Saturday, August 20, 2016


I recently received an email from a sharp-eyed reader I’ll identify as JC. The note informed me that I’d given one character, who appears in both “The Echo of the Whip” and “The Daddy’s Girl Decoy” two different names. In “Whip,” he’s named Eugene (Gene) Beck; in “Decoy,” he’s named Eugene (Gene) Ludwig.
Sigh. Over the course of nine Jim McGill novels, I’ve created a very large cast of characters. It appears they’ve finally gotten the better of me. The way all this came about is I first used the surname Ludwig for the character Auric Ludwig, the gun lobbyist. Then I attached it to Gene Ludwig. My wife, the first person to read all my work, pointed out this repetition to me.
I said, okay, I’ll change Gene’s family name to Beck, which is how it appears in “Whip.” But when I was assembling the cast for “Decoy” I used an earlier edition of the preceding novel for reference, and put Ludwig back in by mistake. None of a half-dozen proofreaders caught the glitch.
But JC did. For which I say, “Thank you.”
The writer-to-reader-to-writer loop is very important. It lets me know what you like and what you don’t. It also might tell me where I’ve messed up.
One of the nice things about ebooks is they are easily corrected. So Gene Beck, by virtue of seniority and a preponderance of appearances, will stay. Gene Ludwig is out. We’re uploading a corrected file of the book to Amazon. For those of you who already have a Gene Ludwig copy of “Decoy,” I can’t swear that it will become a collector’s item like a stamp that mistakenly got goofed up, but it might be an interesting piece of small talk.
One bit of unrelated concern: Some readers have complained about copies of “Decoy” and other of my books that seem to have continuity problems, missing sentences and the like. Please be advised that ebook files can sometimes become corrupted during downloading. The thing to do then is to delete the file of the book from your e-reader (but not from your account). Do another download and that will usually solve the problem. If it doesn’t, contact Amazon for advice.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Old Friends and New Acquaintances

Jim McGill is back today in “The Daddy’s Girl Decoy,” number nine in the White House cycle of the McGill saga. This is the e-book edition; the print version will be a month or two in coming. “Decoy” is the penultimate book in this cycle. The next title, yet to be named, will close out the second term of Patricia Grant’s presidency and Jim McGill’s position as the president’s henchman.

I’m happy to say I still enjoy exploring McGill’s character. I think he’s grown since the day he was introduced in “The President’s Henchman,” and I feel he has miles to go before he calls it quits. He’s about to embark on a career as an international businessman — without giving up his own sleuthing, of course. Patti is about to become a venture capitalist with a social conscience. The McGill kids are becoming independent adults and, who knows, one or more of them might make McGill a grandfather.

That’s the thing that keeps me interested in McGill, Patti and all the others. They age just like the rest of us. Their situations change and they have to adapt. They outgrow old circumstances and move on to new ones. Old friends depart and new ones appear. I certainly anticipate all these things as the next cycle of McGill stories are written.

One reader review of McGill on Amazon said I make the characters in the story “too perfect.” To that I plead somewhat guilty. McGill has his regrets like the rest of us, but he’s probably more fortunate than we are, too. He gets along with his ex-wife. His kids are fairly well adjusted and self-directed. His second chance at love with Patti Grant is pretty much a winning lottery ticket.

I could have made McGill a darker character, but there are plenty of novels with those guys, and there’s grim news daily in just about any newspaper that comes to hand. From my point of view, McGill and his friends, with new ones to come, help to balance the daily dose of hard reality we get delivered to our front doors (or computers) every morning.

So, one more title in the White House cycle and then on to new contexts with new characters joining the familiar favorites. One thing McGill can always use is new readers. Please continue to introduce him to anyone who enjoys a good read. You know, stories with characters who are just a bit more perfect than you are.