I look so sinister here... Kind of like my killer in STOLEN SUNSET.

This picture of me was taken on the set of A GUNFIGHT which was a student film we made back sometime just after the Bronze Age when I was a production major in the film program at York University.

I remember that day vividly, it was freezing cold and my trigger finger kept turning blue. I had to wear fairly light clothing so I was a Petersickle by the day's shooting wrapped.

They dyed my hair and beard black and assured me that it would shampoo right out. They were wrong and I spent the next couple of weeks with an interesting mixture of black and blond hair.

But, hey, in film school I fit right in.

Anyhow, I am happy to report that I have been writing the first draft of the new book this week and am already 10,000 words into it.

So far, it has been a joy to write. I was excited about this book going in and my enthusiasm was not misplaced.

In my humble opinion (if I'm allowed to have one) it is my best book so far. I love the challenge of taking the series in a different direction. And it even allows me to reintroduce some characters from earlier books.


Amy is hard at work editing Rip and Wilma's new adventure DOUBLE TAP which will be coming out this fall. She keeps sending me long lists of people who she thinks Rip and Wilma should visit. I certainly agree with most of her suggestions, especially the one that included the entire cast of the DUCK DYNASTY.

The outline for Stolen Sunset is finished.

Now the real work begins. Two thousand to three thousand words a day for the next few months.

At last I know where I am heading. Even if it's a dark, but thrilling place.

I can hardly wait until the book is finished and I can share it with you.

For now, I hope that you will join me for all the ups and downs of the writing process.

Almost done the outline. I am trying to finish up either today (Saturday) or tomorrow so that I can begin the first draft on Monday morning. What a great way to begin the week.

I still have the September 8th deadline out there on the horizon but I am feeling comfortable that I can make it. The outline is really detailed this time but I still have enough space to play.

MEANWHILE WE ARE preparing a press release for BLOODY SUNSET so that it can be sent to the reviewers. I saw the draft of the release yesterday and it is really great. I tweaked it a bit and added a headline I liked and now it is nearly ready to go.

Well that's all for now, I have to get back to plotting...

I was running into issues with the final third of the book so I took a couple of days off and just thought it out.

The cathartic effect of driving back roads with the top down helped me to focus on the work at hand.

Normally, I try to work every day. But every once in a while I need to step back and take a broader view of things.

Happy to say it worked and I am feeling rejuvenated and back on course.

finally arrived yesterday. It is great to finally hold the finished book in my hands.

It never feels real until I do ...

I am two-thirds of the way through the outline and things keep falling into place.

It's always surprising when something occurs to me out of the blue. Even more surprising is when an idea decides that it isn't going to perform the way I want it to.

Ideas, like characters, sometimes have a mind of their own and will do what they must do. This has been true in the first two-thirds of the outline and I can see its going to happen in the final third as well.

Sometimes, I just feel like I am along for the ride.

The action in the final third of the book shifts to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. If there is such a thing as a wild frontier left in the state it is the U.P.

People up there are fiercely independent. Maybe it's the water, or the winters.

At any rate, Yoopers (as they call themselves) feel they have their own distinct identity apart from the other residents of the state. In fact, they call anyone living south of the Mackinaw Bridge, "Trolls".

Happy 4th of July everyone!

And to all my readers in Michigan and the rest of the United States, have a happy and safe 4th of July.

My outline is coming along like a good stew.

It started out thin, but as I add ingredients it becomes richer and richer. I am 25 chapters into the outline and have a hard time pulling myself away from it to do more mundane things - like eat or sleep.

I've been asked about the level of detail I put into each chapter description in my outline. It really depends on the chapter.

Most are a few paragraphs that describe the action in rough terms. I prefer this, I don't want to feel locked-in. This allows me to riff a little when I sit down to write the chapter in full.

In a few cases, however, I go into great detail, especially if the action involves historical events or real locations. I don't want to get this wrong. If my details are inaccurate, or worse, false, then it will call everything else into question.

For example, I read a thriller several years ago which was set during World War Two
. The sense of period and place seemed to be perfect in my mind until the author used the term "serial killer". I knew from my own research that this is an expression that has only been in use since the 1970s when it was coined by an FBI profiler.

It was a detail that made me call into question other parts of the book and their credibility and spoiled what, until then, had been a pretty good read.

As the saying goes, the devil's in the details.

So the rule here is - there is no rule. I treat each chapter differently based on what I think I will need when I start to write the first draft.

On another subject...

When I delivered the manuscript of DOUBLE TAP to Amy yesterday afternoon
we got into a brief discussion about character names. This reminded me of an article on the subject that I read a few years ago in WRITER'S DIGEST magazine

The outline as they say, is proceeding apace...

This morning I figured out a way to include Rip and Wilma in the fun.

Yet again, they make a special guest appearance in the Molly Parsons series.

This time, however, their appearance has a slightly sinister overtone.

Speaking of Rip and Wilma, here is a picture of the final manuscript which I will be delivering to Amy later today.

Sorry, but I have to get back to work. The deadline for the first draft of STOLEN SUNSET is September 8th.

It seems like a long time away but, if experience has taught me anything, the time will fly.

The adventure continues.

Another exhilarating day of outline writing and more surprises and new avenues for the story to explore.

I am still only in the first third but I'm satisfied that the direction the book is taking is the right one.

I knew starting out that this book would be different from the first three. That was a given. DARK SUNSET, BLOODY SUNSET and FOGGY SUNSET follow a definite story arc.

That arc concludes in FOGGY so I was now free to go in a different direction.

When I set out to write STOLEN SUNSET I had one core idea in mind - that Molly would go to the most dangerous place in the world; her own past.

Like Molly, I need a constant challenge. I have to shake things up to keep them fresh while at the same time giving the reader what they have come to expect from the Sunset series.

Walking that tightrope is what keeps it interesting for me.

I can't think of a better way to spend a holiday.

Happy Canada Day everyone!