WRITING FOR THE RIGHT REASONS

I wrote a lot of posts before getting Freshly Pressed.

In the beginning, I didn’t think about it because I didn’t know about it. After I became aware that such a thing existed, I figured I’d get noticed eventually. My turn would come. I’m insecure about a lot of things, but not about writing, probably the result of doing it every day for 50 years. Eventually you become comfortable and know you’re really a writer. You have proved it to everyone, even yourself.

freshly-pressed-circle3x3So I waited for that email to come. As almost everyone I knew seemed to be getting awarded — except me — I started to get worried. Then hurt. And I started to brood on injustice which is always a bad sign for me … a very bad sign.

Finally, after airing my grievance — mostly in comments on other peoples blogs about how bad they felt about being overlooked … I took a deep breath and realized I was being stupid and self-destructive. I was letting this thing get to me. It was sucking the fun out of blogging. I’d become focused on winning a prize rather than enjoying writing.

I don’t even remember when I knew I was I writer. It wasn’t something I decided. Writing was part of me as long as I can remember. It has been my therapy. Catharsis. My hobby, my profession, my dreams. The best part of me has always come through when I write. I was letting this thing … this award I didn’t get … take that away from me.

I went cold turkey on expecting recognition. I didn’t stop wanting it. I can’t help wanting recognition. It’s part of that type A personality thing, the competitive piece of me. And I’m sure a little teensy part of my brain nurtured an itsy bitsy hope it might yet happen, but to the degree I could control my feelings, I quit thinking about it, hoping for it, expecting it.

Most important, I gave up being angry. Because holding on to anger is bad for me. It messes with my head while leaving the object of my anger unscathed. It’s one of the few life lessons I’ve learned and accepted. I can’t go there.

I’m glad I kept writing. Most of all, I’m glad I didn’t keep writing only to win a prize, but because I love to write.

A thousand or so posts later, I got the letter.

There is a moral to my tale. Do what you love. Maybe the rest will follow. Maybe not. But when you’re doing what you love, you are a winner.

And the post that finally did it is: GONZO GEORDI HAD AN AX

FAMILY: APPLES, TREES, BRANCH AND TWIG

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DOUBLE WHAMMY – A DAVIS WAY MYSTERY, GRETCHEN ARCHER

Dble Whammy-NK-03

Double Dip, the second Davis Way mystery by Gretchen Archer is due for publication in January 28, 2014. Today seems a perfect time to take another look at Double Whammy.

Davis Way used to be a cop in Pine Apple, Alabama. Her name sounds like a road and the name of the town looks misspelled, but really, that’s her name and Pine Apple is indeed the town from which she hails. She used to be married. To Eddie. Twice. It didn’t work out the first time and it’s hard to figure why she married him a second time.

doubleWhammy

In the course of the second divorce from her first-and-second husband — she refers to him as her ex-ex — Davis and Eddie behaved badly. Badly enough to get her fired from the force by her father and for 2-way retraining orders to get slapped on Davis and her ex-ex. The juicy details of what happened are never given. I rather hope future books will flush out that piece of history.

After a very long search for some kind of job, she is hired by a Biloxi casino, purportedly to discover how someone(s) is beating the machines to collect the jackpot on their Double Whammy Poker slot machines. The terms of her employment are murky. From the get-go, Davis is sure that there’s something seriously awry with the entire setup but she needs the job. She needs the paycheck.

It’s hard to do your job when you aren’t sure what your job is. Harder still when nobody is who or what they appear, including Davis herself. Davis gets in deeper and deeper until she is about to be swallowed by the crime she is investigating. Eventually, with help from unexpected parties, she extracts herself from the quagmire that threatens to keep her in prison for a very long time. And she finds love. Her own double whammy.

The book is funny, fast-paced, witty and ironic. The biggest problems for me were occasional narrative leaps and missing transitions. I found myself backing up and rereading to make sure I hadn’t missed something. But that’s quibbling.

Davis comes from a small town, but she’s no hick. She has degrees in Computer Science and Criminology. There’s not a dumb bone in her body. She has the makings of a strong female character and that’s rare enough in the world of mystery writing. I like Davis Way. She’s bright, observant, creative, dedicated and brave. She has a lot of heart. The book is a bit uneven but Gretchen Archer has a fresh voice and I hope to hear it many more times.

As a first novel, Double Whammy is ambitious and well-realized. She has created a strong main character and a story with plenty of action. She handles a complex plot, a lot of characters, a love story plus back stories. The author manages to keep track of the plots and sub plots and tie up the ends. That’s an amazing accomplishment for a new author. I’m convinced as Ms. Archer gains skill at her craft, her characters will grow and mature too.

It’s a good book — fast-paced, lively and charming. It leaves plenty of room for character development and future stories. When there are more books in the series, I will read them. I’m expecting great things from Gretchen Archer.

She has been compared to Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum). There are similarities in their writing styles, but that’s where the resemblance ends. Davis Way is potentially a strong character. She isn’t just funny. She has depth. Computer expert and criminologist, she’s been brought up by a police chief father. She knows how to handle weapons and has the instincts of a real detective. I hope the author develops these qualities.

Davis will be a terrific sleuth.

About the audio version from Audible.com — This is about as bad an audiobook as I’ve ever heard. The narrator is all wrong. She can’t do a southern accent, even a bad one. Her voice is wrong for Davis. She manages to suck all the humor out of the book. This is about as poor a selection of narrator as I’ve ever encountered. Just awful. Did anyone at Audible actually listen to this before releasing it? Even for free, don’t bother. I got halfway through it and I’m not going to finish it. It’s that bad.

Double Whammy is available from Amazon in both paperback and Kindle. At a $2.99 introductory price on Kindle, it’s priced to sell. It’s more than worth the price. It is also available from Audible.com but I strongly recommend you NOT buy it.

Double Dip Teaser

Double Dip is even better than Double Whammy. It’s great! Fast, funny, witty and complex, it continues the Davis Way story.Too early to review it, but It’s scheduled for release January 28th, so you’ll see my review January 27th.

acknowledgement

This is the first time I’ll be reviewing a book in which I participated. I’ve loved it from the first look I got at the manuscript. It has come a long way since then. The final version, the one you lucky devils get to buy, is delicious. You might want to read Double Whammy first. Become acquainted with Davis Way … and get ready for the next adventure.

I’m tickled pink … perhaps tickled rainbow? … to have been a part of the project, even in a small way. I got my very first ever acknowledgement in a book and it feels great. I simply had to show it off.

About the Author

Gretchen Archer is a Tennessee housewife who began writing when her daughters, seeking higher educations, ran off and left her. She lives on Lookout Mountain with her husband, son and a Yorkie named Bently. Double Whammy is her first Davis Way mystery and her first novel. The next, Double Dip, will be available beginning January 25, 2014.