn’t as creepy as it reads. Honest. She was delightful.

Her friend Cindy was my first-ever assistant. She was amazing. Cindy made certain that my table was a well-run affair, leaving me to talk books, take a few pictures with fans, and pass out chocolate fortune cookies. People like Cindy– who have an innate love of books– are solid gold.

This is Cindy. She takes book events seriously enough that they merit a dress. She has a sunny disposition and she too enjoys nearly all kinds of baked goods. We became instant friends. To reiterate for those of you who have not met me: pie is our friend.

This was my author table, which, according to Cindy, “Looked way more organized than she expected, given that I’m a dude.” I appreciate that kind of compliment.

So there you have it. A rousing success. Some new friends. Lots of books, and I managed to write 2200 words while staying in Knoxville. Until next time, friends.

The Haircut of Shame:Tennessee Valley Author Event Version

I committed too soon.

To my haircut, that is. I received an excellent haircut two weeks ago– too early for the Tennessee Valley Author Event this weekend, but not quite late enough to merit a full re-do.

As a man who likes to keep his follicle business in order, I found myself waiting for a trim at a local chain. I’d waited my turn, about fifteen minutes (very reasonable), but decided that I would go rogue and let my hair run wild and free this weekend.
Unfortunately, my wishes were steamrolled by karma. The young woman who cheerfully called my name was professional, attractive, and enormously pregnant. Thus, were I to call off my incipient hair adjustment, I would be denying both her and the baby a small but appreciable amount of income.

She gave me an excellent trim, loved books, and was an all around delight. Let it be known that for me, shame is a powerful motivator, and can even overcome my natural rigidity regarding carefully scheduled Hair Events.

Layers of Vision. The Making of a Cover.

My artist Amalia Chitulescu works with me as if she’s psychic. She understands the mood and tone I want for my covers, and the results– if I may say so– are spectacular.
When I was sending her notes about the direction for the cover of The Forest Bull, she immediately keyed on what I was attempting to describe.
We began with the forest primeval. Simple enough, but the quality of the first image is stellar.

So the mood is set. It’s deep, ancient, and a touch threatening, just as it should be. Then, we needed a model who was elegant, thin, but in motion. She had to possess the quality of beauty that was both threatening and disdainful.

That, as the story goes, is Elizabeth. We had to remove some of the accessibility and warmth. Fair enough. By using blues and cool tones, we end up with a mystery and a woman who is at the very heart of it all.

 And with that, the danger and unknown come to life. The Aurochs walks behind Elizabeth, regal in his domain, but we can tell there is much more to the story.

And much more to Elizabeth.