Monday, August 28, 2023

A Week in Writing #471 - Disaster Averted

Hope everyone is staying safe, and, of course, writing.

Sorry I'm a day late with this, but I spent the better part of yesterday at the second of two Metallica concerts at Sofi Stadium. One of those days when you leave about 3 in the afternoon and don't get home until 1 am the next day.

Disaster nearly struck this week, at least for me. I was working on my current story and wanted to refer back to a previous book but then I couldn't find it. And I searched and searched. Spent the better part of two days, read that evenings, looking at every form of back up I made but I could never find it. I did open each book and put in a couple of search words that were relevant to the story, "Barstow", where some of the action takes place, "missing persons", which was why I was looking for it, etc, but I couldn't seem to find it. That is until today. I decided that my happy ending would make a good reason to go into more details.

I know that I have mentioned I'm writing a private deterective series but I don't think I've bored you yet with the details. And, I guess I worry what it will sound like to others if I write it down.

The main character of the story is a private detective, J.D. Barrister, who came out to Los Angeles from the University of Texas with the hopes of becoming a screenwriter. But those dreams faded overtime. In researching a private eye story idea, he interviewed Robert Parkinson, a small timer in the San Fernando Valley. Parkinson needed an assistant and J.D. needed a more steady income and thus he went to work for him.

Soon after arriving in Los Angeles, J.D. was pulled over speeding down Sunset Blvd. by a motorcycle cop, Debbie Estevez. While he couldn't talk his way out of the ticket, he did manage to ask her out for dinner and a romance bloomed. They were desitined for the altar when J.D. pulled back. He and Debbie may love each other but theirs was a combustible relationship and J.D. called it off. Since then, they had been off and on. They are sometimes friends with benefits but she is always his first call when he needs help with the police.

The first book I wrote was one called Simple Sins in which J.D. is hired to follow a cheating husband but uncovers, instead, industrial espionage. Not only is Debbie around but J.D. also makes a contact at the FBI, Special Agent Howard Strait, who also reoccurs in other stories. Prior to my blog, I had shopped this one around and, surprise surprise, found no takers. In the book, it is stealth technology that is being passed on to the Chinese through an Albanian consulate. This, I know, dates the book, and I started to rewrite it once but it got sort of out of hand.

The series follows J.D.'s case load but also his personal life as well and events in one book will have consequences in other installments. As an example, Debbie does eventually marry someone else, an attorney named Enrique Sepulveda. Their relationship is hurried along when it is discovered Debbie is pregnant.

J.D., after various relationships in his books, falls in love with Leanne Wilson, a former model turned opthamologist. A third generation Japanese American, Leanne's grandfather was a white American soldier who fell in love with a Japanese woman after World War II. Leanne had also been married once to an actor. J.D. got involved when she suspected, correctly, that her husband was having affairs on the set. But it was several years later, when J.D. was running an adultery sting operation, that they got back together. A woman would hire J.D. to test their husbands and women like Leanne would be put out as bait to see if the man bit. It was after one such sting that J.D. and Leanne discovered a mutual attraction and they've been together ever since. I'm leaving out several storylines, but you get the gist.

J.D. makes a career following suspected philandering spouses, finding the occassional runaway, and sometimes dealing with blackmailers. His clients have included former girlfriends, show business agents, wives and once, a disgraced former news anchor.

The latter takes place in Broken People, the book I have unsuccessfully been querying for what seems like a long time. Times are hard and J.D. takes to process serving to make ends meet. The last person on his list is a political blogger, whom ends up murdered after J.D. serves him. When the police investigation, of which Debbie is a part, arrests someone for the crime, J.D. is not convinced they have the right person. Neither is Stacy Michaels, a waitress at the club where J.D. found the blogger. A former news anchor from Cincinatti, Stacy has come to LA to start over. But she thinks cracking this case would put her back on television. With the aid of another political blogger, Tom Black, that happens. J.D. is reuniting, briefly, with Debbis as she convolesces at his apartment when she's shot in a shootout with her former partner on the case.

In Past Present, J.D. is hired by his former college sweetheart, Brianna Miller, to follow her husband, Dalton McLean. Dalton is the blacksheep son in a family of Dallas-based real estate developers who was sent to L.A. to start a branch there, but it was really just to get rid of him. Dalton is indeed having an affair with a younger woman, Katy 'Kat' Wiley, whom unbeknownst to most everyone, including Kat, is actually his daughter from a college affair. I won't go into too many details but there is a murder involved that J.D. helps to solve.

In Public and Private, J.D. is hired by agent Irv Stringer to retrieve some intimate photos stolen off the computer of an up and coming actress, Cassandra Leonard, for which she is being blackmailed. In searching for the blackmailer, J.D. develops a short-lived sexual relationship with the star, as well as sleeps with an already engaged Debbie. There is an unrelated murder of a drug dealer that ends up being related and the blackmailer himself ends up killed on Christmas morning. There are a lot of suspects, including Cassandra, and Stringer, who had flown out of L.A. about the time of the blackmailer's murder and had lied to the police about it. The story ends with a shootout on the Paramount lot.

In Getting Even,  Maddie Crosby, a minor character in the previous book, hires J.D. when she thinks she's been involved in a murder but the body is missing. J.D. is then hired by the father of the missing victim to find his son, an investigation that takes J.D. up to Mendocino. This is also the book wherein J.D. hires Leanne to work the sting and they become an item. Meanwhile, Debbie is both engaged to Enrique and hasn't given up totally on J.D., but a pregnancy has her and Enrique setting a date.

The Runaway was the book I thought I'd lost but was under my nose the whole time. In this, J.D. is hired to find a man that has gone missing. Debbie, who is now married and nine months pregnant, helps J.D. until he has to rush her to the hospital to give birth. Back on his case, he finds the man he's looking for dead in Barstow. As it turns out, he was working for a client of Enrique's who was taking in runaway girls and using them for his own sexual desires and those of his friends. As the police noose closes in, Enrique turns on Debbie, effectively ending their marriage.

Skylar, the book I have been working on off and on, is J.D.'s first case post Covid shutdown. He has been living with Leanne at her apartment in Brentwood and is now using his old one as his office. The first client is a next door neighbor who is being blackmailed into having sex with a former lover, a Russian drug dealer. While he's working on that, his future father-in-law, Ken Takahashi, comes to visit and gets J.D. involved in a tontine the grandfather has been involved with. Ken's visit prompts J.D. to ask Leanne to marry him. I haven't quite figured out how to wrap this one up. I sort of wrote myself into a corner that I have to redo. At the end of the book, spoiler alert, J.D. finds out that Debbie's baby is really his.

This takes us to the new story idea I've had and have been working on. This time, Brianna, who is also a lawyer, hires J.D. to look for a woman for a client, who ran away from home fifteen years prior. A big task that comes with a big paycheck if he can find her. In the meantime, J.D. has been married to Leanne and is just getting to know his now three-year-old daughter Cristina Rose. Because this invovled a missing person's report, I wanted to reference a similar situation from The Runaway, the book, which is when I thought I couldn't find it.

There are a couple of other books in the series, Paperback Detective, and Familiar Stranger, but I think you get the idea. Well, now that you're pretty caught up with my private eye stories, I'll fill you in with what else is going on with other projects.

Since we were at the Metallica show on Friday night, Julia Canon hosted and she and our colorist, Jen Moreno, worked on a back-to-school theme using characters from Powers Squared. While you can listen to it here, this might be a better one to wait for on YouTube, when it goes up on Wednesday.

I started but didn't get very far with a review of British Intelligence (1940), something to work on. There were two reviews up with weekend on Trophy Unlocked, Trevor's of Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox on Saturday morning, and Paul's review of the recently released 

Well, I've got a newsletter to start, so I'll end it here. Keep writing and I'll see you back here next week.

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