Log in

Login to Member Area

Username *
Password *
Remember Me

 

mail@authorsguildoftn.org    +1.865.254-3054 and 865.657-9560.

  • HeaderWayne

    HeaderWayne

Wayne Zurl grew up on Long Island and retired after twenty years with the Suffolk County Police Department, one of the largest municipal law enforcement agencies in New York and the nation. For thirteen of those years he served as a section commander supervising investigators.

He is a graduate of SUNY, Empire State College and served on active duty in the US Army during the Vietnam War and later in the reserves.

Zurl left New York to live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with his wife, Barbara—not far from Prospect PD.

Books by Wayne Zurl

Interview with Author

Tell us a little about yourself, whatever you’d like to share to introduce yourself

Tell us a little about yourself, whatever you’d like to share to introduce yourself

Karen, you ask good questions. I needed an extra day to provide intelligent answers. Now, let’s see if anyone else thinks I’m as clever as I do. Here’s a little something about me:

Shortly after World War Two ended, I was born in Brooklyn, New York. Although I never wanted to leave a community with such an efficient trolley system, I had little to say in my parents’ decision to pick up and move to Long Island where I grew up.

Like most American males of the baby-boomer generation, I spent my adolescence wanting to be a cowboy, soldier, or policeman. Those aspirations were based on a child’s perceptions fostered by movies and later television.

The Vietnam War and additional time in the reserves accounted for my career as a soldier. After returning to the US and separating from active duty, the New York State Employment Service told me I possessed no marketable civilian skills. So, I became a cop. That was as close to military life as I could find. I spent twenty years with the Suffolk County Police Department, one of the largest municipal law enforcement agencies in New York and the nation. For thirteen of those years, I served as a section commander supervising investigators. Thanks to the GI Bill, I graduated from Empire State College with a couple of degrees and now that I’m retired from the police service, I still like the cowboy idea, but have interrupted that aspiration with an attempt at being a mystery writer.

Years ago, I left the land of the Big Apple to live in the picturesque foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee with my wife, Barbara.

Twenty (20) of my Sam Jenkins mysteries have been produced as audio books and simultaneously published as eBooks. Ten (10) of these novelettes are now available in print under the titles of A MURDER IN KNOXVILLE and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries and REENACTING A MURDER and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries.

My first full-length novel, A NEW PROSPECT, won Indie and Eric Hoffer Book Awards for best mystery and best commercial fiction in 2011 and 2012, and was a finalist for a Montaigne Medal and First Horizon Book Award. My other novels are A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT and HEROES & LOVERS. A fourth book, PIGEON RIVER BLUES, is under contract to be published in the near future.

Going beyond that canned biography, I now live in one of the most beautiful parts of the United States, just outside the most visited national parks in the country. In addition to spending my days writing and taking care of five acres of woodland, I’ve returned to something I’ve enjoyed since I was a small boy, fishing. I still use tackle from the 1950s and never mind throwing back those really big old lunkers that wouldn’t taste good and sort of remind me of myself.

How did you get started writing?

How did you get started writing?

There are a few defense attorneys who might say I began writing police fiction when I was still a cop. But back then, we called them prosecution worksheets. No one should ever believe a lawyer. My real writing career began after I retired. For almost ten years, I wrote non-fiction magazine articles about Colonial American history and the writings of James Fenimore Cooper. In 2006, I switched to fiction. I saw my first novelette published in 2009 and a full length novel debuted in 2011.

What appeals to you about the genre that you write?

What appeals to you about the genre that you write?

I cash in on the old author’s maxim of write what you know. With police mysteries set in Tennessee I can cover both bases: subject and venue. My protagonist is a former New York detective who retired and found a job as police chief for a small city in the Smoky Mountains. Like me, he would investigate crimes the old-fashioned way. In police language, he’s a dinosaur.

I take actual cases I investigated, supervised, or knew a lot about and transplant them to Tennessee. This whole procedure saves me from doing all but a bare minimum of research.

What is your favorite part of writing?

What is your favorite part of writing?

The seventh word in that sentence. Writing is fun. All that Facebook and Twitter nonsense needed to market the books is too much like work.

If you had to give up writing and do something else, what would you do instead?

If you had to give up writing and do something else, what would you do instead?

I collect three pensions and think my royalty checks are pitifully small. So, I write to stabilize my ego on a livable level and keep me from playing stickball in the traffic not to make money. Right now, if I had to take a job to occupy my time, I’d probably want to be a charter boat captain. I’ve owned boats most of my life, know how to behave on the water, and the work would be fun.

What’s your favorite meal of the day?

What’s your favorite meal of the day?

No doubt about it—dinner. My wife is a great cook. I like to cook, and we’re not afraid of the clean up. We rarely eat prepared foods or frozen meals. It’s almost like going to a restaurant.

Which are your favorite characters to write, the female characters or the male characters? The heroes and heroines, or the villains?

Which are your favorite characters to write, the female characters or the male characters? The heroes and heroines, or the villains?

This is a tough one. I use a lot of dialogue in my books and I love the conversations between Sam Jenkins and the three women in his life—his wife, Kate, Bettye Lambert, his administrative officer and desk sergeant, and Rachel Williamson, his friend the TV reporter. Each lady handles him differently. I’d say, they’re my favorites, but since most of the characters I use are based on real people, I like the idea of duplicating the delivery and style of speech for these quirky and unique personalities. If I can “hear” and “see” someone I know, it’s easy to write their dialogue and develop their character.

One of the things I dislike about my kind of story is killing off a few of the bad guys. Sometimes they’re so evil, I hate to see them go. I’d like to get more mileage from these real rats.

Are you an avid reader? When you do read someone else’s writing, what is your favorite genre?

Are you an avid reader? When you do read someone else’s writing, what is your favorite genre?

I’m constantly reading something. For years, I read lots of historical fiction. When I was a cop, I rarely read mysteries or police fiction. Then one day someone gave me a copy of James Lee Burke’s book BLACK CHERRY BLUES and I got hooked. From him I moved on to guys like Robert B. Parker, Raymond Chandler, Joe Wambaugh, and that other fellow from Long Island who tries to write mysteries, Nelson DeMille.

Many writers dream of having the ideal location to write. If you could live anywhere in the world or live a particular lifestyle, where would you be answering these questions right now?

Many writers dream of having the ideal location to write. If you could live anywhere in the world or live a particular lifestyle, where would you be answering these questions right now?

We almost moved to Scotland when I retired, but thanks to the US dollar sinking and the exchange rate being abysmal, we changed plans. But since you’re allowing me a fantasy existence, I’ll take a renovated old stone cottage on a few acres of headland near a harbor town in the Western Highlands. I would happily sit in front of a picture window overlooking the sea and the islands sipping single-malt whisky and write about an ex-New York detective who moved to Scotland and helps the local constables solve crimes.

If you were a color, what color would you be and why?

If you were a color, what color would you be and why?

Questions like this are too abstract for me. So, what do I do? Simple, ask my wife. She thinks I should be Great Lakes blue. We’ve just started fishing up there and I’m amazed at the expanse and beauty we cover in a boat.

If that doesn’t work, how about orange? I love the autumn and the foliage here in the Smokies is almost as spectacular as it was in New York’s Adirondacks.

My Latest Blogs

22 June 2017
Blog

This piece was destined for a contest that required everyone to begin their story with the line, “Have we met before?” I got that far, but drastically exceeded the word limit. So here we are. I gave the detective/hero of this saga the name Ian MacDonald because I wanted it ending with him getting the girl. And it would have been inappropriate for the long time married Sam Jenkins to do that.

A Too Perfect Crime
By Wayne Zurl
2011

I stood in front of her desk holding a gold badge in my hand. She looked on the shy side of fifty and quite beautiful. Instead of delivering my usual line, “Detective MacDonald, county police,” like an idiot I said, “Have we met before?”

She took off a pair of half lens reading glasses, tossed them on her desk, and laughed—one of the sexiest things I’d heard in a long time.

Always the professional, it took me only a moment of feeling like a putz before I replied. “I guess that sounded foolish. Or just the worst line you’ve heard all week.”

Her smile lingered, like a fixed beacon in a dark channel.

“Probably both,” she said, “but you didn’t need the badge for either.”

It was my turn to laugh. “You’re right. I know I keep that thing in my pocket for a reason. Let me start over. Hi, I’m Ian MacDonald, 5th Squad Detectives. I understand you had a burglary last night.”

From somewhere in the office, a Connecticut FM station played soft elevator music.

“Yes, we did.” Her face looked full of mischief; strawberry blonde hair, gray-green eyes, and a smile big enough to make me forget why I was standing there.

“Then, madam,” I bowed my head an inch, “I am your humble and obedient servant. Show me what happened and I’ll bring the culprit to justice quicker than you can say Andy Sipowicz.”

“Who?”

“Never mind. Let’s start with how they got in.”

As I followed her to the back of the real estate office, I noticed she’d been packaged by someone who knew his business—and deserved an award for his creation. A woman half her age would have been proud of the figure covered by a pastel green wraparound dress.

We checked out a broken double-hung window at the end of a hallway and I asked, “Is the place alarmed?”

“No, there’s really nothing here to steal.”

“Did they take anything?”

She shook her head. “Not that I can tell. But they ransacked all three desks and tried to break into the safe.”

“Aha!”

“Aha?”

“It’s what detectives say when ‘The game’s afoot,’ is inappropriate.”

She offered another smile, one worth seven figures. “Are you sure you’re a detective?”

“Oh, yeah. Wanna see my W-2 form?”

“No, I believe you.”

“Good, let’s look at the safe.”

“It’s in Ron’s office, but he’s out with a client.”

“Who’s Ron?”

“Ron Saperstein, the broker. He owns the agency.”

“You’re not a broker?”

“I’m an agent.”

“What’s the difference?” I knew, but I asked anyway, just to hear her talk.

“He’s the boss with the license. I’m a worker on commission.”

I nodded. “What did you say your name was?”

She chuckled. “I didn’t. And you haven’t asked yet. I’m Maggie Bain.”

I listened to the radio again. Paul Mauriat and his orchestra began playing Love is Blue. I was only a kid when that song became popular. I fell in love easily then, too.

“Bain sounds Scottish,” I said.

“So it does, Mr. MacDonald.”

I spent another fifteen seconds staring at her like the village idiot. Then we stepped into Saperstein’s office and looked at a wall safe.

“Who do you think broke into your office, Ms. Bain?”

She shrugged a pair of lovely shoulders. “I have no idea.”

The safe was a recessed affair, hidden from view by an eighteen-by-twenty-four framed photo of the Montauk Lighthouse, hinged and able to swing to the left. Around the top and right side of the safe, the sheetrock had been broken and pulled away by, I guessed, a claw hammer. The door of the safe looked untouched.

I used my cell phone to call the dispatcher. “This is MacDonald, 5th Squad. Send a crime scene unit to South Country Realty, CC number for reference is 10-503,349.”

“You got it, detective,” he said. “Should be there within a half hour.” I closed my phone.

“Do you keep cash in the safe?” I asked Maggie.

“No, we’re not a cash business. Any checks we get go into the escrow account each night.”

“What’s in the safe?”

“Contracts, other documents. It’s more for fire protection than theft.”

“Can you open it?”

“Sure.”

“Go ahead, I won’t peek.” I handed her a pair of latex gloves.

She laughed again and shook her head, but began spinning the dial.

As she entered the combination to the safe, I watched a green bottle fly buzz around the room. I took a swing at it with my clipboard and chased it out the door and into the hallway. When I heard her twist the handle and the lock bolt clicked home, I turned to look at Maggie. She extended a hand toward the partially open safe door.

“I won’t know what I’m looking at,” I said. “See if anything’s missing.”

She pushed the door further to the right, pulled a short stack of legal-looking documents from the safe, and thumbed through them.

“As far as I can tell, nothing’s been disturbed.”

“Sounds about right.”

A few lines of shallow furrows crossed her brow. “What do you mean?”

“Look at how the desk drawers are pulled out. They’re all extended. Nothing’s pushed back in. The sign of a good burglar. Pushing a drawer back takes valuable time.”

“A good burglar?”

“Figure of speech. But a competent burglar, an adult, wouldn’t break into a real estate office. Too much risk for too little return. Even kids wouldn’t waste their time. If they did, they’d vandalize the place.”

“Really?”

“Trust me. I know what I’m talking about.”

She dropped the stack of papers on Saperstein’s desk and rested her hands on her hips. “Okay, but who trusts someone who says, ‘Trust me’?”
I thought she looked incredibly sexy.

“I’m shattered.”

She winked. “You don’t even look ruffled.”

Maggie was a cool customer.

“If you sit out there,” I poked my thumb in the direction of her desk, “and Ron uses this office, who sits at desk number three?”

“Her name’s Carol Saccio. She’s off today.”

“Does Carol have any big problems you know about?”

“I don’t think so. She’s been married for years, has no kids. No, I’ve never heard her mention anything.”

“How about Ron? Any family problems? Law suits? Gambling, drugs, or alcohol issues?

“No, to all of those.”

“Then who’s left?”

“What do you mean?” She wrinkled her forehead again and looked concerned.

“Watch now while I do my impersonation of Sherlock Holmes.”

Maggie rolled her eyes and made a face.

“You’ve been divorced less than thirty days.”

“How did . . .?”

“Pretty good, huh?”

She nodded. “How did you know?”

“It’s July and you have a wide white band around your left ring finger where the sun hasn’t tanned your skin yet. The ring you’re wearing has a narrow band.”

“Aren’t you so clever?”

“Yes, I am thanks. And modest, too. You dumped husband number two?”

“Number three.”

“Close enough.”

“I guess.”

The green fly reentered the office through the open door. I took a second swing and missed, but it flew into the hall again. Maggie paid no attention.

“You once told him you keep an extra set of house keys in your desk?” I said.

“Yes, how do you . . .?”

I held up a hand to stop her question. “Elementary, my dear woman.”

An old cottage clock in Ron’s office chimed eleven times. I know my antiques; it was worth at least four hundred bucks. No self-respecting burglar would have left without it.

I dropped the clipboard on the desktop, sat in the boss’s burgundy leather swivel chair, and did a quick three-sixty. It felt comfortable and smelled like the interior of an old English sports car. Saperstein had exquisite taste, but probably paid too much for the chair.

Maggie dropped into an armless side chair next to the expansive desk. “Oh, stop,” she said.

I smiled. “Okay, but just one or two more questions.”

“Sure, but you’re doing just fine without my help.”

I used my shy little boy smile to make her think she flattered me.

“Did you get to keep an expensive engagement ring?”

“No, I gave it back to him.”

“Very classy. I approve.”

She smiled this time.

“Any kids?” I asked.

“No.”

“How about a dog or cat?”

“A dog.”

“Good. I like dogs. What kind?”

“A West Highland terrier.”

“How appropriate. Is Bain your ex-husband’s name?”

“No, it’s my maiden name. He’s Stanley Lewandowski.”

I shook my head. “I’d keep Bain, too.”

She smiled again.

“Before you became a real estate agent, were you either a nurse or a waitress?”

“I used to wait tables at the Harborside.”

I touched my forehead with two fingers and closed my eyes. “I’m looking into my crystal ball and see a man in uniform, a blue uniform. Am I close?”

“On the nose.”

“Your ex is a cop?”

“He is. A desk sergeant in Coney Island.”

“Six-oh precinct?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Wanna bet he’s off today?”

“No bet, Sherlock. How’d you know?”

“The burglar wanted something in one desk. Searching the others and the damage around the safe is just a smoke screen. A cop would be that smart. He’d know how a burglar works. Your ex would know there was no alarm and about your keys because you told him. Was the dog mentioned in the divorce settlement?”

“No.”

“And your ex loves the dog?”

“He did.”

“Aha!”

“Aha again?”

“Sure. I’ll give you five to one you’ve been dog-knapped.”

“That bastard!”

“Sorry. Let’s make sure your keys are gone.”

I followed her into the outer office.

On the way, Maggie turned her head to speak. “He’ll pay for this.”

“Yeah, he probably will—more than you know.”

She rummaged around in her top desk drawer for a long moment, slammed it, and shook her head. “I have to go home and look for my dog.”

“Let’s get Ron back here first. He can watch the store, call someone to board up the window, and contact his insurance company.”

She nodded and tapped a number into the phone.

As she spoke into the receiver, a crime scene technician named Thomas walked into the office.

“Whaddaya say, Paul?”

He stood there holding a camera bag and forensics kit. “Hey, Ian, what’s up?”

I told him and pointed in the right direction. “See if you can locate a claw hammer or something that could have been used to break out the sheetrock. It might not be far off. I don’t think the burglar came here fully equipped.”

He nodded and headed for Saperstein’s office.

Forty-five minutes later, Maggie Bain and I stood in the living room of a neat little clapboard cottage on Fireplace Neck Road in Brookhaven. All the rooms were furnished Early American style. We found the back door ajar and her dog conspicuously absent.

“That bastard!” she said.

“You have his new address handy?”

She gave it to me.

“Stanley screwed up by breaking into Ron’s office,” I said. “Too much damage to a third party’s property to keep this quite. An insurance company is involved and he committed a couple felonies. That’s not good. Does Stanley have his twenty years in yet?”

“Twenty-six.”

“Then we have something in common.”

“What’s that?” She sounded surprised.

“I’ve also been a cop for twenty-six years and I’m attracted to his ex-wife.”

“Really?”

I nodded. “Yeah. Maybe Stanley can work a deal to retire and fade into the sunset.”

“The bastard should go to jail.”

“Jail is no place for a cop.”

“Who’s side are you on?”

“Yours. Does he pay you alimony?”

“Not much.”

“You’ll get even less cash if he goes in the slammer.”

“I see your point.”

I shrugged. “I’ll get your dog back for you.”

She pouted for a second. “Thanks.”

“What’s the dog’s name?”

“Lily.”

“Wow, Maggie and Lily. That’s nice. Did I mention I like dogs?”

She looked into my eyes and I watched the anger of a moment ago fade. Then she smiled. “I’m glad you were the detective they sent, Mr. MacDonald.”

“It’s Ian, Ms. Bain.”

“Maggie, Ian.”

“Mind if I go easy on Stanley?”

She frowned again.

“He’ll pay for what he did,” I said.

“What do you think will happen to him?”

“If he gets a good lawyer, three years probation and they’ll allow him to keep his pension. I have to make an arrest, but I don’t have to eviscerate him.”

“I just want Lily back,” she said.

“Lily I can get.”

“Thank you.” She fluttered a pair of long lashes.

A hint of pale orange lipstick complimented her hair and eyes.

I looked at my watch. “It’s long after noon. I’ll find Stanley later. Would you like lunch?”

She tilted her head seductively. “Yes, Ian, I’d love to have lunch with you.”

“Good. How about a drink first?”

“You drink on duty?”

“Only when it’s appropriate.”

“Okay, a glass of wine would be nice.”

She locked the house and as we walked down the driveway toward my car, Maggie slid her hand under my arm. Her blonde hair glistened in the sun’s backlighting.

“Primo’s Gym,” I said.

“What about Primo’s?”

“I just remembered. That’s where I’ve seen you.”

“You have?”

“Sure, who could forget that spandex you wear?”

She blushed a little.

“Have we actually met?” She sounded embarrassed.

“No, but I’ve been on the treadmill behind you a couple times.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Better than watching the TV.”

She gave my shoulder a soft punch.

“I guess you’re not shy, are you?” she said.

“You’re beautiful, and it helps to be honest.”

“I hope you’re not married, Ian.”

“No, ma’am, not lately.”

She kissed me on the cheek.

“Bring back Lily and I’ll have a nice surprise for you.”

“Gee, I’m wasting my time as a cop. I should have been a dog warden.”

“Dog wardens don’t investigate burglaries, do they?”

“You’ve got a point. You like the Carman’s River Inn?”

“Love it.”

The End

Rate this blog entry:
1
02 June 2017
General
My friend, author Micheal Maxwell, has started a writer's marketing forum that will discuss ways to obtain more reviews, build a larger fan base and do a better overall job of marketing your books through the Internet. Anyone interested take a look at https://authorreach.mn.co/share/CTr2xtzYqRpF5MIB Membership if free.
Rate this blog entry:
1
05 May 2017
General
Blog
Short Stories

Here's another 1970s police adventure featuring Sam and Louie patroling the Long Island ghetto of North Bellport, a place known to the street cops as Pace Park. 

 

Shots Fired

By Wayne Zurl

 

         I hated the place at first sight; a narrow enclosed stairway with a slight dogleg to the right, obscuring a door at the top. A bare, forty watt bulb hung above the landing casting an eerie light over the scene. Once we started up the steps we’d be in a tunnel—sitting ducks. I looked at Louie. He looked at me. I shrugged.

        “You’re the one high on the sergeant’s list,” he said. “I’ll follow you, fearless leader.”

        “Nothing like an ambitious partner to make you feel secure,” I said.

        He grinned.

        I pushed the safety on the Remington pump shotgun to the left. A round of magnum double-oh buckshot already sat in the chamber. Louie drew his Colt Trooper. We started up the stairs.

 

*   *   *

       

        Ten minutes earlier we were sitting in a dark spot on the eight-hundred block of Taylor Avenue. A 5th Squad detective had told me about a new felony warrant for a burglar named Glenwood Orange. Most everyone called him Pee Wee. He weighed a hundred-and-ten-pounds soaking wet.

        Pee Wee wasn’t much good at hefting TVs or stereo sets, but being skinny enough to fit through the smallest window, he excelled at stealing cash, guns, and small valuable antiques. He really knew his antiques.

        We waited across the street from his mother’s house, watching. Sooner or later Pee Wee would show up—he always did.

        Then the dispatcher interrupted our meaningful work.

        “Unit five-oh-three, five-zero-three, handle a 10-17, possible gunshot, upstairs, 752 Bellport Avenue, off Brookhaven. Complainant Mayo is in the first floor apartment.

       “10-4, headquarters,” Lou said, as I hit the gas and steered our big blue and white Plymouth away from the curb. “We have back-up?”

        “Negative, five-oh-three, closest car is on the other end of the precinct.”

        “10-4, headquarters,” he said, and then turned to me. “Saturday night and everybody but us looks for a DWI. We end up with a gun call and nobody’s around when you need them.”

        “That’s why we get the big bucks, partner.”

        “Shit.”

        I made a left on Brookhaven Avenue and switched on the flashing red light. It was a short, fast drive along a main drag. When I crossed Station Road, the primary north-south route between North Bellport and another classy community called Eagle Estates, I killed the lights and slowed down, coasting up near the address the dispatcher had given us. Evil Estates, as the cops called it, occupied a piece of another precinct—someone else’s headache.

        Number 752 on Bellport Avenue was a ramshackle, two-and-a-half story Victorian; senior member on a block littered with postwar cracker boxes built on fifty-by-a-hundred postage-stamp lots. All the surrounding houses looked like they had seen better days and were long overdue for their twenty year reunion with a paint brush.

        The night was damp and the autumn air felt cool on my face. Everything around us looked as dark as an abandoned cemetery. Unknown vandals had shot out the corner street light earlier that week. A crescent moon cast only a ghostly glow from behind some high cloud cover.

        We walked up to the front door of the complainant’s house, keeping an eye on the upstairs entrance, and an ear open for anything we could hear.

        A wizened old party named Sefus Mayo answered the door. He was the owner and landlord of the place and a common fixture in the neighborhood for decades. In a hushed conversation, he told us he heard a shot or two fired in the upstairs apartment.

        “Why do you think it was a shot, Mr. Mayo?” I asked. “Why not a car backfire outside or some other noise?”

        He spoke in clipped, staccato sentences, with an accent I took for South Carolina mixed with too many years in New York.

        “Cause I knows what a shot sounds like. I heard a damn shot, son. A .22 mebbe, nuthin’ big. Saturday-night-special be my guess.” He finished that thought with a quick and decisive nod to punctuate his last statement.

        A large, gray-haired woman in a house dress sat on a couch inside the living room watching television. The theme from The Rockford Files blasted from the TV.

        I took his date of birth for my field report and a pass key to open the downstairs door to the upstairs apartment. I told him to stay inside and if he heard any more gunfire to call 9-1-1 again. It was 1974, before the days of miniature portable radios. We relied a lot on good citizens to do the right thing.

        Lou and I walked quietly to the door and slipped the deadbolt. I winced as the hinges creaked and remembered my mother listening to a radio show called Inner Sanctum. The sound of a creaking door kicked off that program every week.

        We looked up at the dim, flyspecked light bulb hanging at the top of the stairs. What I presumed to be Caribbean music came from inside the apartment; not overly loud, but audible from the ground floor. We began our slow ascent, hoping the door remained closed until we reached the top. We walked softly, but the old boards groaned beneath our steps. I never asked Lou what he experienced, but I felt prickles go up my spine.

        It was October 14th; two weeks earlier we had gone back to long-sleeved shirts and put on our ties. The tight collar annoyed me. I reached the halfway point up the stairs and I felt like I needed a drink.

        At the top of the staircase we looked at each other again. Lou nodded. He stood ready at my back. I slapped the door four times.

        “County police, open the door!”

        Nothing. The music played on. I knocked again.

        What sounded like a small caliber handgun popped behind the door.

        Lou said, “Son of a bitch!”  

        I braced myself and hit the door with my shoulder backed by a hundred and eighty pounds of body weight. The frame cracked; the door swung inward. We rushed in, pointing our weapons at the occupants.

        Six people with chairs drawn in close, sat around a cocktail table. One man held a three-dollar bottle of champagne tightly around its neck. His smile of only moments ago had turned to a look of fear. Everyone froze with their glasses held over the center of the table.

        Oops!

 

       

        

Rate this blog entry:
1
27 April 2017
Blog
Tips & Hints

Perfect is Boring

Wayne Zurl

 

When I began writing police mysteries I said to myself, “Aha! This is fiction, not a documentary. I have the opportunity to make everything come out perfectly.”

           

I thought it would be cool to chronicle my old cases and correct any mistakes or ask the questions that never came to mind or make the clever comments I only thought of the day after. It looked like an “if only” moment—a chance for perfection.

           

Then it rained on my parade. The precipitation came in the form of a middle-aged man with lots of experience in publishing and some pretty good ideas. The retired editor turned book-doctor who I hired to assist me during the formative stages of A NEW PROSPECT said, “Your protagonist is perfect. He never makes a mistake. Are you nuts?”

           

“Huh?” I felt the pain of a rewrite in my future.

           

“Perfect is boring,” he said. “Readers like tension. They like uncertainty. Put your character in jeopardy. Screw that perfection thing.”

           

“Hmm,” I replied.

           

I thought about the concept and remembered reading other mysteries. How many times had I said, “Jeez, a good cop would never do that?” I’d grit my teeth and wait for the ax to fall.

           

One of my favorite fictional cops, James Lee Burke’s Cajun detective, Dave Robicheaux, ALWAYS did something I knew a guy with his experience would NEVER do.

           

I’d tremble and say, “Oh, Dave, you know better.”

           

Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe knew he should never enter a spooky building alone. But he never used backup. He never told anyone where he was going. He created the perfect opportunity for a hood to catch him snooping and hit him over the head.

           

It was a commonality throughout fiction. Writers knew perfect characters were boring. Characters who took risks (sometimes stupid risks) created tension. They invited conflict. And tension and conflict sold books.

           

I’ve experienced enough tension in my life to have had a liquor bill equal to the gross national product of a small banana republic. So, I’d rather read about a slick detective who does everything right. I’d look at that story as a description of an art form. I wanted to read about an investigative masterpiece.

           

But that little voice inside my head said, “Too bad, Wayne, you’re one of a VERY small minority of readers.”

           

Readers like tension. They love to grimace when their favorite characters foul up and put themselves into a situation which requires fancy footwork to get out from under the catastrophe. Intellectually, they know the hero will triumph in the end, but they want to feel that contrived fear that he or she won’t.

           

Remember James Bond when Ian Fleming’s books were more famous than the movies? International thugs captured Bond so many times he qualified for frequent hostage points.

           

How about TV’s Jim Rockford? He never worked with a partner who watched his back. And Stephen J. Cannell arranged for him to be clubbed on the head so many times, his skull could have been called Land of a Thousand Concussions.

           

But we loved it…and them.

           

So, what’s the moral of my story? It’s simple. When we create a protagonist, we must build in a few flaws. Does he or she drink a little too much when they shouldn’t? Does getting buzzed at the wrong time make them miss a crucial clue or forget to duck when the bad guy swings a tire iron? Do they have an uncontrollable big mouth and always say the wrong thing to people with serious political clout? Do they trust the wrong person at the wrong time?

           

There are oodles of possibilities. All we have to do is dream up one or more to fit our protagonist’s personality and stick with it in numerous variations. Create that tension. Make your readers squeeze their eyes shut in anticipation. And always give your heroes a way to slither out from under the problem they created. You’ll have the makings of a good series of books or stories.

           

 

            

Rate this blog entry:
1
21 April 2017
Blog
Tips & Hints

 

Yesterday I posted the late Elmore Leonard’s best advice for good writing. Not everyone agreed with the old boy. Neither did I. Well, I liked 3 or 4 of his rules, but didn’t exactly agree with the rest. But those were his ideas and he has been successful.

 

Today I’ll try to get back into everyone’s good graces with my own advice. This is one I believe in—100%.

 

For many of us writing is fun. It’s what comes afterward, the promotions and marketing, that’s too much like work. But that’s life, and something authors must do.

 

When you’re promoting your book, one of the best ways to let the world know that you wrote this generation’s Great American Novel is to be interviewed by someone who caters to writers and sparks an interest in readers. TV is great, but those spots don’t come along all that often. There’s radio or Internet Radio as well and of course newspapers. But as a writer travelling in the social media circles frequented by other writers, you’ll more often run across bloggers looking to fill a spot on their site who are quite happy to have you answer a dozen questions about yourself and meet their fans and followers.

 

If you do enough interviews you’ll find that there are only so many questions these bloggers ask. You’ll often repeat your answers throughout the year. One of the great standards used by bloggers is also potentially helpful to other writers if you’ve got a good idea. I think I have. Here’s a question I’ve encountered many times:

 

‘What is the best piece of advice you could give someone starting out on a writing career?’

               

The best practical advice I can offer a new writer isn’t my original thought. I learned this reading an interview with Robert B. Parker. When asked why his books were so popular, Parker gave a simple answer, ‘Because they sound good.’ Most of my twenty-seven Sam Jenkins mystery novelettes were written for audio books and had to sound good when read by an actor. So, I knew exactly what Bob Parker meant. I apply this same principle with my full-length novels

               

Here’s my recommendation on how to produce a quality piece of work. When you think your story, novelette, novella, novel, or epic is finished, when you truly believe you’ve found and corrected all the typos and nits and it’s ready to sell, go back and read it ALOUD to yourself. Pretend you’re the star of your own audio book. Read it slowly and professionally as an actor would. Then, ask yourself, does it sound good? Do all the paragraphs smoothly transcend to the next? Does each sentence contain the right number of syllables? Does each word flow into the next without conflict? Or did you find yourself tongue-tied on occasion?  Does it have a pleasing rhythm? Basically, does it sing to you? For a guy who doesn’t dance very well, I have a great need for rhythm in my writing. If you notice any “bumps,” go back and rewrite it. Smooth everything out. If something bothers you now, it will annoy the hell out of you in the future and someone else will notice it, too.

               

With that accomplished, you’re finished, right? No. Now you’re ready to hand it off to a freelance editor or proof-reader—whomever you can afford if you’re self-publishing, or to the editor assigned to you by your traditional publishing house. A second (or third) pair of eyes is essential for ANYwriter.

 

 


Rate this blog entry:
1
20 April 2017
Blog
Tips & Hints

What was Leonard’s secret to success as a writer? Here are 10 tips which were taken from a New York Times article, “Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle.”

1.      Never open a book with weather.

2.      Avoid prologues.

3.      Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.

4.      Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said”…he admonished gravely.

5.      Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.

6.      Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”

7.      Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.

8.      Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.

9.      Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.

10.  Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.

And the most important bonus rule that sums up number 10: If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

 

Rate this blog entry:
0
10 April 2017
Blog
Short Stories

Anyone who has read one of my Sam Jenkins mysteries will see the the connection to this short bit of sci-fi / steam punk foolishness. 

ANOTHER PROSPECT

Wayne Zurl

A Sam Jenkins time travel / parallel universe story

Rate this blog entry:
1
31 March 2017
Blog
Tips & Hints

THE LENGTH OF WHAT YOU WROTE AND OTHER THINGS THAT WILL DRIVE YOU CRAZY

By Wayne Zurl

 

My problem isn’t unique to writers. If your personality demands that you and other people get the facts straight, you might cringe when you hear blatantly incorrect statements.

 

As a cop, I hated to hear crimes mislabeled. Most often, I encountered misuse of the term robbery. People would greet me at the door and say, “My house was robbed.” I got tired of saying, “Sorry, ma’am, only a person can be robbed. You weren’t home when someone broke in. It’s a burglary.” They’d look at me like I just said Santa Claus was a pedophile.

 

Anyone can feel the pain of improper usage. As a weekend sailor, I loved my gaff-rigged Long Island catboat. It was a classic, old-fashioned thing and well-meaning people would smile and say, “That’s a nice schooner.” I’d squint at them, grit my teeth and . . .

 

For seventeen years we shared our home with a Scottish terrier that breeders might have called a throwback. Bitsey’s legs were too long for an AKC show dog, her ears were too big, and her tail wasn’t docked. She looked like an old Highland farm dog. I walked her for miles. She was as cute as hell and people often stopped me and asked, “Is that a black Schnauzer?” I gave up squinting and explaining. I just growled and became known as the neighborhood eccentric. New York was full of those.

 

As a writer, I’ve had seven full-length novels traditionally published. But, I’ve also written a whole bunch of shorter mysteries that were aimed at becoming one hour audio books—like the old one hour radio dramas popular before TV. In addition to seeing life as audio downloads and compact discs, they were simultaneously published as eBooks.

 

They’ve been moderately successful, and often reviewers say, “I loved this story, but it was too short. I don’t often read novellas.” Or, “Short stories are like Chinese food. After you read one, an hour later you want more.”

 

The squint came back. I’ve worn off an eighth-of-an-inch of tooth enamel gritting. I developed a facial tic, and if you want a tip on the stock market, buy Advil. I use truckloads to get rid of tension headaches. Obviously, I don’t handle this well.

 

I’ve only written one novella and I don’t often write short stories. Fifty-five to seventy minute audio books are produced from 8,000 to 11,000 word stories which are technically novelettes.

 

So, how does a borderline obsessive/compulsive guy like me get the word out? Easy. Write an essay explaining the category of stories by length. People will remember it for at least a day or so.

 

Here ya go:

The standard, generally accepted length for a flash fiction piece is 1000 words or less.

By contrast, a short-short measures 1,001 words to 2,500 words, and a traditional short story is 2,501 to 7,500 words.

A novelette runs from 7,501 words to 17,500.

A novella, 17,501 to 40,000 words.

And a novel 40,001 words and up.

I can’t find an official definition for those things over 100,000 words, but some call them epics.

Backing up to the flash fiction category, you might see things called Drabbles. They are exactly 100 words. Droubbles are exactly 200. I spent ten minutes on Google looking for what you call something with exactly 300 and 400 words. I had no luck. Tribbles? Quadribbles? Who cares?

 

I don’t know why people try to be that specific with a word allowance. Someone told me it’s to test your skill and discipline. Hogwash. If it a story sounds better with 216 words, Droubbles be damned. Thesound of your writing is all important.

 

Do you know what you wrote? What did 18,500 words get you? How about 9, 750? What the hell is a droubble? Once you know, do you wish everyone would remember? If you forget what I wrote here, you can take a refresher course at:

THE LENGTH OF WHAT YOU WROTE AND OTHER THINGS THAT WILL DRIVE YOU CRAZY

                                                            http://www.waynezurlbooks.net/2014/02/the-length-of-what-you-wrote-and-other-things-that-will-drive-you-crazy/

 

Rate this blog entry:
0
18 March 2017
Blog

 

Reviews/endorsements Wayne Zurl books

 

FROM NEW YORK TO THE SMOKIES

Masterful plots, penetrating psychology, rich background and intriguing, diverse characters –let’s face it – this series is addictive. You read one, you want more.
Wayne Zurl is a wonderful writer, whose books should not be missed! Five stars!
Ilil R. Arbel, author & researcher

Every story in this collection will hold your attention and y’all will be learning jes’ how them folks in the mountains of Tennessee chat! Great writing, well edited, exhilarating stories.
Nancy L. Silk, author & reviewer

Wayne Zurl writes detective novels with authority. His writing style is in-depth character development, vivid scene settings, and weaving just the right twists and turns to keep his readers captivated.
[The main character] Chief Jenkins reminds me of Robert B. Parker’s ‘Chief Jesse Stone’.
Any of Wayne Zurl’s novels could easily be turned into blockbuster feature films or ‘made-for-television’ movies. FIVE STARS.
Michael Phelps, author & private investigator

The stories, written in the first person, are funny, deep, sad – every aspect of human life is covered – and I thoroughly enjoyed every one.
Diana M. Hockley, author

This anthology collection is perfect for readers who have not had a chance to meet the charming main character, Sam Jenkins. Sam is a sarcastic guy who has no problem saying exactly what he’s thinking: his quick wit, sense of humor, friendly banter and sweet flirty side keeps the reader laughing out loud as every story unfolds.
Zurl has a knack for weaving intriguing police procedural tales with a witty mixture of humor, intrigue, drama and suspense. He utilizes his prior extensive knowledge and experience of police procedure to create a series that diehard mystery / detective fans will crave to read.
So take it from a Sam Jenkins groupie and read From New York To The Smokies. I guarantee that once you read the collection, you will get hooked on all of the Sam Jenkins Mystery series. It is simply an addicting whodunit mystery series that will turn mystery fans into Sam Jenkins fans!
Kathleen Anderson, book reviewer

Zurl is a natural born storyteller! He recounts these crime-solving tales with such ease, you’ll actually feel like your mind is being smoothly caressed. With memorable characters and vivid detail, these are the kind of stories you’d love to hear conveyed around an evening’s campfire.
There are a few seriously laugh-out-loud moments at our hero’s witty and clever sarcasm…a charming and delightful character.
Kat McCarthy, author, blogger, reviewer

…detailed stories with fascinating characters…fast-paced and enjoyable. Don’t miss these.
Marianne Spitzer, author

 

PIGEON RIVER BLUES

Sam Jenkins’ police work is the propelling motion of this fast pace read. Sometimes comical and witty, his style works on the written page. If you like TV police dramas, this book will be as intense, but more enjoyable because of Wayne Zurl’s spiffy character, Sam.
Roy Murry, author and reviewer

…Zurl does an excellent job of writing believable characters with their own special traits. Each is unique. [His] knowledge of police work and the military brings reality to Sam Jenkins’s character as he uses both to solve this mystery.
Marianne Spitzer, author

[Zurl] created a clever, hilarious, sometimes-over-the top character in Sam Jenkins. [He] is what makes this series one-of-a-kind. But it’s not all about Sam … The secondary characters in this novel are fantastic … complex, and though some are thoroughly unlikable, they are all unique … A fun, fast-paced, intelligent read.
Tricia Drammeh, author

I have always liked the small city police chief stories that used to be quite popular but seem to have been cast aside. Mr. Zurl has rescued this genre, given us new stories and a new chief [in] Sam Jenkins. This is quite a plot that Mr. Zurl has given us as protecting singer C.J. Profitt is not going to be easy. However if it were easy then we probably would not read this story. Sam Jenkins is a wonderful character that will keep you entertained as you enjoy this new adventure.
Victor Gentile: Vic’s Media Room

I loved the mystery and the relationships between the characters. I loved reading this story. It was written so well and kept me turning the pages.
Arlene Mullen, reviewer

Sam is one of those characters that has many sides to him. He’s lovable but can get the answers from a criminal when needed. He’s always full of surprises.
All the characters are deep and you have some you can’t stand but they each have their own qualities, good and bad. The book is a fast paced read and keeps you on your toes from the front cover to the last page. The bad thing is, you’re left wanting more.
Gayle Pace: Books, Reviews, Etc.

Pigeon River Blues brings to light many current issues that are front and center in the news today … This novel will keep you riveted to the printed page … with an ending you won’t expect and a Police Chief who won’t give up until the gnawing feeling in the pit of his stomach is soothed by solving the case.
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews
… Zurl weaves another intriguing tale of mystery and suspense that keeps the reader guessing as they follow Sam [Jenkins] on his latest madcap adventure. Zurl engages the reader with a story that has a mixture of humor, intrigue, drama and suspense. His use of the local southern dialect stays true to the setting in the story; the reader feels like they are transported to the town of Prospect.
I loved the fun banter that makes up the dialogue in this story. You can’t help but get drawn in as the characters come to life. With a quirky cast, rich descriptions of the area … and a suspenseful storyline full of intriguing twists and turns, Pigeon River Blues is an exciting continuation of the thrilling adventures found in the Sam Jenkins Mystery series!
Pigeon River Blues and the Sam Jenkins mysteries are simply an addicting whodunit series that will turn mystery/detective fans into Sam Jenkins fans!
Kathleen Anderson: Jersey Girl Book Reviews

This full-size novel is one of Wayne Zurl’s best! This is an amusing, fun read as the characters are all well defined and there are no holds barred in what they think and say. This is a crime thriller which will make you chuckle and also keep you reading till late into the night. I could not put this book down and I’m amazed how well a former NY detective writes in perfect southern-speak in this captivating novel.
Nancy Silk, author

‘PIGEON RIVER BLUES’ is perfect with unique characters in a setting that fits like a glove with its Southern language. [It] is as intriguing as The Game, as thrilling as Ransom, and as entertaining as ‘Good Will Hunting.’ Highly recommended to all readers who enjoy a clever mystery, with a blend of intellectual thrills, and humor.
Geraldine Ahearn, reviewer

… Jenkins is one of those “tough-but-fair” lawmen who also display a well defined sense of ethics and personal integrity, while at the same time possessing a keen sense of humor and a generous dose of personal charm.
The supporting characters are also well rounded and completely defined, as opposed to the cardboard cutouts found in many series in this genre. I particularly liked the way he portrayed the Lesbian country star and her bigoted antagonists as real people rather than stereotypes or caricatures. That might have been an easy trap for an author to fall into, but Zurl avoids it deftly.
“Pigeon River Blues” is a more complex work than it appears to be on the surface. As in the works of authors like James Lee Burke and the late Robert B. Parker, there are moral and ethical questions clearly presented without losing sight of the fact that the main purpose of this type of novel is to entertain and entertain it does, hugely.
Bob Dunbar, author

Five stars to Wayne Zurl and his latest Sam Jemkins novel, “Pigeon River Blues.” The multi-faceted plot is driven by prejudice and hatred…[Jenkins’] demeanor while on the job is not what one might expect from a small town, southern police chief. His tactics are interesting, to say the least. As might be expected, the “real” antagonist is a surprise.
Larry Webb, author

Pigeon River Blues by Wayne Zurl is a fast-paced, intrigue-filled detective mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

I enjoyed the way the author developed his storyline and the background information. This made the story easy to follow and relate to. The author’s story telling style made the tale flow and it never bogs down. I found it easy to get into the story and hard to put it down.
Larry B. Gray, author

… there is much, much more to Sam Jenkins than just being an excellent police chief and an attractive guy. The character is complete, three-dimensional, and entirely human. He becomes a friend, whom you like, and you feel you know him well after a book or two—but just like your real-life friends, he can, and does, surprise you every so often. You think you know how he functions at work, at home, with his friends, his employees, his wife, and the criminals, but trust me, you don’t. In this book in particular I was utterly surprised by some of the things he said and did—but they fitted perfectly well with his personality. Mr. Zurl makes no mistakes.
I admire and respect Mr. Zurl’s complete absence of bigotry, prejudice, or preconception of anything, anyone, anywhere. There is, obviously, not an ageist bone in his body. His take on race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation (which is very important in Pigeon River Blues) is based on the jaded and sophisticated acceptance that the human race may be stupid and annoying, but stupidity and annoyance is spread across the entire world with no relation to who and what you are. As a result, the book displays the kind of gentle humor that is born of wisdom.
As for the plot – it is both brilliant and well crafted. Twists and turns and surprises happen again and again, but they are so well orchestrated as to make them entirely believable. You sometimes want to punch Sam’s nose – and the sentiment is certainly shared by some of the characters – but everything he does is inevitable to the plot and characters. This is a beautiful book that will keep you up and force you to go on until you finish. Enjoyable, intelligent, and fun – don’t miss it!
Ilil Arbel, author

Zurl’s mystery novels are well-written, character-driven, and the plot keeps the reader wondering. In his latest, ‘Pigeon River Blues’, the plot is tight, the good and bad characters are excellent…the dialogue is realistic and humorous. Oh, and the new character, John [Gallagher,] has a language all his own … and it’s a hoot.
The ending is tight; all ends are tied up, and just as you think it’s over…hang on…here comes another blast.
Lee Carey, author

 

HEROES & LOVERS

I just finished HEROES AND LOVERS…really an enjoyable read. Hell, if I was a cop, I would BE Sam Jenkins…Great writing Wayne. I’m looking forward to more.
Dirk Western, Amazon customer

Wayne Zurl is a fantastic author that grabs the reader from the first page and doesn’t let go… His characters are fully developed and realistic. His descriptions of the Great Smoky Mountains area makes one want to leave on vacation. His story-line is full of twists and turns mixed into everyday life…Then there is the main character Sam Jenkins, the kind of man who can steal a woman’s heart with a smile [and] who will not take “no” as an answer when he is trying to…find his kidnapped friend. If this is the first Sam Jenkins mystery you pick up, it won’t be your last.
Marianne Spitzer, author

This story takes you on twists and turns that are unexpected, making the book hard to put down. Another great job by Wayne Zurl!
Margaret Millmore, author

Sure, Heroes & Lovers had a good-old-fashioned mystery at the heart of the book. But, this book also delved into who Sam Jenkins is as a person. It’s the human connection that speaks to me… This book is so much more than a mystery or a detective novel. The author tackles some very serious issues…with humor and compassion. He’s created flawed, but likable characters…And all was redeemed in the end. Zurl ties up his loose ends superbly. The book was a pleasure to read from beginning to end, and that’s why I’ll be back for more Sam Jenkins books.
Tricia Darmmeh, author

Zurl captures the regional southeast flavor in his characters’ individual dialects, in his descriptive writing, and in his obvious affection for the locals. In this entry Sam has to solve the kidnapping of his friend, a local TV anchorwoman, and the assault of her cameraman… Mix in a crooked car repairman, an active drug trade, political interference, and a lot of colorful characters and you have the makings for an entertaining story. I especially appreciated the satisfying ending, where several loose ends from the complex plot are all brought together. I liked this book a lot. Highly recommended.
Jerold Last, author

The reader will mentally view a superb story unfold, aided by excellent characters who do their jobs perfectly. Zurl uses descriptions of his characters and their surroundings with skill. The dialogue is perfect and realistic.
Lee Carey, author

My uncle Lou used the word spiffy to infer that an individual had class, was cool, and had his act together… it describes Sam Jenkins…Sam is a hero with pizzazz.
Roy L. Murry, author

I love Sam’s wit and humor along with his ability to see what other’s may not. He is charming and lovable and of course the ladies all love him and I like that in spite of his charm he is faithful to his wife Katherine, who may have a smaller role in the story but definitely not a minor role in Sam’s life.
Kathleen Kelley, reviwer

I really enjoyed reading this book. It…kept my attention from start to finish. I wasn’t expecting it to end the way that it did. Always a good sign!
Melissa Waldron, reviewer

Every once in a while a really good crime / police mystery comes along that just grabs your attention and doesn’t let go until the end. And that is what Heroes & Lovers has done for me! This is the first Sam Jenkins Mystery novel that I have read, but it will not be the last. Author Wayne Zurl weaves an intriguing tale that is just a plain good ol’ fashion mystery that could only be told by a person with years of prior police experience. I really enjoyed the author’s writing style: the mixture of humor, intrigue and romantic drama engages the reader, while the story has enough twists and turns [to] keep the reader guessing what will happen next. With rich descriptions and details of the Great Smoky Mountains and rural Tennessee setting and dialect, to Sam’s sarcastic personality and the witty banter between the characters, Heroes & Lovers is an entertaining story that crime/police mystery fans will thoroughly enjoy.

Kathleen Anderson, reviewer

 

A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT

 The plot is sound and interesting. The author’s characters are likeable and believable.

The author has taken an assortment of characters from all over the country and the world and woven them into a thoroughly enjoyable mystery. I look forward to the next installment of the ‘Sam Jenkins Mystery Series’.

Paul J. for Readers Favorite

 Wayne Zurl’s writing, with its home grown Tennessee humor mixed with New York sarcasm, will have you laughing. But when it comes to police procedure, his writing is on spot—according to me, a police TV series nut case.

Roy Murry, author & reviewer

We travel along on a page turning read....really wild and entertaining. The way things turn out is nothing less than amazing. I loved it. I for one will be reading more of Chief Sam Jenkins mysteries!!

Maureen, Amazon customer

Zurl has a wonderful way with words and [a] hardy imagination. He's so creative, his main character Sam Jenkins is really someone I would love to know, [and] especially work with. I just don't think I would want to commit a crime with him around. Sam is brilliant. His sense of humor, witty comments, and all around knowledge make reading these mysteries that much more entertaining.

Patricia Foltz, Way2Kool Reviews

Absolutely superb. I was groused in by page one. This was the real stuff. The best aspect of this book is the incredible authenticity of police work. The details and the glimpses into what "real" police life is like, fueled by Wayne Zurl's experience as a cop, [are] remarkably refreshing. If more detective/cop books were like this, I would seek [out] this genre more frequently. Parts of the book made me feel as if someone had grabbed and twisted my guts.

In terms of its craft, one of the best books I've read in years. For me, a delightful read well worth the effort.

Tracy Shew, Amazon customer.


 

 

 

 

 


Rate this blog entry:
0
14 March 2017
Blog

Writing Effective and Realistic Dialogue

By Wayne Zurl

 

 

I can do something Nelson DeMille can’t. He admitted so in an interview. Well, not exactly. Although we’re both native Long Islanders, he didn’t mention me specifically, but said he has trouble writing dialogue for a woman’s voice. He’s not alone. Sometimes people experience difficulty satisfying the most important rule of dialogue—each character MUST have a unique voice.

 

Men don’t speak the same as women…and vice versa. Canadians don’t speak the same as people from Tennessee. A twenty-year-old boy doesn’t speak like a sixty-five-year-old man. Facts of life.

 

So, how do we remedy the problem some writers have? Think real people—people you know—actors you’d like to play parts in your story—anyone who you can HEAR.

 

I don’t have a great imagination. I’d flounder if I tried to write a classic sci-fi novel or a historical romance. But I do have a good memory, and as an ex-cop, I’ve got plenty of war stories to tell. And I base most of my writing on actual incidents. Quite often, Isee the real people who played roles in those real incidents. I hear them, their accents and inflection and delivery. And I duplicate that in the dialogue I write.

 

I also cheat. For instance, I gave my main character my voice. That made part of my writing life easy. If I would say something in a particular police situation, so will my protagonist, Sam Jenkins. Sam’s wife, Kate, says many of the things my wife might say.

 

After I get an idea, but before I begin writing, I hold a casting call and assign real faces to the fictionalized characters. I cast someone who would fit well into the role—an acquaintance who could play the part, the person who actually lived the story, or an actor/actress with a voice and delivery I can replicate.

 

Other factors are important to dialogue and revolve around you having a good memory. Poor memory? Carry a pad and pen, a mini-recorder, or whatever.

 

Just as you should be jotting down descriptions of places or people you may use some day, you should make notes on speech characteristics. Here’s an example of two very different deliveries.

 

Two mature women are sitting in a coffee shop.

Ms. A says, “Have you heard what people are saying about Mabel?”

Ms. B replies, “Yes, and I don’t believe it for one minute.”

 

Two salty old cops are sitting in a gin mill.

Detective A says, “You hear what they’re sayin’ Gallagher did?”

Detective B answers, “Yeah, and that’s bullshit. I know John—never happened.”

 

Same basic message, but very different sounds.

 

That last bit brings me to my idea of realistic dialogue.

 

Most people do not speak with grammatical correctness. We may know all the rules, but rarely do we strictly adhere to them. We’re lazy. We’re a product of our environment or locale. Most people speak utilizing contractions and quite often drop “understood” words.

 

What did Detective A leave out and shorten? “[Did] You hear what they are saying…?”

 

Writers should keep their narrative grammatically clean, but make dialogue fit a character’s personality.

 

I read a friend’s manuscript once. He’s an excellent writer with almost flawless research, and, man, can he construct a ripping yarn. But his dialogue sounded stilted, always in the “King’s English.”

 

His novel about Marines during the Vietnam War opened with the main character being rescued after a brief POW situation. Just after the protagonist, Captain X, jumps into a rising helicopter, he locks his heels on the skids, and bravely hangs out the door shouting in the general direction of a North Vietnamese company commander who “questioned” him quite vigorously.

 

“You are a vile coward, Tran. If our paths should ever cross, I will not hesitate to kill you.”

 

I’ve never been a POW, but I remember incidents where I wanted to send my best regards to someone I didn’t especially care for and I wasn’t so eloquent.

 

If he took time to say anything, I think Captain X may have said, “You’re a lousy coward, Tran. I see you again, I’ll blow your shit away.” If it were me, I’d probably save my breath and empty a few M-16 magazines in Major Tran’s general direction, punctuated by a carefully chosen epithet.

 

Of course, if Captain X was a British Army officer during the Boer War and not a US Marine in 1968, my comment would have been unnecessary.

 

I’m happy to report that if readers compliment my work, they often say my dialogue is realistic and easy to read—even when I add dialect. Not everyone agrees about using dialect. But in his book, ON WRITING, Stephen King does. He says, “Write it the way you hear it.” I’ll add, do it in moderation so you don’t inundate a reader with too much   out-of-the-ordinary speech.

 

For those who scoff at using dialect, I have only two words: HUCKLEBERRY FINN. Bringing it closer to our generation, there’s an excellent book (and movie) called THE HELP that would not have sounded very authentic without the distinctive accents used by author, Kathryn Stockett.

 

I’d like to think you’ll read something of mine to see if I’m as good with dialogue as I think. But if you don’t, try a guy named Elmore Leonard. Most experts think he’s aces.

 

 

 

Rate this blog entry:
0

What Readers say...

  • Review on FROM NEW YORK TO THE SMOKIES...

    Masterful plots, penetrating psychology, rich background and intriguing, diverse characters –let’s face it – this series is addictive. You read one, you want more.

    Wayne Zurl is a wonderful writer, whose books should not be missed! Five stars!
    Ilil R. Arbel, author & researcher

    Every story in this collection will hold your attention and y’all will be learning jes’ how them folks in the mountains of Tennessee chat! Great writing, well edited, exhilarating stories.
    Nancy L. Silk, author & reviewer

    Wayne Zurl writes detective novels with authority. His writing style is in-depth character development, vivid scene settings, and weaving just the right twists and turns to keep his readers captivated.
    [The main character] Chief Jenkins reminds me of Robert B. Parker’s ‘Chief Jesse Stone’.
    Any of Wayne Zurl’s novels could easily be turned into blockbuster feature films or ‘made-for-television’ movies. FIVE STARS.
    Michael Phelps, author & private investigator

    The stories, written in the first person, are funny, deep, sad – every aspect of human life is covered – and I thoroughly enjoyed every one.
    Diana M. Hockley, author

    This anthology collection is perfect for readers who have not had a chance to meet the charming main character, Sam Jenkins. Sam is a sarcastic guy who has no problem saying exactly what he’s thinking: his quick wit, sense of humor, friendly banter and sweet flirty side keeps the reader laughing out loud as every story unfolds.
    Zurl has a knack for weaving intriguing police procedural tales with a witty mixture of humor, intrigue, drama and suspense. He utilizes his prior extensive knowledge and experience of police procedure to create a series that diehard mystery / detective fans will crave to read.
    So take it from a Sam Jenkins groupie and read From New York To The Smokies. I guarantee that once you read the collection, you will get hooked on all of the Sam Jenkins Mystery series. It is simply an addicting whodunit mystery series that will turn mystery fans into Sam Jenkins fans!
    Kathleen Anderson, book reviewer

    Zurl is a natural born storyteller! He recounts these crime-solving tales with such ease, you’ll actually feel like your mind is being smoothly caressed. With memorable characters and vivid detail, these are the kind of stories you’d love to hear conveyed around an evening’s campfire.
    There are a few seriously laugh-out-loud moments at our hero’s witty and clever sarcasm…a charming and delightful character.
    Kat McCarthy, author, blogger, reviewer

    …detailed stories with fascinating characters…fast-paced and enjoyable. Don’t miss these.
    Marianne Spitzer, author

    Reviews on PIGEON RIVER BLUES

    In Pigeon River blues Wayne Zurl weaves a riveting tale of radical redneck revenge and domestic terrorism into the very fabric of east Tennessee's vacation paradise. True to his style, Zurl's detective Sam Jenkins delivers another captivating account of police bravery and heroism in the face of extreme personal danger. Dollywood may never be the same! *****   

    BJ Gillum, Author

    Rockwood, TNSam Jenkins’ police work is the propelling motion of this fast pace read. Sometimes comical and witty, his style works on the written page. If you like TV police dramas, this book will be as intense, but more enjoyable because of Wayne Zurl’s spiffy character, Sam.

    Roy Murry, author and reviewer

    …Zurl does an excellent job of writing believable characters with their own special traits. Each is unique. [His] knowledge of police work and the military brings reality to Sam Jenkins’s character as he uses both to solve this mystery.
    Marianne Spitzer, author

    [Zurl] created a clever, hilarious, sometimes-over-the top character in Sam Jenkins. [He] is what makes this series one-of-a-kind. But it’s not all about Sam … The secondary characters in this novel are fantastic … complex, and though some are thoroughly unlikable, they are all unique … A fun, fast-paced, intelligent read.
    Tricia Drammeh, author

    I have always liked the small city police chief stories that used to be quite popular but seem to have been cast aside. Mr. Zurl has rescued this genre, given us new stories and a new chief [in] Sam Jenkins. This is quite a plot that Mr. Zurl has given us as protecting singer C.J. Profitt is not going to be easy. However if it were easy then we probably would not read this story. Sam Jenkins is a wonderful character that will keep you entertained as you enjoy this new adventure.
    Victor Gentile: Vic’s Media Room

    I loved the mystery and the relationships between the characters. I loved reading this story. It was written so well and kept me turning the pages.
    Arlene Mullen, reviewer

    Sam is one of those characters that has many sides to him. He’s lovable but can get the answers from a criminal when needed. He’s always full of surprises.
    All the characters are deep and you have some you can’t stand but they each have their own qualities, good and bad. The book is a fast paced read and keeps you on your toes from the front cover to the last page. The bad thing is, you’re left wanting more.
    Gayle Pace: Books, Reviews, Etc.

    Pigeon River Blues brings to light many current issues that are front and center in the news today … This novel will keep you riveted to the printed page … with an ending you won’t expect and a Police Chief who won’t give up until the gnawing feeling in the pit of his stomach is soothed by solving the case.
    Fran Lewis: Just Reviews
    … Zurl weaves another intriguing tale of mystery and suspense that keeps the reader guessing as they follow Sam [Jenkins] on his latest madcap adventure. Zurl engages the reader with a story that has a mixture of humor, intrigue, drama and suspense. His use of the local southern dialect stays true to the setting in the story; the reader feels like they are transported to the town of Prospect.
    I loved the fun banter that makes up the dialogue in this story. You can’t help but get drawn in as the characters come to life. With a quirky cast, rich descriptions of the area … and a suspenseful storyline full of intriguing twists and turns, Pigeon River Blues is an exciting continuation of the thrilling adventures found in the Sam Jenkins Mystery series!
    Pigeon River Blues and the Sam Jenkins mysteries are simply an addicting whodunit series that will turn mystery/detective fans into Sam Jenkins fans!
    Kathleen Anderson: Jersey Girl Book Reviews

    This full-size novel is one of Wayne Zurl’s best! This is an amusing, fun read as the characters are all well defined and there are no holds barred in what they think and say. This is a crime thriller which will make you chuckle and also keep you reading till late into the night. I could not put this book down and I’m amazed how well a former NY detective writes in perfect southern-speak in this captivating novel.
    Nancy Silk, author

    ‘PIGEON RIVER BLUES’ is perfect with unique characters in a setting that fits like a glove with its Southern language. [It] is as intriguing as The Game, as thrilling as Ransom, and as entertaining as ‘Good Will Hunting.’ Highly recommended to all readers who enjoy a clever mystery, with a blend of intellectual thrills, and humor.
    Geraldine Ahearn, reviewer

    … Jenkins is one of those “tough-but-fair” lawmen who also display a well defined sense of ethics and personal integrity, while at the same time possessing a keen sense of humor and a generous dose of personal charm.
    The supporting characters are also well rounded and completely defined, as opposed to the cardboard cutouts found in many series in this genre. I particularly liked the way he portrayed the Lesbian country star and her bigoted antagonists as real people rather than stereotypes or caricatures. That might have been an easy trap for an author to fall into, but Zurl avoids it deftly.
    “Pigeon River Blues” is a more complex work than it appears to be on the surface. As in the works of authors like James Lee Burke and the late Robert B. Parker, there are moral and ethical questions clearly presented without losing sight of the fact that the main purpose of this type of novel is to entertain and entertain it does, hugely.
    Bob Dunbar, author

    Five stars to Wayne Zurl and his latest Sam Jemkins novel, “Pigeon River Blues.” The multi-faceted plot is driven by prejudice and hatred…[Jenkins’] demeanor while on the job is not what one might expect from a small town, southern police chief. His tactics are interesting, to say the least. As might be expected, the “real” antagonist is a surprise.
    Larry Webb, author

    Pigeon River Blues by Wayne Zurl is a fast-paced, intrigue-filled detective mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

    I enjoyed the way the author developed his storyline and the background information. This made the story easy to follow and relate to. The author’s story telling style made the tale flow and it never bogs down. I found it easy to get into the story and hard to put it down.
    Larry B. Gray, author

    … there is much, much more to Sam Jenkins than just being an excellent police chief and an attractive guy. The character is complete, three-dimensional, and entirely human. He becomes a friend, whom you like, and you feel you know him well after a book or two—but just like your real-life friends, he can, and does, surprise you every so often. You think you know how he functions at work, at home, with his friends, his employees, his wife, and the criminals, but trust me, you don’t. In this book in particular I was utterly surprised by some of the things he said and did—but they fitted perfectly well with his personality. Mr. Zurl makes no mistakes.
    I admire and respect Mr. Zurl’s complete absence of bigotry, prejudice, or preconception of anything, anyone, anywhere. There is, obviously, not an ageist bone in his body. His take on race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation (which is very important in Pigeon River Blues) is based on the jaded and sophisticated acceptance that the human race may be stupid and annoying, but stupidity and annoyance is spread across the entire world with no relation to who and what you are. As a result, the book displays the kind of gentle humor that is born of wisdom.
    As for the plot – it is both brilliant and well crafted. Twists and turns and surprises happen again and again, but they are so well orchestrated as to make them entirely believable. You sometimes want to punch Sam’s nose – and the sentiment is certainly shared by some of the characters – but everything he does is inevitable to the plot and characters. This is a beautiful book that will keep you up and force you to go on until you finish. Enjoyable, intelligent, and fun – don’t miss it!
    Ilil Arbel, author

    Zurl’s mystery novels are well-written, character-driven, and the plot keeps the reader wondering. In his latest, ‘Pigeon River Blues’, the plot is tight, the good and bad characters are excellent…the dialogue is realistic and humorous. Oh, and the new character, John [Gallagher,] has a language all his own … and it’s a hoot.
    The ending is tight; all ends are tied up, and just as you think it’s over…hang on…here comes another blast.
    Lee Carey, author

    Reviews on HEROES & LOVERS

    I just finished HEROES AND LOVERS…really an enjoyable read. Hell, if I was a cop, I would BE Sam Jenkins…Great writing Wayne. I’m looking forward to more.

    Dirk Western, Amazon customer

    Wayne Zurl is a fantastic author that grabs the reader from the first page and doesn’t let go… His characters are fully developed and realistic. His descriptions of the Great Smoky Mountains area makes one want to leave on vacation. His story-line is full of twists and turns mixed into everyday life…Then there is the main character Sam Jenkins, the kind of man who can steal a woman’s heart with a smile [and] who will not take “no” as an answer when he is trying to…find his kidnapped friend. If this is the first Sam Jenkins mystery you pick up, it won’t be your last.
    Marianne Spitzer, author

    This story takes you on twists and turns that are unexpected, making the book hard to put down. Another great job by Wayne Zurl!
    Margaret Millmore, author

    Sure, Heroes & Lovers had a good-old-fashioned mystery at the heart of the book. But, this book also delved into who Sam Jenkins is as a person. It’s the human connection that speaks to me… This book is so much more than a mystery or a detective novel. The author tackles some very serious issues…with humor and compassion. He’s created flawed, but likable characters…And all was redeemed in the end. Zurl ties up his loose ends superbly. The book was a pleasure to read from beginning to end, and that’s why I’ll be back for more Sam Jenkins books.
    Tricia Darmmeh, author

    Zurl captures the regional southeast flavor in his characters’ individual dialects, in his descriptive writing, and in his obvious affection for the locals. In this entry Sam has to solve the kidnapping of his friend, a local TV anchorwoman, and the assault of her cameraman… Mix in a crooked car repairman, an active drug trade, political interference, and a lot of colorful characters and you have the makings for an entertaining story. I especially appreciated the satisfying ending, where several loose ends from the complex plot are all brought together. I liked this book a lot. Highly recommended.
    Jerold Last, author

    The reader will mentally view a superb story unfold, aided by excellent characters who do their jobs perfectly. Zurl uses descriptions of his characters and their surroundings with skill. The dialogue is perfect and realistic.
    Lee Carey, author

    My uncle Lou used the word spiffy to infer that an individual had class, was cool, and had his act together… it describes Sam Jenkins…Sam is a hero with pizzazz.
    Author Roy L. Murry

    I love Sam’s wit and humor along with his ability to see what other’s may not. He is charming and lovable and of course the ladies all love him and I like that in spite of his charm he is faithful to his wife Katherine, who may have a smaller role in the story but definitely not a minor role in Sam’s life.
    Kathleen Kelley, reviwer

    I really enjoyed reading this book. It…kept my attention from start to finish. I wasn’t expecting it to end the way that it did. Always a good sign!
    Melissa Waldron, reviewer

    Every once in a while a really good crime / police mystery comes along that just grabs your attention and doesn’t let go until the end. And that is what Heroes & Lovers has done for me! This is the first Sam Jenkins Mystery novel that I have read, but it will not be the last. Author Wayne Zurl weaves an intriguing tale that is just a plain good ol’ fashion mystery that could only be told by a person with years of prior police experience. I really enjoyed the author’s writing style: the mixture of humor, intrigue and romantic drama engages the reader, while the story has enough twists and turns [to] keep the reader guessing what will happen next. With rich descriptions and details of the Great Smoky Mountains and rural Tennessee setting and dialect, to Sam’s sarcastic personality and the witty banter between the characters, Heroes & Lovers is an entertaining story that crime/police mystery fans will thoroughly enjoy.

    Kathleen Anderson, reviewer

     

    Reviews on A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT

    The plot is sound and interesting. The author’s characters are likeable and believable.

    The author has taken an assortment of characters from all over the country and the world and woven them into a thoroughly enjoyable mystery. I look forward to the next installment of the ‘Sam Jenkins Mystery Series’.

    Paul J. for Readers Favorite

    Wayne Zurl’s writing, with its home grown Tennessee humor mixed with New York sarcasm, will have you laughing. But when it comes to police procedure, his writing is on spot—according to me, a police TV series nut case.

    Roy Murry, author & reviewer

    We travel along on a page turning read....really wild and entertaining. The way things turn out is nothing less than amazing. I loved it. I for one will be reading more of Chief Sam Jenkins mysteries!!

    Maureen, Amazon customer

    Zurl has a wonderful way with words and [a] hardy imagination. He's so creative, his main character Sam Jenkins is really someone I would love to know, [and] especially work with. I just don't think I would want to commit a crime with him around. Sam is brilliant. His sense of humor, witty comments, and all around knowledge make reading these mysteries that much more entertaining.

    Patricia Foltz, Way2Kool Reviews

    Absolutely superb. I was groused in by page one. This was the real stuff. The best aspect of this book is the incredible authenticity of police work. The details and the glimpses into what "real" police life is like, fueled by Wayne Zurl's experience as a cop, [are] remarkably refreshing. If more detective/cop books were like this, I would seek [out] this genre more frequently. Parts of the book made me feel as if someone had grabbed and twisted my guts.

    In terms of its craft, one of the best books I've read in years. For me, a delightful read well worth the effort.

    Tracy Shew, Amazon customer.

    Reviews on From New York to the Smokies...
    ~ Captivating – entertaining
     
    Wayne Zurl has done a superb job of creating unique characters and plot lines in this collection of short detective stories. Spattered with caustic observations and satirical interpolay between characters Wayne paints vivid pictures in the imagination. Captivating – entertaining. 
     
    **** ½  (four and one half stars) 
     
    BJ Gillum ~ Author Tennessee
     
    Reviews on A Can of Worms

    Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive . . .

    I loved this story with all its twists and turns about savvy Sam Jenkins, a tough-talking police chief with a soft heart, who tackles small town corruption in Prospect, Tennessee head-on. Chief Jenkins is a good man but he’s not afraid to bend the rules. The story revolves around Dallas Finchum, the goodhearted young policeman who is accused of rape. Mr. Zurl presents a host of other endearing characters and loathsome villains who are described in such exquisite detail that you feel like you know them personally. Another strong point of Mr. Zurl’s writing is that he weaves several interesting subplots into the main story that give it real substance. For example, his marriage to Kate is on shaky ground but he is determined to be faithful in spite of the strong attraction between him and Rachel Williams, the beautiful and sexy newscaster.  And there is always the tension between outspoken Sam and his former buddies from New York City, John and Vinnie, and the locals such as mayor Ronnie Shields. Mr. Zurl's years of experience as a NYPD detective give this book its authentic feel. The dialog is spot on and the ending is a surprise. There is so much to like about the hero Sam Jenkins and the story. I’ve read a few crime stories by well-known authors over the years but I would have to list this one at the top.

    Sam Bledsoe ~ Author

     

Contact

Authors Guild of Tennessee Contact Details

AGT Telephone info     1.865.254.3054

  P.O. Box 23311
  Knoxville, TN 37933

SiteLock

What members say

Do review some of our member testimonials and see how the Authors Guild of TN community enjoys our collaboration, services and solutions. If you want to share your opinion, feel free to submit a review. We appreciate your input very much.
 

View Testimonials

Membership

AGT has over 40 member authors who have collectively written more than 200 books in different genres such as: Children’s Literature, Fantasy, Humor, Science Fiction, Thriller, Memoir, Creative Nonfiction, Romance, History, True-Life, Religion and Western Novels.

Meet the Members of the Authors Guild of Tennesee

Stay Informed

The Authors Guild of Tennessee publishes periodically content via Newsletters to subscribers. We do not share your information with 3rd parties and you can always opt out of a Newsletter list.

captcha 
We will send you an email to confirm your subscription. Please white-list mail from our site.