Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Plans/No Plans


March 25th, 2021 Posted 7:58 am

We’ve been taking a peek under the hood on the writing of the Chet and Bernie series.  Let’s give the last (and very sensible) word to reader Paulette Sweeney, who writes: “I don’t care how they are written as long as they are.” The spirit that made America great!

The next C&B is all written (“and available for preorder!” – Mrs. Publicist’s pushy mom).




March 24th, 2021 Posted 11:38 am

We’ve been discussing what is planned and what is not planned in novel writing in general and the Chet and Bernie series in particular. As some of you have surmised, C&B is a combo. Let’s take a look at Tender Is The Bite, the next novel in the series (which can be read in any order – and that was planned). In the first example, we meet a ferret. That was planned. Politics is important in the plot and a ferret was the type of creature that seemed to fit perfectly:

A young woman looked out. Not Mavis, a fact I noticed only in passing. What caught my attention was the ferret on her shoulder. And I’d caught his attention, no doubt about that. He showed me his teeth first thing, just like every ferret I’d ever met. I showed him mine. You’d have done the same. His tiny eyes burned hot. Would playing a game of some sort get us off to a better start? For example, how about the grabbing-the-little-fella-by-his-collar – a velvet collar, by the way, velvet being a material I knew well from an incident with a tapestry, best forgotten – and-flipping-him-up-to-the-ceiling game? Who doesn’t like being flipped up to the ceiling? Although I don’t know personally on account of who could flip the likes of me that high, or anywhere at all? Ah, the likes of me! Once I’d flipped a bunny rabbit name of Ursula – true, not a ferret – so high that I’d had time to run over and catch her in midair and flip her up again! The look on her face! So when would be a good time to get things underway with my new ferret buddy? Now, maybe, like right away, this very –

And some things are unplanned. I didn’t even know Neddy would be a character until shortly before he made his appearance. His line of work came as a complete surprise to me:

“What’s the joke?” Bernie said.

I was with him on that. A disturbing thought popped up in my mind. Could Neddy be the bad guy? We’d dealt with many bad guys, but never one as wimpy as him. Was he even worth cuffing? I’m the type who takes pride in his work, and who could be proud of cuffing Neddy and sending him off to break rocks in the hot sun? Was he even capable of breaking one single rock?

“Well,” Neddy said, “first rule of standup – never explain a joke. If you have to explain, it’s not funny.”

“You do standup?” Bernie said.

“Done standup, certainly,” said Neddy. “Currently doing? Not so much. I – “

His head swiveled around in my direction. I was now comfortably inside the trailer, in the middle of the living room, which smelled of weed and Chinese food.



A Man, A Plan, A Canal … Panama!


March 23rd, 2021 Posted 9:33 am

Yesterday I heard from a Chet and Bernie reader who wanted to know … well, I’ll let her tell it: “Do you have any advice for an aspiring hobbyist writer? Do you yourself plan out the books, or do you let them form along the way? Thanks for your wonderful stories, and for the inspiration and joy that comes from connecting with them.”
In short, the planning question. This often comes up at book signings – can’t wait for the next non-virtual event! – and I go into it at (probably too much) length. And there’s no right or wrong way. This is one of those things that’s judged by results, not intent. But let’s hear your guesses. Are the Chet and Bernie novels written according to a plan or do they form along the way? Or …?


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June 22nd, 2019 Posted 8:06 am


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