Mercedes has a new home, and she’s wrapped in Cellophane

I told you I had a big update on Mercedes coming, and it’s huge. Big. Bigger. Enormous. Gigantuous. Okay, that’s enough of that. It’s just some really cool news. But I’m also wrapping this big update in Cellophane, which will make sense later down the read.

She has a new home.

What do I mean by this? Well, she’s moved over to Emerald Dragon Tales. Why? Because after some hard consideration, I’ve decided to publish her through my publishing brand Emerald Dragon. Emerald Dragon is the same brand we used to publish the collaborative novel Fatal Flaws, and will be using to publish the second String-Along GUN soon.

What does this mean for Mercedes? It means you’ll be finding a lot more about Mercedes over at the Emerald Dragon Tales website. So head over there and snatch the blog RSS feed for your Feedly or however you follow blogs. Also, sign up for the email newsletter to stay up-to-date. And check out her own page. There you’ll find a list of future working titles in the series of novellas I plan to do with our frustrated hero, Mercedes Masterson.

Where are things at?

I have a first draft complete of the first novella in the series, and am halfway through editing draft 2. When the second draft is complete, I’m gonna have some beta readers give it the once over. After that, I may make some more changes. And after that, I’ll need a professional to edit it, and then after all the butchering–publishing! And reading!

I can’t say for sure when the first book will land, but I would like to see it land before the end of this year or at the start of the next. GUN is currently slated to unveil this year, so that is taking priority publishing-wise.

Mercedes is wrapped in Cellophane.

Way back in the day, 2005 to be precise, I wrote a screenplay for a short film and introduced Mercedes for the first time. It was primarily a character written for the purpose of giving a friend a role in the film. We were 4-5 actors wanting to make a movie and as I began work on the screenplay of choice from the group, I realized I didn’t have enough characters in the original concept to fill the cast with all of us. So, I thought for a bit and asked myself what was missing from the little film noir homage I was working on. The cops. A murder took place almost immediately at the start of the script, and yet I didn’t appear to have any investigation taking place around it. While the investigation of that murder was unimportant to the plot, and more importantly the character development, I still needed to show that there were consequences in this story.

My solution? I created a female homicide detective strictly for that purpose and for giving my friend, Heather, a character to play.

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Heather Jackson-Chirban, the real Mercedes Masterson.

I can remember sitting at the PC, with huge (read thick) monitor by today’s standards, trying to come up with a name before I could write the first line of her dialogue. I wanted a very traditional, noirish sounding detective name. I settled on Masterson. I also wanted a very distinct, equally fantastic first name, one that would roll right into that Masterson name well. I chose Mercedes, an homage to the character of the same name in Alexander Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. A French connection, which I liked, and felt there could always be more to that. I had it: Detective Mercedes Masterson.

When we went to film the first scene with Heather as Mercedes, something felt really right. Not only did she nail a lot of what I had in my head, she went beyond. She brought a lot of things to the table, some things I had only scratched the surface a little on in my head, others I had not even thought about. She was seeing the character on a higher level. And that brought it to my attention in a way, I had not even intended it when starting out. Remember, she was originally only a plot device.

When it came time to write the second screenplay (yes, it was planned as a trilogy), I had so much more to work with Mercedes and Heather. I knew this was a big character, and one I wanted to really develop. She became a much more prominent character in the second script, and Heather and I shared many conversations about the development of the character. That’s when she shared with me a song she listened to while getting into character for the first film, a little ditty called Cellophane by Amanda Ghost. I had never heard it. But I listened to it, and liked it. It felt appropriate to the character.

I always try to keep the song Cellophane around when I’m working on Mercedes. But I hadn’t really listened to it, I mean really listen, for several years. Until a few weeks ago. I set it on repeat and just listened to it over and over, each phrase of the lyrics. Really breaking it down with regards to the character. And I picked up on a lot.

Cellophane by Amanda Ghost.

A lot of this character is in this song. And so, I’d like to break down some of the ways I can I hear Mercedes in Cellophane by Amanda Ghost.

Firstly, I’d like to give credit to the songwriters: Lukas Burton, Ian Dench, Amanda Goseine (Ghost), and Sasha Skarbek. They have written a beautiful song with incredible lyrics that are very relateable.

You can listen along here:

Nobody moves me…
Right off the bat, this one grabs me. First line of the song. And truly, it would seem that nobody moves Mercedes. She has gone through a lot of relationships in her life, and from her point of view all relationships end poorly. And so the notion that nobody moves her, sounds about right to her view of the world around her and those in it.

I’ve been through this life
With no place that I can call my own…
Again. Relationships. This time on a much bigger scale. Through all of her life to date, she still can’t feel comfortable calling any place home. She’s lived in Babylon her whole life, grew up there. But it doesn’t feel like home. There’s no neighborhood she can call home, no house. No family she can call home.

I never seem to find anybody that can feel like home
And I try and I try and I try…
Carrying on with that theme, it strikes home more apparent. Despite all her trying, all the relationships she’s been through. She can’t seem to find anyone that feels like home. Someone she can call family. Someone that will always be there, through thick and thin. She tries and she tries and she tries, but all relationships end.

Funny how it feels
When there’s nothing to say…
Now we’re into the chorus, out of the first verse. This little piece speaks to me about her overall social anxiety. This is only something I’ve been able to understand more accurately in recent years, as my own social anxieties have kicked in. A lot of her social anxieties are wrapped around her general distrust of people, because of previous relationships and experiences. Another reason is because of her ideals…

Trapped with my ideals
I can’t contain…
If you’ve read or watched anything with Mercedes yet, you probably get this line. If not, you probably will. I always liken her as a good cop who occasionally goes vigilante when the justice system fails or is corrupt. She would burn the whole system down, if she determined it was the best possible outcome. And she surely can’t contain her ideals, as she has no problem speaking her mind in no uncertain terms.

And just to make sure there’s no confusion here, I’m not considering “ideals” with the most obvious definition. But rather as “a standard of perfection; a principle to be aimed at:” (Oxford Dictionary). She has her ideal of what justice is and anything that falls short of her definition, that standard or principle of justice, she can’t contain herself.

Nobody told me
Obsessive needs were always following me around…
I think in many ways this just speaks volumes to her overall character, and I like the idea that she’s blaming someone else. Nobody told her. Classic. But it also could be a reference to her “evil conscience” as I often refer to it. She has an identical twin so to speak, a figment of her imagination who follows her around. Occasionally appearing at the worst possible times, to give her the worst possible advice. To nag her about her obsessive needs.

And you can’t ignore me…
Word that. You can’t ignore Mercedes. You can try, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Look at my face and then tell me my place in town…
This one grips me, because it says something but I’m not even 100% certain what it all means. I feel like this line has tapped something I haven’t even tapped into yet with Mercedes. Her trying to find her place in Babylon. I don’t think this is something I’ve even addressed in the slightest, despite having written so much about her. Having meditated so much on her and discussed her so much with Heather. I feel like there is a conversation that needs to take place around this single line. We need to look her in the face and tell her what her place is in Babylon.

And he’s in and she’s in and he’s in and she’s in…
This one speaks to me again about her many failed relationships. He’s in, she’s in, he’s in, she’s in. They’re constantly coming and going. She can never maintain a single relationship indefinitely. And that’s not to say it’s always her fault when a relationship ends, because it’s not.

Conclusion.

This has been a tremendously fun journey going through Cellophane’s lyrics with you all. It has given me a chance to think back a lot on Mercedes. She’s come a long way. A long, long way. Long, long. Really long way. And it’s always a pleasure for me to write any story with her in it. Heather and I have tried to bring so much to this character, so much. And I’m always happy to share more of her with you all. In many ways, she’s the person we always wished we were while at the same time being someone we can relate to through the pain. She’s a beast of a character. And I hope I never tire of her.

One last bit of trivia about her conception. My original thought on the character was to create a femme fatale who was also a protagonist. I think that still applies.

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#anxiety, #book, #crime, #music, #novella, #writing

A Sweet Sixteen Killer update forthcoming…

I’ve been pretty quiet lately, but I’ve got a lot of good news to share about the Mercedes novella I’ve been working on. The first in a series of female detective novellas, which I can’t wait to get to you. Follow my blog and stay up to date, and I will give you a thorough rundown in the coming days, if I can.

#amediting, #amwriting, #crimefiction, #mystery, #novella, #novellas, #writing, #writinglife

Sweet Sixteen Killer – Prologue

I’m  super proud to unveil an early version of the prologue of my novella Sweet Sixteen Killer. The first in my Masterson series. Here is the link to the prologue at Emerald Dragon Tales’ website. I hope you enjoy it, and be sure to drop a comment over there for me.

#crime, #excerpt, #mystery, #novella, #reading, #writing

Oh lately it’s so quiet (excerpts from upcoming novella)

I’ve been pretty quiet on my blog as of late. But I’ve been hard at work in my writing. Last year I wrote a novella, Jessica Wright’s Double Vision, and I’m currently working on two for this year. And guess what? They’re all part of the same series.

I made a commitment this year to write 2 novellas in a Mercedes Masterson, Private Eye series. The Double Vision novella will likely end up being book 2 or book 3 of the series. I’m currently waist deep in the first novella, which is due June 1.

Unfortunately, I’ve fallen behind, after being ahead of schedule up until February where I hit a brick wall (despite having most of it outlined in front of me). I only recently got my groove back, this week actually. Gonna fight hard to beat June 1 or come close. I am roughly 10k words from the end, so close. Super close.

If you like old hardboil, crime, noir, detective, private eye style stuff–you’ll probably like Mercedes and this series of novellas I’m working on. It’s got strong female characters, which I love to write. I hope everyone will be as excited about these stories as I am, especially since Mercedes is my favorite character I’ve ever written and I’ve been writing her off and on since 2005. I’ll write again soon with a description and title of the first book.

Here are some snapshots/excerpts of what’s to come, hope you enjoy: 

#crime, #crimefiction, #mystery, #novella, #writing

Danny Draper and the Aliens, Chapters 1-3

AUTHOR’S NOTE. This is a story I’m very fond of that explores some things that always interest me in both the fiction and non-fiction realm. Yes, I’m talking about aliens. I’m talking about UFOs. I blame it mostly on shows like Unsolved Mysteries and The X-Files from my childhood, not to mention The Twilight Zone. So, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to my timid UFO researcher, Danny Draper. Continue reading

#alien, #novella, #sciencefiction, #scifi, #shortstory, #ufo

Mercedes Masterson & The Ghost Ship / Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Mercedes Masterson sat down behind her desk, and sipped on the coffee she’d just brewed herself. It was bitter, and she spit most of it back. She never did learn how to make a good cup of coffee. She was going to miss Misty’s presence in her office, because her ability to brew a cup of coffee was unsurpassed. Mercedes would just have to remember to pick up coffee on her way to the office while Misty was on vacation. She figured things were going to get downright disorganized while Misty was away, and she was not looking forward to that. Mercedes liked for things to be just so, but lacked the obsessive compulsiveness to keep it that way. That was where Misty came into play beautifully, because she had both equally furnished. All Mercedes had to do was keep up.

Continue reading

The Affairs of Mrs. Blackwater, Chapter 1

Author’s note.
I’ve had this desire to get back to writing some horror again, and in that vein I started developing a story tentatively titled The Affairs of Mrs. Blackwater, which will likely be my homage to the old school Hammer Horror and Universal monster movies. Below is my first jab at the opening chapter of the story, which has been nudging me for the past few days to be written.

Hope you enjoy, and let me know how I’m doing and what you think? Would you read it? Does it have your attention? What’s your favorite Universal monster movie (Dracula, Wolf Man, Frankenstein, etc)?


Chapter 1.
Godfrey Townsend entered the office of Manchester and Townsend, and found the remaining owner of the original partnership, Luke Manchester greeting him with a smile.

“Godfrey, how good to see you.” He gestured to his office. “A word?”

“Yes, sir.” Godfrey recited his usual response. “May I?” He began to remove his overcoat, which was dripping from the rain being dumped on Whitechapel without mercy. “A moment to dry off?”

Manchester nodded sternly and retreated to his cold office.

Townsend deposited his hat and coat on the rack, and took up near the fire that was nearly all but ashes. He picked up the poker and bent over to stoke it some. The coals were still hot, and he moved them around a bit, encouraging them to do their purpose. He found a few logs to the right of the mantel, and laid them neatly above the coals and attempted to get warm. It was a nearly fruitless task, as the office just did not hold heat. And the cold streets of Whitechapel rolled their brisk air under the doors, around the window panes, through the ceiling and even down the chimney.

Standing there his mind wandered from him, as his eyes met a portrait on the mantel. It was a small oil painting, a likeness of his grandfather, who was the founding father of the firm. His name now relegated to second place behind Manchester, and would likely remain so. Manchester was a crude business man, and Townsend always had trouble understanding why his grandfather ever went into business with such a man. It was his father, Robert Townsend, who had found himself in debt, who allowed himself to foolishly give up 25% of his half of the firm. Manchester had told him, it would suffice as a loan while he paid off the debt that was breathing down Robert Townsend’s neck. That in a year or so, he could easily buy it back and become half owner once more. But Robert Townsend had underestimated the shrewd and greedy nature of Manchester, and he found this out when he went to buy back his piece of the pie. Manchester simply sneered at him and said, “I’m not selling at the moment. Sorry.”

Townsend took a deep breath, not sure what to expect from Manchester on this damp morning. He was sure of one thing, it wouldn’t be getting back the 25% his father fizzled away.

He picked up his messenger bag, dusted the rain off the side with his sleeve and entered Manchester’s office.

“Have a seat, boy.” Manchester just loved to call him boy. He smiled a wicked grin behind his white beard. “I’ve got an important task for you. Are you up to it?”

“Yes, sir.” He sat and held his messenger on his lap.

“Well, pen and paper. Write this down.” Manchester also loved making him take notes, as if he were just some messenger boy writing a note to deliver to the cook about how many eggs to use for breakfast.

Townsend took out a quill, ink and paper. He sat the ink on the edge of the desk, popped the top off and dipped immediately. “Ready, sir.”

“There’s an old bird up in Wolfedale.” He stopped and sneered over his small, round lenses in their wiry frame. “Have you heard of this, boy?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Right. Well, this bird has had an account with this firm since its first year of establishment. And, up until last night, was an excellent client.” When he spoke, he looked around the room as if he had an audience.

“What happened? Did she drop the account?” Townsend asked.

“No. She died.”

“Oh, well, sorry to hear that.” He tried to be empathetic, afraid Manchester was going claim he really liked the old woman.

“Good riddance, really.” He picked up some warm tea and took a sip. “But…”

“But what, sir?”

“She was rich… filthy rich… and lousy at accounting.” He sighed long and hard. Then he spoke fast and sharp, like a ball from a canon. “I need you to ride to Wolfedale, and check into their Inn for a few days while you sort out the affairs of the late Mrs. Blackwater.” He raised a file from his a drawer and placed it on the desk between them. “This will give you the address, and some background to her account with us.” He bit his lip. “I never could get her to come in and write up a will, the stubborn old bird. Even sent one of our agents down there once.” He stopped again.

“Well, what happened?” Townsend asked.

“I didn’t get that will.” He leaned forward on to the desk, resting his heavy arms across the file, still unwilling for Townsend to look at it. “I’m going to be honest with you, Godfrey.” Which meant he was about to lie. “This isn’t going to be easy. A lot of paperwork to sift through, no doubt. But, it is very important to me that you do this. And that you do it well. It’s a test in a way, to see if you’re ready to take on some more responsibilities around the firm. What, with your piece of the partnership, it stands to reason you should.”

Townsend could see that it pained him to admit he owned a piece of the company. “I’ll do my best, sir.”

“You won’t.” He spoke sharply. “You’ll do better than your best. Because I’ve seen your best, and it wasn’t good enough.”

“Quite right, sir.” Townsend hated these conversations, and always looked for the easy way out, which usually involved agreeing to a lot of things he didn’t agree with. “When shall I start with the Blackwater account?”

“Now, boy!” He finally released the file from his arms and sat back up in his chair. “I’ve already sent a telegram ahead of you to reserve a room at the Inn. The owner is a friend of mine, treat him nice, and tell him I sent you.”

“Yes, sir.” He rose to his feet and turned to leave, but Manchester called him back for one more thing. It was his standard practice to intentionally forget something.

“Oh, yes.” Manchester said. “And one more thing…” He opened a drawer and pulled out a revolver. He dropped it on the desk for effect. “Do you have a pistol, boy?”

“No, sir.”

“Well, then take this one. It’s old, but it gets the job done.” Manchester smiled a queer sort of smile.

“Why would I need a gun, Mr. Manchester?”

Manchester’s eyes darkened and he leaned forward once more. “Because there are all manner of beasts in those woods near Wolfedale, and you will want a proper companion.” He patted the revolver.

For once, Townsend had to disagree, though it came out as a whisper. “I don’t like guns.”

“Trust me, boy, when you have to decide between a wolf chewing the flesh off your bones and pulling a trigger… you’ll choose the trigger every time.” He gestured the pulling of a trigger with his finger as he spoke.

Townsend caved, and took the revolver with six rounds in its chamber. He gently placed it in the bottom of his messenger and headed back out into the Whitechapel rain.

#fantasy, #horror, #novella